Homesteading, News

Spring 2018 -Goslings, gardening, busy bees

Lots has been going on here in Judbury.

We’ve had family visit which was lovely but it’s always nice to get back into our routine after. Little Ember has been to the paediatrician to make sure her skull hasn’t fused early which would mean surgery. Something we’d really like to avoid since I worked so hard to have a natural birth after two cesareans. We’ve been doing regular cranio work with the chiropractor which seems to be helping so we are remaining positive at the moment it’s all watch and wait until she’s two.

She’s nearly four months now and is looking so much like her big sister at that age.

Our landlord took his bees away which we all decided was for the best as the hive was neglected and it was too much for newbies like us to take on.

Instead we went out and found our own year old colony and hive from a local bee keeper and it is very healthy and buzzing away. The orchard has just burst into flower and the bees are happily helping pollinate the cherries. We will do a thorough inspection on the weekend and soon after harvest the honey. I’m really excited about our veg garden this year and becoming amateur bee keepers.

If there’s no queen cells found during the inspection then we are going to put a extra super on top to try and prevent swarming but we are also planning to set bait hives up around the property to catch swarms so we will have more hives next year.

We’ve had some other new additions with our goslings hatching. Only two are out so far and unfortunately they have splayed legs which we have bandaged to try and correct. We watched a great YouTube video by a Australian farmer https://youtu.be/cF86DffddXc and I highly recommended watching it if you have similar problems. The Goslings are now looking great and waddling around.

Dane has been working hard getting the goose yard ready he’s brush cut all the thistles, taken down a old garden net and started building a gate for easier access.

The garden is looking wonderful. Dane’s been building some beds in the ground to give the garlic more room and have the beds free for summer veg. We plan to have a flower garden at one end of the orchard and plant out some of the lemon balm and apple mint we have in pots.

It’s hard having having possums destroy everything outside of the netting as it means we have to plan more and restrict what we plant in the ground.

The netting at the end of the orchard needs a lot of work to repair but the long term plans are to fix it up and have berries growing in it.

I’ve been dabbling in wetfelting and found a new passion for making hats

I’m really enjoying learning about the process and will be putting my early creations on Etsy to try and raise the funds towards better equipment. Eventually I’d like to be able to make farm hats.

I’ve been busy at night making cheese after a generous gift of milk from a friend. It’s been fun refreshing all my cheese making skills and we are reminded of our time with our old Jersey. We won’t get a cow again for a long time but we would like goats at some point. For now we have our hands full and we will keep happily busy enjoying all the promises of spring.

Cheese, Foody things

Mascarpone recipe

Recently I posted a photo of the mascarpone I made on Facebook and instagram and I was asked to share the recipe.

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I’ve had lots of lovely thick jersey cream from Kisses and haven’t felt like making butter. Usually I would make cream cheese but having run out of starter I needed a another option.

Mascarpone is a delicious citrusy Italian cream cheese that can be quite expensive to buy but is very easy to make. You can use vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid combined with cream. For the purpose of this recipe I am using citric acid but feel free to experiment.

Mascarpone

Ingredients

1litre cream
1teaspoon citric acid

Method
1. Pop your cream in a heavy saucepan and very slowly heat the cream stirring every now and then. Bring the cream to 90 degrees celsius (use a meat or candy thermometer to measure this)

2. Once you have brought cream to temp remove from heat and add the citric acid stirring for 5 minutes.

3. Place a colander or sieve lined with a muslin/cheese cloth over a bowl and Poor the cream mix in. cover with a plate and move to the fridge to drain the liquid for 8 hours.

4. Poor off the drained whey. This can be used in breads, soups, stocks or to make ricotta.
Scrape your mascarpone into a container and use as you wish.
We made a mascarpone baked  cheesecake with lime and raspberry if anyone would like the recipe to this please ask and I’ll add it to the post. (Sorry no photo of the actual cheesecake it went too quick but here’s the before 😋)

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Baking, cake, Cheese, Foody things, Homesteading

With Seaweed comes cream cheese.

He has arrived! Our long awaited calf was born not long after my last post and
we were delighted to find a little bull calf!
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As a meat eaters I really want to have a relationship with the meat we consume and for it to be as ethical as possible so home produced beef has been one of our homesteading goals since the beginning.
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Nyah named the little bull calf seaweed to continue the tradition (our last calf female calf being Stingray).
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Our relaxed milking routine has kicked off and we have already started cheese making. I’ve been asked a bit recently how we manage a cow along with everything else we do so I thought I could give a bit of insight into our life with a dairy cow.
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The key to a ‘easy’ routine is milk sharing with the calf while it is young this means we don’t seperate and in the afternoon Dane will get Kisses food ready bring her into the yard. He will squirt some milk on the ground to clear any dirty milk out of the teat then wash the tests and udder with warm soapy water and milk by hand while kisses eats and the calf frolics around the yard.
The positives to this system are that kisses is relaxed having her calf close by and it doesn’t matter greatly if we are late or miss a day of milking but there are some negative points too.
For one because we don’t use a milking stand I can’t milk her as I often have the children with me and sometimes cows can be moody.
We also don’t get as much milk as we could if we were milking twice a day and separating for long periods.
We do get 5-7litres a day with thick cream it’s not the most we COULD be getting but it’s more than enough for our families home dairying.

After the milk is brought in its poured through a sterilized cheese cloth into another food safe bucket and left to sit in the fridge over night until the cream settles.
The cream is then skimmed with a ladle and placed into the cream jar and the milk poured into the milk jugs.

So there you have it our milking routine. We will start seperating the calf for a hour prior to milking and increase after that once the amount of milk we are getting declines but once a day hand milking is enough.

Last week I made some cream cheese and used that to make a delicious baked creme brulee cheese cake. You’ve never tasted cheese cake until you’ve had it with home made cheese and free range eggs. Absolutely sublime!
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For anyone who’d like to try making their own cream cheese below is the recipe I used its my adaptation of Dick and James Strawbridge recipe from made at home cheese and dairy which is a great book for beginners like myself.

Cream cheese
Ingredients
1 litre milk
1 litre of double cream
1/4 tsp mesophilic starter
3drops rennet mixed with 1 tablespoon sterilized water

1.Heat milk and cream slowly over low heat for 20minutes until it reaches 40C turn off and allow to cool to 30C

2.sprinkle starter over surface and leave for 5 minutes. Stir and add Rennet

3.cover and leave in a warm place for 12 hours
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4. Transfer to a cheesecloth lined colander and drain for 6-8 hours then season to taste.

That’s it now you can use it for whatever takes your fancy. If you would like to try a creme brulee cheesecake just follow a new York cheesecake recipe then after you bake sprinkle the top with caster then caramelize with a blow torch and serve with fruit.
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Homesteading, News

News

We had a lovely weekend here at the swap meet and sold many of our preserves and spaghetti squash. It was lovely to chat to people with similar passions and I really hope they enjoyed our produce.

This week we decided to harvest the pumpkins. I know we could have got a lot more out of the vines had we left them but we have a lot of seedlings that need to go into the ground and only limited chicken proof growing space. I have been getting increasing frustrated with the young chicks getting into my seedling growing patch so it’s time to get them in.

D made the beautiful arrangement and took this photo.

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We have been having a up and down battle with Kisses recently and went a week without milk even having to buy some! It started with her being on heat but then she just refused to let down , the milk was there but she was saving it for her calf. We really don’t want to build a stanchion as we don’t know how long we will be here and we like having a good relationship so we don’t need it. As separating during the day wasn’t working we now separate over night and milk in the morning HOORAY we are now back in business and I can make mozzarella today!

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I had some new books arrive in the post so I thought I would throw in a wee book review to make up for my lack of recipes.

The first is Dick and James Strawbridge Cheese and dairy made at home cheese

I really enjoyed this father and son duos self sufficiency book and tv series not easy being green so I thought I’d give this one a try. It has some basic recipes that look easy to follow but focuses more on bought milk than owning your own cow. I was a little disappointed on the amount of cheese recipes as there are a lot of recipes for cooking dishes that use cheese but not so many on making the actual cheese but still I think I will use it. I am very excited about making the clotted cream to have with scones next time we have guests. This is a really simple recipe and I will share it when I next make it. All in all I thought it was a nice book and I do really like the small easy to read in bed size.

The other book I ordered was the farmers kitchen handbook by Marie W Lawrence

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I am so excited by this book , I didn’t really know what to expect ordering it but it’s wonderful full of stories and great recipes for all the year. Like the cheese and dairy book it’s a small “read in bed size”So I look forward to thoroughly going through it all. Being a American book it has loads of great sweet recipes and I tried out the Boston Cream pie and WOW was it amazing so I will be making this again so I can share it with you. I will of course lower the sugar like I do with most recipes as the one in the book I thought was much to sweet especially for little ones.  The recipes in this book is set out to go with the American Seasons and there is one for traditional Easter bread with a dyed egg that I am eager to try this Easter.

Well that’s all for now Today I will be back soon with a Post for Lime Cordial and Mozzarella which I will make in the next two days.

Cheese, Homesteading, News

Cheese Please

I have been starting to make cheese recently and thoroughly enjoying it. I am particularly happy about Haloumi which I came to love when living in Marrickville but it is very hard to by good quality Haloumi here and it can also be very expensive. I was so happy to find that it’s actually really easy to make and after some trial and error and testing a few recipes I found a great one which I have adapted to work for me.  http://wholesome-cook.com/2012/07/18/homemade-haloumi-cheese-in-an-hour/ she also has mouth watering photos of her cheese!

haloumi

Homemade Haloumi Cheese in an Hour
Author: Martyna | Wholesome Cook
Recipe type: Cheese, Haloumi, Homemade
Cuisine: Cypriot, Greek
Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  25 mins
Serves: ~300g
To make the cheese you will need an milk/meat thermometer ; a large sheet of gauze/cheese cloth/muslin and a rennet tablet.(I buy vegetarian ones off ebay cheap)
Ingredients
For the Haloumi Cheese:
  • 1 litre unhomogenised (organic) cow’s milk
  • 1 litre goat’s milk (I just used 2 litres raw cows milk)
  • 1 rennet tablet
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tbsp dried Italian herbs (optional)
  • ¼ tbsp chilli flakes, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp salt
For the Brine:
  • 1 cup of the leftover whey
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp salt
To make the Haloumi Cheese:
  1. Place milk into a large saucepan. Dissolve rennet tablet in 1 tablespoon water.
  2. Heat milk over slow heat until it reaches 32°-35°C // 89.5°F – 95°F. Remove from heat immediately and add dissolved rennet.. (note if you get distracted and let milk overheat you MUST wait for it to cool to correct temp before adding rennet)
  3. Stir for a few seconds then set aside for 30 minutes in a warm place. The milk should set and become jelly like.
  4. Once the milk has set, cut it up roughly using a wooden spoon using a up/down movement) and mix to separate the whey.
  5. Transfer to a large microwave-safe bowl, add chilli and herbs and allow to stand for another 10 minutes.
  6. Place the bowl in a microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes. Stir the mixture around and heat on high for another 2 minutes.
  7. Test the curds with your fingers – they should be elastic and slightly firm. If still very soft, stir and heat on high for 2 more minute.
To strain the Haloumi Cheese:
  1. Once heated, spread gazue over a large fine sieve set over a large bowl.
  2. Strain the curds and whey, reserving 1 cup of whey for the brine.
  3. Sprinkle salt over the curds, mix and start pressing the cheese to remove excess whey.
  4. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze extra whey.
To make the Brine:
  1. Combine all brine ingredients and mix well.
To store Haloumi Cheese:
  1. Press haloumi cheese into a rectangular container and place in the fridge to cool (or into the freezer for 15 minutes if you’re more rushed).
  2. Once cooled, transfer haloumi to a larger container and cover with brine.
  3. Store in the fridge and consume within a couple of days.

If you prefer without brine you can just salt and wrap the cheese it can also be frozen.

breakfast

With the left over whey you can make ricotta which I love as I hate food waste just return whey to stove add 3 cups milk heat to 88 degrees celcius take off and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) wait 20 mins then plop in muslin/cheese cloth tie up into a bag and hang over the sink to drain.

alternatively you can just use 1 litre of milk heat until almost boiling add vinegar/lemon juice and get the same result now you know how easy it is give it a try!

ricottawhey

So far I have only been making simple rennet based cheeses but I have now ordered some cheese cultures and am looking forward to experimenting with aged cheeses.

Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Kisses Moo

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Let me introduce to you all Kisses Moo our beautiful jersey house cow. We were lucky enough to be given her by our landlord as a gift for B when we was born so she is technically Bs cow. She is such a beautiful soul and so friendly. We had originally become friends with another of our landlords cows and we were hoping to milk her but sadly she died of milk fever and then we met kisses who was so friendly and allowed us to pat and cuddle her. We were both pregnant at the same time and I felt sure we would “calf” together but her calf came months after B.

kissesresize2This is stingray our little Heifer calf and we hope to train her up to either sell as a house cow or keep as a backup. Kisses is a wonderfully gentle cow giving lots of kisses (hence the name) and loves a brush. She is so gentle she will just stand to be milked by D and has only kicked once due to fly’s irritating her. When we started milking we noticed the milk was salty. I was horrified thinking we wouldn’t be able to drink it but after much research we soon discovered it might be a early sign on mastitis. Being a breastfeeding mother I have huge mastitis paranoia and know how serious it can be if left untreated. We went back and tasted each teat, It was only in the back two teats and we had read we could try to treat naturally before getting the vet out so we gave ourselves two weeks to try milking out , tiger balm and comfrey.

D dutifully got up at the crack of dawn before work to milk her out and would do it twice before bed feeding her comfrey leaves and putting tiger balm on her udder in the evening. After a week we tasted the milk again and one quarter had come clean but we were worried about the other quarter. We gave it a few more days and HOORAY D had cleared her infection and we had saved ourselves a very expensive vet trip. I think Kisses certainly loved all the extra attention (and food!)

Presently we are getting about 4 liters a day, We very rarely separate her and stingray and this system works well for us. We still have enough milk to drink for our family (and we drink a LOT) and I have also been making Butter and cheese – Haloumi , Ricotta, Basket cheese , Mozzarella and Yogurt. Having a family cow is wonderful often when I look at store bought milk now I wonder what cow it’s come from and where that cow lives. There’s something very satisfying about having a relationship and connection with your food and knowing it hasn’t traveled 100s of kilometers ( not to mention the packaging) to reach my kitchen.

haloumi