Black Annis (annis39) wrote,
Black Annis

Of mint and pink soup, among other things

I've been meaning to write this entry for a while, but had been rather caught up in teaching my last week of ECO (Early Connection Opportunity, a three-week intro-to-college course that UR runs for students from particular backgrounds) among other things. So finally, here is an entry with pictures!

The main thing that I really had to visually document this time was a rather violently colored gustatory experiment:

What is it, you ask? Borscht. At a loss for something to do with the beets that arrived with our farm share (we already discovered that we don't like roasted beets), I decided to experiment and try a recipe for cold borscht that I'd found in Green on Greens and Grains. It's really quite delicious-- how could it not be with ingredients such as cucumber, garlic, and sour cream, but the color is rather bizarre, so much so that Ryan was completely unable to make himself eat it. Ohwell. I liked it, and managed to eat most of it by myself. If it hasn't gone off yet, I may finish the rest today.

The other item I decided of which I had to provide pictures was the mint that we cut and hung to dry last week. Maybe it was the sake I'd had that evening, but the greens and purples just seemed particularly beautiful, so I took pictures.

This one is the peppermint . . . I can't remember where I got it, but it's been attempting to take over my herb bed since I put it in. The only way to hold it in check is to cut it back severely at least two or three times during the summer, which is how we ended up with more than a gallon jar of dried mint last summer. At one point, when the cutting back wasn't enough, I put some of the mint in the weedy bed along the side of the house. The four plants I put in have since taken over a 2' x 3' block of the bed, and have completely crowded out the weeds.

This is a picture of the peppermint (on the left) and the spearmint that I got from my sister last year. When I put the spearmint in, it was a teeny tiny plant that seemed to be getting chewed to death by slugs . . . I thought it was just going to die off and disappear. Then, this spring, it started coming up. The plant is now about three feet high and attempting to crowd out my rosemary bush. Amazing. It, too, is getting to undergo the cycle of cutting in hopes that I can prevent it from going where it isn't welcome.

The extra, but pretty items that you can see in both pictures are pieces of our new sake set. It seems that sake is a stomach soother for both Ryan and myself. Who knew . . .

Not in pictures, but fun nonetheless . . . last week we made our first batch of cheese. First we made about a pound of mozzarella, then used the whey from that to make a batch of ricotta. It's surprisingly easy. I have now learned that I can make mozzarella as hard or as soft as I want; this first time, I followed the directions in the recipe and pulled the cheese (in order to develop a bit of body and bounce in mozzarella, you pull it like taffy) until it actually became cool, at which point it was as hard as most store-bought cheddars, and extremely easy to shred with a cheese grater. Next time I think I'll pull it less, and try for a soft batch. Taste-wise, the mozzarella could have been better-- I prefer my cheese a little saltier than the recipe makes it, so some recipe-tweaking is in order. The ricotta was much better-- it had a firmer texture than store-bought ricotta, and the curds were larger (they clumped a little during the hanging process), but it tasted great, especially when combined with some of the peaches and pears remaining from last year's canning.
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