Monday, July 16, 2012

How To: Make Simple Homemade Goat Cheese

When people think of making cheeses, there is often the mis-leading thought that it will take a lot of time and weird ingredients that are hard to get. Nothing could be further from the truth! True, if you want to make aged or specialty cheeses you may have to buy some rennet and cultures, but for a basic yummy cheese you only need basic ingredients practically everyone has in their kitchen!

Ingredients Needed:
2 1/2 quarts of milk
6 T of white vinegar (or 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp of salt

1) Pour the milk in a pot and turn heat on high. If you need to leave it for any reason, turn it down until you come back.

2) Place a thermometer into the milk so you can supervise the temperature rate.

3) Prepare your things for the cheese-straining step. I use a colander placed in a large bowl with a cloth napkin or pillow-case material to strain.

4) Get your vinegar ready, because once your milk is at the correct temperature, you need to act fast.

5) Once the milk has reached 180 degrees, pour the vinegar in, turn off the heat, and allow to set for one minute.

6) You should be able to easily see the curds separating from the whey. If not, try adding some more vinegar. (Only add 1 tablespoon at a time! Too much vinegar will make the cheese rubbery.)

7) Slowly pour the curds and whey into your straining equipment.

8) Pull the opposite corners together carefully and tie, then using your string, tie tightly under the knots of cloth. This will hold it up for the dripping process.

9) Tie the top part of the string on a doorknob or cabinet, and allow to drip for about an hour. You should be able to feel if the whey has drained out. It will feel soft, but not slushy.

10) Take down and place in a bowl. It should be creamy, yet still in tiny curds.

11) Mix until small and crumbly, then add salt. For a savory cheese, add parsley (1 tsp), onion powder (1/2 tsp), and garlic powder (1/2 tsp.).

12) Mix well.

13) Shape into a ball.

14) Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers or veggies as is, or chill and serve later.

Here's a hint though, don't tell anyone it's goat cheese until after they've tried it! I don't know why, but many people have this mental block against goat cheese, so I'll make a cheese ball and bring it to parties or special events, and when people come up to ask me about it, they get the shock of their life! The most popular comment is: "I didn't realize goat cheese could taste like THAT!" :-D

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Days with the Dogs

Yesterday marks the start of a new journey for our dogs. Imagine the shock of possibly never eating dog food again? I'm sure they weren't thinking too sorrowfully about it yesterday morning when they were munching on the raw chicken leg quarters they were served.

Most people may think we are a little extreme or bizarre, but after spending almost $100 a month on a special dog food that our dog with sensitive stomach could handle, the realization that feeding our dogs all raw would only cost $50 a month was the final push to take the step.

We have been having difficulties with our dogs being too skinny for a while, and when Sage began to have stomach problems, we knew something needed to change. The vet switched the dogs over to a more meat-based food, which was also a LOT more expensive.

I began to do research on an all raw diet for the dogs, and I soon came to the conclusion that it would probably be the best move I ever made for our pups. It took a lot of research and a small amount of common sense to tell me that dogs were indeed created to be carnivorous, and feeding it grain and veggie stuffed dog food could do a lot of long-term damage to their systems.

As always, I had thought feeding our dogs all raw would be too expensive. But after a little more research and calculation it became clear it was more within our means than the dog food we were buying. It felt very good to watch our dogs eating stuff that I knew God created their bodies to eat. I'm looking forward to seeing positive results from this change.

This has really opened my eyes into looking at what is really good for our critters, and I'm starting to look more into feeding natural diets to the rest of our critters as well. I don't know if anything will come of it, but at least I'm having fun doing the research!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Veggies to Plant in May in Louisiana

I know that I missed putting this list up last month, but hopefully I'll be able to keep up from now on.

Hot Pepper
Southern Peas
Sweet Potato (slips)
Heat-tolerant Tomatoes (Start seed for transplants)*

*A few heat-tolerant heirloom tomato varieties are:
Arkansas Traveler
Costoluto Genovese
Green Zebra
Quarter Century
Super Sioux

Some Progress, Some Harvest!

I was not able to plant the garden I dreamed of this year, and I did not get to do much in the garden this spring. I had some health issues, as well as a hectic schedule and as a result, not a lot got done. We were able to plant some corn and beans, as well as some tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, and cantaloupe. We had to use one of our garden spaces for goat, thus were not able to plant as much this year.

This is the swiss chard, lettuce, and garlic. 
Garlic is a first for us this year, and I can't wait to see how it turns out! We were blessed with some cloves by a neighbor who has had the same garlic passed down for generations in his family. It's so lovely to get a heritage along with a seed!

As you can see, we are beginning to get some little tomatoes. I am very excited about them!
It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord can take one tiny seed, and grow it to become a large plant producing pounds of fruit! It kind of reminds me of our faith. When we first come to Christ, our faith is so small, and seemingly so insignificant. But God takes that seed of faith, as tiny as it may be, and carefully cultivates it to become a growing, thriving plant producing wonderful fruit for His glory!

And, for those of you who tease me about all veggies and no flowers, here is proof that I've planted flowers in my garden! I admit that the purpose was to help deter pests from my vegetables, but they are flowers none-the-less! I'm sorry, but unless it serves some profitable purpose, it probably will not end up in my garden! 

Here is a glimpse of some of the fruits of our labors. Our strawberries did pretty pitifully this year compared to the ones we planted last year, but we are getting some berries, so we are thankful for that!

My trial-run of growing carrots was a success! We were so excited to harvest the crisp-smelling roots. Believe me, I had help to pull them up! To the girls, pulling up carrots was as much fun as digging potatoes!

"And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase." ( Psalm 107:36-37 )

Monday, April 30, 2012

Little Critters That Make Farm Life Interesting

I fell way behind on my posting due to being super busy and sick, so there may be a couple posts in the next few days as I try to catch up.

I find a big part of being in the country is not only about what happens with what we plant and raise, but also what happens in nature around us. We had a couple interesting visitors in the past couple months, and I thought I'd share them with you.

This little guy decided to pay us a visit, and wound up becoming an educational part of our day. I thought he might like to say "Hi!" It's not every day your average turtle gets the limelight of the internet!

"It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's a..."

Actually, Christopher and I weren't sure what it was, the way it was croaking, but sure enough, we got to have a good, close view of it. I brought it to the house, and voila! Another opportunity to show off one of God's marvelous creatures to the kids. They weren't as impressed with the bat as Mr. Turtle, though. :-D Take a good look at those teeth, and you may agree with them!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chickens, Herbs, and Lettuce!

This is the time of year when I'm just itching to get in the garden. All the rain that we have had lately has been a little frustrating, but I know God has the weather in His control and will allow me to get the garden in when He's ready!

I've been pretty limited on what I can do in the garden because of the weather, but I have still been able to get some of my beds cleaned out. The easy way.

As you can see, I'm not the one doing the work. I draft my chickens to do that job!

Daddy made me this chicken run that fits exactly over my raised beds. They do a great job cleaning the beds out, and give it a little extra fertilizer! Not enough to burn the plants, but enough to add a little nutrients.

I have never successfully grown carrots before, so I thought I'd try again. As you can see, at least the greens look pretty! I can't say if there are any carrots under there, but we'll see in a month or so!

This is my herb nursery bed. I'm rooting some rosemary and peppermint, as well as some green onions.

Here is a glimpse of the feathered friends I have around here. They went on a laying strike several weeks ago, and it took a lot of coaxing to convince them to lay eggs again. They now have free access to lay pellets and corn, and I have a light that is timed to come on so they get 16 hours of light a day.

It worked!

As I've always said, harvest is the very best part of gardening, and I was able to harvest our first lettuce. It was SO yummy! You may think lettuce from the store tastes good, but when you get to taste it fresh from the garden, you find a new definition for "good"!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Of Mustards and Radishes / Veggies to Plant in March (in Louisiana)

I did not get the opportunity to plant as many winter veggies as I would have liked, but the Lord did allow me to get some in, and this week we were able to harvest the first.

Mustard greens are some of my dad’s favorite greens, so I always try to plant as many as I can.

I like to plant them thickly, and then when they are the perfect size for harvesting the tender baby greens, I thin them to the desired spacing.

I harvested half of this row this week, and plan to harvest the other half next week.
I was just thinking how, when you allow the greens to grow close together, they can never grow to the size and healthy vigor that they can. It is when they are thinned so they can stand alone that they grow the most to become beautiful large plants we enjoy to see and harvest.
I find it very much like our life in Christ. It is wonderful to have brothers and sisters in Christ that we can grow together with, but it is during the times when we stand alone that our largest and strongest growth in Christ occurs. I wonder why then we also tend to get so upset when these times come? Where is our faith? Our faith that is to be like the “grain of a mustard seed”?

Though I enjoy eating mustard greens, I must admit cleaning them is not a favorite chore of mine. My mom was kind enough to say that since I picked them, my sisters could clean them. But because of the recent rainfall, the greens were especially dirty. I happened to see some ½ x 1-inch wire lying next to the garden, so I rigged up a large “colander” to rinse most of the dirt off the greens before I brought them inside. It worked pretty well!

As always, it is so exciting to eat the first fruits of the garden. I harvested four large bowls of greens which wound up being about 5 quarts cooked down. A very yummy harvest!

I was also very excited to harvest two quarts of radishes. Several of us really enjoy the cool and crisp “crunch” of a good radish, and the Lord has blessed us with several so far this year.

Veggies to Plant in March in Louisiana:
I know that not everyone who reads this lives in Louisiana, but I know for me, it helps to have a list of things I can plant for the month. If I have it at the beginning of the month, it really helps me to plan and know what my goals are for the rest of the month.
(Plant after the last frost, or plant and protect in case of frost)
Lima Beans
Snap Beans
Southern Peas
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Winter Squash

*Plant transplants
**Plant the whole fruit with the sprouted end in the dirt 3 inches deep

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Welcome to Sunny Hill Farm!

Hello, and welcome to Sunny Hill Farm!

I'm looking forward to sharing about the many things that take place here on our small farm. Of course, to many people, our place wouldn't be considered a farm, but when you have over 2000 square feet in garden space, 20 fruit and berry trees, goats, chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, and a pig, I think it should be considered a small farm at least!

I am the third born of twelve children, and living in a family of fourteen has been a wonderful journey. We have lived here for 11 years, and every year our place looks more and more like a farm. My passion is to be able to grow and make well over half of what our family eats.

This blog is where I will be sharing about when and how we do what we do. There's always something to learn while farming!

Once again, thank you for visiting, and check back soon for more updates and information from Rebecca of Sunny Hill Farm!