Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cottage and Ricotta cheese....

Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Good! I used THIS recipe except I used whole milk. If you use whole milk, make sure you up the vinegar to 1 full cup. The 3/4ths that this recipe calls for, does not affectively curd in whole milk. This is my second time making it. Before posting about it, I had to make sure it actually worked and wasn't a fluke the first time. haha! Once I was finished, I took the whey, added a teaspoon of salt and brought it to a boil. I let it sit until it was about 140 degrees and guess what? I now have ricotta too!
See the white underneath the yellow? That is ricotta made from the whey. :)

 I used the curds from the first part of the recipe to make fried cheese curds. SUPER YUM! I don't know about healthy, but hey, at least it had protein! Who knew country life could be so simple? I have to say though, it takes A LOT of whey to make ricotta cheese. In fact it's ridiculous how much whey it takes. I got only about 1/2 a cup, if that, out of this batch. So just so you know, from one gallon of milk you can get about 2 cups of cheese curds, and about 1/2 cup of ricotta. I am soon going to order the rennet for making other types of cheeses. Gotta get this down BEFORE I buy a cow! haha!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Raw Milk...

I'm talking about cow's milk in particular here because the smell of raw goats milk, makes me want to hurl! Seriously! Have you smelled that stuff? It smells as bad as the goat itself. I am tempted to get some though because I really want to make feta cheese. I am scared of the process though, and the fact that I have to smell the milk to make the cheese. I know, cheesy, huh?!  Amazingly I have used that fowl smelling stuff to make soap in the past (the canned variety--the milk that is, not the soap lol). My soap, however, smelled wonderful. :)

Ok, ok I know, there are many people out there who are against drinking cow's milk or any milk, but my family loves it. We just have to agree to disagree. :) 

On to what this post is all about--I've been reading about raw milk vs. processed milk. Raw milk is much better for you and easier to digest. Google it, it's interesting stuff. :) Not only that but raw milk doesn't spoil. Don't get me wrong it sours, but if you eat sour cream, you are eating soured milk. So, I decided I was going to find a place that sells raw milk around here. I don't know what the laws are in other states, but in Virginia, it's against the law to buy and sell raw milk. You can however, milk your own cow and drink it yourself. This left me in a pickle. I REALLY want raw milk, but there is no way I can afford to buy a cow right now. On top of that, I can't find one that is for sale anyway.

I did find out this really cool thing called "cow shares" though. Basically you buy a share in a cow. You are part owner, but the cow never leaves that farm and you help pay for it's expenses every month. For this, you can get the milk because it's YOUR cow. I found a farm that has good practices, takes good care of their animals, AND has some shares available. So I'm going for it. I am going to be a part cow owner--plus side, I don't have to do the milking! WOOT! haha 

Over the next few weeks, I plan to make butter milk, yogurt, and hey, I may even try my hand at cheese. I home school my kiddos, so these are great science experiments for them. :) 

Oh, oh, oh, and I can get farm fresh eggs from them too. :) In the spring we will be buying our own laying hens, but until then, I will be happy to support them and provide some yummy free range eggs for my family. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Busy Days!

This mama has been extremely busy the last few days. These renovations are killing me! lol I do finally have walls up in my bathroom, the tub/shower is set, hot water is connected, and the floor is tiled! It has only taken 6 weeks! To my husbands defense, he does work all day and he had to completely redo the plumbing and ventilation. In my defense, I haven't been as horrible as I COULD have been. lol

Here's a picture of my tile:

Isn't it pretty? My honey did an amazing job! I'm very thankful that God has given me not only a hardworking husband, but a very handy one as well! :)

Saturday my daughter had a volleyball tournament. We were undefeated all season and came home with a second place trophy. I admit I cried, (I'm the coach) but I couldn't have asked for a better season! Oh, and I held it together until my daughter cried. I can't handle my kiddos crying! These girls are so amazing though. They worked so hard and while it would've been nice to come home with a 1st place trophy, what is MOST important is that they had fun and the played their best!

So, what's going on as I type? I have another batch of yogurt cultivating in the oven with the light on. I tried a stove top method that I vaguely read about, and I tried Nikki's tip from my previous post. I only put a tablespoon of yogurt in there this time. We shall see what happens!

Tomorrow, I start my "loaf a day" bread challenge. I don't know about your house, but in mine, I can't keep. I buy it, I know I do, but it seems that I never see it! I go to the grocery store and by the time I get ready to make a sandwich, it's gone. I think I have bread gremlins here! 

Well, I am going to head to bed. I know this was a boring blog tonight. Hopefully I can come up with something better for you tomorrow! Until then, sleep well! :) 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I didn't think to take pictures of this as I was doing it, but I made applesauce the other day. It was fairly simple and I didn't use a recipe. I mean, it's applesauce, how hard can it be? lol

1/2 Peck of red delicious apples
1/2 Peck of granny smith apples
1/4 cup of sugar
1 T Cinnamon
1 T Lemon Juice

1. Cut up apples into fourths. Don't bother peeling or coring them, it'll all come out in the end.
2. Place in pan and add water about half way up. You can use apple juice if you want to, but I didn't bother, it just adds to the cost.
3. Bring pot to a boil, then put a lid on it and turn it to low. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Now, here's the fun part, when the apples are tender, turn pot off. I don't own a mill, so I used a sieve and a cup. I scooped out a sieve full of apples, let the juice drain off, then used a big plastic cup to mush the apple through the sieve. It seemed to work best when I push the cup down and rubbed it back and forth across the sieve. Throw out the pulp after each sieve full that you do. See, I told you it was easy!

When you have scooped out all the apples you can, pour remaining liquid through the sieve to make sure you get every bit of apple that you can. This made about 2 quarts of applesauce. To that I added a 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. After I tasted it, I felt like it needed more tart so I added a table spoon of lemon juice. This is super good and is almost gone already. My kids LOVE it! They mixed it in with the yogurt I had made the same day and made a drinkable yogurt. :) It has been a big hit.

I saved the juice to make apple jelly with. Waste not, want not, right?!

Easy Peasy Potato Soup

Just a warning, this particular soup does NOT go back to the basics at all, but it is SO easy and SO yummy that I had to share. This has been adapted from a recipe given to me years ago, but lost shortly after it was given to me. The original recipe was a crock pot version. You can adapt this one to fit your crock pot as well--just adjust it according to your taste. :)

For my family of seven, this makes enough for dinner with left overs for lunch.

12 medium potatoes, diced. (I don't peel my potatoes because I want my family to get all the vitamins. Plus, I'm blessed to not have picky eaters. If you want to peel your potatoes, you can.)

2 small or 1 large onion, chopped

2 large cans of cream of chicken soup

2 small cans of cram of celery soup

64 ounces of chicken broth

Garlic powder to taste

Pepper to taste

16 oz of cream cheese

Put all ingredients into a pot, except for the cream cheese. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are tender. Make sure you stir often so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. When potatoes are tender, add cream cheese cut up into small squares. Stir in and cook on low until melted.

Put in bowls, garnish with crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, chives, sour cream, and anything else you like on your potato soup. Enjoy!

This is super yummy, super thick, and filling!

Have you noticed yogurt prices lately?

I am a huge fan of Greek yogurt, but honestly, who can afford it? I was in the store yesterday and thought, "Oh let me pick up some yogurt!" I like to give my kids and myself healthy snacks, but after looking at the prices, I just couldn't do it. It was $1.00 for ONE SERVING of yogurt. That is insanity at it's finest!

Side note: While I'm talking about yogurt, did you know that yogurt was started as a means to get milk to last longer? I thought that was an interesting tidbit of information, although I don't remember where exactly I got it from.

Anyway, I've always wanted to buy a yogurt maker, but again, I can't justify the price of one. It just seems like a lot of money to spend all at one time. I could save up for one, I suppose, but that would mean I would have no yogurt in the mean time.

So....I've decided I'm going to make crock pot yogurt. Oy vey!

I have read many recipes on making yogurt in a crock pot, on a stove, in a yogurt maker, etc. I have to admit, I am not a "recipe" kind of girl. I like to do things my way and take risks. So, I pretty much took everything I read, figured out the basics of what makes it work, and just did my own thing.

1. I took a whole gallon of 2% milk and put it in my crock pot.

2. I stuck that bad boy on high, and came back and checked it at 2 hours. It was just starting to tremor, working up to a boil.
3. I turned the crock pot off, and pulled the ceramic bowl out and set it on the table to cool. I just wanted it to be warm. Doing it this way only took a little over an hour.

4. When the outside of the crock felt warm to the touch, I washed my hands, stirred the milk, then stuck my finger in there to make sure that it was the temperature I wanted it to be. I have read it needed to be between 110 and 115 degrees for this to work. I like to challenge facts. Haha! I will say, I have NO clue what temperature my milk was, but I do know, it was warmer than 98.6 degrees. lol I was able to hold my pinkie finger in it for 10 seconds comfortably.

5. At this point I added 2 cups of plain yogurt with active cultures, wrapped my pot in a fleece blanket and stuck it in the oven with the light on for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, I took my crock out of the oven. I have to admit that I was a little nervous because as I've mention before, I'm a rule breaker. If you are a rule breaker, then you know, things can either turn out REALLY good, or REALLY bad. There really is no in between. lol

So, here comes the test, I poured my concoction into a strainer with what was supposed to be a cheese cloth, but was really a flour sack towel. (Because like I said before, I'm a rule breaker! Why just break one when you can break them all? lol)  I like thick yogurt and I read that if you  strain out the whey, they yogurt will be thicker. So, there you go, there is my yogurt, in a the strainer.

After straining the yogurt, it was thinner than store bought, but delicious! Next time I'm going to try whole milk and Greek yogurt as a starter. Again, I have read, (yes, I read a lot!) that this makes a thicker yogurt. :) 

*This author reserves the right to make grammatical errors. I am usually writing while in the mist of many other activities. However, if you notice said errors and inform me via email, I will gladly fix them. :) Thanks for being a loyal reader!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Introduction :)

Hi everyone, I'm Jeannette and I have self titled myself,  "Country Mama On A Mission". On a mission to do what, you say? To simplify life. 

This has been on heck of a year for my family of seven and me. We have completely gutted a 2200 square foot home, undertaken a complete renovation of said house (with no loans I might add), started an alpaca farm (check us out at Gratz Alpaca Company), and moved from the city into the country. I get a mixed range of responses when people hear about this--some think I have totally lost it, and it's quite possible that I have. Others think it sounds fun and exciting. I, for one, go from one extreme to the next. Some days I am totally ok with it, and actually excited about it, other days, I am thinking, "WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?" 

So, what is this blog going to be about? A little bit of everything, but mostly about bringing our modern family from being totally dependent on global marketing, back to the days when people actually did things themselves. Back to the days when bread was made daily, food was cooked from scratch, and life didn't consist of running here there and everywhere and never being able to catch up. Back to a time when playing outside wasn't boring, quality time with family and friends was important, and people knew the value of actual conversation over a cup of coffee or hot tea. 

Hope you can join us on our adventure! :)