Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's the Eatin' and Relaxin' Holiday! And a Homemade Cheese Recipe.

OK - yes if you are the cook - and you are on your own - this can be a stressful time.  Hopefully many of us have the opportunity to cook with friends or family - sharing the worry and the glory.  This IS  the greatest of major holidays.  Think about it:  you don't have to produce gifts, we don't have to listen to "thanksgiving songs" for months; there are parades on TV; "marathons" of many fav shows are all over the TV as well; the aroma of the roasting turkey fills the house (and is there a better aroma?); and the next day, well come on, the next day there are Thanksgiving Leftovers!!! There is nothing more to say.  Leftovers of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, cole slaw, not to mention great pies and desserts. . . Oh, I have to stop! I have two days to go!

The meal itself contributes vastly to the relaxing nature of the day.  After all of that heavy, high carb, high fat food, what else are you gonna do?  And, folks, that's OK - stop listening to the wackos on local news telling you to "drink lots of water" before Thanksgiving dinner!!!  Don't come to my table, after all of the work I've put into it, loaded up with water!  It's OK to indulge once in awhile; it's OK to enjoy and feast and hang out at the table and then pick at the leftovers in the 'fridge a few hours later.  Life is nothing without the occasional splurge - so dig in - and ignore those who are constantly talking about what they shouldn't eat and how they have eaten too much, etc.  Let's face it, they need professional help anyway! 

We will be feasting with our dear friends at their gorgeous farm in the beautiful Lehigh Valley.  Happily, we are all serious cooks; so there's lots of division of labor.  And, for the most part, we are traditionalists when it comes to Thanksgiving.  I will provide a full report next week, but there are some special treats planned too, along with the traditional fare.  And some delicious cocktails and wines as well.  And, of course, we will be joined in feasting by four dogs - so, we will be out in the crisp air, walking the furry family members on a regular basis.  Wow! Exercise!

I hope that none of you will find yourselves standing in lines at midnight waiting to get into big box and chain stores - send them a message they need to hear.  And remember the 3/50 rule.  Shop at your local, independently owned businesses if you shop on Black Friday or at any time during the holiday shopping season.  Support family owned businesses - you'll find more original, higher quality gifts, too.

I wish for all of you a warm, filling, fun and relaxing Thanksgiving. Look around the table and reflect on how wonderfully lucky you really are and wallow in that for awhile. And enjoy those leftovers!!!


Here's a quick, delicious recipe that is very useful if you find yourself with milk and cream left over.  Homemade Ricotta is a bit like Farmers Cheese or Queso Fresca.  After all of the heavy food, it makes a nice foil for snacking or melting over pasta or for a morning treat, drizzle some honey over it with a few shakes of cinammon.  Delicious with a cup of hot steaming coffee.

Note:  this recipe makes about one cup; to make two cups just double the ingredients.

Ingredients:  1 quart of whole milk (I use raw milk); 1/2 cup heavy cream (organic is best); 1/4 teaspoon salt; and 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (must be fresh, no bottled stuff!)

Line a large sieve with a layer of cheesecloth; place it over a large bowl.

Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  When you get to the boil, add the lemon juice, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles - this can take anywhere from 2 - 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for at least 1 hour.  After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; It will keep in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 days.


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