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I got to milk some goats!

October 16, 2009
goat being milked

As fresh as it gets, but the grocery store will do!

Let me explain, I was not brought up as an animal person at all (is that nature or nurture?) but for some reason, I love goats! In my opinion they seem to have as much personality as dogs but they’re better because they give you milk and with some effort on your part, cheese!

On the Good Milks page on this site I list Ed and Nancy, the urban dairy goat farmers right here in Portland, OR (turns out they’re only 8 minutes from my home).  Today I not only got to buy milk from them, not only got to meet their goats (including babies!), but I got to milk 2 goats (and learn a lot about keeping them in the city)!

Here are some pictures. Remember I told you, I’m kind of new to the animal kingdom so I may look a little squeamish but I still loved it! Sorry about the photos being blurry, the light was low but my buddies and I didn’t want to annoy the goats.

I am now off to make the freshest chevre I will probably ever taste!

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Two free Queso Blanco demonstrations coming your way!

September 21, 2009

Hello. I love the Montavilla Farmers Market! It’s in my neighborhood, I used to shop there and now I have little stall there most Sundays. Even though I can be a little shy (read- antisocial) normally, I have been enjoying talking to would-be and experienced cheesemakers tremendously. At this point people who bought a kit last week come and report on their experience- it’s so fun, such a community feel! This small but perfectly complete market is a treat- I hope you can check it out sometime (it will extend into Oct and Nov)!

A good day to come by is Sun. Oct. 4th when I will be demonstrating Queso Blanco with the market’s resident chef Kathryn.

Queso Blanco Shaped in a Ricotta Mold

Queso Blanco Shaped in a Ricotta Mold

We will make the cheese from start to finish and use market goodies to create a savory and sweet way to sample this versatile cheese (she will be working on a mostarda? or chutney of some sort!). It’s at 10:30am and free. I know you will LOVE this market too!

Then as a reminder, I will lead this very same demo at The Wedge Cheese Festival on Saturday Oct. 3 at 11am. I will be browning some queso in olive oil this day- you’ll be hooked…

Free class, free samples! How often does that happen?

You’re not dreaming, it’s a cheese FESTIVAL!

September 13, 2009

The Wedge Cheese Festival is taking place in Portland, OR on October 3, 2009! How amazing is that?

Build your own grilled cheese sandwich!

Build your own grilled cheese sandwich!

Dozens of cheesemakers from the Pacific Northwest will
gather (with samples no doubt!), seminars will be offered, there will be
a build your own grilled cheese sandwich station and yours truly will
lead a Queso Blanco demo at 11am. Don’t miss it!

Mozzarella Demonstration- Free at Foster and Dobbs!

September 2, 2009

Hi all, please join me at the cheesemaker’s group on Wed. September 9 at 7:30pm at Foster and Dobbs here in Portland, OR where I will give a simple mozzarella demo. All are welcome, there is no charge, it’s just an informal skill-share.

Yes, you too can make this!

Yes, you too can make this!

I’m excited to announce that Foster and Dobbs Authentic Foods now carries Urban Cheesecraft DIY Goat Cheese Kits and Paneer and Queso Blanco Kits.

They are an A M A Z I N G specialty foods and cheese shop, think organic chocolate, delicious olives, smoked salts and even, yes, saffron pollen, all from small, artisanal producers. Can you imagine a Foster and Dobbs picnic? Um, I can!

So easy, so beautiful…so franch! Chevre is pretty no?

July 25, 2009

I just had to share these lovely goat cheese photos with you. These 3 little cheeses are the yield you get with the recipes I include in the goat cheese kit. A half-gallon of goat milk, a 1/4 C of vinegar, a variety of herbs and spices and you have a cheese tasting for several friends!

Throw another chunk of cheese on the barby! Huh?

June 5, 2009

So I went to my first BBQ of the season and as I do for most get-togethers, I decided to make cheese. You may already know that I often pan-fry Paneer and Queso Blanco (because they don’t melt!) but I don’t often grill them…of course I had to try. Though my cheese wasn’t very tasty today (I tried to multi task and allowed the milk to boil, a lot, I know better but it snuck up on me..email is distracting, time warp!), it was quite firm which made it great for the grill.

I had a michelada (mexican beer with lime juice and chili/salt mix) or two at the BBQ so I didn’t take photos of the results for you but I did take pictures of the prep and build up. Imagine toasty cheese cubes with grilled red peppers and potatoes, drizzled with rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper…yum! Don’t leave this on the grill too long or your cheese will get very dry- I did that.

Apartment Sauerkraut

May 29, 2009

APARTMENT SAUERKRAUT (I know, it’s not cheese but it’s preservation by fermentation- very related :)

I came up with this because all sauerkraut recipes I found as I researched called for at least 5 heads of cabbage and a 5 gallon bucket…with all the projects and a business that I run at once, I don’t have space! Nor do I want that much sauerkraut for two people.

As usual, the stuff I enjoy making is easy and foolproof. So, keep in mind that sauerkraut is one of the easiest of farm skills. The Pennsylvania dutch left it for the children to make, you CAN make it!

Here’s my apt. kraut recipe:

1 small head of cabbage (green, red or mixed for fun color!)

2 tablespoons of salt (I used kosher flakes)

1 teaspoon celery seed, freshly ground black pepper and I LOVED red pepper flakes (you can try any dry herbs)

1 cylindrical gallon container (can be glass, ceramic or food grade plastic), I used the plastic cream cheese container you see in the picture, similar to a yogurt container but bigger

A small plate or what I used, a quart sized yogurt lid (this should fit snugly inside so that the cabbage on the edge doesn’t rot)

A weight or what I used, another cream cheese container filled with water (it has to fit inside the other- lid on)

Cheesecloth or hanky to keep out dust and bugs

Rubber band

Okay, shred your cabbage or cut finely. Mix it with the herbs and salt by tossing it all in a large bowl. Now scoop in by the handful and push down between scoops.  At the end you want to really tamp it down with your fist or a tool like a potato smasher. Now place the plate/lid inside on top of your cabbage. Follow with the weight/heavy container.

The idea is that the pressure and salt will draw out the cabbage’s liquid. The salty brine will preserve your cabbage and keep it from rotting until lacto-fermentation starts- you’re preserving! Congratulations! Along the way you are making live food (micro-organisms, much like live yogurt cultures) that is good for you! Check out Wild Fermentations by Sandor Katz if you want to learn more about this.

Wait, you’re not done yet! Cover your contraption with the cloth, then rubber band it. Push down on the weight every two hours that day, you should get a brine within a couple of hours. The cabbage must be covered in it to prevent rotting. If you have some dry old cabbage on your hands, just make a salty solution and cover the cabbage to help it along.

Keep pushing down morning, noon and night (I do it when I wake up, after I get home and before I go to bed) for two more days. Once you know that you have a nice and juicy concoction, leave it for at least 2 weeks.  You can start testing for taste (look for a tang) and skimming any pink “scum” or even mold off the top. It should be just fine below that layer (all the recipes warn about this but I have never had it happen). Trust your senses, does it smell bad, off, rotten? A slightly gassy cabbage smell and/or pickle smell is ok.

As far as how long you wait, I like the early crunchy stages, others think true krauts are translucent and very soft. It’s all about your taste. Sauerkraut was created so that cabbage could last almost an entire year so you have some wiggle room! I jarred (just a jar with a lid, no canning skills needed) and refrigerated at several stages just to try. You can do this too, and it’s nice to keep some of the previous batch to mix in as a starter with the next batch- it gets a head start!

This recipe made 3 medium sized jars, plenty for us! Oh, your place can smell a little “gassy” while you make this. It’s cabbage, what do you expect?! I either get used to it or it lessens as the ferment ages. ps. I’ve tasted friends’ delicious krauts that included garlic, daikon radish, ginger, and even juniper berries, have fun experimenting!

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