History lessons in the kitchen: Farm specialist likes to bake and bike


By Debbie Rogers

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Corinne Gordon is an advocate of attempting new things — with a little “old” thrown in.

Make this Ricotta Cheese instead of buying a tub from the grocery store, she said.

“Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see it’s pretty delicious. And just to know how to do it — there’s a benefit to learning things and seeing how it easy it is.”

Gordon, a history expert, gave a cooking presentation at the Carter House of the Wood County District Public Library earlier this month.

Corinne Gordon does a cooking demonstration at the Carter House . (Debbie Rogers | Sentinel-Tribune)

While the recipe is fairly straight forward, the process requires some patience and detail.

“One thing to be aware of, this milk is not ultra-pasteurized. Most milk is not ultra-pasteurized,” Gordon said. “It will not form the curds that we need if we have ultra-pasteurized.”

Keep the drainings to use instead of water in bread. It’s also extra good as liquid in sauerkraut, Gordon said.

Gordon recently left the Wood County Park District and her position as historic farm and history specialist at Carter Historic Farm. She is going to New Jersey to lead the Capital City Farm, a 2-acre produce farm in downtown Trenton.

“All the produce there goes to the local community,” Gordon said.

She said she will miss the freedom she had with the Wood County Park District. She often combined her hobbies, such as bike riding and baking, into activities for the district.

“The variety of things that I’ve been able to do — basically anything I wanted to do, I could turn into a program,” Gordon said. “I’ve made baked goods and led a ride to the mill.”

The bike ride from Carter farm to the Isaac Ludwig Historical Mill in Grand Rapids in July was her favorite program, Gordon said.

The trek encompassed 47 miles and — of course — included a baked good, corn bread, served at the mill.

“And I had cookies waiting for us back at the farm.”

Cooking recipes from the past intrigues her.

“It’s interesting to see what limitations and restrictions they were working with, and still making delicious things and staying healthy,” Gordon said.

When she first took over at Carter farm, they weren’t growing any crops and the animals were very limited, she said. The working farm and living-history cultural heritage center is set in the Depression-era.

“There wasn’t that much going on, and now it feels alive,” Gordon said.

The farm welcomed lambs earlier this month.

Gordon has a law degree from Georgetown, but is no fan of being in an office or a courtroom.

After graduation, she did some museum work and fell in love with it. The New Hampshire native has spent the last few years on the farm in Bowling Green, tending to chickens, cats, goats and sheep, showing visitors around the house, and planning programming for the public.

Gordon has her bachelor’s degree in classics from Tufts University and a master’s in heritage management from Athens University of Economics and Business/University of Kent.

Serve the Ricotta Cheese on toast with pear slices. (Debbie Rogers | Sentinel-Tribune)

Ricotta Cheese


2 cups whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar


Bring milk, cream and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, then removed from heat. Stir in lemon juice, continue to stir until mixture begins to curdle. Let stand 5 minutes.

Line a sieve with a doubled cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Gently pour cream mixture into the cheesecloth, then let drain at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours for a thicker cheese.

For the library presentation, the cheese was served on toast with slices of pear over the cheese.

Beet Ricotta Hummus


1 baseball-sized red beet, scrubbed, greens trimmed

1 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup tahini, well mixed

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup ricotta

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

10 cranks freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap beet tightly in foil and place on rimmed baking sheet. Roast until easily pierced with a fork, approximately 1 hour. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then wrap in paper towel and rub to remove the skin. Trim off root end and cut into eight pieces.

Process the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, ricotta, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Add the roasted beet and process until smooth, then taste and season with salt, if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with optional items like mint, poppy seeds or a drizzle of olive oil to serve.

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