Friday, October 28, 2011

Creating Traditions

 Our first annual harvest party took place last weekend.  Give thanks for delicious food, great company, games, crafts, really good pizza...and we finally fired up the cob oven.  As the sun went down we enjoyed hot cider, caramel apples, popcorn and the bonfire.  It was wonderful to see so many local folks come out. 

Thank you to all who attended and for helping us create a new autumn tradition.  Now that the party is over it's time to get to work, turning our attention back to the garden.  We have lots of starts that need to go in the ground (a little late), a huge pile of manure to work into the soil, compost piles to build, ponds to finish, and more seeds to start.  The list seems never ending but the weather has been beautiful.  We will get in what we can before the rains arrive. 
Happy harvest season to you all!

lettin' the pizza dough rise

firing up the oven

our first wood fired pizzas
autumn inspired crafts

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Milk Flow

It's been a busy week and what's new you ask?  Three more lovely goats..we are excited to announce.  Two Sable Sanaans (currently in milk) and one Kiko meat goat.  As a first time milker, I can't express the satisfaction I feel in greeting these ladies each morning with an empty pail, and walking back to the house with it full.  I never thought of myself as much of an animal person but I am finding such solace and pleasure in tending to and playing with these goats.  They each have such distinct personalities not to mention that they are supplying us with the creamiest, most nutritious raw dairy products.  I know it is an adjustment for our family to use goat milk in our diet.  It definitely has a different taste so I'm starting out disguising it in other foods that I know the kids will eat (typical momma move).  We have used it in our morning pancakes, smoothies, made some yogurt, paneer cheese, and on the list for cream of course!  I have the feeling I might quickly develop one of those cheese making obsessions I've read so much about.  Chevre and mozzarella are on the list for this week.  Can't wait.  Here is an easy paneer recipe adapted from William Sonoma's Savoring India, by Julie Sahni.  (You can use store bought cow's milk too.)  This was so yummy, it barely made it to the dinner table with hungry hands snitching off the counter. 

I started with a little under a gallon of milk.  Poured it into a pot and gently brought it to a low boil. 

I then added 1/2 cup of white vinegar, you can also use lemon juice.  Stir until the curds separate from the whey, about 1-3 minutes.  Remove pot from heat, then use a fine mesh cheese cloth or a cloth napkin to strain the whey out.  (You can save this and water your plants with it, use it in your compost, or feed it to your chickens.)  After you have successfully strained the whey out and the curds are fairly dry, pour or dump them into a square or rectangular casserole.  Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to flatten the curds down.  Cover with the cloth napkin and press them down with something heavy like a pot full of water.  Leave the curds like this for an hour or so.  They will become firmer and easier to handle. 

When you return to your curds they should look like a brick of extra firm tofu.  Cut the cheese into small squares or triangles and dust them with flour.  For you gluten free folks out there, any type of flour will do, I have tried sweet white sorghum flour and it is super yummy.

Next fry your cheese in coconut oil or the high heat oil of your choice until golden brown and there you have your own homemade paneer.  Serve with any saucy, spicy dish.  It's really good. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Delicious autumn!
 My very soul is wedded to it,
 and if I were a bird
 I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.
 - George Eliot

Autumn is my favorite time of year, a time when we celebrate the bounty in our lives and a time when we begin to slow down, move inward.  The change in season brings so many beautiful colors, the air turning cool, butternut squash, fresh pumpkin pies, crisp tart apples, onions and bubbling stew on the stove, the smell of cider brewing all day long.  I suppose that's enough but really, I begin to feel more grounded, a sort of settling in.  This year I have immensely enjoyed stocking our makeshift pantry with as much of summers goodness as time allowed.  Some of the last jars to go on the shelves are filled with honey from our resident bees. 

I waited and waited for this honey.  The beekeeper in the family decided to change his philosophy and follow the Warre beekeeping method (which is supposed to be more bee friendly), so there was alot less human honey harvesting going on around here.  But I have to say it was worth the wait.  Above is a super from one of our hives.  Each super is filled with eight frames and each frame is full of honey.  This year however we used top bars instead of frames, which just means that instead of giving the bees an already built rectangular base to start with they had to build their own comb in any shape they please. 

Since the top bars are frameless we couldn't use our homemade extractor.

we soon discovered another method of extraction.......packing the honey comb into jars.....


covering with wire mesh............


and inverting over a larger glass jar so the honey filters through the mesh but the beeswax stays behind.  The process goes especially fast when jars are placed in the warm sunshine...(just beware of robber bees!)

Walter William's "Harvest"