Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cottage Cheese Theory Doubted, Tested, and Sadly Confirmed

Some years ago, a friend and I (hello, Matt) discovered that we share identical feelings concerning the strange substance widely known as "cottage cheese." Cottage cheese, we decided, is delicious once every six months for the time it takes to consume two spoonfuls of it. The rest of the time it is abominable.

My semiannual craving started about three weeks ago, when I was in the dairy section of the grocery store. Usually I don't even notice the cottage cheese, but that day my gaze fell upon it and a great light shone from the dairy case and I thought YES. Cottage cheese is what I NEED. I must have it IMMEDIATELY. I had some reason to believe I might actually eat more than two spoonfuls, as I had in the previous year dedicated some time to building an immunity to cottage cheese revulsion, due to having to eat the leftover ingredients for quiche. So I thought I could probably manage three-quarters of the container.

To my great surprise, I ate the whole thing. And I went back and I bought more. And I ate the whole thing again. I woke up in the morning and instead of thinking, "Ugggggggh what is that wretched noooooiiiise," I leapt out of bed saying to myself, "I am having cottage cheese for lunch!" And then I would sing a little ditty about cottage cheese and songbirds came to do my hair and it was a beautiful time that I shall always remember fondly.

For it ended. Today. Thinking I had permanently overcome my fear and loathing of runny cheese curds, a couple of days ago, I bought a full-sized container and was looking forward to having a smackerel at lunch. I wasn't even put off when I discovered the seal was broken and had leaked slightly and I had to go back and exchange it for another. Anything for cottage cheese! I skipped down to the grocery store and got a new container and skipped back and opened it up, and great Jehoshaphat, it looked disgusting. I don't know whether it was all the skipping, or the fact that it was out of its refrigeration for the ten minutes it took to get home, or what, but it was all sloshy. With the utmost dubiousness, I tried some, and lo, it was even more disgusting than it looked. Lumpy, watery, warmish: vile.

I may yet attempt to strain out some of the whey (I did spent four bucks on it after all), but I have little hope of it regaining any edibility. I can only conclude that the cottage cheese theory holds: it is only acceptable in small quantities, with at least six months' recovery time. Test this theory at your own risk; if your experiment turns out poorly, you may end up having to make vast amounts of quiche, and I am not entirely sure how well it freezes.


Pandora said...

I kind of agree with your theory about said cottage cheese. As with all things food related, I have an opinion. (I know you're shocked.) What they left out of the poem was that when Little Miss Muffet was eating her curds and whey she'd just taken them out of the icebox. A key element is that cottage cheese must be VERY cold if it's going to be enjoyed at all. And not too much whey. Definitely pour out the extra. My suggestion for the remainder of your cottage cheese that is no longer appealing....turn it into the delicious hamburger noodle bake with neufchatel cream cheese, green pepper, green onion, tomato sauce, hamburger (or ground turkey works too) and egg noodles. If you need the recipe, I shall forward it immediately. As far as I'm concerned, that recipe is really the only good excuse for having cottage cheese in the house. Then you only have to eat the few leftover spoonfuls....and if you opt to toss them you used most of it, so it's really guilt free.

Matthew said...

Pandora, that sounds excellent. I've been craving chick peas and curry, lately, but also scallions, so I think your recipe wins because my desire for scallions is inescapable and also I have ground turkey in the freezer, waiting patiently for death.

Simon: If you bring the cottage cheese to Dan's this weekend, I very well may satisfy my 6-month need with a few spoonfuls. That won't help much, but every bit counts at this point? Or, just borrow Aunt Nea and have her make Greek Tiropita or her quick lasagna, both of which can / usually are made with some amount of cottage cheese.

Katie said...

I was going to write a raving note about cottage cheese on here. I like it 99% of the time. But I believe you have ruined it for me. Damn.

I'll write up my "recipes" later when I feel like cottage cheese is more appetizing.

Simon said...

KP: Well, to be honest, I bought another container and tried again, and it was fine. I've been eating it all week. But that one container was just sort of gross. Definitely too much whey. And after I looked up what whey really was for that post, and found out it's milk plasma, I was slightly put off. Because the words "milk plasma" are not appetizing. Anyway, don't let me put you off. This theory only applies to some people.

Matt: Totally forgot to bring it to Dan's. Are you renting out your aunt Nea as a personal chef? I'm interested.

Pandora: In fact I would like that recipe! I've been meaning to make that some time. Also, Ivan is intrigued and wants to try it.

Pandora said...

Here is the recipe for the delicious casserole I mentioned in my earlier post. I have changed the name of the casserole to protect the innocent and also because it sounds like something I'd want to eat all the time - which I do. It's super easy to make and I've made a couple of notes for substitutions you can make, if desired, that will hardly alter the outcome. Like all good recipes, the credit for finding this one goes to Mom.

Cream Cheese Casserole Delight

1 (8 oz) pkg. medium or wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup (1/2 pint) cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup minced green onions
1 tablespoon minced green pepper

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 13"x9"2" baking dish (a glass casserole dish works nicely). Cook noodles according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon of butter or oil to water; drain. Brown ground beef (or turkey) in a large frying pan, breaking into small pieces. Drain excess fat. Stir in tomato sauce and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, blend cream cheese to smooth. Blend in cottage cheese, sour cream, onion and green pepper. Now, spread half of the noodles over the bottom of the greased baking dish. Cover the noodles with the cheese mixture and then the remaining half of the noodles. Top with the meat sauce. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Leftovers freeze beautifully, just microwave for a few minutes to thaw.

NOTE: You can use a 12 oz. package of egg noodles instead of 8 oz. I have had a hard time finding the 8 oz. packages and without a kitchen scale I can't measure accurately. I've found the 12 oz. of noodles cover the pan better anyway. (Or just take your best guess.) For a healthier version, substitute lean ground turkey, low fat cream cheese (neufchatel cream cheese), low fat cottage cheese, and light sour cream in the same measurements for the ingredients above. This recipe is rich in taste and you won't miss the extra calories one bit with the substitutions.

Katie said...

I'm going to try Pandora's recipe, but my favorite recipe is to mix spaghetti sauce, noodles, oodles of cheese, and some cottage cheese together, heat it (in the microwave or oven) until it's all melty, and then it's like lasagna but without all the work.

I also like cottage cheese with maple syrup, but apparently that's weird :(

And I know this is a VERY late post, but's clean out my inbox day!

Simon said...

Really, cottage cheese and maple syrup? Yes, that is very weird.

Curiously, I am on another cottage cheese kick right now. I felt my nuts and berries diet needed a little extra something, and that something turned out to be cottage cheese. These cravings have become so regular it's almost like I've begun to consider cottage cheese a normal food. Huh!

Katie said...

Cottage cheese is good and healthy and should be part of an essential diet. When about 1/2 t of maple syrup is drizzled over ~1/2 c. of cottage cheese it is a dessert, kindof like ice cream, only not.