Friday, March 12, 2010

Cuajada ADHD style

This blog was made with Patty in mind

Ingredients and items needed to make cuajada.

Milk – mine is fresh from the cows, which is why it is in a metal bucket instead of a plastic gallon container. Well here in Honduras, I haven’t seen a plastic gallon of milk being sold at all (maybe in the bigger cities??) the milk I can buy is by the liter, and it is in something like a foil pack, or in powder form.
Pastilla de cuajar leche – Which I am assuming is rennet, although I could be wrong. This pill supposedly will cuajar 50 liters of milk. I think maybe the pill is old because we have nowhere near 50 liters of milk, and I have to use the whole pill, and even then it takes longer than it should to be ready. We only have two cows down here that we are milking, so we get about 12 liters.
A pot or container big enough to hold the milk.
Colador – a strainer to strain the milk – because mine is fresh I have to strain out the cow hairs and any other stuff that may have fallen into the bucket. The colador is the thing that is handing in the middle of the picture


A sheer curtain – Because the sun comes through the window and it gives me a ehadache. No, not really. The sheer curtain is to strain the cheese when it is ready. You can see which is the sheer curtain in the picture.
A Manta – to cover the milk while it is cuajando. The manta is in the top right hand of the picture with the colorful drawings.

First thing I do when I make cuajada is complain (in my head) about having to make it. Not because it is hard, or anything like that, its just because at 5AM, when Andre and Sendy bring me the milk, I really just want to be back in bed sleeping, and not thinking about making cuajada, or topogigios or anything else that isn’t sleep. But then I get over it.

Here is the milk as it was brought to me.


Making cuajada isn’t a big long drawn out process. It is a quick process, with some waiting time in between. The first part should only take you 5 minutes at the most. See, I started my cuajada at 7 till 10AM.


I started this after I dropped the kids off at school, thats why it is so late. I actually was going to make topogigios, but our water was out, so that was out of the question.

So I pull out my milk pot (these pots are my favorite to do whatever with the milk. When I boil the milk for topogigios, it doesn’t burn at the bottom like it does with the other pots we have) and oh look, there is Mickey coming in with some of the clean dishes. And Popcorn is looking in at me hoping that I send some milk out his way.


Why is she bringing clean dishes in from out back? Well yesterday our water went out, and because I noticed it before hand, we were lucky enough to fill up two 20 liter containers before it went all the way out. So the containers were out back, and I was in the kitchen, washed all the dishes, and sent her out back with the soapy dishes to rinse them off with the water we got yesterday. Now she is bringing them back in for me to dry and put away.
Anyways – I strain the milk from the bucket into the pot. Remember, we don’t want hair or dirt or anything in the finished project.


From here, if you want, you can let the milk rest for awhile and then collect the cream off the top, (I don’t because – well to be honest, I am just to lazy for all of that. Because we don’t have a ton of milk, we don’t get a lot of cream, and its like eating crabs – so much work, for nothing, LOL). Since I don’t, its time to get the pastilla down from off of the shelf where I left it yesterday.

Wait a minute, where is that pastilla? How in the world can things disappear so quickly in this house? Seriously. I bought two pastillas yesterday, used one, and put the second one up for today. Now where is it? It isn’t on the shelf where I left it, it isn’t in the freezer where they sometimes end up, hey – who put that whole bag of sugar in the freezer, knowing we have a container for sugar. Let me take the sugar out and put it in the container.
Eew, now that’s just gross. How and when did my freezer get so dirty? That is spilled soda in the front, and I see milk from the kids eating topogigios, letting them melt, and putting them back IN the freezer to get hard again.
Let me pull out bottom of the freezer for the second time this week to clean it yet AGAIN. As a mother, am I the only one who sees this nastiness?? While I am filling the container of sugar with the bag of sugar, let me pull out my handy dandy BIC markers to write on the container what is inside of it. Even though everyone knows we have a sugar container, and where it is located, I guess someone must have forgotten. So I have to help them out. Now let me get the freezer tray off of the bench – hey I really need to measure the seat of the bench so that I can make a cushion for it, let me do that RIGHT NOW and write it down so that I have it, phew, so glad that was done - and put the freezer tray back into the freezer. OH YEAH, the pastilla. I guess I have to send Andre to the pulperia to buy another one.

I bet that they think we have a ton of leche, needing 3 pastillas in 24 hours, LOL. It is only 10 minutes to the pulperia and back, so it wont take me long to finish this. Let me get a manta and cover the milk while I am waiting for Andre.
Look, there is my hard working Mickey bringing in MORE clean dishes. And this time its Shakira looking in wondering if I am handing out any milk for her. Man, why did I have so many kids? There is never a clean sink. I wash all the dishes, put them away, and two minutes later there is SOMETHING in the sink again. It is almost as bad as the laundry. Hey speaking of laundry – I wonder if the laundry is ever going to dry. It was washed on Tuesday morning, and here it is Friday mid morning, and they are still rather wet. Three days of steady rain doesn’t help the clothes dry.

While Andre is gone, I guess I can use that time to put away the clean dishes that Mickey has brought in. He should be back soon, so I will just grab the broom and start to sweep but I know I wont finish before he gets back. Well while I am sweeping the girls room, I think I want to re-organize it. Let me move the beds, and the desk all around, and re-sweep. Phew – what smells in here? Oh its Ari and her stinky butt up from her nap. Let me put the broom down and take a poopy 11 month old and clean her up. My head is filled with a lot of not so nice words because we have no wipes here, and no running water. I will say though, as much as I hate having to clean poopy hineys, I thank God that no one has chosen today to have diarriah. I am done washing off Ari, got her dressed and handed her off to Lana, Mick and Isa to play with. While the crib is empty, I need to change the sheets. Where is that Andre? Man I am hungry – let me go see what we have to eat in the kitchen. Nothing made. And if I make something, then I have to clean it up – and there is no water. Nah, I can go hungry till lunch time. What I wouldn’t give to have a microwave. Then I could have something in the fridge to just pop in the microwave. What is Popcorn barking at? Popcorn – I could go for some microwave popcorn right now. What time is it? 30 minutes have passed already – what in the world is he doing? He can’t be shopping because 1 – he doesn’t have any money, and 2 – if he is using the money I gave him for the pastilla, well it is only 5 Lempiras, which doesn’t go far. FINALLY, here he is. 40 minutes later. Asked him what took him so long, and he just looked at me and said I don’t know, I was walking slow.

Ok, now that I have it, I take the pastilla,
crush it up,
add a bit of milk to the spoon and swirl it around until it is dissolved, Photobucket
mix it into the milk pot.
Having two little monkeys standing there watching you mix it in always helps. Now just cover the pot with a manta, or a top and let it rest for awhile, while the pastilla does its job.

And it is only 15 till 11AM. An hour. I wonder, am I the only person in the world that it takes almost an hour to put one tiny little pill in a pot of milk?

YAY!! The water came back. 12:00 noon on the dot. Should I stop what I am doing, take a shower and brush my teeth, or continue to sit here and write about my day? Eh, neither. I have a sink full of dishes, yet again, so let me go and get them washed, dried and put away so that when Lale gets back from picking up Sendy and Jordan from school I can make them lunch and have MORE lunch dishes to wash.

While waiting for the milk to set, lets play around with the cell phone – download some songs onto it, take a bunch of videos and pictures. Lets laugh at the 2 yr old who gets stuck in the bench because he tries to fit his big butt through the small hole. I have to laugh because it brings back memories of when Lana got stuck in the rocking chair, and the firemen had to be called to get her out because I didn’t have the right kind of saw to get her out of it.

Fast Forward to 4pm – sorry I forgot to take a picture of my clock. It is the consistency of thick yogurt – sort of – so take your hand and squish up the milk and everything into pieces as small as you can, then put the top/manta on it again to rest for a little bit more. Nope, I didn’t remember to take a picture of it at this stage. Sorry. I did however remember to take a picture of my spaghetti noodles to show you that when you buy pasta (among other things) here you need to look closely in the package. See those little black things – they are bugs. Weevils I think they are called in English. If you aren’t careful, then you can end up buying a whole bunch of them. I buy my spaghetti in 30 pound packs (don’t be shocked – just remember there are 11 people who eat at my house), so I open the packs to check each bag. I must have missed this one though. Although now that I went to upload the picture, it has been lost. I guess you all get to missout on the great picture of weevils. Arent you lucky, LOL

10pm - time to pull down the sheer curtain. Of course you can use other things instead of a curtain, but I have found the curtain to be the best for me to get the suero out. Suero is whey. At this point, the first thing I do it squish up the cheese again, then I lay the curtain over a pot, then pour the cheese and everything into it. I then pick up the curtain and begin to squeeze. I keep squeezing until all of the suero comes out. Sometimes I will hang it up over the sink if I am doing something so that I can finish what I am doing, and so that more can drain out. This is what it looks like after I drained it, but before I squeezed it out.

Once I squeeze it out, I dump it into a pana (a big plastic bowl) Photobucket
add some salt
and begin to mix it up. I start mixing it up by breaking it up in my hand – squeezing it in my fist – then from there I knead it. The goal is to get all of the big clumps of cheese into little tiny clumps of cheese. The smaller the better.

The best cuajada is done by hand, then switched to a rock. I wish I had a picture of what I am talking about – shoot I wish I had a piedra of my own – so that I could show you what I mean. In basic terms, its like a big rectangle rock, with a dip in the middle, and it comes with a rolling pin looking rock as well. You put whatever you need to mix up (the cuajada, corn that has been through the hand grinder to make masa for the tortillas – I will write about that another day) on the big rectangle rock, and use the rolling pin rock to smooth out whatever you have, a little at a time. After I am done kneading it and mixing it, it should look somewhat like snow. Taste it and see if it has enough salt etc. and add more if you need to. Pick up the cuajada, and pack it into a bowl or whatever you want to hold your cuajada in. Pack it in tight.

Now that you are done, you are looking in your kitchen and want to know what should you do with the suero. I have read you can use it in your baking needs – such as to make pancakes etc. I have never done that. Or, you can use it to feed your pigs, dogs, cats, the neighbors pigs that walk onto your land, the chickens etc. etc. I usually do that. But sometimes, when we have a lot of suero left over, I make requeson. Which is something along the lines of ricotta cheese. You take the suero that you have left over, put it in a pot, Photobucket
and boil it. Once it boils, it will crack across the top, turn off the heat.






Cover it and let it sit to cool down. Once its cool, carefully (you have to be easy to try to keep the ricotta cheese from breaking down and going through the curtain – or whatever you are using) pour it into whatever you are using to strain it. Lift the curtain out of the suero and hang it up for a couple of hours to let it drain.
Once it has drained, take it out of the curtain, plop it in a bowl with some salt, and either put it in the fridge, or eat it. I was going to take a picture, but by the time I remembered, all that was left was the empty bowl and a spoon.

*just a note – I make two different kinds of cuajada. The kind my husband prefers, and the kind I like. It is basically the same thing with a few differences. My husband likes the more traditional Honduran style – full of salt and little flavor (in my opinion anyway, LOL). My way of making cuajada is after I squish it up, I let it sit overnight and in the morning (at 4AM) I finish it off. I don’t add nearly as much salt as my husband likes, and the cheese has a tangy flavor to it. Not so much a sour flavor, think sort of like buttermilk.


Patty said...

Sounds like fun to me. Are you saying you can actually make this from the powdered whole milk they sell at the tienda? The whey is good to make bread with, but I like the idea of the ricotta. So this is my next trick. Thankx.

Kelly said...

Wow, what a great post. I enjoyed it a lot....So glad you're online....Cally and Javier are getting closer and closer to becoming your neighbor....

Live Simply Love Strongly said...

Ah, thank you for reminding me. I have been meaning to experiment with some cheese making for a while now. So this is to make the typical dry, salty cheese? I am not fond of that kind, but I have been wanting to make something similar to queso fresco o queso cotija. I think for queso fresco it's similar, but you don't knead it to break it into pieces...not sure though. I need to do some experimenting.

Lynette said...

Cool! Thanks for the interesting post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I wonder if I can make it here for my catracho. Take care.

Anonymous said...

That was very cool! My Honduran often talks about cuajada and wishing he could find some good cuajada here in NM. But of course it is never like his Moms...
I loved reading this post! Helped me understand what it was that he was talking about!

Ginger said...

awsome post! I hope i will get to see some of these things when i come down there this summer! My husband will greatly appreciate some hand made honduran food! I make the general meals but nothing extra like this!

onthegomom said...

Loved this post! Fascinating to me :)

Olancho Bound Gringa said...

Girl, I'm tired just reading this! Very interesting though & maybe I'll be brave enough to give that one a try sometime.