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Good morning GUShotties!  And for most of us -- hottie is due to the temperature rather than our natural hawt looks.  I'm doing laundry, repotting and general cleaning while the weather is still tolerable.

A big thank you from me to Lonely Liberal in PA's amazing 3 part diary on e-cigs.  Here's hoping my friend actually reads the info and we can get him the starter kit at least.

GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or thinking of quitting, please -- join us!  We kindly ask that politics be left out.  

    You can also click the GUS tag to view all diary posts, or access the GUS Library at dKosopedia for a great list of stop-smoking links. Check it out! GUS library.

    A message to ALL quitters. You don't have to avoid GUS if you have a failed quit.  We won't give you a bad time and we consider the failed quits as "practice" for the real quit.

    Quit Keeper widget which is an outstanding aid for those beginning the difficult path to quitting.  It lets you know how long you haven't smoked, how many cigs you haven't smoked, how much money you've saved.

   Quit Smoking Counter    h/tGDbot.  For those of you who have had a problem with Quit Keeper or want a different counter!

Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiches

Martha Stewart

Ingredients

    Butter, for ramekins

    Coarse salt

    1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets

    6 large eggs

    1/2 cup half-and-half

    Ground pepper

    1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

    Crusty bread and mixed salad (optional)

Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-ounce ramekins (or a 9-inch pie dish); set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli; cook 1 minute. Drain well; transfer to a cutting board, and blot dry with paper towels. Chop coarsely.

    In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and cheese.

    Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle broccoli mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a mixed-green salad, if desired.

Tomato-Basil Crab Bisque

Spartina Grill in Hilton Head

Ingredients

    2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
    10 ounces fresh crabmeat
    1 tomato, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 cups clam-tomato juice (such as Clamato)
    1 cup whipping cream
    1/4 cup ketchup
    1/4 cup bottled clam juice
    2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
    1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

    3/4 cup water
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 of crabmeat, tomato, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Whisk in flour; stir 2 minutes. Whisk in clam-tomato juice and next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Cool soup slightly.

Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in 3/4 cup water and lemon juice; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle with remaining crab and 3 tablespoons basil and serve.

Corn Griddle Cakes with Sausage (you can omit the sausage)

Ingredients

Orange-honey butter:

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    1/2 cup honey
    1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
    Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Corn cakes:

    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
    3/4 cup (about 7 ounces) breakfast sausage, casings removed if necessary
    1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) corn kernels
    1 cup yellow cornmeal
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    Pinch of cayenne pepper
    1 1/4 cups buttermilk
    2 large eggs
    6 scallions, chopped

Preparation

For orange-honey butter:
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in honey and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

For corn cakes:
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Spoon milk solids from surface and discard. Pour clarified butter into a small glass measuring cup (there should be about 1/4 cup), leaving any browned bits behind; set aside. (Alternatively, use 1/4 cup grapeseed oil.)

Cook sausage in a 10" cast-iron skillet or other large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a small bowl. Add corn to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until browned, 5–6 minutes. Transfer corn to bowl with sausage and let cool. Wipe skillet clean and reserve.

Whisk cornmeal and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl; add dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fold in sausage, corn, and scallions.

Heat 1 tablespoon clarified butter in reserved skillet; working in batches and adding butter as needed between batches, add batter to pan by tablespoonfuls. Cook until cakes are crisp and golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Turn cakes over and cook until browned, 1–2 minutes longer. Transfer cakes to paper towels to drain. Serve warm drizzled with orange-honey butter.

Fresh Ricotta in Five Minutes or Less

Ingredients

    2 cups whole milk
    1/4 teaspoon table salt
    2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar or lemon juice

Procedures

    Line colander with four layers of cheesecloth or 2 layers of food-safe paper towels and set over large bowl. Combine milk, salt, and vinegar or lemon juice in microwave-safe glass 1-quart liquid measure. Microwave on high heat until lightly bubbling around edges, 2 to 4 minutes (milk should register about 165°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from microwave, and stir gently for 5 seconds. Milk should separate into solid white curds and translucent liquid whey. If not, microwave for 30 seconds longer. Repeat until fully separated.

    Using slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer curds to prepared colander, cover exposed top with plastic wrap, and allow to drain until desired texture is reached. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to 5 days

How to Make Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Click here if you want to see the step by step instructions.    I added a few of the links in the directions.

If you like fresh home made Mozzarella Cheese then try out this Instructable. If you have never had fresh Mozzarella Cheese, try it out any way. There is a world of difference between the packages stuff you buy in the store and the cheese you make yourself. It will only take a couple hours out of your life but it will be well worth it.

There are a lot of recipes on the internet but a lot of them seem to skip an important step or 2 or don't really explain it well enough, so I have made many batches through trial and error combining things that I have learned and experimented with (so you don't have to) and come up with this recipe that seems to work real good.

There are also a lot of recipes out there saying make Mozzarella Cheese in 30 minutes. Realistically, it ain't gonna happen if you want to do it right. Plan on it taking about an hour and a half to 2 hours. As you make more batches you can cut it down to maybe an hour or so.

I use whole milk for mine but you should be able to use skimmed, 1%, or 2% milk also. If you have access to farm fresh milk your even better off and I'm jealous. You can also use goat, buffalo or camel milk.

Equipment

1. At least an 8 quart pot either enameled or stainless steel. (Do not use aluminum, cast iron or other reactive pots)
2. Thermometer. (A candy thermometer will probably work but a good digital thermometer is much better for accuracy.)
3. A couple measuring cups or something to dissolve the Citric Acid and Rennet in.
4. A big strainer to strain the Curds from the Whey.
5. A long sharp knife to cut the Curds up with.
6. A slotted spoon to stir the Curds and dip them out with.
7. Large bowl for the drained off Whey. (Glass is best)
8. Small bowl to put the Curds in. (Glass is best)
9. Microwave

Optional:

10. Nylon netting for draining Curds. (I use this with the strainer. You can get this stuff at most fabric stores. It is just nylon netting. Get the plain white and probably not the colored stuff)
11. Plain white cloth if you want to make Ricotta Cheese with the Whey that is left over.
12. Small strainer to dip out the curds.

Ingredients:

1. 1 gallon Milk. Let the milk set out either in the gallon container or in the pot until it gets to about 50 degrees. (I have only used whole milk, although you can also use 2% or skimmed milk. Do not use ultra-homogenized milk though. If you are lucky enough to get milk fresh from the farm, that's even better)

2. 1 Rennet tablet crushed. (The Rennet tablet is used to coagulate the milk. You can also use liquid Rennet if you can get it. You can get The Rennet tablets at a lot of specialty or smaller stores and it is usually in the pudding aisle or in the Ice Cream section with the chocolate, nuts and stuff. About $2.00)

3. 2 teaspoons Citric Acid divided. 1 teaspoon is dissolved in water and the other one is sprinkled directly into the milk. (The citric acid is what gives the cheese it's stretch. Get it at some health food stores for around $4.00 for 4 ounces or at a pharmacy which can cost $12.00 to $14.00)

4. 1/2 cup water divided in 2. (Do not use chlorinated water. Bottled water is fine.)

5. 1 - 2 teaspoons salt.

Preparation

1.  Pour 1 tsp. citric acid into 1/4 cup unchlorinated water and  stir. Crush the Rennet tablet and pour it into the other cup of unchlorinated water.
The Citric Acid should be dissolved by the time you have to use it. Most of the Rennet will be dissolved but there will still be some residue left.

2. If you haven't done so already, pour milk into your pot.  Make sure the milk is around 50 degrees when you pour in the citric acid mixture.

3.  Pour the dssolved Citric Acid in the milk and stir for 1 minute.

4. Sprinkle the other teaspoon of Citric Acid in the milk and sir for another minute. You will probably see the milk start to curdle very shortly.

5.   Heat milk to 88-90 degrees F. Stirring occasionally. This is not an error.  . You are not trying to pasteurize the milk. If you get it too hot or too cold, the Rennet will not make curds. Use a low heat so it doesn't go past the 88-90 degrees. It should take about 10-15 minutes.

6.  At 88-90 degrees turn off the heat and stir in the Rennet solution for 15-20 seconds.

7.  Cover the pot with the lid and LEAVE IT SET UNDISTURBED FOR AT LEAST 15-20 MINUTES until you can get a clean break. I usually let mine set for 15-30 minutes. Time is not critical here as long as you get the clean break.

8.  Wait for a clean break.  This is what a clean break looks like.   When you poke your finger into it and move for an inch or so and lift it out, the Curd and Whey should separate shortly. If it is still liquidy (Is that a real word?) and sticks to your finger let it set a while longer.

9.  Cut the Curds into 1/2 inch cubes from top to bottom as shown. Then do the same thing at a 45 degree angle.  Here's a Photo

10.  Let the Curds set uncovered and undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.

11.   Apply low heat and stir occasionally to keep them separated and heat to 108 degrees.  This will take about 15 minutes. The Curds will shrink and start to sink as the Whey is expelled from them.

12.  Turn off the heaat and continue stirring every few minutes for an additional 20 minutes. The Curds will keep shrinking.

13.  Drain the curds  into a strainer or colander and let set for about 15 minutes. Either use a small strainer to dip them out or just pour into the big bowl through the large strainer. Let the Curds drain until no more Whey comes out of them. This might take 10 - 15 minutes. You can either dump the Whey or save it to make Ricotta.

14.  Pour the curds into a small bowl and break them up a bit with your hands.

15.  Here's the tricky part:  
Place the Curds in the microwave on high for 30 - 45 seconds. If you have it on too long you will cook the Curd and it will turn to mush. Better a couple shorter cycles than one that's too long. The Curds will start to separate from the Whey. I have an 1100 watt microwave. If yours is a different wattage you might have to adjust the time.

16.  With a slotted spoon or using your hand, gently squeeze the curd from the whey.  Drain the whey.

17.  Microwave again for 15-20 seconds and repeat with gently squeezing the curd from the whey.  Drain the whey.

18.  
Put back in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Add Salt. At this point if it's warm enough it should start to become pliable and stretchy. YEAH!!!!. Grab 1/3 to 1/2 and lift. It should start to stretch under it's own weight. If not put it in the microwave for a few more seconds. As you work through the stretching process also knead it like bread a couple times. If necessary microwave occasionally until your cheese looks like the last picture.

19.  At this point, knead it like it is bread.  If it breaks apart on you just put it in the Microwave again for a bit. As soon as it is nice and smooth and shiny it's done.

WELCOME, WELCOME TO betterdemsonly!!!!!!!!!!!!  You are now a member of the select group of misfits, addicts, geniuses, humourists, geniuses, people who smell really, really nice and geniuses.  So happy to have you and our resident genius (not me this time) will add you to the buddy list for realz!
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