19 September, 2007


Last Saturday, apple picking at The Elegant Farmer, Mukwonago, WI.

I have to keep it short this week, I'm busy preparing for the highest of sausage holidays, Octoberfest. A quick note on last week's ricotta cheese experiment: The next day the cheese had mellowed and I used it to make a lasagna sort of dish with tomatoes and eggplant. It was pretty darn good. Making cheese at home is fun. Impress your friends.

But first say goodbye to Summer, and welcome the Fall by standing outside with a beer in one hand und a sausage in the other.

Ein Prosit!

12 September, 2007

Building Blocks

Experiment 21B, Ricotta Cheese.

If you are looking for something good to make at home this weekend, do not read this article. The tale I present here is not exactly one of woe but a rill that starts from a spring of good idea, winds through thicket, opens to fertile plains, yet does not quite reach the promise of open sea. Keep paddling.

A couple of weeks ago I started ruminating upon making cheese. I wanted a fresh cheese that could be good for pizza. After some searching, I decided to try Ricotta: It's simple, quick, and I had all the ingredients required on hand. I found a nice write-up about making ricotta at the Fias Co Farm Website. As noted on the website ( and also documented in The Oxford Companion to Food, p 666, and Larousse Gastronomique, p. 888,) Ricotta, is Italian for re-cooked, and ricotta cheese is made from heating the whey created when making hard cheese. I know what you are thinking, and no, I didn't have whey on hand, and I haven't been making hard cheese (but I am thinking about it, I would have to start a new blog, Fromage MAC) This ricotta is made from milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. The first time I made it with lemon juice, it turned out pretty good, a slight lemony twang to it. The texture was a bit rubbery, but I probably let it hang too long. It was still good on top of pizza.

Yesterday, I decided to try it again, this time with vinegar. Let's go to the boards:

First I gently heated one gallon of whole milk (bought at the grocery), to 200F. Next I added about 90ml of rice wine vinegar (a bad choice). I covered the pot let it stand for ten minutes, then transferred the mixture to a colander lined with cheese cloth.

The fabric in the picture is actually unbleached muslin. Instead of paying $3.50 for a small package of cheese cloth, I paid 99 cents a yard at Jo Ann's (my mom would be proud). The weave on the muslin is a little tighter so it is not an exact substitute, but it seemed to work well in this application.

I tied off the cheese to hang for a couple of hours. The water draining out of the curd is whey. I saved it because it's good for other uses: I cooked couscous with it.

Et Voilà, 970 grams of cheese. Perfect texture, add salt to taste. Oh yeah the taste. I didn't take into account the wine part of rice wine vinegar: The cheese had a fermented-alcohol flavor, not appropriate for a fresh cheese. I accidentally poured some of the whey into H's milk glass and he asked, "Daddy why does this milk taste like bread?" Maybe a plain white vinegar will do the trick, or try the lemon again, or I just remembered, I have some citric acid left over from canning tomatoes. I will figure it out. You should work on it too, it's fun.


04 September, 2007

Postcard from Addis

Hi Macmac--

This weekend some buddies and me went out of town for a tibs (fried goat) and tej(honey wine) fest. We also got some tera sega (raw (goat) meat). it was pretty awesome, a real canivore's delight. I had never tried the raw stuff before, and it was really surprisingly delicious. Kinda like sashimi, like you might expect. Since there is a butchery inside the restaurant, you know it's fresh. you order by the kilo, and the waiter goes over to the butcher stand and the dude hacks off the right amount and the waiter brings it back to the table. Pretty awesome. Probably nothing like that in the states due to some heath code what have you.

The tej was pretty fantastic as well, since it is basically the wine-cooler of Ethiopia, it can really sneak up on you so you gotta be careful. Anyways, since I haven't gotten around to learning how to cook here yet, I thought I could write an article about eating here for saucison. How does that sound?

talk to you soonnnnnnm,

Thanks JL, hope to see you soon. By the way, If anyone wants to party like it's 1999, Ethiopia is having it's Milenium celebration on September 12th. Seven years late you say? No, Ethiopia follows the Julian Calendar. Read more here in an artlicle from the Guardian.
Happy New Year.

Pork Shoulder Does Double Duty

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Around here we kicked back with some favorites. With a 5 pound pork shoulder I made some sausage and some barbecue. First up an encore performance of the Italian Sausage with Parsley and Cheese. I doubled the amount of cheese from the first recipe, I highly recommend it, very cheesy. For extra ooziness, don't overcook it. Then on Monday I used the other half of the shoulder for the Labor day requisite Genuine Authentic Barbecue.

Thus Summer winds.

Fall edges forward.

Back to school.