When I try something new, I really, truly, seriously try. Case in point: yogurt.

I’d never made yogurt before, but I wasn’t nervous at all. I had my Greek yogurt starter, the most expensive local dairy milk I could find, and read the instructions until they were memorized. Failure was not an option.

I thought I knew it all.

Then my yogurt turned into something resembling snot. Interesting, I thought.

But I didn’t give up.

The second time around, you would have thought I was assembling a nuclear reactor on my counter top. All of my tools were lined up in the order they were needed. I wore an apron that resembled a lab coat. I wore my extra thick, nerdy glasses. While heating the milk, I kept the thermometer exactly one centimeter off the bottom of the pot the entire time until it reached 180 degrees. I wore rubber gloves to avoid contamination. I used a different spoon every time I stirred. I logged temperatures and texture observations. I leveled off all measurements precisely, scraping off excess with a butter knife.

Failure. Was. Not. An. Option…

…until it was, and I had a breakdown. You know that scene from Julie & Julia when Julie got frustrated with a whole naked turkey she was stuffing, dropped it on the floor, then collapsed into a ball of tears and regret? It doesn’t hold a candle.

How could I not make this happen? How can I possibly be a good customer support rep if I can’t even make yogurt? What am I doing? Who am I? What is life?

The next day was Saturday. I woke up to a morning chorus of birds and gently falling leaves. I walked to the store and bought the cheapest gallon of whole pasteurized milk they had. I dumped about a quarter of it into a pot, turned on my stove, and made a sandwich. Eventually I took the temperature: 185. Too hot.

Whatever. I’m over this.

I poured the milk into a glass bowl to cool. It splashed on my cabinet doors. I watched an episode ofMr. Robot. I measured the temperature. It was around 110 degrees. I eye-balled two tablespoons of starter. I sloshed it around and put it in my Yogotherm. I went to Target and bought a rug and some yogurt to eat. I read a book, and when the power blinked on and off, I didn’t reset the blinking clock on my stove (apparently a squirrel in my neighborhood had an unfriendly interaction with a transformer).

I made my favorite Spanish soup for dinner, then noticed the Yogotherm out of the corner of my eye. I strolled over, my fuzzy house slippers dragging across the floor. I opened the lid, and the yogurt was perfectly set.

What? No snot? But I didn’t measure! What is this? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

I may have cried.

Before going into a state of shock, I placed the pail in the fridge. In the morning I ate my first bowl of thick, smooth, tangy… perfect greek yogurt. I accepted my chill pill, and swallowed it whole.

Cultures don’t hold grudges. They forgive. They forget. They thrive on love, and never seek perfection. Tips and tricks and measurements and flawless technique are all important, but I’ve learned that intuition and patience are a home-fermenter’s most invaluable traits.

Relax! Have fun. It’s just yogurt. It’ll happen.