Exciting news here in the house of the newlyweds! We took our Bed, Bath & Beyond gift certificates (wedding gifts), and our 20% off coupon, and we bought the Kitchen Aid Professional 6oo Stand Mixer! Whoohoo! 575 watts of mixing power! The six quart mixing bowl holds enough for 13 dozen cookies, 8 pounds of mashed potatoes, or 8 loaves of bread! Because, after all, it's all about the bread. After one success making honey-wheat bread (by hand), I decided that a mixer would really facilitate the mixing and kneading process. As a bonus, the mixer came with a recipe book with various types of bread (amongst other things).
So, while hubby was brewing up a batch of beef stew in the crock pot (also a wedding gift), I mixed up the ingredients for French Bread. It was pretty exciting, if I do say so myself. As instructed, I added all the ingredients in the pre-warmed mixing bowl, except the last 2 cups of flour. I then added the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough came together. What a thing of beauty is a big hunk of bread dough spinning merrily on a dough hook! (it sounds like I've been drinking). Placed into a greased bowl and allowed to languish in a warm oven for an hour, it rose up beautifully, was punched down, split in two, and rolled into lovely loaves. These loaves were then placed on a greased pan, covered with a damp towel, and allowed to rise again for another hour. There was a slight glitch during this process, where I checked on the loaves, and noticed that the towel was sticking. I gently removed the towel, and replaced it with wax paper. BAD IDEA!!! As I found out a little while later, rising dough sticks to wax paper like nobody's business. By the time I got that paper off, my loaves were looking mighty defeated. But, undaunted, I baked them anyway - good thing. They came out looking beautiful (maybe a little misshapen), chewy, and delicious. Just imagine if I hadn't used the wax paper... next time.
Then on to our next (mis)adventure. Cheese making! This has been in the works for a while, particularly since Christmas, when the hubby bought me the beginner cheese making kit from http://www.cheesemaking.com/. I had purchased a gallon of organic milk from the food co-op where we get our veggies, and the kit included the citric acid, rennet, and the instructions that we would need to make a pound of mozzarella. Only, it didn't quite happen. I'm not going to do the blow-by-blow here, but suffice to say that while we did achieve separation of curds and whey, it was fleeting at best. What we ended up with was a mooshy mess that was not too appetizing, definitely not mozzarella, and in the garbage. It was sad. And gross.
I'm not totally deterred yet, and I will try to figure out what went wrong. It was one of 3 things: 1) the milk was actually ultra-pasteurized, which does not make good cheese. This is probably unlikely, as it was not labeled as ultra-pasteurized, 2) We didn't add enough rennet to set the curd up properly - we'll add more next time, or 3) we stirred too vigorously, inadvertently breaking up the curd. This is definitely more art than science, folks. The only really sucky thing is that a gallon of milk is not cheap. I feel like asking for my money back! I guess that where the "whine" comes in. We were bummed, but at least we had a nice dinner of homemade beef stew, and fresh crusty bread. Plus those brownies we have stashed in the freezer...