Teach a Family to Garden, They Eat All Year

There's still time to contribute to the "March to End Hunger" at the Sustainable Food Center (434 Hwy183 S., 385-0080). The hard-working folks at the East Austin nonprofit were awarded a challenge grant by Rhode Island's Feinstein Foundation that will match any donation of $25 or more made to the Center during the month of March. The SFC hopes to raise $58,000 to support its important programs such as farmers' markets, community gardens, and the La Cocina Allegre cooking school. New SFC executive director Anna Maria Signorelli will gladly discuss the Center's vital mission and programs to potential donors.

Behold the Making of Cheese

Back during the holidays, I got a call from a guy who promised to send me a sample of his sister's great mozzarella cheesemaking kit for a trial run. "Sure, sure, send it along," I told him in my holiday haze. When the promised kit hadn't arrived by late January, I called looking for it. I eventually received a small package from The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (85 Main St., Ashfield, MA, 01330; 413/628-3808; and the fun began. The package contained Ricki's 30-Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta Kit, an instruction booklet, a supply of vegetable rennet tablets, citric acid, flake salt, a thermometer, and a piece of butter muslin. Who knew making cheese could be so quick and easy? With the contents of the kit, one gallon of whole milk from the grocery store, and 30 minutes, we had three-quarters of a pound of fresh, delicious mozzarella. The ricotta recipe takes longer only because it requires some hang time to drain. According to the kit, any milk will work with the recipes, regardless of the butterfat content, whether it's powdered or skim, from cows or goats. The booklet also offers recipes for things like lasagne, bocconcini (little mouthfuls of mozzarella marinated in herbs and olive oil), plus pizza dough and bread that can be made with the warm whey saved from the ricotta-making process. The package also contained the company's latest catalog, which features kits, equipment, supplies, mold cultures, books, and instructions. Pretty much everything you'd need to make cheese except the milk. The 21-year-old New England company is the brainchild of cheese maker Ricki Carrol and her enthusiasm for her subject is obvious in the kit, the catalog, and the company Web site. And the cheese is great!


Longtime Erwin Center food service director Ray LeMay has just struck out on his own to open Ray's Steak House (3010 Guadalupe, 478-0000) in the UT-area building that formerly housed Ruth's Chris Steak House and, before that, the original location of English's Restaurant. LeMay describes his operation as having "an expense account atmosphere at hometown prices." He also says the menu will offer complete dinners rather than steaks at one price and side dishes priced a la carte...

Chef Miguel Cavanna will present a free cooking demonstration of elegant spring palate teasers at the south Sun Harvest location (4006 S. Lamar, 444-6313) Saturday, March 27, 11am-12:30pm...

And for those readers who called after perusing last week's column: No, Ruth Carter didn't dread browsing the shelves at Books for Cooks, she dreamed about it. Off with my head, yet again.

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