As a kid, since I can remember to about when I was 14 I spent me entire Summer break in a small village in Poland with my dad’s family. They didn’t have running water (just a well). We bathed in a huge washbowl and… the toilet was outside. I would eat wild growing berries and drank milk straight from a cow. For two months I would forget how processed food tastes like. During the last few years we visited them they had a store (!). That tiny place was mostly used for buying an alcohol and sodas by locals. It didn’t last long, though. That’s how self-sufficient that village was (as most of the villages anywhere else in Poland).
One of the best memories I have from that period is milking cows. I was never good at it and I gave up very quickly in trying to get better, but I tried it and it was fun. While my aunty was milking her cows I would pretend I’m a cat and I tried to drink that warm and fresh milk straight from a bucket to which my aunty milked the cows. Once, a friend of our family came from behind while I was doing so and pushed my head deep inside that filled with milk bucket. Everybody laughed and I was mad… . I’ve never drank milk straight from a bucket since.
Despite that accident and many more (like me being attacked by a “gang” of angry turkeys) those 2 months spent there every year were the best times ever. I will cherish them forever.
The food we ate there is my goal to achieve in the future: home grown, home raised, homemade.
Right now I just learn how to “home make” stuff from what I can get at the store
This time I learned how to make ricotta.
I’ll tell you something: I will never buy ricotta again. The homemade is creamy, rich and nothing like the store-bought. NOTHING! The recipe I got is not the original ricotta recipe. The original calls for whey from making another cheese (like mozzarella). Whole milk is never used. I cheated here a little It doesn’t matter, I think. The results are amazing and that’s what matters. Right?!
To make it I used:
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream*
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Directions that couldn’t be any easier:
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a saucepan. If you have a candy or deep-fry thermometer attach it to the pan and heat the milk to 190°F stirring occasionally. When it reaches 190°F remove from heat.
If you do not have the thermometer you should watch the milk-cream very closely until you see bubbles appearing around the edges of the pot. It means the liquid is ready to be removed from heat.
Add lemon juice. Stir couple of times (no more), very gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 to 10 minutes.
Line a sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. The bowl is to catch the whey. Later it can be used for baking breads.
Pour the milk mixture into the sieve and let the curds strain for at least an hour.
The cheese I got after 2 hours of straining was firm but very easy spreadable, it looked and felt almost like cream cheese. No curds just creamy and silky texture.
I am not sure for how long you can store it. I kept mine in airtight container in the fridge. It lasted for 4 days before I ate it all.
I ate it with fresh baked bread… .
You can’t beat that!
For an extra twist to this cheese visit Polish Mama on the Prairie… I’m definitely trying her idea the next time I’ll make it.
* the heavy cream in this recipe can be skipped. doing so you’ll get cheese with big curds and much more drier texture.
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- Meatless Monday: Spinach and Ricotta Pappardelle (thetraceyshow.com)