Wednesday, August 31, 2011

special pesto

I had bought some basil for something and had no use for the rest at the moment, so I cut the leaves off the stem and lacto fermented them. When I was ready to use them, I made a pesto sauce with them. Tasted like regular pesto sauce.

I served it on wheat pasta with spicy sausage. Adam ate it and had no clue that anything was different about this pesto. :o) He did, however, notice that the pasta was wheat. He doesn't like wheat pasta and I don't like white pasta...I don't like pasta in general but if I have to have pasta, I'd rather it be wheat...I just enjoy the taste/texture better. Other wise, I'd just rather not have pasta at all with a few rare exceptions. I love ravioli and stuffed manicotti and one of my favorite foods, herbed chicken linguine, is pasta heavy dish that I don't mind the pasta being in...but for the most part, I could definitely do without pasta. Adam, on the other hand, love any dish with pasta and would eat it every day if I served it. In fact, some days, he just wants some so he'll skip what I made and make ramen or spaghetti instead.

I am currently on a proccessed sugar free and severely restricted white flour diet. I will end that when I get to Utah for a visit because I must get my yearly fix of mint brownies. :o) I can't say I'm addicted to white flour but sugar...I definitely am. I am going through withdrawls and am cranky and so tired. I want cookies, cake, brownies, a spoonful of sugar...anything. But I am determined to make it until Sept 25. I can do's not even a whole month from now. I can do it...I've done it before.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Venision quiche

Katie mentioned she had gotten some venison from a friend and I told her I would be interested in trading for it. I would give her a bag of pecans that I picked (still shelled) and a jar of sauerkraut I made for a pound of venison. Weeks went by before the trade was actually made because she kept forgetting to bring it when she was in town. When she actually delivered the bag to me, I was surprised to find 4 lbs of venison. She said they just weren't that interested in eating it so she gave me all that her friend had given her. I felt like I was cheating her but she said she was happy with the trade.

There was one month in Taste of Home magazine that had some vension recipes in it so I got it out and found venison quiche. Seemed like an easy way to introduce Adam to venison with enough other flavors with it. He didn't complain about it at all and even ate it two days in a row. :o)

Spinach vension quiche

1 unbaked pie crust

1/2 pound ground venison

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped onion (which I didn't use, of course)

1/2 chopped green pepper (used red since that's what I have in my freezer)

1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (used about 2/3 of the package)

1 package (4 ounces) feta cheese (used cottage cheese instead since we both like it better)

6 eggs

3/4 milk

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Line unpricked pastry shell with double thickness foil. Bake at 450 for 8 minutes, remove foil and bake 5 minutes longer.

Menawhile, in a large skillet, cook the venison, mushrooms, onion and pepper for 5-6 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Drain. Spoon into crust, top with spinach and then cheese. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, pepper and salt. Pour over cheese.

Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes, slice.

I had enough venison and spinach leftover for another meal I have in mind but for now, it's in the freezer until I'm ready to make it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seeing the good

I am alive! Lots of good things happened to me yesterday but by far, the best thing that happened is that I am still alive.

This past weekend, I was not feeling well. My sinuses had been giving me problems for 1 1/2 weeks. I think it's from breathing in all the dust in the warehouse since I've been working out there everyday. On Saturday, it wiped me out and I slept most of the weekend asleep or near sleep.

Since I had gotten a lot of rest, I was feeling ok yesterday and really wanted to go on a long bike ride. Usually, I feel like I HAVE to go for a ride, not that I want least until I get out and get warmed up. About 15 minutes into my ride, I stopped to take a picture. The camera went wonky. The screen was all blurry and filled with weird colors. Not good. I still had hope that what was stored on the card was ok and just the screen was bad. (No, the camera is toast.)

I remembered about half way into my ride that I had my phone with me and could use that camera if I needed to. It's not the best but it will do in a pinch. I did use it when I got to a cool old log cabin.

The cabin is a two story structure with hand hewn, square logs, fitted together so well at the dovetail joints that I would assume a professional made it, not an inexperienced frontiersman. It also leads me to believe that this is the original land where it has always stood. They usually don't go back together quite as well as they originally stood once being rebuilt after a move.

Behind the house was a well with a wooden cover with leather hinges. How cool is that? It's been cemented over under the wood for safety, I assume. Behind the well is a two seater outhouse. The weird thing about this one was the scratch marks all over the outside. I'm thinking perhaps a racoon wants in!

There was a single wagon axel, rotting.

This place was magical. It was kept immaculately though there was no house that someone lived in and no sign as to what it was which leads me to believe that someone privately owns it and maintains it. I really appreciate that! There was even a garden...not the fanciest garden (flower, not veggie) but to have it in that setting was really neat.

There was a cute little birdhouse on an outbuilding that caught my eye.

I also really liked this bell. Look at the bull head in its design. Pretty clever. That's the barn.

So all those pics were taken with my phone. There's no zoom or flash but it did a decent job so I'm glad to have at least something for my bike rides.

I was about 10 minutes from home. I was riding on a stretch of road that is generally more busy than the rural roads I usually get to ride on. I could see a car behind me about 25 car lengths but no one between us and a big enough gap that I would be able to make the left turn that I usually have to stop on the shoulder and wait about 5 minutes for the cars to go by before it's safe for me to cross.

With that space open to me, I moved out into the middle of my lane to show my intentions to the guy coming up behind me. I slowly made my way over to just beside the center line and just as I was making my left turn, I hear breaks squealing, a car skidding and a horn honking. I couldn't look back because I knew I would freak out and crash if I saw what was going on. So I pedaled as fast as I could. Turns out the guy decided he was planning on going around me in the other lane (even though I was on the line and it would have been safer for him to go on the other side, especially since the car coming the other direction was coming up on us as well). As I made the turn, he had to slam on his brakes because he was in the proccess of going around me. I do have a rear view mirror and I use it but I was looking ahead at the car coming toward me, not behind. I figured I had given that driver warning of what I was doing by my actions...appearntely, he didn't understand. He yelled at me as he was going by. I pedaled as hard as I could out of there, afraid he would turn around and track me down on this empty road to scream at me some more...perhaps that was just my adrenaline spike talking. He never materialized.

Back at home, I turned on my computer to check if my pictures came out or if what the screen on the camera displayed what I would see on the card. Nothing happened. My computer isn't working. Adam thinks the mother board went bad. It worked the night before and we didn't have a storm. Not sure what happened.

But none of these things bothered me...well, the camera thing did until it was put into perspective for me. I came close to becoming a bug on someone's windshield. Even as he was yelling at me, I didn't didn't take it personally, like I usually would. I am alive! All the rest doesn't matter. And the whole ride was great (except that little bit). The adrenaline quickly dissapated and I was able to enjoy the last 8 minutes of my ride knowing I wasn't being stapped to a board and loaded into an ambulance, or worse at that very moment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adventures in composting

If you recall, we have added a LOT of food to our compost bin. Over 500 jars of old food. It's breaking down. Each time I add more stuff (my kitchen scraps usually) to the pile, the whole ground moves in waves as if it's alive. Kind of creepy. I had thrown in some corn cobs yesterday and again today, I threw one last one in.

This one was taken at around noon. The fresh cob is nice and bright.

This one was taken about 30 minutes later. Now, the whole cob is covered in some kind of larvae.

You need all those insects since they help to break stuff down quicker. All that life means it's very healthy. :o) I'm just glad it's back beyond the dog's yard because I don't want all the flies in my house.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chasing the wilder life

The Wilder Life is a book by Wendy McClure. It was suggested to me and I found it at the library on CD and listened to it on my commute.

She is a woman who is obsessed with Little House on the Prairie...Laura Ingalls Wilder to be more specific. As a child, she dreamed of Laura coming to her time and she could show her around and reassure her about all those things that would be strange and scary to a farm girl who didn't see anything like an escalator, or going fast in a car. To be honest, I've never read all the Little House books. I do really enjoy them and learn things from them...but I just haven't gotten around to reading them all yet. These books are largely based on her life but are fiction none the less. Her obsession is what attracted me to this book. I sometimes feel alone in my bizarre obsession to learn to live the way people used to. Like for her, it is consuming sometimes. This was someone I felt a connection to for that reason alone and I didn't even know her yet.

As she grows older, she forgets about the books and Laura until her mom, who has been diagnosed with cancer is having a yard sale so they can move to their dream house in Arizona or New Mexico. In amongst the other things, she finds her old copy of "Little House in the Big Woods". She begins reading the books again and her obsession is rekindled. This time around, she learns that there are actual home sites around the Midwest where the original houses were and were rebuilt according to the descriptions that Laura gives. But it's in the middle of the winter so she can't visit them. While waiting to go visit the home sites, she gets a copy of the Little House cookbook and makes some of the foods from it. (By the way, that's a great cookbook filled with history. It's not written by Laura.) She tracks down an old butter churn so she can experience making butter and finds it tastes just the same as store bought butter. She tracks down an antique hand cranked coffee grinder to grind wheat to make the bread they make in "The Long Winter". She's not as impressed. Her favorite food experiment from the book was apples and onions. I have to agree there! It sounds strange but you cannot even imagine how wonderful they are together!! She really had my attention in this experimental phase. I was really into the book. But then the next phase started.

She started visiting the home sites in February when the snow was still on the ground. She had an expectation about them. Those expectations were never quite met. As you can imagine, it would be hard to have a prairie homesteading experience when surrounded by hundreds of other people. This part of the book was depressing for me. I often wonder if it is possible to recreate that kind of life today...and all her experiences seemed to shout, "NO, IT"S NOT POSSIBLE!"

I was confused by the point of the book...she's obsessed with Laura...but what's the point? Where is this book leading? I was really wondering that when it got to the depressing part. Did I really have to finish it? Was the end result worth it? It made me think about my point, my reason for my obsession. To be honest, I have no idea how to put it into words. It makes me happy to learn these skills, to know I could feed my family at least something if I ever had to for any reason. But that's the best I can articulate it, and that doesn't do it justice. If I couldn't do any better, how could I expect her to? I continued listening to the book to the end.

Eventually, she had visited all the main home sites and read as many books about Laura as she could get ahold of. One of the neat things in the book was all the info I was getting on Laura...the true stuff, not the embellished or rose colored view from her books or the all together false stories from the show. I liked that. She had decided that she had seen enough, that she didn't need to continue. And so her obsession ended. Her friend asked her if maybe she was searching for something. She decided that she must have been searching for herself, to be able to be herself again after the death of her mom. And she had found that ability again.

Turns out we really didn't have as much in common as I thought. We had a similar interest but for completely different reasons and I couldn't understand her reasoning and her depressed nature in the second half of the book really brought me down. Had I been reading this book, I probably wouldn't have have made it through the whole book but since I was listening to it on my commute, I didn't feel like it was any work to continue with it. So, in a nutshell, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I won't be listening to it again...but it did make me think. Knowing I can't recreate that lifestyle (not to the full extent, not that I didn't really already know that), I will still continue with what I am trying to do because it makes me happy. Happy was something that seemed to be missing from the second half of the book from my perspective. That's sad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


When I go thrifting, I have to visit three places...the furniture, the what-nots and the baby clothes. Yes, I realize I don't need them. But really, I don't care. I like looking at their cuteness. Occasionally, I will find something heirloom like and can't say no. They are generally vintage and speak to me in some way that makes me have to buy them. It's no surprise that I like older looking clothes, right? Everything else I like it older as well. I have a couple other pieces but they aren't with these so I didn't feel like going to find them.

Girl's clothes. The green one is a velvet like fabric with a cut I really like. The lacy one is a baby blessing/christening dress, yellowed with age, There's a white one with smocking and lots of embroidered flowers. The other white one has smocking on the collar and sleeves. I want a wardrobe like this for myself.

The boy's clothes. The lower white outfit came with the girl's baby blessing dress. I thought they were one piece until after I got them home. The upper white one is for a 2 year old...reminds me of Victorian type clothes. The blue onsie is a vintage one with embroidered dogs and the vest is for a 2 year old....but it looks so much like an Amish vest that I had to buy it.

Aren't they all so cute??

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bike ride to the garden

I am trying to fit everything into my schedule. It's tough. If I drive to the garden, it's a 40 or so minute round trip. If I bike there, it's a 1 hour 45 minute or so round trip. That doesn't count the time spent weeding or watering. I do drive there sometimes but sometimes, I just have to hop on my save on gas money as well as to fit in some much needed exercise time. So I do spend an extra hour commuting when I take my bike but it's time well spent to me.

When I take my bike, I put my rear panniers on to carry some clothes to protect me from the thick misquitos, a pair of shoes and sometimes a container if I think I may have some produce to bring home.

The ride to the garden is mostly more rural least compared to the roads around my house. The closer I get to the garden, the less traffic there is, except for one road I have to take for a few minutes. Then it's back to rural roads.

We had our first picking of green beans and got enough for a very hearty amount for each of us. There are a few more beans on the vine now...but they're still growing. We finally have pea blossoms and the bush beans look like they might produce something soon.

And of course the squash are trying to produce something as well.

On the ride back, I take a different route. This route has 4-5 fig trees lining the road at one point. Each time I ride past them, I stop and grab a handful to snack on for the next couple of days.

Here's the green beans after I got home and washed them. There's some kind of caterpillar eating holes in them so I have to do research to find out how to get rid of them.

Dinner that night was homegrown green beans, foraged figs, homemade sauerkraut, homemade wheat bread with honey and butter and a small bowl of lentil slaw (which is sprouted lentils, shaved carrots & diced tomatoes, with a apple cider vinigarette).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Staycation (continued)

The same day we went to Foxfire museum, we also went to Dillard House. Adam had been talking about taking me for years. He had come up here as a teenager. It was only 4 miles from the museum so it seemed like a good time to go.

I absolutely loved being back near the mountains and getting to see them. Mountains are my favorite things. I really miss living by them. These are tiny compared to my Western mountains but they'll do just fine.

There's a petting zoo there. They don't charge anything. There were a couple different kinds of cows, a donkey, chickens, a lamb but mostly goats. The goats could hop the fence and often did. They are so cute!!! This particular goat reminded me of Jack. Jack lays on the stairs just like that gray goat hanging out. I instantly loved him...and that cute little guy beneath him too.

The real reason for coming here was for a horseback ride. We chose the hour long river ride. It took us through their pasture where they retired to every evening after their work was done and through a river, actually walking through the river. At one point, we were in up to my ankles...which is pretty deep considering that was at the horse's stomach. This horse was docile and wasn't trying to break any land records like the other horse I rode. Also, because he wasn't running, it was actually fairly comfortable to ride him. All around, a much funner and better experience than last time.

I had a regular looking horse but Adam's horse was part draft horse, my second favorite horse, so I was really into him. The thing about him though was that he was the slowest horse...which was fitting since Adam moves very slowly. My horse wanted to pass him and kept trying but he was obedient and stayed in line.

It was very enjoyable. We even bought the picture of us riding back to the stables after the ride.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It worked!

Remember that vinegar I was attempting to make with the apples I foraged a few weeks back? This is my second attempt at making apple cider vinegar. I failed miserably last time. It smelled like stinky shoes after a rain storm...but 100% worse. It never formed a mother either.

Here's the mother!

I'll be honest, I don't understand enough about it to know exactly how a mother forms or what it is exactly...but I do know that you can't have vinegar without the mother. And now I have one. :o) I was going to store it in an old vinegar bottle but I want to be able to access the mother if I want to make another kind of vinegar so I need to find a wider mouth jar now.

Here's the recipe.

Gather apple cores, trimmings and peels (bruised or overripe fruit ok, except throw out any pieces with mold on it)

You'll need:

To make sugar water:
1/4 cup Rapadura sugar (or honey)
1 quart filtered warm water


Prepare the sugar water for the amount of fruit scraps that you have with the ratio of 1 quart water to 1/4 sugar. Make sure all sugar is completely dissolved. Fill jars with coarsely chopped up fruit scraps about half full, then pour in the sugar water solution. For pineapple vinegar, add the additional spices and stir in. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and let ferment at room temperature. Stir once/day if you can.

You will notice the liquid darken after about a week. At that point, strain out the fruit scraps and discard or compost them. Ferment the vinegar for 2 to 3 weeks longer, stirring it periodically.

Simple enough right?

It's growing!

We finally have veggies growing! It's very exciting for me. Adam discovered the green beans. I hadn't noticed any even though I weeded them on Saturday. He only picked 4 of them and brought them home.

We ate one each right away. Yummy! Aren't they beautiful! ;o)

Aside from the green beans, we also have:

a few spaghetti squash

a few butternut squash

several watermelon

and lots of bush bean blooms, carrots, an acorn squash and the tomatoes got their first bloom. The peas are growing but I don't think they'll give us anything this year.

I doubt it willbe a bumper crop year but since I wasn't going to have a garden this year and we got it planted so late, I am grateful for anything I get from it, and for the experience.

Monday, August 8, 2011

sourdough blueberry pancakes

I love sourdough pancakes and had some blueberries leftover I needed to use so I decided a large batch of sourdough blueberry pancakes was in order.

I pulled my starter out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature over night. Once it was bubbly again, I fed it enough to double the pancake recipe and a little etra.

Before you add anything other than flour and water, you need to reserve some to keep as your starter for the next stuff you'll be making. While it's still bubbly, I put the reserved starter back into the fridge.

Sourdough Pancakes

  • 1 cup sourdough starter

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used a mix of white and wheat)

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • Directions:

    1. 1 Mix together sourdough starter, water and flour.

    2. 2 Cover bowl and allow to stand at room temperature overnight.

    3. 3 Whisk in eggs, sugar, oil, milk and baking soda.

    4. 4 Let batter stand 10 minutes.

    5. 5 Make pancakes.

      Good thing I had mixed it in a huge bowl because as soon as I added the baking soda, it exploded with bubbles. It was almost spilling doubled in size. As Adam put it, "The batter was very happy." ;o) I didn't have any room to mix in the blueberries so I had to make some pancakes before I had room to do that. I just dumped them in....didn't have nearly enough for a double batch.

    I got about 45 pancakes by doubling it. Most went into the freezer for easy weekday breakfasts.

    My brother's visit & pecan pie

    My youngest brother is starting law school! He was moving cross country and stopped by here to stay for a night and have some dinner. He had a stressul trip with car problems but he's almost to his destination...then he can relax, knowing me made it. But school will keep him plenty buyy so not too much relaxing...not thaat he's done that much lately since he's been taking crazy amounts of credit hours at school and working full time. We visited, ate dinner, played a board game, ate dessert and visited some more until too late. We were both exhausted...both that night and in the morning. It was a good visit...pretty short though.

    Chocolate chip pecan pie is his favorite so I made sure to make one for his visit.

    He brought a box of goodies from my mom. It had my grandma's dishes in it. I've always loved these metal, enamel coated plates and bowls.

    This is an afghan my other grandma crocheted for me as a baby and a dress I wore as a's hard to believe I was ever that small!

    These granny squares are from my aunt. She gave them to my mom in the 80's and she never did anything with them so she passed them on to me.

    And I didn't actually ask about this dish rag but I am assuming that the same grandma that made the afghan also made this. I love it!

    Back to the pecan pie, The only items I had to buy was the eggs...and I always buy eggs anyway. I used some of the pecans I foraged in October. I really do need to use them up...some still taste fresh but others, not so much.

    I streamlined my cracking process of cracking by sorting by size. That way, I only had to do a minimal amount of adjusting the nut cracker. It took a lot less time to crack them that way...but picking the meat out of the shells is always time consuming. (I got this really great nut cracker at a thrift store for $2 just a day after I learned what one looked like. I wouldn't have realized what it was and passed it up just a day before.)

    This pie is a family favorite. Every Thanksgiving, we used to each get our own pie...that meant my mom baked at least 8 pies...but there were usually a couple other pies as well, like pumpkin and apple. I haven't had a pie to myself in years and it's too rich for me these days to eat a whole one. I ate one that night and kept a smaller piece for myself but packed the rest of it up and sent it with him.

    Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

    3 large eggs, slightly beaten
    1 cup granulated white sugar
    1 cup Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
    2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/4 cups pecans
    1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust

    Preheat oven to 350F.

    In medium bowl with fork beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, Karo, margarine and vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust.
    Bake 60-70 minutes or until the middle is no longer jiggly.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Corn relish

    Here's another fermented thing I like. This one didn't last too long so I need to make another jar.

    Corn Relish

    3 cups fresh corn kernels

    1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

    1 small onion, finely diced

    1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced

    2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

    1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

    1/2 Tbsp sea salt

    4 Tbsp whey

    In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Pound lightly with a wooden pounder or meat hammer to release juices. place in a quart sized Mason jar and press down with a pounder until juices cover the top of the relish. The top of the vegetables should be at least one inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

    This goes particularly good with favorite way to eat it. I usually eat it on my morning eggs.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Spring rolls

    Adam texted me last night saying he would be cooking dinner. He chose spring rolls. We both really like them and they are a great summer food. We use ground pork for the meat. That's the only part that gets cooked. You slice up veggies, we used asparagus, cucumber, bell pepper and carrot. You just roll them up in softened rice paper sheets. The sauce is a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, cilantro and peppers. Tasty!

    Healthy too.

    The new sidewalk

    Adam's been working on cleaning up the garage and one thing that's been betting in his way was 6 bags of concrete that he bought when we were putting up the fence and clothesline that we ended up not using for that project. So he decided we needed to put in as much sidewalk as we had material for, which didn't reach to the gate. We knew it wouldn't but it did go further than we expected.

    This sidewalk is in the drainage path so we are fixing the slope while working. The groud on either side will be lowered to match it in the fall or winter when I get a chance to move the monkey grass (the plants on both sides of it). We used to have holly bushes here but Adam had to take them out to fix the flooding problem we kept having. The bay window was rotting and the windows, window frames and the siding all had to be replaced. It hasn't been painted to match yet...partially because we don't have paint to do that but mostly because we just aren't too concerned about it until we go to paint the whole house and that's not in the plans just yet. We're using this cement mold. I like the looks but Adam likes it for water drainage since it's sitting where it is.

    Adam mixed the water into the cement. That was quite the workout! I did it for one bag to give Adam a break and my abs still are sore when I move just right. (The yellow hand truck behind/beside Adam is one of his recent projects. He painted it yellow...he loves yellow. It looks nice and he only spent 25 cents on the paint.)

    You fill in the mold and push the cement into the corners of the "stones" and lift it off right away.

    There is a dye you can buy to mix into the cement but it was almost as expensive as the cement so we didn't bother. Adam had an idea though. He sifted some of the dirt we had just moved and we sprinkled it over the top. We really liked it. You can see it in the pic below. Most of the cement had already gotten sprinkled but the two closest to me have not. Shortly after we went inside, it started pouring rain and it moved the dirt around into the nooks and crannies. Oh well, we tried.

    We got 9 blocks done, 3 more than the instructions said we'd get. We'll have to continue it another time when we have the cement.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    fresh from the press

    On the way home from work yesterday, I stopped by my newest blueberry patch find. It appears that very few people know about its exsistence since it still had a bunch of ripe berries on. The other blueberry patch is huge (over 100 bushes)but everyone knows about it and it's hard to get anything near ripe. This newer one is only about10 bushes but definitely worth my time over the other one. The birds hang out there all day and get the pick of all the berries which means I don't get the big juicy ones but they are still yummy. There are plenty still left and I'll be visiting it intermittenly to get more. This time around, I am dehydrating them for winter use. I got about a pound.

    But the real subject of this post is cheese...homemade cheese. I made my first batch Monday. I have to wait a couple of weeks to taste it and I'm really excited to see how it turns out.

    One gallon of milk makes about one pound of hard cheese but you can use the whey and make ricotta cheese with that so it will yeild more cheese after I finish with that. I'll save the recipe for after I know it worked but here's a brief summary. I heated up the milk with buttermilk and let that sit overnight. In the morning, I added some rennet and heated again. I*t took about 1:30 to move onto the next step.

    I cut the curds.

    You have to heat it all up again and stir with your hand for 15 minutes. This sets the curds and it really starts to seperate from the whey.

    You drain the whey from the curds. I saved it since I'll be making ricotta with it. You salt the curds and wrap it up in cheese cloth.

    This is an old book press and isn't the ideal press for making cheese but I made it work just this once. It belongs to Barry and weighs about 40 lbs. This pic was taken before I actually turned the handle to press it. Once pressed, it was not open very much at all.

    It sits in the press for about 12 hours. I unwrapped it, rubbed salt on it and wrapped it in clean cloth.

    For the next week or two, I'll have to change the cloth as it gets wet, then it's ready to use. The flavor develops over that time...right now it tastes even more mild than string cheese, but it is definitely a hard cheese.

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