Sep 25, 2008

Have you made cheese?

The package said mozzarella in 30 minutes. Reality was, mozzarella in 75 minutes with another 15minutes of working with the whey to get a small tub of ricotta. But it was fun. And we will be doing it again. Soon.

We started by cleaning our glass jars and heading over to the dairy to gather fresh milk. The smell brought me back to childhood. My parents had friends who family owned a dairy. Besides the typical cow smell, walking into the actual dairy was a blast from 1981. There is no real way for me to describe that smell, but I'm pretty sure there is no other smell like it on earth. The kids thought it was one of the most offensive they had ever smelled. I was hoping the farmer wouldn't walk in while they were holding their noses and nearly gagging, while over and over telling each other how much the building stunk.

The dairy is a small operation, I didn't count, but my guess is less than 50 cows. I was surprised at how small the tank was. We were scooping, yes scooping, out of the tank.

The room had the obligatory money box for the milk. The box was labeled 'milk for dogs and pigs $2 per gallon'. Which provided a great opportunity for the Miss I and me to have an honest conversation about rules and laws. Why the farmer couldn't legally sell unpasteurized milk for human consumption. Why we have so many mindless laws. Why people don't think for themselves. And why we must.

So back to cheese...the mozzarella turned out great (my husband needed the camera for work, so we have no pictures of the process), very tasty and a great consistency. We made pizza dough that afternoon and ate pizza for dinner. I think we will do a lasagna this weekend and use the ricotta in that. The next time we will get a couple of gallons and do a bigger batch since the kitchen is consumed in milk and whey.

Both the kids had soccer practice and games this week. Miss I's game was Wednesday with the win going to her team. And, Little A had his first game tonight. He was so excited to have a real soccer uniform. He got up early this morning and put it on, he wore it all day. I think he would have worn it to bed if I hadn't objected. Watching the mass of little bodies chase after the green soccer ball was pretty comical. They were a clump of five and six year old's, going every which way, not knowing any better. Miss I has another game tomorrow evening after choir practice.
The joys of fall.

Sep 22, 2008

Autumn and pyrex

So it happened at 9:44 this morning, according to the NPR fellow. Autumn is here. It sure does feel like it, cool and breezy, even with the sun trying to give us some rays as it moves ever farther away from our northern hemisphere.

I had the best intentions to have the kids put on warmer clothes and we would go for a hike to observe and be in nature. But, um well that didn't happen. Nope we are still in our little house them working on school and me cleaning out kitchen cupboards. An interesting and frustrating job. Why did I feel the need to save every glass vase that I have received during the past 12 years of marriage? Why? I don't have flower gardens to fill these empty vases. Nor do I see that happening in the near future. And the seemingly endless pieces of corning oven ware that I have never used, some that I didn't even know I owned. Why do I keep them? My lil brain tells me I keep them in case. In case of what? All my other shelves burdened with baking dishes suddenly crash to the floor and they all break into a million little pieces...but just wait, isn't corning/pyrex nearly impossible to break. Aaaaggghhhh. I baffle myself.

This evening holds soccer practice for the kiddos and husband. I'm trying my hand at making a vegi minestrone soup for dinner, baking some sort of bread and creating a salad. Oh and putting back all of my cupboard contents, minus the glass vases. But at least all that ovenware will be nicely organized to collect dust for another 12 years.

Tomorrow we make mozzarella for the first time. I'll try and get some pictures.

Sep 21, 2008

Fall day - evening too

Today is cool, damp and gray. Not normal for our mountains this time of year. This past week we have had temps in the upper 70's and one afternoon we enjoyed a brief reminder of what 82degrees feels like. Though at night we are dropping down into the low 40's and high 30's. The few nights that mother earth has taken off the blankets (cloud free, clear skies) we have had frosts. My poor garden has been nipped by jack frost. Leaves are starting to die back, and it appears that the rest of my tomatoes will have to ripen in a newspaper and cardboard shelter. I'm trying to decided if I should transplant my herbs into pots to be brought inside for the duration of winter. I love being able to gather what is needed for cooking, fresh. I love even more the fact that it is all free. And always tastes better than that bought at the market. Our small house won't hold all my potted herbs, so I'm thinking rosemary and parsley will be the ones I try to overwinter inside.

Yesterday morning the kiddos played outside, kicking soccer balls all over the lawn, climbing up crab apple trees, feasting on many. Free-ranging the rabbit. Digging tunnels into the hillside. Making forts complete with grass roofs and separate rooms. It is so great to see them at play. Enjoying nature and all it has to offer. We must get into the mountains before trails become muddy and then icy. We have time, at least several weeks.

In the afternoon winds and rain whipped out of the canyons, soaking the ground and blanketing the peaks with a fresh white layer of snow. This isn't the first snow our peaks have seen this fall but the first time the snow lines came down past the high alpine rocky slopes and into the trees. I suspect we will start seeing the larch trees starting to turn their tell tale yellow. I say keep on snowing(up high) and building up our base layer, last year we enjoyed a really fantastic snow year. Skiing was great. And even better was the lack of smoke from forest fires this late summer and early fall.

I helped a friend who was catering a wedding at a 'summer cabin' at the base of the mountains. A couple of observations; 1-cabin?, try huge log house in the woods, 2-high heel's and silky dresses are a tough gig to pull off on uneven, unpaved mountain terrain (and just perhaps the 12 glasses of wine don't help much either), 3-when setting up a ridiculously huge tent to feed 134 guest, use all the stakes and tie downs, they are there for a purpose, 4-it is entertaining to see folks scramble (in heavy winds and spattering rain) (and high heels and suits) trying to tie down a tent that is catching gust's of wind and threatening to take flight, 5-when in Rome/mountains - do as the Romans do...wear jeans, layers of fleece and aggressive tread shoes, especially if you are consuming LARGE amounts of alcohol and are a city slicker in the mountains. Really folks who you trying to empress with your prada and kate spade wear. For the love of pete return to your city homes quickly. Now, please. Rant over. All of us locals did get many laughs all evening and night long, ya gotta admit it's interesting watching humans (especially when they are so far out of their comfort zone).

It felt great to crawl into bed last night. Under our wool blankets with windows wide open and cool breezes blowing in. I refuse to shut our house up just yet, when we will be with out fresh air moving about our house for the better part of 5 months. And no, my dear kiddos the heater may not come on, but feel free to put on a sweater and a pair of smartwools. Cold noses are healthy noses, or at least that's what Grammy used to tell me, so it must be true.

Now for a warm dinner-let's see what the pantry has for us.

Sep 18, 2008

The Beginning

So today is the day. I've been saying I'll start, soon. And years have gone by.
Today is a day of many beginnings, but more on that at a later time.
Here, I hope to capture a slice of our lives together, my family and me. A place when our kiddos are older they can reference reality of daily life, as I see it. And perhaps see things weren't so odd.
Thanks to my dear fabulous husband for encouraging me to just do it and write. I love you. Not you - but him, he rocks.
I am a wife, a mama to two terrific kiddos, a home-schooler trying to figure it out, an aspiring midwife apprentice, a cook, a friend, a sister, an aunt and a daughter. I'm a woman on a mission. The thing is, I haven't figured out what my mission is. There are so many to choose from.

One of my goals for this year was to try new things. One of the things that I most recently tried was making jam. Peach jam to be exact. I (with the help of my husband and kids) have put up 32pints and 12quarts of jam. We are all loving eating what we made. Such a great feeling. I want to do more preserving of one kind or another. This here blog would be another new thing ( and a way of preserving, too). I have really loved finding the world of wonderful blogs, I just discovered them this year. Yeah, I know I'm a late bloomer. But my computer skills are much past a comodor 64(sp?) or floppy discs. So I guess that will be added to my list of trying new things, gaining computer skills.
I'll share more as I go along.

And now soccer practice calls.