Fromage Facile… or maybe Lavender Paneer

I realize it has been awhile since I last checked in, but, though I’ve been absent on the inter webs, I’ve still been working hard on some great things to share with everyone! On the weekend of the 11th, I went to Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville. It was my second year to go and is still such a pleasure to be able to attend. The fair is right outside of Asheville (at least the fair that is held closest to Knoxville) and vendors and teachers from all over the country come. There was over 150 demonstrations and workshops with a countless amount of vendors selling everything from composting toilets to herbal elixirs. The focus of the fair is providing and teaching sustainable lifestyle techniques. (I really suggest for everyone to go. Its always mid-April and is a blast!) After coming home from the fair, I had the biggest headache from all the knowledge my brain was trying to process through, but I also had a lot of inspiration and excitement for growing food, discovering recipes, and having fun!

So the weekend of the 11th, I was at Mother Earth News Fair and the next weekend I began experimenting. All that excitement went into some fun recipes. My weekend consisted of making kimchi, quiche, cheese, dandelion wine, and more. It was so fun to be able to spend time in my kitchen (something that can be hard to do during the school year) and to try new things. One of the biggest lessons I brought back from Mother Earth News Fair was to enjoy where I am. One of the herbalists who spoke, Linda Conroy of Moonwise Herbs, made sure to explain that we are to begin where we are. She can use herbal medicine in a different, more advanced way then I because she has spent over 20 years practicing herbal medicine. And thats okay! We don’t need to push ourselves too hard into things we aren’t ready for, but instead access where we are and then find what we can do from there. I’m a dreamer so this can be hard for me. I get fixated on the farm life I want to be living now and come up with grand schemes that I am not ready for (like when I ordered 30 day-old chickens from a hatchery while I lived in a small house in the city). It takes away from the joy of the project. So as I offer recipes, some people may not be ready for them. It can be intimidating to try cooking in a new way and aren’t part of your usual diet. I’m going to try to meet people where they are and if you have questions you can always ask!

Fromage Facile

recipe taken from Claudia Lucero of Urban Cheesecraft and her book One Hour Cheeses

This cheese only takes 30 minutes to make, is fun, and the ingredients may already be in your refrigerator!

The great thing is you can’t mess it up! The only oopsies that happen will only cause you to make a different cheese than a creamy fromage. For example, heating the cheese above 175 (like me. whoops!) or adding to make acidity will only cause you to make a Paneer which is a delicious Indian cheese that is great fried or as a substitute for tofu!

The dessert cheese I had planned (made with lavender and covered in honey) ended up being better fried and I ate it for breakfast with balsamic collards. YUM! I still included the picture below, but your fromage will be creamier!

Cheese Experiment #1
Cheese Experiment #1 Pictured with Chickweed Pesto, Crimson Clover, and Violets

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk (I used whole milk from Cruz Farm but just make sure the milk you use it isn’t ultra pasteurized)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (If using bottled lemon juice, make sure there isn’t added sugars)
  • I cup buttermilk
  • Herbs of choice (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flake salt

Supplies

  • Butter muslin (fine cheesecloth)
  • Colander
  • Large pot (preferably stainless-steel)
  • Thermometer

Begin by pouring the milk into a large pan and turn the heat to medium. I heated my milk with lavender leaves to give it a subtle lavender flavor, but any herbs can be used! Continue to heat on medium heat while stirring occasionally to avoid skin forming on the surface and sticking on the bottom of the pot. After about 5 minutes I took out my herbs and continued heating the milk. When the milk hits 175 degrees add the lemon juice and buttermilk, stir in completely and take off the heat. Let the pot sit for 5 minutes. You should be able to watch as curds form (thats your cheese forming!!!) and the whey separates.

After the curds and whey have cooled, gently pour them into a colander lined with cheesecloth. This strains the whey from the curds. I kept a bowl under the colander to save my whey for later use. Let the curds sit for 1 or 2 minutes till they look like oatmeal and then stir in the salt.

Pack the cheese into a paper-lined dish to form it into a wheel. Flip the dish onto the serving platter, peel away the paper, and enjoy! Or I simply formed my cheese into a ball by hanging the cheese filled cloth from the spout in my sink to drain. Either way is tasty!

-Beth

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