Then, more recently, I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which, let me just say, BEST BOOK EVER), and found her singing the praises of Ricki Carroll and her "30-Minute Mozzarella" recipe. Mozzarella had never really captured my fancy before--I mean, sure, it's great on pizza, but kind of bland and rubbery on its own. Why would I want to make that? But in her book, Kingsolver just does NOT let it go, and writes over and over again about the joy of making fresh Mozzarella and eating it still warm. I think it was the "still warm" part that got me, and I pulled out the book again.
I looked at the recipe. Hmmm. It DID look easy. And hey, I can make yogurt. I can make kefir. I can make soap, for crying out loud. I decided to take the plunge, and after pricing hard-to-find ingredients individually, I finally just went straight to the source and ordered everything in one kit from Ricki Carroll's website. That was simpler than chasing around trying to find butter muslin, vegetable rennet tablets, citric acid, cheese salt, and a dairy thermometer separately.
I got my kit, found a gallon of milk that had NOT been "ULTRA pasteurized" (this is easier said than done around here, unfortunately), and went to work. And you know what? Not only did it just take 30 minutes to make a pound of Mozzarella Fresca, but most of those minutes were spent waiting, not working. And better yet, the stuff was HEAVENLY. Even my very first effort--absolutely delicious. The only resemblance it bore to that shredded stuff I've been buying at the grocery store all these years is that it was white.
Wow, this cheese is good. We've used it on pasta, in a veggie quiche, and of course, on pizza. Not only did we make pizza with fresh, homemade Mozzarella on top, but we used the whey that was left over from making the cheese...to make the pizza dough! Yep, making cheese gives you a byproduct that you can also use, pretty much in any recipe where buttermilk would work. You can also use whey to make buttermilk and Ricotta. I have over a half-gallon of the stuff in the fridge right now, and I'm gonna use it to make some pancakes tomorrow. You know, since I can't go to BlogHer. What, the next best thing to BlogHer isn't pancakes? Shut up.
I've put a more detailed account of the cheesemaking over here, but I'll show you a couple of things Bella and I made with the finished product.
You can't lose. Do it!
Dear Internets, family, friends, all of the above--thank you so much for your outpouring of sympathy, support, and assistance in the wake of the tragic loss of a well-loved pet yesterday. You'll never know how much it meant to us to be on the receiving end of such kindness. Bella has had a couple of crying spells, but she's handling it better than I am. Alex found a backhoe operator and had a grave dug for Magic here at home, and I've promised Bella that we can try to plant a little tree or some flowers on that spot.
And I think that the time has come for me to pass along to my daughter the most valuable treasure I've ever owned in my entire life: My Misha. He won't replace her lost pony, but I know that he will carry her with the same loving care he has always shown me. I've loved him for 17 years now, and I hope that someday she will realize what an honor it is to know such a horse, much less to ride him.