Sunday, January 29, 2012


Charlie's birthday shenanigans have come and gone. A few good friends came. Cupcakes were eaten. Fun was had. I have mixed feelings on celebratory days. I resent the Navy for keeping us away from family, but I'm also so grateful for the friends that we make at each of our stations. The universal isolation forges surrogate families, and it makes me happy to see Charlie surrounded by people who love him, even if we're not related.

Earlier in the week, I made Kale with Chorizo and Poached Egg (pg 149 of How to Eat). This is a recipe that I wish I had on-hand back when Matt was out to sea for 7 months. When I'm by myself, I don't cook much. I hadn't discovered that I enjoyed cooking yet at that point, so I practically survived on cereal, eggs and toast, and english muffin pizzas. Lame. I like to think that if I had a recipe like this in my catalogue, I'd have eaten better. This took no effort, and was delicious.

Boil kale. Cook chorizo. Add kale to the cooked chorizo and mix it all up. Top with a poached egg.
Conclusion: Loved it. This is my new "Matt's out of town and I'm feeling lazy" dinner.

I baked Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake (pg 257 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking) for Charlie's birthday. Dorie says that this is a good choice, "whether you're celebrating your baby's first birthday or your great-grandfather's ninety-fifth." I disagree. This is an incredibly rich cake, which is not what I think of for a kid's birthday party. It was good, but every adult that tasted it took one bite, said, "Wow, that's good," and immediately followed it up with, "I need a drink." Charlie licked the icing off his fingers, and wanted nothing to do with the actual cake. Whattaya gonna do?
 Conclusion: Liked it, but it's not really a kid's cake.

I waste most buttermilk I buy. The cake needed a cup, so instead of buying yet another bottle, I used Jennifer Reese's recipe for homemade Buttermilk (pg 53 of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter). Couldn't be easier. Vinegar + milk = buttermilk. Jennifer stipulates that this method works fine for baked goods, but that you should use fresh buttermilk for "buttermilk soup or a Southern buttermilk pie--or anything that relies heavily on buttermilk's unique satiny-rich-sour personality." For my general purposes, souring a cup of milk at a time will work just fine.

Conclusion: Loved it because it will reduce my enormous buttermilk waste.

Baked ziti was the main dish at Charlie's birthday party. I planned to buy ricotta cheese because of it's convenience, but I just couldn't do it when I saw the little 2 cup containers were SIX DOLLARS each.  Reese's recipe for Ricotta Cheese (pg 198 of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter) involves a gallon of milk and some vinegar (two bucks and change), warmed on the stove, then left to sit for twenty minutes until curds form on top. Drain the curds for twenty minutes, and voila! Cheese.
 I was a little worried that it would be grainy, because the curds looked big to me, but it wasn't. I had a hard time refraining from eating the whole sweet batch with a spoon. It stayed creamy after being baked with the ziti, too.

I'm never buying ricotta again. We're all being defrauded by the dairy industry.

Conclusion: Loved it.

 Plus, the liquid left behind by the cheese is whey. Reese says to replace water with whey in bread and bagel recipes. I don't know what impact it has, but I'm going to find out. It keeps for ten days in the fridge, so I better get baking.
Eating my curds and whey.


  1. As much as I love baking for my nieces, I'm going to follow your lead and not make this for them. They wouldn't appreciate the effort as much. But, the cake and the egg dish look delicious nonetheless!

  2. Ricotta & buttermilk! Way to go. I have been making my own yogurt for a while and now that I look back, can't believe how much I used to pay for those little cartons.
    The cake looks good :-)

    1. Yogurt is next on my list! Fage, prepare to meet your doom!

  3. Everything looks so good this week. I'm so impressed that you made your own ricotta, I didn't even know that was possible. And I will definitely be trying that kale recipe, that sounds exactly like my favorite kind of weeknight dinner. During asparagus season I saute asparagus in a pan with olive oil, salt & pepper and then serve it topped with a poached egg and some shaved parmesan. So good and so easy!