Since many have been asking….”how’s the chive vinegar doing?”
Here’s the answer!
We still have one more week to go. I will be posting another update sometime around the 20th of the process of straining and making of the actual salad dressing. I am excited to try it! I have been tempted to pop open a jar now, just to see how flavorful it really is…but I am TRYING to be patient! 🙂
So far today I have spent time weeding out the small chive and onion raised bed right outside the from door, harvested some of both items and transplanted some of the herbs.
I guess I will start with the onions…they are green onions. To harvest them, I just take a sharp knife or a pair of scissors and snip the tops off. I then bring them inside and wash them up with cold water. I shake the water off and then snip or chop them into pieces. After that, I pack them into either a food saver bag or a canning jar. Once they are packed, into the freezer they go. For ease of use, I prefer the canning jar. And yes, I do put them in the freezer. If I want green onions, I just twist the top off, shake a few out and add to whatever I am cooking. If you thaw them prior to use, they will lose a little bit of the flavor.
For the chives, I snipped about half of the plants off. After cleaning them up and setting the flowers aside, I start packaging them. Some of them get chopped in the food processor and then froze. Others just get cut into three inch long strips and the remainder I dice. All of these go into the food saver bags in portion sized packages. When I need them, I pull out what I need and use them. You can air dry these too but I prefer the strong flavor that I associate with fresh chives, so I freeze them. You can also chop them up fine and freeze them in an ice cube tray, removing them once they are solid and storing them in a ziplock bag or container.
Now, back to the chive flowers. I read online last night about this guy that takes his flowers and soaks them in vinegar to use for salad dressing. It sounded really interesting so I stole his recipe…..
Take 10-15 flowers for each 1/2 cup of white vinegar. He recommended white wine varieties but I don’t care for them, so plain ol’ distilled it is! And besides…it’s what I had available! I trimmed and cleaned about 30 flowers for every pint (oh yes…there are those mason jars!). After stuffing the flowers into the pint jar, I covered them with vinegar, place on the seal and set them on my porch railing.
Why my porch railing? The key to this recipe is the sun. The natural sunlight will brew the cocktail much like sun tea! You can leave the mixture for up to two weeks. The longer it “brews” the richer the flavor. As you can see in the photo below, some of the pinkish color is already starting to blend into mine…and it’s been about two hours!
After completing my chives, onions and vinegar brew, I decided it was time to start transplanting some of my herbs that I plan on keeping inside for every day use. I designed a little basket with some rosemary and majorium, used old pots for mint and rosemary and then mason jars (I think I just have a thing for clear glass!) with one each of sage, oregano and basil. My house smells so good right now…it makes me want to disrupt the leaves every time the wind blows so it stays like this!!!
Now I need to get off my butt and back outside so that I can start building my new herb garden for the dill, the rest of the basil, oregano, and sage along with the parsley. I found an awesome idea on Pinterest that I have got to make…especially considering all of these shale stones we have around here. I will update with photos once it is complete. But again…if I don’t get moving, I won’t get it started!
Saturdays are always days of cooking one thing or another here on the farm. One week it could be a really long cheese recipe that takes up the majority of the day or it could just be a quick and easy recipe.
Today is all about the easy and simple stuff. I seem to have the worst habit of getting ideas from the Cooking shows on TV….not good but usually the results are tasty!
Yesterday one of the shows covered cream puffs. I haven’t had them in years and oh boy, oh boy did they look good. So…needless to say, today is cream puff day.
To those of you that didn’t know, Eclairs are just an elongated version of those cream puffs that we all adore. Instead of a spoonful of dough, you pipe the dough into a length of about 4 inches or so.
You bake them up and then cut just a little bit of the top off, scoop out any of the insides that may be in the way.
And then after they cool for a few minutes, load them full of filling or pudding.
Put the tops back on, coat with melted chocolate and serve!
The recipes are as follows:
1/2 cup water
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs at room temperature
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine water and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add all of flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Return to moderate heat, continue stirring until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. Remove from heat, allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously until the mixture is smooth.
Pipe or spoon onto a cookie sheet (I used a spoon and ladled out to about 4 inches in length) and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, gently cut of tops and cool on a baking rack.
Basic Cream (Custard) Filling
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat the milk in a heavy bottom sauce pan until very hot but not boiling. You will notice small bubbles forming on the sides of the sauce pan. Mix sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the hot milk and beat until well blended. Pour back into the pan and heat over low heat for 4-5 minutes, continue vigorous stirring during this step. It will become very thick and smooth. At this point, add the yolks and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and begin cooling. Stir from time to time until the mixture is cool but not cold. Add the vanilla and mix throughly.
3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (I used chips)
2 tablespoons of butter
Mix in a heavy bottom pot of medium heat until chips are completely melted. Spoon over puffs and serve.
I hope you make these and enjoy your time in the kitchen as much as I do…and that you get to surprise your significant other like I did this morning with some googy goodness!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I seem to have retaken my kitchen back…and I couldn’t be happier.
I love to cook…although if you ask Mr. Farmer, he said I can’t cook. Mean, grumpy old man that he is! 🙂
I do need to admit that typically, I may look at recipes…but I rarely follow them. I honestly can’t tell you why I own measuring cups and spoons. They are pretty hanging on the wall in my kitchen, since they are stainless.
Since everyone is harrassing me around here lately about what I do with my apple pie (which even those OLD folks love), I thought I would walk you through the making of my apple pie (which some of it I actually used measuring cups and spoons for).
I still use my Grandma’s old recipe (with a small variation) for making pies.
A double crust:
2-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups butter flavored shortening (gran used lard)
6-7 tbs. of cold water
Blend flour and shortening to look like photo. I use a pastry blender. Sprinkle water over mixture, 1 tsp. at a time mixing with a fork until it starts to hold together. Add just enough water so mixture holds together when gently pressed into a ball. *Important note: too much water will make the crust flat and not enough water will leave it too dry and you will have problems with it breaking apart while rolling.
I usually through the whole ball into the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. After that, I divide the dough into two balls (one slightly bigger than the other) and roll out onto a well floured surface until it is about 3″ bigger than my deep pie dish. I roll the crust onto my rolling pin and lay over the top. Since my dish already has a scalloped edge, I just trip with a butter knife.
Next is to mix the filling ingredients. Since I live in a state that is one of the largest apple producers in the country, I buy only NY state apples.
I don’t ever recommend specific varieties. I usually use one softer variety with one harder variety of apple.
Today, I used Gala and Empire varieties.
I then peel and wedge the apples. I don’t add any lemon to keep them from browning…who cares once they are cooked and I don’t like the flavor the lemon adds to the pie.
And yes…I do still hand cut all of the pieces. I like the difference in sizes it creates.
I then start adding the spices.
I also add in a dash or two of mint (shhhh…don’t tell anyone my secret ingredient)
Bake for 425 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 30-40 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While the yeast is “curing”, I measure out the six cups of flour I am going to need.
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.
Now it’s time to add in about three cups of the flour. Continue to mix until everything is well blended.
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.
You dough will look something like this.
Turn it out onto a floured board.
Now kneed for a minute or so. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting, it’s time to check the pot of milk for cheese.
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.
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.
Yup, just like that right there. One recommendation…use a slightly larger pot. This created a vacuum seal for the lid….not recommended!
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.
Then, use butter to grease up a large mixing bowl. I prefer to use stainless but glass or plastic will work too.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
Make sure that your milk stays at 90 Degrees.
About this time, your bread ball should be raised enough to punch down, form into two balls and lay into bread pans.
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.
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.
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.
People ask me questions sometimes that make me really sit back and ponder life in general.
Most Common Question: “Why do you farm?”
My answer is simple, yet complicated.
I love cows! I love chickens! I love animals…period!
Then of course, there is the food stuff! From canned, stewed tomatoes to home grown sweet corn, making cheese to eggs for breakfast…without the farm, I wouldn’t have those things like I do.
Question: “What is it about your farm that keeps you where you are?”
There are a ton of reasons on this one. One of them isn’t the taxes, I do need to specify that!
There is an easy answer to this one! It’s the sunrises/sunsets. It’s the views. It’s the private pond….and so much more!
There are many more questions and a whole lot more answers…..But I think this will give anyone a good idea on why I love farming. I think it will also give you a fair idea on why I love being here!
Of course, Mr. Farmer has one very big reason……this land has been in his family for 6 generations! The deed reads out like a genealogy report!
One day on the weekend, I usually get time off from all of the farm chores and such…
Too bad I never know enough to stay in bed or even relax for that matter!
Today has been no different. Still up at the crack of dawn, having my coffee and thinking about what to do. I decided that today would be a great day to make some cheese. So, I started thinking about what variety to start with first.
Mind you, we also needed to go to the butcher shop to pick up the two steers that we had taken up for the freezer…that meant I need to carefully plan it all out.
I knew that I wanted to make mozzarella. I have a recipe that takes about 30-45 minutes. Now that I knew I wanted to do mozza, I figured…what the hell, I might as well make Ricotta and fix lasagna for dinner. But, in the meantime, I also had another batch of butter to make. Not wanting anything to go to waste, I decided to make buttermilk cheese too!
At 7 am, I started the mozzarella. By 7:45, I had shiny balls of cheese to go into the fridge.
Then I made up a batch of butter, saving the buttermilk off to the side to make the buttermilk cheese…which needs to hang in muslin for about two to three hours (just the right amount of time to go pick up, deliver and store away the beef from the butcher shop)
Since I have already had several requests on how to make the Buttermilk Cheese, here is the recipe:
Fresh buttermilk…drained from after processing heavy cream into butter.
In a pot, directly heat the buttermilk to 160 degrees F.
At that temperature, the curds will separate from the whey. If not, increase the temperature to 180 degrees.
Line a colander with butter muslin; pour the coagulated buttermilk into it. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 3-4 hours, or until cheese reaches desired consistency.
Place the cheese in a bowl, salt to taste. (I knead mine to mix in the salt or other flavorings. It also gives it a much creamier consistency.)
Store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Leaving the newly formed curd to drain, we took off to the butcher. Then delivered two half to customers, loaded our freezer full of awesome cuts like delmonico steaks and then returned to finish up the cheese.
I hand mixed the buttermilk cheese and pressed into a bowl. I allowed the small bowl to chill, while I prepped to do a batch of ricotta.
While the ricotta was draining, I got out the buttermilk cheese for a snack with crackers and pepperoni.
When I was done fixing the plate of goodies for Mr. Farmer, I now needed to take care of the ricotta.
I am looking forward to making lasagna tonight with the ricotta and the mozzarella cheeses! Hmmm, it is going to taste delicious with that homemade, canned spaghetti sauce I have in the pantry. Maybe I will even get ambitious and make a loaf of homemade bread to go with it, slathering it in fresh butter and garlic from the garden!