Monday, September 27, 2010

advetures in cheese and butter

as part of my intrepid homesteading, i want to learn to make cheese. i've made ricotta before and that's pretty idiot proof but it's not *real* cheese. so this time around i was trying to make mozzarella and while i was at it, butter.
the butter is also idiot proof: take whipping cream, whip it way past the normal point until the fat separates from the milk, squeeze the liquid out (rinse in cold water to get the last of it), and add a bit of salt. fantastic! it goes on the fresh banana bread and is wonderful.
the mozza i was making was somewhat hampered by the fact that i can only get junket-brand rennet here and that's not really meant for cheese making, it's meant for custards and things. it is rennet, just rather weak. knowing this, i added quite a bit more then usual and let it set a lot longer then normal. i still ended up with a weak and sickly separation between curds and whey but i managed to drain it. unfortunately, in the heat-and-stretch stage, it became fairly apparent that i could not extract enough whey from the curds to make it a solid and it wasn't melting to enable stretching. all this tells me that (i'm pretty sure) FOREMOST IS ULTRA PASTEURIZING THEIR MILK AND NOT LABELING IT AS SUCH! this severely annoys me, not only because i now have ricotta instead of mozza, but because ultra pasteurizing milk not only damages the proteins, it also makes it significantly less healthy! it would be one thing if it said on it that they'd super heated it to the extent that NOTHING could ever possibly live in it from now till the twelfth of never. that would be ok, i would have been informed and would have chosen a non-dead milk because i know better then to try to make cheese with that crap and i also know that it's sad and pathetic compared to normal pasteurized or raw milk. i now have the choice between trying dairyland or lucurne (big companies, probably same story), attempting reconstituting powdered milk, or seeing if any of my farmers' markets carry real milk. *sigh*. i was really looking forward to the mozza too. i bought some beautiful kalamata olives and i had rosemary trisuits and the first fresh tomato of my garden and wine to make a nice little platter. instead i had leftovers. *sniff*. my only consolation is that i can make very good stuffed shells with the ricotta.

update: I DID IT! it started out like the first batch and i really thought lucurne ultra pasteurized as well so i upped the temp to turn it into ricotta and it started solidifying and getting all melty and stringy just like it's supposed to! finished it off and had some with garden tomatoes and basil, so fantastic and deeply satisfying. i even got a bit of ricotta out of the whey leftover. i probably would have gotten more if i'd followed all the directions despite the not-normal-looking outcome. this was certainly easy enough to make again so more experiments will follow. eventually i'm going to fashion a cheese press and take on something more ambitious like parmesan.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

B12 update

so it really is making a difference! even when my life truly is sucking (hate my job, hate my apartment, have no life) i'm finding it much easier to stop the downward thought spirals and keep some perspective so i can do something about it. i suggested it to a co-worker who is also suffering from really bad depression and he's noticed a difference too (and he's not even a vegetarian, maybe we're onto something here!). i can't say i'm no longer depressed, but it now feels much more in control and circumstantial then all-pervading and unavoidable. it's opened an inch or two of space for daylight in my brain and for now that's all i ask. if you're having similar issues i highly recommend trying it out for a couple of weeks and let us all know if it works. our diets in north america tend to be deficient in many vitamins these days so it wouldn't surprise me at all if improving our nutrition overall would also very much help the increasing mental health issues as well as physical ones

name change update

the paperwork is officially in! i should have my certificate in a few weeks and then i just have to replace all my ID *groan*. it's annoying how people only take you seriously when you get a $250 piece of paper from the government, as if that somehow changes who we really are. course i find myself more adamantly correcting people and getting more annoyed with those who know better and use my old name anyways so it's partially my fault. i imagine most people who do this feel more justified insisting on their choice once it's "official". i've been introducing myself as my new name since my religious ceremony in march and nothing gets you used to it like answering the phone "thank you for calling, my name is..." 40 times a day. it's felt like mine since then and i actually bitched out my boss for trying to tell me i couldn't sign emails with my new name until the legal change is done and they change my email address, claiming it would cause confusion. i can't see how the change can possibly NOT cause some confusion. i believe my comment was "well that's a crappy reason to not respect someone's life choices" accompanied by a nasty glare and the paperwork in a week later despite not being able to find my birth certificate. it will all be easier with that one stupid piece of paper. have i mentioned lately that i hate the government and our society? of course i hate everything to do with my boss and workplace and company and field but that's besides the point. we all know i pray every day for the building to burn to the ground.