Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another Example of

Remember Ferry Morse Seed Company? Well remember well because that is all it is going to be is a distant reminder. Ferry Morse Sold It has been gobbled up by the same company that gobbled Plantation Products. They are both now owned by an investment corporation called RFE Investments.  Although I can't say they were a great company that only uses organic non-GMO seed they have been around for decades and the people that worked for them got booted in a very inhumane way. (Plus their seed packets were beautiful enough for framing.)

So I am asking my readers to pass this information on. I am passing it on from the Never Done Farm blog with added information. Check out the links in this post.

I am also passing on this interesting link to you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Say Cheese! (a book review)

First off I noticed that Blogger is going to force us all to use the new interface. I hate change. Guess you could say I would be one of the species on this earth that would disappear because I refuse to change to meet the new environment but Blogger is a pain and just when you get it set up they change it. ARRRRGGGGG!

Second I am on a roll in the garden so my post are going to be even fewer and farther between. Between that and changing my blogger I could disappear completely. However since I have to change the interface I may take the opportunity to change the look of the whole blog. That said here is my new post.

I have been making mozzarella cheese for about a year now and decided it was time to branch out so I bought this book featured at Mother Earth News. I was so excited! It had 3 recipes for mozzarella which I thought would be a good place to start because the recipe that I had been making didn't really taste the way I thought it should and was not as soft as the store bought variety. I found a cheese supply store and bought some supplies and started in. I made the first mozzarella. It was just ok and very similar to what I had already done which works great on pizza but I wanted the kind you can layer with tomatoes and basil leaves so on to the next. Same results. More work. The third recipe took me about 4 hours, was difficult to follow and turned out worse than the first two. At that point I just put the book away and gave up for awhile.

Now because I use to raise Kinder goats I have always been on Hoegger Supply's email and blog list. Just so happens they sent me a link to a couple videos that I watched on making cheese. They are trying to sell a cheese making book by Mary Jane Toth and because I already had a cheese book I resisted thinking one book  is as good as another and Mother Earth had recommended the one I have. Well to make a long story short I watched the video on making sour cream. I am now a convert. This granny looking lady doesn't mess around with fancy equipment and starters. She just does it. The sour cream couldn't have been any easier so I am going to get the book. Her recipe was 3 Tablespoons of cultured buttermilk in a pint jar of cream or half and half, put a lid on it and shake. Set on the kitchen counter for 24 hours. VOILA! The best sour cream ever!
I immediately ran out and got some strawberries and then made baked potatoes for dinner. Yummm!

 I compared this to the recipe in my book. The recipe wanted you to go buy a direct set sour cream starter, heat the cream to 86 degrees, add the starter, and let set undisturbed for 12 hours.  Now I have two gripes with this. First I have to go buy the starter ($$$) heat the cream (work, time, and dish washing) and the recipe doesn't even say whether you should stir the starter in or let it float. My biggest gripe is while making the cheese I found the directions to be unclear. So if you are looking for a book on making dairy products try A Cheese Makers Journey first, or better yet try the videos. They are free and there are quite a few of them. Here is another link with some recipes. Looks like it is older and it is from Countryside magazine.

So here are some pics from making that cheese recipe from Home Cheese Making.

Looks good doesn't it? My oldest daughter ate some of this and politely told me it was yummy but it wasn't.
If anyone has experience with this book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, give me a shout. I would like to know your opinion.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Canning and the Stupidest Person on the Planet

Canning and preserving season is going to be upon us before you know it. Those of you in the south are probably already putting by. Preserving healthy chemical free food for your family and feeling pretty darn good about it. Right? Canning for healthy food is exactly why I do it. It isn't because it is cheaper because other than the garden most of the stuff I can I purchase. I do wait until I find a killer deal and the food taste better than the canned stuff you get at the grocery store and usually canning a quart of something even if purchased is cheaper than buying a 14 oz. can of something if you don't count your labor.  (have you noticed the cans are smaller than they use to be?)

Lately I have been hearing a lot more about BPA contained in the white lining of commercial cans and plastic containers. It is suppose to protect the steel can from corroding especially in high acid foods like tomatoes and pineapple. It is very difficult to limit your exposure to BPA since most everything is made with plastic or has BPA in it. Even most of the cash register receipts that are handed to you at the store are made with BPA if they are the thermally printed type. (Not the ink type)
abcnews story BPA (please excuse the ad)
BPA is linked to cancer, obesity, hormone disruption in both men and women, early maturation in kids, and heart disease. (Especially in men) Now I don't know about you but that is not something I want for my kids and I would like to have the man hang around a little longer. BPA has been banned in Canada, and Europe but not here. I suspect big money has something to do with that. Long ago I took a look at the plastics in my house. Especially the cheap plastics with the number 3 or 7 on the recycle symbol. I have known for years that you shouldn't micro wave food in plastic. I had a co-worker that was poisoned by doing that and when is the last time you read directions that said "cover with plastic wrap and microwave..."? So I got rid of plastic milk containers when my kids were much younger. If I don't buy milk in glass I get it in paper cartons. I have got rid of all or most plastic containers that hold left over food and switched to Pyrex. It is more expensive initially, cheaper in the long run, re-usable and doesn't eventually fill up the land fills. I am canning more and more of the foods we eat including oranges. Ya oranges. When they are on sale. Pineapple not so much but I limit how much canned pineapple we use and prefer fresh. (ya I know it is shipped in using that stuff called petroleum but in truth we don't eat a lot of that either).

So now why am I feeling like one of the stupidest people on the planet?

Take a look at my canning lids. I love a good sale on lids and buy them when I find them. It never occurred to me that they would contain BPA but there it is in all its glory. Take a look.

The ubiquitous white lining on the inside of my canning lids and golly gee guess what I do with these things? Exactly what you aren't suppose to do.  Expose them to heat. Especially pressure cooking! I don't have a whole lot of lids left thankfully because it is the beginning of the season right now and the stuff in my pantry is low so I am looking for and finding an alternative. They are out there and here is one.
Lehman's reusable BPA free canning lids
This is just one company and you may find some that are less expensive. Just Google BPA free canning lids and a lot of resources come up including some for prepping. The best part of these lids is that they are reusable and can be used with the screw band that you already have. You also wont be throwing them away, filling up your local land fill or polluting the environment when it eventually breaks down.

I'm sure some of you already know about this but for those who don't give me a shout out. I really need to know that I am not the last person on the planet that didn't know about this.

P.S.- I have been looking around about lids since I published this post. Do your homework. Some re-usable canning lids have problems with sealing failure and contain formaldehyde. They seem to be the one piece lids so far.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cold Frame and Garden Update With a Splash of Goat Milk

Remember the cold frame that the man built for me? We are finally getting greens and they are great! No bugs or slugs and easy as pie to wash which makes me want to make more salads. You in southern climes probably can't relate because you are already getting tomatoes and your squash plants are huge. We up here are waiting for peas, and it hasn't been that long since our last frost. (April first-ish?) Our last bout with snow was March 17th even though it didn't stick it wasn't what you would call gardening weather. Since then it has been windy and almost constantly rainy (really cold and wet rain that lasts all day) with just a few days of reprieve so our growing season doesn't really start until May. You still have to get the stuff in the ground in order to get anything out so gardeners here are a tough breed. Temperatures here can be as low as mid forties upper 30's. The highest so far have been barely 60. This is great for lettuce, peas, potatoes, and cabbage type stuff but not beans and tomatoes. So that is why the cold frame. I need fresh greens before June! My potatoes are in and coming up although I still have a few I haven't put in. Mainly the russets.

I am (as usual) experimenting with a technique for the peas. I love fresh sugar snap peas. I hate trellising them. It's a pain in the a$$ and the string type trellis just seems to be flimsy and falling over all the time. Not only that we have birds (robins I think) that love sprouting peas. They come down in the garden and peck out the newly emerging pea plant so that the next time I go down to the garden I find neat little holes exactly where my plants were, all in a neat little row as if they just went down the line and plucked them out one by one. So this year I think I have foiled the little buggers. Like last year for the broccoli and cauliflower plants I covered the ground with nylon netting from the fabric store. bug covers for cool weather gardens This stuff is cheap, reusable, lets in all the light and water, and the birds don't like it. heheheh. I simply spread the netting over the planted area and put in a garden stake to hold it in place so the wind couldn't blow it off. You only need to do this until the plants are about an inch tall. The birds leave them alone after that. Then you can remove them so the peas don't grow up through them.  For trellises I am trying upside down tomato cages. I'm not sure if the pea plants will be able to grip the metal on the cages but if not I will figure out what to do about that but I am hoping for pea tee pees. I wrapped the fabric around the bottom of the cages and held it in place with clothes pins. It has worked like a charm. I removed the fabric and I have lots of peas coming up. In case you noticed that some are planted in rows and some in tee pees it is because I didn't think of the cage idea until I was half way done. So this will be a real experiment with a control group. Ha!

 So here are the results!

Other than that I have been very busy baking, teaching a class last weekend and making cheese. I don't have goats anymore but I still go over to my breeders farm and buy goats milk from her. She has Kinder Goats which is what I had. They are the best little goat ever. They are great milkers, easy kidders, and a good size for meat. They also seem to be less trouble than the bigger goats as far as escaping and taking care of in general. I guess I will have to dig out some of my old pictures and do a special blog on them. I do miss the babies and she had a ton of them. All of them friendly. I even had one that jumped into my arms. At any rate I have been making simple cheese with the fresh milk and a chocolate goat milk ice cream that my kids ate up as fast as they could get it in their mouths. Come to think of it the cheese is gone too. Guess I better go make some. I'll take pictures this time.