Friday, February 26, 2016
This morning, two of my friends criticized me over breakfast. They had spent the night at my place after we got back from a bar and grill where we hung out with some other friends til closing time.
"Dude," said the first one, "you don't have any milk in your fridge, man."
I replied, "That's because I don't buy milk."
"What!?!", exclaimed the second,"What you mean you don't buy milk?"
"Exactly that," I said, "I don't buy milk."
"Seriously?", asked the second friend incredulously.
"Seriously," I affirmed.
"But you have cereal!", exclaimed the first one, holding up the box of fruit flavored cereal to prove his point.
"Yeah, but I just eat it like a dry snack, like popcorn or chips," I said. My friends looked at me funny as if I had said something crazy, so I finished, "But that cereal was an unopened one left over from when I had visitors in town, and I knew they ate cereal for breakfast, so I bought a few boxes for their stay."
My first friend asked, "Did you buy milk then?"
"Of course," I replied.
"Then why don't you have any milk now?," asked the second.
"Because I don't drink milk and don't use it much either," I said.
"But you have cereal!", declared the first one, once again holding up the box as evidence.
"Yeah, I do," I replied, "but like I said that's leftover from when I had visitors and I usually eat cereal like a dry snack."
The second one narrowed his eyes and challenged,"Are you telling us that you only eat cereal dry?"
"No, not all the time," I admitted.
"So you do use milk after all!", proclaimed the first one.
"Not necessarily," I said.
Exasperated, the second one asked, "Well, what do you use to eat your cereal with if not milk?"
I answered, "Beer, juice, fruit drink mix, coffee, hot chocolate mix."
They both looked agaped at me, as if I had said something offensive. Then the first one said, "Ok, first off, juice, drink mixes, and coffee in cereal sound disgusting! And since you don't have any milk, that means you were gonna make hot chocolate with water, which is really disgusting! And beer? Seriously, dude!?! You know we all gotta be at work today! Otherwise, I'd be all down with some beer in my cereal bowl! What the hell man? I'm not eating no dry cereal for breakfast! How about we go pick up some breakfast since you don't buy milk?"
The second one added, "Seriously, what kind of person doesn't buy milk!?!"
So I replied, "This kind! How about you both stop whining and let me make breakfast."
The first one exclaimed, "But ya got no milk for the cereal!"
"Who the hell decided we were gonna have cereal for breakfast?", I asked.
"What are we gonna have for breakfast then?", asked the second.
"I'm making breakfast tacos!", I declared, much to the excitement of my two friends. I couldn't resist adding, "Damned crybabies, crying over no milk."
We chuckled at that. I made breakfast tacos; we laughed and ribbed each other some more while we ate the tacos and drank coffee. Then we all split up to get ready for work. Before they left, they couldn't resist one more parting shot, "Thanks for the awesome tacos, man. And don't forget to buy milk like a normal person, you milk hating weirdo! What do ya got against milk anyway? That stuff does your body good!"
For the record, I don't hate milk. I maybe a weirdo, but I definitely don't hate milk. I just don't drink or use much of that stuff. I'm not a milk drinker, and that's just the way it is. Sure, when I was a kid and teenager, I loved milk, but when I grew out of my teens and started living on my own, I just didn't feel like drinking much milk anymore.
Maybe I just outgrew it. Maybe I don't find it as appealing as I did back when I was a kid. All I know is that as soon as I started living on my own, I stopped drinking milk and it became a problem keeping milk in the fridge, as it would go bad because I didn't use all of it before it expired. It didn't matter if it was a gallon, a quart, or even a pint. No matter how big or how small, no matter how much I tried to use it all, the milk always ended up going bad. Eventually, it happened enough that first year of living independently that I finally stopped buying milk all together, so I wouldn't waste any more money on spoiled milk.
Occasionally, I do buy milk for recipes and I try to use it all up in tea and coffee. But honestly, I much prefer the creamer, even the nondairy substitute powder kind. But just so you know, even though I'm not a big fan of milk, I do like milk products, like cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. And believe it or not, I've got much respect and appreciation for the dairy farmers who provide us with the milk and milk products.
My uncle is a dairy farmer. He lives way out in boonies, a couple of hours drive from my childhood home on the remote coast. I was five years old the first time my mother took me and my two closest brothers to visit him and his family. He has a huge farm in the middle of the wilderness, close to a large lake.
I remember being flabbergasted, along with my brothers when we first laid eyes on the huge farmstead. There were streams that ran into a pond and some running out to the large river that led out to sea. My uncle had a whole herd of cattle, along with some chickens and goats, a few horses and pigs, and a whole bunch of ducks on farm. That was the first time my brothers and I had ever seen ducks, and it was a blast!
It was also the first time that we had ever seen cows up close. Those cows were terrifying to me. We didn't have cows at home. Pigs, yes, and a donkey, an old horse, and a few chickens and goats, but no cows. Those cows were huge! Especially to a tiny five year old gaping up at this massive, towering giant with big eyes and large horns, slowly moving their gargantuan bodies about the pastures.
The first time my cousins showed us how they milked the cows, I was discombobulated that their udders were bigger than me! And when I saw where milk comes from and how they milked the cows, I was like "Eeewww!" and "Wow!" at the same time. I uttered a squeal of disgust and delight at the same time while my cooler, older cousins laughed at my brothers and my reactions. It was disturbingly fascinating to me and my brothers. We had seen goats being milked before, but we had never seen gigantic cow udders being milked, so it was pretty exciting.
My older cousins were pretty nice to me and my brothers. They were young teens at the time, and they were a hell of a lot nicer to us than our own moody, teen brothers and sisters back home. My cousins had a good laugh the first time I saw a duck and mistook it as some sort of different breed of chicken. They also enjoyed taking us in their boat to the middle of the pond where we got to see ducks and ducklings swimming and diving for fish to eat.
We loved hanging out with our cousins, and they didn't mind us tagging along, trying to help them out with their chores. True, our efforts weren't always successful--like even with the three of us, my brothers and I couldn't move a single bale of hay--but they appreciated that we tried, and we did manage to collect eggs from the chickens and helped feed the pigs, goats, ducks, chickens, and horses successfully. Heck, we didn't even mind helping our cousins clean the barn stalls when the animals were let out to graze. And though it was terrifying to be up close to a huge cow, and it was hilariously awkward to try to wrap our tiny fingers on a massive cow teat, by the end of the week, my brothers and I learned how to milk cows under the patient guidance of our older cousins.
After that visit and the others that followed, we learned to appreciate the hard work that went into a dairy farm. Though try as I might, I have yet to learn how to buy and keep milk properly. The only time I ever manage to keep milk long term is if it comes in those pasteurized cartons that don't need refrigeration until I open them. Even then, after I open the carton, there's a 50% chance that I'll forget about it in the fridge until it turns rancid and the odor alerts me to clean it out the fridge.
There's an art and skill to buying milk and using it all up properly. But that's something that I've never learned. Or truth be told, don't really feel like I need to learn. It's because I don't identify milk as a necessity. I only buy it if I need it for a recipe, and only after I can find no other suitable substitute, like coconut milk. I do buy and use cans of sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk, and I much prefer heavy cream and whipping cream when making baked goods or sweet treats. And I love cheese and cheesy products--except cheesecake, which doesn't taste all that great to me.
And yes, I do occasionally buy a quart of milk to eat with cereal, but that happens rarely, as the only time I have cereal for breakfast is when I actually have guests who are breakfast cereal people. I'm not a breakfast person. Brunch, yes! And if I need to eat anything early, it'll most likely be a donut and a cup of coffee or a fried egg sandwich to hold me over til lunch. I'm just not a breakfast person. I mean, I love eating breakfast food-- like pancakes, waffles, sausages, eggs, hash browns--for lunch or dinner. And I enjoy getting up early to make breakfast for visitors. But most days, I skip breakfast all together. Surprisingly, the only times I seem to crave breakfast is after a long, intense dawn workout, during camping trips, or when I'm vacationing out of town.
I've never really thought about milk as a staple when shopping for groceries. It's definitely not a necessity in my home. Maybe if I had growing kids who liked cereal--and weren't allergic--then I would keep milk on hand. But then again, there are other groups of people across the world who don't drink milk either for various reasons.
Someday, I may make the time and effort to learn how to buy milk and use it all up properly. But I'm okay if that day never comes. I'm not a milk drinker, and that's okay. And if that makes me weird, I'm fine with that, too.