I’ve never been much of a city girl; yet since leaving the comfort of the quaint, New England college where I was interned for four years, I have yet to managed an escape from cities. They have followed me, and I them. Historically, my draw to the city has been my previous lines of work; now I often wonder if I am simply conditioned to be a city girl. Yet, city life has brought a subtle shift to my entire core, given me a freneticism that I haven’t yet been able to shake, despite mindfully trying.
Managing living in a city has become a routine task for me, and indulging in rhythmic, home-based living has been my cornerstone. In my humble opinion, a city without a farmer’s market is but a shell. So no matter where I’ve lived, including the concrete jungle of NYC, I always ensure that I can escape to a farmer’s market. Escape the hive for a moment. Speak with the farmers. Ache for the lives they live.
Since moving to the ‘big city’ in Middle Georgia, I have been incredibly blessed by my farmers. We in Macon are not a million strong clamoring for attention from every corner, but rather we are a dedicated few and we each get time to speak to our farmers. It is a blessed ritual in my week. I get to act with intention and interact with the purveyors and producers of my meats, cheeses, milks, fruits, and vegetables. The opportunity to slow down, consider where my food is coming from, and truly engage with my community of farmers is the highlight of my week. Every week, and nearly without fail.
Yet the biggest treasure I have found, has been the community sustained agriculture share of goat’s milk I have been lucky enough to snag. When my local farmer approached me with the opportunity to have milk delivered each week, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I just knew that I had to have it. The only catch? The delivery would be goat’s milk. A full gallon of fresh, raw goat’s milk delivered to my house each week. The idea was intoxicating. I think I had visions of me baking, cheese making, yogurt concocting for hours a week donning a dress and a frilly apron. Domestic goddess dreams I suppose.
When the first Ball Jars of grassy, creamy, sweet goodness came to my door, I was elated. Finally! I could make things! So many things! I didn’t waste a second of time. To cheese making I went. I heated the milk, I added the cultures, I stirred, I waited, I cheesecloth-ed. And waited. I got impatient, I squeezed the cheesecloth. Lo and behold! I had cheese. As I began decanting it into jars, I realized I had made a crucial mistake—You cannot speed cheese making easily. I cursed at my tough, squeaky curds. They had ought to be buttery, decadent, and delicious.
Now four months into my yearlong share I have some measure of mastery in the chèvre, hard/soft goat cheeses, and ricotta-concocting department. Cheese making has become a sort of meditation for me, primarily out of necessity as I have botched more batches than I can even begin to explain.
At the moment, the most foolproof way to make cheese is ricotta! Oh how I love love love goat’s milk ricotta. But let us be clear, ricotta made this way isn’t truly ricotta. Ricotta translated from the Italian actually means ‘twice cooked’, as it is generally made from a batch of previously created whey. What I make is a simplified ricotta, only requiring one process. But worry not, for oh my goodness is it delicious! Not to mention, nearly every one of you will have all the ingredients required just lying around your kitchen.
It is a simple recipe and requires only two things: milk, goat’s or otherwise, and some kind of acid. Some people say citric acid works best (I never have that lying around), others claim lemon juice. Myself, I use white vinegar and am perfectly content with the clean acid flavor. Other prefer the citrus of lemon– to each their own I suppose.
Simple Homemade Ricotta
1 Quart of Milk (not skim though!)
2 Tablespoons either Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
Pinch of salt
Some paper towels
Place your milk in a non-reactive pan. (Copper isn’t a good idea.) Add salt to taste.
Heat your milk to 180 degrees.
Remove from heat.
Add your acid of choice. Stir briefly. Curds will begin to form immediately!
While the curd is forming, line a colander with some paper towels (if you have butter cloth, use that. But paper towels work fine.)
After 5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the curds into the lined colander.
Wait 10 minutes (for a soft, creamy, wet cheese) or up to two hours for a drier cheese.
It tastes delicious with basil from the garden, on pizzas, mixed into pastas, and spread onto bread with sun-dried tomatoes. I love it on Food for Life 7-Grain bread with basil!
Hint: Want to make it even more indulgent? Add a touch of cream (goat’s cream, cow cream, whatever works).
Makenna Johnston lives, breathes, and loves in Middle Georgia, where she is an Adjunct Professor and Doula. She’s embarking on a new blogging adventure at CALL SIGN: Wife where she discusses simplicity, air force wife-dom, and prepping for motherhood.