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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 is almost at it's end.  We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.  The older I get, the more amazed I am at how quickly time flys by.  Wasn't it February just a few months ago?  How did summer come and go so quickly?   How did Caelum get taller than me? How did Ruby and Olivia become such big girls? 
I called Marci a few days ago to establish (in my mind) how old the kids are.  I STILL can't get it straight ...  I think the kids are MUCH younger than they are.  I am not sure how time slips away as it seems to do.  I still see Emilia as a 4 year old.  Shelby and Josef are still very small.  Caelum ... not nearly 13 .... Ruby and Olivia are still babies.  Lily, is still the baby she was the last time I held her.  Abi ... holy cow, she can't be 16 .... she is still that little girl I met when she was 3.  OK, enough of this .... on to today!
I really wish the kids were here with us as we end the year. They are young enough to ring in the new year ..... Me, I think it is close enough now.  Happy new year.  Off to bed I go!

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Adventures in cheese making

I have wanted to learn crafts like cheese making for years.  Along my journey I have learned things like soapmaking, butter making, bread making etc.  All of these things I have learned on my own.  This summer I met someone who raises his own cows and I started buying milk from him.   We formed a friendship and talked a lot about cheese making.   He has been wonderful and blesses me with a lot of milk to play with. 
My first attempts at cheese making made me realize I needed a mentor.  I had no idea what I was doing wrong, but I ruined gallons and gallons of raw milk.  Finally a couple of weeks ago I was successful ... and my cheese turned out the way it was supposed to.  I think I finally understood some things I just didn't "get" before.  I have made 4 batches of hard cheese that seem to have turned out.  I was OK with the soft cheese ... it was easy and I "got it", but now I "get" the hard cheese!!!  Yippee!!!  I am so excited for the cheese to age and I am able to taste the fruits of my labors!  (I am still looking for a mentor)

Remember the nursery story about little miss muffet?  Curds and whey are exactly what I am working toward here.  In this photo the curds have formed are are waiting for me to cut them and get started with the cheese making

Here the curds have been cut into small chunks.  They still have a lot of the liquid in them so they will have to be pressed to get the liquid out of them

The curds have been placed in the mold in a cheese cloth.  I am pressing them with 50 pounds of weight.  I have to figure out how to place the weights better so I am not putting so many pieces on the board.
And this is the final product.  Well, it is the cheese waiting to be aged.  I wish you could see the labels on the back two blocks.  Olivia wrote them for me.  I love reading her little girl printing.  She is so talented.  After they have formed a hard rind and dried out a bit they are waxed and left to age.  Hard cheese needs to age from a month or two up to years depending on the type of cheese.  I can't wait to try some of this stuff!!!!
There is a lot more to cheese making, but I am not trying to teach, only to share my new found hobby.  Most people have lots of questions, my best answer come help me make some.  That will likely answer a lot of questions.