Tag Archives: cheese

Green Moms Carnival – Food Preservation

Welcome to the July Green Moms Carnival! I’m so excited to be hosting the carnival especially with Food Preservation as the topic because I think that food is one of the first ways that many moms choose to “go green,” by opting to eat seasonally and locally.  Once you’ve found your farmers you can learn to save money and enjoy that produce year-round by buying in bulk and preserving it.   Please take the time to visit each post!

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Food Preservation Basics

Tiffany from Nature Moms Blog gives a nice summary of different types of food preservation, along with some tips for getting started in her post Bringing Food Preservation Back to Our Kitchens.

Katy of Non-Toxic Kids (and my Moms Clean Air Force teammate) shares 3 Ways to Preserve the Summer Bounty.  Berry picking is a great way to teach your children where their food comes from and get some great pictures of ruby stained faces.  Katy also suggests pesto (yum!) and baked goods as ways to preserve.

Laura of Pug in the Kitchen shares tips for preserving food with little ones underfoot in her post Preservation: Pickles, Jelly and Sanity.  I’ve found that my canning has dropped way off (as in, come to a dead stop) since I had Joshua because big pots of boiling and a baby who wouldn’t let me put him down were not a combination I wanted last summer. 

Michelle of Green Bean Chronicles writes about canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting and not preserving in her post There is More Than One Way To Skin A… at The Green Phone Booth.

Canning

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There are so many different ways to preserve food, but many people think of canning first.  I have loved seeing the resurgence of canning in the past few years.  It’s hip to can! Can you believe it? 

Deanna of Crunchy Chicken, one of my long-time favorite blogs, contributed some fantastic canning recipes.  Just the titles make my mouth water!

Lisa from Condo Blues and Lazy Budget Chef writes about her first canning experience in I Canned Jam and Nobody Died.  There are so many people who are afraid of canning, but once they try it they realize how easy it can be! It’s blueberry jam, by the way.

Mary Clare from In Women We Trust totals up the return on a $20 seed investment in her post Can Yourself – Grow Money, Grow Friends.  You’ll be shocked!

Anna from Green Talk shows us how she has worked on Greening the Tomato Sauce Process.  There are great pictures to walk you through the steps of using a tomato press.

Linda of Citizen Green shares her tried and true recipe for marinara sauce in her post Use Your Garden Tomatoes in this Sauce.  It’s versatile and can be canned or frozen.

For those of us with a pressure canner and nerves of steel, Jena from Married to the Farm tells us about Pressure Canning Green Beans.  Don’t be scared!

I want to also share a few of my own favorite canning recipes from here at Farmer’s Daughter:

Freezing

Photo Credit: Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen

Lisa from Condo Blues and Lazy Budget Chef shares step-by-step tips on How to Freeze Fresh Tomatoes, for those of us who are a little too scared of the pressure canner.

Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares various ways to make organic strawberries from the local farmer’s market last and finds making freezer jam is even sweeter with her kids and a little reggae on the side in her post We’re Jamming.

Anna from Green Talk walks through the steps of Cooking Pumpkin and Squash for Easy Winter Storage.  She reminds us not to forget the seeds!

Karen from Best of Mother Earth explains that while she doesn’t do a lot of preserving, she does cook from scratch and makes sure not to waste the leftovers in her post How Do You Preserve Food?

Emily from Live Renewed shares a step-by-step tutorial for freezing fruit, along with a neat tip for pitting cherries, in her post Preserving Summer’s Bounty – Freezing Berries.

Lori of Groovy Green Livin shares how to find, freeze and thaw blueberries, as well as their health benefits in Preserve Summer: How To Freeze Blueberries.

Diane from Big Green Purse Blog shares a step-by-step tutorial on how to freeze tomato sauce in her post Make Your Own Delicious, Organic Tomato Sauce. Here’s How.

I love to freeze sweet corn for use in soups, stews and cornbread throughout the year. 

Drying/Dehydrating

Deanna of Crunchy Chicken shares Drying Herbs for Idiots.

Beth of My Plastic-free Life shows us how to make dried apple slices and fruit leather in her post Dry Summer Produce to Keep Through Winter Plastic Free

Mama Bear runs through a pro/con list of dehydrating in her post Kitchen Adventure: Drying Strawberries.   She outlines how to use the oven to dehydrate food.

Cold Storage

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Jena from Married to the Farm shows us how to store carrots throughout the winter in her post How to Store Carrots, and Save them for Seed

Dairy

Deanna of Crunchy Chicken shares:

Marci of Down on the Farm has two grass-fed Jersey milk cows and is in my opinion an expert cheesemaker! Check out her how-to’s:

Do you know what kefir is? I didn’t until I read the following two submissions. Now I want to try some! I have one question, how do you pronounce “kefir”?

Micaela of Mindful Momma‘s husband John shares how he makes homemade kefir in his guest post Kefir Madness.  Can I just say how cool it is that there’s a DAD joining the Green Moms Carnival?

Jen of Puddle Jumping shares her very low-maintenance kefir making system in her post Easy Homemade (Refrigerator) Kefir. I’ve gotta get me some of that kefir.

Baking in Bulk

Betsy from Eco-Novice shares her recipes for baking in bulk and freezing, which means she can have homemade food in a pinch!

Miscellaneous

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Deanna of Crunchy Chicken shares Homemade Rosolio and Candied Orange Peels.

Brenna of Almost All the Truth shows us how to reduce food waste and eat more of the green leafies with her post Getting Greens with Organic and Fresh Green Smoothies.

Phew! What a huge carnival! There were a grand total of 45 submissions! (Unless I counted wrong, my eyes are tired from all this typing!)  I want to send a special welcome to our new participants Marci, Zoie, Brenna and Jena.  Jena is a VERY new mom to her son Kent. Congrats Jena!

Thank you everyone for joining the Green Moms Carnival! Next month’s topic is Back To School and will be hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma. The deadline is August 4 so get writing!

Please join in by sharing a link (or two, or a few) to your favorite food preservation post.

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Filed under Adventures, Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living

Homemade Cheddar Cheese

Today’s guest post comes from Marci of Down on the Farm.

Cheddar Cheese

Equipment: Cheese pot with a lid to hold the milk (it is good to make this a dedicated cheese only pot), a larger stock pot or water bath canner, dairy thermometer, mesophilic starter culture, rennet, stainless steel whisk or long knife, cheese ladle, stainless steel colander, french fry mill/cutter, salt without iodine (you can use a coarse cheese salt, pickling salt, or I use Real Salt).

First of all fill your cheese pot with water. Put all your utensils that you will use in it and bring to a boil. This will sanitize all of your equipment and not cause problems with the cheese. Pour the boiling water into a larger stock pot or water bath canner. This will be used to heat the cheese and keep the temperature.

Pour 2 gallons of milk (this recipe can be doubled) into your cheese pot. Set the pot down into the larger stock pot or water bath canner. Place a thermometer down in the milk making sure it is easy to read. Let it heat up to 86° F.

The hot water in the bottom of the double boiler set up, was going to make the milk a bit too hot. I had to sit it out for a bit.

Once it reaches the right temperature put in your culture. Use 1 packet (1 packet works for up to 2 gallons of milk) of mesophilic starter culture. Sprinkle it over the top of the milk and stir in to the milk with a stainless steel whisk or cheese ladle. Cover and let sit for about 30 mins. to ripen.

If you are going to use calcium chloride, it would go in next. I did not use it, but it is good to use if the milk is homogenized or pasteurized. If you are going to use it, then take 1/2 tsp. and mix it in with about 1/4 cup of cold water. Pour the water over the surface of the milk and then stir it in.

Next, we will add our rennet. You will use the same amount of rennet in cheese as you use calcium chloride. So, add 1/2 tsp. of liquid rennet to about 1/4 cup of cool water. After mixing in then pour over the surface of the milk and mix it in. Cover and let the milk sit for 30 to 50 mins. I leave my thermometer sticking out the side of the lid so I can make sure I keep a constant temperature.

It is time to test the curd. The last place to set up will be the center. I take a thick candy thermometer (you could use something else) and poke it down gently into the center of the curd and then sort of lift up at an angle. It the curd breaks in a clean straight line it is ready. In the picture below you can see the break, but the camera took the picture a split second too late (I know… operator error) so it is hard to see the totally clean line. However, you can see that it is solid curd.

Video – Testing the Curds 

Use the large stainless steel whisk to cut the curds. You can use a long knife, but it is SO much easier with a whisk. Cut across one way and then cut across the opposite way while turning the whisk a bit to make cubes.

Video – Cutting the Curds 

In this picture you can see where I have cut with the whisk and where I still need to. The curds tend to rotate in the pot, so I never get perfectly even lines.

If you use a knife, after you cut both ways across, then you need to use a flat cheese ladle to cut the layers from top to bottom. Or insert the knife at angles to try and cut them. The whisk made all the difference in the world for me. I actually ordered some large 16″ ones to put in the store for other to be able to get them.

 

Once you cut the curds you are going to allow them to rest for 2 to 5 mins. They will sink down into the whey.

Leaving the pot of milk in the double boiler set up, turn a low heat on under the pot. You are going to raise the temperature of the milk from 86° F to 100° F. You are going to do this very slowly over a 40 to 45 mins. period of time.

You will need to stir the curds gently and often. I stirred with the whisk. Once the temperature hits 90° F and above, then the curds will try to mat together. You will need to be diligent in your stirring from that point on. Once you reach 100° F turn off the heat and watch that it does not get any hotter. If it does, remove it from the double boiler and set on the counter. It is good if you can keep them in the pot though because it helps keep the temperature constant. You are going to let the curds sit for 30 mins. undisturbed. They will sink to the bottom and mat together.

 

It is time to test and see if the curds are ready to be drained. Pull some up from the bottom in the flat cheese ladle. Take a small handful and gently squeeze. If they hold together then they are ready. They should also easily separate back out.
Drain them into a colander over a bucket or large pan catching the whey.

Put about 3 quarts of your whey back in the cheese pot and put the colander over that pot. Pack the curds down in the colander making a nice slab. Turn on a VERY low heat under this. The curds should not be in the whey, but they will be over the nice moist air. Put a lid over them and let them cheddar (that is what this process is called) for about 45 mins. to an hour. I turned the slab over pressing down again about every 15 mins.

When you are done, you will have a nice big flat smooth slab of cheese.

 

Put the slab on a cutting board and cut into fairly large chunks.

There are 2 ways to do this next step. You can use a knife or you can use a french fry mill/cutter. Put the curds through the mill or cut into strips about that size.

 

Put them back into the pan or into a bowl and add 2 1/2 tsp. of salt. Mix it in well with your hands. At this point, you can eat these as fresh cheese curds (they are really good) or you can press them into a wheel.

Lay a folded piece of cheese cloth on the bottom of your cheese press and then put the hoop on top of it. Fill the hoop with the curds. Place another folded piece of cheesecloth over the top of the curds and then add your follower (wooden round that fits just inside your hoop). Assemble the rest of your press and apply pressure to the curds. You do not want to push down as hard as you can at this point. Push down until the whey starts to come out the bottom. Depending on your press you will either want to set the press down into a pan to catch the whey or have a bowl to catch it. Leave it this way for an hour. Check it periodically to see if you need to apply a bit more pressure.

After the hour is up, take your cheese out and you will dress it. Take a piece of cheesecloth and wrap the cheese, covering all surfaces. Place it back into the hoop and add the follower. Now tighten your press to the maximum pressure. You will leave the cheese in the press for 24 hours.

About Marci: My husband and I have been married 31 years.  Neither one of us grew up on a farm. By God’s grace, we learned how to raise and grow most of our own food.  We have one son (Joshua Daniel) who is married and lives nearby.  We feel very blessed to live the life we do.  Marci blogs at Down on the Farm.

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Cheesy Turkey Veggie Casserole

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I developed this recipe tonight based on what I had in the fridge, pantry, garden and freezer.  Please feel free to adjust based on what you like, and you could certainly replace the ground turkey with ground chicken or beef, or leave it out to make a vegetarian casserole.

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3-4 small carrots, about 1 cup chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • leaves from 4-5 stems of fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • 4 sage leaves, chopped finely
  • 1 package (1.3 lbs) ground turkey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 box elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  Melt the butter in a Dutch oven.  Cook the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes over medium heat.  Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme, and cook until mushrooms have browned slightly.  Add the turkey and sage, and season with salt and pepper.  Brown the turkey, then sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.  Slowly stir in the milk with a dash of nutmeg, and cook until thickened.  Turn off the heat, then stir in the peas and 1 cup of cheese until melted.  Add in the cooked macaroni, then top with remaining cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley.  Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and breadcrumbs are slightly browned.

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Food Budget Update and a Quick & Easy Pantry Recipe

Today, I did my shopping for the week.  By participating in Crunchy Chicken’s Sustainable Food Budget Challenge, I’m trying to keep our food costs for the month of April to $323

We do focus on preserving foods, and so we have started with beef, pork, fish, scallops, chicken stock and lobster stock in the freezer.  I also have flour, sugar, cornmeal, yeast, jams, maple syrup, honey, and various canned items in the pantry.

I started the day’s shopping at the Dudley Farmer’s Market, which is held on the first Saturday of the month in the off-season.  I was disappointed that NOBODY there had any vegetables at all, and since I know one of the growers has a greenhouse, I was hoping for lettuce.  Oh well.  I did buy a baguette and a carrot-cake muffin for Ed, for a total of $4.25.  Since I couldn’t get much there, I had to go to the grocery store.

At the grocery store, I bought pears, carrots**, potatoes, lettuce**, lemons, onions, chicken**, sandwich bread**, milk*, eggs*, buttermilk, butter**, cream, canned tomatoes**, tomato paste, cheese, yogurt**, canola oil**, brownie mix**, coffee, canned soup, cereal**, granola bars**, rice**, and Pirate’s Booty**, enough to last us approximately a week and a half to two weeks, depending on what I decide to cook. (*=local, **=sustainably raised and/or organic and/or eco-farmed and/or natural).  I bought extras of the dry goods and canned goods to try to stock the pantry.  Unfortunately, I forgot to buy the penne that I planned to make for supper, but we were headed out anyway so I ran in and grabbed a couple boxes.  The total from the grocery store came to $132.95.

That brings me to a total of $137.20 spent on food today, which leaves only $185.80 for the rest of the month.  I really don’t think we’ll make the goal for the month, but keeping track of spending is an interesting exercise.  I’d like to try this again in the summer when our garden is producing, my family is is growing many different fruits and veggies, and Ed’s family is fishing and shellfishing.  I have a feeling our grocery budget will really drop then!

And now for the recipe promised! Last night, we were running low on food but I didn’t want to order out or go to the store.  I thawed out a pound of ground beef, and then did a food network search for Rachael Ray recipes with ground beef, since she’s so creative and often has recipes to use items from the pantry.  I was inspired by her Mexican Deep Dish Pizza with cornbread crust, and made my own version.  It was really yummy, and great comfort food.  Here’s my version.

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  • double batch Johnnycake cornbread batter (my recipe)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare cornmeal batter and pour into a buttered 12″ cast iron skillet.  Bake for 20 minutes until almost cooked through.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a skillet, then mix in the salsa and heat through.  Take the cornbread out of the oven and pour the beef on top, spreading it evenly.  Top with cheese and bake 10-15 minutes more until the cornbread is completely cooked and cheese is melted.  Note: you can reduce the cornbread to a single batch if you don’t want it as thick.

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Homemade Flavored Cheese

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After visiting farmer’s markets last year, my mom and I fell in love with the fresh white cheese from a local dairy, which was blended with herbs, garlic, or nuts.  However, at a cost of $5 per 8 oz. container, it’s very expensive.  Due to the price and since the farmer’s markets are closed for the winter, I’ve been trying to think of ways to replicate their yummy fresh cheese.

Last week, I tried the ricotta recipe posted at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op, and I was surprised how easy it was.  It got me thinking… I could make some ricotta and blend in flavorings to make a cheese that was close to my favorite farmer’s market cheese for a fraction of the price.

The result? Yummy! Here’s how to do it.

You will need: milk, vinegar or lemon juice, flavorings of your choice (see ideas below).  You’ll also need a thermometer, cheese cloth, a thick-bottomed pot, and wooden spoon.

  1. Make some ricotta cheese.  The photos here show you how easy it is! My helpful hint is to stir continuously so the milk at the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn.
  2. Drain the cheese for a few hours.
  3. Mix in your flavorings.  Here are some ideas, but feel free to experiment or use whatever you have in season.

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Maple Walnut Cheese

  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • sprinkle cinnamon

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Garlic Chive Cheese

  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Some other ideas for flavorings I’d like to try include mixing in pesto or honey.  I hope you try it!

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Truly Homemade Lasagna

Yesterday, I took full advantage of my last day of vacation by making homemade ricotta, homemade pasta, and transforming them into lasagna.  I only wished I had home-canned tomatoes left from last summer.  I was inspired by the ricotta recipe posted at Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op, and I was surprised by how easy it was.  I also used my pasta machine (a wedding present) for the first time.  My brother Nathaniel helped me set it up and figure out how to use it.

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Mixing the dough on the counter.

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Rolling out the lasagna noodles.

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The finished product was wonderful!

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Durham Farmer’s Market

This afternoon, my mom and I checked out the Durham Farmer’s Market.  We wanted to get some of the delicious fresh cheese from Deerfield Farm, but we hadn’t seen them at the Dudley Farmer’s Market in Guilford since the Durham one opened.  Needless to say, we were happy to see them in Durham.

One thing that I really liked about the Durham Farmer’s Market was that they had a Children’s Story Time.  Anything involving education I’ll like, but I thought it was especially sweet to see children sitting and listening to a story while their parents watched or shopped.

Overall, the market was small, which I’m assuming is partly due to the fact that it’s the first year.  Also, I’ve heard that the town of Durham wants it small so that the historic green doesn’t get wrecked.  But wait, I seem to remember a giant event that takes place on the green, oh right, the Durham Fair.  Also, as the summer progresses, I’m sure there will be more available.  The only really disappointing thing was that I didn’t find any fresh baguettes.  There was a table with baked goods, almond filled bread and multigrain bread, but I was looking for something a little more simple.  I may have to swing by the Dudley Farmer’s Market to get my bread on Saturday morning.

I ended up getting some fresh garlic and chive cheese and some watermelon Italian ice.  I’m not sure if the Italian ice contains corn syrup, which as you may know, I’ve decided to quit.  I didn’t ask but I think I’m going to give the folks from “80 Licks” in Durham the benefit of the doubt…

We’ll probably go back, but not every week, as it’s kind of a long drive and the selection of fruits and vegetables isn’t anything that I can’t get at our stand.  But the lure of the cheese will draw us back.

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