Several people asked about my kefir experiment. I haven't tried making real kefir yet with kefir grains because they can be a little hard to get (I have found someone who might be able to give me some soon though), so I've only tried the Yogourmet kefir starter. And since it produces kefir that I am totally satisfied with, I'll probably stick with that unless I get the grains and they are amazing.
It's easy, easy, easy to make with the freeze-dried starter. You just mix the starter with room temperature milk (I mixes up some powdered milk, like I always do for yogurt, so I didn't have to reheat the milk) and let it sit for 18-24 hours on the counter. Then stick it in the fridge overnight and stir it up in the morning and enjoy. Save about 1/4 c of the original batch to start your next liter of kefir (apparently you can do this about 7 times, which is pretty reasonable). You can also make kefir cheese if you let it incubate a little longer till the curds and whey separate; drain it in cheesecloth like you do for yogurt cheese or paneer.
And what is kefir, you might ask? It's a cultured milk product that originated in the Caucasus. Like yogurt, people sing the praises of its health benefits (especially the probiotics), but I just make it because I like to drink it. The boys like it in smoothies better since it is pretty sour. You can also use it in recipes in place of buttermilk, if you like. Kefir tastes the way buttermilk should taste, in my opinion. And if you live in Central Asia, you might be able to buy more reliable kefir than milk.
And how do you pronounce kefir? I've always said keh-fear, as they do in Russia, but when I started asking for kefir started in Utah, no one knew what I was talking about till I said KEY-fur. Ick. Of course, most people didn't know what I was talking about anyway.