Monday, November 10, 2008
I'm sure none of you were actually under the illusion that I am invincible in the kitchen. But, maybe, just maybe, I've become a tiny bit overconfident about my cooking skills. Today had some definite failures.
If you're one of those people that enjoy reading about the shortcomings of others (haha, feeling guilty yet?), you'll probably enjoy this post.
We are to those few days before payday once again and while I have quite a bit of chicken in the freezer thanks to the recent Cooking Class, we are running short on bread. Recently, I've begun baking my own yummy and healthy loaves. But due to a recent hostess gift, I found our supplies low.
The bread recipe I've been using is from "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair. It calls for a starter dough using any of a number of whole grains. So I got some steel-cut oats going for a change to the quinoa/brown rice combo I've used lately. Things were going well until I tried multi-tasking...
Hey! There's that half-gallon of whole milk in the fridge (the weekly delivery of nonfat milk was piling up, so I asked for a whole milk to make some bread pudding or ricotta). And, I'd had the foresight to buy a little carton of heavy cream...ricotta, here I come!
As I remembered from the handy-dandy video we produced on making ricotta cheese, it contained only 4 ingredients. I didn't actually need to go look up the video. I never forget stuff (haha!)--I can make ricotta with my eyes closed, or so I thought.
Pour in the milk and cream. Heat until steaming. Check. Get 3 TB of vinegar ready. Oh, and salt--I'm sure it was 1 TB I needed. The original recipe had me pour in the vinegar, stir for 30 seconds, then pour in the salt and stir for another 30 seconds. That's silly, I thought! Why not combine them and kill two birds with one stone?
See, I'm the kind of person that needs a specific, "Do not do this or that because this or that will happen" kind of person. Otherwise, I'm sure to find the most seemingly efficient way to do something.
So, in go the vinegar and salt together. Stir, stir, stir...stir stir stir. Hmmm...nothing's happening. This milk was supposed to start curdling right away. Well, maybe some more vinegar...in go another TB, then two. Nothing is happening! What the heck? More and more vinegar--now I'm a little mad and I know it's not going to work out, so I keep dumping in vinegar to see how much it will take. To no avail!
Nuts! I was looking forward to some creamy ricotta lasagna this week and now I wasted a half gallon of whole milk and a carton of cream. Tonight I discovered the importance of at least glancing at a recipe--this one only called for 1/2 tsp of salt--not the whole TB I put in. I'm no chemist, but apparently all that salt seems to have affected the curdle power of the vinegar. Or maybe it was the combining of salt and vinegar, instead of stirring in separately. I may never know.
Well, hopefully, the bread will turn out tomorrow and I can put the ricotta failure behind me. Tomorrow night I'd love to write of my glowing success accompanied by a photo of two golden loaves of bread and my new favorite bread recipe. Keep your fingers crossed!