Thursday, January 28, 2010

Longing for...

As I sit here blogging, the weather outside is cold, raining and now trying to snow. It's miserable, to say the least. I am dreaming of...Longing for a warm, humid breeze blowing across calm, crystal waters. So quiet, you can almost hear the clouds moving across the sky. Yes, I need a vacation! But I'll settle for some warmer weather here in Hartland, I suppose...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ravel Me This

I've been playing around with knitting off and on for about a little over a year now--not great at it at all, but I'm making progress! I would love to find a class somewhere, someday, but for now I try to figure it out and watch a lot of YouTube demonstrations... I just finished a little beanie for Cams today, it's called a Hurricane Hat because of the swirling pattern on it. It just took me a few hours, pretty easy to knock out. I'm also proud to say that this was the first knit creation I've made from reading a pattern. Learning, yay me! Here's my beautiful little ladybug modeling her new chapeau.

Cold Days

We've have some cold, cold days in Hartland lately. It's been rough not being able to play outside much with the kiddos, but we're attempting to keep everyone well. Late morning a few days ago, I spotted these little doves on our back porch trying to stay warm. Hope that you all are nice and toasty this January!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cheesemaking Experiment

My parents gave me a cheesemaking kit for Christmas (thanks Dad and Mom!) that I've been itching to try out since I opened it! Yesterday I had some time to spare so I declared it cheesemaking day and set to work :)

I used a gallon of milk that we would normally drink in our household: Plain ole' store bought 2%. The instructions specifically said that milk that had been ultra pasteurized would not work, but the labeling on my milk said it was only 'pasteurized'. The kit is pretty simple and instructions clear cut, nice for a beginner like me! I added my citric acid to the milk and then heated according to direction.
Once the adequate temperature was reached, I added my rennet, which was a tablet dissolved in a small amount of water. After sitting for several minutes I began to see a separation of the
curds from the whey! And that's where my trouble began...

Although there was a distinct separation of the curds from the whey, the curds didn't seem to firm up quite as much as the directions said it should. My next step was to cut up the curd and reheat, while stirring, to further separate. Afterward I drained the majority of the whey and opted to use the microwave to heat up the curds to 135 degrees to begin the stretching/shaping process.

End verdict: My curds never really firmed up, resulting in more of a ricotta-like texture instead of mozzarella (although it was still quite tasty!!!) Troubleshooting directions suggested that I should possibly use more citric acid than the recipe originally called for, or choose a different kind of milk. My next door neighbor is a co-owner of a dairy near us, so maybe I can get some milk from him. Can't go wrong with milk straight from the source! And there's no way I could convince Tom to milk a cow twice a day when I'm working!

Welcoming A New Decade

Happy 2010 from Hartland everyone! Wishing you all many blessings and adventures in this new year AND decade that's upon us! Any New Year's resolutions that anyone has made and cares to share? I myself, haven't made any official resolutions, other than to attempt to increase our family's self-sufficiency. But more on that in posts to come!

We had a small dusting of snow just before the new year that was pretty, although it didn't last long. There was no sign of white stuff for Christmas, so I had to sing along to just a couple of Christmas carols early that morning while beautiful, little flakes danced from the sky to the ground. And then all Christmas paraphernalia went into the attic...

The girls enjoyed getting bundled up and playing in the falling snowflakes while they lasted. And then the house was filled with tracked in mud for the rest of the day, until the ground could soak up all the moisture! Here are a couple of video snips of Zoey and Camryn playing. Enjoy!