I fully intended on making ricotta and writing about it for last week's Table Talk.
As sometimes happens in life, though, not everything worked out according to plan. I invested in some good whole milk, heated it up, made mozzarella (which also didn't turn out so well, but I'm not going to go into that), then heated the whey to 200 degrees and strained it, or tried to. In the end, the coffee filter I used barely let the whey flow through, and after an hour it had drained off less than half a cup.
So I gave up and, with some misgivings, dumped the leftover whey down the sink, vowing to try again.
Then I booked a last-minute train ride to New York and, in all the chaos, there was no time to make more ricotta. I put the failure out of my mind, then went home and ate a big New Year's meal with my family.
Coming back to real life is always hard after a vacation. I find that coming back to cooking for myself is even harder. There's something eating a good meal with my parents and my little brother that's just not the same as eating a good meal with my book and the cat for company. And since my roommate works in the evenings and I rarely have the energy to go anywhere but straight home after work, that's what ends up happening most weekdays.
With no one to share food with, it becomes just something to keep my stomach full, something to do while I'm reading or watching TV. I cook a whole meal and then eat the results in minutes, without really enjoying them. Sometimes while standing up.
But I've got lots of new cookware (you know you're an adult when you're overjoyed to unwrap a cast-iron pan on Christmas). I also got Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything which, as far as I can tell, is true to its name. And what's the good of having all that if I'm not using it?
Which brings me to the New Year's resolution that I actually thought up about half an hour ago when I realized I hadn't made one yet. It's got a couple of parts. The first is to stop what I'm doing and actually think about the food I'm eating. The second is to go back to the basics, learn techniques and actually follow recipes. Because even when I'm not sharing food with people, it never hurts to hone those cooking skills.
Oh, and the third part: make ricotta cheese.