This recipe isn't quite in the spirit of cooking for the busy and broke. Although it is cheap to make, it also takes about two hours. Why this sudden departure from the theme of my blog? I have a story about that...

    Today I was sick at home with what might possibly be Swine flu. Not that I particularly wanted to go to class feeling as lethargic as I am, but my official reason for staying home today is that I have received several very nice emails from the Chancellor of UC Davis and various other important people over the past few weeks begging me not to attend class if I was having flu-like symptoms. I wouldn't  want to go against the wishes of the Chancellor of UC Davis, now would I? Not after she begged me so nicely...

    So here I was at home, looking for ways to be productive without exerting myself, when I discovered an unopened quart of milk in my fridge that was about to expire. I didn't want to throw it away if I could help it, because that's just wasteful. Besides which, I have wanted to try my hand at making dulce de leche since last spring when we discussed it in my introductory food science class. So I followed the old adage: What do you do when life gives you way too much free time and a quart of almost-expired milk? Make dulce de leche!
This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's recipe, which I found at

1 quart skim milk
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Melt the butter in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add about half a cup of milk, and stir vigorously to mix in the butter. Now gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring constantly. Add the vanilla, then dissolve the sugar in the milk and butter mixture. When the sugar is completely dissolved, incorporate the baking soda. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

The starting point                                    15 minutes in and bubbling like crazy

after 45 minutes                                      1 hour in

at 1 1/2 hour                                            after 2 hours