Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Country Living

One of the things we were told before moving to the Pioneer Valley ("the country") is that we would definitely start brewing our own beer.  I'm not much of a beer drinker (even less so since leaving Wisconsin), so I think I found my substitute.

I made cheese.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Andy's been telling me for months, maybe even years now that I should start a food blog.  I've resisted the idea because it seems like white noise.  Besides, I don't come up with recipes like some of the greats out there (I'm looking at you, Deb), I just make their stuff.

But what's wrong with that?  Often it's delicious.  And pictures of food?  Sounds all right to me.

Andy and I took an Indian cooking class the other week, and it was inspiring.  The food wasn't very hard to make, so although this Saag Paneer that I made wasn't on that day's menu, it built off of the class.

I used this recipe, because it was the first one that came up on Google.  A woman at the cooking class told me how she makes her own paneer, and this recipe suggested it as well, so it was on.

One of the things that our class teacher showed us was to make good use of your food processor.  We've got a mini-prep, which it turns out is perfect for onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeños.

This is supposed to be a spinach dish, but we had kale, too (as we often do), so I chopped those up together, then ran them through the food processor as well.

One note I will give you: if you use the mini-prep for the jalapeño, STAND BACK when you take the lid off.  Trust me.  Open it pointing away from your face.  Your lungs will thank me.

"How do I make paneer?" you ask.  SUPER easy.  You need milk (whole, or 1/2 and 50%, if you desire) and lemon juice.  And cheesecloth.  There have been many times when I've wanted a cheesecloth, like the day I strained ghee through a dinner napkin, but now we finally have one.

I'm proud of my CHEES CLOTH

Start your milk a-boiling.  Start some rice.  Add garam masala (which you can also make at home!  Who knew?) and cumin, if you like.  If you have space on your stove, you can also start your onion/garlic/pepper/ginger mix with some oil.

In my excitement about making the paneer, I neglected to photograph the exciting milk-into-cheese moments.  I apologize.  Here's what went down: the milk boiled, I added a quarter cup of lemon juice (bottled, not fresh-squeezed like was called for, but I don't think it suffered), and the milk started to curdle up.  I stirred it a bit, pushing it together-ish, then poured it into my cheesecloth-lined colander in my sink.

Then it looked like this!
 Then this...
 Then, this.
I used two jalapeños and this was far too much for me.  I took out some, but not all of the seeds, and I think that's where I went wrong.  I was wearing my orange K College sweatshirt, and Andy said my face turned the same color.  But it was very tasty, and enjoyable as my first foray into Indian cooking on my own.
And here's Brisco, looking amazing.