Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gotta have a plan

I like to cook and I like to read about cooking, but I don't consider myself a foodie per se. I'm more of a farm-to-fork kind of person in the sense that I am interested in cooking from scratch-scratch. I garden, and what I can't raise in my backyard I try to buy locally, including meat, eggs, and milk.

As frequent readers of this blog (and its predecessors) know, I own a share of a dairy herd. I pay a monthly boarding fee and in exchange am entitled to receive fresh (unpasteurized, unhomogenized) milk, usually two gallons every two weeks. This is a bit much for one person to drink, but I've been experimenting with other uses.

Ice cream: As a gift for my fifteenth anniversary at work, I selected an ice cream maker (because the KitchenAid stand mixer was not available). So far, I have made vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, and (last night) (burnt) butter pecan. The device comes with a recipe book, which has been a starting point for developing my own recipes.

Yogurt: I eat yogurt almost everyday, and in a previous life kept our family of four well supplied. I wish they still made that particular Salton yogurt maker, but I am making do with a non-electric one.

Frozen yogurt: Homemade ice cream is great, but there is only so much cream on top of each gallon. So now I have started making frozen yogurt. Most commercial fro yo tastes like ice cream, but it's not supposed to - it is supposed to retain that yogurt tang. Mine has that tang, which goes really well with fruit.

Butter: And if I am not using the cream for ice cream, I can use it for butter. So far I have made butter only once, using the old fashioned method of shaking a jar of cream until the butter magically separates. And then you also have buttermilk. If I had that stand mixer, this would be a much easier process.

Cheese: I've already listed the cheeses I have made. Making cheese and consuming cheese are two different things, though. It helps to have a plan for fresh cheese, as it won't keep as long as store-bought. Last night I started a batch of fromage blanc, which is now draining. It is going to become cheesecake, one of our xmas traditional foods. Next up is mozzarella and, from the whey, ricotta, for lasagna.

Sometimes I can't use up the milk before it turns. Soured milk can still be used in a variety of ways. If all else fails, it can be poured on the garden as a fertilizer or on the compost pile as a booster. And acid-loving plants appreciate a dose of whey left over from cheesemaking.

Good thing I am not lactose intolerant.

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