Thursday, June 19, 2014

Easy Cheesy!

With the abundance of milk that our refrigerator now holds, it is time to start making cheese again! My go-to recipe last year was a simple vinegar cheese, usually pureed with flavorful additions to make a creamy spread. This is by far one of the easiest recipes I have come across in the extensive history of my cheese-making career. OK, so I have just been making cheese for one year. However, that just proves how simple this is!

Whole milk
Vinegar (white or apple cider)
Additives (optional): roasted or raw garlic, rosemary, red pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, honey, berries, etc. Get creative!

1. Heat milk in stainless steel pot to 195 degrees, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon

2. Once milk reaches 195 degrees, add a glug* of vinegar. Milk will separate into curds and whey.

3. Strain out the curds and salt to desired taste. Save some of the whey if you will be making a cheese spread.

If you want, you can stop the process right here! Crumble this cheese over salads in place of feta, or use on tacos as queso blanco. You can also press this cheese and slice for use on sandwiches. However, if you are feeling more adventurous, continue to step four.

4. Throw your additives and salted curds into a food processor and blend until creamy. You can add a splash or two of the saved whey to make it more creamy, if needed.

5. Slather the resulting spread on a slice of toasted artisan bread, serve with some cut raw veggies, or add a scoop to finish off your favorite cooking recipe.

*glug is my highly technical term for about an 1/8 cup. I hate measuring, though, and this recipe is pretty forgiving. Just add a little bit of vinegar until the milk separates.

I will warn that the residue from this recipe clings fiercely to everything it touches. Make sure to douse every pot and utensil in warm water immediately after use.

This summer, I hope to conquer mozzerella. There is an easy mozzerella recipe on the Pioneer Woman's blog that I have used exactly one time with moderate success. It uses a microwave to streamline the process, which is not my favorite kitchen aid, but I find myself a little more willing to cut corners this year.

I have a friend who uses this recipe regularly, and she recommended adding a full two teaspoons of salt just prior to the third microwaving and also cautioned against overworking the cheese.

Happy cheesemaking!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Milking Does and Chasing Kids

Well, we are well past Nibbles' due date and have come to terms with the fact that she was never pregnant. Fortunately, Cupcake and Moon are producing a combined 3/4 gallon per milking, which is plenty to keep my refrigerator fully stocked. Meanwhile, Nibbles is rather joyous to be free of my prodding hands on her belly, checking for signs of a kicking baby or filling udder. She frolics with the growing kids and continues to be our most comical and complacent goat.

The kids are getting fairly large now and are always creating mischief.  We finally blocked all escape routes from the pasture, much to the delight of my orchard, herbs, and vegetable garden. Previously, the babies could squeeze through the gates and found intense satisfaction in keeping my yard nicely pruned. We secured them just in time, as my body has recently decided it is quite tired of chasing goats up and down these hills.  The twin boys are up for sale, so hopefully we will be down to a herd of five in the near future.