Sunday, June 8, 2008

Curds and Whey

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey...

I arrived home this evening to an unpleasant discovery: ants have invaded my kitchen. I've been hearing rumors of the annual ant invasion for several weeks now, but I had so far escaped the plague. No longer. Our home, in addition to having sculpted carpet and tile counter tops (possibly the worst design idea in the history of kitchens), comes fully loaded with a host of additional residents who, as the summer heats up, are making their presence known.

I immediately wiped down all visible surfaces, ran the dishwasher, and began scouring the internet for organic pest controls. I calmed down, took a deep breath, and got to work making ricotta cheese. I've been making yogurt off and on for about 6 months now, so cheese-making seemed the logical next step for me. Making your own ricotta or yogurt requires approximately the same level of skill as boiling water; it's one of those handy talents that gets you loads of bonus points as a cool homesteader type without the hard work of making really good bread or your own sauerkraut. You bring 2 quarts of milk and 2 cups of buttermilk to an almost boil, stirring slowly to prevent the bottom from scorching. When the milk begins to really steam (at approximately 175-180 degrees) the curds will separate from the whey and float to the top. At this point you gently remove the pot from heat, ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth (at least 4 layers thick), and let them drain. After about 5 minutes, twist the cloth up around the ricotta so that it forms a ball (don't squeeze) and give it about 15 more minutes of draining time. You then practice archly raising an eyebrow and saying "I prefer homemade ricotta over that store bought stuff."

There I was, nose in air, when I met the other resident of our home: a mouse. I screamed like little Miss Muffet and began hopping around the kitchen while berating the cat for not doing her job. She was unperturbed, and meowed before leaving the room. For those of you who would like to help complete this scene, I'll be accepting donations for the Serenbe Farms tuffet-fund as soon as I figure out how to set up Paypal. Or you could buy us a decent mousetrap...

1 comment:

Farmer Stef said...

Thanks for thinking of me! :) As you can tell by the way I tied off my garlic....I guess I still have 4 more seasons to practice before perfection is demanded! :):):)