Its Friday, my favorite day of the week, because I’m not working and I get to do things for myself, maybe sleep in (well, not today) and if I’m lucky, take the time to make food.

There are no scheduled dinners this week (and I long for the days when friends simply ‘dropped over’ and you would throw an impromptu dinner. Will they ever return? Could there be a time when Astrid or Janet could simply call or text three hours before and say–we’re in the neighborhood, we’ll bring some wine and bread and ourselves; could you throw something together for us all?

There is heaven…right there. I miss the casualness of life, and the constant planning of events and scheduling…bah.

Yes, just like kids having ‘play dates’, it’s not that different for the grownups. Well, enough whining.

This morning before I left to bike to run some errands, I put together a quick new marinade for duck confit (new attempts at old standbys make my Dear One crazy), which is composed of thyme leaves, salt, sugar, garlic, and pepper (nearly all the ingredients I’ve used before, she’ll be thankful to hear), and rubbed it all vigorously into the duck legs. It will remain in the fridge for no more than 48 hours, and then will be slow-roasted for about 2-3 hours in the oven at low temperature, probably on Saturday night. This will provide us with four legs of duck confit ready for the skillet and a final sear anytime in the next couple of months. Swaddled in its congealed, protecting layer of duck fat, these legs can be used for all kinds of dishes, from simple skillet preparation to cassoulet to…to you name it.

I recently purchased this book… Duck, Duck, Goose (Ten Speed Press) by Hank Shaw, which has a complete pedagogy (thanks to Stephanie for that word) on all things duck and goose, whether wild or domestic. Its a how-to for preparing all kinds of duck, from cooking to cutting, from full bird roasting to their individual pieces.


If you like duck or want to learn more…buy. This. Book.

Not to sit on my laurel leaves, I also chose today to make goat cheese. Yes, the cheesemonger of Berkeley Bowl West is moving from mongering to maker…just because it seems like a fun thing to do.

While I’ve made butter and even paneer in the past, stepping up my game to a cheese that required actual rennet and citric acid didn’t seem too daunting. The goat milk, two quarts, was about $11 total, and the citric acid and rennet not all that much. I had a colander, cheesecloth, and the requisite pots, so we will see.

The goat’s milk is heated to about 185F, and then citric acid is introduced mixed with a cup of water. A bit more stirring, and 30 seconds later the rennet dissolved in a quarter cup of water is added. Stir.

Turn off the heat, cover, and wait ten minutes. Check the curd to see if its formed.


Indeed it has. Now, carefully scoop the curds out of the whey the liquid left over in the milk, and put them in the colander lined with cheesecloth to let them drain some more. After draining you will add cheese salt to the curds.


Put the curds into your mold, tamp them down a bit, and put it in the refrigerator to chill and set. Two hours minimum.


Now, go to downtown Berkeley to meet your wife, have dinner, and go to that movie about the photography of Vivian Maier. Come home, have a margarita, and check out your handiwork!


Ahh…progress. The recipe calls for the cheese to be rolled in herbs de Provence…which I have, but I think I’ll refrain. It just…looks so cool. At this point I have no idea how it tastes but really…at this point I hardly give a damn. It formed. It worked.

Will I become a cheesemaker in my retired life? The story will continue to unfold.

As for the remaining whey, I think I’ll refrigerate it to see what I might make with it. Supposedly it goes quite well in soup stocks. No need to waste it.