Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Coming soon...

Recipe for my latest creation: a spring soup with leeks, asparagus and peas, flavored with lemon zest and lemon juice, finished with chives, chopped pistachios and drizzle of orange-infused olive oil. I forgot to take pics as I went along until the very end (Ugh, I do this a lot)!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Greens, Greens and Greens

What is growing these days in the hoop house? Greens and lots of them. We are indeed lucky!






Making Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

I love getting fresh raw milk from the farm every now and then and previously made homemade yogurt that was on an earlier blog post. I have also made fresh mozzeralla cheese before but this time I decided to add it to the blog.

I bought a cheese-making kit from Zingerman's mail order (you can also drive to the Creamery in Ann Arbor and pick it up in person) that has everything you need but the milk to make cheese 30 times starting with 1 gallon of milk. I follow the instructions pretty much as given in the kit but I thought it would be helpful to see various steps in pictures. This is a fast (about an hour in all) and fun process that I encourage everyone to try. 

Here are my starting ingredients: 1 gallon raw whole milk and the kit:

I first warm the milk and citric acid solution on low heat (especially when using unpasturized milk) while stirring frequently until temperature reaches 88 degrees F (for raw milk). Then I add the rennet and let it stand for a few minutes until the milk sets:

Milk warming slowly

Separation of the curds from whey

 I cut the curds into cubes:


It goes back on low heat while stirring until the temperature is 90 degrees F. Then more gentle folding of the curd and strain into a colander. I don't save the whey although some people do.

This is where experience and skill comes in. The goal is to slowly heat the curds until you get a nice stretchy homogeneous blob of cheese that can be pinched off into balls. You can use the microwave method or the water bath method. I use the water bath method where you keep increasing the temperature of the water while folding and stretching the cheese. I put a kettle on the stove to heat water and start with the curds in the colander and start submerging into a large bowl and mix until they start to come together. Here is a great YouTube video you can watch where I learned from: 


Then I will move it into the bowl and start working it.


Once it is nice and smooth you I start forming balls of any size and pinch it off, put it in 50 degree water bath for 5 min. and then transfer to an ice water bath for 15 min. Then I blot the balls dry and wrap up in plastic wrap.


And Viola! Cheese.

This didn't last long, used it up in a pasta salad, bruschetta and pizza:


Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Spring!

Hello All,

So sorry to have been off the grid for so long, had a crazy fall and winter, some of it traveling to India with my daughter and mother. It was a great trip but then we returned to the arctic weather, which seemed to go on and on.

But it is spring again finally and I made my first visit to the farm last week, where the earth just looked like it was ready to nurture and grow new crops. Still a few weeks left to safely assume we are out of the woods for frost.


So great that the greens in the hoop house made it through the brutal winter and are ready to start harvesting. I just had a great salad with these greens for lunch today.

For those of you who are new or are returning but need a refresher on Processing Greens or Salad Dressings 101, you can visit my earlier blog entries.

It will be a while for new veg (besides greens) to start cropping up, so I will catch up on some blog entries that I have been so behind on. Hope you will continue to enjoy the blogs, the recipes and the pictures. As always, feel free to send your thoughts and ideas.

Pics from the end of the season potluck

As we wait for the new growing season to begin, here are some pictures for you to enjoy from last year's end of the year potluck on October 6, 2013. Even though it was a rainy afternoon, it was warm and cozy in the main hoop house and very beautiful. A great time was had by all and the food made by everyone was delicious! I will try to dig up some of the recipes from the potluck and post them. Thank you Deb W. for the awesome pics!







Sunday, September 22, 2013

Potato-Leek Soup

We got lots of potatoes and leeks from the farm so it is definitely time to make a nice hot pot of potato-leek soup this time of year. I try to make mine not quite so caloric while still retaining a rich taste. I use a combination of olive oil and butter and use mostly vegetable stock to cook the soup and add whole milk/cream just at the end.

Slice up leeks (white and light green parts) and a few cloves of garlic. Peel and cube potatoes (fairly small) and rinse in cold water. Take out about a third of the potatoes and boil them in a separate pot until just tender and set aside. In a soup pot, add a little olive oil and a couple tablespoons of butter until melted, add the leeks and garlic and sauté. You will want to cook the leeks until they are starting to brown and get melty.


Then add the uncooked potato cubes, salt, pepper and a couple cups of vegetable broth mixed with a couple cups of water, a couple bay leaves and leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme. 

Bring to boil and turn down heat to a simmer. Add a splash or so of dry sherry if you have some. Boil until potatoes get very tender- where you can mash them on the side of the spot with a wooden spoon. Find and remove the bay leaves. Now you can puree this mixture with an immersion blender. If don't don't have one of these (and I highly recommend buying one because of its immense value), you can puree in a regular blender but be very careful blending hot liquids, be sure to work in small batches and allow steam to escape. 


After you puree the mixture return to low heat and add the other third of the boiled potatoes to give the soup some texture and add about a cup of whole milk/half-and-half mixture (or heavy cream if you like). Let warm up again but do not boil. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper and add more liquid if you want a thinner consistency. 

I serve this with toppings such as chopped chives and cheese. You can even make it more substantial with some grilled sausage- which goes very well with this soup.

And it's a great meal to eat by a nice fire on a chilly Fall evening.