We’ve been on lockdown (or semi-lockdown) for nearly six months. It’s been interesting, to say the least.

I attempt to see my life as though the glass is half-full. What have these months of quarantine given me? In a word, time. Time to learn new things, or get back to the things I already knew but didn’t have time for in my very, awfully, totally busy pre-quarantine existence.

A few of my activities involve science experiments in the kitchen, also known as food manipulation. It’s interesting, how complex food items become simple when you discover how to make them yourself.

And, it feels good, making something from scratch. It creates a feeling of sustainability in your life, and I think we could all benefit from a bit of sustainability just about now.

In the last two days, I’ve made granola, yogurt, pesto, no-need-to-knead yeast bread, balsamic vinaigrette, mozzarella cheese and catnip tea — and I didn’t even break a sweat. Maybe there is an upside to COVID after all.

The upside goes double for my bathroom scale, unfortunately.

Speaking of bathrooms, I also made my own wet wipes (not a food item, but a recipe for success during these COVID days of wet wipe shortages). I’ve heard we won’t get our hands on the pre-made items until 2021, but that’s conjecture. I could tell you to use toilet paper or paper towels moistened with disinfecting cleaner, but TP and PT are in short supply as well.

Some of the most desperate among us have actually reverted to using cloth rags, which can be washed and reused after cleaning the toilet. My grandma would be proud.

But, back to the important stuff: food. Who cares about cleaning when you can eat?

I don’t have room for all of my culinary discoveries and practices, but I can share a couple. Perhaps this tangent will warrant a second installment.

Let’s start with granola. It’s pretty obvious that you start with oats and nuts (I used walnuts). Here’s my recipe: 1 cup oats, 1/3 cup walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons honey. Place oats, chopped walnuts, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and stir. Melt coconut oil and mix with honey. Stir into the oats mixture.

Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Stir and continue baking for another 6–10 minutes or so. Check often to make sure you don’t over-bake.

Cool. At this point, you can add other ingredients of your choice — dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. Store in the fridge in a plastic bag or (more environmentally friendly) a glass canning jar.

Granola is yummy with yogurt. Make your own with only two ingredients: milk and unsweetened yogurt with active cultures (most any yogurt from the store fills this bill). Find a covered bowl you will use to store your yogurt.

I use a large, empty yogurt container. Fill nearly full with milk. Pour the milk into a pot, and heat slowly on the stove until the milk reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and let milk cool to 100 degrees.

Ladle about 1 cup milk from the pot into a bowl, and whisk in about 1/2 cup yogurt. Pour the yogurt/milk mixture into the remainder of the milk and stir. Cover your pot, and place it in a warm spot (I use the oven) overnight.

You will wake the next morning to yogurt. It’s practically magic!

Confession: I’m a newbie yogurt fan. I learned recently (and the hard way) how important active probiotic cultures are for the gut. I’ve also learned you don’t have to buy the most expensive “probiotic” labeled yogurt to get the positive results. Fancy, name-brand, Greek yogurt is often more than double the cost of regular yogurt, which has all the same probiotic benefits of the Greek stuff.

Regular yogurt simply has more whey (liquid). Greek yogurt has more of the whey removed and is therefore thicker. You can do the same at home by straining your yogurt through cheesecloth or even coffee filters.

I used to spend $4 for a tub of Greek yogurt before discovering the regular stuff for about $2. Now, I make my own for less than half that price, and there are no additives. It’s the real deal.

We’ve been living in quarantine mode for six months. During this time, I’ve tried to stay positive. I’ve attempted to see the glass as half-full, except lately my glass isn’t half-full of water.

It’s full of yogurt, with a spoonful or two of homemade granola. Yum.

— Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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