Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Things to do with Goat Milk May 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 8:54 pm

This week the kids (goat kids that is) have finally been weaned and I am getting an obscene amount of milk from my mommy goat. In fact I get about a half gallon a milking – I milk twice a day. So I have, at any given moment, between five and seven quarts of goat milk in my fridge. I have had to get serious about finding uses for it. Luckily every attempt has been a success thus far, which is very exciting.

I have made fromage blanc using a culture purchased on-line, mozzarella and ricotta from the whey left over, and now I am working on making some ice cream with a newly purchased ice cream maker. Given the amount of ice cream this household consumes, I figured it was a worthwhile investment. I also make kefir daily, and at this point am also trying to find ways to use that up. Luckily kefir keeps longer than fresh milk so there isn’t the same sense of urgency there.

Suffice it to say, after making three batches of cheese, a quart of kefir, and some ice cream, I STILL have a gallon of milk in the fridge and am starting to get desperate. Not only do I have all this milk, but I also have about a gallon of whey, which has already been boiled down to make ricotta. I put some in my sourdough to proof last night and made a baguette with it today, quite successfully, but I have no idea what else to do with the whey and I hate to waste it.

Suffice it to say, the process of processing all this milk has kept me very busy. I am actually thinking at this point that I should try some hard cheeses, or something that I can store for use this winter. I have found, thus far, that cheese making is easier than I imagined and I am ready to try something a little more complicated. Unfortunately I do not have a cheese press, nor do I have a particularly good place to store any cheese I want to age. While it is very dry here, it is also incredibly hot and I am not sure I can successfully store cheese long term unless I have a root cellar or something similar. Sadly the crawl space under the house doesn’t really count.

In either case I am enjoying the abundance and I am really looking forward to continuing to experiment with the delicious milk from my goat. I am hopeful that I will find a use for it all, as the idea of wasting it makes me cringe. I don’t expect to get this kind of volume from her for much longer, as she is pretty much at the peak of her production. The real issue is finding a use for the whey, and I suspect I may end up feeding some of it to the chickens. Which isn’t a bad thing, given that they will reward me with eggs.

So here is a very simple recipe for ricotta, using any whey you have – I used the remainder from my mozzarella:

Ricotta

1 gallon whey
butter muslin (very fine cheesecloth)
colander

Place the colander over a bowl and line with the butter muslin. Heat 1 gallon whey to boiling. Carefully pour the heated whey into the butter muslin, being careful not to let it go higher than the edge of the cloth. Let drain overnight. Voila! Ricotta!

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Meet dinner! May 16, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Eating local,Events,Food For Thought — realfoodmama @ 8:15 pm
Tags: , ,

Mo the steerThis is a picture of my new steer – he’s the one looking at the camera. Yes, I officially own a cow.

Of course I don’t have to feed him or take care of him or even see him until he’s been ground up and put in my freezer. Yes, readers, I came face to face with my dinner. And it smelled a little.

This weekend I drove for about two hours, over 15 miles of bad forest service dirt road in order to arrive at a ranch located in what most people would consider the back of beyond in order to pick out my own Black Angus beef. My steer will graze exclusively on the grasses and shrubs of the New Mexican desert until the end of October, at which point his delicious self will be butchered and packaged to order for myself and my family. And then he will be dinner.

I admit to being surprisingly unfazed by the whole experience, but that may have a lot to do with my upbringing. My father hunted when I was young and our family friends would slaughter hogs every year. I frequently saw the progression from animal to food and I have always made the connection in my mind between the roast chicken I’m eating and the clucking bird in the yard. It has never bothered me and I am hopeful that my son will feel the same.

Because his father decidedly does NOT. It took some serious begging in order to get him to even come along on the adventure and he has yet to look at the picture of the cow I selected. Of course he’s the person who eats the most meat in the house and regularly asks for steak, but such is life. Admittedly watching them being castrated, branded and tagged wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience, but, no offense to any cow lovers out there, they don’t have much of a long term memory. And they all ran off happily afterward, so I am pretty sure they will survive.

I certainly hope that my cow has a happy life up there on the mesa’s, running around and playing with his other cow friends. I suspect when it comes down to it, he won’t know what hit him.

 

Why home made pasta is better May 5, 2010

Filed under: Home Made — realfoodmama @ 11:36 am
Tags: ,

I love pasta. I like macaroni and cheese, fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti and marinara…you get the picture!

And I love fresh pasta. I like how its all soft. It smells good to me. And generally speaking it tastes better. But the thing I like most about fresh pasta is the art of making it. It’s like a meditation.

I started making pasta a few years ago and struggled with the stubborn, elastic dough to the point where I didn’t want to ever do it again. See, pasta dough and a rolling pin require a huge amount of upper body strength that I just don’t have. Or wish to have, frankly.

However, last year I got a hand cranked pasta roller and suddenly my love affair with noodles really took off. And since then, boy have I gotten good!

Pasta making for me is almost like a meditation. You have to work with the dough and add extra water or olive oil depending on the ambient humidity, the size of the eggs you use or the mood of the flour. You have to work it just enough so that it doesn’t become tough, but instead is a nice soft, silky consistency. In short, it is like art. It is a skill I have cultivated because I love my noodles. And frankly, so does my son. He even helps crank the roller from time to time!

The thing about making fresh pasta that I love the most though is that it really connects me to my food. Yes it is tastey and yes it is fun, but mostly I love that it allows me the space and time to really get down and make something. I don’t get the same sense of meditative time when making bread, mostly because I find bread stressful still. I am always worrying about the density, the rising, the cooking time. It doesn’t focus and calm me the way pasta making does. Maybe its my Italian heritage coming through, who knows?

In either case, I suggest that everyone find something food related that makes you feel the same way. Whether its pie crust, or bread making, or hollandaise sauce. Once you connect with a food process, you’ll never be the same again!

Happy Eating!