Some random cooking bits...
:: During my holiday illness I gave up dairy. Not a big thing, really, but since we get our milk by subscription, we have two fresh gallons every week whether we need it or not. This is usually the perfect amount for us, but since I'm the main milk-drinker and I was not drinking milk, I opened the 'fridge one day and realized I had four full gallons that I needed to do something with. I'd been looking for some motivation to experiment and here it was.
The first thing I tried was cottage cheese. I followed this tutorial, but I think I want to do some digging and see if I can make it without heating it at all. It's incredibly easy; essentially you leave a bowl of raw milk out on the counter until it thickens to the consistency of yogurt, then heat it to separate the curds from the whey, and drain. It sounds silly, but leaving milk out was a huge mental hurdle for me. I kept hearing a motherly voice in the back of my mind shouting for me to "put the milk away!" But, I carried on. After a couple days I skimmed off the cream and had the creamiest, smoothest, and most delicious sour cream that I've ever tasted. Because we keep our house so cool, it actually took almost a full week for the milk to thicken to the proper consistency. I only narrowly avoided an anxiety attack every time I pulled back the tea towel to check on it. Then after heating and draining I had what you see pictured above. Calling it "cottage cheese" is a bit misleading, as it is not at all similar to the cottage cheese that you might buy in the store, which is cultured to get its flavor and has much larger curds. I tried it as is and, to be honest, was not blown away. It was a little dry. Not incredibly flavorful. But then I doused it in some fresh cream and seasoned it with a pinch of salt and it was as if I had performed some magic. Nothing short of amazing. I will definitely make this again.
I was surprised by how much whey was left over. From a half gallon of milk, a quart and a half of it was whey. I didn't want to just dump it down the sink, though. I found this list of uses and followed its suggestion to use it in baking. I tried scones and pancakes with whey and both were very good. Even though I'm back to drinking milk, I'm still playing catch-up. Next on my list is butter (and buttermilk) and yogurt. I've tried yogurt once before and it was a bit of a runny mess. I'm excited to see if making it with raw milk makes any difference.
:: I made this hummus this weekend. It may seem completely crazy to peel each individual chickpea, but I did it and it was totally worth the effort. Smooth and creamy hummus. Yum. And I really didn't even mind the peeling that much. It appealed to the OCD part of my personality.
:: We tried red kuri squash for the first time this past week. It may have completely changed my outlook on squash. I'm not a squash connoisseur, for sure, but I've been so far uninspired by the flavor of those that I've tried. Red kuri, however, is actually quite yummy. I bought it to make this soup, and used the other half in this side dish. Both were quite good.