That night Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna was one the menu, one of our favorite meals from the gals of "Cook Yourself Thin." Since the husband was gone for the moment I decided to find a different section of the counter to work at, away from Mr. Cricket, when I realized I had forgotten to buy the mushrooms. That should have been my second hint to give up on dinner for the night but I decided I would add lots of fresh zucchini from our container garden to make up for it. I had cooked all my raw ingredients and mixed up the rest of my lasagna mixture when I pulled out my ricotta cheese, which wasn't supposed to expire until the end of October. I had already used half of it in an previous meal but when I opened the lid I discovered the weird orange colored substance with an orange liquid on top. For those who don't know, ricotta is supposed to be white. I mixed it a little to discover that underneath the orange there was some white cheese.
I called my mom to see what her thoughts were and if she knew of a substitute for ricotta as I needed something with a similar texture. Her suggestion was cottage cheese, which I had already thought of and did not have any. Her next piece of advice was to call my grandparents who are farmers and have raised dairy cows before and made some of their own dairy products.
My grandma didn't know if my ricotta was good but told me I could make it from scratch. Say what? Sure enough there are lots of recipes online to make homemade ricotta cheese AND they look pretty easy. I had most of the ingredients but was lacking the cheesecloth. No homemade ricotta for me. Grandma's next thought was to taste just a little bit of the orange mass... um thanks Grandma for the suggestion.
I called one of my friends who lived nearby to see if she happened to have ricotta (since so many people have that on hand). She didn't but she did have some cottage cheese that was over three months old. I told her my dilemma and that I already had everything mixed. She suggested I try cream cheese which she did have and it wasn't old. Done!
By this time I had been on the phone for over an hour trying to figure out a solution and my next best option was strawberry banana yogurt. I cooked the lasagna and prepared my husband for the disaster dinner could be.
A couple hours later than planned and we finally sat down to eat. Surprisingly it wasn't too bad. Not my favorite but at least it was edible. All the nutrition went out the window but after so much work it was nice to have a lasagna on the table that wasn't completely liquefied or have a fruity taste to it.
After I got over all the trouble dinner had become I realized that there were some perks. I now know what things I can substitute for ricotta cheese if there is a next time AND I know that I can make it from scratch. That is going to go onto my list of things to try as making homemade ricotta would definitely help me learn how to be more self sufficient.
Anyone ever make ricotta? Do you have a favorite recipe or any special tips?