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Costly ingredients are surprisingly easy to make at home

First, let me share a simple thing I made last week that I’m rather pleased about. I’ve written before about creme fresh, an ingredient that seemed confined to Europe and is mentioned in many recipes originating there.
I’m sure it has been commonly available for decades in larger cities with fancy grocers, but here in the cornfields where I’ve heard Amish cooking described as “ethnic,” not so much.
Now creme fresh is beginning to appear in our stores locally. I didn’t buy any because holy cow, $7 for a teensy tub.
So I made my own, finally. Creme fresh is a mildly tart, creamier cousin to sour cream, which can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s good with strawberries, and it’s good with onions.
And it’s ridiculously easy to make at home: to 1 cup heavy cream, add about 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it alone at room temperature for about 24 hours, until it thickens a bit. Transfer it to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate it for another 24 hours, and that’s it.
Creme fresh is delicious, and I hope you’ll give it a try. So many recipes calling for buttermilk need far less than even the smallest container at the store, so you’ll have the chance to use the rest up in making creme fresh as I did. It went off quite successfully, and I wish I’d tried it sooner. My attempts at home yogurt-making a couple of years ago were so hit-and-miss I think I got cream shy.
I was curious — with St. Patrick’s Day coming up next weekend — about how many people of Irish extraction there are in East Central Ohio.
The answer is somewhere between 12 percent (Wooster) to 15 percent (New Philadelphia). Unsurprisingly Irish folk around here are outnumbered by those who claim German ancestry at about 25-33 percent.
It accounts for why friends from our counties, when I ask about their heritage, will often say something like “mostly German with some Irish.” I think it’s wonderful that we are discovering our family stories about where we came from are quite often wishful thinking.
Often as not, we just don’t know until we send off a little spit to be tested. We might think we’re German-Irish-French but are just as likely to be Latvian-African-Spanish. Our great-grandmothers liked to tell the stories that fit, and that let their own grandparents off the hook, hiding the indiscreet skeletons and accidental love children that are common to every family across every demographic.
But if you’re among those 15 or so percent who can legitimately claim emerald blood, this is your week to shine. There will be the usual green beer and corned beef, but it’s more interesting to look for the less obvious Irish eats.
Alongside that pricey creme fresh, I’m also seeing imported Irish butters, said to be some of the best in the world. Ireland also brings us an assortment of great cheeses, breads and potato dishes.
Increasingly dinners at my house are made up of a wood board with regional cured meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, breads, and dipping sauces and oils. It’s better than the usual pizza for movie nights and a bit healthier too.
There are plenty of simple recipes for Irish soda bread, leek and potato soup, and bangers and mashed to be found online.
Explore a bit and learn more about your Irish culinary roots, leaving the green beer to all those Germans pretending to be Irish.

Published: March 9, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180309967