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Today, I made my own coffee creamer and it turned out good.

I’d been thinking about doing this for a while, because I want to eat things as close to “pure” as possible. However, having grown up in the Age of Convenience, it has been hard to break the “oh, I’ll just grab it at the store” mentality.

This is a situation where having to stay home is a bonus. Is it worth getting sick, or making others ill JUST for a carton of French Vanilla coffee creamer?

No, it is not.

Time to suck it up, Murphy.

Actually, it’s a good time to remind everyone about the different ways we have to get milk. I’m glad I don’t have to milk a cow twice a day, purify, strain, pasteurize and refrigerate. It wasn’t that long ago when that was the only choice.

I also don’t have to get milk in those big cans (like my mother did) and I don’t have the luxury my family once did of having an actual milkman bring quarts on a regular schedule (There was. A dairy just up the road in Old Austin, Arkansas).

As my last trip to the store proved, I can’t rely on getting a gallon anytime I like. While I believe this problem will even out, I also have choices: Canned or powdered milk.

Powdered, evaporated and condensed

Powdered milk (also known as dry milk) is a — wait for it — powder. It’s a dairy product that has had the liquid removed. Since we all have lots of bottled or boiled water left over from recent events, just rehydrate that stuff and use it.

Evaporated milk is half-way to powdered milk. It has about a 60 percent reduction in water content.

Condensed milk is evaporated milk with sugar added. A very large amount of sugar, I must say. It can be helpful for putting weight on those who are malnourished or very ill and it is used quite a bit in baking and candies.

In the specialty aisles, you can find cans of dulce de leche, which is essentially condensed milk — albeit perhaps even sweeter.

These three have a long shelf life, which makes them a good option in places where fresh milk and room in the fridge is scarce.

You find not-refrigerated, shelf-stable milk in the baking aisle. Canned milk can be stored for at least a year; just check the “use by” date. As always, don’t use any cans that are rusted, dented or bulging.

Once you open the can, pour out any leftover evaporated milk into an airtight container, refrigerate and use within five days.

When you need to use evaporated milk as regular milk, add the water back in. It’s 1:1, and Cook’s Illustrated has tested this: to get one cup of regular milk, whisk together 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate.

In the case of my coffee creamer, I recycled a former creamer container, used a funnel to put in the two milks and vanilla, put the lid on and shook it vigorously. So it doubled as a mini-workout, stress reliever! Put all your bad words into that shaking!

We tend to buy half-gallons of milk, so here’s my plan. Wash and sterilize an empty container, with lid. A half-gallon is eight cups, but I’ll need shaking room, so I will add 3 cups evaporated milk and three cups water.

Seal, shake, refrigerate! Milk is ready.

You don’t have to stand in the grocery aisle doing math, either. I did it for you. The 14.5 ounce can of evaporated milk is 1-2/3 cup. Two cans, therefore, are 3-1/3 cup. So, add an extra 1/3 cup water if you like, or remove 1/3 cup evaporated milk to a separate container for other uses. Like coffee!

This recipe worked for me, although I need to find a way to reduce the sugar. I’m thinking evaporated milk and Stevia.

Gina Juice

The basic formula is 1:1.

1 cup regular milk (fat-free, 2 percent, etc.)

1 cup condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, to taste

I wasn’t sure how this was going to taste, so I started with 1/3 cup 2 percent milk, 1/3 cup fat-free condensed milk and a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. The fat is minimal; the sugar is not. This recipe totals at 65 grams of sugar, and the volume works out to around 17 Tablespoons, which, divided into 65 grams is about 4 grams of sugar per Tablespoon, right? Wilma Malone can set me straight.

Let’s get cooking!

Lagniappe

A Facebook friend lamented over the weekend the stress of meal planning. Next week I’ll review some techniques to make that (hopefully) easier.

My last grocery trip revealed no potatoes, no boxed cereal, no rice, practically no “meat helper” and all kinds of silly stuff. No rice? Get couscous or riced cauliflower. No cereal? Grab a box of (anything but instant) oatmeal or some grits. No taters, precious? Fuhggedaboutit. We eat too many potatoes as it is. Get some broccoli. No bread? Go to Amanda’s or the Vault.

If you go for groceries in the meantime, just try to grab some basics: canned milk, boxed soy or nut milk, all-purpose flour, sugar or (baking quality) sugar substitute, eggs, rice, beans, butter. OK, bacon. We are not going to run out, so don’t clean out the shelf. Get just enough for two weeks, then see where we’re at. Cool beans.

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