Wednesday, December 1, 2010

chapter 21: 10 places to hide a goat

 During the week we made home-made cheese. Not only was it easy to make but it was even easier to eat, and we would like to share the recipe with you. Tasting very similar to fresh ricotta, it was made simply with lemons and full cream milk. It was light, creamy and it melted in our mouths, yet it also caused my husband to start acting strangely.

At first, Joe sat quietly on the couch in a brown study. next minute, I saw him outside with his measuring tape, then back indoors and on the laptop. He was up to something. Outside again pacing out the length of the back shed, then the car port, garage, and finally the chicken pen, before rubbing his hands together with seeming delight, and a big dirty grin.

"Darling, what are you up to?" I enquired. At first, Joe seemed sheepish... but on closer inspection, I realised my husband looked far more goatish!

"No way! we are not getting a goat!"

Joe paused to muster the most convincing rebuttal he could conjure whilst pretending to scrape chook poo from his boot. "But darling, it could live in here with the chickens, no one would have to know a thing about it. We could feed it silverbeet and lettuce from the garden, and any clothes that the children no longer fit into. And best of all, we can make more cheese!!!"

"So they eat clothes?" I queried.

"They eat anything!" He said.

Sufficed to say, as this conversation took place directly beneath my low hanging clothes line, I remained even less convinced.

"We are not getting a goat".

How to make cheese

Heat 2 litres of milk to approx 90 degrees, or a rolling boil (not bubbling). Make sure you keep stirring so as not to burn the milk. When heated remove from heat and immediately, but slowly add 5/6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (We actually used limes). Continue to stir slowly in one direction, and you will begin to notice the milk separating into curds (the lumps) and whey. Continue to stir for about a minute then cover and leave to cool for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, strain the curds and whey through muslin (like a baby wrap) or cheese cloth over a colander. The curds will remain and the whey can be discarded. Hang the cheese in the muslin over a sink to drain completely for another 3 hours.

Now it is ready for a taste test. Yum! You can season with salt, or for that matter anything sweet or savoury to your liking'. This recipe makes a ball of cheese about the size of a shot put, but not as heavy.

If you don't eat it all at once, refrigerate it in an air tight container. It lasts 4 or so days.

We used our cheese in salads and will be making more in a week or so to make stuffed zucchini flowers.

Lavender Champagne (part 1)

lovely bug adding to the mix

Steve spoons in the vinegar
Another little home-made number we had a go at this week was lavender champagne. We got the initial idea from an elderflower champagne recipe but being short of the key ingredient and after some research we found that lavender could make a good substitute.

A bit of bubbly is an essential for any celebration, and with our FFFC now only weeks away we needed a summer time champs to pop at the end of our challenge.

It only takes a few weeks to brew lavender champagne and so it was exactly what we needed. We're not sure if it will work or how it will taste but we are hoping when we pop our first bottle it conjures memories of long lost summers and searches for cicada shells but most of all we want to make sure it is alcoholic! This is why we decided to add more than the recommended amount of sugar, even though there is a strong chance that the bottles may explode due to the pressure. Its a risk we're willing to take.

Champagne anyone?

Lavender Champagne Recipe

100 lavender flowers
2 lemons
600 grams white sugar
250 grams sultanas
6 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
6 litres of water
1/4 teaspoon champagne/all purpose wine yeast

Remove the lavender flowers from the stems. Grate the zest of two lemons. Finely dice sultanas and mix all three ingredients together in a bole. Boil 1 litre of water, pour into a large bucket or tub (we used a carboy). Add sugar, lavender, lemon zest and sultanas and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the juice of 2 lemons and white wine vinegar. Then add a further 5 litres of water and allow to cool until temperature is below 30 degrees. Add yeast, gently stir it in and cover with muslin wrap or carboy lid and airlock.
 Leave for 7 days at room temp then strain liquid into sterilised bottles and cap. The bottles need to be airtight. You could cork the bottles or simply use what we are using, clip lock glass bottles. Store for  a further 2 weeks. Taste and enjoy!

At least that is our plan. At the moment ours is still fermenting in the carboy. We intend to btle it  tomorrow and will let you know how it goes.

Last blog we said we were going to mull over our mulberries, intending to make something delicious from our multitudes of mulberries. Unfortunately our mulberries haven't quite come to the party yet but stay tuned. Instead we are going to take you right back to the birds and the bees and chat about hand-pollinating zucchinis.

pollinating Zucchinis and Pumpkins

 Our zucchinis are well and truly doing their thing and have produced nothing short of very eager flowers just sitting there waiting for Joe and his little paint brush to come pollinate them each morning. Zucchini's, pumpkins and other similar plants of the gourd variety have male and female flowers. In order to bear fruit, pollen from a male flower must travel to a female flower for pollination to occur, and thew fruit to grow. Usually the bees will do this for you, but as they have recently been dropping dead due to excessive mobile phone microwaves (at least that's what the communists want you to think), you may have to do it yourself to get results.
our Turk's Turban pumpkins successfully taking over the yard:)

You will need:

1 paint brush (Soft)
1 sunny morning
to be able to tell male and female flowers apart.

Its actually very simple. female flowers have a bulbous miniature fruit at their base, while the male flowers stand on a long thin stem. inside the male flower is the stamen, which is covered in pollen (when the flower is mature). take a brush and carefully collect some pollen on the end. (choose the strongest, sexiest male flower you can find).  Then transfer the pollen to the female flower, brushing it on the claw looking pod (pistil) in the centre of the open flower.

pollen from a male flower

You will know if the pollination is successful when the fruit bulb starts to swell after a few days. if the female fruit pod turns yellow and shrivels, then unfortunately, its an old spinster.

Time to get busy in the pumpkin patch with your paint brushes.