Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My first adventure in cheese making..

I have been wanting to make cheese for awhile now but every recipe calls for rennet.

Rennet: Rennet contains many enzymes, including a proteolytic enzyme (protease) that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). The active enzyme in rennet is called chymosin or rennin but there are also other important enzymes in it, e.g., pepsin or lipase.

I have had trouble finding this product and am going to have to order it from a cheese making site in the near future for my other recipes but this one is a rennet free version.

You need a gallon of milk, 2 teaspoons salt, 3 eggs, and 2 cups of buttermilk.

Start by bringing your milk to a boil in a large pan.
Crack you eggs in a mixing bowl and add some of the boiling milk until you have a smooth even yellow mixture. This is called tempering.

Tempering: No it is not getting a item mad at you but instead..
Add a small amount of the hot liquid or substance to the egg,stirring vigorously.
Once the egg is well incorporated you can add a little more then stir some more.Then you can place the mixture back in the pot.
It is crucial that you add them very slowly to what ever you are cooking.

Stir in eggs for about a min.

Then cup by cup add in your buttermilk slowly stirring your mixture.

Within minutes you should see curds forming.

Continue stirring mixture for about 10 minutes, turn off heat and continue to stir for a additional 5 or so minutes. You should now have a cottage cheese like look in your pot with a large amount of semi clear liquid (whey).

Pour mixture into a strainer/ colander in the sink lined with a clean non terry dish towel/ pillow case/ cheese cloth/ etc..

Let whey drain away... once most of whey has drained, fold in corners of your towel and lift up... more whey will start the drain.. lightly squeeze to get rid of even more whey..
wait till you just have a drip drip drip left...

Set towel full of curds in bowl and stir in your 2 teaspoonfuls of salt.

Fold up and place in your cheese press.. I am pressing overnight in my homemade press. Tomorrow I will post how this turns out!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This coming week at my house...

Ah the fall plans I have.. my goal is to have my backyard paradise completed and ready to fully enjoy by the end of January 2011. This includes making 2 more veggie garden beds, as well as a yacon bed, jimaca bed, artichoke bed, asparagus bed, and pineapple bed. as well as planting a couple new fruiting trees including bananas and papayas!!!
I also need to find a way to cover my chain link fence in a cheap but somewhat attractive way!

Anyway enough about the distant future and more about this weeks future. It is Sunday today and my plans for the work week are about to be set in motion. I will be digging out my new fire pit area, weeding the old garden beds for planting, adding compost and planting seedlings and direct seeding!

BUT most importantly this is the week I get my chickens. I will be getting Wyandottes and maybe a Ameraucana ( Easter Egger). This should give me and my family an assortment of blue-green and brown eggs. I have their brooder box all set up and ready to house the chicks. Thursday is my day!... so until then I am on countdown!

Also I am seeing my first batch on yard long beans right now about a ft long. I hear they are more tender younger so tomorrow morning I will go and harvest the first batch (maybe 10 beans).. I also have about a foot tall corn now and more seedlings popping out of the ground.

This is the season of wonderful plantings in Florida and over the next week I will take advantage of it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Completed Weekend Project

This weekend I relearned to knit and started a project to make myself a winter scarf.
2 hours on day 1, and maybe 5 hours on day 2 and its completed. Mind you these hours are not in one sitting and are scattered through the day. Knitting is a portable craft. I knit while Ronnie drove us to St. Pete, I knit when my daughter was watching her favorite movie, and I knit when finally the little one was off to bed and I relaxed on the couch listening to NPR.

Its easy and I only made a handful of mistakes. Though this handful of mistakes included one that almost doomed my whole scarf.....
As I was binding off (casting off) I forgot how to do it. I looked it up you knit 1, 2 and pull over....
Ok well easy enough here I go...
Knit 1.. Knit 2... pull over... Knit 1, 2 pull over, knit 1,2 pull over... I was almost done.. knit 1,2 pull over yes! The last stich... I pulled it off my needle and admired it! Great Job Brittany I said to myself... but then it happened.... it started coming apart... first my bind off came out then 1 row came apart... then another... panic time! I picked up the phone at 12' o clock at night and called my mom who is on vacation in the wine country of calafornia...
"Mom, remember I was telling you I was knitting myself a scarf? Well..... I did something wrong when I was binding off and its unraviling.... HELP!!!!" She calmly told me to unravel another row myself stick my needle back in the loops that will show and reknit the unravled rows... so I did... knit 1, 2, 3, 4.... "ok mom I reknited my lost rows I'm ready to bind off what do I do? She knit 1,2 pull over... this sounds familiar.... knit 1,2 pull over... last stich? I don't want to through this again... then she said the key thing. This little thing that would make my scarf complete and not come apart... pull that last stich off you needle and pull the little bit of yarn that's leftover through the last stich to make a knot... *sigh* of course... how simple but perfect... and as I thanked her and hung up I held up my scarf and admired at how a ball of a pretty yarn and 2 bamboo needles can turn into this beautiful scarf that will keep this warm blooded floridian warm as the seasons I didn't think we had change....

To many more adventures in knitting...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today (Sept 19th) plants in the garden

Today I direct sowed my lettuce seeds. Bronze Arrow, Green Deertounge, Sunset, and Simpson Black Seeded! I also sowed my gold medal tomatoes and some more corn as only half of my seed corn ever has half a chance to make it ( I think the birds or squirrels have caught on)

Here are some pictures of garden plants already started on their way to produce..

Lemon Squash

My Bean plant growing up pvc pipe

A baby corn plant

Adventures in knitting!

Today I started my adventure into knitting! My mom and grandma both knit and love it so after a little basic training from my mom I had learned to cast on (start), do a basic knit, and bind off (end)! Sounded easy!

I cast on my size 9 knitting needles (who knew there were so many sizes) with a beautiful multi-colored yarn!
I started with 20 knits... and after a couple rows I had gotten the hang of it with only 1 or 2 mess ups!
Come 15 rows late I help up the starting of my winter scarf!..... it seemed to get thinner... so I counted.... well sure enough my 20 knits turned into 17. Not a huge difference but enough to be a little upsetting...
Oh well it is still very pretty and will be a very nice scarf.
I now have about 1/5 of the scarf complete and I think its coming along nicely!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pole Beans (the drying kind)

This is the very first year I have tried to grow the drying type of bean.
I started my seedlings transferred outside and have been keeping a eye on them.
Well my friends yesterday they started to bloom! They have on of the most beautiful blooms i have seen on my beans. A purple and white flower that's shape is most wonderful and i would love to always see growing!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homemade rolls!

Last week while thinking about what i was going to fix for dinner I settled on herb chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade rolls.
I have never before made my own rolls and only once before made a basic white loaf of bread.
Well let me just say... AMAZING!!!!! I must say I impressed myself! I decided on dill rolls since i had dried dill from my garden left in my reused glass jars (my daughters love of applesauce provides us with many glass jars that I use to store various items including my dried herbs)

Dissolve one pack dry active yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons sugar(Beat after each addition), 1 tablespoon onion flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon softened butter, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 tablespoon dried dill weed(or seed), 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 large egg. Slowly add a cup of flour and mix. Add another cup and mix, Add one more cup and mix. You will have a sticky dough so turn it out onto a well floured surface. Knead. once you have a well worked dough stick into a oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise! (Maybe about a hour to a hour and 1/2). Shape into a loaf if you prefer but I loved the easy to eat rolls! Let loaf or rolls rise again once shaped (they should double in size) about 45 min! Bake at 350 for about 15 min for rolls and 30-45 min for a loaf(loafs should sound hallow when knocked)! This makes 12 large rolls or one loaf!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dried Roses!

My wonderful man brought to me 6 beautiful roses and a balloon at work. It was great and i placed those roses in water with a teaspoon of sugar a drop of lemon juice and a drop of bleach. All these things mixed in the water will help give your cut flowers a little bit more life. Well after a week they started dropping and looking sad.

I wanted to make them last longer and the perfect thing to do is dry them. Take the best flowers tie them in a bunch and hang them upside down in a well ventilated dry area.

When they are dry maybe a week or two later you have a beautifully preserved flower still holding its color and perfection!

Enjoy your flowers longer!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bad Apples? No such thing..

Apple Crisp about to go in the oven ^

Today i made my husband lunch to take with him to work. Packing him a apple. He called me saying it was bad and he couldn't eat it. I took one and cut it.. it was a little soft but... i gave it to my daughter who loves apples! she wouldn't eat it so then their was the dilemma... i have 6 and a half bad apples.. what to do??
Make apple crisp of course!! The easiest apple recipe and one that makes a wonderfully yummy dessert! It was very good we all loved it!!

So do you have some apples around that have gone a little soft and the kids or you wont eat anymore?? DO NOT toss them out. Instead make a yummy meal outta them.

Apple Crisp..
I used 6 and 1/2 medium sized peeled and cored apples. I cut them into small pieces (you pick the size) spread them in the bottom of a baking dish. Then mix in a bowl 1 large egg 1 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup flour. Mix together till you have crumbly texture all the way through. Spread crumble mixture on top of apples and bake on 350 for 40 min! Cool and eat. Can be served a la mode... (with ice cream on top)

You need:
4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

You do:
In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Apple Pie..
You need:
3/4 to 1 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. flour
5 to 6 tart apples, peeled & thinly sliced
2 tsp. butter
1 frozen pie crust with top (or made from scratch)

You do:
Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour all together. Add apples and mix all together. Place in pie crust, dot butter on top and add top of pie crust. With a fork put a few holes in top and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. (If a golden glaze is desired for top of crust, brush with egg yolk.)

Apple Cobbler..

You Need:
1 stick butter
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
1 (20 oz.) can sliced apples
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

You Do:
Melt butter in 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Combine flour, baking powder, 1 cup sugar and milk in bowl; mix well. Pour into baking dish. Arrange apple slices over batter. Sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour 1/2 cup water on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Finished Apple crisp ready to eat!

Pictures from around the garden and house..

Perennial vegetables


Marsh mallow

Pink Purslane

Winter Savory

Winged bean
Hardy yam

Jerusalem Artichokes





Globe Artichokes

Sea Kale

These are all the veggies that keep on giving and are mostly easy to grow and keep!
Ill be trying alot of these!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The garden exchange was awesome!

Today was the first of many garden exchanges! : ) it was great.

A couple months ago I came up with a idea... cookie swaps, clothing swaps.. why not garden swaps???
So I put a ad up on craigslist just introducing the idea to see if their was any even interested in that type of thing...
Well turns out there was!!
After a couple months of back and forth emails between some wonderful ladies we arranged to have a garden swap and sale hosted at one of the participants house.

It was a fantastic experience! I met all sorts of wonderful people and even sold some seedlings in the process!
I got some gingers, a cactus pear plant, lemon grass, a Meyer lemon(the picture above), cats whiskers, lime basil, and even a couple different seeds!

It was great and I hope to host the next one at my place a couple months down the road!
Thank you to those that came out it was lots of fun! Next time I will plan ahead better and have more seedlings that are farther along in their stage!

I already planted most of my plants and will post some pictures on here tomorrow!

Happy gardening adventures!

Friday, September 3, 2010

recycle your plastic pop bottles!

We all do it....
We go out somewhere get thirsty and grab a plastic bottle filled with soda, juice, or water. Then we find a garbage can, or car floor, or recycling bin and toss it.
Well when I say recycle your bottles I don't mean in the blue bin. I'm talking about much better uses!

1. Starter pots

Cut off the top with the screw lid poke 4 holes in the bottom with a thick nail, fill with dirt plant your favorite seed and enjoy a small starter pot growing your favorite flower or veggie!

2. Seedling Warmer

Cut off the bottom of the bottle (can be any size from a 20 oz to a 2 liter) place over any seedling to make a small greenhouse warmer. Screw on cap to hold in heat for longer and unscrew to cool down!

3. Self waterer

Cut out a hole in the bottom of the bottle, poke many small holes in the cap. Screw the cap back on turn over and stick cap and neck into the dirt next to the plant fill with water and let it slowly self water your plant. Depending on the size bottle you will refills every couple days or weeks. The first time just keep a eye on it tell you learn how long a full bottle lasts!

What else do you use your plastic bottles for? Leave your wonderful ideas in the comments!

Happy recycling adventures!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ah september...

As I start to prepare for fall and winter by things like stocking up on fireplace wood, getting up heavy curtains, and pulling out dusty container filled with long sleeve shirts and jackets, I'm also working on the garden aspect. I have started seeds for everything from tomatoes to bok choi.. I will be direct seeding my lettuce, carrots, and turnips sometime in the middle of the month.

This weekend is the first garden exchange which consists of people I have come to know getting together to trade plants, flowers, divisions, seeds, and crafts. I'm very excited and hope to have a good turn out of both buyers, traders, and sellers!

Also I'm planning to start my dream backyard. About 5/8ths of my backyard will be torn up and turned into garden space for veggies, fruits, and probley some flowers as a pretty touch! I'm going to line my ugly chain link fence in bamboo that will both give me some privacy and act as a fence for the chickens (my link fence is 4 ft high, the bamboo makes that 6 ft high)

September I think will be an exciting month for my with new gardens to plants, new recipes to try, and a dream backyard to work on creating!