The Frugal Hostess is very sophisticated and also extra fancy. However, she does enjoy some good, old-fashioned, hand-made vittles. In particular, she likes to try to make things herself that you might ordinarily just purchase. Much to her delight, TFH found a soulmate in one Ms. Karen Solomon, author of the book "Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It." And thus was inspired a Dairy Extravaganza.
Dairy comes from milk. Duh, of course. But, The Frugal Hostess cautions, the quality of the milk you use to make your dairy products directly impacts the quality of said products. Your milk shouldn't be ultra-pasteurized but can be pasteurized (the ultra is cooked too much for it to work correctly). You can use skim or 2% milk, but your end result will taste better if you use whole. And obviously use organic milk without hormones. The Frugal Hostess has been lucky enough to find a milk man who delivers raw "pet" milk from his farm to her area. He has to call it pet milk because it isn't pasteurized and thus a little more dangerous for people to drink, but TFH is willing to take the risk. It's delicious and makes great dairy. Try to find some farm-fresh milk, if you can.
Act One: Cheese
TFH actually started making cheese a while ago, using the 30 Minute Mozzerella and Ricotta Kit from Ricki the Cheese Queen. It could not be easier once you get the hang of it. She hates to say it, but you do need a couple of special ingredients and semi-unusual equipment to make this cheese, so The Frugal Hostess thinks you should buy the kit (it's, like, $25 and makes a ton). If you are a die-hard and want to just go for it, here's a recipe:
6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot (not aluminum or cast iron)
Stainless steel slotted spoon
Two-quart microwave-safe mixing bowl
Measuring spoons and cup
Gallon whole milk (not pasteurized!)
1. Try to cut the rennet tablet into quarters. You need ¼ of a tablet, but it’s not a big deal if you go a little over; just don’t go under. Dissolve the rennet in ¼ cup of water. Set aside.
2. Put 1 cup of water in your stainless steel pot and add 1½ teaspoons of citric acid. Stir well to dissolve.
3. Pour in gallon of milk and stir well.
4. Heat to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from burner and add rennet solution. Stir well, cover, and set aside for five minutes to rest.
5. You should have curd at this point. (If not, let it sit longer.) Cut it up in the pot. Put back on burner and heat to 105 degrees, stirring slowly.
6. use the slotted spoon to scoop the curds out of the whey and into the microwave-safe bowl. You can save the whey to use in recipes or to water your plants.
7. Microwave the curd on high for one minute, then drain off additional whey. Knead the cheese with your hands until it is cool enough to touch. (It’s super-hot! Be careful or wear rubber gloves.)
8. Microwave two more times for 30 seconds, draining and kneading as before. Add salt at the end. The cheese is ready when it is stretchy and sort of shiny.
Act Two: Butter
Butter is easy to make. The Frugal Hostess made hers with the same special milk as she uses to make cheese. Fill a glass jar halfway with milk, and shake it for 30 minutes or until butter is made. Deceptively easy sounding, huh? Except that the shaking nonsense takes forrreeevvver. And all you get is about a tablespoon of butter. The better way is to follow Solomon's instructions in "Jam It..." and use heavy cream; you will get a much better yield for the ass-kicking work your arms go through doing all that shaking.
Act Three: Yogurt
The Frugal Hostess found a recipe for making yogurt in ReadyMade magazine. You take 1 ½ tablespoons of plain yogurt and mix it with a quart of heated up milk, then let it sit in a heated up (and then turned off) oven for between six and 12 hours. It was kind of nerve-wracking to leave a dairy product out over night, so TFH put it in the fridge after six hours. The yogurt turned out fine, if a little more liquid than expected. The taste was delicious, and The Frugal Hostess expects that it will taste even better with some honey or agave syrup added in. Blueberries, sliced peaches, and wheat germ were good.
photo by NickPiggott