Well folks, it looks like I’m out of the Project Food Blog competition for good. I really was having such a good time with all of the different challenges, so I’m a bit sad that I don’t get to go on. I’m also a little sad because I was looking forward to handing over that big fat $10,000 check to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
and Share our Strength
. Oh, well – now I’ll just have to look for other ways to raise a good chunk of change
for those two worthy charities.
Although I’m not officially competing in challenge number 5 for PFB, I did go ahead and make pizza for dinner over the weekend. I’d been planning to make pizza all week, and I had gone to more than a little bit of trouble to find rennet and citric acid to make mozzarella cheese at home, so I felt like if I didn’t go ahead and follow through, I’d be letting myself down.
Part of what I enjoyed about this competition was how much it forced me to push myself to try new things. Making sausage for the second challenge made me realize that it’s really quite simple once you have the tools to do it.
As such, I’ve now made three different varieties – bratwurst, andouille, and now pepperoni.
Surprisingly, they’ve all turned out quite well, and remarkably similar to their processed commercial counterparts. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy commercially made sausage again. When you can replicate the flavors and textures at home, without the nitrates, nitrites and other assorted chemical preservatives, why would you?
Making mozzarella at home was my new challenge this week. I buy fresh mozzarella every couple of weeks, but I have a hard time sourcing local mozzarella when I can’t get to the weekly farmer’s market. I can, however, find local whole non-homogenized milk, so I figured if I had the right ingredients, I could make my own cheese.
Finding the right ingredients proved to be a real roadblock. I started my search online, and saw that people in many parts of the country reported that rennet, either animal-based or vegetable-based, could be found at various natural food groceries, as well as some Trader Joe’s. I looked at my local Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and a Natural Foods Warehouse that’s about 3 miles from my house. Unfortunately, none of them carried either rennet or citric acid. I ended up at the Rainbow Grocery
in Decatur, where they knew exactly what I was talking about when I asked for both rennet and citric acid. Once I had those two ingredients in hand, making mozzarella at home using Sparkman’s Cream Valley
milk was beyond easy.
One of the things about making your own cheese is that you’re left with quite a bit of whey. After some research into good uses for whey, I decided to use it in my pizza dough
in place of the water that the recipe calls for. I also used whole-wheat flour and flax-seed meal in place of the all-purpose flour, and it yielded a very tasty and light pizza dough. I also used the whey in pancakes
the next morning in place of buttermilk, and it worked beautifully.
Basically, I made a pepperoni pizza completely from scratch. Or, as much from scratch as you can make something without raising and butchering your own livestock or growing and milling your own wheat. I did, however, take whole ingredients – milk, beef, flour, tomatoes – and turn them into a commonly consumed end-product. And it was good – like REALLY good.
So yeah – I’m sad I’m not competing in Project Food Blog anymore. But, I’m so glad that I’ve learned so much – about myself, about food, and about feeding my family – in the short time I was involved. And, I’m also glad I found so many great bloggers who view food through a similar lens. These people are really passionate about their food, and I feel truly lucky to have been counted among the top 100 of them.