Category Archives: cheese

Make it Monday ~ Noodles

Okay…so I’m a day late. Been some issues around here with our furnace and our dog. They were more important than a blog post but I’m still here today.

Today, I want to share a recipe for something that we all know and love! Noodles! You can’t make chicken noodle soup or chicken alfredo without them.

I don’t have any photos but will get some the next time I actually make some.

My recipe comes from an old Fannie Farmer cookbook. It was originally published in 1896 and is hands down my favorite cookbook. You can get new prints used through Amazon for around  $5 and it’s well worth it, especially if you like old fashioned recipes with grandma’s home cooking tastes.

The recipe is called Homemade American-Style Noodles.

Ingredients:
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups flour

Directions:
Beat the yolks and egg until they are light. Beat in the salt and 3 tablespoons of cold water. Using your hands, work the flour into this mixture to make a stiff dough. Cut into three equal parts. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest a few minutes. Dust a board or pastry cloth with flour and roll out one part of the dough as thin as possible. Cover with a dishcloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other two pieces. Sprinkle one sheet of dough very lightly with flour and roll up like a jelly roll. With a sharp knife, cut across the roll into 1/8″ wide strips for fine noodles and 1/2″ wide for broad noodles. Open out the strips and hang over a broomstick or chair to dry. (I use  wooden spoons over a stock pot).
They will be ready to cook when they have lost their surface dampness. About ten minutes should be enough. Bring a large pot of boiling salted water to a boil and drop the noodles in. Boil vigorously until just tender, roughly 5-10 minutes depending on how thin the noodles are. Pull one out with a fork to taste and determine doneness.

Following this recipe in the cookbook is also a recipe for Alfredo’s Noodles.

Ingredients:
1/4 pound noodle, 1/4″ thick
1/4 pound unsalted butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Have a large cowl warmed and ready before you cook the noodles. Drain the cooked noodles and put them into the bowl. Quickly add remaining ingredients, tossing briskly to coat all the noodles, and serve at once.

There are about 20 different recipes for these noodles with a multitude of variations. You can also flavor your noodles too. Instead of adding cold water, you can use cold carrot or spinach puree. I’m thinking of trying some with pumpkin and the alfredo topping, just to see what it tastes like as a nice fall alternative.

If you try any recipe shared, we would love your feedback and to hear of any successful alternatives or even failures! Just leave a comment or a link if you repost!

Happy Eating!

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Goin’ Crazy

Things have been kind of busy around here lately. Cheese making has become a high priority item lately. I think we have made about 10 lbs this week alone….

The animals are all doing well. Two of the Dexter’s have lost their mucus plugs this week…so within the next month or so we should have a couple of new calves floating around here! I am so excited. One of the Dexter’s has hit the extremely uncomfortable stage of her pregnancy. She is exhibiting that maternal instinct to remove herself from the herd and spends most of her time nosing the hay to create a “bed”.

My chickens are doing really well. I think the additional whey they are getting from the cheese making process is making them lay more eggs. I have been pulling on average about 35-36 eggs per day. That means I am running an overall group laying ratio of 80%. Of course if I deducted the 8 hens that are too old to lay….I would be at almost 100%!

Unbelievable, all of our eggs are being sold locally to a few neighbors but the majority are going to the Amish….Crazy huh? Who would have thought that? Not me. Not ever.

Our milk cow is producing milk like crazy. All three of the calves are still drinking milk, which is much longer than I normally would give them milk…but it’s cheap food for them. They are really growing well too. The bull calf that was born this last fall is going to stay on milk for most of his time here as we are attempting our first calf as rose veal.

It’s almost time for the turkeys to start laying their eggs too. The toms have starting battling for dominance already…just doesn’t seem possible that it’s that time of year already. Tonight I am going to tackle the ordeal of getting the saddles on the hens to prevent skin tearing when the toms breed them. They are handy little “capes” that go around the wings and protect them from the base of their neck to their tail. I hate putting them on but, it is better than allowing the tops to tear out their feathers and ripe through the hide on their backs.

We will be heading off to the NY Farm show tomorrow…so hopefully, Saturday I will be able to find some time to share the photos and highlights of the day. It also means that I have lots to do today to make up for the lost farm time tomorrow….need to get more hay in the barns, pick up feed and make sure that everyone is well stocked so that all we need to do in the morning is get up, do milking and feeding and then be able to get ready to head out the door…..

Phew….I am tired already just thinking about it! Anyways, time to make a run to the feed store so I can get my cheese started before it gets too late and I end up staying up half the night to finish it…..

God Bless and Have a great day!

Meet the Farmers

You know it is really frustrating to me when on a night that I have to get up every two hours to take care of an animal who needs some extra attention right now I happen to get online and through a Meet the Farmers promotion that is going on now with McDonald’s I start reading all of these offensive clips about farmers and agriculture.

To top it off, one of the video responses is an “extended version” of the original piece put together by McDonald’s about the beef rancher/supplier that contains some graphic images of a calf slaughter, the most disgusting feedlot I have ever seen and then a drop-kill when the animal just has it’s throat slit and drops thrashing to the floor.

Maybe I just don’t have the extra tolerance at FOUR AM  to keep my mouth shut (meaning my fingers since I have to type this out) anymore.

Yes, there are some farms and slaughter-houses that do use those practices out there in the real world…But, contrary to the believes of the folks who sit in their homes watching the horrific images on the nightly news with the special graphics at the beginning that says “these images are too violent” to be viewed on open air ways that isn’t what happens in the majority of circumstances.

Animals are raised, depending upon what type of animal, in control environments for the animals health or they are released into a pasture. The animals are feed a diet that is designed for the health and nutritional requirements by an animal nutritionist. They get regular check ups from farm hands and yes, sometimes a vet when they are sick or injured.  Once the animal is grown it goes to a butcher or slaughter-house. Many of the large slaughter houses in the US, have changed drastically over the images that we think are involved.

This woman by the name of Temple Grandin has been changing animal handling procedures for many years now. She has designed chutes for animals to move through that the animal is comfortable with. She has designed slaughter-house floors that keep the animals calm and relaxed. She has generated practices all across this country and maybe even world-wide that are renowned for the benefit to the animal. Oh and if you didn’t know…they actually made a movie about her life and you should really watch it. And imagine, all of this coming from a woman with Autism.

Seems to me that if someone like her can take a look at what is a best practice for the health and well-being of an animal, then why shouldn’t the rest of us within the ag industry? And beyond that, why shouldn’t consumers know and ASK how their food is raised and processed?

Everyone out there needs to stop assuming that what you see on the nightly news is real world agriculture! It isn’t. Coming from my perspective, farming is a way of life. My animals, whether it is a 4 pound chicken or a 1200 pound cow, is part of my family. I raise them much like I do the dogs that sleep at the end of my bed. And believe me, if I could figure out how to make room for a calf or two to do the same, I WOULD!

Again, I would like to remind you all that not all farmers are like that. I agree that some of them out there shouldn’t be allowed to raise animals and should be locked down and treated the same way. It’s actually very similar to what goes on in the Pet World. How would you like it if someone came to you and said that all dog or cat owners treated their animals inhumanly? No cat or dog….how about those of you who have mice, rats, lizards or birds? You would get upset and start dancing around, wagging your finger at the person giving them every justification on why you have whatever animal it is that you have. That’s a natural reaction.

When farmers are confronted with this backlash that society seems to give them for being a rancher, dairyman/woman, poultry or swine grower they don’t point fingers and wag. They just buckle down and try to overcome all the barriers. Society says, treat your animals better and what happens? A whole team of researchers, scientists, nutrients, veterinarians, and farmers collaborate together to improve housing, feeding, etc to improve the environment of the animal. Which, in my opinion, is an ever evolving sector as new materials or processes come into the market (for example new fans for air flow, new ways of utilizing manures to generate electricity and reduce that “farm smell”).

Farmers and Ranchers across this country are working hard to please our animals and society.


*Please note the animal sounds in the holding pens. Stressed cattle will vocalize and in this video, there is maybe one vocalization.


It just seems that our voices are never heard through the drowning whine of society. If you have a problem with a commercial system of the meat or dairy market, then buy from a local farmer and talk to them about their practices. Ask them questions. Ask them if you can visit their farm to see how they treat their animals. Ask them where they send the animals for butcher. Basically, what I am asking you to do is: get to know your food. I don’t care if it’s fruits or vegetables, beef or chicken, syrups or jams, milk or cheese.

If you don’t know where your products in your fridge come from…then it really is time that you start asking some questions on where it does come from. Maybe even watch this show called “The Big Waste”:

To those of you who read this that are NOT farmers who have questions about our practices or what products are supplied here on our farm…give us a shout. We will be more than happy to take the time to answer any questions you may have.

Kitchen Take Over – Putting the Ricotta to Use

Now that we have made up some Ricotta cheese, what can you make with it other than a Ricotta Bake mentioned in the last post?

Personally, I think Ricotta cheese is one of the most versatile cheeses you can use. You can create sweet treats for desserts or savory wholesome meals for a main course or appetizer.

Yesterday, I decided to put Ricotta cheese to the “grumpy old man test” by making up a bunch of different items made with Ricotta cheese as the main ingredient.

I started off by making Ricotta Gnocchi. To those who don’t know what Gnocchi is, it is a thick homemade pasta. You create a dough just like you would a bread, minus the yeast. You then roll chunks of the dough out into snake-like ropes about an inch thick. Then you cut inch long pieces and then roll onto a fork to develop it’s unique shape.

Olive Oil, Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
Add 1 egg and beat together
Add 1 lb. of fresh Ricotta Cheese
Mix together cheese with egg mixture
Add flour 1/2 cup at a time
Add flour until you have a sticky dough ball
Knead on floured surface, adding small amounts of flour
Continue the kneading process until your fingers come away free of dough
Spread dough out to just over 1" thick and cut into 6 pieces about 1" wide
I use my thumb pad to measure pieces to cut the ropes into even pieces
Roll cut pieces along the tines of a fork. Lay onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper
Now, either cook them or freeze immediately

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you have made your Ricotta Gnocchi, you can use them as needed after freezing them. If you are freezing them, once they are frozen remove them from the sheet and place into ziplock bags or storage containers.

Once you are prepared to cook them, boil a large pot of water. Make sure that you have at least enough water for them to sink. I prefer to use chicken or beef broth, depending upon the topping I am going to “garnish” them with.

Once you have added them to your boiling liquid, they will sink to the bottom. Once they float, cook them for an additional 30 sec. to one minute to ensure complete cooking.

Once they are cooked you can cover them with Stewed tomatoes or like I did, you can create a ricotta lemon chicken sauce to smother them in.

Gnocchi with Ricotta Sauce

The Ricotta Sauce is very simple too. The ingredients are as follows:

1 lb. Ricotta Cheese
The zest and juice of 1 Medium Lemon
A handful or two of either Corn or Peas
One ladle full of the liquid your pasta has cooked in. This makes the sauce creamy.
Since I had a left over Oven Roasted Chicken, I pulled chunks of meat off the left overs and added about 1-1/2 cups of chicken to the sauce.
Since I like a sweet, spicy flavor…I also added about two tablespoons of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning into the sauce and a little bit more salt and pepper to taste.
Just mix all the ingredients together and then mix into gnocchi and serve. It is good hot or cold.

This was a huge hit, even with Mr. Youcan’tcook.  My ricotta inspired meal also included the following items. If you would like recipes, feel free to leave me a note and I will post them.

Whole Wheat Ricotta Bread
Fresh Butter
Ricotta Fritters
Ricotta Cookies with Orange Glaze

Kitchen Take Over- Ricotta Cheese

Okay, I finally managed to get some photos of the whole process of making Ricotta cheese.

This is one of the simplest and easy cheeses to make…and you can show off your kitchen skills with this quick and easy transformation of milk into something yummy for a dish to pass or the next family gathering.

First, we are going to start off with a large pot. I prefer a heavy bottom stainless.

Stainless Pot and a Gallon of Milk

Next you need a gallon of milk. Since I milk my Jersey cow (Belle) twice a day, I have fresh milk. If you look closely, you will see the cream line on the top of the milk.

Skimming the cream

Since I want to make whole milk ricotta, butter and also buttermilk cheese (as seen in previous posts), I am going to skim about 1/2 of the cream off the top of the milk.
I set this aside in my kitchen aid bowl to warm to room temperature.

I am going to use a bit of this cream later.

Add cold milk to pot.

There is no need to warm the milk to room temperature. If you prefer a soured taste to your Ricotta cheese, then you need to allow it to come to room temperature before proceeding to next steps.

 

 

 

 

 

Add 1 tsp. Citric Acid to 1/4 c. cool water or use 8 tbs. Lemon Juice
Once the Citric Acid is dissolved, add to milk
Add 1 tsp. of Cheese Salt to milk
Stir in ingredients, Heat on high heat
Stirring often until it heats enough to break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the milk has broken apart into the curds and whey, shut off the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. While the cheese is setting, it is time to get ready for the draining process.

Line a colander with butter muslin. Note that I use a bucket because I feed the whey to the chickens.
A drip bowl and a chenille stem (cheap hook)
Now that 10 minutes is up, drain your curds and whey through the muslin
Tie the corners of the bag around your chenille stem
Using a cupboard door handle, hang and allow to drain for about 1/2 hour.
I take my bucket of whey to the chickens now.
After hanging, your Ricotta will look like this
Add 2-3 tbs. of cream (Remember the stuff we separated at the beginning)
Store in 1 lb. containers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can store the finished cheese in the fridge for a week or so but it also freezes rather nicely. One recommendation: If you are going to freeze your cheese, do not add the cream. Add it once you have thawed it for you or just leave it out   completely.

Over the next couple of days, I will be adding some wonderful recipes that you can use your fresh made Ricotta in….But, if you are looking for something quick and easy:

Add a drizzle of maple syrup, mix completely. Pour into a 9-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until top turns golden brown. Serve with fresh fruits like strawberries or blueberries.

You can also try these simple easy alterations:

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg
  • 2 tbs. jam or jelly
  • 1/4 cup of nuts and raisins
  • 1/4 cup chives and herbs (I like to add precooked sausage or bacon bits on top)
  • 2 tbs. dark rum and 1/4 cup raisins
    All are cooked exactly as above. Hope you enjoy and would love to hear about any attempts or results. If you have any issues, feel free to let me know and I will help trouble shoot the issue.

HAPPY EATING!

Bread and Cheese

Yesterday, I decided to make another batch of cheese curd…but while I was in the kitchen, why not make a couple loaves of white bread and some butter too.

That looks good...curd chedder!

First I put fresh milk into the pot. Nearly two gallons now need to be brought up to 90 degrees F.

Stirring ocassionally and over the lowest possible heat, I added the thermometer and waited. While waiting, I need to thaw the starter.

Mesophelic Starter

Since we make a larger batch and then freeze the starter into cubes using an ice cube tray, you need to get those cubes thawed out prior to adding it into the milk.

I used a food processor and chopped the cubes, much like shaved ice, and set the measuring cup on the already warm stove that is heating up to bake the bread.

Milk, water, shortening, sugar and salt

Since I need to allow the milk to slowly heat up, it’s time for me to start the bread. You add shortening (I use butter flavored), sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. You then need to add hot water and hot milk to the mixture.

Once it is all combined, you need to allow the temperature to cool to lukewarm.

Check the temperature

While the bread base is cooling, it’s time to check the temperature on your pot of milk. Hmm, the temperature is just above 80.

Time to empty the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, and let the dogs out.

Checking the “heat” of your milk and bread base between each task.

Yeast and water

Now that your bread base is cool enough. Mix 1/4 cup warm water with your package of yeast in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Flour

While the yeast is “curing”, I measure out the six cups of flour I am going to need.

Add yeast mix

Now add your yeast to your bread base.

I usually switch the beater on the mixer at this point to a dough hook. In less than five minutes, you are going to need to anyway.

Add flour

Now it’s time to add in about three cups of the flour. Continue to mix until everything is well blended.

Make sure to scrap the sides

Since the flour tends to build up on the outside of the bowl, make sure to stop once or twice to scrap the flour back into the forming dough.

Just about done

You dough will look something like this.

 Turn it out onto a floured board.

Kneed

Now kneed for a minute or so. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Go to sleep...

While the dough is resting, it’s time to check the pot of milk for cheese.

90 Degrees

The milk is now the correct temperature to add the starter. Remember that stuff we have setting in the middle of the stove thawing….we need to add it now.

Starter adding

Once you have added the starter, mix well and then cover. Leave it set for 45 minutes. With your oven on, it should hold the milk at the proper temperature of 90 Degrees.

Covered pot of aging milk

Yup, just like that right there. One recommendation…use a slightly larger pot. This created a vacuum seal for the lid….not recommended!

Clean up

Now that you still have a couple of minutes on the clock to do the next step of your bread, why not clean up those mixing utensils.

Grease a bowl

Then, use butter to grease up a large mixing bowl. I prefer to use stainless but glass or plastic will work too.

Add more flour

Now it’s time to work in the last of the flour required. At this point, I like to sprinkle it on top of the dough ball and then kneed it in until the dough is like soft rubber, aka chewed gum.

Make sure to not use too much flour, it will make your bread come out too dry.

Put into greased bowl

Now throw that ball into the greased bowl, move over next to the stove (which is warm remember) and leave until it doubles in size.

Break time

I cover it with a dish towel while it sets.

Now that the bread is raising, the milk is curing….It’s time for a 10 minute coffee break!

Mix rennet and water

Now that I am all relaxed now after kneeding the dough…it’s time to mix the rennet and water to go into your cured milk.

Top stir

Top stirring the rennet dilution into the milk takes a couple of minutes, but once you are finished, recover and let sit for another 45 minutes.

Ensure temperature

Make sure that your milk stays at 90 Degrees.

Raised bread

About this time, your bread ball should be raised enough to punch down, form into two balls and lay into bread pans.

Raising bread

Please note the discoloration of the towel…Make sure that you do NOT place the towel close to any type of flame!

Leave bread to continue to raise.

Now you have about 1/2 hour to vacuum the floor and maybe fold the laundry.

Cooking curds

After waiting for the curd to form and then cutting the curd into small pieces, it is time to cook the curd.

I cook the curd, stirring often so that the curds do not matt on the bottom of the pot for about an hour.

After cutting the curd and stirring a couple of times, the bread is ready to go into the oven. 425 Degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 Degrees for an additional 30 minutes.

I usually take this time to make butter from the cream skimmed off the top of the milk for cheese.

Bowl of cream

I will go into this adventure for another post.

Remove the bread from the oven at the end of the time, remembering that you still have another 15 minutes on your curds.

Remove bread from tins and allow to cool slightly. Cut off end and serve with Butter.

Now it’s time to drain the curd. This usually takes about a half hour or so. I tie the bag of muslin or cheesecloth filled with the curds onto a kitchen cabinet.

Once the curds have drained, I add salt and maybe some spices for flavoring. Personally I like to use a spicy pepper mixture that consists of crushed red peppers, cayenne powder and a little garlic. Into a plastic bag they go to cure for a minimum of 24 hours.

After this, I started dinner (Corn and Bacon Chowder) and then do nightly farm chores.

If anyone would like the recipes with exact measurements, leave a comment and I will share the details.

Happy Eating!

Spicy Cheese Curds
Fresh White Bread

Winter Vacations

Do you remember when you were in school when you had winter vacations? Well, those of us who have farms that work regular jobs too usually use our “days” off from the real world to get things done around the farm.

Here on Barrows Farm, Mr. Farmer actually gets a winter vacation from Christmas Eve until after the first of the year. To bad there is typically a lot of button down work that needs to get finished up that he really doesn’t get a vacation. There are a couple of days in there that we try to do some fun things too. Unfortunately, the farm has demands of it’s own that still need to be done.

This last week was a very productive one. The barns all got a good cleaning. The water lines are now wrapped in heat tape and insulation, so hopefully no more frozen water lines. New hay feeders for inside the barn were built. Grain bins were relocated and filled. The plow was put on the four wheeler. The antifreeze in the tractor was checked and topped off. The lawn mowers were put away. Hay bales were moved from one from to the other. My milker pump managed to get fixed (no more borrowing!).

Some where in there we even managed to fit in the process of making about 15 pounds of various cheeses, two shopping trips, family Christmas and a little end of the year accounting stuff.

Like I said, those 10 days were very productive!

I even managed to get some craft things done too. Two crocheted bags, about 5 or 6 pairs of earrings, one necklace and about 1/2 a baby blanket! Phew, my hands and wrists hurt just thinking about it all!

Hand twisted wire and cracked glass

One thing is certain, I am glad that things are returning back to the normal scheduled program.