Archive for August, 2013

August 30, 2013

Property of…

Just for fun =)

egg MH

Happy Friday!

August 27, 2013

When life hands you lemons…

Make ricotta!

ricotta

 

 

ricotta 1WHOLE MILK RICOTTA!

1.5 gallons of fresh whole milk

6-8 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

sea or kosher salt to taste

cheese cloth or flour sack (I like flour sacks)

stainless steel or plastic collander

Stainless steel or plastic bowl (LARGE, to sit under colander)

non-reactive pot (stainless steel)

stainless steel or non-reactive spoon/spatula

thermometer

Heat milk slowly on low/low-medium to 190-195 degrees stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add and lemon juice.  Stir to incorporate. You should see the curd immediately start to separate from the whey. If not, add more lemon juice 1 Tablespoon at a time until it separates. Allow to sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes or more. Slowly pour into a cheesecloth or flour sack lined colander. Allow whey to drain for 30 minutes to an hour or so. You don’t have to wring up the cloth to get the whey out but you can. You can hang the cloth for the whey to drain but my set up for cheese keeps my colander out of the whey liquid.

The longer you let it sit and drain, the dryer your cheese will get. I don’t like it let it drain longer than an hour, I want some of the whey in it. When I am ready to move it to the storage container, I mix in salt to taste. Store in sealed container for up to 7-8 days in the fridge.  Don’t throw out the whey!

I generally give it to the pigs & chickens but some people will make another cheese from it (ricotta actually is made from whey when it’s not whole milk cheese) but you can also make a refreshing zingy lemonade from it, use it to cook pasta in, make bread with it (it’s sad whey is somewhat of a natural preservative!), etc. etc. etc.

As a side note, this can also be made with citric acid (which can be cheaper than lemons depending on your locale or time of the year). Dissolve 2 tsps. of food grade citric acid in 1 cup of cool water. Add 3/4 cup of the mixture to the milk at 160-165 degrees and allow to come up to 190-195. Follow same instructions as above. If you do not see the curds beginning to separate at 185 degrees or so, add in the remaining 1/4 cup.

Happy ricotta-ing!

August 24, 2013

Saturday Humor

August 21, 2013

[Pig] Fencing for Pasture

“A fence should be horse high, hog tight and bull strong.”

This is what we use to enclose our pigs…

piglets 006

…that’s our boar and that is a single strand of electric wire. It’s braided wire.

It’s a good idea to put in some kind of temporary non-electrified gate for them to go through so if you need to move them you can. They do not like to cross over places where they know electric wire was until they know it will not  be there. Not that moving them has proven to be all that easy for us, it’s a fiasco so we try to just shift them within a pasture by expanding, letting them get used to it and then moving the “old” fence over.

The posts are fiberglass posts that we bought in a bundle of 25 from our local farm store for about $26. The insulators are screw on type (which is the only type that work with these types of posts). I think they are priced at about $5 for 25 of them. The braided wire is about $17 for 1600 feet or so.The prices quoted may be different from the prices via the links. We have two local farm stores that carry several different brands and the brand we used may not have been the brand in the link, I am using the links just to give you an idea of what we used.

We considered fiberglass or plastic posts from most farm stores that already have built in insulators but it was more economical for us to buy the posts and screw on insulators, not to mention the fiberglass posts we got come with a metal sheath (tool) to place over the top of the post to protect the post when you may need to use a hammer to install them. We’ve had so much rain it was easy just to push them into the ground. The pre-insulated posts generally have a plastic piece on top and they are “step-in”. If the ground is rock hard, hitting the tops of the pre-insulated posts will cause the plastic part on top to break rendering the top insulator useless.  In very soft soil or muddy soil, I do not feel there is enough post on the bottom below the plastic step-in piece to anchor it well in the ground and the insulators on the pre-insulated ones are fixed in position.  Given all that, I really just much prefer the fiberglass posts we bought and I can put on as many insulators as needed in the locations I need to put them…which can be very low to the ground if needed for new piglets.

The posts vary in distance between. When we first put up the double strand, they were pretty close. We expanded the first pasture and made the distance between posts much farther and the single strand is farther yet, in some spots, 20 feet or so. Keeping the wire off the ground is key so in hilly terrain you’ll need more posts.

A source of electricity is a must-  solar, battery or plug in fencer – to keep the wires hot, they’ll scoff at a wire that isn’t hot. For those that are already running electric like us, we simply wrap the braided wire around the high tensile and get our juice from there.

It’s important to keep the “fence line” free of weeds, limbs, grass, etc. as interference from these things will ground out your wire. That is the single downfall I have found to our whole electrified system, but really, good maintenance of fence lines is imperative to longevity of your fences no matter what kind they are! I mow a wide path where the fence will be put up which makes mowing or weed eating generally unnecessary before I move it again.

This year with the rain we’ve had, we’ve mowed and weeded eated a little more than usual. Generally about once every month I’ll run along the line with the mower around the whole property, both sides if necessary and we hire one of Jeremiah’s students to go along the fence line with a weed eater once in the spring and 1-2 times in the summer.

pig fencing

Do the pigs tear up the pasture? Sure, a little. They leave the weeds they do not like, they trim the grass & they root but like anything else, rotational grazing works off the basis that you have to rotate them.

August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Never too early to be milk drunk

August 20, 2013

Cilantro lime chicken tostadas

cilantro lime poached chicken (home raised & pastured)

I used a pressure cooker to “poach” my chicken but you could simmer it on the stove or bake it as well but poaching it gives me such a rich broth. I’ve also talked about using a pressure cooker before to make broth (http://wp.me/pN3hE-HN). I have a gallon and a half of cilantro and lime infused broth to make chicken tortilla soup with =).

I place a whole skinned chicken in my pressure cooker with enough water to cover or reach the fill line (whichever is first), a good bunch of washed cilantro and a whole washed lime sliced thinly. A small handful of sea salt and cook for 45 minutes once it comes up to pressure or simmer for at least a few hours.

When ready to assemble:
Fry a tortilla in a little oil (I like sunflower oil) until lightly crisp (or oven bake brushed with a little oil bake at 375 for approx. 12 minutes). Shred cooled chicken and assemble on top of the tortilla.

Additions: black olives, cheese (jack, cheddar, pepper jack, queso blanco, etc.), sour cream or Greek yogurt, lettuce, green onions, red onions, tomatoes, salsa, refried beans, bean and corn salsa (black beans, red onions and corn marinated in a little cilantro and lime), avocado, green salsa or even a nice cheesy vinaigrette if you need it.

A healthy & light, yet filling, summer meal!

August 19, 2013

Monday in the garden

 

August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Frog Friends

August 11, 2013

Flashback photos: Kids

August 10, 2013

Hummus

Hummus…Mmmmmmmmmmm…hummus! Oh deary me how I love me some hummus!! What’s better? It’s good for you! Now, what you eat it WITH may not be great but hummus in and of itself is quite good for you!

We had a “whatever dinner” with friends the other night. Neither of us could think of exactly what would be on the menu so I just told her to bring whatever, I’d make whatever too and we’d eat…well, whatever!  I suppose it could be potential for a dinner disaster but when you plan several easy dishes that would meld well with another, there’s great potential! More on that another time.

Hummus

  • 1  (15-16 ounce) can of cooked chick peas (A.K.A. garbanzo beans),  drained and rinsed in a colander (you could certainly cook your own too from scratch)
  • approx. 1/4 cup good olive oil, more or less (if you’re doing this in a blender and not with an emulsion blender (A.K.A. stick blender) you may want to save 1/4 cup of the liquid the chick peas came in and cut the oil amount in half. Some blenders are better at getting a good emulsion between the peas and oil, others are not and do a better job with more liquid and less oil.)
  • kosher or sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoons tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds. It has a bit of a peanut butter-y taste and if you cannot find this, I substitute sesame oil (which can sometimes be found near the Asian food in your super market). It’s not exactly the same, but there are lots of different kinds of hummus! This can be omitted if you do not like the taste or less can be added.)
  • peeled garlic (LOTS! 3-5 cloves), optional
  • Juice of one lemon

In a blender or deep wide mouthed jar (I use an emulsion blender), blend up your chick peas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. While blending, add your olive oil in a constant stream. You may prefer more or less olive oil than what I’ve noted.  Once the chick pea/oil mixture is well blended and the mixture is flowing through the blade well, taste and add salt to your liking. I find beans usually always need a generous helping of salt. I usually can’t get it as smooth as what comes pre-made from the store but I also don’t have an extrusion blender machine either. The emulsion blender does a fine job though.

You may find it’s not enough stuff for your blender to get a good emulsion, in that case, you may have to make a double batch. I’ve tried making it in a blender before and I just couldn’t get the oil to emulsify well enough, I just really prefer the emulsion blender for the task.

That’s it! You can eat it room temp. or cold. It will solidify some in the fridge. What do you eat it on? Weeeeeell, I made homemade wheat flat bread but the possibilities are practically endless: pita chips, tortilla chips, tortillas, spread on bread instead of mayo or in addition to (I’m thinkin’ Reuben sandwich!), crackers, a dip for veggies or, if you’re like me, sometimes I eat it off a spoon like peanut butter!

There are so many additions too! You could leave out the garlic if you’re not a garlic fan, you could add roasted peppers, spinach, cheese, Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, spice it up with roasted chilies! Heck, you could even omit the chick peas and make it with black beans and add cilantro…it wouldn’t be traditional hummus but I won’t tell! Wouldn’t that make a tasty wrap? It’s a recipe that’s open to a lot of interpretation and a great way to get your protein, fiber, vitamin B-6, iron, etc. It’s low in fat and high in taste!

Happy hummus-ing =)!