I have no idea why this only occurred to me now. Seriously.
If I could pick one thing that always seems to trip me up it is missing when when the temp of the milk has gotten out of range. I have inadvertently over heated many batches (creating many new types of edible cheese, I hope). My problem is that I use a thermapen instant read digital thermometer. Which means that I need to THINK "gee, I should check the temperature" and then do it. Simple, right? Not when you have a twelve year old daughter, husband, four dogs, two cats, 10 chickens, a rooster, four goats, a llama all to be taken care of AND the inevitable multitasking that comes with a full time job that is never quite 9-5 (I'm a physician, actually).
So last weekend I broke down and used one of those old-fashioned thermometers that clips to the side of the pot. That was an improvement. I just needed to walk by and check without having to clean the thermapen between uses. Besides, there is always chocolate in the fridge in my house, and really, dark chocolate is good for you, RIGHT? Perhaps not in the quantities I consume. Just like patients always underestimate their drinking, I consistently underestimate the amount of chocolate I eat. Only my husband knows, and then not really, since there is the little girl to blame. Anyway, the point is that I am often wandering through the kitchen, so the old-fashioned thermometer worked - as long as I was hanging around in the kitchen.
Well, some days are more exhausting than others. Sometimes a good veg on the couch is in order. Or perhaps it is time to go outside and feed bits of carrot to the baby goats - or milk the momma goat. Sometimes I just want to be able to hang out reading posts on cheeseforum.org - you know?
That's when I remembered the gift I gave my husband this Christmas - a WIRELESS BARBECUE THERMOMETER. The 6 inch "food" probe is hanging into a gallon of milk I am currently pasteurizing. The temp has climbed to 151F, but I turned off the heat and removed the lid, so I am not worried. And best of all, I can check the temp at my computer, on the couch, outside, in the bathtub (yeah, right). Anyway - I CAN'T RECCOMEND THIS ENOUGH! I definitely thinks it compensates for the inattention that comes from a glass or two of wine, too.
Also, you can set an alarm to alert you when it has dropped above or below a certain temp. Perfect.