A Cultured Kitchen

28 Jul

Same stuff, different URL!

I have moved to: harvette.com

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I have two projects in the works that will result in two separate, longer and detailed blog posts – right now my kitchen is filled with growing bacteria and culture… the kind I invited in! (Not to be confused with the “culture” growing on those leftovers we really should toss.)

I plan to bring these cultured items with us to a beer event this weekend: Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, hosted at the Brewery Ommegang. This is the first time Jon and I are going, but we’re meeting up with many friends there who have made it an annual thing – there’s camping, volunteering (thus free admission!), beer tasting,  a whole lot of fun and good food (some of which I am planning to contribute – I don’t have homebrew to share, but I’ve got other stuff just as tasty!).

Cheese making

I’ve got a few soft and hard cheeses under my belt, but I’ve never blogged about it, despite a number of people suggesting I do so. I’d like to have made a hard cheese, but the process is involved and very warm, thus it’s something to be saved for some of the first cool fall weekends in September or October. Plus, the cheeses always take a minimum of 2-3 months to age, if not longer.

I’m in the process of straining a formage blanc today. This is a soft cheese that has a similar consistency to cream cheese. I plan to leave half of it plain, slightly salted, and to make the other garlic-thyme flavored. I’m hoping to strain it long enough that it takes on a drier and crumbly texture, something I enjoy in a soft cheese.

Beer Yeast Bread Starter

I’ve got a bread starter developing made with beer yeast. This involves saving the yeast from the bottom of a bottle conditioned beer and mixing it with a bit of flour and water, then letting it sit in a warm spot for a few days. It’s a simple process, one I made up after a friend at a dinner party wondered out loud if beer yeast could be used for bread. I’m nothing if not a kitchen experimenter, so I had to try it myself. The closest yeast was what was left at the bottom of some fantastic bottle conditioned brews, so that started the beer-yeast-bread-starter obsession of last fall and spring. Some yeast works better than others, so it’s always a toss up, but I’ve made some fantastic bread out of these starters.

It’s been a while since I made a starter (there was this whole wheat-free period I went through in last spring and early summer) – but I figured a starter made from Rare Vos would be appropriate for this weekend. So, that’s what I have (pictured to the right) bubbling away on my kitchen counter, developing flavor and ready to be used in what will hopefully be at least two loaves of bread tomorrow night. I’m planning to use the Pyrex Bake-a-Round again, to experiment with it a bit further, plus because the loaves it produces are so nicely long and thin, perfect for slicing and sharing.

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