Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Got Goat Milk? September 30, 2009

Filed under: Home Economics,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 11:25 am
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Eve

Eve

We’ve had our dairy goats for not quite a week now and as you may have noticed, it has completely messed up my schedule! I haven’t had time to write since they arrived and my morning routine with the little man has been completely undone, resulting in a fair number of tantrums and general clinginess.

Regardless, I am happily milking my goat twice a day and I am consuming the milk almost as quickly as I can milk her – mostly because a) my hands cramp up before I can fully empty her and b) she kicks over about 30% of the milk I get out of her. I end up with about 1/2 quart a day total which suffices for my tea and for my son’s cup of milk.

It should also be noted that the rest of the household is having a hard time drinking the milk knowing that it came from the goat out in the yard. As my boyfriend said, “I can’t shake the image of it coming from an udder.” This makes the small supply we have been getting more than sufficient.

All that aside, the experience of having goats and milking them has thus far been fabulous. I was forced to ask a friend to come out and show me the ropes initially, but after her demonstration it has been relatively smooth sailing since. I have learned a few things of huge import in the last week that I wanted to share in the event anyone else out there is considering getting goats for their home milk supply.

Get a milking stand

Regardless of what you may think, it is better for everyone if you have a sturdy milking stand with a nice locking stock. This makes both the goat and the milker happier. All attempts at milking prior to the completion of the milking stand were disastrous. It should also be noted that you must separate the milking goat from your other goats, otherwise you will have to continuously fight off the other goats. This is nearly impossible if you only have four limbs.

Be prepared to lose most of your milk at the beginning

Unless you have an incredibly patient goat and freakishly strong hands, you should be prepared to a) not be able to aim into the milk pail, resulting in milk all over you and the goat and b) have a bored goat. A bored goat will want you to be done and will encourage you to finish by stepping in the pail and possibly even kicking in an attempt to get off the milk stand.

The first few times I milked my goat it took me upwards of 30 minutes. This morning the whole process took me less than 10. You will get faster, but chances are your goat will not get more patient, so try to keep things nice between the two of you

Never use plastic

Always store your milk in glass or stainless steel. Canning jars work beautifully and add an element of homeyness to the presentation. Goat milking supplies can be found here: http://hoeggergoatsupply.com/xcart/home.php

Cool your milk immediately!

You don’t need an industrial freezer to do this. The easiest way is to take several freezer packs and place them in a stainless steel bowl or tub filled with cold water. Place your milk container in this tub and put in in the fridge. It will reach the 38 degrees it needs to quite quickly with this method and you will avoid actually freezing the milk which can have deleterious effects on its nutrition.

Be tenacious

Goats need to be milked, and you are the one to do it. A goat will dry up if not milked regularly and may even develop mastitis, an infection of the udder, which can become very dangerous. Regardless of kicking and hand cramping, keep milking! Your efforts will be rewarded and you will love it.

Some other hints:

Raw goats milk tastes almost exactly like cows milk. It is through the pasteurization or heating of the milk that it develops the distinct tang many people associate with goat milk. Raw goat milk will start to become goaty if kept around for longer than a week. When making cheese you should use the older milk. You might also notice a distinct spice to goat milk depending on what the goat has been eating. For example, my friend’s milk tastes slightly of lavender because she grows it in her yard near the goats.

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday.

 

The work of Fall – Putting Food By September 23, 2009

Filed under: Garden Fresh,Home Economics,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 2:04 pm
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Jam

Jam

It was the equinox yesterday (the 22nd) and is now officially fall. The work involved in food preparation is suddenly in full swing. Harvest time. I understand now why farm families tend to have so many children! You need all those hands to help out.

This week we have been working on putting food by. We have made some fruit preserves, apricot as well as a combination grape/plum which I am hopeful will turn into jelly now that it is in the fridge. Additionally I am trying to find some interesting recipes for all the tomatoes we have that are still green. The red ones are being turned into tomato sauce – we are, at heart, a family of Italians – but the green ones, especially the heirlooms that are still on the plants, will have to be picked sooner than later as the weather is starting to work against us.

We planted everything late this year and as a result some of the fruits of our labor are late to ripen and mature. Santa Fe has a relatively short growing season as a result of it’s altitude and it has recently been in the 30’s here at night. Desperate measures will have to be taken! I have found a few recipes, such as this one for tomato jam, which I may try – although I’d be using green tomatoes for it. I may also try to pickle some of the green ones.

Our potatoes can stay in the ground, as can the carrots and parsnips, so we won’t have to do anything with them. The apples are already blown, and produced a wonderful pie which I wrote about. The brussel sprouts can handle a frost or two, but the onions will need to be picked and the beans will have to be set aside as seeds for next years plants.

In addition to all the harvesting we’ve been doing, we also finally got our goats and have been struggling to learn how to milk, feed, and generally care for the two girls. It is quite a learning curve and as of yet we haven’t actually gotten any milk – we have milked the one successfully but she keeps stepping in the pail or, worse yet, knocking it over resulting in the loss of any creamy goodness.

Suffice it to say, we are heading into the winter with some challenges as well as some successes. I am hopeful that the food we are putting away will last through until spring, although I can tell you right now we don’t have nearly enough carrots. In either case we will certainly know what things need to be done next year.

This post is my contribution to this weeks Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave.

 

Eek! A goat is in my yard! September 21, 2009

Filed under: Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 1:46 pm
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Eek!

Eek!

We finally picked up one of our goats! Her name is Eek and she is an adorable 7 month old doe with a lovely coat and a beautiful blood line (meaning you can already see her teats).

She is a very mellow girl, and while she is terribly lonely at the moment, her companion Eve is due to arrive tomorrow morning. Hopefully the two of them will get along and there won’t be any problems. In either case she is a fabulous addition to the family and all of us are very excited she is here! (Especially my boyfriend who volunteered to sleep in the barn with her last night to keep her from bleating all night!)

While Eek is young, she will be bred this year, in about a month actually, and she will be our first pregnant goat. She seems small, but in terms of her size and age she is an ideal candidate for a yearling mommy.

It is a whole new world being a livestock owner, but I am really excited about learning all the ropes, bonding with the girls and most importantly, having fresh milk for our family!

Happy Eating!

 

Peach Medeira Crumble September 17, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 3:08 pm
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Peach Madeira Crumble

Peach Madeira Crumble

Peach season is coming to a close here and my last hurrah was a crumble using a type of Cling peach – basically a peach that maintains its firmness even when ripe and literally clings to the pit. While this makes the preparation rather difficult, it results in an excellent texture when baked – never mushy and always nice and firm.

It has been so rainy and cold here for the last few days that I wanted to do something nice and warm, but I had just made a pie and was kind of sick of traditional cobblers. It should also be noted that I needed my buttermilk for the chicken pot pie I am making tonight so that also forced me to experiment a bit with the recipe! I usually cover my cobblers with a sweet buttermilk biscuit dough.

Peach Madeira Crumble

4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced into 1/4 thick pieces.
1/4 c Madeira
1/2 c cane sugar

Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow the peaches to soak up the flavor of the Madeira.

The Topping

1 c all purpose flour
6 TBSP butter, chilled
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c pecan pieces

Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Using a pastry blender mix the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal. Add the pecans.

Once the peach mixture is good and infused, place it into a 11×7 inch baking dish. Cover it with the crumble mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on how dark you want your topping to get.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for the ultimate dessert.

Happy Eating!

 

Nothing says fall like apple pie! September 14, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Garden Fresh,Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 10:27 pm
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Constructing the Pie

Constructing the Pie

We planted a few apple trees this year and while we pinched back most of the buds, I decided to save enough on our Granny Smith tree to make one pie. The apples have just started falling this week and so I decided to take advantage both of their ripeness and the cooler weather to make an apple pie with them – hopefully the first of many as we will soon be going to a local orchard to do some picking.

However this pie was particularly special because it used our apples, our very own apples, and the results were absolutely fantastic. Because my boyfriend doesn’t like cinnamon, I tend to use different spices to add flavor to my apple pies, resulting in a more cider like taste. Although, it should be noted, I haven’t gotten rid of the cinnamon entirely. That would just be wrong!

Fresh From the Tree Apple Pie

10-12 medium tart apples, peeled and cored. (Approx 3 – 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup evaporated cane juice*
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

*The sugar content can be adjusted to your taste and to the tartness of your apples. Always taste your apples before applying sugar!

Cut the apples into fairly thick slices – I like them to be about 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Mix the apples with the spices and sugar and pour into your pie crust.

Below are the crust recipe and baking instructions.

Amazing Pie Crust

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c lard, chilled (learn how to render at home here)
3 TBSP butter, chilled and cut into cubes
5-6 TBSP ice water.
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar

Finished Apple Pie

Finished Apple Pie

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk several times to mix. Add the lard and the cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter, mix the lard and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs – the pastry may start to come together a bit at this point. Add the ice water one teaspoon at a time until you can pick up the pastry and it will hold its shape when squeezed. Split the pastry in half and shape into disks. Store each pastry disk in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Prior to rolling the dough out, let it warm up for about 10 minutes or so otherwise you will have a hard time. Also be sure to use a lot of flour while rolling it out!

After the pie is constructed, brush a thin layer of heavy cream over the crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle some raw sugar on the top for texture. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about an hour or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Serve drizzled with more heavy cream to bring everything together.

Happy Eating!

This post was my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

 

The Slow Money Dinner

The menu

The menu

Apologies to those of you who might have been looking for this post earlier in the weekend. Without going into a whole lot of detail, my bad goat karma created a number of dilemma’s for me and I was simply overwhelmed dealing with that. In either case, I wanted to share the wonderful meal put together for the attendees using all local ingredients and highlighting several local specialties, including a sacred Native American bread whose cooking technique is in danger of being forgotten.

The menu included a starter of zucchini and summer squash in a delicious tomato chutney, a fabulous salad using local greens, goat cheese and pecan, a buffalo relleno with a tomato reduction and at the end, a toxicatingly sweet chocolate honey pinon tart. Each diner was gifted with a corn necklace hand made by Navajo elders and the iced tea served was Cota tea, a local plant that has a surprisingly mild, sweet flavor and makes a refreshing drink whether served hot or cold.

Sadly, there was one down point to this experience. The event was catered and none of the food was prepared on site, so each dish, with the exception of the salad, suffered as a result. The food was still phenomenal, however something was lost. Perhaps it was that nothing arrived piping hot, or that certain aspects of the meal where somewhat drier than they might have otherwise been. In either case the abundance, not to mention the creativity, more than made up for the effects of transport.

The bread was diverse; a blue cornbread, a chipotle flat bread, and a molasses pepita bread all blended to create quite an interesting flavor palate and each type of bread went best with a particular part of the meal. The cornbread with the zucchini, for example, and the molasses bread with the relleno. The most unique bread of all, however, was certainly the sacred corn bread mentioned a few paragraphs above – paper thin and made only with blue cornmeal, water and ash, it reminded me of rice paper in texture, although the flavor was nothing similar.

My most favorite course was the salad – containing roasted pecans, local greens, locally produced goat cheese similar in texture to feta, and fabulous yellow and orange cherry tomatoes. All these ingredients were paired nicely with a delicious vinaigrette. I could have eaten four times what I did and this is why I have no picture – it was gone before I remembered the camera!

All said, the meal was a fabulous conclusion to the Slow Money conference as it really allowed each attendee to sample the results of successful investment in local agriculture. I am grateful to be living in a place that supports this kind of economy and I am hopeful that the success of both the conference and the meal encourages all the people who came to Santa Fe for this event to return home and try to implement these ideals in whatever ways they can.

Until then, Happy Eating!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday blog carnival.

Bread plate

Bread plate

Sacred bread

Sacred bread

Zucchini Starter

Zucchini Starter

Bison Relleno with Tomato Reduction

Bison Relleno with Tomato Reduction

 

Slow Money Alliance Update September 11, 2009

Filed under: Fight Back Fridays,Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 1:25 pm
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I have just returned from a morning spent at the first annual Slow Money Alliance Conference and am bursting with energy and enthusiasm! What a fabulous event and what a fabulous movement this is.

In July I posted about the upcoming conference and provided some information about the Slow Money Alliance organization and it’s mission. The conference began yesterday and will continue through this evening with a variety of events scheduled – movie screenings, discussion panels, some live music and (what I am most excited for!) a farm to table dinner this evening which I will be attending – check back tomorrow for updates on that!

This morning something came up which I really wanted to talk about and so I have popped home between discussions not only to feed my son and make sure he is doing okay without mom, but also to review the salient points of today’s discussion and write about how attending this conference has really re-energized certain aspects of my commitment to sustainable local agriculture and real food.

One of the most moving speeches was by Ari Derfel, founder of Terrain and Back to Earth, Inc.. He talked about how he wished people would appreciate the privilege of sitting down to meal – not just because of the abundance of the food, but also because of our ability to take the time. He even encouraged people to appreciate the bowls we ate from, the chairs we sat in, and the tables we sat at. This level of appreciation is a theme which I have been thinking about and have written about from time to time. And additionally, that people don’t have a proper understanding of the value of our food and our food experiences. By making food a commodity, our culture has devalued the whole experience and this is directly related to the way food is financed – which is a primary focus of the Slow Money Alliance movement.

To quote Judy Wicks, founder of BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living Economies:

    At it’s heart the movement for local living economies is about love.

Love. Love translates into appreciation, which translates to value.

I think the biggest problem for teaching this value to the consumer is that it is something that comes so viscerally – food is perhaps one of the most personal experiences an individual can have. Our connection to food is literally our connection to our life, and if we are disconnected from one, it only follows that we will be disconnected from the other.

During the panel discussion this morning, several local business entrepreneurs talked about their struggles and successes as well as their commitment to their work. The questions turned, understandably, to inquiries into the ways in which these business men and women had found capital to both sustain and grow their businesses. The struggle seems to be endemic to the whole community, as each and every one, as well as several audience members, admitted to struggling regularly with the problem of finding continued resources so as to produce sustainable meats, vegetables and dairy products.

So I posed a question – How can you educate the community about the value of the work that goes into the production of sustainable agriculture?

Granted, this was the final minutes of the panel discussion, but I have to admit to being slightly disappointed by the responses. The ideas were important – such as making the face to face connection with your farmer, and developing a personal relationship with the man or woman who produces your food. Additionally the panel felt it was important to educate people who worked in the food industry; chefs especially, so that they can understand and learn about the desirability of using local foods. But I still felt as though ideas just won’t be enough to really make the changes we need.

I can’t help but think that the visceral connection we all have to food requires something other than ideas – it requires presence. And I don’t know how to encourage people to be present. It was only through having my own garden and tending to my own life this way that my intellectual ideas were really cemented.

I wonder how we can bring this same sense to everyone.

Sadly I don’t have the answer. But I am hoping that through communities such as Slow Money, Slow Food, even the blog carnivals hosted by people like Kristen of Food Renegade will slowly trickle out into the general population and the ideas will spread, followed by the presence required to turn those ideas into a living reality.

This has been my weekly contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday’s blog carnival.