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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Cheesemaking 101

My mind was officially blown wide open at last weekend's cheese making workshop. I learned that making a round of delicious homemade cheese is just as easy as making a loaf of homemade bread!

We learned how to make three styles of cheeses. The first and easiest is straining dairy products through a cheesecloth to produce soft cheeses like chevre, labane, and cream cheese. The second method is the one I was familiar with which is making acid cheeses like paneer, using vinegar or lemon juice to curdle milk.

Making delicious, soft and spreadable cheese from yogurt. The yogurt is salted, wrapped in cheesecloth, and left to drain in a fridge overnight. The next day it is heavenly cheese.

Curds and whey that are on their way to becoming a pressed round of cheese.
The third and most exciting method was rennet cheese. Basically this entailed culturing milk at body temperature (with either kefir or the juice from quality yoghurt) and then adding rennet, cutting the cheese curds, and forming a pressed cheese round. YUM.

Fresh, raw milk is the best milk to use. Regular pasteurized and processed milk from the supermarket will not do for making most cheeses, because the aging process for cheese relies on the enzymes and natural environment present in milk in its natural state.

This round of cheese can be aged into brie or camembert, inoculated with bread mould into blue cheese, brined into feta, fermented and stretched into mozzarella, and more. The basic recipe is the same.
Many of my thoughts about cheese and whey were disproved by David at the workshop. I understood that "whey" was the by product of an acid cheese like paneer, but in actuality true whey is something else. The by product of an acid cheese has little nutritive value left, while whey made from rennet cheeses is highly nutritious and can be further separated into MORE cheeses, like ricotta!

Squeaky cheese curds! All we did was cook the curds instead of pressing them into a round.
Our cheese teacher was growing mold for making blue cheese.

An example of an aged round of cheese.
Rennet, the ingredient used to make milk separate into curds and whey, is a controversial substance because it is essentially made up of the fourth stomach of a milk-fed calf, lamb, or other ruminating animal. It works the best, but some alternative curdling agents were discussed, including cardoon flower petals. WHO KNEW??


Our lovely workshop teacher, David! Here he is with his bushy moustache, stretching the mozzarella. He was an amazing teacher and really knew his stuff.

His website is full of recipes and more information

Thanks for reading.
 I look forward to posting more as the days grow longer and I have more time for quilting and crafting.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Crafting and Blackberry Picking

I am enjoying a coffee as I write this, with a couple inches of foam on top. The foam is created simply by the pressure of milking as I squirt it into the milk jar! Thanks to my sweet goaty goats, I get to have a cappuccino.

 We've been picking big ripe blackberries every day. The wild Himalayan variety is the tastiest. The plants are totally invasive but I am thankful for finding them along the roadside! One of the reasons I got goats in the first place was to eradicate blackberry vines from our yard. The goats have gone above and beyond the call of duty...

 Our mouths were purple from eating so many black and juicy berries.

Picking fresh food is more work but also more interesting than shopping at a grocery store.

 The chicks we got a while ago from the poultry swap are almost at point of lay. I picked out six chicks and ended up with only two roosters. Not bad.

I have been working on a few little projects, including the back to my Piano Keys quilt. I am going to embroider the full word "forgiveness" (from a song by Don Henley) but I am loving the active quality of the verb 'forgive'. Along with gratitude I feel like forgiveness is an important part of being happy and at peace, with ourselves and with other people.

I have been searching for the perfect sock monkey socks to make a monkey for my little guy. In the meantime I've been knitting up a pair of socks in an imitation of the common grey wool sock with a red stripe. There are a few variations but I haven't found any with a red heel, which is the key to making the sock monkey's mouth. Obviously I'm not going to cut up the socks I'm making but it is fun to make a homemade version of something that is mass produced.

 It is finally mercifully raining and cloudy.
Enjoy this day!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Summer Time, Time, Time

This last month has been full of life. I have been busy in the garden, trying to keep everything watered during this drought we are having, and eating fresh food everyday.


We are overrun with fruits and vegetables and this week more than once I have been so full of fresh figs, strawberries, kiwis, and golden plums that I haven't even bothered to make dinner. 

The goats and David and I spent a week on another farm taking care of some other animals. They had a little baby kitten who was so sweet! I might have to adopt a kitten for David. He was carrying her around like a ragdoll.

Or... maybe that was me.

I have been baking cinnamon rolls and bread for the farmer's market, and also making lots of spanakopita with greens out of the garden, sometimes with 100% kale. They are so good and a great way to get my kid to eat greens. They are also great with homemade goat cheese. I am excited for a cheese making workshop this weekend where we will make some more complex cheeses! I will be sure to take photos.

All of this hot, sunny weather has been great for swimming. David has always been strong in the water and I hope he will be able to swim by the end of the summer.

Thanks for reading, have a great day.


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