Friday, April 13, 2012

A week of mostly nothing

It has been raining all week. Which is awesome because here in California, we can use all the water we can get, thank you very much…but at the same time, was a little bit meh for me personally because I have an awful lot of gardening I wanted to do this week, since (according to theory) next week I’ll be getting serious about getting a new contract or something.

The reason I have that “according to theory” in there is, well, this just in: The novelty of staying in bed until a ludicrous hour in the morning still hasn’t worn off for me. This morning, I even got up and then went back to bed to wait for my cold medicine to kick in.

Yes. The cold, it is trying to make a comeback. I am furious, because NO, PLEASE, I ALREADY-ED on the whole having-a-cold-thing.

But at the same time, I have to admit: If it weren’t for the headache/body ache/sinus-pain-and-pressure parts? It would be worth it, just for that ability to holler out the bedroom door, “I dink mah cobd ib back…iz goink badh do bebd!”

Luxury: It has many faces.

SPEAKING OF…on my last day at MegaBank, we did indeed go to Art Fibers. And my coworker (just one person!!!) bought me this.

Carezza #3
~1,000 yards of Carezza, 30% silk, 30% baby alpaca, 40% extra-fine merino…rather on the pricier-than-I-would-generally-buy side!!

Now, people…this was a ludicrously costly sort of going-away present to buy somebody, and I wasn’t going to let her do it; at the very least, I was going to get just enough for a nice scarf or something.

But…well…you’d have to know this lady. Trying to make her not do something she is dead set on doing is kind of like telling an oak tree not to drop acorns on your lawn anymore. And will go about as well for you. Except you’ll have to make the oak tree rather vocal and fast-moving instead of being, well, a tree.

They mostly just stand there and ignore you. She doesn’t really do that. She just charges ahead and the only way to stop her would be to get extremely vocal and pushy right back.

And I am not an overtly aggressive person.


I am passive aggressive.

Which is why I was already plotting my revenge on the walk back to the office, and it involved some moderately-hot-pink cashmere/merino wool and…a pattern of some sort…revenge, it shall be mine, miiiiiiiine, bwahahaha…

So, since I was thinking, you know, like, “hat and hand-warmers of some sort,” obviously I started with this, which is a shawl/scarf (what? I find this to be a perfectly logical start to a hat + gloves set!) called Flowers on the Edge - a free pattern download via Ravelry.

Flowers on the Edge

It’s proving to be a very agreeable knit. The pattern is easy enough to be done while watching a movie, but also interesting enough that I’m not clawing at my face groaning, “When will I be done with this, u-g-h, why did I START this, oooooooo, I hates it…!!!!”

And the yarn is lovely. It’s a Newton Yarn Country score from last year’s Stitches convention, and is positively luscious…it just has an incredible feel to it: soft and warm, and knitting up very light.

And it’s a very pink sort of pink. Which is her favorite color. See? Revenge! Mine! Shall be! Bwahaha!

Meanwhile in other other news…did you know how easy it is to make paneer? (Which is that soft cheese in some Indian dishes, like saag paneer, which is like a sometimes-spicy creamed spinach with a soft cheese in it?)

Eight cups of milk, heated to boiling.

Hot milk

Add lemon juice about a tablespoon at a time until it starts to curdle – it took about half a cup altogether for my eight cups of milk to get to this point, using lemon juice courtesy of our tree (which unlike bottled juice is subject to having more variety in terms of acid content – hence the ‘one tablespoon at a time’ part instead of “dump in half a cup of lemon juice and be done with it”).


Pour the resulting curds and whey through a couple layers of cheesecloth to drain; if you catch the whey, you can use it to make bread (I made some naan with some of the whey from this)…it can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk.

gross curds
Yeah, I think that looks a bit gross, too…

Add salt to taste, then form it into a square-ish thing that is about 1” thick.


Now, this is the part that uses some pretty darned fancy kitchen tools, ONLY available for $$$$$$ from high-end kitchen stores. I’m sorry. There’s really no way around it…if you want to press the cheese into a firm block, you’re going to need something like this.

Jury rig du jour
OK, fine, yes…it’s a cheap Target tea kettle full of water and two equally cheap plastic cutting boards. And yes, the dish rack is pretty much ALWAYS that full. 24/7, 365 days a year.

If that looks a little crooked – it is. That way, the whey being pressed out by the SUPER FANCY AND EXPENSIVE CHEESE WEIGHTING DEVICE (ahem) runs into the sink, rather than pooling up around the cheese.

Wait a couple hours, and then you can either cube it up and toss it into your saag paneer (or whatever) or put it in the fridge to continue firming and even ripening a bit…eaten right away, it’s very mild to the point of having no flavor of its own at all – if it were tofu, you’d think it had “too much” flavor, but if you’re thinking “cheddar,” it’s…not like that at all. More like ricotta (which is exactly what it is, actually…except that pressing it instead of merely draining it, plus using “fresh” milk [that is, not re-using the whey from some other cheese-making exercise, like mozzarella, say] makes it less spread-able and more cube-able).

I threw the cubes into a skillet of hot butter and gave them a quick fry on all sides, removed those from the pan and replaced them with diced onions and garlic, cumin, hot pepper flakes, salt, pepper and some of our home-grown blanched-and-frozen spinach.

And then I put the cheese back into it and called it saag paneer, and ate it with basmati rice and the naan I made with the whey.


(The children…ate naan and rice, recoiled in dramatic horror from the spinach-dish, poked suspiciously at some chicken [like, what, they thought I had stuffed it with spinach when they weren’t looking or something?!] and called it a night. Sigh. Someday, they will voluntarily eat real food, right?!)


Monday's Child said...

Or break the curds up and rinse them instead of pressing them, then salt, and it's cottage cheese!

Yesterday I used the same process on goat's milk to make goat cheese for the first time ever. It doesn't get big, identifiable curds like cow's milk so I have to admit I added a lot more lemon juice than I probably needed to before fiance convinced me that it was thickened, honest, just drain it through the tea towel already. And then I let it drip-drain instead of rinsing or pressing, and voila! Goat cheese this morning!

Because you and I, we need more hobbies. ::headdesk::

kerri.warmus said...

So I did a bad thing. OK, 2 bad things. Last Thursday I was in the office at MegaBank for my weekly visit and so, of course, was reading your blog. When I saw the pink in that sweater, I knew immediately who had taken you to the yarn store, but I asked her about it anyway. So, of course, I ended up sharing your blog link with her not remembering that she would see the photo. Then I tried to absolve myself of bad feelings by visiting the yarn store after work and buying more yarn (as if my contract isn't ending and we won't be very very poor in just 5 weeks time).