Monday, March 26, 2012

UFH March Challenge :: Cheese Making

I did it!!
I made cheese. 

This month, the Urban Farm Handbook Challenge helped participants learn to preserve milk in different ways.  One of the reasons that i was so excited about this is that i have really be analyzing how we could stop the plastic from coming into our home.  Things like cottage cheese and yogurt are the biggest culprits.

One of the tutorials that Annette referred us to was perfect!
Andrew Wilder's blog, Eating Rules , had a simple recipe for a cheese that reminds me of the cojita cheese you find in the Mexican restaurants.

SO into the kitchen with the trusty laptop we went.

A half gallon of whole milk and some lemons later....
we had cheese curds!

My whey never really became a clear liquid, and i was too afraid to add more lemon juice,
because i wanted Cookie to eat it. :)

 While the curds drained,

I took a walk out into the yard to see what i could find.  Lo!  And behold, the chives are sprouting!

Snip, Snip Little Chives.  I am going to make you a star
in my homemade cheese!

And because the main goal in making "cheese"was to reduce our plastics, i had stumbled upon an Alton Brown (my favourite food chemist) recipe for homemade cottage cheese and had experimented with that recipe.  It was tasty, however i like Andrew's better because you use lemon juice rather than vinegar and lemon juice gave the cheese a fresher flavour.

To make "cottage cheese", Alton simply added a little cream back into the curbs, once they were dry.

Oh Baby!  Homemade Cottage Cheese with Chives!!
This cheese is a versitile one.  After we made a cottage chese snack with it, we sprinkled the rest of the dry curds on our bean and rice for lunch.
This is the other handy thing about Andrew's recipe.
All these spent lemon halves that you are left with are handy for cleaning the copper pots.
Sprinkle a little salt on the pan and rub the lemon around....

Especially nice if you are one of those people that has a pan rack for storing you pots!
Andrew makes you into a super huge rock star --
You make cheese...your pans sparkle...your friend refer to you as Martha or Helouise...

You may actually feel the need to get a red and white striped tank top, blue bloomers with stars on them, and some rockin' gold go-go boots.

Now, if you'll excuse me, i know i left that invisible rocket ship around here somewhere.... :)

Have you heard about the Urban Farm Handbook Challenges? PNW authours Annette Cottrelle and Joshua McNichols have designed an ingenious series of monthly challenges, related to topics in their awesome book, that draw each of us closer to self-sufficiency. There are varying degrees of participation, yet much to be learned from not only the authours, but the participants as well. If you are interested in learning more about a more sustainable way of life, please visit their website called Sustainable Eats and sign up for the challenge. Or just follow along.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Place and Yours :: My New Kitchen

Have you heard of the meme My Place and Yours at Deb's blog Works in Progress

It's where you share pictures of your home with other brave souls on the Internets.

Once i read this, i thought, "Dear me, that would be a wonderful way to inspire myself to put more things away to be able to show you all more pictures of the inside of the house!"  So here is my contribution, late this week (i need to remember that NZ's Saturday morning is my Friday night!)

One of the things i love best about this kitchen is the space!
I feel like Food Network Royalty cooking in this kitchen, because our last kitchen was a galley style kitchen.  I believe you would call this a farm-style kitchen, as it has enough room in it for a small dinette.  Also, that blue colour is one of my all time favourites.

When we were looking at the online listing on this house, we were perplexed by the brillant blue cabinets and wondered what inspired them.  At the first showing, we discovered it was a blue found in the countertops.  I've found a "Made in Spain" stamp on the underneath.  Wondering what kind of material it is?

Who'd mind doing dishes with
a view like this to look at while you do.
In keeping with my "If I Wait til it Looks Magazine Clean it Will Never Happen" theory, i haven't left out this part of the kitchen.  Even though there is a particularly heinous pile of "Stuff Without a Home" there on the right.

In this corner, the magic happens.

Just yesterday, we made homemade cottage cheese here!

A cabinet above this area holds some of my thrifted Pyrex.

Next to the oven is a place for a trash can,
however we find it works much better as a "Kitter's Buffet".

The pantry is located in these cabinets here.
The previous owner left the pot holder.
It's a cast iron rack--i absolutely *love* it!

Two pieces of my vintage embroidery collection reside in the kitchen.
This one is my favourite in my collection:  the bag of flour labelled "Gold Medal" and
 the cookie cutters are so endearing.

I hope this sentiment holds true.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my kitchen.  To join in, just give Deb's blog a visit.  The theme changes each week and you have a week to enter.  See you there!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy (Belated) St. Patrick's Day!

Hoping you had a wonderful holiday celebration this weekend!  It was a departure from the norm for us this year.  We hosted a dear friend at our new home the entire weekend, spent St. Patrick's Day tootling about the house, went to Mass and shared a relaxing dinner together with my brother-in-law, whose homily was wonderful that evening.  He compared the life of St. Patrick to the Sunday Gospel...which was not only enlightening, but very appropriate instruction for today's Catholic or Christian activists.

Our corned beef and cabbage was prepared Sunday.  It was a little different from previous years too.  Cookie brined our own beef--we tried a pot roast, as our butcher was out of his house corned beef.  We used the River Cottage recipe for brining corned beef, and somehow it turned out too salty.  Even though there is room for improvement, we still enjoyed our time together.

It's a blessing to have your traditions mixed up a bit sometimes, eh?

Hope you had a good one, how ever you celebrated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sorry, We Don't Want Any

bing bong (doorbell rings)

eerrrrkkk (door opens)

"Oh, great.  It's you."

"Have i mentioned that the chickens just started laying 2 - 3 eggs a day?
And for the love of Pete, we just planted our peas!"

"And then you bring us this.  Harmph!"

"The birds are crying foul too!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

This One's For You, Momma!

So, the thing about moving and still living so far away from your parents is that they can't just come over and see how things are progressing on the new place.  My folks rely on this blog for that. 

However, some of the changes around here just aren't ready for publication on The Internets just yet.  For the perfectionist in me. 

But houses can't look magazine ready all the time, eh?  So, guess what?  It's time to share with my mom, and the world, what our new furniture looks like.

Mom, you asked for it, and here they are--

The Dining Room Hutch
Ikea Hemnes Line

Living Room Bookcase
Ikea Liatorp Line

2nd Living Room Bookcase

TV Stand
Ikea Liatorp Line
There are eventual plans for things to make them look more tidy.  The bookcase in the dining room will be for cookbooks and school books (okay, so maybe the school shelves won't be so tidy.)  And the backs of the dining cabinets will either get a coat of paint or paper to liven them up a bit.  The cabinets in the tv stand will get some sort of treatment too so that our eccentric movie collection can't be scrutinised by every one who graces our doorstep. :) 

The bookshelves...well, they are going to remain as is.

I mean, it's not like people don't suspect we're a little eccentric. :)

So, whadd'ya think, Mom?

Thanks to Moose for procuring and manufacturing all the furniture--it's like Christmas around here, unpacking all these treasured books/teapots/pictures/etc. that have been languishing in cardboard for 5 years!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sunny Day

Wow, a second day of beautiful sunny weather yesterday.

We decided we'd take a little hike, even though it was a stay at home day.

We checked out the pond.

We hiked up the hill and through the trees.

Check out the house

and the surrounding area from here. 

I still can't believe i live here!
 We watched lenticular clouds dance around Mt. Rainier.

Did you know that you can predict the weather according to the clouds and Mt. R?

Cookie learned that a steel gate makes a for a great swing

and a good set of monkey bars too.

After our hike, we sat on the back porch reading magazines and a little monkey business.

I couldn't resist taking this picture of my
little monkey. :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

Dear Spring,

As the war with Winter wages on,

know that deep down in our knuckles and other joints, we ache for your return.

Officials have dared stoke our hopes for your early return with images of sunny skies and 60 degree days tomorrow.  We know you are battle weary, but if you could please help our weathermen look like they know what they are talking about, we all would be eternally grateful. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oh, You're Still Here?

Hullo Winter.  :(

Aren't you tired yet?

We'd certainly love it if you were.

Whit & Family

P.S.  The neighbourhood birds have a few
choice words for you too. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

UFH February Challenge :: Soil Building

Part of the deal when we decided to move here was to try to grow as much of our own food as all the veg we could ever consume, so that not only could we try to save $$$, but so that i won't have to step in a grocery store again.

What? A girl can dream, eh?

Since we've only just moved in to the place a month ago, our priority hasn't really been the garden just yet--especially since Moose and i are recovering from surgeries for skin cancer (remember your sunscreen friends!!) and we are still trying to ready the other house for sale. 

However, knowing that Spring is right around the corner, i could just die if i don't plant something.  And for that, we need to start building our soil up, eh?  So isn't this challenge perfectly timed then?  It's that like poke in the rear to get us thinking in the right direction anyway.  Thank you Annette and Joshua for that!

Especially timely was siting a compost pile.  After a month of throwing food scraps away, i can no longer bare the guilt of one more banana or onion peel in the trash! :) 

So, we came up with a list of things that we required of a compost pile:

1.  Easy access from the garden, kitchen, and chicken coop.
2.  Something that the chickens can access as well, so they can add a little goodness to the pile.
3.  Something that was out of the standing water that collects around here in the heavy rainstorms.
4.  Someplace out of view of our neighbours.
5.  Someplace close in proximity to the greenhouse and the garden.

We decided on one of the former alpaca shelters for now.  Just out the back door is the girls' coop and a series of fields segregated by fencing.  We've opened up the fences so the girls can free range.

First gate past the coop is the shelter where we're keeping the compost, for now.  To the right of the shelther is a large gate that will allow us access by tractor or wheelbarrow to or from the fields just behind the gate or the greenhouse there on the left of the picture.

We even started our pile with some alpaca surprise. :)

At our old house, the girls had such a great time rummaging through the pile, that we figured we'd continue the tradition here too.  They love the kitchen treats and some of the veg patch thinnings.

Maybe at a later date, we will move the compost out into the garden itself.  One thing that makes me nervous is that the compost may attract wild critters in such close proximity to the girls.   However, i would want to construct a nice looking compost bin, so our neighbours up the hill from our wouldn't have to look at that mess. 

Another thing we have on the "to do" list is sourcing fertilizer or components of.  Hoping that the feed store just down the street has something that will work.

* * *

Have you heard about the Urban Farm Handbook Challenges?  PNW Authours Annette Cottrelle and Joshua McNichols have designed an ingenious series of monthly challenges, related to topics in their awesome book, that draw each of us closer to self-sufficiency.  There are varying degrees of participation, yet much to be learned from not only the authours, but the participants as well.  If you are interested in learning more about a more sustainable way of life, please visit their website called Sustainable Eats and sign up for the challenge.  Or just follow along.