Monday

Homemade Cottage Cheese

One of the pleasures of having real milk is being able to make real cottage cheese with it. If I don't use it up before the next week's delivery, I set it aside for a day or two to sour. When the curd sets enough to pull away from the sides of the pan, I put it on the stove and heat it slowly until it's hot - not even close to simmering.

I'm sure there are thermometers and "recipes" for making it, but I've made it this way for years because that's how Mom made it. Raw milk is safe at any stage unless it turns pink, so I don't worry, but don't try this with pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk doesn't sour, it rots. It's not safe at any stage except fresh (and then it's questionable).

Anyway, after it's heated and kept at that temperature for awhile - maybe 20 minutes - I "cut the curd" and then drain it.

I use a long knife and draw it through the curd first one way and then another, gently separating it into cubes of about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Then I cover a colandar with a piece of cloth and pour the curds and whey into it. I bring up all four corners and fasten them together, then tie it to the manual can opener that hangs near the sink.

I put a bowl under it all to catch the whey and let it drain for an hour or more. Salt, pepper and a little cream finish it off and if you've never tasted real cottage cheese before, you may not even like it.  If you're used to the bland, uniform, commercially produced "cottage cheese," the real thing can be shocking.

If you ever get a chance to get raw milk, try it. You might want to hurry, since our government is now treating raw milk producers like terrorists.

Thursday

Backyard gardening


Backyard gardening. Raised beds, containers (sorry they're not pretty) and a solar oven at work under the clothesline. It takes some work to keep it all together but that's what it's all about anyway.

This picture was taken earlier this year. The tomatoes (in buckets) are now producing. No ripe ones yet, but soon... very soon. There's nothing like the anticipation of the first ripe tomato of the season. 

One of the containers has a pepper which is very slow this year, just now beginning to bloom. There are two others in the ground 'way back there and they're just now setting peppers, so it's probably just the weather.

Got paprika, though! It's in the front yard (someone said you know a country person is living there when the garden extends to the front yard). It's my first time growing paprika so I'm kind of excited about it. The cost of the plant was less than a container of prepared paprika at the store. It looks like there will be plenty for a couple or three households for at least a year or more. Not a bad investment!

Tuesday

Ready to start canning

Almost! I've been picking lambsquarter (also known as wild spinach) every time I weed the garden (which isn't nearly as often as it needs, with all the rain we've been getting). I almost have enough in the freezer for a canner load - the first of the year. It takes a lot of lambsquarter because it cooks down like spinach and I don't have the patience to do a big batch at one time, so this is my compromise. I pull it up, pinch off the tender tops and the best leaves, then clean it and blanch it for two minutes. Into the freezer it goes until there's enough to do something with.

Friday

Photos

Do you see the bee in the logo above? I was taking pictures of the wild sunflowers in my backyard and the bee was an accident - a happy accident. Serendipity, I think they call it.

I'm not the greatest photographer, but now and then I do something by accident that please me. ;) My daughter, however... she's a photographer. She and her niece are busy setting up for the local Arts Festival where they will have (I think) 60 photos to display. If you want a peek at what they've done, look here:
Seasonal Illusions Photography

Good, huh?

Anyway, that's why I don't post photos all the time. They outshine me and it's kind of embarrassing... but I'm laughing. I'm proud of how good they are.


Monday

Canning Meat and the Harvest

I've been canning for years but have always been leery of canning meat. Year before last I finally got enough courage to can some fish that was given to me, and since I've discovered that I didn't die after eating it, I'm thinking about canning homemade stew. I will probably do it this fall, after the weather cools down but while I still have (I'm assuming) a lot of garden vegetables to work with.

Have you tried to can stew or soup? I'm wondering how potatoes would turn out. I canned potatoes one time when we had so many I didn't know what else to do with them, and they were okay, but just barely okay.

Saturday

Sunrise

Yesterday morning, I woke up after dreaming I was planting beans. I went back to sleep and dreamed that I was pulling radishes. So... I went out and pulled a few radishes that were getting really big and then I planted a few beans alongside them.

It's so peaceful in the early mornings when I can get out to the garden, but there are too many houses and trees here to see the sunrise and I'm reminded of it every time the sun peeps over top of the neighbor's apple tree.

Can't have it all, I suppose, but a time or two I've taken a drive just as the sun was rising and parked on a country road to watch it. It's worth the drive now and then.

A sunrise is a daily miracle. Poetry and songs have been written about sunrises. Maybe it's because a new day promises new beginnings. Or maybe it's because of the wonder of the light returning. Or maybe it's because we recognize somewhere deep down, that this is life at it's most basic expression - an expression that is outside of us and beyond us.
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