Once a month I plan a few days of hibernation to rest and restore.
I let Bear know ahead of time and often he joins in, spending a weekend watching movies, reading books, and taking naps. We plan food that’s easy to reheat, give our animals extra feed and water, and cancel any chores and plans so we can really, truly rest.
We never regret it.
We’ve slept in, had leisurely meals and favorite snacks, shared cuppas and good chats, watched the rain and the wild ducks that just moved in.
Taking this monthly break never fails to restore us, giving us a chance to think through our days and plans and adjust where necessary, providing time to reconnect and just enjoy each others company without the pressure of projects and deadlines. It does us much good.
This time we had fried chicken and roast beef and this lovely Russian pashka.
I start with homemade ricotta that I drain overnight before stirring in heavy cream, softened butter, sour cream, sugar, bush lemon zest, orange flower water, vanilla, and dried fruit. Then I put the whole lot in a colander or mold lined with damp cheesecloth, set a weight on top, and leave it in the fridge to drain a further 2-3 days until it is firm and beautiful.
Although it is full of rich dairy products, pashka is remarkably light thanks to the citrus notes that brighten and lift. My friend Rachel told me she makes hers orange zest, lemon zest, ground almonds, and dried cherries drenched in amaretto. Oh my goodness. Cannot wait to add boozy cherries to my next batch.
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
¼ cup butter, softened
¾ cup fine white sugar
2 tsp orange flower water
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sour cream or crème fraiche
2 egg yolks
¼ cup raisins or other dried fruit
1 tsp orange or lemon zest
2 lengths of cheesecloth/butter muslin.
1. Place ricotta cheese in first length of cheesecloth (butter muslin), tie, and hang to drain overnight.
2. Next day, remove cheese from cloth and place in medim mixing bowl. Add butter, sugar, orange flower water, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl whip heavy cream until soft peaks form, then stir in cheese mixture, sour cream, and egg yolks and whisk until smooth and fluffy.
4. Stir in dried fruit and zest until smooth.
5. Dampen second length of cheesecloth (butter muslin) and line mold with drain hole or colander with it. Spoon cheese mixture into cheesecloth (butter muslin) and smooth. Fold cheesecloth (butter muslin) over mixture and place mold/colander over shallow dish. Top with an upturned saucer and place 1-2 pound weight on top. Set in refrigerator 2-3 days until well-drained and firm to touch.
6. On day three, open cheesecloth (butter muslin) and carefully turn out pashka onto a serving plate. Garnish with fruit, nuts, or edible flowers and serve cold.