Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Farm food
Last Friday night we had our first frost, so Saturday morning we picked all the green tomatoes off the plants. We have a grocery bag full of of them and yesterday I fried some for breakfast. They're easy to make and so delicious. You just slice them about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, then sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them, dredge them in flour and fry them in butter. Be careful to watch the color as you're cooking them so you only have to turn them once. It messes up the crust if you turn them more than that. They are so nice and juicy and quite spicy/tart, and go really well with scrambled eggs and grits.

This is classic Southern food, but the first time I had them was four years ago when we had our first really good crop. In years prior to that the plants had already quit bearing long before the frost came.

On another front, I'm trying to learn how to make cheese, and have not been terribly successful. So far I've done panir which turned out pretty well, cottage cheese that was rubbery, feta that I didn't salt long enough before brining so it never got properly hard, and herbed chevre that tasted good but was crumbly rather than spreadable. And my three or four attempts at ricotta haven't turned out very well - it's so tart.

In every case it seems that my problem was timing, generally letting something sit or drain too long before moving on to the next step (except in the case of the feta, which should have sat for one more day before brining). Last week when I tried another batch of chevre, I set the timer for every step, and everything went well, until I checked my recipe the morning after letting the cheese drain in a bag overnight to see when to take it out.


Chevre isn't supposed to be bagged and drained, it's supposed to go straight to the molds from the pot. Cheese-making is definitely not for the scatter-brained.

Today though, I took it out of the fridge, crumbled it up, added chopped fresh chives and freshly cracked pepper, stuffed it all into the molds, and put it back in the fridge. Maybe it'll get solid enough that I can take it out of the molds and have a sliceable cheese. But if not then we'll just use it crumbly. It tastes fine - it just doesn't have the texture I wanted.

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