I’m exhausted but I feel great. Today I’ve been busy in the kitchen.
First, I made a batch of mozzarella cheese. It was my second attempt at making cheese after being inspired at the Mother Earth News Fair a few weeks ago. The first batch didn’t turn out because the milk I used was ultra-pasteurized and that’s a no-no for cheese-making I’ve since learned.
What is ultra-pasteurization? It’s simply a process whereby the milk is heated to a higher temperature than regular pasteurization (about 280 degrees as opposed to 162 degrees).
Why is milk ultra-pasteurized? So it keeps longer and can be transported long distances to supermarkets all over the country. Yeah, that doesn’t sit too well with me either.
Since my first flop at cheese making I’ve been looking for milk that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized. We don’t ordinarily buy milk (we use soy milk) so I had to educate myself about the different varieties in the stores. All of them–ALL of them–were ultra-pasteurized.
Yesterday we stopped in at a health food store where I bought some raw milk instead. You don’t have to use raw milk for cheese making but I decided to try it. The store also had some other local fresh pasteurized milk from a local dairy. I loved that each bottle had the name of the cow whose milk it contained written on it!
Raw milk or pasteurized milk from local sources is a precious commodity it turned out. Cha-ching!
It bothers me that many people have to make a choice between eating fresh, organic, local food and food that has been trucked in from heaven knows where because of the high cost of organics so I’ve resigned myself to voting for healthy food with my debit card as long as I can afford to. I buy more expensive locally grown organic produce–cha-ching–eggs from free-range chickens–cha-ching–and grass-fed beef–cha-ching–so it didn’t bother me too much to pay top dollar for milk too.
Anyway, the cheese turned out this time and I’m looking forward to using it to make a margherita pizza for dinner tonight. I even broke my cardinal rule of not buying tomatoes from the store yesterday in anticipation of making the pizza. At least I bought heirloom organically grown tomatoes from the health food store though. Cha-ching.
Also in anticipation of the margherita pizza, I picked up some fresh basil yesterday. I won’t need all of it for the pizza so this morning I set aside what I’ll need tonight and put the rest in the dehydrator.
We bought locally-grown strawberries yesterday so I made jam today too–four jars of banana-strawberry freezer jam and six jars of traditional strawberry jam. This was the first time I’ve made traditional jam and it was ridiculously easy. I love the fresh taste of freezer jam, and it contains significantly less sugar than the traditional jam, so it will be interesting to compare the taste to see what we like best. I don’t plan on buying jam from the store ever again.
So, this afternoon I’m exhausted and my back aches. I just got in from tending to the garden and giving my plants a feast of healthy worm tea courtesy of the guests at my worm hotel and I think there’s a hot tub on the agenda for later this afternoon.
Tomorrow, I’ll be heading back to the office again. Sigh.