Friday, December 08, 2006

another hot cake

what's a ho-cake anyway? (that's what i almost typed. .i think i like this as a nickname..) i think it is a corn hotcake of olden days.

because, you know, i love pancakes. i might even call myself a *connoisseur* of pancakes. i love me some breakfast, and i love me some pancakes. they need to be crispy around the edge, and not too cakey and dense in the center.

my favorite pancakes ever at a restaurant are: Alfalfa's Blueberry Buckwheat (more than a meal ~ in lovely downtown Lexington, KY), and
Cafe Bernardo's Cornmeal Pancakes (in tree-lined Midtown Sac). with their seasonal menu variations, i've not had these in awhile. they *rule*. they have inspired my personal quest to make the perfect pancake (as with the previous entry).
my mama when i was a kid would manage to magically fry smiley-faces or heartshapes into my pancakes. that always made me happy.
and Brooke makes a killer pancake with whatever happens to be in the kitchen, including bananas.
which reminds me that i have a third pancake to add to the Top list: banana pancakes from latin american countries. yum.

so here's my latest:

Winter Squash Cakes.
this was created to use up leftover or extra squash (or sweet potatoes), and eaten with a Greek Egg-Kale Scramble
(also stellar), for a dinner-time breakfast to honor our nightshift boy, mr. Sealion.

4 freerange eggs
about 1/3 cup buttermilk (from my recent butter session), or yogurt-and-water will do
the flesh of 1 (or so) roasted winter squash, very soft. (or one large roasted sweet potato; you get the idea. )
1/3 cup organic cornmeal ( i would have used polenta if i'd had it.. for that perfect texture.. ) ~ just a third-cup!
about 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

beat plenty of air into the eggs ~ separate out the whites and fluff 'em up if you have the time/inclination.
add the buttermilk/yogurt and squash.
stir till well combined, and large lumps are smooshed.
stir together the dry ingredients and add them to the wet.
combine till all lumps of flour are incorporated, but not much more.

fry on a medium-hot skillet in butter.
serve with cottage cheese, yogurt, or applesauce. but i venture you'll eat a few just plain!!
my family of taste-testers voted this a winner, for sure. and i have to agree.
great for any time of day. with so many eggs and so little flour, these cakes are filling and marvelous. with two bottomless-hungry boys, and me, at the table, we had only a couple leftover. i think they were just being polite..


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

cottage cheese

in other raw milk news,
i made cottage cheese:
one with raw whole milk, and
one with raw skim.
i put the two jars of raw milk in the oven with the light on (right next to the sourdough starter i'm still sweet-talking.. ),
and waited two days.
today i will cut the curds, drain off the whey, and wash the curds with filtered water.
then we'll have a taste test to see which we like best: whole milk cottage cheese, or skim. as yummy as whole milk products are, i can't imagine the skim would be tastier, but we'll see. .

alright, well. the results are in.
this was a positive experiment, but i really needed more milk to do it up right.
my main complaint was that the milk in the pan was so shallow that i had to babysit each batch intensively (i had to consult the Christmas Ale for support) to keep it at the recommended 110 degrees for 30 mins. i'd let it get up to temp (or a couple over) and then take it off the stove. . over and over. and it turns out that the skim was really the proper choice for cottage cheese (as my recipe further recommended). it curdled and firmed up in the expected amount of time. very pretty. the whole milk, on the other hand, was a creamy mess (gorgeous yellow cream, but all the same) that took forever (3 times as long as the skim.. ) to firm up. i washed the skim milk curds as per directions, but couldn't bare to wash away all that beautiful cream from the whole milk batch, so .. . after hours of draining it, i ended up simply mixing the two batches together for a small bowlful of creamy loveliness. it was more tangy than the kind you get at the store, with a luscious creamy sauce.

what i did:
heat each batch to 110 on the stove.
i cut the curds into relatively uniform pieces,
and stirred everyonce in a while to keep them from "matting".
once they became firm between my fingers, as opposed to their original custard-ish texture,
i drained off the whey,
and washed the curds (of the skim) in cold, filtered water.
then i left them in their cotton baggy to drain for a while.

the cookbook i consulted is _Home_Cheese_Making_, by Ricki Carroll, purportedly the american Guru of home cheese making, and a seminal agent in the recent american *craft cheese revival*.

one of the products of my natural chef education was learning about, and being directed to resources about: the whole body benefits of raw, grass-fed milk. pasteurized milk protects us from the ill effects of *industrialization*, not milk. cows that have the opportunity to live as they were created to live ~ browsing fields of grass ~ produce milk that is wholly good.
for more information on this, i highly recommend
to learn more about Organic Pastures (the milk we use), you can visit their site at

photos, in blogger-random: incubating. can you tell which is whole milk and which is skim?
cutting the curd,
comparing the jars: one with a thick layer of yellow cream, the other with just a skim,
the curds a-stewin',
draining the whey,
the jar of whey (from the skim),
the finished skim cottage cheese,
the whole curds, with their cream soup, draining.

bread and butter

or, rather: butter and bread.

i made butter for the first time! how surprisingly easy!
i put a pint of raw Organic Pastures cream in the food processor, and no more than a couple minutes later:
and real buttermilk.
i washed it with cold, filtered water, and, with the back of a spoon, squeezed out the remaining buttermilk, until the water ran clear when i pressed.

i had to make some bread for butter-to-mouth transport, so i made one from Bernard Clayton's bread cookbook. i used the recipe for "Max's Loaf," and made a few Tiffanie changes. i used 2 cups hard wheat, 1 cup soft wheat, and 2 cups spelt (all whole-grain, ground in the blender) for my flour mixture. i used the buttermilk from my first butter foray, and substituted 1/8 cup of agave nectar in with 1/8 cup raw honey (it called for all-honey). i used pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds.
it turned out to be a gorgeous loaf. it was made with packaged yeast, instead of sourdough, with which i'm still finding challenges (it's wild!).

i know ~ my photos are cheesey. i can't help it!
the pumpkin-crusted bread with butter,
the butter in-process, with its companion-bowl ~ the buttermilk.
presentation is "everything" ~ the product in the fridge.