A weekend away

Monday afternoon I left the lake house just outside of Great Barrington, Massachusetts where I had been staying since Friday. The weekend was quiet, my days occupied with lots of eating, an occasional skate on the lake, and frequent musings of what my life would be like if I never left and took over management of the cheese shop in town.

But leave I did. With an application to the store folded neatly inside my copy of The Poisonwood Bible, Joe and I set out for Connecticut via route 63. The road winds through old moneyed towns. I wanted every house we passed to be my own. The sprawling properties invited cows and expansive gardens, both main players in my fantasy future.

On the opposite side of the road Joe spotted a sign that inspired him to halt dramatically and backtrack into a detour. His mother was expecting us for dinner, but the sign advertising the Rustling Wind creamery this way prevailed. We had been talking of making butter and I missed the milk I drank in Argentina and mornings spent with the cows.

We pulled up to Rustling Wind as Joan, the owner, was leading her cows into the barn - just in time for milking hour. The cows' udders were laden and seemed to be an impossible weight hanging from their bellies. Joan kept her store in a building alongside the barn. She sold sweaters and gloves that she knit, jams she canned, and local goods I imagine she had from neighbors. Cheeses, yogurt, eggs, and milk lived in a small refrigerator. A small wooden box with a slot lay by the entrance alongside a pad and a note - pay here and write what you take. The selection of eggs and milk was depleted by our arrival, but when we told Joan about our intentions she disappeared into her work kitchen, skimmed off a quart of cream, sold it to us for five dollars, and invited us to say hello to her sheep and goats.

We sacrificed most of the cream for whipping before butter had a chance (it will soon, though), and proceeded to enjoy it in coffee for the rest of the week.

All I want to tell anyone about the past week is cheese. While I plan to be a prolific cheesemaker when I land one of those storybook houses where I can keep cows in the backyard and sell my dairy goods like Joan, I have had only one attempt of my own. I made ricotta in the fall and cannot remember why I have neglected to write about it. I did, though, think a photo was worthy of the header shot for this site. If you've been wondering what the white chunks at the top of the page are, you know now: ricotta.

Homemade Ricotta

2 quarts whole milk
1 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
cheese cloth

Line a colander with a cheese cloth and set it over a large bowl. Measure out the 3 tbsp of lemon juice and set aside.

Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a boil in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add the lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the lined colander and let it drain for an hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered. It will keep refrigerated for two days.

Makes 2 cups


  1. Jenny...So glad to hear you and Joe fround Rt 63! Great road. The New England countryside it gives you is authentic and inspiring. Your site continues to give me great ideas for food and the ricoota recipe is one. Great work... Roger

  2. hi lady--
    we're finally going to make ricotta this week, so we can make pasta with the sundried tomatoes i bought last weekend. i'll show cynthia your recipe!

    i love your story, and am with you all away with your fantasy future, as you know. jordan and i (my current companera here) have expanded our list-making to include muffin varieties: both sweet and savory. Let me know if you think of any good ones.