Saturday, 6 August 2011


Yesterday, pottering around the garden, I was listening to my large back catalogue of podcasts.  One of them was an episode of Radio 4's Food Programme, all about milk.

Now I really, really love milk and I'll always happily drink a glass of it - especially ice cold, on a hot day.  I am of the generation that was given milk in little third-pint bottles every day at breaktime at school.  It was disgusting - freezing enough in winter to give you a sinus headache after just one sip, and warm, creamy and sickly in the summer.  The best bit about school milk was the satisfaction that came from stabbing the tight foil lid with a sharp straw.

School milk didn’t give me a life-long dislike for milk though.  I always liked a glass of it at home, or a good glug of it on my cereal.  I grew up in a small village and we had milk delivered from one of the farms in the village.  The milk occasionally had little bits of straw floating in it, and I think it was largely responsible for giving me a very robust immune system.
I still have my milk delivered now I live in London.  We get 3 pints of organic, semi-skimmed milk, four times a week.  Though happily, it does not have little bits of straw floating in it. However, just like the milk of my childhood, the organic milk is still non-homogenised, which I love.  This means we still have the cream on the top of the milk after a few days of it sitting in the fridge.  I never have to think about whether we have enough milk in the house - it is always there.  I love that convenience.
Morning milk

Very occasionally, if I can't sleep, I hear the electric purr of the milk float coming down our street at about 4am, and the milkman dashing up our path, swapping the empties for full bottles with barely a chink of glass, and dashing back to the van.  In the twelve years we've lived here I've never seen our milkman.  He is nocturnal and we communicate by notes left wedged between the bottles and the wall.
I craved milk so badly when I was pregnant for the first time.  I would drink a pint at lunch and another when I got in from work.  That baby, now my tall almost-twelve-year-old, will hopefully have strong healthy bones and teeth for life as a result!
Milk on its own is a foodstuff that divides people.  G and C are milk lovers, like me (perhaps, for C, as a result of me drinking it constantly through his pregnancy?) but O is not a fan (now I think of it, I craved peanuts when I was pregnant with her - and she really loves peanuts, so perhaps there is a link there somewhere?).   O does not like milk on her cereal or butter on her toast, but gets her dairy goodness in other ways.  These are all the ways we use our 12 pints of milk each week:

  • porridge - both the children, and G, make their porridge with milk rather than water.  It is more comforting this way, somehow.  Porridge is eaten all year round here, even in the heat of the summer, and must be liberally sprinkled with chopped fruit and golden syrup.
  • yogurt - I make about 2 litres of natural yogurt each week (which accounts for roughly 4 of our 12 pints) using the fantastic electric yogurt maker from Lakeland.  We love our yogurt - I stir it into curries, we have it with fruit for breakfast or with a sprinkle of brown sugar on top for pudding.  There is always yogurt in the fridge.  I use the last few spoonfuls of the previous batch to start the next one, and occasionally get a new starter in the form of a little pot of Yeo Valley.
  • in tea and coffee - it would probably scare me to learn how much we consume in this way.
  • as an ingredient in so many things I cook - bread, cake, pancakes, muffins, bolognese sauce, fish pie, macaroni cheese.  I'm always reaching into the fridge for one of those cold, white bottles.
I also cook with a great deal of creme fraiche (I like the Yeo Valley half fat version), but I have never tried to make it.  I didn't know you could until I read this post by Harmony and Rosie yesterday.  Her creme fraiche looks amazing - I really want to have a go at making some myself.

How about you?  Do you love milk?  Could you happily live without it?  What do you make with it?


  1. I do love milk and no, I could not live without it. It's the first thing I put on my shopping list (followed by butter, flour, oats, apples and coffee). I make all the things you do with milk. I have always made porridge with milk. I make yogurt with the same yogurt maker but i'm the only one who likes it and by the time I finish a batch the yogurt is a bit old to use to start a new batch so I use yogurt I have frozen when fresh. It goes watery when defrosted but is fine for yogurt-making.
    I also use milk for pancakes, muffins, scones, cheese sauces, rice puddings, a rather nice chocolate cream that my kids love and many more things. Milk is absolutely essential. And weren't those little straws sharp and peculiarly narrow?

  2. Milk lover. Just started to write a comment which I realised would go on and on and on. Will have to write my on blog post inspired by yours ... will give full credit of course ;-)

  3. I am not really a milk lover but must always have some at the ready! I use it in tea, coffee, on cereal and to make rice pudding. I remember school milk. The milk monitor once dropped a bottle on to the floor. The glass shattered but the milk stayed upright!!!

  4. We parted ways with our milkman when he started leaving plastic jugs instead of glass bottles, which were the environmental reason for us using him at all! We go through most milk in the week where I'll make lasagne and needs a pot load of bechamel, or if PC is whippng up his amazing pancakes. Our little school bottles are constantly bedecked with droplets of cold water in my mind's eye, but still tasted warm!

  5. WELL. I have an amazing new scone recipe which uses 425ml of milk! I thought it was a typo when I first read it, but nope, it's all used, every last drop. Fab scones too.
    We probably consume most of our milk at home via coffee, and the occasional cup of tea too...I'd forgotten about HFW Spag bog recipe with milk in, isn't that recipe the best ever version?
    I wish I had a yoghurt maker. But I worry I wouldn't use it enough. Creme Fraiche however is a new favourite thing in our house, especially with fruit or drop scones and raspberry jam.
    At work we make dozens of thick milkshakes and frappes each day,which are massively popular in this warm weather...all delivered from the local dairy of course!x

  6. We use about 10-12 litres a week - Riverford milk as it is the only one which doesn't bring my daughter out in a rash (the waxed cardboard cartons make wonderful firelighters in winter). We make yogurt with the Lakeland yogurt maker - a fantastic gadget, and one we use almost every day. I do remember school milk - so yukkily warm in summer, that ever since then I have had to have my milk ice cold!

    Pomona x

  7. Neither of mine like it at all. I force it down them in cheese sauces, pasta dishes,quiche, cakes, porridge and cheeses, and the odd smoothie and milkshake. They're not dairy fiends at all, even look aghast at butter.I probably get them their required portions down, but no more. I get it delivered (far greener and more ethical) but we only get 1 pint full fat and 1 pint skimmed (for my tea!) every 3 days! If I'm baking and need extra I buy it in. I do wonder if it isn't some form of child sixth sense though, as Seth is asthmatic and dairy defo makes it worse. I refused all shellfish as a child, and found out, when being brave in my twenties, that they made me instantly asthmatic and covered in hives.

  8. I am not a milk lover, unfortunately school milk put me off for ever. What I do eat though is a lot of cheese and I really mean a lot of cheese. I wish I was not so lazy and could make my own maybe one day.

  9. Posts like this make me love your blog! Such a cool piece of writing making the everyday extraordinary.

    Back to the white stuff. We are all milk lovers in this household. Between three of us (baby still on breastmilk, so he doesn't count) we go through something in excess of 8 pints a week.

  10. Hi Nancy, thanks so much for the link and the nice words. We don't actually drink milk in our house because the children are intolerant to dairy. That's why we started making our own from unpasteurised, getting as many good bugs into their system as possible and weaning them back on to it slowly but surely, so to speak. Giving them only a tablespoon at a time has made it really slow progress but now they're having much more and It seems to be working which makes me really happy. I made my own cottage cheese once which was fun and I also want to have a go at cheeses now.

    Have a lovely weekend, drinking your milk!

  11. Milk-lovin' family here too! I haven't seen milk in bottles like that since my childhood though. I doubt it's available in glass anywhere in Australia. Pity. We do however have local organic/biodynamic and fabulously unhomogenised milk readily available. Our kids love the cream from the top which is sometimes so thick you can't pour the milk out!

  12. School milk put me off for life. I would always volunteer to be milk monitor so I could use the distraction to avoid drinking it. No2 is going through a phase of drinking it by the carton but I couldn't put a glass of it to my mouth.

    Having said all that, I do have skim in my porridge or on my muesli and in my tea but I prefer semi-skimmed in coffee. Always my number one item on my shopping list too!

  13. I've never been a milk lover. My dad has a milk allergy and my son did too, although he's grown out of it. Regardless of the fact that none of us actually drink milk, we still seem to somehow get through about 12 pints a week. Possibly mostly in coffee! We eat lots of yoghurt, though. I really would love a yoghurt maker.

  14. I don't like milk, I have only the tiniest splash in my tea and have orange juice on my cereal instead! Both boys have it on their cereal but only one will drink it too. I do use milk quite a bit in cooking though - scones, pancakes, ice cream etc and hubby sometimes makes porridge too, so we couldn't do without it.

  15. Just popping by - not sure where you are in relation to what is going on in London but stay safe xx

  16. I can't stand the stuff - I have a dribble of it on my breakfast cereal and that's it! We had milk at primary school, served in plastic beakers which did nothing for the taste and possibly contributed to my dislike of it. Like you though I drank it a lot in pregnancy - I didn't think of it as a craving, more that it eased the indigestion, but looking back I drank *loads* so maybe it was a subtle craving. But the moment I gave birth I dropped the milk and was back on the black decaf coffee!

  17. Hulloo there. Yes. we do milk here at BeanTowers. Although no one drinks it solo, we seem to get through a heck of a lot of it here. Porridge every day (no water even though the Mr is Scots origin) and endless cereal, cuppas, cooking, milkshakes,etc.
    Am off to read more of your posts, glad I dropped by, Ax


Even though I often do not have the time to reply to everybody, I really appreciate all your comments so much - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts on what I've written.