Saturday, January 22, 2011

So cheesey...

Last fall, I signed up for a cheese class at Prairieland Herbs with my friend Amy. I was a little apprehensive, wasn't making cheese hard? I mean, all that measuring and temperatures and rennet? Wasn't rennet hard to get and didn't rennet fail sometimes and bye bye milk?
Weeeelll, this cheese class cleared up all those myths and more!
Miss Effie (aka Cathy Lafrenz) is a great teacher, no pressure, and lots of fun. Plus she knits, quilts, and spins and basically if its DIY, she's all over it!

I used Picket Fences whole milk in class and made a luscious ball of cheese. I used 1 % this time, and made a nice lowfat ball of cheese. So use the milk your diet will allow.

(use an instant read thermometer, trust me)

Heat one gallon of milk, when it reaches 55 degrees,
add 1 1/2 tsp citric acid crystals dissolved in 1/2 c non-chlorinated water.
It will begin to curdle. (Photo 1)

Heat it a bit more, to 90 degrees, then add 1/4 tsp liquid rennet (a coagulating agent, from animal or vegetable source), mixed with 1/4 c cool non-chlorinated water, and continue to cook to 100-105 degrees, it will curdle even more, and begin to separate, that watery liquid is the whey. Be sure to check the temp of the whey too, not just the curds.(Photo 2)

When it reaches 100-105 degrees, turn off the heat and wait until it begins to solidify and pull away from the sides, about 5-15 minutes, or more, your experience may vary dependent on the milk and the rennet and any other unseen things that are out to get you that day.
When he whey is clear (if the whey is milky, keep waiting until it clears) the curds will be shiny, thick, clumpy clods then pour your curds gently into a colander and drain. You may choose to save the whey to use in baked goods, soups, it does still contain many nutrients.
Drain your cheese well, gently pressing out all the whey. (Photo 3)
Place the curds into a microwaveable bowl and heat it in the microwave for 1 minute on high, take it out and squeeze out more whey and stretch it. Use a wooden spoon as its hot, or use your hands if you like pain. Heat it again for 35 seconds on high, and repeat the squeezing and stretching. Do that one more time. Now is the time to add some sea salt if you choose, just sprinkle and knead it in.(Photo 4)
As you stretch and knead, begin to smooth it into a ball, if it breaks insteads of stretches, reheat for 35 seconds again.
When it looks is smooth and shiny and feels like a solid ball of cheese, its done! (Photo 5)

I highly encourage you to take a class, I'm not sure I would have been successful the first time on my own if I hadn't taken a class. But if you don't have access to a teacher or a class, then just go for it. Use whole milk for your first time, but don't use ULTRA pasturized, I'm told it won't work. Whole milk will give you a lovely product, exactly what you want the first time out.
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book give-away!

My good friend Kimber is hosting as awesome give-away!! Check it out!
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From a friend...

This quote was posted by a friend:

"Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame." ~Erica Jong

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Monday, January 10, 2011


For Christmas, I gave myself an Easy Sprouter, and yes it really was easy!
First, and especially, the quality and freshness of homegrown sprouts is head and shoulders above store bought. Mine are crunchy, fresh, and odor free, whereas I suspect the store sprouts were old before they hit the shelves.
I'm snacking on them with Laughing Cow Light garlic and herb cheese spread and fat free saltines. Wow, all I can say is wow.
When I finish this first batch, I will do a post showing how I sprout from beginning to end. Supposedly sprouts are a powerhouse of nutrients, but they are also a way to have fresh greens in winter.
Another favorite is a flatbread sandwich made with sprouts, cucumber, hummus and greek yogurt.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Running the gauntlet

I've been knitting a lot lately, and many of my latest projects have been fingerless mitts.
I found many patterns on Ravelry, if you knit you must join this community, its pretty darn awesome, if you do join, friend me, I'm Merryone!
Anyway, the blue pair (3rd pair) is a pair I knitted for Belinda, I made the same style but in light green for Kimber. The first pic is made from a lovely yarn called Malabrigo Rios in the color Piedras. Its simply cabled in the round with a stockinette cuff at the top. The second pic is my first cabled project. One of my goals this year was to learn how to knit cables, and I love it! So much detail with minimum effort! I again used a Malabrigo Rios, this time Paris Night, and used the Blue Monday pattern from a link on Ravelry. Did all that in one night, I was afraid to stop and lose my place and momentum. I do need to work on the thumb portion, that's my goal when I knit its mate.
Another goal I can cross off my list, hmmm, what else should I learn?
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Sunday, January 2, 2011


I heard someone say, I think it was Dr. Oz, don't make resolutions, set goals, making resolutions just sets you up for failure.

These goals are fluid, and none are do or die, I will find many more important things to do besides this.

So, a brief and incomplete list of some goals for 2011:

Devotion, prayer list and bible study everyday

Lose the weight I gained over Christmas - DONE (how, I'm not sure, I stepped on the scale this am and was pre christmas weight)

Get weight down appropriate for height/frame (lose approx. 15 lbs)

Try growing sprouts

Knit a sweater - started

Learn to knit socks (signed up for class)

Finish Cowl/Snoood

Complete Christy's mitts (50% done)

Complete table runners (May deadline)

Make Tom's quilt (july deadline)

Make Janis baby quilt (start now end of Feb deadline)

Join Ankeny Community Choir (if I like it)

Organize room (again...)

Have a garage sale (spring)

Sell excess patterns from shop

Complete to expert any incomplete maryjane merit badges

Expand garden (spring)

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