Last week we talked about substitutes for feta cheese. We came across this page about how to buy, store, and use cheese. Here are some of the takeaways:
Some buying hints:
Cheese should be well wrapped. Make sure if you are buying packaged cheese that the packaging isn’t puffy or torn.
Make sure there is no moisture.
If you can smell the cheese, make sure it doesn’t smell like ammonia.
Storage of cheese:
Plastic wrap can shorten the shelf life so rewrap in waxed paper or foil. You might be able to find a paper designed for wrapping cheese that will allow air around the cheese but preventing it from drying out.
Store your cheeses together in a box if you have the room in your refrigerator.
Some cheeses can be frozen. Be sure to check out the link in our source to find out more.
Use up leftover rinds of parmesan in soups.
A few months ago, we decided to try to eat a little more the way the Mediterranean Diet is. Less meats, more vegetables, fish, and olive oil, etc.
One thing some of us don’t enjoy is feta cheese. It seems it is in almost every meal I see. I have found there are some substitutes that work just as well, and don’t taste, well feta-ish.
I have seen you can try ricotta. Now I really love ricotta but it seems a little too wet. You can drain it with cheesecloth and it will hold up better. Another cheese to try is called ricotta salata. It has a firmer texture than the ricotta in tubs you usually buy. It may also be called ricotta pecorino or ricotta secca. (Ricotta means re-cooked and salata means salted.)
It is made by heating up the whey (from sheep’s milk), adding vinegar so it will curdle, add salt and press it and put it in a cheese refrigerator (50-55 degrees). After 12 hours, take it out and press salt into the rind to remove any more whey. Let it dry for another 3 months.
I first heard about ricotta salata when I was at a county fair and watched a chef make manicotti using it instead of the ricotta usually used from tubs. It was very good. It is not as crumbly as feta or even regular ricotta but you can still break it up.
Another thing I don’t really care for is olives themselves. I’ll have to hunt for a substitute for that.
There seems to be so much controversy over whether or not dairy is good for you. There are those who say full-fat is better than no-fat. Why all these different takes on this?
Some may say milk for each species is made for that species. Milk is even mentioned in the Bible when they talk of a land flowing with milk and honey. Curds are mentioned as well, so perhaps they found that cheese is made from milk.
Many people are lactose intolerant and cannot consume dairy products. Even when lactose intolerant, some can consume fermented dairy such as yogurt or higher fat content products like butter.
Full-fat dairy also is known to actually lower the risk of obesity despite the higher calorie value – most likely due to a fuller feeling it will give. Also the fats themselves are beneficial and there are vitamins present you won’t find in the lower fat versions.
It is up to you to go with what is best for you. If you have lactase problems, stick with non-dairy. If you don’t have a problem with fats, go for full-fat milk.
The Victor crew came across the term “pizza farm” and was curious about what that could mean. Well, they aren’t places where they reap the field and up pops a pizza! What we found out is that it is an actual farm that makes pizza but all the ingredients are grown on their farm.
Can you imagine eating a pizza with ingredients that fresh? You cannot get any fresher than this. Alas, the majority of pizza farms we found were out in the midwest in Minnesota and Wisconsin (known for its cheese). There are a few here and there in other states if you look hard enough.
Many require their guests bring their own utensils, plates, drinks. Many of the farms have live music as well. Be prepared to wait in line as they seem to be popular.
Sometimes salads can be boring. That needn’t be. There are many trends out there that can add some pizzazz to your salad. The Victor crew suggests some of the following ideas:
To a green salad, add berries, apples, or other fresh seasonal fruit. Grapes or cherries are also good. If there aren’t any seasonal fruits you want to add, try dried cranberries or other dried/dehydrated fruits.
Another nice addition is nuts. You can even easily make your own candied nuts to toss in. Use some raw almonds and toss with olive oil and honey and maybe some cinnamon and roast in the oven for about 20-30 mins on low. You can make a bunch and freeze them for another time. You can do the same with pecans or walnuts too.
You can grate some cheese in your salad as well. Try using the “ribbon” side of your grater or the ribbon microplane and use cheese such as asiago or fontinella (not fontina).
As for greens, try some different types like spinach (strawberries go well with this), romaine, baby lettuce, spring mix, arugula mix, or mixture of any of them.
There are many different salad dressing that you can use with these salads. Usually vinaigrette goes well. There are different types that would work – sometimes a sweet one such as raspberry vinaigrette works well.