Easy homemade mozzarella made with 1 gallon of milk – combine with tomatoes for Insalate Caprese

The full heat of summer is here and I’m drowning in tomatoes. I’ve been searching for new ways to use my bounty, beyond the basics of salsa, marinara sauce, and jarring for winter stores.

Next on my list is homemade mozzarella with a surprisingly easy recipe:


Mozzarella is one of the easiest cheeses to make, it only takes 30 minutes and the taste can’t be beat!

The ingredients are simple although a couple of them you may have to search a bit for, but the end result is worth it–especially when you can say “I made it myself!”


All the recipe calls for is 1 gallon of milk and tiny amounts of citric acid, rennet tablet, and cheese salt (though one recipe said you can skip the salt).  Extremely simple and cheap ($2.50) when it comes to making cheese and when combined with tomatoes and basil becomes:


Insalata Caprese


Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. – Wikipedia


Now off to find those interesting ingredients!

Searching for the perfect Panna Cotta dessert recipe

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last two weeks surrounded by spreadsheets, crumpled paper packets, cartons of dairy products and dirty ramekins. Josef Centeno has a lot to answer for.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at his Bäco Mercat restaurant downtown for a lunch that ended with one of the best panna cottas I’ve ever had. You know what I mean: Delicately sweet, it was like a dream of cream held together by faith and just a little bit of gelatin.

It struck me — how long had it been since I’d had panna cotta? A few years ago you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it. Then just as suddenly it went away. It makes no sense. A good panna cotta is as good as dessert gets. Vowing I would never again leave my panna cotta cravings to the whims of restaurant fashion, I determined to master the dish.

How hard could that be?


…it turns out pretty hard, here’s the full story, and scroll to the last paragraphs for the perfected recipe:

Cracking the code of panna cotta

Continue reading Searching for the perfect Panna Cotta dessert recipe

The official program from opening day of Golden Gate Bridge in 1937

The 1937 guide contains articles on the amazing architectural achievement as well as 130+ advertisements. Here are some of the more interesting ones:


Continue reading The official program from opening day of Golden Gate Bridge in 1937

Miscellaneous Star Wars Art – (the dark side has cookies)

Thx to Trey Simmons!



Continue reading Miscellaneous Star Wars Art – (the dark side has cookies)

At the market – in season – March the beginning of Spring

I found a fantastic column from writer Carol Golden in San Diego Magazine. “At the Market – what to watch for this month:”

March is a transitional month, like pubescence for produce. We’re tired of root veg, but strawberries haven’t come of age. Thanks be to peas—the hint of light, sweet green we crave as days grow warmer. Eat whole sugar snaps raw, chop into salad, or lightly steam. For English peas, channel your inner grandma and sit with a bowl to shell them. Add the peas and a little water to a skillet, cook until the water evaporates. Or live dangerously with a knob of butter and sea salt. Sauté briefly, eat, and smile. Spring is almost here.

Keep reading for a CSA from Poppa’s Fresh Fish company – $25 for a box (25% off retail)  of local fish, mixed fish, shelled fish, or simply wild salmon.

And, Claravale Farm is bringing their raw milk to the dairy desert of Southern California. Did you know that it is near impossible to find milk, cheese, ice cream, or butter at farmers markets in Orange County and San Diego?

Well the milk man is back, at least at one farmers market in San Diego!

Chocolate stamps from 1800s France

Beautiful images of chocolate from French ministry of culture (culture.fr). These are a just a few of thousands to browse through.

Most of them are chocolate stamps that came with the packaging (like baseball cards), and are from a few makers, like Menier and Poulain.

Continue reading Chocolate stamps from 1800s France

Milk, it does a body…BAD?

This is a re-post of a piece I wrote last year on Posterous about milk and breaking my addiction to it. I’m reposting it because I’m writing a piece in response to the recent controversy over a PMS milk campaign.

A habit is a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance. An addiction is an excessive habit or behavior. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m a milk addict.

Ever since college, I’ve been a huge milk consumer – a milk junkie really. One night my freshman year, I drank eight single serving milk cartons in one sitting – which didn’t bode too well for me since I discovered I’m lactose intolerant. Then I switched to lactose-free and soy milk and it only fueled my love affair with milk further. I love it in my morning coffee and I love the sugar-free caramel iced soy lattes the baristas at Starbucks create for me. I love it on the rocks. I love it from a box. On average I go through a 32oz carton (4 cups) a day which prompted @robotchampion to challenge me to examine my milk consumption habits as well as milk and the dairy industry. Upon doing so, I discovered some interesting facts.

First, the now famous “Got Milk?” campaign launched in 1993 was done so to compete with beverage titans like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola who were taking away market-share with the emergence of new juices, fruit drinks, iced teas, coffee drinks, bottled waters, and soft drinks. The advertising firm responsible for this campaign concluded that the best way to increase milk consumption was to not focus on the 30% of Americans who didn’t consume milk but instead convince the 70% of milk-drinkers to use milk more frequently or to drink it in larger amounts. And it worked. Between 1994 and 1995 alone, milk consumption increased almost 40%.

Second, in 2005, the USDA and HHS recommended an increase in non-fat or low-fat  milk and milk products as one its nine adjustments to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, to meet the dairy guidelines, consumption of milk and milk products would have to increase by 66 percent, even though approximately 70% of our population cannot tolerate lactose as adults – we lack of the required enzyme in our digestive system to metabolize the key ingredient in milk.

Third, non-drinking eastern cultures actually have lower incidents of maladies such as osteoporosis. In fact, hip fractures, associated with bone density loss, are more frequent in populations where dairy products are commonly consumed and calcium intakes are relatively high. Why? Many scientists and researchers believe that animal-based diets are the culpritA 20-year study of the health and dietary habits of rural Chinese found that:

[They] consume less than half the calcium we`re told is necessary, virtually all of it from plant sources, in particular leafy green vegetables. They have one-fifth the incidence of hip fracture of Americans. Although they consume more calories per day than we do, only about 10 percent of their diet is from animal sources. On average, American diets are 70 percent animal-based.

Furthermore it reveals:

Early in life, American girls consume higher amounts of animal-based foods than Asian girls, which leads to relatively dense bones, high levels of estrogen, and early sexual maturation. The age of menarche has been dropping for decades in this country and now often occurs as early as age 10. In rural China, girls don`t usually begin menstruation until age 15. Chinese women have only about two-thirds of the amount of circulating estrogen that American women do, which helps account for their far lower rate of breast cancer.

Finally, it’s been found that caffeine found in coffee and soda acts as a diuretic in the body and increases the amount of calcium we excrete in our urine for several hours after we drink it. Translation: the more soda and coffee we drink, the more calcium we need.

In giving up milk, I’m forgoing soy milk. I’m a little skeptical of something that’s so engineered. And it’s tough for me to support industries like dairy and soy that do so much harm to the environment. Thank god for Milkaholics Anonymous.

 *NOTE: As an update, I still drink Starbucks iced soy lattes but I no longer buy milk and consume it at home.