Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jelly-Jar Vinaigrette

I found four, mostly empty condiment jars in my fridge this week.  And (!) replacement jars opened and added to the inventory!  Happens at your house too?  No one seems to want to be bothered with scraping out those last contents in the bottom of the jar.  Expecting they would do a "rinse out" before the jar finds its way into the recycle bin?  Too much to ask, obviously!

I have found the solution!

At our house, we love fresh salads served "family style" with fresh homemade salad dressings. (plus) My husband loves Strawberry Preserves.  Here is my method of "killing two birds with one stone" - (please pardon the expression).

Strawberry-Orange Vinaigrette:
Contents of mostly used Stawberry Jelly Jar
1/3 C. Red Wine Vinegar
Juice from 1/2 fresh orange
1 1/2 t. Paprika
1/2 t. Dry Mustard
1/4 t. White Pepper
~This complete your "base"~
Add Olive Oil (about 1/2 to 2/3 Cup) to the 'base", once ready to use.

Shake up the "base" ingredients in the jelly jar until the goopy stuff (jelly) frees up from the sides and bottom of the jar.

This is now your Vinaigrette "base".  To complete the Salad dressing you will add Olive Oil (the same amount as your mixture).  I prefer to refrigerate the "base" until ready to toss the salad for the best consistency and freshest taste.

My quest for easy mealtime prep has added a new step.  Store your "Vinaigrette Base" in smaller jelly jars, pre-measured for one fresh salad per jar.  Make sure you leave enough room in the jar so you can shake it up after you add the oil.  This "base" mixture will keep for many weeks until you are ready to toss up all that freshness at dinnertime.

This method works for many other condiments that seem to fall into the "stuck in the bottom of the jar" syndrome.

More recipes:

Mustard Vinaigrette:
Contents of Mustard Jar, (Dijon or any "brown" variety)
1/3 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 T. fresh Lemon Juice
1 T. Honey
1/4 t. White Pepper
Then the Olive Oil (1/2 "base" + 1/2 Olive Oil)

Tomato Vinaigrette:
Contents of Catsup Bottle
1/3 C. Wine Vinegar
Dash of Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 t. Dry Mustard
1 to 2 t. Paprika
1/4 t. Black Pepper
(add the Olive Oil when you serve)

Creamy Vinaigrette:
Contents of the Mayonnaise Jar
1/3 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 t. Dry Mustard
Seasonings to taste: Italian, Basil, etc....
(less than 1/2 Olive Oil is added to this "base" to compensate for the Mayonnaise)

While we are at it ~

My Ranch Dressing:
1/2 Mayo and 1/2 Buttermilk
Dried Parsley, Chives, Tarragon
1/3 clove Garlic (finely grated)
Fresh cracked Black Pepper
In that order (most to least amount)

Ok, now - use your imagination and go for it!  I would love to see your own concoctions in the comments section!

Condiment Jar Recipes are the solution to:
  • using up leftover condiments
  • cleaning out jars without wasting so much water
  • keeping the recycle bin cleaner
  • keeping your fridge cleaned out

But wait!  One more thing - you know that Orange or Lemon that you just squeezed the juice out of?  Well those peels have purpose too!  :) 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mozzarella Cheese

Meet Julie, whose career by day is working as an Ad Designer/Production Coordinator for Maximum Capacity Media. Her time is spent "Living a simple life in a land between two rivers, in a cabin, by a Lake" as her artistic and curious nature brings surprise to the most ordinary of days.

Saturday February 2, 2013
~by Julie M. Stark
I made my own mozzarella cheese today. Being a cheese lover, I have yet to meet a cheese I did not like. This is a very exciting task for me. I am not going to give a step by step instruction. You can find that many places on the web. I read a lot of recipes and approached it my way. My research ended here.

Two months ago I ordered the Citric Acid, Rennet and Cheese Salt. Once it arrived I quickly bought a gallon of whole milk. The first gallon never saw its destiny as a cheese. Things came up and I never got around to starting the project and it spoiled.

Today is the day! First delay, the milk needed to be room temperature. Well room temperature here is barely over 60 degrees so I thought that it will not take too long and I set it out. An hour later I pour the gallon of milk into the stainless steel pan. I add the 3/4 cup of water with the citric acid dissolved in it and started a low heat to get the mixture to 95 degrees, stirring constantly. Apparently a cheese making thermometer is a better idea then the candy thermometer that I used, Candies need to be heated much higher then a cheese. 95 degrees is not very hot.
curds and whey

Once I reached the desire temperature the eight drops of rennet was added stirred in, fire off and cover on for 15 minutes. Every five minutes I peeked in to see what was happening, wondering if I should be peeking. "What if you're not supposed too be peeking", I ask myself. 

I was excited to see some yellowing on the side and glossing on the top. At the 15 minute mark I plunged my finger into the pot to see if it would come out clean. A quick squeal, “Its working!” 

Whey is milk with the fats and solids pulled out (the solids are now curds for the cheese). Milk contains two types of protein – casein and whey proteins.  Most of the casein ends up in your cheese and most of the whey protein ends up in the whey.

colander lined with cheesecloth
captured solids
 I have yet to realize the whey has its uses. It could have been used in the bread rising and as a liquid in the French onion soup in the oven.  I give it a few more minutes and run a sharp knife through the mixture to cut up the solids. It seems that I am ruining it, then with a slotted spoon I start to scoop it out into a colander lined with a cheese cloth to capture as much solids as I can. It seems soupy. I don’t know if it is right or wrong but just keep scooping and straining the solids. Once separated I have a quart of solids and 3 quarts of liquid. The solids are still weeping liquid so I keep straining and kneading with the spoon. 

seems soupy

I get my hands in a few times and taste... 
    Yummy, but it is still too soon!

    Now, one minute in the microwave     extracts more liquid  and I add the cheese salt and continue kneading with the spoon. Hands are back in and know I taste with the salt added .... heavenly texture and flavor!  Four or 5 20 second visits in the microwave and constant kneading and I have a moldable hunk of Mozzarella cheese. I rolled 5 small cheese balls and set them in cold water outdoors in the snow to set up. The rest I dropped into a small plastic storage container and let set in the fridge. An hour later I unveil the finished product!

One pound of Mozzarella Cheese. We all know whats next....a homemade Pizza with
Julie’s Own Mozzarella!

extracting liquids
moldable hunk
Finished Product