Homemade Ricotta

I love making this cheese because it makes me feel like an accomplished homesteader. Something about a basic ingredient being elevated into something new makes me feel like I’ve achieved the impossible. It also stirs visions of life among cloth covered wagons and tipi living (I’m part New American and part Native American).

The act of turning milks into cheeses and preserving fruits, veggies and meats is so simple and basic and it feels so “right”. I know, we now have the convenience of stores where you can buy this stuff already made. And refrigeration has nearly obliterated preserved foods from our diet leaving only meager snack foods like dried fruits in trail mixes, or wasabi peas at bars, beef jerky on camping trips, or jam in our PB&Js.

Forget these conveniences and give it a try. Turn back the clock (heck, break the clock) and take some time to do a task our ancestors have done for centuries. Make some cheese. Dry some apples. Can some tomatoes. They will be better than any store bought option, I promise!

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homemade ricotta
Adapted from a recipe from smitten kitchen.com

• 3 cups goat milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 3 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt into a pot and heat the milk to 190 degrees on medium low heat. I bought a candy thermometer just for this recipe. Be sure not to burn the bottom by stirring often. I use a wooden spoon. Definitely don’t walk away from the pot. It’ll go quickly.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

You can keep the whey to lactose ferment things like cabbage into saurcraut. Check out the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for more recipes using whey.

Happy preserving!

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Spinach Dip

To me (and I apologize in advance), Super Bowl Sunday means scrumptious bits and funny commercials.

Our menu today consists of my BFF’s chili recipe, nachos, chicken wings and spinach dip. I’ll post the most important recipe, the chili once I have clearance from my BFF. In the meantime, here’s the spinach dip recipe. Go Niners!!

(BTW: does anyone else remember the 49ers song, “49ers, ha! we’re dynamite!”)

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Spinach Dip

* 1 pkg. Simply Organic Spinach Dip mix OR Knorr Vegetable Soup mix [dry mix]
* 2 cups sour cream
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach defrosted
* 2 green onions, finely chopped
* 4 oz. of water chestnuts, drained and diced into tic tac sized pieces

Mix it all together. Pop it into the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Serve with sourdough bread.

Chewy oatmeal raisin pecan cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies are my husband’s favorite (well actually, he has many favorite cookies, ice cream flavors, really anything sweet is his favorite but these are in the top somewhere). We have a cute glass cookie jar that’s been packed away during the remodel that I just rediscovered. With these two motivators and a two year old asking to make cupcakes, we made chewy oatmeal raisin and pecan cookies last night. (The two year old was fine with the cookie substitute for her cupcake. Though, I assume her flexibility is something I need to treasure while its present. I’m not looking forward to the day when she isn’t keen on substitutes.)

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oatmeal raisin pecan cookies

* 1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temp
* 2/3 cup of packed brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup pastry flour or all purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 3/4 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp salt
* dash of nutmeg
* 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
* 3/4 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Add the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add these dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. Once its all mixed, fold in the oats, raisins and pecans.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spoon and roll the dough into ping pong sized balls and place on the parchment (leave 2″ between cookies).

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Bake for 10-12 mins or until just golden around the edges.

Eat up!