Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hey there old friend

Oh my, oh my. I looked back on my notes and it had been nearly a year since I last made cheese. For someone who wants to be a cheese maker, I'm not doing so well. Ron gave me a cheese press for my birthday last year in December. Guess how many times I've used it? Yes... zero. It is still in the box on the floor of my closet. Ugh.

A week ago Gus asked me as we were driving in the car, "Mom, why haven't you used the cheese press that Daddy gave you? Don't you like it?"

Wow. The real answer is that I think that I don't have time. Can't find time. Can't find the right time. Hmmm. Indeed it is a bit more complicated to do with the exact temperatures and hot liquids with little ones underfoot, but no time? I think I must place cheese making up in the category of luxurious things that I shouldn't be doing when there are other tasks to be done. Is the house clean? Is the laundry done? Did I organize the bathroom cupboard? Nope, nope and nope. And since these tasks are generally never-ending, the cheese making never happens.

Until yesterday. Mmm. Boy am I glad I did. Welcome back old friend. I made 30-minute mozzarella and ate more than I care to admit. It was delicate, smooth and warm. As the afternoon sun shone in the kitchen window and our dog reclined in its rays, I leaned against the kitchen counter savoring every last lingering morsel of the cherry tomato-sized mozzarella balls I had made for the kids. Mmmm, so good.

Later I brought a few warm slices (from the large balls I also made) down to the boys who were happily keeping themselves occupied with Legos while I made cheese. "Did you make this Mom? I love, love you! I love, love your cheese!"

Dinner last night was simple and wonderful. Mozzarella with tomatoes from a friend's garden and basil from ours. A white boule made the day before from flour ground in nearby North Dakota. Corn chowder made from potatoes from our garden and corn from our freezer, frozen in time from our trip to Uncle Lon's farm. It doesn't come much more local than that meal. I'm including the recipe for corn chowder from one of my all time favorite cook books: Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.

And you? Have you eaten anything lately that made you swoon? I'd love to hear about it!

Corn Chowder (serves 4-6) (yields 8 cups)

"A creamy, sunny-hued classic that you can make any time of the year, Corn Chowder is a friendly, comforting soup especially popular with young folks and sweet corn lovers of any age."

1 c. chopped onions
1 Tbsp. canola or other vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
2 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1/2 c. diced celery
scant 1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 c. water or vegetable stock (I used chicken stock)
1 c. diced red and/or yellow peppers
4 c. fresh, frozen or canned corn kernels (see Note)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (optional)
2 cups milk (or half and half to taste, depending on how rich you like it)
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot on medium heat, saute the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes, until translucent, stirring often. Add the potatoes, celery, dill, thyme, bay leaf and water or stock. Cover and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes begin to soften. Add the bell pepper and corn and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil, if using. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Ladle 2 cups of the soup into a blender and add the milk. Whirl until smooth and return the pureed mixture to the soup pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently reheat.

Serve with a few fresh dill or parsley sprigs or decorate with some fresh basil leaves.

Note: If you're using fresh corn, use the cobs to make this lovely stock: Place the corn cobs, 1 chopped potato, 1 chopped celery stalk, 3 peeled whole garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and 10 cups of water in a large soup opot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for an hour. Strain through a colander. Yields about 6 cups of stock.
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1 comment:

nicola said...

i really want to learn to make cheese. even if i never get past soft cheese, i would be ok. i make yogurt now and hear it isn't too much harder for soft cheeses.

and fresh mozzarella? it's existence is simply to be eaten with basil and tomato!

food swooning? my brother (who lives with us half the year) is here now and suddenly is enamored with cooking. everything he's cooked has been from a borrowed copy of baking illustrated. we ended up buying the book for him for his birthday, just to encourage him to keep cooking from it for us. delicious.