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