Monday, September 26, 2011

Cheese Quest, Chapter 2

This is not what Mozzarella cheese is supposed to look like. 
But this is what you can make from a failed batch of cheese.  
I bought another gallon of milk that said that is wasn't ultra-pasteurized 
but it certainly acted that way.  
I took a closer look at the label and it is made in Dallas, just like the last gallon.  
I wonder if it is processed at the same mega processor plant 
and a different label got slapped onto the jug.
I will be avoiding milk processed in Dallas.

Instead of pouring the whole mess out I strained out the whey and mixed in 
some fresh made pesto, a little salt and made a pretty decent cheese spread.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cheese Quest, Chapter 1

I have wanted to make cheese for years now.  
I know that the aged cheeses take some specialized equipment and time to make 
but there are several fresh cheeses that I have wanted to make. 
Mozzarella in particular.  

I read several cheese sources on the internet.
Ordered the few non-milk ingredients that I would need.
Bought 2% homogenized, pasteurized milk.

Allison and I were all set to make our first batch of 30-minute Mozzarella cheese.

It all started wonderfully.
We gently heated the milk, added the correct potions to the pot at the correct time.
We waited the appropriate amount of time.  
It was looking just like the pictures on the recipe.

And then it started to go all pear-shaped.
My lovely soft curds started to fall apart!
What should have been a custard consistency turned into tiny little shred-like curds!
Dang it!

I looked at the trouble shooting section of the cheese-making website and discovered our problem.

It said that if the curds fell apart that our homogenized milk was probably closer 
to ultra-homogenized milk which will not make curds.  
Dang it. Dang it!

So tomorrow starts the quest to find a milk that will work.
Two steps forward, one step backward.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dog Day Afternoon

Peaches is enjoying her post morning squirrel hunt nap near the sunny breakfast room door.
No sounds but the clothes dryer 
and her impressive snoring that lets me know that she is out but good!  

Not a bad life, huh?  

Could she possibly be comfortable?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture Perfect

This Thanksgiving my dad's side of the family will be gathering for a reunion.  
One of my cousins came up with the idea of everyone scanning in their pictures and bringing in a digital version so that we can all have a complete collection of family pictures.  

I started scanning in pictures at my folk's home at Christmas.
I have been back a few times since to work on pictures 
but this is still how the dining room table looks.
This is a much bigger job than I originally anticipated.

We have been taking pictures out of frames to get them scanned in.
So many of the Polaroid pictures that were in frames have faded badly.  
We have also had new archive quality mats cut 
for the pictures that are going back in frames.
Like I said, this has turned out to be a much bigger job than I anticipated.

(If you have Polaroid pictures out where they can fade with UV light - 
scan them in and frame a scanned copy.  
Otherwise your family pictures will slowly fade away.
Really.  Do it today.  
Go ahead, I'll wait.)

This is one of the highlights of this project.  

This is a hand-tinted portrait of my mother when she was 18 years old.  
Beautiful, huh?
She still is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is Your Momma a Llama?

I am currently vice president of my women's service club.  
As VP one of my duties is to plan social activities for our group.  

I take this as an extreme challenge.  
I am always looking for unusual things for our group to do together 
that will be enjoyable.
Today's social outing was to visit an alpaca/llama farm.

As it turns out we have a local alpaca and llama farm 
run by a very kind woman named Cozette.  
Her farm is called Cozy Cove Farm.
Cute, huh?

Cozette is not just knowledgeable about the animals, she knows them each by name 
and knows their personalities - all 110(ish) of them.  

She has a deep respect and love for these gentle animals.  

She educated us on the differences between alpacas and llamas. 
She let us feel just how soft these animals are.  

These animals are so curious and alert.  
Although they really weren't crazy about us petting them, they followed us all over the farm.  
It wasn't hard to get a photo of them looking at the camera - they are always watching us.  

Cozette said that in the evenings she and her husband will be watching TV and look out the window and realize that there are several alpacas watching with them.  

She shears them herself in the spring.
With hand shears. 
That takes dedication!

She also demonstrated how she takes the wool from the alpacas and llamas and spins it into yarn.  
She makes very nubby, natural yarn that is surprisingly soft.

Isn't this just the coolest spinning wheel? 
So small and compact.  

She also has a couple of horses.
My daughter would have taken this one home if Cozette had turned her back long enough.
It would have ridden home in the van on her lap.
And slept in her bed with her.

Thanks Cozette for sharing your afternoon with us and educating us 
a bit on these fascinating gentle creatures.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Craptastic Packer Dinner

Bruce emailed me this morning to let me know that he would take care of dinner tonight. 

If you know anything about Bruce you know that he doesn't cook - at all.  
The man can manage to cook oatmeal with the right proportions of 
oats and water and still manage to make crunchy oatmeal.  
It's a gift.  

He said that in honor of the first Green Bay Packers game of the season he 
wanted to have craptastic snacks for dinner. 
That's what he called it.

Anyway, after picking up the kids from school 
the three of them went shopping for tonight's "dinner".
What they arrived home with would absolutely fall into the "craptastic" category.

 Dr. Craptastic.  

I guess the carrots on the plate are supposed to justify the rest of the assortment.  
Hmmmmm, maybe not.  
But it was tasty.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kicking Back on the Weekend

Around the Peter's ranch we don't watch TV during the week during the school year,
at least while the kids are awake.

So on the weekends when the homework is caught up the boy has his own style of kickin' back.  
Now that SEC football season has started he multi-tasks by watching football while playing a video game online with his friends.

Peaches is all smiles since she has her favorite littermate's full attention.

Except that the littermate likes to play with her toys. 

Maybe that part isn't so great.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dad's Garden, Part 9

We have officially entered the stage of summer gardening that I like to call "The Crunchy Stage".  
Most plants are past their peak and the heat is making these plants work really hard to produce.

The tomatoes have been busy making really tasty fruit.  The tomatoes start blooming at the base of the plant and progress up the plant until it runs out of vine. 

This vine has bloomed all the way out to the tip of the plant.  The tomatoes are weighing down the end of the vine.  

The one plant in the garden that seems to really enjoy the sun is the okra.
Just when the rest of the garden seems to be looking at bit tired, the okra comes on strong. 

I mean - look at it!  If you look you can see that there are pods growing all the way up the trunk at every space available.

Dad has some pods selected to mature and dry out on the plant.  These pods will provide the seeds to start the plants for next year.  

I am the Bubba Blue* of okra.  I love it!  How do I like okra?  Well...I like
fried okra
boiled okra
pickled okra
roasted okra
okra and tomatoes
okra gumbo

Mmmmm.  I have a bag of okra in the refrigerator that I brought home from Mom and Dad's.  I need to clean it and make something yummy with it.  

(*of Forrest Gump fame)