I am so fortunate to have Rae Hunter in my Life! She was asked to reproduce an antique willow cradle for the early 1900s for the Ukrainian village, based on one donated from a family near Mundare. She then asked me to help her. Here are a few pictures of the process:
First we spent a few days driving around Eastern Alberta looking for just the right willows to make the reproduction as true to the original as possible. We even visited the original homestead which they are trying to portray near Innisfree.
A great group of creative folk. Just the right number to fill our basement room. Thanks to all who came !
Here are some samples of their work:
Thanks to my mentor and friend, Rae Hunter, I discovered a basket making guild , the North West Basketmakers. And thanks to Kevin, Marten and Rigel I was able to attend their retreat last weekend west of Seattle. I am returning home with tons of ideas and hopes for continuing to inspire others to take on this craft.
This is my favourite cheese recipe from a member of my first on line support group for all things cow :) it's called the Family Cow forum and the founder is Joann Groman. This recipe came in a thread in the recipe section and WOW! Are there inspiring pictures in there too!!! So adaptable and flexible :)
Why don't you start with a real real easy one that yields one of the most flavorful, creamy cheeses.
Bring 2 to four gallons of milk right from the cow. (Or, bring refrigerated milk to room temperature.)
Mix in a packet of Direct Set culture (mesophilic) or add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your own culture (mesophilic). Mix really really well. If you are using your own culture, stir it in a cup or bowl until it is smooth and add milk to it in the cup or bowl to thin it and stir, stir, stir, - then, add it to the milk.
Cover the kettle of milk with a towell and leave it for one hour - to two hours. Doesn't matter - each change in the ripening time will make a teeny bit of a change in the final cheese. (That's the beauty of it.)
Add a half teaspoon of rennet to 1/4 cup of water and stir it into the milk thoroughly.
Cover and let it set for an hour to 1 and a half hours . Check to see if it is set firmly. If not leave it a little longer. (Remember, not having the milk warm enough will cause it not to set up well.)
Cut the curd and leave it set for at least half an hour.
Now is the easy part. Stir the kettle every once in a while. As you stirr and large curds come to the top, cut them with your spoon. Cover and go on about your day. Stop back every half hour to hour and give it a stir. Just for ten seconds. As the day progresses, the curd will continue to release whey and you will stir to keep it from matting. If you get side tracked and the curds have matted some, just stir them apart with the spoon or wash your hand and arm very well and swish them apart with your hand.
When the curds are "done", they will promptly settle to the bottom each time you stir, and you will see the change in their texture. They won't get rubber-y and firm like for a cheddar. (The description that they give for the right texture for cheddar is "like cooked chicken".) They won't be like that. They will be springy-er than cottage cheese and firmer, too, but it will remind you of how cottage cheese looks.
Lots of things determine how fast the curds get "done". If you stir it pretty often, it gets done faster. I have had this cheese be ready for the press in 4 hours from cutting the curd and I have had a busy day where it actually took 8 hours. Each of these variations affects the final cheese and gives each one a personality of its own. They are all basically the same, but each a little different.
Drain the whey off and add 3 tablespoons of salt to the curd for each 2 gallons of milk that you used. That seems like a lot of salt, but some of it leaves as the whey presses out. And, that salt makes the cheese have such an excellent flavor.
Line the press with cheesecloth. Put the curds in and press for 24 hours with 45 to 50 pounds. That's a hard press and it's a firm cheese that comes out. I don't flip it or change the cloth. I press ONE time.
Take out of the press and place in the refrigerator for two days to air dry. Wax and let age 3 to 12 months. Ready to eat in 3.
Room temperature milk.
Add culture to milk
Stir, stir, stir , stir, stir, stir off and on all day.
Put in press
Press for 24 hours
Air dry in refr.
Of the four cheeses that I served to my dinner guests, this is the one that they all said was their favorite. You can change it a little, also, by making it without the cream.
Remember, there is no heat used in making this cheese. No double boiler set up. Just you, one kettle, and a big spoon to stir.
Fundraising for our newly formed Refugee Response Collective
I will host a two-three hour cheese making workshop here at Good Note Community Farm on Nov.2 at 6pm
We will learn how to make Syrian String Cheese , Majdouli, and a soft spreadable goat cheese called Jibneh. Monday Nov 2 , 2015 Basic cheese making will also be covered. . Cost $40-50 each... noting it's a fundraiser. .. tax receipts from Mennonite Central Commite (?) may be available?
The name of our project is Safe and Sound!!!! Our group of 30+ families is fundraising to eventually bring Syrian refugee families here to Edmonton, but at the very least send much needed help to the overflowing camps
After a slow start this spring, a lovely trip to a wedding in Denmark, we arrived home all ready to prepare beds and plant. All the hard work our former wwoofers put in is paying off as the raised beds were relatively weed free. I was so spring feverish before we left that I planted the carrots and Fava beans in early April. They weren't yet up when we got back three weeks later but a bit of watering and they appeared soon after. All seeds that I have saved or exchanged at Seedy Sunday.
So now we are in a daily habit of watering and moving of electric fences. One to keep our seedlings damp and second to keep the critters fed. The pasture is not growing much at all anymore and on this day (mid June) we are already finished 5 out of six pasture plots down the alley. We're saving the last one so that the wwoofers who are farm sitting for us will have an easier time of it.
Our eight momma goats gave us 17!!!!! kids this year. So much joy in watching them bounce around the backyard within their fence. As Anna calls them "popcorn goats! !!"
I'm composing this on my cell phone so here goes...me trying to add some pictures.
I am trying to create a few small baskets to sell at the Waldorf Winter Fair next weekend. So far I have three made, and the biggest one in this picture is for my sister . I tried to make it square, but I need some work on the border. The fitching went well though, and I like the sturdyness of the border.
These two darlings came Sunday afternoon. Thank goodness Kevin noticed when Bundle was anxious by the barn. ..They were a bit cold but not too bad. They had been licked dry and seemed alert. Annabelle is the Mom and although she seemed a bit confused at first (First Freshener) she is now standing beautifully for them. She was returned with her mom and 3 other bucks...about 5 months ago. Only one of the bucks was a Nubian and judging from their long ears it must have been Jack, Candace' s buck that caught her on the trailer ride. Today, it was zero degrees out, so nice and warm compared to Sunday night, so now they're drinking well and warm under the heat lamp with momma in the barn. It was nice having them in the house though Sunday night.
We said goodbye to our final campers of the season today! What a great set of camps we had. I do believe we have created a bunch of farmers this summer, teaching self sufficiency and community building has felt oh-so- very rewarding!!!
We will be setting dates for next years`s camps soon after Christmas, so keep your eyes and ears to the dirt til then!
In the meantime I want to share a few websites that I have recommended over and over this summer:
Proboards family cow
Misty Mountain Lye Calculator
I would also like to invite you all to join me on Sept 13 at 10 am til 3 pm to create a Coiled Cattail Basket. Our friends at the most recent homesteading for homeschoolers camp helped harvest and store plenty of cattails so that I can teach and weave all winter long if I want!! Gotta love how much boys like wielding machetes!!! The cost for this workshop is $30 and we will potluck our lunch, so bring something homemade and garbage-free :) I will likely supply cheese :) send me an email :)
This is Willow, the one girl, about one week old. Thanks to Kerry, Terry and Shania for this wonderful experience of having kittens. We will be keeping all of them and they have taken over the barn loft! So much so that they haven't come out yet to meet Tootles! We got little males so that Tootles wouldn't be put out in his old age... they better come out soon while he's still spry! Pretty soon now they will be old enough to spay and neuter!
These are Bella, Benjamina, Betsy and Benjamin. Their buddies this year are Beatrice, Blaine, Banjo, Bongo and Bassoon.
Soooo fun to watch!!! Come on out people and "waste" an afternoon watching baby goats play!!!
Vicky's New Calf... Today!!! July 6 "Bonny"
And our faithful momma duck, who sat on eggs for over a month!!, was finally rewarded with ONE duckling! Picture coming soon, if they make it....long story, but the ducks don't want to come in at night and the coyotes are getting them when they sit beside the pond all night long. Rigel has built a raft (Thanks Sam and Duncan for helping him!) and they are now using it and the two remaining females we have (the male only lasted long enough to fertilize on egg apparently!!) have been coming into the barn more frequently, so it is hoped they are the "smart" ones!
Well, the sun is coming in at an angle so I should have taken a picture last night, when I first put this jerky on the racks. But I hope you get the idea! they are still a bit moist after 5 hours drying at 80-90 degrees. The reflecting circle is the thermometer. The air is being gently blown off by the induction fan behind the racks. I'm very pleased! In the words of permaculurists: "Stacking Functions"!