Site Reorganization is Nigh!

We started Food Follies a long time before WordPress become the go-to choice for online weblogs. When we finally converted to WP a number of years ago, we just kept our old hand-crafted php recipes pages the same, probably for convenience at the time. Well, now I’m having the impulse to integrate the recipes into this site as actual posts. So I’ll be doing things like adding the recipes to posts that just link to the recipes, making new posts for recipes that don’t have posts of their own, and then finally updating the recipes index to these new posts instead of the old text files.

At least, that’s the plan right now. The major impetus being that now it’s so much easier to just post a recipe in the post itself, instead of also having to manually add another page and update the old index.  And yes, it’s been so much easier for a while now – heh – but it’s a good time to move it all into the new order.

So, here we go! You may not notice anything out of whack, but if you do, please overlook the crumbs for now.

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

John got me a cheesemaking kit for Christmas, and we finally decided that the time was right to make us some CHEEEEESE! Fresh Mozzarella to be exact. All we had to get was a gallon of (non-ULTRApasteurized) whole milk – the rest of the ingredients were in the kit – rennet, cheese salt (non-iodized), citric acid, and a thermometer.

Below are photos and general descriptions of the process – this is not detailed with exact measurements and not a full recipe by any means, so if you want to make your own cheese, follow the link above or google it – lots of great info online! Onward…..

First, we dissolved a 1/4 tablet of rennet into a little water and set that aside.  Then we dissolved teaspoons of citric acid in water and poured that in a large pot, and added the entire gallon of milk – heating it til about 90 degrees. It didn’t really take that long.

Then we removed the pot from the burner and slowly stirred in the rennet solution we made earlier for about 30 seconds. They make sure to specify stirring up and down, not just spinning it around.

Next, we took it off the warm burner and let it sit for about 5 minutes with the lid on. This is the part where the whey separates out and the curd beneath starts to get the consistency of custard.  Ours actually took a bit longer than 5 minutes – maybe an extra 5 tops.

In the image below you can see the custardy curd part is easily pulled away from the side of the pot. It was a lot softer than we were expecting (since we had ‘finished cheese’ on the brain) but it was just perfect at this point.

Next, we took a knife and cut the curd in a grid pattern – feels like you’re cutting nothing, but it’s really working – LOL.  I shook the pot slightly and could see that the cut marks were staying, not healing back up.  Whew!

Gotta heat it up again, to 105, while slowly moving the curds around – not really ‘stirring’. Then, we took it off the heat and kept stirring for a few more minutes. In the photo, you can see the yellowy, watery whey, and the chunks of curd much better now.

Then, we scooped out the chunks of whey with a slotted spoon.  After a while John suggested we use the strainer, which did save us a lot of time, although it was fun, for a while, to stir the goop and find new curds that had sunk to the bottom of the pot. Here are the curds in a glass bowl, with some whey settled around it.

At this point we used the microwave method of heating the curds, then draining off the excess whey, then adding a little salt, and massaging it into a ball-ish form, heating it again, and then stretching it like taffy, until it was smooth and shiny. (The more you stretch/work it the firmer it will be.)

After stretching, we formed it into a ball and cooled it in cold water. After five minutes, we added ice and let it set for 15 more minutes.

Then, as we could barely contain ourselves, we rescued it from the cold bath, patted it dry with paper towels, and cut off a chunk to eat – ohhhh – it was soooo good!  Creamy, a wonderful flavor and consistency. And although it seemed like there were a lot of steps, it only took us about 45 minutes to make it – not bad for cheesemaking newbies!

I highly recommend the Cheesemaking Kit from Cheesemaking.com – and they have a number of other kits and supplies and books too. The directions were easy to follow, and the cheese was delicious! 🙂

Regrowing Green Onion Sprouts in Water

Regrowing Green Onion Sprouts in WaterBoth John and I really love adding green onions to many of our meals, and after doing a little research on the internet (just search for ‘regrowing green onions’), we decided to try a very simple experiment.Take the root ball end of the green onion (ours had a little green up top still, as you can see in the image) and put it in a jar of water in a sunny place. It will regrow at an alarming rate! This image, taken yesterday, shows growth of only about a day and a half. This morning it was even more surprising – like some kind of fragrant alien flora or the vegetable equivalent of a tribble. 😉

After reading some of the suggestions online, I think I’ll be planting these in soil after a few weeks/months too, and see where it goes from there. It’ll be fun to try this with other herbs too (basil was suggested in one article – buy a clipping and root it in water before planting), although eventually we’re going to run out of counter space and have no place to chop up the onions in the first place… or maybe that’s their evil plan to begin with!

Funky Lasagna Noodles

I made lasagna over the holidays, including homemade lasagna noodles. I’ve made them a number of times, but have never let the fresh lasagna noodles dry flat on the table (on paper towels) overnight before. When I saw them in the morning I started laughing….

lasagna noodles

Apparently, they dried on the top, open to the air, much faster than on the bottom, or at least started that way and once they were mostly elevated off the paper towels continued to dry in arcs. They seemed a little more brittle to the touch than noodles that were only dried for a little while, but they cooked up just fine in the hot water. Anyway, I just couldn’t resist sharing this image. Silly dried pasta!

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Converting Food Follies to WordPress

We’re going to be converting Food Follies to a WordPress site, so there may be a little dust as we go through the process. When we finish, the RSS feed will have a different link (so if you’re reading this via RSS, this may be the last post you see until you grab the new RSS link we’ll make), and all of the recipes will (hopefully) be integrated in with the posts, all in their separate categories. Wish us luck!

Truck Spill With A Fruity Finish

We were driving into town and got passed by an ambulance, then a police car, then two more police cars, all going in the opposite direction. They were headed into the country, towards the vineyards by us. Turns out that a wine truck overturned and lost 4800 gallons of Paso Robles wine! It drained into the dry creek bed near the road – alas! Click here for the full article.

In other news, we haven’t been doing much cooking lately because we’re moving, and all of our cooking stuff is pretty much in cardboard boxes, ready to make the move to Upstate NY, home of coneys, salt potatoes, and half-moon cookies! So, while we won’t be posting for a while, we’ll have a whole new culinary landscape to investigate once we get there, plus a new kitchen to break in, so stay tuned!
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What Day is Today Anyway?

I agree with the experts that say Rick-Rolling has been done to death, and wouldn’t be funny as an April Fool’s Joke anymore anyway. So I’m going in a different direction that works with the topic of this blog… but to find out, you have to click this link – do you dare? The little icon at the top of this post will give you a hint, if you’re getting nervous. 😉

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Homemade Girl Scout Cookies

It’s girl-scout cookie season soon (if not already?), and I ran across this interesting tidbit. It points out that the girl scout cookies still use hydrogenated oils, so they suggest making a donation to the girl scouts instead of buying cookies and making the cookies yourself! And here is the page with links to the homemade girl-scout cookie recipes. It’s verrrrry tempting, isn’t it!
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John’s New Blackberry!

Everyone’s so busy talking about their new iPhones and all the cool things they can do with them, so I thought I’d post a photo of John’s new Blackberry!

What – you were expecting something with batteries, buttons, and a screen? 😉

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