Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's Day and Cooking Day

This past weekend was such a nice one. Keegan didn't have to work at all, which is definitely unusual. (We already know that he'll be working both Saturday and Sunday this week.) It was a real treat to spend so much time with him.

In the morning on Saturday, Keegan went to a biking event here on the island. They rode 100 kilometers around the southern part of Geoje. I decided not to go because a) 100 km is way too far for me and b) the hills around here are absolutely deadly on the bike! Keegan had a good time, though. Two of our triathlon friends rode, and there were many Korean riders, including one guy who recently won the Ironman competition in Japan. They all stopped for a huge oyster lunch around the 70-kilometer mark.  Personally, I don't know how they could ride the last 30 km with stomachs full of oysters, but apparently everyone survived.

While Keegan was on his ride, I went for a good swim at the pool. In the afternoon, I went to lunch with Glenda and John. We ate really good falafel at a new restaurant called The Turkish House, which is very popular among the foreign set. When we got home, I got a call from Keegan telling me that he was finished with his ride but that he had a few errands to run before he came home. When he arrived, he told me to close my eyes, and then he presented me with a dozen red roses and an assortment of delicious chocolates. He's such a nice husband! He said that the flower shop wasn't crowded at all, so he was a lucky husband as well this year. Valentine's Day is not so popular here, although there were displays in some of the stores featuring elaborately packaged chocolates.

We put the flowers in a makeshift vase (usually our granola canister) and settled down to watch a movie together. When the movie was over, it was time for our big Valentine's Day date, a trip to a romantic Italian restaurant. I was pretty excited to have an excuse to dress up and look nice as such occasions are few and far between. We both enjoyed the chance to eat out, take our time, and have a good conversation. We also enjoyed watching the other diners near us, including a group of girls who were out celebrating a birthday. When we finished our meals, Keegan asked the waitress if there was something on offer for dessert, and she got a funny look on her face and said "Hold on a minute." So we wondered what she was up to. We wouldn't have been surprised if there was no dessert, since it's not usually served in Korean restaurants (hence our many trips to Baskin Robbins). But the waitress soon returned, bearing an extra slice of the birthday cake from the next table over! We laughed and thanked the table next to us, and they wished us a Happy Valentine's Day. The cake was really good, with banana pudding filling and strawberries. It was a good ending for our big date.

On Sunday, my goal was to try my hand at making ricotta cheese. As you may recall from earlier posts, ricotta is very hard to find here, and the one place that sells it charges an arm and a leg. In response to my complaints, several of you loyal readers suggested that I make my own ricotta. Chrissy even sent me a cheese-making kit for Christmas. I have been skeptical of claims about how easy it is to make cheese and afraid that my first atttempt would be a dismaying, and perhaps even disgusting, failure. But you never know until you try. So on our Sunday trip to the store, we bought two big jugs of milk and the fixins for mushroom pizza a la Cogan's (our favorite pizza joint in Norfolk).

The cheese-making was, to my surprise, a success! Not only that, it really was easy, just like everyone says! We heated the milk, stirred in some apple cider vinegar, immediately saw curds, and poured the result over a colander lined with cheesecloth. Voila - about twice as much ricotta as we could have bought at the store, for half the price! We were very pleased with ourselves. But not as pleased as we were when we crafted World's Best Pizza, using homemade pizza crust, homemade marinara, homemade ricotta, and (ahem, ahem) store-bought mozzerella cheese and mushrooms. If we only had a basil plant, we would have reached the absolute pinnacle of pizza creation.

Keegan slices World's Best Pizza

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

During the construction of this pizza masterpiece, I also put together a huge pot of chili to eat during the week. Keegan helped by doing an endless succession of dishes during this cooking marathon. We were exhausted but really enjoyed spending the afternoon together in the kitchen.

Tonight I tried the ricotta again, this time in a lasagna, also with Keegan's homemade marinara. Heaven!

1 comment:

chrissy said...

Go Ellen! I'm so proud of you guys for making your first batch of cheese! I know that you'll be busy little bees making some_mozarella, cream cheese, cottage and the list goes on and on. =)

oh, and by the way, my Mom says that the cultures should be kept in the fridge or freezer...hopefully you figured that out already.

And, we're still using our fridge door handles_they're really handy. lol.