Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eating Her Curds and Whey...

So continuing on my raw milk series, the next thing we tried making was yogurt. Now I don't know about you but when I work in the kitchen with my husband he is going to try and make the most at one time of what ever we are working on. Example: I make a loaf of bread, slice it up, and freeze it for his lunch sandwiches and he asks, "Why don't you just make the whole loaf into sandwiches now, freeze another loaf and make another one for Phoebe's sandwiches?"(Disclaimer: we really don't eat that much bread per week, but when you run out of bread and it takes 12+ hours to make some more these kind of conversations come up.) So that being said we used to make yogurt in a picnic cooler, yes the big one, you can really make yogurt in anything that will hold the temp of 110-115 degrees for 8 hours. Now I love yogurt, but 5 gallons of yogurt a week is a bit much for our family of four, so now I do a little more than 1 gallon of milk. That turns into about 5 quarts of regular yogurt or 1 quart of greek yogurt plus one quart of regular. It really depends on what I am making that week. What do I do with all this yogurt you ask? Well we use it in place of mayo, in smoothies, for a skin cleanser, yeast problems, overnight oatmeal, sour cream replacement, egg extender, Cream cheese replacement, dips, sauces, and eating just as it is! A book that is useful for ideas with yogurt is Eat Well the YoChee Way by Nikki & David Goldbeck. Yogurt is full of good bacteria, protein, good fats and probiotics and my family just loves it! It is really a versatile food. All you need to get started is some plain yogurt, milk, a pot, a thermometer and low heat source. 

First put your milk in the pot and turn the heat to med. You can heat the milk to 115 and keep the yogurt raw or to 160, really it is up to what you are comfortable with. 

Then once the milk has reached the desired temperature take it off the heat and turn off the burner. (If you choose to heat to 160 you need to let the temperature come down to 115 before moving to the next step.) Get the yogurt out and set it on your counter take the chill off and keep the temperature of the milk from going to low. Now for my gallon of milk I get out about 1 cup of yogurt so if you are doing a smaller batch, say a quart, then 1/8th of a cup would be enough. 

When the milk is 110-115 deg ladle out some of the warm milk into the yogurt you had sitting out, stir to combine and get most of the lumps out. (Do not stir too vigorously or it will damage your culture!) 

Now pour that milk yogurt mix into the pot of warm milk and stir to combine. 

Now you can put that mix into anything that will keep it at the 110-115 degree temperature, like a cooler, a crockpot on warm or wrapped in dishtowls, a yogurt maker or I like to put mine into old yogurt containers and in the dehydrator. Like I said before you can make it in just about anything that holds heat! (You really do not want to go over the temperature suggestions, it will kill your culture and the yogurt will not set.)

It is best to let it culture for 8 hours, the longer you go the more tart it will become and the shorter you go you run the risk of it not firming up. After the 8 hours you should be able to see a container full of yogurt! 

If you want to have a greek style yogurt then all you do is take the yogurt and strain it out in a colander lined with cheese cloth that is over a bowl. The longer you let it drain the thicker it becomes, think cream cheese texture. So I would recommend another 8-12 hours for a greek yogurt like consistency. 

The yellowish liquid that drained out of the yogurt is the whey. Don't toss it! You can use it for soaking your grains, beans and flour to neutralize the phytic acid found in these grains that makes them harder to digest and assimilate the nutrients. All you do is take a Tablespoon of the whey and mix it with the liquid portion of your recipe 12-24 hours prior to cooking. So if you are making a loaf of bread take all the wet ingredients - 1 Tbs, add the Tbs of whey and the flour and let set overnight. The next day add the rest of the ingredients and bake. I have found this really helps me with my gluten sensitivity, if I soak my spelt four I do not have the digestive and skin upset that comes when I don't. A must have book with more information and recipes is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This book has been a wonderful resource for wholesome, healthy food preparations in our household. We also give some whey to our kitty and chickens. 
Another thing you can try is making these "lemon meringue bars" I have adapted the recipe from a vintage pie from Farm Journals Complete Pie Cook Book that was used when lemon juice was an expensive commodity so you had to stretch it out; think Amy March's limes from Little Women. Mine is refined sugar and gluten free. 

Old fashioned with a Twist
"Lemon" Meringue Whey Bars

7 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 3/4 cup almond flour
1/2-cup coconut flour                
1/2 teaspoon sea salt               
2 Tablespoons honey         
2-teaspoon vanilla extract

  •                Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  •                Mix the flours and salt together
  •              Add the wet ingredients and mix well with hands
  •               Press into a 9x7 baking dish lined with parchment paper.
  •               Bake 14 min until the edges are slightly brown.
  •             Let cool for filling

Lemon Filling:
1 ¾ cups of liquid whey
½ cup honey
½ teaspoons liquid stevia
Scant ½ cup of arrowroot powder or cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons of melted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon lemon oil

  •      Bring 1 cup whey to boil in medium saucepan
  •     In separate bowl, whisk honey, arrowroot powder and 1/2 cup cold whey until it forms a smooth paste
  •      Add paste mixture into the hot whey, stirring constantly until it thickens
  •      In another small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and combine with butter, salt, remaining 1/4 cup whey and lemon oil
  •      Temper by pouring a small amount of the hot mixture into egg yolk mixture and stirring, to ensure you don't end up with bits of scrambled eggs
  •     Add tempered mixture back into saucepan, cook 2 min longer or till it thickens.(this is very important as it will not firm up in the fridge if not thick enough.)
  •   Pour filling into crust and chill in refrigerator  

         3 egg whites
         1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
         1/4 teaspoon sea salt
         1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons Erythritol sweetener pulverized in coffee grinder (or pure cane crystals sugar)

  •     Use electric mixer to beat egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla extract in a bowl until entire mixture is foamy, but not yet starting to thicken
  •   Begin to add sweetener, one tablespoon at a time
  •   Beat thoroughly after each addition
  •    Dissolve sugar completely
  •    Once all sugar is added, continue to beat mixture at medium-high speed until it forms stiff, sharp peaks when you lift mixer from bowl
  •     Fill a piping bag or sandwich baggie with a hole cut at one end with the meringue.
  •     Dump remaining meringue in a mound in center and smooth out evenly
  •      Pipe little “kisses” covering the smooth layer of meringue.
  •     Carefully place pie in preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes

Chill before serving

So heres to eating our curds and whey! No spiders please :) 

The Farmer in the Dell

Next week…get ready for magic, and "mug" cheese! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The farmer takes a wife…and shows her how to make butter!

Well I have put it off for some time now. I don’t usually think of myself as a procrastinator, but I hate to admit that in regards to certain things I “prioritize “ other “needs” first. Like the “need” to check my Facebook feed multiple times per day, (why is it so addictive?) I always have this gnawing feeling like there is something better I could be doing to redeem my time. So after much debating I have decided I am ready for a challenge, change, and ready to do what I keep saying I should do but I just don’t! I am going to start blogging about my life as a young farm wife.  My hope is that first it honors the Lord, second is a blessing to others and thirdly challenges me in new ways!  

As an all or nothing personality type these kinds of moods send me into a flurry of activity (insert: can two dozen pints pears, make yogurt and butter and buttermilk while trying to take care of my two little children, start a new workout, make wholesome meals, pay the bills and keep my house from getting a new wallpaper job with shiny stickers.)  Then later in the evening, sore, tired and elbow deep in dirty dishes I find myself realizing why I really need to paste on my forehead, “Everything in Moderation.” Gradual changes seem to last longer. Which is how I gradually changed our household over to natural vs. chemical. I am still working at it, but the changes we have made stuck and are now habit for our family.
One of the new things I learned about when I first met my farmer husband was raw milk.  Who knew that milk separated? Or that it could taste so good!  Milk became a fun experiment, we would try new things, like making cheese, yogurt and butter…things I never knew were so easy to make at home.  We started with butter, and we started by shaking it by hand…not so easy. Then Josh (my farmer) had a better idea, how about we put it in the blender? Really easy. Not to mention if you are using raw milk from grass fed cows the extra nutrition and money saved from buying butter separately are an extra bonus! 

You start by letting your milk set in a wide mouth jar or other container. We used those plastic ice-cream containers so you have a nice way to get at all the cream. Now I get my milk in gallon glass jars but it was easier in the ice-cream buckets! I generally like to let mine sit a whole day in the refrigerator. 

Then skimming off the layer of cream. When you get your milk out you should be able to see a distinct cream line. Now all you do is get a ladle or measuring cup and carefully take off only the cream layer, placing your cream into the blender.  Let it set till it comes to room temperature.  

Next is the easiest part, put the lid on, turn the blender on low and play barnyard bingo with your kids! (Or whatever other muti-tasking you prefer) I can hear a change in sound when mine is done and has reached the “butter” stage.
However if you do want to cut it off early and have whipped cream
instead that is perfectly OK too. When you get to the point where you see milky liquid and little yellow clumps you have butter!

Now carefully pour out the buttermilk into a container and save for pancakes or soaking bread flour.

Next you “rinse” the butter. Fill the blender with cold water and run it with the butter to get all the remaining buttermilk out. This is possibly the most tedious part, as you should do it till the water runs clear, it takes me about 5 times to get there. 

Then once you get your butter clean you have the option of salting your butter. I put the salt on the butter then one last rinse of water to mix it up; the amount of salt is really up to you.

Then after I drain it off  I scoop out my butter and put it into a silicone mold. This one works great as each of the sunflowers is equal to a stick of butter.  Refrigerate and voilĂ ! Beautiful, nutritious, homemade butter made the modern farmwife way!

Have you ever made butter?
Let me know in the comments how you do it or if you never did if you are going
to give it a try. To health and new beginnings,

The Farmers in the Dell