Monday, June 27, 2011

Hungry for Garden Food!

This past weekend I took a few pictures of the garden with the cell phone (since I was too lazy to come in and get the camera.) Things are growing!

I forgot we had planted bush beans. With all the squash hoopla, I neglected to go look at the beans/pea bed very much. The peas are dying because of the hot weather but we will replant sometime in July I think, to have a bumper fall crop. (Did you know beans had adorable little purple flowers?!)

The tomatoes have started forming and I can see that although I stuck sticks in with the intention of tying the plants upright, I have not done that. Didn't I say I was a terrible gardener?! The plants are hanging over the side of the beds, not good. It's on my list to do today!

Squash, squash, squash! I counted 12 different little baby ones and some about 4" long. I can't wait to eat some squash! I'm already planning meals and dishes with it. I'm looking forward to using my squash, tomatoes and basil to bake a homemade lasagna. I'm thinking vegetarian so everyone in my house can eat it (teen is veg) but hubby might want some meat. We'll see. 

Last fall I made my own Basil Ricotta (which is perfect for vegetarian lasagna.) So easy and SOOOOO good! You have to try making some (although, to be technical, real ricotta is made from leftover whey, not fresh milk. So we're really making a paneer or queso-fresco cheese.)


large pot for cookin'
cheesecloth lined colander (or use 2 layers of paper towels)
stirring spoon
reliable thermometer (I used a candy one)
fresh basil
coarse salt
acid based item (ie: vinegar, lemon juice)

* Note: As to measurements, I don't do a lot of that (aka: precise measuring), but you can start with 4 cups of milk, or if you want a creamer, less dry ricotta, subtract 1/2c milk, add 1/2c cream.*

1 - Pour the milk, (and opt: cream) and salt into a 3-quart saucepan. Chop up the fresh basil and add to the pan. Add the candy thermometer to the edge and watch for a temperature between 175 to 190°F.  
2 - Make sure to stir it occasionally with a non-metal spoon to keep it from burning on the bottom. When it reaches the desired range (shoot for somewhere near the middle numbers), turn off the heat, remove from the hot burner and add about 3 tsps acid based item. 
3 - Stir in slowly. Then let the pot sit, no more stirring. Curds will begin to form and the whey will start to separate. Let sit for 5 minutes.
4 - Carefully spoon curds you see into your cheesecloth/paper towel lined colander (make sure to have it sitting in a bowl to catch the whey.)
5 - Let it drain for 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the consistency you desire. The longer it drains, the drier it will become. DO NOT pull a rookie mistake and squeeze the whey out. You will get dry, gritty, coarse cheese.

Eat right away or store in a container for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

P.S. If you're like me and hate to waste, remember that whey you were straining and catching in a bowl under the strainer? It can be used in a variety of ways. It is an acidic whey and I found this great article on uses

Blog is linked with: Tuesday Garden Party and Hip Homeschool Hop.


Helena said...

Oh, basil ricotta—we would love this! The question is, can I do it? Can I really make something this awesome all by myself? Why, yes, I think I can :)

Thanks so much for this post. I'm visiting you from the Hip Homeschool Hop, and it's lovely to find you, especially with a tasty-looking recipe that seems the Perfect Fit for us!

Crisc said...

I'm so jealous of them tomatoes! Great garden =)

esther said...

Also loving squash over here- yours look great!

Stopping By on the Hip Homeschool Hop from Homeschool Science Press!

amber @ classichousewife said...

Fun!! We only planted a few things and they don't look like they're doing much of anything. =\
Here from the hop... Many blesings!

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