Monday, August 27, 2012

Unpredictable Issac

The computer models still do not agree where Issac will make landfall.  It is anywhere between the Florida panhandle and New Orleans, Louisiana.  That is about a 350 mile span as the crow fly's...crazy.   Seven years ago yesterday was when Katrina hit.  That was devastating to Mississippi and Louisiana.   With Issac barreling through the Gulf you know they can't help but be afraid.

Yesterday, I looked out my kitchen window to a very blue sky and green grass.  Green grass is almost unheard of here in August.  It is usually brown and crunches when you walk across it.  Our pond is usually down 3 or 4 feet this time of the year but this year it is filled and actually overflowing on the low end.  We have only had 4 or 5 days in the month of August that it hasn't rain and it rained quiet a bit in July as well.

Three days ago we had 5 inches of rain in just a couple of hours.  It washed out the road getting to our house pretty bad.  

 There is standing water all along the roadside.  Papa Bear and the Good Neighbor took their tractors and got the road passable again.  This water is nothing compared to what Issac will dump on us.

Yesterday, Papa Bear took down the flag pole and Martin Houses.

I baked bread for sandwiches if needed, made a cheesecake and attempted to catch up on the laundry

I checked all of our food, water and supplies and for once there was not one thing I needed from town which is a great feeling.  We can make do for quiet a while without going anywhere.  The generators are gassed up and have been moved to the porch along with extra tanks of fuel.  I have a two burner Coleman stove and cases of the little gas cylinders should I need something to cook on.. The goats will get extra hay tonight and tomorrow just in case we can't get to them.  Today, we will watch the weather channel and wait.  There is nothing left to do.  

The thing I am concerned about most is our electricity.  We belong to a co-op and buy our power from Alabama.  Any trees that come down between here and Alabama and fall on the lines can affect us.  The year Opal hit we were without power for almost 2 weeks.  At least now we have generators and can keep the freezers and refrigerator going and a fan for the Marine.  He has breathing problems when he gets too hot.   Our ground is saturated so I don't think it will take a whole lot of wind to uproot some of them.

I pray for all of you who are in Issac's path.  I pray that we have nothing more than a little breeze and a shower.

Nippy doesn't seem to be concerned.  Maybe I shouldn't be either!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Waaahhhh....I can't taste !

I almost missed the plate when I flipped it over and out of the pan.


I had to cut off the piece that was about to break and fall on the table.   Papa Bear is out working on our road so he couldn't have this piece I had to sacrifice.

All I can taste is sweet.  I can't taste that wonderful one and only pineapple that I grew this year.

If you can't taste it, do the calories count?

 I didn't have a whole lot of pineapple and I didn't have any of the cherries that make it so pretty so I sprinkled coconut and walnuts on top and called it a tropical upside down cake.  I also made it in my Granny's iron skillet.  

I think I may freeze a piece until I am over this nasty cold.

For the Marine

Flowers in the Canyon
"For our profit" (Heb. 12:10).
In one of Ralph Connor's books he tells a story of Gwen. Gwen was a wild, willful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to having her own way. Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life. She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the Sky Pilot, as the missionary among the mountaineers was termed.
He told her the parable of the canyon. "At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, 'Where are your flowers?' and the Prairie said, 'Master I have no seeds.'
"Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long. Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: 'Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wind-flowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?'
"And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said:
"'Where are those my sweetest flowers?' and the Prairie cried sorrowfully:
"'Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.'
"Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound.
"But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black mould, and once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and wind-flower and maiden-hair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master's favorite place for rest and peace and joy."
Then the Sky Pilot read to her: "The fruit--I'll read 'flowers'--of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness--and some of these grow only in the canyon."
"Which are the canyon flowers?" asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: "Gentleness, meekness, long suffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon."
For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: "There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks."
"Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them."
Beloved, when you come to your canyon, remember!

a Friday funny this morning

Papa Bear looks into the sink where I usually have the milk  strained, in quart jars and iced down.  This morning there is only a little over a half of quart.

"Where is the rest of the milk?"

"I gave it to Lady."  She is one of our livestock guardian dogs.

"Why, Did you drip snot in it? 

"No, I poured coffee in it."  I have a cold, he's already laughed at me in the barn while I was milking.  I had to stuff tissue up my nostrils to keep from dripping into the milk!

"You coughed in it?"

"No, I poured coffee in it."  

Just as I was getting to the front door the lid come off of the milk bucket.  I bent over to pick it up, forgetting that I had my Henry Milker on my shoulder.  I always set my coffee in one of the compartments when I go to the milk barn.  When I bent over to pick up the lid, my cup of coffee poured into the milk perfectly.  I'm just standing there thinking...I can make coffee yogurt with this batch and then I think the coffee came from my very germy coffee cup and I don't know if heating the milk to 185 degrees will destroy the cold germs.  Rather than risk it, I gave Lady about 3 quarts of warm coffee flavored milk.  She didn't mind at all.  I don't think a dog can catch a cold from a person.  At the time I didn't think just to go into the house and come back later for the lid.  Must be all the snot clogging up my head.  I'll be glad when this is over.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Get Ready Florida

...looks like Issac is headed for the gulf.  I hope all of my fellow Floridians have their hurricane preparations underway and everyone stays safe.  We have a few days to get stocked up.

My one and only....

pineapple is ready.  Actually, it is almost too ripe but oh my goodness, it is good!  I usually manage to harvest 5 or 6 each year but I must have not held my mouth right cause this year we only have one.

Yes...we have no banana's this year either.   They sure grew tall enough as you can see the roof line behind the trees but no nanners.  

 Brought my one and only inside and admired it a few minutes

then I twisted it's head off so I could start yet another pineapple plant

you do this by grasping the leaves close to where they join the fruit. be careful cause they will stick you and grasp the fruit twisting each in opposite directions.

peel the bottom leaves off one at a time starting from the very bottom until you expose enough that will stick down in a pot of potting soil.  If you look real careful, you can see little white and brown nubs, these are roots already beginning to form.  They really are anxious to grow and reproduce.  I usually leave mine on the counter top for a few days before I plant it.

I don't grow enough pineapple to warrant a peeler and corer so I begin by slicing mine into

and again to make quarters

cut out the white core on each piece. 

and then slice the fruit out of the pineapple shell (peel)

I take a spoon and scrape the shell to get every bit  of the good stuff. 

Yummy!  I am trying to decide what to make with this wonderful stuff!  I found some recipes for pineapple cheesecake....I can use some of the cream cheese I made the other day!  Maybe a fruit salad or how about a pineapple upside down cake cooked in a cast iron skillet....decisions...decisions.   I need more pineapple!

I put the spoon scrapings in the fresh vanilla yogurt I made yesterday.  Papa Bear and I had it for a mid-morning snack.

I chopped the core, shell and added the leaves I peeled to give to my girls for a treat

Thanks Mom!

Seriously ????

I had a few minutes this AM to read some of the blogs on my list.  I tried to leave a comment and got this.

I guess I didn't prove I wasn't a robot so I got this one.

I am still a robot cause I still didn't get it right.  I went on a mad search for my reading glasses but after a third try, I decided my comment wasn't worth all of this extra effortI will now use my reading glasses to go through the 40 pounds of junk mail on my desk marked bulk rate postage.  Too bad there is not something we can set at the post office to keep from getting all of this spam.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Easy French Style Chevre or Cream Cheese

This is very similar to neufchatel which is a french cream cheese and can be used in any recipe calling for cream cheese.

In a double boiler warm 5 quarts of pasteurized goats milk to 80 degrees

If you don't have any of these girls to milk,  I understand you can use 1 gallon of whole milk (don't get the ultra pasteurized it won't set curds) and 1 pint of heavy whipping cream but please note I have not tried it from store bought milk.

When your milk reaches 80 degrees remove from heat and add 1/8 teaspoon of Mesophilic DVI culture or 1 of the little packages you can get from a cheese supply house or 1/2 cup of cultured buttermilk (get the freshest date as possible when purchasing from store)  I have experimented with all 3 with the same great results.  Y'all did notice the or's here didn't you?....Don't put all of them into that milk or I don't know what you will get.

Put 3 drops of rennet in 1/3 cup of cool water and stir.  Measure 2 tablespoons of this dilution and add to your milk.  Pour the rest down the drain.  (it's's only a little bit and diluted rennet is no good in about 30 minutes or so )

Stir well and cover. Let set for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature. 
 If you make this at night before you go to bed it will be ready to drain in the morning.

It is now morning and we have done our chores and opened the pot to find this lovely mass of curd that resembles a very thick yogurt.

Place a colander in the sink and line it with butter muslin (I don't have any) or you can use an old freshly washed pillow case (Ive done that) just don't use any fabric softener on it.  You don't want your cream cheese tasting of downy or bounce...yuk  
Don't use regular cheese cloth.  It is too thin and your lovely cream cheese will wash down the drain.  I found a package of flour sack towels at Sam's Club.  After 4 or 5 washings they are soft and work great for my cheese projects.  I really hate cheese cloth.

Now pour your pot of curd into your lined colander.  It's looking real good huh?

Gather up the edges to make a bag and tie the top closed with a thin rope, twine, yarn...whatever you can find.  If you used a big enough piece of cloth you can knot it all together.  I use a piece of bailing twine from our hay bales.  There is 101 uses for that stuff.

Hang it to drain at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.  I run a spoon through my twine and stick it between 2 cabinet knobs.  Don't forget to put a pan under it to catch the whey that will be draining from the bag.  

After 6 to 8 hours it will look like this and be a solid mass.  I thought this batch looked like the mashed potato sculpture from Close Encounters.

Put in a bowl and admire it a few minutes while you decide what to make with it.  Oh and you have to take the gum out of your mouth and lay it on the counter while you have a small taste! 

I already have another batch in the refrigerator I am about to turn into (don't look kymber) a cheesecake for Papa Bear so I am freezing this batch.  Your fresh cream cheese can be frozen up to 6 months, thawed in the refrigerator and used in your recipes.

I measured mine out to make 1 pound packages.  I then put it into a one quart Ziploc freezer bag.

 I smashed it as flat as possible, pushing as much air as I could out of the bag.  A flat bag stores much better in the freezer.

This recipe makes a tad over 2 1/2 pounds of wonderful homemade French Chevre or Cream Cheese.....

Really Easy..Hope you make it and tell me how you like it.

Cheese Glorious Cheese.....

My first attempt at making cheese ended up as chicken food...before it even made it to the press.  The first wheel that made it to the press was aged two months and cut open.  It was really dry but tasted like cheddar and worked fine in casseroles and making cheese toast!  I finally figured out that my thermometer was off by 7 degrees and I was heating my curds too high.  I bought a new thermometer.

We just cut open the 2nd wheel that has aged 2 months and we have a real, nothing wrong with it, wheel of cheddar.  Had a couple of slices with some crackers and an ice cold beer last night.  I'm such a connoisseur....LOL

For those of you who do not know...(like me at first) all cheese is white or slightly off white.  It is a dye that gives cheese the orange color you buy from the store.  The dye does not change the taste...only the look.  I have since broken down and bought the dye and the last 4 or 5 wheels of cheddar and Colby I've made are a lovely orange.

Pepper Jack Cheese

I love pepper jack cheese.  In the past few months I have made Farmhouse Cheddar, stirred curd cheddar, jalapeno cheddar , traditional cheddar and several soft cheeses but no pepper jack which is my favorite.  It is a little easier to make than cheddar.  

I used a Monterrey Jack recipe for the base and cooked the jalapenos like I did for the jalapeno cheddar and added the cooked pepper and some dried pepper flakes before pressing. Very simple and both wheels I've done have turned out so yummy looking. 

The first one didn't look peppery enough

I doubled up on the pepper on my second one.  This one looks right!

You have to let them air dry a few days until you feel no moisture on the outside. The one on the right is ready for waxing.  Since Pepper Jack is a semi soft cheese it spreads out a tiny bit an becomes somewhat "squaty"

Now it is time to give it a waxed coating.  I dip mine about 5 or 6 times letting it dry in between coats. 

I set the waxed cheese on a plate and set it in the main refrigerator about an hour to get the wax really hard.

 Then it goes into my "Cheese Cave" which is a wine cooler.

Pepper Jack is made from my goats pasteurized milk.  It will age from 1 to 3 months but you know I am counting the days until one month is up!

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