Lately I've been revelling in two things:
a) my parents, in an attempt to divest of clutter, sent me home with their bread machine last time I visited.
b) I embarked on a path to home cheesemaking.
These two facts collided in grand fashion last night, as the bread machine churned away at the pizza dough and the whey drained out of my whole-milk ricotta over the stove. In the space of an hour Patrick and I were piling toppings onto our pizza-- sauce, ricotta, sauteed kale, kalamata olives, fresh tomato-- and very shortly afterward we were eating it, the best homemade pizza I've ever had.
At this point I'll back up and explain about cheesemaking. It doesn't involve a backyard bovine, nor vats of molten wax, nor a temperature-moderated curing room. It involves only a few ingredients of the most ordinary kind. And making mozzarella takes, no joke, thirty minutes.
I am nowhere near enterprising enough to have started making cheese myself, just for the hell of it, without prior inspiration. Inspiration this time came from Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which also gave rise to the Canning Frenzy of 2008. I'm not going to approach cheesemaking with the same fervor, lest my marriage become squashed by a wheel of gouda the size of a kiddie pool. For now, I've got me a 30-Minute Mozzarella kit from The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, and a book with recipes for every cheese I've ever heard of (and a whole lot I haven't), and I'm satisfied with that.
And let me tell you, fresh mozzarella for the same price as a gallon of milk (plus about $0.32 of enzymes) is unbelieveably good.