Friday, May 31, 2013

This Moment :: May 31, 2013

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

My garden update

My garden is my favorite place. I love walking out the back door onto the back deck and getting a glimpse of the ever growing creation in my view. New beds are being added often, new seeds being planted... even today. New growth, new life, new hope. 

The sun was shining right on the garden in these pictures and it was so beautiful I couldn't help but take several.  There are many spots where weeding needs to be done. Spots that we don't see the growth, but I am certain there is much goings on under the soil. The beauty of a garden... I love the hope it holds. 

Along with the garden, we have the chickens to see, the fire pit to sit around. The enjoyment of seeing apple blossoms turn into tiny apples. Clothes flapping in the breeze. The garden area is certainly full of beauty and wonder. 

If I can persuade you to grow something... do it! Even if you don't have your own homestead yet. Grow something in a container. In a flower pot. On your windowsill. It is a beautiful thing and may stir something inside you that makes you want to grow more and more. I know it has for me!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cameo turns *16*

Today is my darling daughters birthday! Cameo, my gorgeous girl turns 16 years old!
Isn't that amazing?
So, amidst all the celebrating we plan on today... I take a moment to share some of my pictures of my beauty.
I love you Cameo! May your day be wonderful... just like you!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

She who walks with chickens...

We have two little hens that are like kittens or puppies... They just let you pick them right up and hold them. To my Carlie Jean Dumplin... this is bliss. She loves to walk out in the chicken yard and pick them up and walk them around like they are her babies. When she does, the rest of the flock walks with her...

Following, hoping that surely she has a treat in her pocket that she is going to part with. Or that hopefully she thought of them and has brought them an overripe strawberry or two (Like she normally does). 

The way they follow her around you would think they all enjoy her petting and loving. No, they just follow. She is calm and sweet. Taking careful steps so no one gets underfoot.

Red... she is special though. So, if the Dumplin's little pockets do hold only one treat... it will most definitely go to Red. That happens when you have a favorite.

Monday, May 27, 2013

How to make Kefir

Last week, I accidentally put the cart before the horse. I showed you how to make kefir cheese, but then I realized... I never showed you how to make kefir.
Sorry about that!
Kefir is SO stinkin easy.
It is a great probiotic and is great to have on hand in your kitchen. You can use it in smoothies, which we do a LOT, or in dips or in place of yogurt.
There are many uses and it's super simple.

Start with kefir grains. You can buy them through the internet, or you can find a likeminded person and usually they are willing to share with you. Kefir grains will multiply, so you can separate them and share. This is the best way of doing it in my opinion... buying them is a bit pricey.

Fill your pint jar 3/4 of the way full with milk. I use raw milk, which you know if you have read this blog for a while. But, if you don't want to or can't use raw, a whole milk will work.

Set your kefir grains and milk on a counter. Somewhere that you won't forget about them, but somewhere that they will not be disturbed. Let them sit for at least 36-48 hours. Mine usually take 48, my house is a bit cool right now with the windows open and the breeze blowing through.
During that time you will get a fermentation going and you may even see the top of your jar lid pop up a bit... When you open your jar, you should see a semi-solid mass that smells soured. That is what you want. If you leave your kefir grains for too short of a time, the full ferment will not happen and they won't be sour, but sweetish... you don't want that. You need that tang.
This is what mine looked like when I opened my jar. The yellowish tint is because of the cream in my milk. It settles to the top and makes it yellowish.
Strain your kefir grains over a jar, you want the milky part to filter through, but you don't want to lose your grains.
You may have to work it back and forth a bit with a rubber spatula.
There are my grains. And my new kefir is in the jar, ready for a lid and to go in the fridge.

There is speculation about whether or not to rinse the grains. I have heard both. I used to not rinse them.  But I have read somewhere recently TO rinse. So I have started doing that.
I rinse under some cold water. Toss them back into a clean jar and start the process all over again.
Fill with milk. Let sit on the counter while fermenting.
So simple.
So good for you.
Even the busiest of people can handle this.

As you start brewing your kefir, if you don't use it right away just add your new kefir with your old. When you have enough, you can make the kefir cheese or use it in a smoothie. OR you can use it every time it is brewed and not have any excess. It's totally up to you!

And if you want or need kefir grains, I am happy to ship when I have some to share. These have been going in my kitchen for a long time, and I am pleased to share when I get enough. Let me know in the comments or email me @ heritageacreshomestead at G mail dot com and I will put you on my waiting list!

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to make Kefir Cheese

Good Morning! I'm so glad you stopped by! I hope this Friday is a grand one for you that moves into a long weekend full of fun and family times and adventures. Memorial Day is a time of remembrance and togetherness. A time to be thankful to those who have served our country so faithfully.

Today I am going to share with you how I made kefir cheese. It's easy! All you need is a little time to make it happen.
To begin with, I have some cheesecloth, a bowl to catch whey, a strainer, and my kefir.

I place the strainer in my bowl. 

Then lay the cheesecloth over the strainer. You need this simply because you are still working with a loose solid. It may run all over the place if you don't have something to keep it steady. 
See, my kefir looks a bit like yogurt and is a bit runny in spots.
I tie up my cheesecloth, trying not to squish or smash the kefir, but to make the bag snug so it will force out the whey.
Find yourself a nice place to hang for several hours. You want to drip out all the whey. It takes a while. So put it in a spot that it's not going to be disturbed.
See all the whey above? It kind of astounds me just how much is in there!
Here we are later that evening with the drained kefir, now kefir cheese! You can totally leave it as is or you can give it some more flavor.
I've added 2 tsp chives, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt,  and pepper.
Mix thoroughly, and smash the clumps of garlic powder if you have to... I did.
Scoop out on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll up.
Now the cheese is ready to ripen in the fridge while the flavors marry! You can eat it the next day, or if you can't wait it is perfectly fine to eat immediately. The flavors won't have had time to intensify, but it would still be good! :)

You can eat this on crackers, savory bagels, with veggies or chips, on a sandwich, alongside your meal. On smashed cauliflower or potatoes. Lots of ideas, lots of options!

Now don't forget about your liquid gold here! Keep this! It is a valuable bi-product of milk and cheese. Whey is fantastic! It is super nutritious! Use whey to drink (some do, I don't yet), use it for fermenting, or even feed it to your chickens! Very good for that! They will love it!

So there you go! You are well on your way to becoming a master cheese artisan. :) I hope I'm well on my way too. LOL! I'm going to try my hand at feta today. I'll let you know how that goes soon.
Have a great day, friends!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rhubarb & Strawberries... an Excellent Combination!

This is year #2 with my rhubarb. On your second year, you can pluck some stalks! I did my first plucking this past weekend!
It's amazing seeing how large the stalks can become, and truthfully... if I had known better, I probably should have picked earlier! The stalks were so large I had to cut them in half as well as chop them up. Live and learn, right? :)

A week ago, Shannon's grandpa stopped by the homestead and was bragging on the rhubarb. He said, "You want some good eatin?"
"Sure!" we replied
He then said, "Cut you a few of these stalks up with some strawberries and make a pie! Mamaw's got a recipe."

I didn't get the recipe, but I will... This is just how I did it and it was a great hit with the family!

I chopped my rhubarb, which equalled about 2 cups, then I sliced up some of our strawberries that are now ripening. Yay!
I poured a little organic cane juice crystals (you can use sugar if you like) and a bit of vanilla over the mixture and let it set til it got nice and juicy.

I used slightly less sugar for this crust than I do for my normal cobblers. It worked well!

Here's the recipe in entirety...

2 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2-1 cup of sugar/cane juice crystals/maple syrup/etc.
2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour, *can be white, wheat, soft white, or a mixture*
2 cups milk
2 cups sugar, *like I said, I cut this one down and got away with 1 cup*
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Melt 1 stick butter in casserole dish.

Once butter is melted, pour in crust mixture. Pour fruit in over crust.
Bake at 350* until crust rises and browns.

This was absolutely delicious! Give it a try and let me know what you think!