This toast reminds me of the country. It takes me to a rocking chair on a front porch, gazing out over 12 acres, most of it waving fields, but a bit of it merges into the back woods. It takes me to a place where there is perpetually a pie on the window sill, and the ruckus of chickens can faintly be heard in the background. It is fresh milk in the pail, a humble garden, and the scent of hay lingering. It is dancing fireflies as far as the eye can see, and it is the gentle roar of cicadas that comforts. It is spare time in the evening to sit, rock, talk, and play music, or simply the time to silence the events of the day, and stare into the fire alongside a friend.
All of this can be brought to me with the simple act of cheese making. Maybe it is the simplicity that doesn’t demand a laundry list of ingredients, or the knowledge that this is what they did way back when. Their cow or goat was their source of milk, cheese, butter, whey, etc, rather than their local grocer. There is a part of me that aches for a simpler time, a time when this life was possible without the need or distractions of the twittersphere, endless vine videos, or the weird need we have to let acquaintances and strangers into our every moment of our everyday.
I am aware that as I write this, I am writing on a blog that will shoot out into the universe and be read by these aforementioned strangers and acquaintances, and I hope you don’t think me a hypocrite. I just think that we can’t lose our appreciation and knowledge of how the world turned and how people lived life before there were 63 types of cheese to chose from on every other block.
With all of that being said, this is incredibly easy to make. I made cheese! As I watched it straining, I was proud and amazed at just how simple it really was. Anybody can do this. Really. Literally. When I have a child, this is one of the first things I’m going to teach them to make. Maybe they won’t be able to fully appreciate it for what it is, but hopefully it will teach them about simple goodness that doesn’t rely on the nearest superstore, but that can be made in the home.
4 cups whole milk (you can also use 3 cups milk, 1 cup cream, or even 2 cups of each, but I opted for just using milk because that is what I had on hand)
2 tablespoons vinegar (I’ve used distilled or cider, you could also use white wine vinegar)
salt & freshly cracked pepper
In a large pot pour the milk and bring to a boil. Watch closely as it can boil over quickly and is a terrible pain to clean.
Once the milk has come to a boil turn off the heat and add the vinegar. Give a quick and gentle stir before letting the mixture rest for 1 minute. You should notice almost instantly the little curds begin to form and separate from the whey. You’re making cheese – how crazy is that?!
Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl large enough to catch the whey. Carefully pour the hot curds and whey over the cheese cloth. Let this drain for about 20-25 minutes or until it is the consistency you desire.
Add a bit of good quality salt. You don’t need much, if any, if you plan to use it for sweet recipes.
Before you cover and refrigerate your ricotta make sure to take a bite while it’s warm.
As you can see, I spread a couple spoonfuls of ricotta on a slice of whole wheat toast, topped with a few avocado slices, sea salt, & pepper. But really, you can do so much with this! Incorporated into a pasta with soaked sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, & fresh basil? Mixed with melted chocolate and used as the base for a tart? A spoonful on top of a bowl of hot lentils? Really, the possibilities are endless and delicious.
Refrigerated this will keep for one week.
Source: adapted from notwithoutsalt
Listening to: Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack