Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A simple cheesy treat!

Here's an excellent cheese recipe, good at any time, and a real treat when camping!

Whether it becomes Paneer or Ricotta or you invent your own name, you'll be making cheese!  It's easy, quick and mostly successful ;-)

Two litres of full cream milk makes about 250 grams of soft, cheesy goodness. You can use less or more milk depending on your needs.

Heat the milk in a saucepan. Stir with a slotted spoon to prevent a skin forming and to distribute the heat. Keep an eye on it! You can be guaranteed that as soon as you wander off or get distracted it'll boil over or burn.

When the milk just begins to get a little surface jiggle and appear to come alive keep stirring (not too vigorously) and add 1 - 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you only have lime juice, add that, or white vinegar.

Within seconds, all being well, the milk should begin to separate. At that stage, gently pull the curds to one side of the saucepan. This encourages them nestle together and helps the rest of the liquid to separate.

Occasionally my lemon juice hasn't resulted in separation of the milk into curds and whey (perhaps they weren't acid enough??) so I've added vinegar as well. It worked!

Now, gently pour everything into a muslin or chux lined sieve which you've placed over a bowl to catch the whey. You can add salt, chili, herbs or your favourite curry powder to taste, depending on how you'll be using the cheese.

Let it drip for about 10 minutes, then you can put it in a container to shape it into a round, square, or leave it crumbly.

The soft cheese is great crumbled in spicy Indian dishes, sliced and grilled for sandwiches, or used plain with fruit then drizzled with honey and cinnamon.

The best part, apart from the satisfaction of saying you made your own cheese? It's about 1/2 the price of buying it from my local supermarket, and takes less than an hour to make!
Top left: the milk is just beginning to jiggle.
Top right: we have separation!
Bottom: the curds before being pressed to shape. 
As for the whey, don't throw it away! It's great as the liquid in bread (here's a good, simple bread recipe), can be frozen for later use for sauces or failing all that, can be used in the compost.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Apples galore! And how not to prune an apple tree.

Real gardeners probably shouldn't read the following. It could be distressing.

The hubster knows even less about this thing called gardening than I do, and while he often shows little interest in the mundane, repetitive aspects of day to day plant care, on the odd occasion he is ... let's use the word energetic.

Last winter he took the chainsaw to the apple tree. 

The apple tree needed pruning. 

He was fast.

He was decisive. 

He was enthusiastic. 

He didn't have a clue what he was doing. 

But he had fun! He was a Happy Husband!

There were lots of rather substantial limbs strewn around the garden, reminiscent of trees after a cyclone. 

The apple tree looked very wonky. Misshapen. Forlorn.

It's possible the husband was proud of his workmanship. I didn't ask.

The wifely member of the partnership was not happy. 

The horticultural neighbours were aghast. They prune with understanding, knowledge and many, many years of experience. We could have asked their advice they said, with sad, sad faces and tearful eyes.

The tree survived. 

The tree thrived. 

The tree did not get bugs or rot in the torn ends of the limbs.

We constructed a net to keep the rainbow lorikeets off the fruit. The fruit grew and grew and grew. There is lots of fruit. It's large. It's prolific.

The codlin moth seems to have been frightened away.

We're eating apples. Lots of apples. Apple crumble. Apple sauce. Stewed apple. Apple pie. We're freezing containers of stewed apple for later in the year. We've spent hours peeling and slicing apple to be dehydrated. The neighbours are receiving gifts of bags of apples. 

One year I tried to make apple cider, but I botched it up and ended up with very tasty apple cider vinegar. Maybe I'll try making cider again!

I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere, I'm just not sure what it is.

PS. A friend suggested what the lesson was! Prune all deciduous trees hard every year. Though perhaps with a little more planning, and a little less chainsaw enthusiasm ;-)