We have belonged to a milk co-op for about four and a half years. We partner with an old-order Mennonite farmer in Kentucky, and about 8-12 families participate at any given time. We take turns driving up there, visiting with Joseph, and bringing back milk, cream, and eggs. It has been a phenomenal experience, and I'm so happy to be a part of it. I love showing the kids the farm and the animals and where our food comes from. Plus the drop point has been my backyard for the past few years, which makes it pretty easy for me.
The upshot, though, is that I pretty much always have a gallon of milk and a pint of cream waiting for me to do something. We don't drink a ton of milk straight-up in my household. Todd likes a glass here and there (he demands "fresh milk"), I like it in coffee. But I get a gallon every week, rain or shine, and so I have had to get creative with how I use it up.
I skim the cream from the top of the gallon, combine it with my pint of cream, and make butter every week or two. This has made me into a huge butter snob. I only like my bright yellow butter now, and a lot of mornings the kids just have bread and butter and honey for breakfast.
I also make and freeze a lot of paneer. I got super into making Indian food in the last couple of years. It's pretty easy and it makes your house smell like exotic heaven. Paneer is kind of the Indian equivalent to tofu. It's a vegetarian protein staple that can pick up pretty much any flavor you combine it with. Making it is an adventure in easy cheese-making:
|Paneer . . . to the left, to the left.|
You will need milk, lemons, a big pot, a colander, cheesecloth (or an old clean pillowcase), a couple of plates, and some heavy cans.
Pour 8 cups of milk into a large pot. Heat over medium until it begins to boil. (This may take about twenty minutes - stir continuously near the end so it doesn't scald to the bottom.)
When it boils, pour in 1/4 C fresh lemon juice (no seeds! - you can also use bottled in a pinch). The milk should begin to curdle immediately. If it doesn't, add a little more lemon juice.
Drop the heat to low and stir the curds together gently for about five minutes. You want to stir in such a way that you are sort of bringing them together, rather than smashing them apart.
Wet the cheesecloth and put it in the bottom of the colander.
Drain the curds into the lined colander. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together to make a little sack of curds. Hang it from your kitchen faucet to drip for five minutes.
After the curds have drained five minutes, take the cheesecloth ball and twist it so that the ends are off to one side. Place the ball on one plate, smash the ball down a little and put another plate on top of it. Weight the top down with a couple of cans and let it drain for another twenty minutes or so.
Once the draining is over, remove the cheesecloth and dice the paneer into 1-inch cubes. Use immediately or freeze for later!
How do I use it? It's great in pretty much any Indian recipe! Saag paneer, paneer tikka masala, and matar paneer are my favorites. I will post a recipe for one of these in the next few days - this post already seemed too long and overwhelming!