cheese by night (or This Week In My Kitchen, minus the hopping)

cheeeeese

Thank goodness, we finally have a batch of cheese that is not palloumi (what we call our kinda sorta paneer/halloumi hybrid that keeps happening by accident). It’s just delicious, soft goat cheese. Simple. Not perfect. But hey, pretty darn good, anyway.

thecheeseweb

It’s the nighttime routine these days: kid goes to bed, we (he) make cheese or some sort of ferment from our CSA pick up. This week, it’s a bread and butter pickle, but I’m trying a new method.

pickles

Ferment first, with just salt and pickling spices, and then jar it up, replacing the brine with a 50/50 solution of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. After a week or so in the fridge on a slower ferment, they should be ready to eat. Hopefully, this will result in pickles less cloyingly sweet, with the added bonus of not inhibiting fermentation with the raw honey. Stay tuned…

pesto

Aaaaaaaand, I might finally be done with the pesto. Maybe. We lost all of our basil plants, so I’ve had to buy basil from the market. Usually, our crop is ridiculously robust, but the plants all turned brown and crispy before getting productive. This time of year, though, it’s cheap enough at the farmer’s market that I easily filled three ice cube trays with concentrated pesto (I’ll add the parm and more oil when I thaw for use) with a $9 bouquet of six bunches.

Heather’s blog hop isn’t hopping this week, but you know, my kitchen just doesn’t stop.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

late summer

boyweb

river swim

the coolness of yellow painted lines on coal-hot pavement

a red leaf

maybe two, but we pretend not to see them

not yet

one more late morning with no place to be

yes

and one more afternoon to stop and appreciate the randomness of bales in a field

bales

Pick a Color, Any Color

my post on Luminous Traces Collective this week…

studiobird

I had something completely different in mind…a hue lively and bright, to help me pretend summer has not yet begun its exit while my tomatoes are still young and green (hint, hint)…but then, this guy paid a visit to my workplace and changed everything.

I spend so many of my waking hours adding color to whiteness, that it only seemed fitting and, perhaps, necessary, to celebrate a blank canvas.

And then we dyed him teal. KIDDING.

Anyway, full set of images here.

in celebration of curvilinear shapes

Because, why not?

beetweb

I didn’t realize when we’d planted “cylindra” beets that they would actually grow into a cylindrical shape rather than a sphere. I had been wondering what was wrong with them until C reminded me of the name. Oooohhhhhh, right. Of course. Ahem.

lilyweb

The anthers on this thing are unbelievable.*

btw, that beet is the farthest I got with kitchen photos, so no blog hop for me. I thought our schedule was nuts last week, but just getting dinner on the table every night this week could be interpreted as divine intervention. Amazing things happened even though I was exhausted and didn’t bother to plan..the sorts of delicious, serendipitous Throwing Together of Things that I couldn’t repeat if I tried, and if I made an attempt to record a recipe, no one would believe me, anyway. I will just say this: beautiful things can happen with the Chevre That Wasn’t.

*How often do you get to say that?

the deep well

pathweb

This is the well-worn path between our house and our neighbor’s house. And still, sometimes I forget that I am part of a community. Sometimes, I forget that I am loved unconditionally by my family. Sometimes, I forget that our small trials are not the end of all things. Sometimes, I forget that I have something to offer in this world that can be such a damned overwhelming place to live in.

The forgetting is usually fleeting, but there have been a few times I’ve fallen in the well. I haven’t stayed terribly long there, compared to some, but I know its darkness, and the trip to the bottom comes without warning. In the well, you don’t see the hands reaching down, and you don’t hear the faint, distant voices that float down to you from the top. In the pitch-black at the bottom of the well, you are utterly alone, and there is no hope for a way out.

I had written a looooong post about how my stone cold sober, always and forever unintentionally Straight Edge self could also get sucked into the abyss, repeatedly since I was a teenager, and how it’s terrifying until you don’t even care that the dark is scary, and how shitty I think it is to use words like “selfish” when describing victims of suicide (victims, yes…and if you use the word “selfish” or “cowardly,” please read this), and about how I once did my art thesis on depression and eating disorders and no one commented but to say “nice work” except for one of my instructors who opened up about his wife and her similar experiences because people are afraid to look the Darkness in the eye and to really talk about it. But, I erased it.

Instead, I’ll just say that I only wish that every time it happened to me, I came through with a “fear-proof exoskeleton”:sad5alt4

From: Hyperbole and a Half, Adventures in Depression

I’d like to think it’s not a sugar high, and that perhaps I could encourage exoskeletal growth with goat kefir smoothies and time spent in the garden.

Peace.

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop (and Lemon Blueberry Pie Kefir Ice Cream…whaaaatt??!?)

So, it’s that time again, already (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen), and there was a week of radio silence in between. Hmmm…reasons for that:

1) Loss and heavy feelings to process these last few weeks, mainly on the periphery of intersecting circles of friends, but it brings up some emotions I had no idea were still so raw. It makes anything I might want to share seem pithy and it becomes easier to just shut down.
2) Working on the launch of a new project somewhat related to Luminous Traces, which has become the Luminous Traces Collective so that I can use the former name as my new business name. Confused? I’ll clear that up soon.
3) I have to put in odd hours at the day job because of this Summer Vacation nonsense. Year-round school makes so much damn sense. At least in my little family, the dreaded SV requires a monumental rearrangement of routine and much less time with each other as I have to make up working hours at night or on weekends.

But, we managed to make delicious things and eat them, together and apart:

boozyberries

It’s blueberry picking season in the northeast, so every week there will be berry projects. Each time we go, I try to just pick one thing to make with the fresh berries, and store the rest in the freezer for winter. The first excursion yielded one blueberry pie, one quart jar of fermented berries in honey (which is as easy as the name suggests: fill jar with berries, pour raw honey in to cover, give it a little stir every day, and when it gets bubbly, use the berries and the syrup to make tasty things even tastier), and a little over two gallons of berries in the freezer, about 15 pounds total.

honeyblog

Fermented berries seemed like the perfect way to use some of the “extra” honey we ended up with after extracting. This is how much was left in the bucket and filter when we set to cleaning them!

kefirblog

There is now enough milk every day to keep milk kefir grains happy. I love its effervescence, and it’s great for smoothies, salad dressings, or anything in which I would use yogurt. It also makes amazing ice cream.

kefiricecreamblog

We followed this recipe for Lemon Kefir Ice Cream, which was pretty exciting because the two main ingredients, kefir and honey, came from our own backyard. We didn’t stop there, though. You see, we had leftover blueberry pie. I know, I know…how does one have leftover blueberry pie? You must understand that we are a family of merely three, and our entire extended family is all 3,000 miles away. They cannot come help us eat pie at the drop of a hat. We often freeze half a pie when we make one, but I didn’t this time, and why not have pie and ice cream at the same time?

Yeah, I felt pretty brilliant.

kefiricecreamblog2

Basically, we just followed the ice cream recipe (quadrupled, because why make 1/2 quart of ice cream when you can make 2 quarts?) and when it came to the point in the ice cream churning when it was thickened up and nearly done, I chopped up the leftover pie into bits, crust and all, and C churned just a wee bit more to blend it all in.

The texture is perfect, as is the pairing of lemon and blueberry pie. Make this, please.

In other news, I was here yesterday (speaking of Luminous Traces Collective). Our theme this week is Parallel Lines.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

So, I might have to rename this blog Brine and Stuff in Jars, because most of what happened this week in my kitchen (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen) is sitting in brine in jars.

radishpickle

dillybeans

sauerkraut

A Clean-Out-the-Fridge pickle ferment with radishes, the last of the garlic scapes, carrots, dill, and probably a few other odds and ends; Dilly Beans using the perfect, hasn’t-failed-me-yet recipe I will forever be grateful to have stumbled upon; Good Ol’ Sauerkraut with green and red cabbage and a sprinkling of caraway seeds.

chocolatemint

herbs

mintdrying

There are now herbs in jars, as well. Oregano and chocolate mint, so far. We use these all year long, and I’m hoping to go heavier on the mint this year, as I ran out before springtime and, well…that just doesn’t work for me. If there’s still snow on the ground, I want hot mint tea. It’s sort of a joke around here, asking me “What kind of tea would you like?” Ugh, predictable. Anyway, we made it with the garlic (harvest to harvest), so I’m determined to keep myself in mint, too. I prefer to hang dry, but in this humidity, I finish it off with a couple hours in the dehydrator, just to be sure it’s free of moisture before I store it. In jars.

pesto

I did not forget I promised a pesto recipe, but here’s the thing. It all went direct to freezer, and I was hoping to photograph it on some gorgeous meal. I will admit this here and now: I overdid it on the garlic scape consumption these last two weeks. Absolutely every meal has been drenched in the compound butter and so I haven’t had any desire to use the pesto right now. I find it most comforting and delicious in the cooler months when I’m craving something bright green and tasting of hot days in the garden, anyway, so I’ve put it all by.

I’m going to make it easy and just provide some pesto tips. Really, you can incorporate garlic scapes into any of your favorite pesto recipes, using it in place of garlic, replacing up to 1/3 of your herb/green of choice.

For straight-up garlic scape pesto, I simply roughly chop scapes and fill my food processor to capacity. Whirr them ’round until minced fine, and then it’s play time. A lot depends on the intensity of your scapes, but I like to add about a cup of walnuts or whatever nuts I have on hand. I found the most recent blend with cashews to have a nice flavor. The sweetness of cashews and/or pecans is a nice compliment to the bite of fresh garlic. Next is a generous splash of lemon juice, and then with the machine running, I add oil until the consistency is like a thick paste or batter. Mostly, I go traditional and use the best quality olive oil I can afford (read: whatever organic extra virgin is on sale), but I ran out half way through this batch and made up for the rest with avocado oil. It’s nice! Now comes the part where you have to taste it and add salt, pepper, and possibly more lemon juice.

Because I made this batch intending it to go straight to the freezer, I did not add cheese. It is lovely without it, but often, I will add finely grated Romano to the thawed pesto before using it, in a 1:1 ratio. I highly recommend freezing your pesto in ice cube trays and then transferring to a freezer bag, btw. You’ll get to know how many cubes you need for specific uses. For example, I use three cubes for pizza, two for making pesto burgers, one for omelettes, etc.

Oh, and also a day late was my installment for this week on Luminous Traces. Our topic/prompt is Skin. Enjoy!