Coke Crate Decorating

Vintage drink crates have been a part of the Paul Michael Company decorating repetoire for three seasons in a row now.  Paul has always had a passion for antique picking;  his true loves are his wife, Debbie, building one of a kind pieces in his woodshop, and finding antique pieces at a bargain.  Needless to say, Paul has a soft spot for the vintage drink crates.  We’ve explored all kinds of ways to use these in our displays and got a little curious how other folks were using them.  So we took to the nerve center of all DIY decorating ideas:  Pinterest.  Of course this little investigation opened up a whole new world of ideas for reclaiming vintage crates.

crate_advent_calendar

Reclaimed Crate Advent Calendar

crate_calendar

Reclaimed Crate Advent Calendar

crate_baby

Crate Photo Prop

crate_chandelier

Reclaimed Crate Chandelier

crate_coffee_table

Reclaimed Crate Coffee Table

crate_dog_feeder

Reclaimed Crate Pet Feeder

crate_dresser

Reclaimed Crate Drawers

crate_planter

Reclaimed Crate Planter

crate_spice_rack

Reclaimed Crate Spice Rack

crate_wedding

Crate Wedding Decor

crate_wedding2

Crate Wedding Decor

Get started on your own reclaimed crate project with our vintage drink crates for only $16.99!

-Ainslea Hooton

PMC Cooks: Breaded and Baked Fish Tacos

These weekend mornings we’ve been having here in the Delta have made for some good fishing weather.  Wanting to break away from the obvious fish fry, I searched for new, delicious recipes my fiancé and I could both agree on to cook our impressive catch.  Fish tacos were the answer!  This quick, easy and, most importantly, tasty recipe is great for a weeknight dinner, World Cup parties, and is sure to impress the neighbors this July Fourth if you’re bored of burgers.

First things first, you’re going to need some fish!  You can use the fish of your preference, as long as they’re white and flaky.  We have an abundance of catfish in Lake Chicot, so we used some big ole slime daddies.  They make the perfect, taco-sized filets.

Step 1

Step 1

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb flaky, white fish
  • vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 small (6 in) tortillas, corn or flour depending on your preference
  • 2-3 limes, depending on lime size
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free mayonaise
  • 3 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • your favorite slaw
  • salt and pepper at your own discretion
Ingredients

Ingredients

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 425° while you get your fish prepped.  Spray a baking pan or sheet with non-stick spray and set it aside.  You’ll need two dishes:  one for your bread crumbs and one for your vegetable or olive oil.  In one dish, whisk together your bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil, chili powder, one squeezed lime, and a few dashes of salt and pepper.  In the other dish, pour enough vegetable or olive oil to cover the bottom and add a pinch of chili powder.  Soak your filets in the vegetable or olive oil then coat them with your bread crumb mixture.

Step 2

Step 2

Once you have all of your filets breaded and in your baking pan, pop them in the oven for fifteen minutes (or until cooked thoroughly).

Step 3

Step 3

Now it’s time for your cilantro crema sauce.  If you haven’t already, chop your cilantro and grate 1 teaspoon lime rind.

Step 4

Step 4

Mix your mayonaise, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, lime rind, and 1 squeezed lime.  Voila!  Your cilantro crema sauce is complete for consumption.  Keep in mind when you’re topping your taco with this sauce you don’t need too much.  It’s got a nice zing to it and you don’t want to over-do it.

Step 5

Step 5

To warm your tortillas, place 3 on a plate under a wet paper towel.  Cook them in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Repeat with your other 3 tortillas.  Keep them under the wet paper towel until you’re ready to eat;  this keeps them soft and warm.  After your crema and tortilla prep, the fish should be done.

Now prepare your taco!  We used 2 filets for every tortilla, a handful of slaw, and 2 light spoonfuls of the crema sauce.

Prepare

Prepare

And finally, time to enjoy!

Enjoy

Enjoy

-Ainslea Hooton

America: Home Sweet Home

The fireworks and festivities are only a week and a day away!  July Fourth is just around the corner; a holiday that has traditionally been a day for barbeques, pool parties, weekend vacations, fireworks, and, of course, the grand ole U.S. of A.  We all know that a sensational fireworks display is the highlight of July Fourth, but flaunting your most bold reds, whites, and blues becomes part of the fun.  We’ll certainly see plenty of folks wearing their red, white and blue hues and denim cut offs made to look like the American flag.  But how many people will go the extra mile to create an outdoor atmosphere that screams, “AMERICA!”?  If you’d like to be one of those people this July Fourth, or in honor of today’s USA vs Germany Cup game, we’ve got some ideas to help you go the extra mile and really get into the spirit.

Naturally flags are always the go-to decor when you’re going for something patriotic, because there’s nothing more patriotic than a flag.  Duh.  But you can get creative with your red, white and blue decor by using umbrellas, lanterns, pillows, vintage drink crates, garden stools, and incorporating these colors into the foods and drinks you serve.  The great thing about combining your red, white and blue everyday decor is you can use these items all year round.

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Reds, Whites and Blues

Now go forth in the name of America and decorate!  We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe July Fourth weekend!

-Ainslea Hooton

 

 

 

 

 

 

PMC Throwback Thursday

Cleaning out and organizing our offices led us to discover a treasure trove of old photographs buried under piles of paper work.  We’ve shuffled through them at least once a week since their discovery, giving us windows of insight into the early days of Paul Michael Company.  We also learned just how many of our current employees have been here since the beginning, stayed loyal, and have grown with the company.

These gems are too good not to share, so here’s our first ever, and certainly not last, Throwback Thursday blog post.

Here's Paul and his crew, back in his jewelry selling days

Here’s Paul and his crew, back in his jewelry selling days

Our logo looked a little different, don't you think?

Our logo looked a little different, don’t you think?

The bare bones of our flagship store in Lake Village, AR

The bare bones of our flagship store in Lake Village, AR

Does this look familiar?

Does this look familiar?

Things have changed since our first days at Paul Michael Company

Things have changed since our first days at Paul Michael Company

And just for fun…

The Michael children in their Sunday best

The Michael children in their Sunday best

We have evolved and flourished as a company since our first store was built in 1993.  It’s always enlightening, humbling, and entertaining to look back and see how far we’ve come.

-Ainslea Hooton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hats, Horses, and Mint Juleps

Tomorrow marks the 140th renewal of The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports:  the Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs.  Even though the races are what it’s all about, the mint juleps and hat fashions are usually what get the most attention.

Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade makes for a much anticipated fashion show.  Like celebrities during awards season, viewers anxiously await to see attendees’ hat fashions at the derby.

We had the pleasure of working with Marie Michael (Paul’s aunt) and her friend, Liz Rice, at our Lafayette Creation Station to spice up their derby hats and have a wreath made.

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I will be attending my first derby party Saturday so of course I wanted the most outlandish, bizarre hat I could think up!  Luckily, I have talented friends at our Lake Village Creation Station that helped me turn my vision into this bad boy:

derby_hat2 derby_hat

The flower necklace represents the garland of roses the winning horse receives.

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Now for the cocktails!  The mint julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century.  So it’s only appropriate to drink these classy beverages at your own Derby Day party.

You’ll need:

  • 5 fresh mint leaves, plus a few mint sprigs for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Shaved ice
  • 2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey

Here’s how:

Place mint leaves, sugar and a splash of water into a silver julep cup or a 12-ounce glass. Muddle the mint, sugar, and water together with the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill the glass with shaved ice, add the bourbon, and stir until combined. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint and enjoy!

Even if you’re not a derby fan, joining in on the occasion is sure to be a good time.  What’s not to enjoy when there’s silly hats and delicious beverages involved?

-Ainslea Hooton

 

 

 

Mother’s Day: Gifting the one that made you

Mothers_day

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, it’s time to start searching for the perfect gift.  She’s the reason you exist, so now isn’t the time to take gifting lightly!  Here are some gift ideas she can use time after time, will let her know you care, and she will adore.

Personal Touches:  Make your memories last forever in style; don’t let those family pictures gather dust in boxes in the back of a closet or an attic.  Use new frames with old pictures and arrange them on a shelf or scatter them around the house.  If you’d like to be a little less conventional, make her a collage or arrange a display wall of your favorite family photos.  Moms love gifts with sentimental value, so this one is fool proof.

Personal touches

Personal Touches

Link for frames here

Personal touches

Personal Touches

Link for hanging memo holder here

Personal touches

Personal Touches

Link for chain clip garland here

Kitchen Accessories:  She fed you for at least the first eighteen years of your life and probably still does on occasion.  Give the kitchen a quick sprucing up so she can enjoy her cooking space and then make her a delicious dinner!

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen Accessories

Link for all kitchen products shown here

Link for cutting boards and cake stands here

Drink with Class:  She didn’t drink for nine months because of you, had to tolerate you through your teen angst years, and made you who you are today.  Someone should get that lovely lady a cocktail!  So let her drink with class this Mother’s Day.

Drink with Class

Drink with Class

Link for cheers sign here

Drink with Class

Drink with Class

Link for rattan bottle holder here

Drink with Class

Drink with Class

Link for products shown here

Like for cake stands here

Sensory Associations:  Find her the scent she’s been looking for; it might just be her new favorite.  Everytime she uses it, she’ll associate the smell with her favorite offspring.

Sensory Associations

Sensory Associations

Link to SoDelta candles here

Sensory Associations

Sensory Associations

Link to home fragrances here

Sensory Associations

Sensory Associations

Link to maroc candles here

However you choose to gift her this Mother’s Day, make sure it’s a gift that lets her know how much she means to you.  In my family, we always get our mom a card along with her gift and sign it “Love you to the moon and back.”  It doesn’t make up for all of the other 364 days of the year she puts up with us, but it’s a start.

For more ideas, see our Gifts for Her section

-Ainslea Hooton

DIY Burlap Spring Wreath

DIY Burlap Spring Wreath

After our last DIY wreath guide was such a hit, we let our Facebook fans vote on what wreath from our Creation Station they would like to learn how to make next.  Our burlap wreath with pink peony accents was the winner!  With Easter in just two days, there couldn’t be a better time to create new door decor for when the time comes to put the bunnies and eggs away.

Here’s what you need:

Burlap Spring Wreath Supplies

Burlap Spring Wreath Supplies

Step 1 – Cut your burlap into about 14″ strips.  Once you have a total of 44 strips, prep your work wreath by opening all of your sprig pairs.  When all of your sprig pairs are open, you’re ready to add your burlap.

Burlap Spring Wreath - Step 1

Burlap Spring Wreath – Step 2

Step 2 – Pinch one of your pre-cut strips at the center and tie it to your work wreath using the sprigs like a bread tie.  Remember to use this pinch technique through out your wreath-making process when tying in your burlap.

Spring Burlap Wreath - Step 3

Spring Burlap Wreath – Step 3

Step 3 - On top of the mesh piece you just secured, take another mesh piece and turn it so that these two mesh pieces intersect at their centers like a cross.  Secure your second mesh piece.  You should have two different pieces, intersecting at their centers like a cross, secured to one sprig pair.

Spring Wreath Burlap

Spring Wreath Burlap

Repeat these same steps all over your work wreath, the bottom and the top layer, completing the bottom layer first.

Spring Burlap Wreath - Step 4

Spring Burlap Wreath – Step 4

Step 4 – Now you’re ready for your flowers!  Remove the bottom leaves off of your stems (just pull really hard and they should come off).  Don’t throw them away, because you’re going to use them later!  Using wire cutters, cut off the “thorns” left from the leaves you removed so your stem is easier to work with.

Spring Burlap Wreath - Step 5

Spring Burlap Wreath – Step 5

Step 5 – Time to insert your flowers.  Choose the area on your wreath where you want your flowers to sit.  Thread your first flower through the burlap so that the flower sits snuggly on the burlap and the stem sits next to the metal wreath wiring.  We like to start at the outer layer.  Cut your excess flower stem wire with wire cutters so that you can see about 5″ of stem wire sticking through the back side of your wreath.

Spring Burlap Wreath - Step 6

Spring Burlap Wreath – Step 6

Step 6 – Twist the stem wire around the metal wreath wiring to secure your flower.  Place the rest of your flowers where you want them and repeat these steps to secure them.  If your flowers need extra support, tie the wreath sprigs around the stem wire to make sure the flower is secure.

Spring Burlap Wreath - Step 7

Spring Burlap Wreath – Step 7

Step 7 – Last step!  Once you have all your flowers in place, it’s time to use those leaves you removed in Step 4.  So your flowers don’t look like a big mush, add the leaves in between the flowers to create some separation.  Attach them to the wreath the same way you attached your flowers in Steps 5 and 6.  You shouldn’t need to cut off any excess.  We also like to pull some burlap in between the flowers and leaves so the flowers appear to blend effortlessly into the wreath.

Spring Burlap Wreath

Spring Burlap Wreath

Now you’ve got yourself a spring wreath that will last through the years!  The great thing about these wreaths, other than being super cute and stylish, is they preserve from year to year.  We intentionally do not use glue in our wreath-making process for this reason.  Just give them a good fluff and they’ll be door-ready every spring!  They can also act as framework for other seasonal wreaths.  Just remove your spring flowers and add other seasonal accessories.  Whether it be red and blue flowers for the Fourth of July or poinsettias for Christmas, these wreaths work well for any occasion.

-Ainslea Hooton

DIY Easter Egg Wreath

Egg_wreath

Exactly twenty days until Easter and we love getting doors prepped and ready for the occasion!  Our new, spring items opened the gateway to one of our favorite designs from our Creation Station.  It’s super easy to assemble and it’s sure to impress everyone who sees it!

Here’s what you need:

Link to buy products here.

Easter egg wreath supplies

Easter Egg Wreath Supplies

Easter Egg Wreath - Step 1

Easter Egg Wreath – Step 1

Step 1 – Cut your pink and green mesh into about 12″ strips.  You should have 22 strips of each color (a total of 44).  Cut your orange jute ribbon into about 12″ strips, and decide how many you’d like to use.  You will put these strips sporadically around your wreath later, so there is no set number to start out with.  We like to use about 15.

Easter Egg Wreath - Step 2

Easter Egg Wreath – Step 2

Step 2 – Prep your work wreath by opening all of the sprig pairs.  Take one of your pre-cut strips by the center and tie it to your work wreath using the sprigs like a bread tie.  On top of the mesh piece you just secured, take a different color mesh piece and secure it like you did the previous piece.  You should have two different color mesh pieces secured to one sprig pair.

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath

Repeat these same steps all over your work wreath, the bottom and the top layer, alternating colors each time.

Easter Egg Wreath - Step 3

Easter Egg Wreath – Step 3

Step 3 – Tie your pre-cut orange ribbon sporadically around your wreath, securing it at the center the same way you secured your mesh pieces.  Make sure you don’t forget to include pieces in both work wreath layers and not just one!

Easter Egg Wreath - Step 4

Easter Egg Wreath – Step 4

Step 4 – Now it’s time for your eggs!  We like to use egg ornaments because they secure to the wreath easier.  These will also be placed randomly around your wreath where ever your heart desires.  Pull the ribbon loop attached to the Easter egg against the metal work wreath frame.  Then take the wreath sprig positioned closest to the bottom of the ribbon loop and pull the end of the sprig through the loop.  Wrap the sprig around the ribbon loop to secure it to the wreath form.

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath

The mesh and ribbon will act as a cushion for the eggs so they won’t wobble on your wreath.

Easter Egg Wreath - Step 5

Easter Egg Wreath – Step 5

Step 5 – Run a piece of floral wire through your bunny legs.  Twist the wire around the outer most layer of your metal wreath frame to secure the legs to the bottom of your wreath.  Use your wire cutters to remove any excess.

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath - Step 6

Easter Egg Wreath – Step 6

Step 6 – You’re almost done!  Now it’s time to add your top hat.  Use your floral wire to secure your hat to the wreath like a bobby pin.  Poke a pair of holes on each side of the hat’s brim just big enough for the floral wire to go through.  You should have a total of four holes.  Now make a u-shape with your floral wire and insert both ends through your holes, pulling the wire all the way through.  Twist the wire under the hat’s brim to secure your u-shape.  Repeat these steps at the other set of holes on the other side of the hat.  After you’ve chosen a position for your hat, twist the floral wire to the metal wreath frame to secure it.  Remove any excess wire.

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter Egg Wreath

Voila!  Now you’ve got yourself an Easter egg wreath that will spark envy in all of your friends, family and neighbors!

-Ainslea Hooton

 

Mesh Carrot How-to – Under $30

carrot header The Brits may have fooled generations into thinking that carrots improved eye-sight, but your eyes are not tricking you here! Our mesh carrots are lookin’ good this season, revamped at $30.

Here’s what you need:

Link to buy products here.

We like the look of paper mesh, but plastic, deco mesh holds up better outside.

Mesh Carrot Supplies - 1/2 Work Garland, 10" Orange Paper Mesh, 2.5" Green Paper Mesh, Asparagus Bush

Mesh Carrot Supplies – 1/2 Work Garland, 10″ Orange Paper Mesh, 2.5″ Green Paper Mesh, Asparagus Bush

Mesh Carrot - Step 1

Mesh Carrot – Step 1

Step 1 – Straighten out your 1/2 of the work garland on a table. Open the orange mesh and let the roll fall to the ground while holding on to the ribbon’s end. Working with the roll on the ground is much easier. Pinching the ends of the ribbon with both hands and bunch your way to the center. Using the springs on the end of the work garland, twist the bunch with the springs like using bread ties. Once secured, find the widest point of the ribbon and pinch and bunch your way to the center of the ribbon, again. Secure to the same set of sprigs.

Mesh Carrot

Mesh Carrot

Work your way down the garland frame, finding the widest point of the ribbon, pinching, bunching, and twisting to make a straight line of single poofs. Try to tie the ribbon in as close to the frame as you can get since you will be adding more poofs to the sprigs.

Mesh Carrot - Step 2

Mesh Carrot – Step 2

Step Two – Starting at the top of the garland again, make another row of poofs, but only down to the sixth sprig. You can make the poofs at the top larger to accentuate the shape of the carrot.

Mesh Carrot

Mesh Carrot

Now, make one more line of poofs down to the fourth level. There are 7 levels of poofs – 1st has three poofs, 2nd has three poofs, 3rd has three poofs, 4th has three poofs, 5th has two poofs, 6th has two poofs, 7th has one poof.

Mesh Carrot - Step 3

Mesh Carrot – Step 3

Step Three – Make your bow. Watch the how-to video here.

Mesh Carrot - Step 4

Mesh Carrot – Step 4

Step Four – Tie in your bow using the wire frame.

Mesh Carrot - Step 5

Mesh Carrot – Step 5

Step Five – Tie on the asparagus bush to the back side of the wire frame. You can use floral wire to secure it.

Mesh Carrot - Final Product

Mesh Carrot – Final Product

There’s your fool-proof, cost friendly way to add a super cute pop of spring to your front door! Even I can do it!

-Elizabeth Michael

“Modern Pioneering” by Georgia Pellegrini + 30-Minute Fresh Mozzarella

Today we’re excited to share the release of chef and author Georgia Pellegrini’s new book, “Modern Pioneering: more than 150 recipes, projects, and skills for a self-sufficient life.”

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Georgia has been a regular visitor to the Paul Michael store through the years and has featured a number of our items on her website. She has also done several book signings in our Lake Village store and will be doing one in our Lafayette store in April, so stay tuned! Today we’re having her share a recipe from her new book as well as tell you more about her food philosophy. First, be sure to watch the Official “Modern Pioneering” Video Trailer:

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In Georgia’s Words:
I read a quote somewhere recently that said: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

For the last few years I’ve been offering women a chance to try new and daring things, giving them a safe space to fail and laugh-until-it-hurts in the process, to cheer each other on, and embrace each other when they had success. My Adventure Getaways have continued to motivate me to find new and accessible ways to offer a broader audience the opportunity to “step off the grid” in their own way, even if it’s just from their own studio apartment in the heart of the bustling city.

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I set out to create more recipes and projects for a self-sufficient life, with the idea that self-sufficiency is not only the ultimate girl (and boy!) power, but also brings you immense joy whether you are a full-time homemaker, a busy professional, or simply looking to do more by hand.

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My new book, “Modern Pioneering” is full of recipes, projects, and skills for a self-sufficient life. This is your guide for how to delight in the vegetables growing on your fire escape, to mark the seasons by the scents of the herbs growing on your windowsill, lit by the mason jar lantern you’ve made with your own hands. Whether you’re living on your rural homestead or sharing a studio apartment, Modern Pioneering is all about learning how to step off the grid in your own way, one that is uniquely yours.

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Divided into four parts, The Garden, The Home, The Wild, The Rest, Modern Pioneering includes more than 100 recipes, small space gardening advice, DIY projects, and superwoman skills.

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I hope the book empowers you to be more self-sufficient and brings you a ton of joy and fun in the process! It is available wherever books are sold for the first time today and can be ordered HERE.

As a bonus incentive, anyone who sends a screenshot of their order by midnight on March 4th to info@georgiapellegrini.com, gets free bonus content sent to their inbox!

141_Pell_9780385345644_

To get you all started and into the Modern Pioneering spirit, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese.

Silky, stringy fresh mozzarella really can be made in only 30 minutes, so long as you have the right kind of milk. In general, the key to cheese making is to find the purest form of milk possible, one that has not been ultra-pasteurized, since the high-heat treatment of the milk will prevent curds from forming. Raw milk is the best option if your state allows it; otherwise, search at farmer’s markets and health food stores for whole milk that is as unadulterated as possible. Even organic milks can be ultra-pasteurized, so read the labels.

Cheese-making kits are available with everything you will need other than milk, but you can also buy citric acid tablets and rennet online. If you want to make the curds in advance, store them in an airtight container for two weeks, or freeze the curds and reheat them. Save the whey, which you can freeze and use for baking high-protein bread or even scones.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Makes 12 ounces

1½ teaspoons citric acid powder, either tablet form or powder form

¼ cup nonchlorinated water, such as spring water, distilled water, or filtered water from a Brita or other filtration system

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized; raw milk works best)

¼ rennet tablet (vegetable or animal) combined with ¼ cup of cool nonchlorinated water (also comes in a liquid form, and the proportions remain the same)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh herbs, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, chopped garlic, or other optional seasonings

Sprinkle the citric acid into a large, nonreactive stockpot. Pour in the nonchlorinated water and stir to dissolve the powder, with the heat off.

Pour the milk into the citric acid solution and stir it vigorously to combine. Turn the burner to medium heat and let the milk’s temperature rise to 88°F if it is raw/unpasteurized and 90°F if it is pasteurized (use an instant-read digital thermometer). You may see the milk begin to curdle, which is what you want.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the rennet solution. Give the mixture a gentle, circular stir for about 30 seconds. Then use the spoon to stop the motion of the milk so it will be still. Place the lid on the pot and walk away for 5 minutes if the milk is pasteurized, 10 minutes if the milk is raw or unpasteurized. When you return, the mixture will resemble a very soft custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey (the liquid that separates from the curd). If this hasn’t happened let it set for a few more minutes.

With a long knife or offset spatula that reaches to the bottom of your pot, cut the curd into a 1-inch checkerboard pattern. This will separate the curds, making them easier to stir.

Return the pot to the burner and stir it gently over medium heat until the temperature of the whey reaches no more than 90°F for raw or unpasteurized milk and 105°F for pasteurized milk. Remove from the heat and continue to stir for about 5 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the curd to a colander set over a large bowl. It will look stringy. Slowly spin around the colander once the curds are in it to allow the whey to drain from the curd, which will now have a soft-cheese consistency.

Remove the curds from the colander and gently squeeze them a few times to drain off more excess whey. Then transfer the curds to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour off as much whey as you can into another container, pressing the curd together with your hands to get more whey out. Add salt to the curds at this point, if you wish.

Return the curds to the bowl and microwave them again on high for 30 seconds, then remove the bowl from the microwave and drain the whey, pressing the curds together. The more whey you can get out, the more dense the cheese will be and the longer it will store in the refrigerator.

Stretch and knead the curds like taffy to drain more whey, then microwave them one last time for 30 seconds. The cheese should be at an internal temperature of 135°F at this point in order to stretch properly. If at any point it feels too hot or too liquid to stretch, run it under cold water to help it cool slightly before working with it.

Roll the cheese into a neat ball, or into smaller balls for bocconcini. You could even braid it or turn it into string cheese–sized pieces.

Fill a medium bowl with tap water that is at a temperature of about 50°F. Set the cheese ball(s) into a water bath for 5 minutes to cool.

Fill another medium bowl with water and ice, then transfer the cheese into it and let it rest until totally cool, about 15 minutes. This step will ensure that the texture stays silky rather than grainy.

Remove the mozzarella, pat it dry with paper towels, plate it, and top it with your favorite seasonings, like chopped garlic, fresh herbs, or red pepper flakes, along with a drizzle of olive oil. It is best to eat the mozzarella within a day, or it can be kept in water in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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