Back in the kitchen!

January 28, 2012

Feels good, too.

I’m cooking all sorts of disparate things. To date today, I’ve made sheep’s milk ricotta, have a batch of tamarind braised pork in the crock pot, and have the sponge rising for some multigrain gluten-free bread. Next up is either some tomato sauce or tomato soup, yet to be determined which. And there’s fresh mozzarella cheese to be made, so I can enjoy the real stuff with my tomatos.

This makes me happy. And it, and I, are in my kitchen, which also makes me happy.

Damn, it’s good to be back. Orlando was OK. It’s not my favorite Florida city — what’s the point of going to Florida if you’re not going to the beach? But the weather was nice and I spent one afternoon by the pool drinking Bloody Marys, and went one evening to a Cuban restaurant and had quite respectable lechon asado and plantains, so I have no major complaints. Except that when the waitstaff at the banquet asks if you have any dietary restrictions, and I tell them “nothing with wheat flour,” and then get a chicken breast with bread crumbs on it….well. They did not bring me a roll, which I guess was their nod to gluten-free, and there was a nice flourless chocolate tart that was intensely chocolatey.

What brings me back to cheesemaking, which I had commenced almost a year ago and then abandoned? The fact that for the first time since I abandoned it, I have access again to fresh milk, both the cow and sheep variety. As referenced in the photo caption above, this makes me happy. Very happy. And it’ll be regular access, too, since Ed my organic farmer, he of the formerly PJF, now Mountain Pastures organic beef, pork and lamb, now is supplying his faithful CSA members, of whom I am proud to be one, with fresh milk. And cheese. And I am just about delerious with joy over it.

Gettin' there....

I started out with ricotta, because all you need to make that is milk, salt and vinegar. It could’ve used a little more vinegar; it was a touch bland. It also drains dry much more quickly than does cow’s milk ricotta. Decent yield, though; a quart of sheep’s milk yielded me a good cup of ricotta. I’m thinking that’s going to appear on a pizza some time soon.

I also had to yield to the temptation to drink a small glass of it. Ed was giving away samples a couple of weeks ago at the market, and I couldn’t believe how excellent the sheep’s milk tasted. It’s very rich and creamy, and actually sweet. So about the first thing I did when I got home was to pour a glass and drink it — the first glass of milk I’ve drunk in, oh, probably 10 or 15 years. Because, you see, I have a mild case of lactose intolerance; I can cook with milk products, eat hard cheese in sizeable quantities or soft cheese in smaller quantities without it bothering me, but if I consume more milk than what I use on cereal, it ain’t pretty.

The finished product!

I figured it’s the weekend, I’ve got no plans to go anywhere, so the excellence of the taste would be worth the ill effects. Which, surprisingly, I have not experienced yet, and that was three hours ago.  I’ve read that lactose intolerance can be spurred by gluten intolerance, which leads me to wonder if my abstention from gluten has anything to do with the fact I drank milk and am not troubled by it. Or maybe it’s that it’s sheep’s milk, or that it’s unpasteurized and unhomogenized.

But damn, it’s good.

And I’m about to betake myself to the New England Cheesemaking Supply site and order some of the stuff to make more cheese, now that I have ready access to milk. Yeah, buddy. You and y’mama ‘n ’em come get you some cheese and crackers. I’m about to try my hand at gluten-free crackers, maybe tomorrow, because? Those suckers are about four bucks for a teeny-tiny box, and I’m thinking I can do that good on my own. May have to experiment.

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