variety please…

I know we need the rain … it’s been terribly dry for months and months. Though, a little variety on both ends of that spectrum would be preferable to the all-or-nothing philosophy that the rain gods have been practicing this year. Might I request, mother nature, that you sprinkle some sunshine into the wet weeks and a few showers into the dry weeks? A solid week of cloudy dampness is a bit too much for light-sensitive folk like myself. Still, it’s nice to have the landscape looking less hard-pan and the plants so perky.

Rain clouds make for picturesque misty mountains.

Speaking of plants, the basil is flourishing. I picked a large basket-full yesterday and didn’t even make a dent in the basil patch. Since there’s sooooo much pesto made and put up already, I decided it would be nice to dry some. I know most folk poo-poo using the flower heads, but I find them best for drying. Their flavor is a bit strong when fresh, but this translates into just-right strength once dry, since drying saps out flavor. Also, when you knock the buds off the stems, they are small and dry easily and don’t need to be crushed (which causes flavor loss) to get them into jars. I dried both parts of the plant yesterday … leaves and buds, with one quart zip-lock of each in the final result. Because the buds dried more quickly and evenly, they kept much better color too. Probably won’t bother with drying leaves again.

Corinna

Corinna, who’s staying here on the farm to take care of all the animals while John and Dory are traveling these next couple of weeks, found a recipe for basil & lemon sorbet, which we will try soon, but I’m sure that won’t make a dent in the basil patch either. I need to come up with something that uses LOTS of basil that’s not pesto! It won’t be long before the first frost and all that luscious herb should get used soon!!

We had enough banana peppers the other day that I decided to do a bit of canning. Found a recipe for banana pepper relish in the “Stocking Up” book, but didn’t have quite enough peppers for the whole recipe. Down the page a bit, there was a recipe for green tomato relish, and I thought “why not?” and did the relish with half and half. The sweet of the honey-vinegar, with the spicy of the pepper, toned down by the green tomato worked really well. Was great with smoked salmon and melted sharp white cheddar as an open-face sandwich. And there are three quarts put up for the winter.

Even with the cow giving far less milk — a gallon a day — since she was inseminated, we still have more than we can drink. So, we’ve been making ice cream, yogurt, and fresh cheese to make use of the bounty. I kept hearing that “real” ricotta was made from whey, not whole milk. So, after Corinna made some queso blanco with the whole milk, I gave making whey-ricotta a whirl. The recipes don’t lie when they say that the yield from whey is quite low. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have a use for it since it’s more plentiful than the cheese in the first making.

In hunting for whey-ricotta recipes, I learned some stuff I hadn’t known. Apparently, ricotta translates as re-cooked … as in you cook the milk once to make other cheese, then you strain out the whey, and then re-cook the whey to make the ricotta. Also, a goodly amount of the protein from the milk is in the whey … I suppose that’s a no-brainer since whey powder is probably the most popular protein drink additive. So, another use for the whey liquid from cheese-making is to add it to baking to up the protein content, not to mention adding more flavor than water.

Ricotta & Cherry Muffin

I found a recipe for cherry & ricotta muffins. So, that’s where my scant cup of ricotta went. I used some whey in place of the recipe’s listed buttermilk, since I didn’t have that. They came out VERY moist … almost more of a cupcake than a muffin. Yum!!¬†Next thought for milk use is some yogurt cheese.

Once the rain lets up a bit, we need to get out and seed some lettuce and spinach. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow and saturday, then rain for the next six days (sigh). I’ll be out here at the farm again Saturday, since I have to come this way to go to a Terra Madre meeting nearby that evening. If the weather report is correct, Saturday should be a great greens-planting day.

Yolk Art

Corinna has been taking some great pictures. We’ll be cooking and she’ll suddenly dash off to grab her camera to capture a neat food shot. One recipe called for egg yolks … having used a yellow bowl created an artsy look … click.

From the chicken harvest, there was a bag of feet, which make great soup stock and a rather halloweeny frame during cooking … click.

Stocking Feet

My daily recipe from Chow.com for today was a Butternut Squash Lasagna that sounds totally drool-worthy, and I just so happen to have a butternut from the garden, so that will have to be the next dinner project. Can’t wait!!

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