Make your own ricotta cheese
photos by mar mar
There have been times when I’ve wanted to make stuffed shells or lasagna but didn’t have ricotta or cottage cheese. I’d nix the idea and make something else, or, if desperate, I’d make a special trip to the store. Then I discovered I could make my own Ricotta cheese. It ended up being my way of using up leftover buttermilk. While it takes a few hours to make, it’s rewarding. I was thrilled to see the first tip because the recipe doesn’t rely on buttermilk.
HOMEMADE RICOTTA: You can make your own ricotta cheese. This recipe makes 4 cups.
1 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
Over medium heat, warm the milk and lemon juice in a stainless-steel pot until the curds separate. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. Ladle the mixture onto the cheesecloth. Using twine, tie the cheesecloth around the cheese. Attach the twine to a wooden-spoon handle. Rest the spoon with the cheesecloth hanging over a deep bowl or attach to kitchen faucet. Let hang for 3 hours. Remove from cheesecloth, and season with salt. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. — Rhonda, forums
PRICE-BOOK ADVICE: If you create a price book on a computer spreadsheet, you can keep it up-to-date more easily. I have double columns across the top for the four stores where I shop most frequently, showing price and date (month and year). The fifth group consists of three columns to show price, date and store, for other stores that have good prices occasionally. Down the side, I have categories of items, with a listing of specific products and a breakdown including brand and weight/quantity. I generally don’t include sale prices, just prices I can count on in the future. I print this and carry it in my purse. If I see a price or an ad that looks good, I can easily verify it. I update the printout by hand, and on the computer every few months. — Carolyn L., Kansas
REQUEST SAMPLES: I started requesting product samples from companies, mostly through the Internet. They’re all free. Some are free coupons, and some are free products. I can’t believe how much good stuff I get. I haven’t had to buy toothpaste, hand cream, shampoo or conditioner since I started this. — Donna H., e-mail
Note from Sara: You can call product manufacturers and request coupons or samples. Some are happy to send them. Call the toll-free numbers that are provided on product packaging and simply ask whether they do.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: In 1980, I was newly divorced, living on a limited income and had two teenage sons with very healthy appetites. I was a stay-at-home mom, and my job skills were almost nil. One day at the used bookstore, I found the book “How I Feed My Family on $16 a Week” by Jo Ann York (Kensington, 1976). The shopping tips were invaluable and saved our lives. Now that I’m retired and on a fixed income, I will dig out the book once again, adjust for inflation, and plan to do well. If folks can find copies, I highly recommend the practical advice. One statement from the book has been forever burned into my brain: “It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!” — C. Lambery, Texas
DIY CANDLEHOLDERS: Sometimes you can find thick, fancy spindles at garage sales or thrift stores. You can use them to make candleholders. Cut them the length you want, and you can find them in varying widths. Use a base paint, and then use crackle paint to make them “shabby chic” or stain them. Hammer in a nail, and cut the top off so a pillar candle will stick on top of the holder and stay in place. — Miss Thrifty, forums
COUPON SOURCE: I’ve gotten quite a few coupons out of All You magazines. Helps a lot here. — Cheryl, Ohio