• cottage cheese

    Written Tuesday: today, Colby’s on the docket.

    My daughter is over at her grandparents, studying, and my younger son is working with my husband, so the house is quiet except for the whirring of the fans doing battle against this rash of hot humid weather. Summer’s last gasp, I hope. I’m so ready for crisp fall days, with cinnamon candles and apple pies and crunchy leaves scattered across the porch and dark nights and piles of library books. 

    My writing group was here this morning. I baked a blackberry cobbler to go with our coffee and served it with vanilla ice cream.

    Yes, you read that correctly: vanilla ice cream at nine in the morning. There are worse ways to start a day, I think.

    Right now I’m making a big batch of traditional cheddar. For me, a “big batch” equals four gallons of milk because I don’t have any pots large enough to go bigger. I don’t think my press would hold a cheese much bigger than that anyway.

    Right now I’m waiting for the curds to settle to the bottom so I can strain off the whey. And then I’ll be cheddaring the cheese — turning the slabs every 15 minutes for two hours. Lots of good writing time, yes?

    not me in this exact moment, but close enough

    So while I cheddar and whey-t (hehe), let’s talk about cottage cheese! I’ve been wanting to tell you about this recipe for weeks now. 

    Cottage cheese has, I think, a bad reputation, probably because we always say chunky gross things — like baby vomit or weird mouth rashes — look like “cottage cheese.” Which isn’t really fair to cottage cheese because cottage cheese is actually quite luxuriously delicious. Plus, cottage cheese is just curds, like the curds in any other cheese, just unpressed.

    I grew up eating it with sliced peaches, or with applesauce. Along with celery and bananas and Wonder bread with margarine, it was a treat. Oh, and I think my grandmother used to make a cottage cheese cake — like cheese cake but nubbly with bits of cottage cheese. We loved it.

    As an adult, whenever I’m at a salad bar, I almost always get a scoop of the cottage cheese to go with my salad, but aside from that, I only purchase it when I want to make lasagna — cottage cheese makes next-level lasagna, trust me — or a breakfast bake. As a result, my family rarely gets to eat it so they don’t fully appreciate its glorious wonders. (This, along with their lack of appreciation for shoofly pie, is one of my griefs.) And now I have learned how to make a cottage cheese that I, at least, think is ridiculously delicious. 

    I don’t know what it is — the creamy saltiness, perhaps, or the gentle squeak of the curd, or the toothsome chew — but I can hardly control myself around the stuff. I eat it plain or stirred into pasta or in a potato-sausage-pepper bake or in quiche or on pancakes , in my new favorite way, on baked potatoes: butter and sour cream and cottage cheese.

    I’m serious about my dairy.

    Cottage cheese holds well in the fridge for at least a couple weeks. When I make a batch, I plan several meals around it so we get to enjoy it. (Stuffed shells are in our future.) Any leftovers get tucked in the freezer; even though it doesn’t freeze well — the curds lose their distinct textural brightness — when it’s baked in a lasagna or quiche, no one can really tell. 

    Cottage Cheese
    Adapted from 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes

    For the mesophilic culture, I like flora danica. However, more often than not I use whey leftover from making another cheese (like quark) that uses mesophilic culture — ¼ cup whey per gallon.

    This is a high-yield cheese! For 2 gallons of milk, I got 1 pound 10 ounces of curds; with the cream, it was over 2 pounds.

    2 gallons milk
    ½ teaspoon mesophilic culture, like flora danica
    ½ teaspoon calcium chloride in ½ cup cool water (if using store-bought milk)
    ½ teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in ½ cup of cool water
    1-2 cups heavy whipping cream
    salt, non-iodized, like Morton Coarse Kosher

    Gently warm the milk to 70 degrees. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the mesophilic culture over the top. Wait two minutes for it to rehydrate, and then gently stir in the culture using an up-and-down motion and without breaking the surface. Gently mix in the calcium chloride (if using), and then the rennet. Place a lid on top and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. 

    Cut into ½-inch cubes using a long knife. Let stand for 5 minutes for the curds to heal and then stir gently for a couple minutes. 

    Place the kettle of curds over a smaller kettle half full of water — Voila! A double boiler! Slowly heat to 115 degrees over the course of 1 hour. I set one timer for an hour and use another timer to keep track of the stove-heating: 3 minutes with the heat on, 5 minutes with it off, or whatever works so that the heat raises about a degree every 3 or 4 minutes. (Heating too quickly makes the cheese bitter, or so I’ve read.) Stir continuously! While stirring — I like to use my hands — I search for big curds and slice them with a paring knife. Don’t squeeze the curds!

    Once you’ve reached 115 degrees, drain the curd into a cheesecloth-lined strainer and rinse them under cold water to remove all the whey. Transfer the curds to a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and add 1 cup of the cream and mix well. Let the curds sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow the curds to absorb the salt and cream. Add more cream (don’t be shy! the cream is what makes it good) and salt as needed. Even in the fridge, the curds will continue to absorb the cream, so after chilling for a day or two, you may want to add even more. 

    This same time, years previous: saag (sort of) paneer, bottle calves, cast iron skillet steak, what they talked about, nectarine bourbon pie, 2014 garden stats and notes, chile cobanero, cookies on his brain.

  • the quotidian (9.13.21)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    With yogurt instead of buttermilk, and whole wheat and barley.

    The daily haul: between two and three gallons.

    Cotswold: with heavy cream, dried onion flakes, granulated garlic, and dried chives.

    And 24 hours later: fresh out of the press.

    Our water softener is out of commission: it’s hard.

    Efficiency trick: leave the drawers open while cooking.
    (It drives my husband bonkers.)

    I love my washing machine.

    Sun stripes.

    Listening to Lord of the Flies while swinging on a swing he built.

    Science lesson: if you focus real hard, chairs levitate.

    Family hike.

    This same time, years previous: Coco, the brothers buzz, lemony mashed potato salad, the quotidian (9.12.16), playing catch-up, the good things that happen, cinnamon sugar breadsticks.

  • the cheesemaking saga continues

    Remember how I said I wished I had a grandma to teach me how to make cheese?

    Well, a few weeks back I got an email from some professor guy. Apparently one of my girlfriends works with him, and when he told her he was into cheesemaking, she mentioned that I was also making cheese: Would I be to talk about and/or trade cheeses with him? he wondered.

    I wrote back (paraphrased), Whoop! Can I come watch you make cheese? 

    But I was hoping to shadow you! he responded, which cracked me up because, judging by the cheeses he was making — Cotswold, Cheshire, butterkase, Colby, peppery Italian-style, etc — he was leagues ahead of me. 

    So anyway. That’s how, a couple Saturday’s back, I ended up in some stranger’s kitchen watching him make dill Havarti. 

    his son (or son-in-law?) built the press

    He’d cut into a Lancashire he’d made months before so we could nibble (or, as in my case, feast, ha!), as well as a Belper Knolle. Both cheese were insanely good. Like, mind-blown, bar-raised, and “take some home and don’t tell my parents when they stop by because I don’t want to share” good. This guy’s cheese was as good as — no, better than — good quality store-bought cheeses.

    Belper Knolle on the left, Lancashire on the right

    While there, I got to go down to the basement to see where he ripened and aged his cheeses. I couldn’t get over the variety of cheeses stashed away in his fridge-turned-cheese cave — they looked so professional, so delicious — and I asked about everything, from the plastic mats in the bottom of the ripening boxes to brine solution to cultures.


    Turns out, I was right on both accounts: 1) he did know much, much more than me, and 2) seeing someone make cheese — discussing and watching his process and asking questions — did wonders for my cheesemaking education. I came home from his place PUMPED.

    Right away, I made a batch of dill Havarti while the process was still fresh. I ordered supplies — ripening boxes, a better spoon, more cultures, annatto, a curd knife, more bamboo mats — as well as a new cheesemaking book that I am loving. I dug out a spray bottle of vinegar-water solution (1:1 ratio) and a roll of paper towels — I needed to be more finicky about sanitation — and made a batch of Belper Knolle (more on this later). I spent hours watching youtubers he’d recommended: the Biegel family makes their cheese from goat’s milk (check out this cheese feast), and Gavin Webber, aka The Curd Nerd, knows everything.

    makeshift double boiler for three gallons of milk

    My biggest problem, though, was figuring out how to dry cheeses at room temp — it was so crazy humid-hot in our house — and then where to keep them for long-term aging. Ideally, cheeses are aged at 56 degrees, in either a root cellar or a refrigerator that’s been cranked up high (which is what the Cheese Professor did) or in a wine fridge, but I had nothing.


    So we started testing things. Our little dorm fridge stayed too cold, as did the full-sized fridge we had in the barn. My husband began researching what it’d take to transform an old upright freezer into a cheese cave. I put out feelers on social. We scoured craigslist. Nothing. In the meantime, we stuck the air conditioner in the downstairs bedroom, turned it down way low to a chilly 63 degrees and used the whole room as my temporary cheese cave. Not very practical, but oh well.

    stirred-curd jalapeño

    And then my older son’s (then) girlfriend said her dad had an unused wine fridge we could borrow; when the two of them visited her family to announce their engagement, they brought it back with them. At first it didn’t cool properly (or at all, actually), but then my husband waved his hands over it and brought it back to life AND NOW I HAVE A FANCY-ASS CHEESE CAVE.

    Currently, I’m air drying Leicester, stirred-curd jalapeño, and Belper Knolle. And in the cave, I have stirred-curd cheddar, traditional cheddar, Monterey Jack (which I’m pretty sure is punk), and the dill Havarti. 

    The bad thing about cheesemaking is that it takes months until I know if the cheese is any good. What if we hate it? But the product seems consistent — things look as they should, I think, and the curds taste good — so I’m deciding to trust the method, the instructions, and the cheesemaking instagrammers and bloggers and just run with it. It’s not like I have any other option, right?

    This weekend I cut into one of the week-old Belper Knolles — I couldn’t take it anymore — and it was fabulous. Not as fiery and intense as it’ll be in several more weeks but good enough for me to eat a solid half of a cheese and then make plans to get going on a few more batches.

    Those little nuggets are gold

    I’m learning that cheesemaking takes time and focus. I can’t be zipping around doing a million other things (since sanitation is huge, I have to take care not to be simultaneously working with sourdough — cross-contamination with yeast is a sure-fire way to ruin a cheese) so the only other thing I can do while making cheese is read. As a result, I’ve taken to calling cheesemaking days my “Cheese and Read” time. In between monitoring temps, stirring curd, finagling double boilers, setting timers, and meticulously sterilizing equipment, I read.

    It’s a lovely way to pass an afternoon. 

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (9.10.18), what writing a book is like, retreating, 2012 garden stats and notes, whoosh!, Indian chicken.

  • has anyone made grape liqueur?

    I got it in my head that, if I could make cherry bounce, why not do something similar with grapes? A quick spin around the internets and my cookbook shelf didn’t yield much information. Or rather, there was a lot of information, but it was all over the place and recipes varied wildly.

    Finally, I narrowed it down to one of two methods:

    a) make a grape puree, add sugar and spices (cinnamon? allspice? cloves?), and then top with vodka and, after several months, strain.

    b) put grapes in jars, top with 100 proof vodka, let sit for 3 months, strain and add sugar.

    And then I found a Hank Shaw recipe for elderberry liqueur and left a comment asking for advice. Hank’s response: don’t do the grape puree version because it may cloud the drink — go with Plan B, aka his method for making elderberry liqueur.

    But then just today I found other delicious-looking methods that call for mashing the grapes (like this one) and now I’m waffling again. I love eating the cherries from the cherry bounce — wouldn’t a drunken grape puree be yummy over ice cream? 

    I could try both methods, and maybe I will, but then it occurred to me: maybe some of you have experience with this? We have a TON of grapes this year and there’s a giant bottle of 100 Proof Vodka sitting in the back hall. So tell me, please: WHAT SHOULD I DO.

    P.S. I wrote this yesterday and then, last night, I went ahead and tried the Plan B option. I still want to make another version, though — I’ve got some vodka left, and there are still loads of grapes dangling from the vine…

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (9.9.19), home again, outside eating, calf wrangling, blasted cake, swoony supper.

  • some big news

    Last week, my older son texted, I need relationship counseling. My office is open, I wrote back.

    For nearly two hours, he perched on my dresser, his heels hooked on the hanging-open bottom drawer, while we hashed out his relationship with his girlfriend, my relationship with my husband, core values, personality differences, decision-making methods, life goals, etc, etc. The two of them had a good thing going, we both agreed. Also, it’s okay to take things slow, I said. 

    The next night they came out for supper and announced they were getting married.

    Um, WHAT?!?!

    I actually wasn’t surprised — from the very beginning, our entire family has thought (and hoped) this was where the relationship was heading — but I was shocked. My son’s getting married. Our family is gaining a new sister/daughter/WIFE. What the what?!?! 

    Gradually, the news is settling. I’m beginning to wrap my head around this seismic change. Our family now includes another person. My son’s loyalties are shifting . . . and so are mine: for all these years, I’ve had his back; now I have their back. This switch is so strange — and terribly scary: vulnerability, risk, and hope are inextricably intertwined — but it’s also liberating. I’m free to love her now.

    My husband and I have been spending a lot of time processing, thinking back to our few whirlwind months of long-distance dating and our seven-week engagement when I was twenty. We were so young, we marvel, shaking our heads. That two people can decide to do life together — it’s audacious, really.

    Aren’t they radiant?

    This same time, years previous: a hernia, hip-hip!, the big finale, the proper procedure for toweling off after a shower, the quotidian (9.7.15), regretful wishing, how to clean a room, Saturday, the big night.

  • the quotidian (9.6.21)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace


    New thing I learned: cheddaring is a verb.

    Dessert sampler to go.

    Also: rice, grilled chicken, blackberry cobbler, and ice cream.

    Last week in the bakery: and now I’m sick of chocolate pie.

    August this year: hazy, hot, and horribly humid.

    Feed me?

    And then the rains came.

    Twenty-five years.

    Sunday afternoon: my view.

    This same time, years previous: made it, Southern sweet tea, five-dollar curtido, blueberry muffins, in my kitchen, in my kitchen: 5:25 p.m., the cousins came, the quotidian (9.2.13), a laundry list.

  • four fun things

    Saturday afternoon, we threw a spontaneous corn party.

    My brother’s family was here for the week, so that morning we’d all gathered at my parents’ house for breakfast. When lunchtime rolled around, everyone (minus my parents who opted to stay home and snatch a breather) transitioned to our place for lunch. 

    On the drive home, I checked my phone. A local farmer had left a message: they had seconds of fresh corn — did we want it? I followed up with her for details — 25 dozen ears, picked that morning, $2.50 a dozen (!!!) — and then phoned the rest of the family. Anybody up for doing corn? I asked.

    Sure, why not, they said.

    So that afternoon, we hauled out the big cook pots and the knives and a gazillion bowls and threw ourselves a rolicking three-hour corn party. 

    There was even live music! Here’s a snatch of a song that I filmed and sent to my older daughter, the only person missing from the festivities, as a passive aggressive ploy to make her come see us.

    Hope I didn’t make you too homesick, hon (wink-wink). We love you!


    A few weeks ago, out on an early morning walk with a friend, I noticed she was wearing soft, slip-on shoes. Hold up, I said, stopping in my tracks. Your shoes. Are they even comfortable?

    Oh, yeah, she said. They’re great. More like slippers than shoes, actually. And since they’re made from washable wool, I just throw them in the machine every few weeks to clean them. 

    Wool? I was aghast. Don’t your feet sweat? 

    Nope, she said.

    So I bought a pair!

    Now, they are pricey (mine cost nearly $80, and that was with a discount) but they are even better — way better — than I imagined. Even in this hot weather, I wear them constantly. (UPDATE: Today, in 93 degree heat and sky-high humidity, I did notice that my feet were sweating a bit. So yes, feet will sweat in them, but in normal weather they’re peachy.)

    They’re more comfortable than going barefoot, I raved to my husband.

    And then one of the Merino ads popped up on social media: Better than bare feet, it declared, and I was like, See? I told you.


    Have you seen Julia Sweeney’s talk about loosing her faith?

    My mother sent the link to me, and then my husband and I watched the two-plus hour live performance over the course of several days. Both of us loved it, probably because we appreciated Julia’s persistant questions and identified with many of her observations about religion and faith.

    Only problem: it left me wishing I was part of a book (or video) group so I’d have more people to discuss it with! 


    My brother and sister-in-law recently released this music video along with their new CD Coffee & Cake.

    Each time I watch it, I can’t help but get a little emotional. Something about the beauty of the mundane: kids running around outside, grating carrots, conversation with a spouse.

    Precious stuff, the ordinary is. 


    This same time, years previous: sixteen miles, the quotidian (8.27.18), the quotidian (8.28.17), peach crisp, bezaleel scenes, the quotidian (8.27.12), fresh tomato salad.

  • no-hands mozzarella

    Y’all, I can’t stop. This cheese, it consumes me (and I it, hehe).

    Up today: No-Hands Mozzarella!

    I’ve made mozzarella before, and it’s fast (only 30 minutes), but it involves several steps, lots of dirty dishes, whey splashes galore, and — this is the worst part — plunging your hands in painfully hot liquid. Add in this crazy hot humid weather, and making homemade mozzarella is like installing a sauna in the main part of your house: stupid.

    But homemade mozzarella is easy to make! It freezes well! It’s cheap! It goes with everything! I need my mozzarellaaaaaaaa!

    milk “jello” — right around the 100-degree mark
    (though that thick band of whey means I probably heated it a bit higher than I should have)

    So when I happened upon a video of an Italian dude making mozzarella by stirring the curd with a long wooden paddle, not his hands, I got excited. Just lots of stirring, extra hot water, and then — BAM — mozzarella, could it be?

    I tried it, but nope. It just didn’t stretch properly. 

    But THEN I saw that Kate (the quark lady) had recently done a post updating her mozzarella method and, lo and behold, she’d switched from hand-stretching to spoon-stretching (à la the Italian cheesemaker in the video)! To stretch the cheese, she just lifted it out of the whey with the spoon and let gravity do the work. The part I’d been missing, I surmised, was that I hadn’t heated the whey enough.

    So I made it again and . . . IT WORKS.

    Kate’s new method is so relaxing and easy and efficient and — most importantly — painless. No more scorched hands!

    my niece wanted a lesson

    Once the cheese is sufficiently smooth (we’re aiming for “good enough,” Kate says), she just dumps the squishy soft mass into a square container (the easier to grate it, my dears!) and pops it into the fridge. Or freezer, since it only holds a few days in the fridge.

    Have I mentioned how well it freezes?

    I’ve been trying to make a batch of mozzarella each week. Sometimes I grate it prior to freezing, other times I wrap a whole chunk in plastic and then bag it, and yet other times I vacuum seal it. 

    Course, if you want to shape the cheese into ropes and then drop them in ice water to set (though they will, once removed from the water, slump a bit), feel free!

    Mozzarella is short on flavor (but long on stretch, pun intended) so always make sure to salt it prior to eating it fresh, or while cooking with it. Most recently, I’ve been putting it on pizza (of course), tossing it into stirfries, eating fresh with slices of tomato, and sticking it in grilled cheese. 

    Speaking of grilled cheese, yesterday I made a grilled cheese using fresh mozzarella and quark and I about fell out of my seat it was so delicious.

    The quark added a gentle creamy tang and the mozzarella the incredible stretchy gooiness, and goodness gracious, oh boy, WOW.

    Talk about fireworks!

    No-Hands Mozzarella
    Adapted from Kate’s blog, Venison for Dinner.

    Since I find it easier to spoon-stretch a larger amount of curd, I usually make my mozzarella with at least 2 gallons of milk.  

    (Update: I just rewatched the video of that Italian guy making mozzarella. Maybe next time I should try hanging the curd to drain, crumbling it, stirring in salt, and then adding it back into the pot of hot, reserved whey? Might make a more flavorful cheese….)

    2 gallons milk
    3 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in ½ cup cool water
    ½ teaspoon rennet in ¼ cup cool water
    ½ cup non-iodized salt

    Heat the milk to 55 degree and gently stir in the citric acid. Continue heating the milk until it’s about 85 degrees, and then gently stir in the diluted rennet. Continue heating on low for another couple minutes — no stirring — until it’s about 95 – 100 degrees. 

    Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. At this point, the milk should be a solid block of curd — think milk jello — with a thin ring of whey around the edge. Make sure the curd is sufficiently set by sticking a table knife (or your finger) in at a 45-degree angle and then lifting up; the curd should split cleanly. 

    Stir the curds to break them up into small pieces. Let sit for several minutes — the curds should sink. Remove 2-3 quarts of whey.

    Place over medium-high heat, add the salt, and heat to 130-140 degrees, stirring every couple minutes. Right around 120 degrees, the curds should start clumping together. Once they’ve pulled together, you can start the stretching process. (The hotter the whey, the easier this is, so feel free to wait until 135 degrees or so.) 

    Using a sturdy spoon (I use one that my brother hand-carved), lift the curd out of the whey and hold, watching as the curd slowly stretches/falls back into the pot. Repeat this lifting and stretching process 10-20 times. At first, the curd will look dry and clumpy, but as it heats, it will soften and stretch. Once it’s satiny and smooth, lift it into a plastic container and pop it in the fridge. 

    Use fresh within a few days (don’t forget to salt it!), or (grate and) freeze it for later. 

    This same time, years previous: perks, the quotidian (8.26.19), a big deal, on love and leftovers, don’t even get me started, atop the ruins, on not rushing it.

  • quark

    Welp, it looks like it’s time for my weekly dairy post! How about we tackle . . . quark?


    (Note: “quark” is best vocalized loud and fast, like a cross between a goat’s bleat, a duck’s quack, and a dog’s bark: QUARK! Go on, try it. See? Wasn’t that fun?)

    I didn’t know anything about quark — QUARK! — until a few weeks ago. Turns out, it’s a German soft cheese, sibling to the French fromage blanc (or frais, or whatever), and similar to cream cheese but made with milk instead of cream. It’s actually a lot like the yogurt cheese I make but without the yogurty tang (and the extra step of making the yogurt). 

    Quark yields a gratifyingly large amount: nearly two pouds per gallon of milk if you have high-fat milk (our Daisy milk only yields 1 pound 5 ounces). Also, it’s extremely simple: culture plus time, that’s it. If you plan things right, you’ll actually be asleep for the majority of the process.

    Quark requires mesophilic starter which is expensive BUT I’ve learned that I can save the whey from the quark and use that as my mesophilic starter for futures quark, cottage cheese, monterey jack, etc. It’s brilliant! (Locals, I’ve got plenty and am willing to share.)

    Since quark differs enough from cream cheese that we don’t use it as a substitute, at least not for fresh eating, figuring out how to use the quark has been a little challenging.

    So far, I’ve used quark…
    *in place of ricotta for lasagna-type dishes: fabulous.
    *baked French toast: since I can detect a slight different flavor, I thought the kids might fuss, but they gobbled it up, syrup is magic. Also, since quark crumbles kinda like feta, it was way easier to layer with the bread — no sticky cream cheese to swear at!
    *quiche: perfect.
    *cheesecake: lovely.

    baked fresh toast

    leek and sausage, with a few fistfuls of quark and some leftover cuajada

    I was skeptical about the cheesecake. I mean, I do already have the recipe for the perfect classic cheesecake in my files, and there was no way, I thought, a milk-based cheese with a slight texture could possibly compete, right? Right. EXCEPT, cheesecake made with quark is altogether different. More dense, and with a slight tang, it’s less like a dessert and more like a nutritious food. Like if we’re comparing cheesecakes to breads, a classic cheesecake would be a brioche while cheesecake made with quark would be a rustic wholegrain sourdough. Both are delicious.

    Eating the cheesecake, one of my girlfriends actually got emotional — Oh, Jennifer, she whispered, her eyes welling up (or did I imagine that?), this is incredible! — and another declared she liked it even better than regular cheesecake. Cheesecake of the traditional sort, she said, is so rich she can only handle a couple bites, but this? This now, she could do.

    My husband and I agree that this cheese requires a tart fruit sauce, and lots of it. For our small group supper the other night, I served the cake with sugared peach slices and they just didn’t pack the right punch. However, the leftover berry drizzle that I brought home from the diner (that they used on their weekend waffles) was perfect, as would be this red raspberry sauce. Saucy and bright, that’s the goal.

    Adapted from Kate’s recipe at Venison for Dinner.

    Save a quart of the quark’s whey to use in other cheesemaking recipes that call for mesophilic starter, like cottage cheese and monterey jack. (I generally substitute about ¼ cup whey for every ⅛ teaspoon of dry culture.) The whey should hold in the fridge for at least three weeks, and maybe longer. 

    1 gallon milk
    ¼ cup whey saved from making cheese with mesophilic culture 
    (OR ⅛ teaspoon dry mesophilic culture)
    2 drops rennet mixed with 2 tablespoons cool water
    1 teaspoon salt, non-iodized

    In the evening before bed: 
    Heat the milk to 85 degrees. Gently stir in the whey, and then the diluted rennet. Pour the mixture into a gallon jar (or keep it in the kettle), lid, and let sit at room temperature overnight, approximately 12-14 hours. 

    In the morning:
    Using a long serrated bread knife, roughly cut the curd into squares. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the curd into a cheesecloth-lined strainer (don’t forget to save some of the whey for your next batch!), tie up the ends, and hang for about six hours. 

    Dump the cheese — QUARK! — into a bowl and stir in the salt (I’ve used as little as a half teaspoon and as much as two). Transfer to the fridge — it should hold for about three weeks — and use it in recipes that call for cream cheese or ricotta.

    One gallon of milk should yield about 1½ to 2 pounds of quark, depending on the fat content of your milk.  

    German Cheesecake 
    (because “Quark Cheesecake” just sounds wrong)

    Use this recipe, but substitute quark for the cream cheese, and double up on the fruit sauce.

    This same time, years previous: full circle, fresh nectarine galette, the quotidian (8.24.15), that special date, 16, coming up for air, fourteen years, the mater question.

  • the quotidian (8.23.21)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    (A couple weeks ago) he asked if he could bring some friends over for supper.
    (photo credit: my older son’s friend)

    Fig and honey pie, honeypie!

    Tidying my process: mixing milk and flavorings in the jars prior to adding the thinned-down starter.

    To meet my give-me-all-the-veggies-now! craving.

    Three bushels of nectarines. (Not pictured: two bushels of peaches.)

    These days my smoothies are more like lassis.

    Weekend cheesemaking to clear out space in the fridge.

    Sunday morning waffles…

    …and the friends who ate them.

    My very first low country boil!

    Friends treated us to a Dominican feast of mangú, saucy salami, fried cheese, yucca, and onions.

    He passed!

    Failed experiment: what with the high temps outside and hot oven inside, it did nothing.

    Finally: the parched earth drinks.

    Delivery to a new teacher on the first day of school.
    (But my handwriting was so bad, she didn’t know who it was from, oops!)

    My husband still holds the crown, but just barely.

    This same time, years previous: walk the walk 2020, chocolate cake, it’s what’s for supper, the quotidian (8.23.16), sundried tomato and basil pesto torte, proceed with abandon, stewed greens with tomato and chili, summer’s end.