Having dealt with lactose sensitivities much of my life, it was fairly recently that I was able to open my culinary landscape to include what I'm sure is one of your routine snacks: yogurt. It was a kid in the candy store kind of situation—I was at a fancy brunch party where the host had made everything from the muesli to the buckwheat waffle batter himself. The homemade parfaits looked so good, but dare I try them? One spoon (and a fifteen minute pause), then another (then a fifteen minute pause) and there were no signs of protest from my often-vocal belly. I'd conquered the yogurt battle, for once and for all!
So how does all this relate to kitchen gadgets? This is my long-winded way of telling you about my next dilemma: learning that I love my yogurt tart but smooth—not too thick—and finding very few brands to cater to my super specific tastes. And more importantly, the one after that: learning to make my own so I could finally stop hunting. Long story short, I have some significant feelings for my Waring Pro Yogurt Maker ($42.99 at Amazon.com).
But before you get the wrong idea, I can't say they're entirely feelings of love. Yes, I love the idea of making yogurt at home, and I love how there's not much required in the process. Pick your milk and warm it up to 180 degrees, bring it down to 120, add cultures, and pour it into the cups—voila! But not so fast: It's no small strategic mission to control for tartness and texture, and using your favorite as a starter helps (but only if it's added in at room temperature, as to not interfere with your mixture's oh-so-precise settings).
I chose the Waring Pro model because of its sleek design and functional containers: They're made of plastic so I can't break them, and they come in two sizes so I can mix and match for my particular needs. Plus, the self timer and alarm are awfully handy. Overall, it's designed well.
That said, my issues with the machine are more issues about making homemade yogurt: It's a process that can simplify your life and cut costs if, and only if, you put in the time and effort to figure out just how to make it work best for your super specific palate (assuming you take your yogurt as seriously as I do, which I'm sure you do, being the serious eaters you are). Two months and many near-functional batches of yogurt in, I'm still working that out myself. I'm not sure how much more of an ingredient investment I'll have to make before I crack the code, and for that matter, how many batches I'll have to make from there on before I eventually break even.