A kitchen-y kind of day

May 7, 2016

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers' market season has begun. Hallelujah!

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers’ market season has begun. Hallelujah!

It’s a day to spend in the kitchen. Just because I can.

By the time the clock struck noon today, I’d made a quart of yogurt (well, it’s still incubating, but I had it started), a pound and a half of ricotta cheese, some tuna-and-tortellini salad with the leftover cheese tortellini from last night, some tuna noodle salad with the traditional mayonnaise dressing for Child A, and I had the dough rising for a big batch of rolls. Plus I’d been to the first Farmers Market of the season, and to the grocery.

I feel plumb virtuous.

Also on today’s agenda is to cook some beans for baked beans (they’re soaking now); make a marinated vegetable salad with carrots, cauliflower and cucumber; make another salad with asparagus, green peas and hearts of palm; bake the rolls, some as slider buns to go with country ham, as it is Derby Day and one just ought to; some as rolls for dinner tomorrow, some as po-boy buns for the freezer; and make some potato salad for lunch tomorrow. The pork loin is already sous vided (and if that’s not a verb it ought to be), and the plan is to get everything else ready so I don’t have much to do on Mothers Day except enjoy the 2/3 of my children who’ll be here.

Leftover tortellini (sans sauce) from last night became salad, with tuna, today.

Leftover tortellini (sans sauce) from last night became salad, with tuna, today.

I was somewhat distraught at the market this morning because my asparagus vendors were Not There, and I had already earmarked a big chunk of my market budget for that. Not to be outdone, because I’ve been thinking of that asparagus salad all week, I stopped by the grocery and bought some. Won’t be as good, but soaked in a viniagrette, the difference won’t be as noticeable.

The marinated veggies are a favorite, and I’ve been wishing I had a big bowl and just waiting to pick up some good cucumbers. Found those at the market this morning, along with ripe tomatoes, green tomatoes and green beans from the Amish folks with the greenhouse. Snow peas, zucchini, radishes and kettle corn completed my purchases there. I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of produce for this early in the year.

The salad will have the cucmbers, some cauliflower that’s been in the fridge long enough it needs using, and some carrots, the latter parboiled long enough to get just a tiny bit soft. I may throw in half a raw onion, sliced, for a little flavor. Dressing is 1 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup sugar or Stevia (probably Stevia, in the interest of calorie counting), a little white pepper, some celery seed and a little dry mustard. Very similar to my jail slaw recipe, sans turmeric. Lots of people put bell pepper strips in as well; I will when I’m making it to take somewhere, but otherwise, I don’t, as I do not like bell pepper. You can also use broccoli, daikon radish, regular radishes, and most any other firm veggie you care to use. Because of the vinegar, it’ll keep pretty much forever in the fridge, and you can just keep adding veggies to it.

Not sure what I’ll do with the ricotta, but it’s wonderful, creamy stuff, easy to make, good in all manner of recipes or slathered on a piece of toast. Not much is easier than making ricotta; put half a gallon of 2 percent milk and a pint of heavy cream in a big pot, heat it to 200 degrees and take it off the heat before it boils. Stir in 1/3 cup white vinegar or lemon juice, and a teaspoon and a half, or thereabouts, of salt. Stir it until it starts to curdle, then go away and leave it along for 30 minutes or so. Line your big colander with a clean tea towel (not terry, but the plain flat cotton kind) or cheesecloth, and pour the pot contents into it. The whey will drain through, leaving you with milk solids which are, guess what? Ricotta cheese! Gather the corners of your cloth up and tie them in a knot over your faucet, and let your ricotta drain as long as you wish; I let mine go about an hour. You can then stir fresh herbs or spices into it, if you have a notion, or just stick it in the fridge. I may make a ricotta cake to put strawberries over.

A word about cost: I bought a gallon of milk this morning for two bucks. Cream I had paid $1.69 a pint for when I was at Aldi t’other day. A third of a cup of vinegar is probably 10 cents, max. So let’s say I had $2.75 in ingredients in this. A pound of ricotta will run you $4, minimum, and this made a pound and a half. And it’s fresh. Boo-yah. The cost savings in yogurt is not quite as great — again, around $2.75 in ingredients, as the yogurt starter is not cheap, and it makes a generous quart, which will also run you $4, minimum, at the grocery. And it’s not very labor intensive — just time and a few pennies’ worth of electricity.

The cheese generated me nearly two full quarts of whey, half of which I used in the bread, and the other half of which I put in the fridge. The whey from the yogurt I’ll likely put in the freezer, as it needs to be used within a couple of weeks of fridge storage.

Sustainability-R-Us. It’s going to be a big Mothers’ Day dinner at Chez Keyboard tomorrow, so you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em stop by if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

And wherever you are….if you’ve still got your mama, go see her tomorrow and take her a bottle of wine. After all, you’re the reason she drinks. I know it’s so; I saw it on Facebook.



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