Belated birthday cake

Well the cake wasn’t belated, just the posting about it. For Matt’s birthday a little over a week ago I made a layer cake for the first time. They always seemed sort of intimidating, you know? Plus, I’m not a big fan of icing. But it was as good a time as any to try it, and it was much easier than I thought! I only ran into a snag when there wasn’t enough powdered sugar for the icing. The Internet told me that I could make my own powdered sugar by combining regular sugar and cornstarch in my food processor. I don’t know what kind of food processor the internet has, but mine was not capable of making powdered sugar. At least the icing tasted good, even if it was slightly…crunchy. Matt said he didn’t mind, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t even get a picture taken before the cake was halfway gone.

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First Attempt at Cheesemaking

One of the things I was doing in my kitchen yesterday afternoon was making ricotta cheese! Last year I got a great cookbook called The Homemade Pantry. It has recipes for all the things you know you could have been making yourself but haven’t, and also recipes for things that you never realized could be made easily at home. Ricotta is one of the latter. And it only needs two ingredients: milk and lemon.

20130201-211813.jpgHeat the milk and lemon juice to 175 degrees (it took mine about an hour). At that point it will definitely be starting to look like cheese!

20130201-212005.jpgThen you’re supposed to heat it to 205 degrees but not bring it to a boil. Maybe I did something wrong, because mine started boiling way before that. But it still turned into cheese anyway, so it’s all good! After that let it sit for ten minutes then strain through a cheesecloth.

20130201-212404.jpgAnd just like that, cheese is created!

20130201-212440.jpgYou’re also left with a good amount of whey, which my book says is great in bread, soup, smoothies…I’m not sure yet what I’ll use mine for. Probably bread.

20130201-212627.jpgSo if you never have, try making some cheese! It really couldn’t be easier. I was even cleaning my seed starting kit the whole time the cheese was doing its thing. And now I have homemade ricotta to use in my spinach lasagna…

Happy cheesemaking!

Snow Days

So this morning it snowed some again and then I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen. (Anyone noticing a trend?) It also reminded me that I didn’t post the pictures of the snow from two weeks ago (which finally melted this week!).

This is a dog who does not normally like to play in the yard. I’ve never seen her so excited to go outside! It was hard to get a good picture since she was busy running laps out there.

20130131-224046.jpgGarlic isn’t scared of a little snow. Nor was it phased by being encased in ice with the freezing rain last week.

20130131-224444.jpgOur backyard looked like the Family Circus after Story was done playing in it.

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Although I did spend a good part of today in the kitchen, not all of it was cooking. Because the gardening season has officially begun! I don’t exactly have a potting bench or anything, so I use the kitchen counter as my planting station. Today I sowed the first set of onion seeds (yellow, red, and green bunching). I haven’t had good luck with onions yet, but I’ve also always direct sown them. Hopefully starting them inside will work out better this year.

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Do you have any onion-growing tips…?