Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Say Cheese!

Homemade cheese is a great addition to a homestead.  Last Fall I took a class at the Driftless Folk School about making soft cheeses.  Linda Conroy from Moonwise Herbs teaches these classes and others throughout Wisconsin.

Making soft cheeses is surprisingly simple.  If you can cook milk and add a few ingredients, then you can make paneer, mozzerela, and feta cheese!  Yogurt and kefir cheeses are even more simple.  I'm finding that there are more and more books about home cheesemaking.  Check out this Home Dairy book give away!
Feta cheese in the making
My goal is to make the cheese more often and learn how to cook with them.  I would also like to get in the habit of making cultured creams, butters, and ice cream.

Now all we need is a dairy goat!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sharing my Homestead

I brought a few animals to a pioneer maple sugaring festival.  Hundreds of people attended the event and my animals loved the attention.  I wasn't able to be by their side, but I loved seeing all the people petting and feeding the chickens and rabbits.  Hopefully it sparks someone else to get a few homestead animals...

Looking for cracked corn.

A great furry coat on a cold day.

Homemade butter anyone?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Root Cellar Experiments

There is just something thrilling about walking to the backyard to collect your own homegrown food in the middle of winter. We weren’t sure if the root cellar would work. We stored apples in the refrigerator at the same time we placed apples in the root cellar. Within a month the apples stored in the fridge were mushy. We lost hope for any of the apples outside. If apples in a fridge couldn’t keep well, how could apples in a makeshift root cellar keep well?

On one warm winter day, I got a little cabin fever and decided to check the apples in the root cellar. The anxiety built as I removed the straw bales, then the trash can cover, and then the straw. Beautiful, ripe apples smiled back at me. I literally screamed with joy and bit into an apple right there. Even in winter, that day felt like autumn.

We bought two different types of apples: Spartans and McIntosh. The Spartans were intended for eating raw and they stored the best. The McIntosh apples were intended for apple pies and sauce, which is fine because some apples turned up with brown spots. During a few snowstorms, we spent the days staying warm by making ruby red applesauce.

In addition to apples, we also stored potatoes in a trash can and carrots in a trench. The carrots were gobbled up by the end of November, but they did last through freezing temperatures. The potatoes are storing well too, and we will soon be out of them. (If we lived during the pioneer days, we would have starved.) Note to Self: plant more potatoes and carrots for next year.