Friday, January 23, 2015

Make it Yourself - cheese

Cheese is expensive, y'all. Full stop. Now, while I am no Caroline Ingalls, buttering and aging cheese for my family on the pantry shelf, I have dipped my toes into cheese making. I will say that mozzarella is my favorite, but this recipe for farm cheese is the most accessible, easiest recipe I've tried. You don't need rennet, citric acid, or any aging. As a matter of fact, part of its appeal is that you likely have everything you need to make it right now.

For the cost of a gallon of milk (under $3 if you're doing it right), and a half hour of time, you can have about a pound of delicious farm cheese and heaping helping of whey to make crepes, pancakes, or as a power-packed drink for yourself or your chickens. (You DO have chickens, right?)

This is not the stuff that you Kraft sells, wrapped in plastic on your grocery store shelves. It isn't a hard cheese. It is soft and crumbly - more like a feta or ricotta with a very mild flavor. It lends itself well to adding garlic, herbs, and the like.

So here's what you'll need:
1 gallon of milk - any milk will do, but whole milk makes for a tastier cheese.
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I make my own, but that's another post!)
1 Tbsp salt
minced garlic, herbs, or whatever else you'd like to add

  • Place your milk in a large pot, bring to a boil
  • Remove from heat
  • Pour in vinegar and stir
  • Wait for the cheese curds to separate from the whey. You will know that this has occured when the whey is yellowish and clear - not white.

  • Pour the contents of the pot into a colander lined with cheesecloth, a bandana, or a clean cloth napkin (like I did here) set into a large bowl to catch the whey.

  • Add salt and/or herbs
  • Gather the cloth up and give it a good twist to remove the excess whey. Be careful. It is very hot. Because of this, I sometimes tie the corners of the cloth together over a skewer and hang it through the handles on my kitchen cabinets, allowing the excess whey to drip out.
  • That's it! You now have about a pound of farm cheese. Eat it on salads, in pastas. Spread it on crackers or eat it straight from the bowl.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Make it Yourself - bread

I have found my new go-to bread recipe. I used to prepare a dough in my bread machine and bake it in the oven, though I had to keep a close eye on the timing, this worked...until my bread machine went kaput. I've looked for an easy recipe ever since. I found it! I remember reading about Jim Lahey years ago in Martha Stewart's Living magazine, but I didn't own a Dutch oven. I clipped the article anyway (this was long before Pinterest). Well, my neighbor mentioned that he has made bread this way, so I went searching. Apparently, good ol' Martha also had him on her show. You can find the link (with video, no less) here.

This is a super easy bread that is crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. It is great for sandwiches or stand alone. The beauty of it all is that you mix up a few ingredients at night and leave it alone for 12-18 hours. You let it rise again for a couple of hours and bake it in a hot Dutch oven. So easy!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meat shopping trip

After my No Spend month and a half and the holidays, my pantry and freezer were looking pretty bare. I was in Taylorsville this morning - a small town outside of Louisville and decided to stop into Country Mart and stock up on meat.

This is one of the ways I am able to save so much money on my grocery budget each month. I hit Country Mart every three months or so.

Well, here is what I got today!

Here's the list:
20lbs potatoes
17 1/2lbs pork butt
10lbs breakfast sausage
6 1/2lbs chicken legs
10lbs pollock
10lbs sirloin pork steaks
10lbs bacon

Total? $112!  That's just over $1.50/lb for the meat!

There are great deals out there if you are willing to look and maybe go a bit off the beaten path.