Living Richly With WIC: Ricotta Cheesecake

The challenge to myself was to make a cheesecake from a gallon of milk.

And I did.

Ricotta yogurt cheesecake.

This can be made without the crust, but I had a box of graham crackers in the cupboard to use up.

Crust:

About 10 full graham crackers
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar (this could be optional)

Process in food processor (or crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin and mix in a bowl).  Press into the bottom of a buttered springform pan.  I think mine is 10 inches.

Cake:

2 1/2 cups ricotta
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs (or 3 duck eggs)
Grated lemon zest from one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla
For extra creaminess, you can add 4 ounces of cream cheese, or a half cup of cream.

Mix in food processor until very smooth.  (The second time I made this, I didn’t process it for very long because Sophie was sleeping a few feet away. There was definitely a difference.) Pour into buttered pan.  Bake at 325 for about an hour.

Max’s two favorite things that aren’t video games or Lego, of course. This was two weeks ago. Oh, and ricotta cheesecake is one of his favorite things too.

Living Richly With WIC: Greek-Style Yogurt

“Living Richly With WIC” is a series of posts about how we use our WIC foods.  Since we’re not big milk drinkers, we have to be creative to use up gallons of milk.

Greek-style yogurt is one of my favorite things (along with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens).  But we don’t buy it often because it’s so expensive.  And even though the directions for it are right on page 182 of my Mediterranean cookbook, it didn’t occur to me that I could make this at home.

(See Homemade Yogurt for how we make yogurt at home.)

It is so rich and creamy that I had no idea it didn’t contain cream.  It is simply strained yogurt.

Yogurt, drained over fine-weave cloth, in a strainer, over a bowl, in the fridge, overnight.

My Mediterranean cookbook gives a more rustic approach — tie up the yogurt in cheesecloth and hang from a broomstick suspended between two chairs, with a bowl on the floor to catch the whey.  But my method works just fine.

I like this yogurt plain, but I also use it for ricotta cheesecake (recipe coming soon) and frozen yogurt.  Max eats frozen yogurt in his school lunch and as a snack after school.

For frozen yogurt, I strain 2 cups yogurt overnight, mix the strained yogurt with 1 cup regular yogurt (Max doesn’t like it too thick), and then add sweetener (he likes maple syrup and sugar) and sometimes blended fruit.  He likes it really smooth, so I use the hand blender to mix it well. Then we run it through our hand-cranked ice cream maker.  It’s super easy, fairly healthy, and really inexpensive.

Sam’s Art

Sam’s preschool sent home a stack of his artwork.

Sophie Smiles (and Sam too)

As three-year-olds can be, he’s quite demanding. “I want to hold Sophie!” “Take a picture!” “OK, done!” We’re always at the ready to take her back. When he’s done, he’s done.

This was a complete photobomb. He’s getting good at it.
I don’t know how to stop taking pictures.
Big smiles these days.
And so pretty.
I tried to only post a couple pictures.
You realize she’s looking at the camera and not me, right?
Cuteness.
She’s a very happy and content baby.

Max and the Music

Max started taking piano lessons in September.  And he loves it.

He practices constantly.  Do you know how terribly annoying this could be?  It could be, but it’s not.  (Well, most of the time.)  I mean, it does get exhausting hearing “Home on the Range” over and over again, but there is something incredibly awesome about this boy and the piano.

When Max was a baby, maybe 8-months-old or so, we were at his cousin’s 3rd birthday party.  I was sitting on the floor, with him sitting on his own between my legs.  He was moving — dancing! — to the music.

I know, I know, it doesn’t quite sound real, but it was. He was intentionally moving his body to the beat of the music.

As soon as he could talk, he’d ask about the music. He’d ask to hear certain songs, and he’d listen. When he was two, he started to ask what instrument was playing.  This often was a source of frustration because I wasn’t sure which instrument he was asking about.  I’d respond by asking him the instruments that were easy, “do you mean the piano, guitar, bass?” Eventually, I’d get to it: banjo, trumpet. I’d show him a picture.

By the time he was three, he was requesting specific tracks off of CDs while we were in the car.

I didn’t have him take music before now because we weren’t ready. I say “we” because it truly takes more than just a child’s interest to keep a child interested. It takes routine and stability, a family’s patience, and it takes space. And also, he was terribly irritated in music class at school.  As much as he loves to sing and hum (which he is constantly doing), it is not his idea of fun to stand in front of the school singing lovely songs about peace and recycling.

He’s been writing a song. A couple weeks ago, he gave me permission to take video of the parts he was working on at the time.  (This has changed quite a bit since then.)  Eventually, I’ll get the whole piece recorded (and notated!), but for now, here’s some parts to enjoy.