Homemade Ricotta

I know I have mentioned this before, but if you didn’t know, we have easy access to raw milk. In SC, raw milk is legal to sell. We hadn’t even tasted raw milk prior to moving here. In CO, you had to buy a share (upwards of $150) of a farm and then buy a gallon (upwards of $10). I had read a lot about the tasty, nutritious, mysterious raw milk, but it had never passed my lips. A neighbor told us about a little family farm, really close to us, Harmony Dairy. I’ll have to do a post in the future, just so you can see pictures of where I go to buy my milk. It’s literally the farm your parents told you that “Rover” went to when he got too old. I get out of my jeep after going through multiple chained gates (free roaming animals are happy, but also dangerous for cars!) and pull up to a refrigerated cooler that says, “Drink Milk.” I put my $5 in a little tool box and grab my delicious raw, un-homogenized, full-fat, cream on the top milk. On my way out, I usually pet a calf or two, whisper to a pig of give a loving nudge to a dog or chicken. Are you in love yet?

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We aren’t big milk drinkers. My milk usually ends up fermented in some variety (yogurt or kefir), in a roux, and I use it in my coffee every morning. I usually get a gallon every two weeks. Except recently I’ve been buying more and more, ever since making homemade ricotta! I’ve never been a big ricotta fan. I mean I buy it once a year when I make lasagna and never think much of it. That has definitely changed.

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While it takes some time (not much though compared to any other cheese), it is definitely worth it. You have a few minutes while the milk heats. Go nuts. Me? I play with this beauty.

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I’m shameless. Sorry. I couldn’t let one post go by without a pic!

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I heat the milk with the acid (lemon juice) and the curds and whey separate and just before it erupts into a boil is when I shut off the heat. You can see the bubbles about to surface and the temp is around 200-205.

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And then the straining begins. It takes a little while for me as I only have this little sieve. Quadrupled lined with cheesecloth, it’s ready to go. I pour and drain and pour some more and drain some more.

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Almost there…

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You can stop the straining process when it looks and feels like ricotta to you. I like mine a little on the wet side. Then I liberally sprinkle with sea salt. And eat it. And occasionally it makes it into a beautiful dish like this one.

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Summer squash and ricotta galette. Divine.

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Or on a plate alongside crackers and fig jam for an elegant snack.

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Or on top of a plate full of pasta instead of parmesan for a rich, creamy addition. So, go ahead, make some ricotta. I promise you’ll find ways to use it!

Homemade Ricotta

Adapted from: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/06/how-to-make-ricotta-cheese-from-scratch.html

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk (DO NOT use ultra-pasteurized milk, which is basically any organic milk sold at the grocery store. It will not curdle, I learned this the hard way a long time ago! If you don’t have access to fresh milk, look in the store for a low-pasteurized alternative. For instance, I know Publix’s whole milk is low-pasteurized).
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (From 1-3 lemons. I had super juicy lemons and only needed 1.)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream (you might need this addition if using whole milk from the store), salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottom pot (dutch oven or cast iron is great here), add milk and lemon juice, stir briefly.
  2. Set heat to medium-low heat. Heat milk until it reaches 175 degrees at this setting. This take about 30-50 minutes.
  3. After it hits 175 degrees, raise the heat to medium-high and watch closely. You will see the curds begin to separate from the whey (pictured above) and the whole thing will look like it’s about to erupt into a rolling boil. Shut the heat off before this happens. Let it sit for a few minutes while you get the straining station set up.
  4. Over a large bowl, set your sieve and quadruple line it with cheesecloth. Pour the curds and whey into the bowl and let it drain. I keep adding liquid as it drains down. It takes me about three dumps. I get in there with a spatula (pictured above) and help the liquid get under the curds by lifting and folding with the spatula.
  5. Once it looks and feels like ricotta to you, it’s done! Again, I liberally sprinkle with sea salt, but do your to your taste preference. Yes, this means start eating it now.
  6. Keep in air-tight container in fridge for over a week.

Kale Hummus (kid approved!)

We have quite an obsession with hummus in this house. I usually make a batch every week. And our consumption has increased since a certain Farm Baby discovered hummus. She loves the stuff!

Side Note (if you are interested in some of our parenting/baby related thoughts, keep reading, if not just skip below for the goods on the hummus):

Since food is such an important part of our life, it is something that we spent a lot of time talking about how we wanted to create an environment that was food loving and a kid that would eat what we eat. Once Farm Baby was ready for solids, we decided to start from that point, let her eat what we are eating. Let her see the direct connect between what we put in our mouths and what goes in hers. Chicken for dinner? Let her gnaw on a chicken bone. Broccoli? Let a couple extra-big stalks steam for a few minutes longer so that she can pick them up and easily “chew” some off. You get the point. Anyways, 13 months in and so far very successful. She eats what we eat, we don’t make a separate baby meal, we try not to fuss over how much she eats or if she doesn’t eat what we put in front of her, but most importantly, we let her have food choices. We offer her a variety of foods and let her decide the pace and what she wants to eat (by not spoon-feeding/forcing food)…OK, end side note (if you want more information on this whole skipping purees & babies eating real food madness, check out “Baby-Led Weaning”).

Back to hummus: Anyways, one of the tough things to get a baby to eat is greens…from a logistical standpoint. They don’t make great finger foods. She recently started drinking some morning smoothies, which I usually make green and add spinach, kale, arugula…whatever is in the fridge for added nutrition. She LOVES them. Win. And then, I came across this gem of a blog and recipe. Genius for not only sneaking more greens into an adult diet, but also brilliant for a babe that shovels hummus in by the fistful. I already had some chickpeas on the stove simmering and had kale in the fridge when I came across it. So I made it instantly with a few changes as I didn’t have the patience to roast garlic at the moment. I can’t wait to make another batch and try it with roasted garlic!

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Enjoy watching Farm Baby discover bright green yummy hummus! I hope this inspires you to add some greens into your hummus!

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First bite…not too sure about this, Ma.

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Not so bad, I kinda liked it!

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Okay, I loved it so much I smeared it all over my face, belly, and even added some green highlights to my strawberry blonde locks!

Recipe: Kale Hummus

Adapted from: http://blog.freepeople.com/2012/09/roasted-garlic-kale-hummus-glutenfree-vegan/

Ingredients:

  • About 2 cups of garbanzo beans* (One large can or 1 cup dried)
  • Juice from one lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 large kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2-4 TB EVOO
  • Sea salt, pepper (black or crushed red)**

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor and process until combined. You may need to scrape down the sides/add more liquid to suit your needs.

*I prefer freshly cooked chickpeas. I soak my beans overnight in water (8-12 hours). Drain, fill with filtered water so that beans are covered and cook. Depending on freshness of beans and how long you soaked this can take anywhere from 25-60 minutes. If you are doing this method, reserve some cooking liquid to use in the recipe, you will need about 1/4 – 1/2 cup.

** If using freshly cooked beans, you will need a good amount of salt. Start at a teaspoon and keep adjusting, tasting along the way. I think I used close to 1 1/2-2 tspn.

Farm Update and an Exciting Announcement!

(editor’s note: there is a kinda, sorta, semi-graphic pic of a pre-harvest rooster towards the bottom of this post. nothing gory or anything like that, just a heads up for the super-squeamish or those who like a little more distance between the contents of their dinner plate and it’s humble origins…)

Whew, it’s been a while! Things have been busy as you can tell from the silence on this blog. We’ve got a great update here for you on the state of everything here at the farm, but please be sure to read this post all the way to the end as we have a super exciting announcement!!!

Garden

The garden is in full swing. Here’s a neat pic comparing before planting season (about 12 weeks ago) to just a week ago from our front steps…

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And that “after” pic of the garden looks small compared to now! Lettuces and greens are out and tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, and corn are in full production these days. The rain has definitely affected a lot of stuff. Our tomato plants are pathetic. It is clear they are over-watered as they shot straight up and barely gained any girth. Many of them are already dying out. Boo. We had a good amount for eating fresh, but no preserving this year again.

Tomatoes

August HarvestOur purple beauty peppers and long Japanese eggplants are delicious this season. We also grew some purple green beans that did brilliantly, minus a couple mold issues from all the rain. Never have I wished for a break from rain before, but this year that was the case.

radishes

We are getting ready to clean out some beds, have started fall garden seeds, and compost is looking pretty good these days!

Chickens

The chickens are doing great! In the past couple of weeks, a lot of our pullet aged girls have started laying. We keep finding lots of small eggs in strange places…some even make it to the nesting boxes, some don’t.

We culled some roosters a few weeks ago. We will do another harvest in a few weeks as we have some old hens that need to go. “Old Red” as we call her lovingly paces under the nesting boxes and waits for someone to finish laying and then she hops up on their still warm egg and hunkers down. She’s not laying anymore, but she wants to think she is! Unfortunately, she is taking time away from others in the boxes, so her and a few other older hens will be harvested.

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We have three baby chicks from Mama Buff earlier this season. If you didn’t catch it on our facbeook page, here is the most adorable pic of Mama and one of her chicks:Mamabuff

We have one white chick and two black ones…well actually they are pullets these days and getting big! Their papa was a Rhode Island Red, so the hens must have been our one White Leghorn and Black Austrolorps. They will join the flock soon and start laying in another 2 months or so. Right now we have 54 laying hens.

Pigs

The ladies are getting so big! They have finally warmed up to us too. We have a wilder breed and it has been an adjustment for all of us to get used to one another. They were very skittish and scared when they first arrived here. Slowly they have gotten used to us and one of them, named “40”, will even eat out of our hands and let us pet her! Here’s Farmer B and Farm Baby petting 40.

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Our plan is to harvest two pigs and keep the third to breed and start our very own strain of Cally-Hogs. We thought we would keep the tamest one and looks like it will be 40…who also happens to be the biggest girl! This experiment continues to unfold…

Callywood Farms Products/Market

Callywood Farms eggs have been wildly popular at the market. We have been selling out every week and have gained some very loyal customers (thank you so much!) who keep coming back. Our farmer’s market has been such a great outlet for us. We have met a lot of other local farmers and feel a part of the movement here.

So, for the announcement. Yay! (Drumroll……..)

CF market

That’s right, Callywood Farms added granola and focaccia to our spread! Since our eggs have done so well, we decided it was time to add some products. We jumped through all the hoops to get our license to sell baked goods and have officially added granola as a product. We had been bringing some for the past couple of weeks for free tasters and last week we brought a couple bags to sell and sold out! So exciting! Once we get everything a little more in order, we will probably also launch an Etsy store front so that we can ship our granola to our supporters who can’t make it to our local market.

Granola

We’ve also been playing around with selling focaccia. There is a market of people looking for convenience dinner foods. So we thought homemade/baked focaccia would do well. We offered some free samples and sold a loaf last week. We are going to try to offer more of this in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Have you tried our eggs, granola or bread? If so, leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

Barley Risotto with Roasted Beets, Garlic, and Lemon

Barley risotto. Well first of all, you might know of our love affair with risotto. You can read about it here, here, here, and here. And not to be too repetitive, but yes, another beet risotto recipe. I promise you, if you can’t get with beets or risotto, you should try this and I guarantee it will convert you.

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It started with a recent trip to a farmer’s market a few towns over to scout out other vendors/farms and see some “competition”. While we were there, I saw some beautiful chioggia beets. I had just asked Farmer B what we wanted for dinner and he said something with beets, so really it was destiny.

I had a new bag of pearled barley (I can’t find whole barley anywhere, so I need to go order it from the Upstate Food Co-op) and an itching to cook something sophisticated. (After I put Farm Baby down for the night) I roasted the beet roots with olive oil, salt and pepper and then I thought while the oven is on, I might as well roast everything. So I threw some whole, unpeeled garlic cloves and a couple slices of lemon on the baking sheet and threw it in. I defrosted some homemade chicken stock, thank you Blondie (an old Red Star hen that we recently harvested), sliced an onion, threw on some tunes (Alabama Shakes) and got to cookin’!

If you just can’t get with the beets, please, please try barley in place of arborio rice next time you make risotto. The barley is nutty and chewy.The flavor and texture completely out-do arborio rice. I will say if you plan on a soft, delicate risotto, like this one, I might not use barley. It is hearty and the other ingredients need to stand up to it. You can use the below recipe as a guide to cooking the barley risotto, but if you don’t want to read the recipe and want the quick version: soak the barley (1-2 hours) and rinse very well, while you don’t need more liquid, it does take more time than rice, so plan for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Barley risotto doesn’t get creamy like arborio.

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Barley Risotto with Roasted Beets, Garlic, and Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of chioggia beets with tops
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 2-4 slices of lemon,seeds removed
  • EVOO
  • S&P
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled barley, soaked and rinsed very well
  • Fresh thyme, parsley, chives
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional – if using reduce amount of stock)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 quarts of stock (I used about 5 cups) can be chicken, vegetable, mushroom, whatever you got and fits your diet

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Beets. Trim off the top greens, wash thoroughly, and slice into ribbons. Peel the root and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Spread on oiled baking sheet. Season with S&P.
  3. To the greased baking sheet, add the lemon slices, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with  EVOO. Place garlic cloves on a small sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with EVOO, S&P, set on baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Watch carefully as you don’t want the lemon to burn, but you do want a little color. I thought I would have to pull the lemons out before the beets were done, but they finished at the same time, around 20 minutes. Continue roasting the garlic cloves packet for another 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. When cool enough to handle. Squish garlic out of cloves and chop/mash. Set aside.
  4. While the beets roast, get out your risotto cooking pan. Set heat to medium, add EVOO. Once heated, add onion slices, season with salt, and saute until soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Add fresh thyme and parsley.
  5. Add barley. Turn heat to high. Toast for at least 3 minutes until the pan is dry and the aroma is nutty.
  6. Deglaze pan with wine or stock. Turn heat down to medium and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock. Continue adding stock after the liquid is absorbed until barley is cooked, adjusting heat as needed to keep things simmering. This took me about 5 cups of stock and about 50 minutes. I keep a separate pot of simmering stock, right next to my risotto pan. This helps keep the risotto simmering and cuts down on time.
  7. About halfway through the cooking process (judging by the amount of liquid you have leftover) add chopped beet greens to pan. Continue cooking.
  8. Just before serving, add roasted garlic into risotto. Distribute evenly. Season with S&P.
  9. To serve, ladle risotto into bowls or onto a plate. Top each serving with a slice of lemon and fresh chives and parsley.
  10. To eat, smush (the technical term) lemon into risotto. Discard rind. Devour.

Note: We are steering clear of dairy currently, but I bet this would be divine with some fresh goat cheese on top.

Second note: Sorry for the crappy pictures. Taken at night with iphone. Never a great combo.

Broccoli Salad with Almonds and Cherries

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Broccoli! We have been eating tons of it around here because a certain farm baby LOVES it. She grabs a stalk and sets to munching/sucking on it. I usually dip it in lots of butter for her as she ends up sucking on it more than eating these days, but she used to devour the whole stalk. Maybe she just likes the butter 🙂

When we don’t steam a big batch for her and us, we usually roast it. It’s definitely our favorite way to prepare broccoli. I roast it with salt and crushed red pepper and at the end, I add some minced garlic and a glug of sesame oil. So delicious. But with some fresh, beautiful broccoli, I decided I really needed to showcase the flavor. So I naturally thought a nice, crisp salad recipe would be great.

I went to the pantry and found some dried tart cherries and almonds. Yup. That will definitely work. I whipped up a quick dressing of whole grain mustard, lemon juice, and EVOO. Delish. Hope you enjoy this super simple, delicious recipe next time you find yourself with a head of beautiful broccoli!

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 heads of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tspn. whole grain dijon mustard
  • S & P
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries (unsweetened)

Directions:

  1. Chop broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces. I lightly steamed mine and that was a mistake. Just leave it raw.
  2. In a small bowl, add the chopped onion to the lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes or so. This is a great time to roast and chop the almonds.
  3. Whisk the mustard into the lemon juice, season with S & P and slowly drizzle in the EVOO until everything comes together.
  4. Dress broccoli with dressing, add cherries and just over half of the almonds almonds. Toss together. Finish making the rest of your dinner and allow some time for the flavors to marinate. Serve by sprinkling the remainder of the almonds on top.