Thursday, June 5, 2008

One Local Summer: The All-Day Dinner

First of all, let me say that I am a mostly stay-at-home mom with a three-year-old son and I don’t normally spend 12 hours cooking dinner. I don’t want to discourage anybody from making their own ravioli. I’m sure it goes faster the second time...

Night before: Surfed internet to find recipes for ravioli filling.
10:15 AM: Decided that this cold and rainy day would be a good day to stay home and make ravioli. Reviewed recipes and found, to my delight, that there was a recipe for artichoke ravioli filling. Surveyed the ingredients and realized I was missing Parmesan and ricotta cheeses. Also had only three eggs left. Checked recipe and saw that I needed two eggs for dough, one for filling.
10:30 AM: Took Munchkin to my favorite corner market to buy cheeses. Choked on the price of ricotta – six-something for a little tub. Decided I’d rather drag out my cheese making supplies and make my own. I’ve had horrid luck with Mozzarella, but ricotta is supposed to be much easier... I bought a chunk of Parmesan and I also wanted a nice tomato sauce to top the pasta, but prices were high so decided to make my own. The local eggs were $6/dozen so I was glad I already had enough.
10:45 AM: Home again, I gathered supplies and read instructions to make cheese. Decided there was not enough time to make it before lunch, so I boiled a big pot of water to sterilize my utensils. Don’t know if sterilization is really needed, but Ricki's book says to do it and I have a preschooler who uses my pots as drums. When I was done, I realized I'd cleaned the wrong pot and so had to do it over again.
11:30 AM: Lunch
12:00 PM: Began making cheese. Maybe the reason it didn’t work was because I halved the recipe. Or I didn’t mix the citric acid with water first. Or I used 2% instead of whole milk. Or I didn’t wait long enough before turning off the stove. Anyway, I got something that resembled ricotta, but there wasn’t much of it, probably because the curds and whey didn’t completely separate. I strained out a few curds and then I started all over again, this time following instructions for making whey ricotta. It still didn't work, so I put in a few drops of liquid rennet (not part of the original recipe!). That generated maybe another 1/4 cup. Miraculously, it tasted like cheese.

1:00 PM: Made the filling for the ravioli. I combined all ingredients except for the egg to save time later.
1:45 PM: Time for Munchkin’s nap. The kitchen shares a wall with his bedroom and if I do any cooking during his nap, he won’t sleep.
3:00 PM: Munchkin’s up. I puttered around until his snack time.
3:30 PM: I fed Munchkin his snack while I mixed together pasta dough.
3:45 PM: "We" began the pasta making process. Munchkin helped, which resulted in flour everywhere. Once we got the first ball of pasta rolled out, I gave him some dough to play with and after that it went much faster. After rolling the pasta into large strips, I hung it up to dry while I finished making the filling. Then, working one strip at a time, I scored each pasta strip, piled up little mounds of filling, stretched another strip for the top, and cut it with a neat little tool that Scott gave me for my birthday. It didn’t cut all the way so I had to separate the ravioli and gently make sure they were sealed. Munchkin ate flour, played with the trimmings and made his own pasta "boxes."
5:00 PM: I had used up all the pasta dough but still had half of the filling left over. I worked hard to make that filling! I made my own ricotta, for crying out loud! I didn’t know how long it would last in the fridge and or if I could freeze it, so I decided to make another batch of pasta dough later. But I was out of eggs, so I bundled Munchkin up and we went back to the market for eggs.
5:15 PM: At the market, I realized that I was going to want something else with dinner besides just ravioli. I picked up a baguette from a local bakery and we bought the eggs.
5:30 PM: It was time to "start" dinner! I made a sauce from canned tomato sauce and some spices. It turned out pretty good – too bad I didn’t write down what I put in it! From our back yard I picked the first lettuce leaves. There wasn’t enough for a salad so I artfully arranged the lettuce on our plates in order to top it with grated Parmesan (check!) and croutons (uh-oh!). I cut a few slices off the baguette, buttered them, diced them and toasted them under the broiler. They were OK, but not terrific, so I sprinkled them with seasoning salt and called them done. Once the ravioli was cooked, I arranged everything on a plate and snapped a picture. Whew!
6:00 PM: Munchkin ate all the croutons and then devoured a ravioli square, oblivious to the fact that it contained a vegetable. Scott went looking for more ravioli (note to self: cook more next time) and it all tasted delicious.
7:45 PM: Munchkin’s gone to bed. Time to relax!
8:45 PM: The rest of the ravioli wasn’t going to make itself so I began batch #2. Note to self: Next time, double the original batch.
10:00 PM: I’m all done. The kitchen is clean. I’ve got enough ravioli in the freezer for at least three more meals. And it’s going to be a while before I make it again!

"Local" ingredients:
(I'm not up to speed on using all-local ingredients just yet. Please bear with me as right now the farmers markets in Oregon have mostly greens which my family won't eat!)
Dough: Secret recipe, sorry. All ingredients local or allowed with the exception of the organic flour. (I can buy local flour, but they doubled the price so I don’t.) Eggs are laid by chickens the farmer claims are "happy." I believe him, too, because the yolks had such deep color that the dough looked almost orange!
Filling: Tillamook mozzarella, homemade Ricotta from local milk, non-local Parmesan, salt, spices, local egg, artichokes canned locally and grown "using environmentally friendly, sustainable agricultural practices." In Ecuador. So sue me.
Sauce: Non-local canned tomato sauce to which I added spices. I used up last summer's homemade sauce months ago and local tomatoes aren't ripe, yet.
Bread: Fresh baked in a local bakery.
Salad: Lettuce from my back yard, non-local Parmesan, and croutons made from local bread, Tillamook butter and spices.
Making it all myself: priceless.


Joyce said...

Whew! Now that's a job! But it looks really good.

CindyW said...

It might have taken 12 hours, but the dinner looks awesome!

I could spend 24 hours on a dinner and it would not look like that. I have no patience for making good food. Thanks goodness my husband does :)

Donna said...

Thanks, Joyce and Cindy!

Last night we ate some of the ravioli that I froze last and it tasted even better as leftovers because I hadn't spent a whole day cooking it!

Cindy: When he gets inspired, my husband cooks, too. Isn't it wonderful?!!