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A Slice for a Tat

Pi Pizza truck reflects on its unique promotion.

Joanna O'Leary

My husband has never been one to shy away from making foodstuffs at home that can be easily (and cheaply) purchased elsewhere. In addition to regularly brewing beer, he has also tried his hand at making yogurt, bagels and kimchi. I admire his culinary ambition and certainly relish the fruits of his labors.

However, when he first mentioned plans to start making his own cheeses, I was doubtful. I knew from others' experiences that even the most seasoned home cook can have trouble wrangling curds and whey successfully into the fully actualized cheeses. Humidity, fungus, faulty rennet as well as human error can easily throw a wrench in the process such that after six hours of stirring and three gallons of expensive milk, you find yourself with one measly soggy ball of tasteless mash.

Moscow Mule
Joanna O'Leary
Moscow Mule

To educate himself on the ins and outs of home cheese-making, Wyatt watched an impressive number of YouTube instructional videos, many of which featured an hirsute albeit extremely fastidious amateur cheese-monger from New Zealand.

Then his parents gifted him with a cheese press for Christmas. Next he found a hookup for some raw (unpasteurized) milk, whose natural flora encourage stronger curd formation and cultivate deeper flavors.

With these supplies in hand and a head brimming with tips and directions, Wyatt marched into the kitchen to attempt his first cheese, a farmhouse cheddar. I withdrew to the study to work on my dissertation and play online mahjong (trust me, each activity really enhances the other).

If the words "delayed gratification" make you shudder, then home cheese-making or living with a home cheese-maker is not for you. Turning several gallons of milk into a dry solid dairy mound requires many, many hours. Then comes coating the cheese in multiple layers of wax (a process hampered, admittedly, when your wife keeps sticking her fingers in the hot wax just for shits and giggles) and finally, the aging period, which lasts, at minimum, weeks, and often a year or more.

Was this cheese worth the wait? No, to be honest, not the first one. It was a bit dry and bland. But the second and third cheeses my beloved cheesemaker produced were absolutely terrific. Both were consumed almost all in one sitting along with several bottles of wine, fig jelly, mustard and crackers.

Cheese No. 4, a red chile, is waxed and waiting in a special minifridge I've dubbed the fromage cooler. The release date is TBD, but rumors suggest an unveiling may occur around the first of next month. We certainly can't wait too much longer; there's scant room in the fromage cooler and Wyatt already has plans for a Romano.
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Snackshot/p>

DIY Popcorn Bar
Summer entertaining for movie night and beyond.

Brooke Viggiano

Summer entertaining doesn't have to be limited to the grill. Escape the heat with a movie marathon complete with a DIY Popcorn Bar.

All you'll need is freshly popped corn, paper bags or popcorn buckets, and a few fun toppings. Use chalkboards or cardboard to make your own signs, and let guests top as they please.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Spritzes: Fill plastic spray bottles with sweet

and savory butters, oils and simple syrups

• Clarified butter

• Garlic, herb and chile-infused oils

• Lemon, almond and vanilla simple syrups

Drizzles: Warm bowls of sauce for drizzling

• Caramel

• Chocolate Syrup

• Peanut butter sauce

Sprinkles: Fill saltshakers with a variety of

salts and spices

• Homemade ranch seasoning

• Chile flakes

• Paprika

• Parmesan cheese

• Cinnamon, sugar and brown sugar

• Fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, basil

• Seasoned salts: garlic, lime and chile

Crunch: Set out bowls of sweet and savory

­toppings

Sweet

• M&Ms

• Gummy bears

• Sliced apples

• Marshmallows

• Candied nuts

• Dried cranberries, apricots and raisins

• Reese's Pieces

• Chocolate and peanut butter chips

Savory

• Sliced jalapeños

• Crumbled bacon

• Pistachios, peanuts, almonds

• Pretzel bites

• Cheddar cheese

• Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Enjoy!
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Booze

Moscow Mule
Assembling the (almost) perfect version of this drink.

Joanna O'Leary

Last Christmas, my ever-thoughtful sister Jackie-O presented me with a set of six Moscow Mule mugs to aid and abet my cocktail adventures. Jackie-O, usually devoted to other varieties of vodka highballs, had herself recently developed a liking for the spicy, slightly citrusy spirit of the Moscow Mule. While she was content to sip her Moscow Mules in any old glass, she thought I probably was more fussy about the barware.

Oh, what a generous assumption. Considering I have been known on more than one occasion to drink wine out of a mug and martinis out of wine glasses, I can hardly claim to be a stickler for matching beverages with their proper containers. But now that I had the copper mugs, I would, by God, use them exclusively for Moscow Mules. And also perhaps juice when I was too lazy to run the dishwasher.

Ted Haigh calls the Moscow Mule "a good example of the cocktail creep," because it's served with ice and therefore is technically a highball (a category of drinks once separate from but now conflated with the cocktail). Highball, cocktail, vodka buck — this drink by any name would taste as refreshing at the end of a languid summer afternoon. Traditional recipes usually resemble something like this:

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