Wednesday, July 25, 2007

if you can heat milk, you can make cheese

Last Wednesday I taught a cheesemaking class for our RS cooking group. I was nervous, because I am a scatterbrain, and I get tongue-tied in front of a group when I'm discussing things on which I don't consider myself an expert. But it went pretty well, and I think a few of the women got excited when they realized that they really could make their own cheese. I made mozzarella, queso blanco, mascarpone and creme fraiche. I was going to make a nice roasted garlic chevre, but the baby goats had snuck out of their pen on the only morning I could milk, so that went out the window.

The queso blanco I cooked in a stir fry with straightneck squash, the creme fraiche and mascarpone we ate with apricots, and I drizzled olive oil on the mozzarella and put a little S & P on it. It was pretty much the best mozzarella I've ever made--it was so soft and creamy. I was really pleased. I'm fresh out of cheesecloth and butter muslin now. I had a great big hunk of it, but I kept forgetting that I had it boiling (to kill the germs) in the morning after I milked, and I burned a bunch of it. Duh.

We have a family reunion this weekend, so we're going to have to find someone to take care of the creatures while we're gone. My family (as in my mom and dad and their kids) are in charge of dinner Friday night, and we're having corn on the cob, pulled pork sandwiches, some other stuff, and jello for dessert. Hee. We are such Utahns. I don't get it though. My mom rarely made jello when I was growing up, and she makes it pretty regularly now. Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with buying fancy groceries and relaxing their discipline.

We have partaken of a leg roast and a shoulder roast from our goat meat, and it was yummy. It was similar to lamb, but tougher (since Violet was over a year old, I'm guessing) and milder. So that's that taken care of. I'm interested to see what the chops taste like. I love me some lamb chop with handles on 'em.

I've got to go and do some dishes and laundry. We have friends coming over tonight, and we have to hide our shame so we don't look quite so much like the pigs we are. I've discovered that the only chores I do consistently are those that I enjoy, or that a living being's survival depends on. I keep my kids and animals fed and watered, and I am usually in the throes of some remodeling project, but laundry just kind of gets washed, dried and piled on my bed. Sue me. Somedays it feels like we're going to drown in the clutter, but I just can't figure out a good organizing scheme for it all. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

yo-ho, yo-ho, a sweaty life for me

We're starting to come up for air, finally. Babies are very time-consuming, but it takes older children to make you appreciate how easy a new baby really is. It's so nice to have a child who lies still and doesn't color her face with marker, or dump weed-killer all over the hay, or throw all the eggs into the chicken run to be eaten by the chickens, or take 40-plus minutes to feed and water the goats because of all the time spent fighting, or throw rocks through the windows, or spray shaving gel all over the bathroom . . . I could go on like this for hours. And keep in mind that all of these things except for the window-rocking have taken place within the last three days. They wear me to a frazzle.

But! On to other topics. We have taken Violet and Nona to the chop, and are just waiting for the packing plant to call us and tell us that our white packages are ready. I'm curious to see how they taste. If they make decent eating then we'll go full speed ahead with our plan to breed all the does to the Boer buck to get some meat. And hopefully next year I'll do a better job of milking. This year has been too loopy, and frankly, I am too tired from taking care of my own milking situation to worry about the goats.

Next week I'm teaching a cheesemaking class to a group of women in our ward. I think I'll do a chevre, a mascarpone/creme fraiche, a mozzarella, and a queso blanco. I'm going to make some of them this week to remind myself of the process--chevre and mascarpone I don't need to worry about, but it's been a while since I've made mozzarella or queso blanco.

We bought a used swamp cooler on Monday. I kind of like the smell of them--they make me feel like I'm on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. And although they don't do as well at cooling as A/C, they also don't create urban heat islands, so there you go. We still haven't hooked it up because we've been too busy, but hopefully we can get it taken care of tomorrow morning. The temps have been in the upper nineties here, and it hasn't been getting cool at night, so we're even sweating in our basement coolness lair. Sucks, dude.

Some exciting news--we have a cantaloupe fruit on our cantaloupe plant. That is a first for us, and we're hoping not to destroy it with our ineptitude. The watermelon is still barren, but is vining all over the garden, and the early prolific straightneck squash is all of those. The patty pans should be ready in a couple of days, and we have some nice big green tomatoes. This is the golden time for gardens--we're going to be lousy with produce. Plus we've gotten a couple of nice batches of cherries from the fruit stand, and apricots are up next.