Saturday, February 4, 2012

Back of the Wood Stove

My grandmother did it all the time.  I remember an enameled bucket with skim milk sitting toward the back of the cooking surface of her wood stove.  I can still see the same container, again filled with skim milk, on my mother's wood stove.  We always made our own cottage cheese.  I loved to sip the warm, sour whey with a dash of salt for extra zing once the curds had drained.

I have a big bag of powdered milk that I use for making yogurt.  I don't have a wood stove to set the milk on while it sours, but I do have the internet (from which to gather 20 variations on the theme of making cottage cheese from powdered milk).  I can no longer push this lower on the list of Things I get to do today.  I'm making cottage cheese or something similar.

What really has my interest is a trail snack food that could take you the whole trip if necessary: Dried Cottage Cheese--14 oz. of canned pineapple and 16 oz. of cottage cheese.  Put the two ingredients into the food processor to puree.  Then spread it on to non-stick sheets and dry it in a food drier.* Filled with protein, sweet, chewy and good for you, this is a healthy snack if you are a nibbler like me.

Heating the soured milk
But first the cottage cheese: I picked a technique that seemed closest to my grandmother's.  It worked like magic. A slightly sour solution formed curds when it was heated with the whey separating from the milk solids.  When it was drained, the curds were fine and compact.  The first try became Dried Cottage Cheese with Pineapple.  My second batch is in the freezer and is scheduled to become lasagna. And there is a herbed garlic spread that is settling in the on the back of the stove in my mind, waiting for a good day to ferment its way on to my "get to" list.
Whey draining from the curds--ready to use in a few minutes.

*From MaryJane's Outpost; Unleashing Your Inner Wild, by MaryJane Butters, Clarkson Potter/ Publishers, 2008, p. 188.

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