Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cheese Waxing

I have been able to get local low temperature pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk and decided to try my hand at making cheese. I ordered a simple cheese making kit and on Monday, I made Farmhouse Cheddar. It is supposed to be really easy and although all I had to go on was written materials, I think I did okay with the exception of reading the directions too many times, thus, numerous mistakes and oversights. The cheese curds seemed very forgiving and I really don't know what I was doing, but I was not too sure about when the curds were ready to be pressed. Well, I pressed on anyway and then let the cheese dry for 5 days. Today was waxing day. I went to Goodwill and bought a pot since the wax will forever be melded to it.

I thought I was going to find the waxing very taxing and I was not looking forward to dipping the cheese. Well, I had fun and the following pictures and the results of waxing my cheese adventure, which is the round wheel. I figured while I was going to melt a whole pot of wax, I might as well make use of the wax and my time and I drug out two- 2 lb. bricks of Tillamook cheese, and a small mozzarella and a sharp cheddar. I cut the Tillamook into 1 lb. blocks so it would easily fit into the pot to be dipped. For those of you that don't know, Tillamook cheese is a famous and popular brand native to the west coast and is made in Tillamook, OR. Most of their cheeses are medium cheddar, but they also make mild and sharp cheddars, as well as a vintage white cheddar (excellent) and some other specialty cheeses. Tillamook cheese is VERY good and our go-to cheddar.

This pic shows the cheese after dipping with the second coat of cheese. The round one is my Farmhouse cheddar.

Here you can see our specialty pot courtesy of Goodwill. It will forever be our waxing pot.

Here are our finished products with labels attached with a thin coat of wax. I will age my cheddar for at least 2 months. The other cheeses I will see how they fare sitting around at room temperature. They are supposed to continue aging, and as long as there are no holes in the wax, should be just fine to eat.
If you have any cheese making adventures that you would like to share, please let me know!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pickled Asparagus

I know I have been away for eons, but that does not mean that I have not been visiting friends blogs. I have been passive just because I have been so busy with life, and I have not taken the time to post comments. I know you all understand how it goes. That said, I have been wanting to try a pickled asparagus recipe, because we like it and I just don't have the drive to eat plain asparagus during its season more than 2-3 times. I love it on salads, to eat out of the jar, to embellish with come chopped hard boiled egg with Dijon mayonnaise, or what have you. I have never canned it myself. I have found 2 recipes. One in Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader, and another from a friend.

Here is Carol Costenbaders:

Pickled Asparagus

3 C distilled vinegar
3 C water
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp salt
3 # (8 C) asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
4 cloves garlic
 2 tsp pickling spice
12 whole black peppercorns

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a 2 qt. saucepan and heat to a boil. Pack the asparagus in two 1-quart jars, leaving 1/2 " head space. Divide the garlic, pickling spice and peppercorns between the two jars. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the asparagus, leaving 1/2 in. head space. Cap and seal. Process for 20 min. in a boiling water bather canner and adjust for altitude if necessary.

 Here is another recipe that is a homestead recipe, try it at your own risk, as I have not tried it, although, I hear it garners $10 a quart jar from the people that spend the time to make it. I think it sounds absolutely delicious.

Cajun Pickled Asparagus

1/4 C pickling salt
2 1/2 qts cider vinegar
2 1/2 qts  water
3/4 C brown sugar
Bring this brine to a boil-
 in each Qt jar put:
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp cumin seed
1 clove garlic

Pack jars with washed, trimmed asparagus, leaving 1/2 in. head space, pour brine over top and process in boiling water bath canner for 15 min., adjust altitude if necessary.

 Enjoy. I plan to make this recipe over Memorial Day weekend and will let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Time to Think Spring

I just got my first seed catalog in the mail yesterday. Yep, it's that time to start planning your garden. I want to try some new veggies and some new management practices. If anyone knows of any way of "weeding" that doesn't require back strain and pulling, please share with me. I have been perusing the catalog and am getting excited to get my hands dirty. My biggest problem is that once school starts, the garden goes by the wayside in September. So, I need to keep up my enthusiasm for at least 9 months. I will post soon with future gardening plans.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Recipe Ideas Update

As I stated in my previous post yesterday, New Recipe Ideas, I tried a recipe for spaghetti squash. Mind you, I don't care for squash in particular. I've always found that squash 'taste" to be too much, with the exception of pumpkin. I don't care for yams, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes. I grew butternut squash last year in the hopes of "liking" it, but did not. Even with the addition of dubious amounts of brown sugar, butter, pineapple and marshmallows. It fell short for me.l

So here I bought a "start" at the local Bi-Mart store that actually had two plants in the little pot. So I planted them. And off did they go! Holy, Moly! I had spaghetti squash galore, coming out at me from all sides. Well, I had never even tried spaghetti squash, yet even enjoyed any squash except pumpkin. And I had never grown a pumpkin. So, I really, really hoped we liked it. Because... we had so many. So, when to harvest. Well... I don't know. so I harvested at all stages because I didn't know what to look for. Don't harvest when they are still green and stripey. Too soon. I have green and stripey, orange and a little stripey, and beige (perfect!).

Okay, so my recipe critique of Spaghetti Squash Gratin. First, I learned spaghetti squash does not have that "squash, yam... taste."  So I liked it. But... it is kind of bland, so the bacon helped. I would recommend using a stronger cheese like sharp cheddar in this dish. Mozzarella got very lost. Also, I will add next time, butter and some brown sugar. This dish needs dome perking up! It is good... but it needs more than the original recipe. I will add butter next time, too. Overall, an okay dish, but trust me, it needs: butter, sharp cheddar, and brown sugar. Let me know your thoughts if you try this and any tweaking that you do.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Recipe Ideas

Now that I am on Christmas break, I have had the opportunity to search for some new recipes. I find that I often get in a rut, fixing the same thing over and over again. Here are some new ideas for you to try.

I found this recipe for Pizza Dip over at Closet Cooking. Give it a try. It is ooey, gooey goodness. Tweak it and add whatever toppings you like. I like to use toasted french bread slices to scoop up this delicious dip.

Pizza Dip
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded/grated
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 2 ounces pepperoni, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons green pepper, sliced (I used mushrooms, instead)
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
  1. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream mayonnaise, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano and spread it across the bottom of a pie plate.
  2. Spread the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle on the cheese, pepperoni, green pepper and olives.
  3. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.
This recipe for peanut butter cups is not new, but I make it every year for the holidays and thought you may like to try it.

Peanut Butter Cups

1/3 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix well and chill. Roll into 24 balls, about 1/2 tsp each, and place in paper cup lined mini muffin tin.

1/2 C creamy peanut butter
8 oz milk chocolate chips
Melt in microwave 1-2 min. and stir well. Cover peanut butter balls with chocolate and chill in fridge.

I found this gratin recipe at The Fresh Princess of Bon Air. I plan on making this tomorrow, so can't say yet how we like it. I will update.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Walnuts and Bacon
adapted from Mele Cotte

Spaghetti squash, about 3-4 lbs
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/3 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup cheese (dry mozzarella, or whatever you have on hand)
1 tsp chili powder
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Carefully slice the squash in half (heating it in the microwave for 2 minutes or so makes this process a lot easier!) and remove seeds.  Rub flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder.  Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily comb a fork through the flesh.

Scrape out all of the "spaghetti" flesh from each half and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place half of squash in a greased 8x8 baking dish.  Top with bacon crumbles, toasted nuts, and HALF of the shredded cheese.  Top with remaining squash, followed by remaining cheese and panko crumbs.

Increase oven temperature to 375 and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top is brown and the cheese has melted.

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal, courtesy of Monica at theyummylife
My slow cooker cooks fast. I know, sounds funny but it really does and so 7 hours is too long for my crock pot. So I need to make it the day before and reheat, or get up early and allow about 5 hours of cooking. I also changed of couple of things, for instance, I use 2% milk and do not add flax seed.

Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal
By Monica              Servings: 7 (3/4-cup) servings
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk (or substitute non-diary alternative like almond milk)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute maple syrup or other desired sweetener)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk or butter
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup fat-free milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.

Nutritional Info (per 3/4 cup serving): 149 calories, 3.6g fat, 27.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 4.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts 
Let me know if you try any of these and I welcome your feedback.

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's a Battle to the End for the Last Drumstick

Yes, it's true! Here is Cooper and Wesson battling it out for dibs on that last drumstick.

They love to play and it is hard to believe but when they play like this they are silent with the occasional yelp from Wesson when he has overstepped his bounds. They are so funny to watch!
I hope everyone is having a wonder Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Snow, Roofing, Dogs, and More

Well, it turns out we didn't puppysit this weekend after all. DD19 is planning her trip tentatively for next weekend. But she did bring her blue heeler pup out on Wednesday for a play date with Cooper. Unfortunately for Wesson, he began to yelp while in the front yard under Cooper's supervision and was visibly hurt and limping. After a couple of hours of TLC and no improvement, he had a visit to the vet for a diagnosis of a slight fracture in the hip. Friday when Wesson visited, he was still limping, but was entrusted to our care so DD19 and her BF22 could go ice skating. Here is Wes, you can see he is favoring his hind leg. Ice skating was cancelled due to a blizzard they ran into on the way before they even got to the pass. Our very first puppy sitting with our grandpup was unexpectedly cancelled! Bahahaaaa!!

Here you can see DD18's kitten, Brantley, and Cooper like to pal around.

He knows he's cute!

Here we are making apple cider with some friends. I was able to put up 14 quarts with a gallon and a half to drink and share with others. Plus, I have two boxes of apples in the garage. Didn't I lament last fall on processing all those apples. Well, here I go again! This weekend, I dried two batches and canned up 3 quarts. I know, only 3 quarts, but it was today after I had already made salsa and was kinda beat. Plus, my back was complaining.

We have had the worst luck with our leaky skylights in the kitchen and bathroom. 2 weeks ago we had a doozy of a rainstorm so DH ordered tin and went to work Saturday pulling off the old tin and getting the new stuff on. Did I mention that when he started it was lightly snowing and water was coming off the roof? Yeah. Well, lucky for us it stopped so he could get his work done.

You'd never believe it, but moments after they finished, it started snowing! If that wasn't a sign. 

We woke up to 5-6 inches of new snow this morning. It's not supposed to last though. Yesterday DH as busy changing tires on our daughter's cars. Just in time! I am without winter tires but hope I will be okay. I have a Subaru with new tires and a new set of tires and rims would run about $1,000 and we are not wanting to spend any money now if we don't have to. DH has my old Subaru and he has will be putting winter tires on it soon. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the roads won't be too bad this winter.

Here's my Veteran's Day work. I had a whole box of green tomatoes in the greenhouse and I am tired of waiting for them to ripen. What to do? Well, make Green Tomato Salsa, of course! Except, I have never made green tomato salsa before and didn't have a good recipe. I like salsa verde which is made with tomatillos, so I figured, how much different can a green tomato be? I found a Green Tomato Salsa Recipe that looked good. So, here it is. It made 8 pints with enough leftover to enjoy today. The only changes I made were that I used 2 large red peppers , 2 large onions, and substituted lemon juice for the vinegar. I have found that home canned salsa with vinegar has an unpleasant taste that our family does not like, and lemon juice is an acceptable acid substitute for vinegar. The salsa is very good with just enough heat and a slight tartness. Be sure to use the sugar to counter the tartness. The picture looks pasty and doesn't show the beautiful, bright shades of green. It is much prettier in real life.

I got ambitious.  First, I  had peeled apples for dehydrating which just takes minutes. Then I made the green tomato salsa. I had purposely left the bowl of water with the anti-browning treatment in it to use in case I was energetic and wanted to can some apples later. Yeoww!! I didn't realize how tired I was or how my back was aching, so after enough apples for 3 quarts I called it quits, and stopped there. Here are the apples

Back tracking to Halloween ( I have not been good about keeping up with my blog, as you know if you are a regular follower), our pumpkins did not last a week and a half this year because October was so warm.

Yes, that is a fence charger you see on the porch. Cooper loves to dig but DH took it down, and that wee bit of corner you can see in the lower right of the picture is routinely dug up, much to our dismay. When the charger is up and running, no digging, when the charger is unplugged and down, digging! We are open to suggestions that don't entail brute punishment. I would use his shock collar, but of course I would have to catch him in the act to use it and he's too smart for that!