Cheesepalooza: Whole-milk Ricotta

Sorta-homemade lasagna with actually-homemade ricotta

I’ve been resisting making this post for a week and a half, for two reasons:

1) My photos didn’t come out all that well, and
2) My ricotta didn’t come out all that well. I couldn’t get it to set up properly. Cooking from the Market’s buttermilk ricotta is much more reliable for me, and the texture is right, while this was rubbery.

This is the first recipe in Cheesepalooza, though, and I have lots more chances to get it right. Besides, the resulting lasagna was ASTOUNDINGLY good, so hey, success!

Here’s the cheese draining on the faucet:

homemade ricotta draining

And here’s the lasagna after I ate all my dinner, went “Oh, shoot! I need a photo!” and put a little more on a plate to photograph.

sorta-homemade lasagna, one slice

It was so darn good, we managed to polish off that little more, too. SO good. And way easy, because I only sort of homemade it. You don’t even really need a recipe. What I did was bought four sheets of fresh pasta (two regular, two spinach) and layered them with jarred sauce, the homemade ricotta, and sliced whole-milk mozzarella. I ran out of mozzarella at the end (I used a pound), so I added some shredded cheddar on the top layer. This went together in maybe five minutes, and then I baked it at 350, covered, for about a half hour, then uncovered it and baked until everything was hot and bubbly. SO good!

And now here’s the worst pic of all. This doesn’t do this delicious thing justice, I promise you.

sorta-homemade lasagna

[Edit: Here’s a photo of an old batch of ricotta, made with the recipe linked above:]

ricotta in a strainer

Notes on a long weekend (including this week’s menu)

Little notes from a weekend kitchen

Little tidbits all thrown into one post:

Finally some time to bake

This long weekend is a balm to my soul. There’s not too very much homework, I have very few social obligations, and my house is relatively clean. So gosh, today, I cooked up a storm. Sausage and potatoes for breakfast. Potato soup for lunch, with homemade baguette! I can’t find my camera, but I did take a cellphone photo of my baguette. You deserve better, but here it is:

cameraphone pic of a baguette that's obviously misshapen but brown and pretty anyway

I got the recipe from King Arthur Flour, one of my favorite recipe sites, and it worked really well. I baked it a little too long because my oven is a pain in the ass, but it worked out really well anyway, and now I have baguette dough in the fridge for whenever I want it (the recipe makes enough dough for four loaves).

This week’s manu

This week, we’re keeping it pretty simple. It’s two weeks before finals, and James has some work stress, so plain and easy is a good way to go. We’re still doing pantry cooking, but it’s kind of a joke, because I still have SO much food in the house!

Tonight: Cheeseburger macaroni (homemade, but inspired by that boxed stuff I loved as a kid)
Monday: Vegetable soup and baguette
Tuesday: Bean burritos
Wednesday: I have school, and James fends for himself (usually sandwiches). If I have time, I’ll make him a baguette the night before to have his sandwich on.
Thursday: Sausage and potato skillet
Friday: Spaghetti
Saturday: The kid is coming over and we’re gonna make some kind of Mom Food together. I’m letting her decide what it will be. More about that later.

Constructive spammers

My spam killer has been going a little nuts lately, and classifying a few of you as spammers, which obviously, you’re not, because you’re my beloved readers (and, in one case, an actual Mom Food blogger!). I’m working on it, but I’m also finding a really interesting phenomenon in which someone makes an actual comment that responds to the post, and it’s pretty clear from their URL and CommentLuv post that they’re hoping to promote their link on Google. This made me think of this comic, which I’ll leave you with (click to make it larger), and which I’m sharing with permission. Have a wonderful, wonderful week, my darlings.


OAMC: The Geekening

Once-a-month cooking: I account for the money, and show the photos.

Look away if you don’t care about the geeky accounting I made of what the once-a-month cooking spree yesterday cost me. Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll post an actual recipe or two, but today I’m all excited about how much money I saved by spending an easy day chopping and cooking our favorite foods.

Around 115 servings of dinner food (not that we’ll only eat it at dinner)
Cost: $52.33 (not counting salt, pepper, and things like bacon grease)
Average: 46 cents per serving (more details below)

So basically, 38 meals each for the three of us; I’ll be interested to see if they last the month. My sincere hope is that I’ll be able to buy a standalone freezer soon, and be better situated to take advantage of sales and bulk buying. Also, it’ll mean I don’t have to be so careful about arranging stuff in my tiny little freezer.

I posted the pics of my newly full freezer to Flickr so I could tag everything with notes so you know what it is. If you click on the images, you’ll go to the annotated version. Go ahead and cringe at how messy the floor of my freezer is; I know I’m cringing. I was planning to really scrub it out before I started, but that didn’t materialize.

inside the freezer

the door

27 bean burritos, $9.80:
tortillas 2.89
24 c. beans (8 c. dry) — the whole recipe was 2.10; used 2/3 of it for the burritos: 1.40
almost all the tomatoes 2.00
1 lb. Onion .38
6 cloves garlic .13
bacon grease (free; saved from previous cooked bacon)
cheese: 3.00
.36 per burrito

8 quarts potato soup, $6.13:
5 lbs. Potatoes: 2.25
1 lb. Bacon: 3.50
onion: .38
celery leaves (free; saved from celery)
.38 per two-cup serving

29 twice-baked potato halves, $10.63:
(I made 15 large potatoes; one half broke)
Potatoes: 4.47
Cheese: 4.79
Parsley: .39
Scallions: .98
.37 per serving

Around 100 potstickers, $8.80:
Wrappers: 2.79
Chicken: 3.00
Scallions: .98
Water chestnuts: 1.76
Ginger: .27
.62 for a 7-dumpling serving

Kimchi soup, $9.77:
Kimchi: 4.99
Fish balls: 2.29
Clamato: 2.49
1.62 per bowl

Also: remainder of chicken, which made 4 burgers, 9 baked chicken thighs, and a big bowl of chicken salad: $6.50 (about .43 per serving)

Remainder of beans: $.70 (9 cents a cup)

The Big Cook commences

The beans are on the boil, and the prep begins. It’s Big Cook day!


Got plenty of sleep, got dressed in comfy houseworky clothes, and put the soaked pinto beans on to boil. It’s time for my first real once-a-month cooking (OAMC) effort, and I think it will be fun. I chose some really easy recipes for things that my family loves, so it shouldn’t really be much more work than getting a big meal on the table. I’ll let you know.

I’ll check in a few times, if I can. I’ll use a jump tag (if I can figure it out) so that this post doesn’t completely eat the homepage.

Continue reading “The Big Cook commences”

Joyful weekend so far

Great weekend so far. Tomato bounty, huge vat of split pea soup, and oh, yeah, I don’t have cancer!

So far, it’s been a pretty joyful long weekend, where the Mom Food Project is concerned. I had off from work Thursday and Friday, and there’s been a lot of food joy in my house.

First, I realized this blog turned a year old a few weeks ago. Oops; didn’t realize it, so it came and went unheralded, but it still makes me happy. Also, the post before this one was my 200th! Again, didn’t realize.

Another great thing: No cancer! Blood tests and scans all came back negative. My first cancer surgery was in 2007; this is great news, as you can imagine task management system. Okay, it has nothing to do with the blog, but I had to tell you!

In serendipitous food news, the Berkeley Bowl (@BerkeleyBowl) tweeted yesterday that they were having a special on flats of pesticide-free tomatoes on the vine. About 45 cents a pound. I jumped on it and bought these:

two flats of pesticide-free tomatoes on the vine, stacked on atop the other

I made a big bowl of the tomato stuff with four and a half pounds of them. Hey, that’s from the first official post, so we’ve come full circle!

Chopped tomato salad in a big green bowl, with basil and garlic and salt

The rest I blanched, skinned, and turned into a massive vat of tomato sauce, with onions, garlic, veggies, and olive oil (click thumbnails if you want to see bigger pics):

celery, carrots -- click to enlargeall the veggies in a big pot -- click to enlargeblanched and skinned tomatoes added to the veggies -- click to enlargetomato sauce before blending smooth -- click to enlarge

And now, in the same vat, I’ve just made the mother of all pots of split pea soup, with a huge smoked turkey leg. It’s delicious, and it will fill my freezer. Recipe later, and photos, but James offered to put it away for me, and I took him up on it, so I don’t wanna bug him just now. He also made us grilled mozzarella sandwiches to go with it. He’s the best.

Not a bad weekend at all. How’s your weekend?