Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The forays of down home....

I've been on a few "adventures" here lately...most of which have all taken place in the kitchen! Oh, there's been the usual gardening preps and all the things that go with it now that growing season has fully kicked in, but in between times I've been playing with other things. I have a list of even more things I hope to get accomplished while I'm off for the many of those will actually get done is another thing altogether!

What has started most of my adventures actually began with some health issues back in the winter. With the diagnosis came my search through the wonderful world of internet and looking up things I could do for myself that didn't require a medical expert or a vast array of medications. All that looking led me to various blogs and other folks doing basically what I wanted to do, or have dreamed of doing. I started out reading up on healthy foods and those blogs led to other blogs, which in turn led to even more blogs and all that reading then led me to searching for things that made me question, "hmmm...wonder if?"'s been interesting to say the least! And for those purposes...the internet is fabulous (although, you must remember not to believe everything you read!).

Because of switching out my store bought milk to real cow/goat milk I began playing with the idea of attempting cheese making. I have discovered that making cheese is not hard, time consuming yes, but not difficult at all. I began first in making a soft cheese with my milk kefir, think sour cream taste with a cream cheese consistency. It's very much like the EXTREMELY small (and expensive!) logs of goat cheese you find for sale in stores. I then moved on to trying my hand at cottage cheese and we loved it! No, it doesn't taste like "store bought", but it comes pretty darn close when you add sour cream to your curds after you're finished.
During these two processes I decided I wanted to go back to my dream of several years ago and try making hard cheddar. We love cheese, but my blood pressure rises every time I go to the store because the price just continues to go up and the packaging becomes smaller. Not having an abundance of milk on hand and dependent upon those friends of ours whom we now get our goat milk from to drink, I knew I wouldn't have a lot of extra to just play with, so I've read, and read some more, and determined the hows of making smaller batches of said cheese. I was rewarded the other day with my first pound of cheddar!
Now my only problem will be is the waiting on to see whether or not the finished product does in fact taste like cheddar cheese. This little round is currently air drying and when that's done it will be waxed and moved to my cellar where I will allow it to "age". Hopefully, in about 3 months I will find out how my efforts turned out. In the meantime, I plan to make a few more rounds to wax and age, with the thoughts that come fall we have will something to enjoy. I want to try smoking some as well, but that is going to be dependent upon the hubs and whether or not he'll be able to come up with me a cold smoker!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the abilities of my son to provide me with a cheese press. After looking online and discovering the costs of owning a cheese press I hit up my talented, woodworking, youngest child to make me one...and wow!! did he ever come through with the prize! Using walnut and a little oak this is what he presented me's a beauty...and I can attest to the fact that it works and works well! I loved how he added the name "Down Home on the 40" to it, although he told me he was disappointed in how his wood burning efforts turned out...I was not disappointed in it at all! Having made vanilla over last fall and gifting it to my "girls", I had produced a label with a rooster and "Down Home" title that I added to the bottles and of course, it's also the title to this blog. While I have no thoughts of marketing anything I produce, I rather enjoy the idea of having my own "signature" product!! :)

Among other things I've been playing with has been hard lotion bars, body butter, and a bug bite reliever...all of which have turned out well and the fun in doing all this has been well worth the efforts. The bug bite reliever also doubles as a clay facial mask and my girls have been having a hey day in playing with all of it! My youngest daughter has already let me know that her supply of clay is dwindling fast and she's putting in her next order...NOW!! Then last week I decided to have a go at homemade mustard. I decided to try a spicy honey blend, which probably should have been allowed to mellow a little more, but it was used in dipping ribs into over the weekend and I tried it out on a ham sandwich and found it pretty darn tasty where it's at! ;) My plans are to try a couple more varieties in the next few days, something slightly milder in taste the grandkids can handle.

While I am certainly in the learning process of many things right now, what I do know is that I am having a ball in the learning and the adding to of many of the things I'm already familiar with. In my own little corner of dreamland I would love to be totally self-sufficient and "off grid" so to speak, but reality tells me often that may not ever be possible. Still, I've always been one to love trying new things, adding my own perspective to those things, and then waiting to see where it all leads me next! Most assuredly I will continue in my reading and research and living my life vicariously through others blogs. Right now though, it's time to head back to the kitchen and decide which adventure I'm starting on next! :)


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