Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who cut the cheese? Part 1

I love cheese.  Do you love cheese?

First I will tell you how to make yogurt.  In your crockpot!!  The yogurt can then be used to make cream cheese.

This is all you need:

1/2 gallon milk  (We get raw milk, but you can use pasteurized.  Just make sure it is not ultrapasteurized.)
1/2 cup live culture yogurt.  ( I realize it seems counterproductive to buy yogurt to make yogurt.  Go with me on this, K?)
1 crockpot
1 towel

That's it.  That is ALL you need.

OK, pour the 1/2 of milk into your crockpot and turn it on low for 2.5 hours.
When the 2.5 hours is up, unplug it and let it sit for 3 hours.
When that 3 hours is up, remove 1-2 cups of the milk from the crockpot, place in a bowl, and mix well with the 1/2 cup yogurt.  Put back into the crockpot and stir well.  Place the lid back on the crockpot, put the towel tightly over the top, and then let sit for 8 hours.
When the 8 hours is up, put it into the container of your choice, and stick it in the fridge for 24 hours to set.
NOW, save 1/2 cup back to make more yogurt.

Eat the yogurt you made and the starter yogurt from the store.  As long as you have that 1/2 cup from your homemade stuff, you can eat all the yogurt.  Yum!!   This yogurt is good for approximately 7-10 days.

In part 2 we'll use this yogurt to make cream cheese.

Time for some mozzarella!!!

This is what you need for mozzarella.

1/2 gallon milk (Once again, we use raw, but you can use any kind of milk but ultrapasteurized.)
1 large pot
1 glass bowl
1/8 tsp citric acid  (I purchased this in powder form at my local co-op.  It's available in the canning section of most grocery stores, and also comes in liquid form.  You can use lemon juice if you don't have any citric acid.)
1/8 tsp rennet (I also got this at the local co-op.  I use vegetable rennet.  If you prefer animal rennet, it is much harder to come by.  Also, if you are GMO wary, make sure the veggie rennet you buy is not GMO.)
1/4 cup cool water
food thermometer
slotted spoon
colander (not pictured)
long knife for cutting the curd

First, dissolve 1/8 tsp in 1/8 cup cool water and add to the milk and stir.  Then pour the milk into the pot. SLOWLY heat to 90 degrees.  This is the hardest part.  Keeping a very close watch on the temp.  While the milk is heating, mix the 1/8 tsp rennet into the other 1/8 cup water.  Once the milk has reached temp, take it off of the heat, add the rennet, mix slowly, and then cover and leave alone for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, check the curd.  It should look like this:

If it doesn't look like this after 5 minutes, give it a few more.  Once you've achieved thick curds on the top and whey underneath, use the long knife to cut the curds into small squares.  You want to make a checkerboard in your curds.  Now put back on the heat and SLOWLY heat to 105 degrees while stirring.  Once temp is reached again, start pulling the curds out of the whey and place into a colander.  Once all of the chunks are transfered, start gently pushing the curds to squeeze additional whey out.  Like this:

Once all of the whey is squeezed out, microwave it for 1 minute.  Just do it.  Then squeeze MORE whey out. Now knead the cheese like you would bread.  Microwave for another 30 seconds, and continue squeezing and kneading.  Now it should start to stretch.  Like this:

Now roll it into a ball and knead and work  until it's a smooth, shiny ball.  Now eat it.  Yummy!!

DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WHEY!!!   In part 2, I will show you how to use just the whey to make ricotta cheese.

We will also be using the yogurt to make cream cheese.

Go make some cheese.  Your tummy will thank you

If you need additional mozzarella help, go here.  She's the "cheese lady".  This is the recipe I went off of.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Junk food be damned!!

OK, so trying to prepare for my 11yr old to have his tonsils and adenoids removed, I asked people on my Facebook what foods they would recommend to help with recovery.  Many people commented, or messaged me with the usual things.  Popsicles, ice cream, Jello....  We eat a whole food, organic diet the majority of the time.  My child is not used to junk food.  It seemed almost mean to assault his body with high amounts of sugar, artificial dyes, and in general, a lack of nutrients, when his immune system was vulnerable following surgery.  I started digging for healthier options.  Various people pointed me towards great options.

These are the things I decided on:
Organic applesauce
Avocado chocolate pudding
"Jello" made with agar agar instead of gelatin
Banana "ice cream"
Homemade chicken stock
Sherbet (This was the least healthy option on the menu.)
Organic, frozen fruit juice  "popsicles"
Avocado strawberry "fluff"

We are same day as surgery so far, and this has been the consensus:
The applesauce is yummy.
The avocado chocolate pudding is "delicious"!
We haven't tried the banana ice cream yet.
The homemade chicken stock is not his favorite, but he is willing to drink it in order to have more treat type stuff.
The sherbet is a favorite, but he understands that there are better options available, and so far has chosen them.  He had one small bowl of sherbet today.
Organic, frozen fruit juice "popsicles" are tasty.
Avocado strawberry fluff has also not been tried yet.

The recipe for avocado chocolate pudding is as follows:

1 avocado
1 banana
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used 100% natural, non-GMO cocoa powder)
1 cup milk alternative  (I had hemp milk on hand, so that is what I used.)
2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smoothe.  I used an additional 1/2 banana because it was pretty runny.  The hemp milk did not make it taste horrible, thankfully.

The agar agar Jello alternative recipe is as follows:
4 cups liquid of choice
4 tablespoons agar agar.  For those of you unfamiliar with agar agar, it is dried seaweed flakes.  It is also EXPENSIVE.

Mix both ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer while stirring for 5 minutes, or until flakes are dissolved.  Place in bowl and chill in refrigerator.

Homemade chicken stock is also VERY EASY to make and is MUCH better for you than the sodium and artificial ingredient filled stuff you buy at the store.

What you need for chicken stock:
1 whole, uncooked chicken OR the leftover bones from an already cooked chicken
1 gallon of water
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (raw and unfiltered)
1 bunch parsley

Place the water, chicken/chicken bones, carrots, celery, and onion (chopped), and apple cider vinegar into a pot, and let sit for 30 minutes.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 24-72 hours.  Add in parsley the last 15 minutes.  Strain and place in large bowl in fridge or allow to cool on the counter, covered.  Skim the fat from the surface, and then either freeze, or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I will update as we use the other recipes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Full crunch ahead!!!

I'm just gonna put it all out there.  Let it all hang out.  I use cloth menstrual pads.  Yep, you heard that right.  Cloth.  No nasty chemicals, no skin reactions, and no paper waste.  It's *awesome*.  It's also very easy to do with a good system in place.

I have an assortment of pads in all different sizes, and also a few different materials.  I have pantyliners, regular size/flow, heavy, and overnight/postpartum.  I even have a few postpartum pads with pockets for a handy dandy ice pack.  That was heaven after the birth of my 4th baby.

I also have a Rubbermaid container that I keep them in underneath the upstairs bathroom sink.  It keeps everything nice and neat, and protected from the elements.  It fits perfectly in the cupboard too, so they're out of site from anybody who may wander up there.           

I'm sure you're asking yourself "What the hell does she do with the dirty ones?".  Well...I went and purchased a small 2 gallon sized flip top trashcan and a wet bag made for cloth diaper use.  I use the wet bag to line the trashcan, and keep it next to the toilet.  I also throw a little baking soda in the bottom to help absorb odors.  I would upload a pic, but my camera has decided to only send certain pictures.

When I remove a pad, I put it in the trash can.  If it is heavily soiled, I rinse it first with cold water.  At the end of the day, they all get thrown in the wash and washed on hot with no fabric softener.  If you cloth diaper, you could wash them with your diapers if you want.  If it's just pantyliners from every day use, they get put in with the whites.

Any questions?  This may very well be the least "gross" crunchblog, so I wanted to get it out of the way.  ;)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do you blog??

I get asked this a lot.  Until now, the answer was no.  I guess I didn't know I was as interesting as I am.  :P

A little about me.  I'm 32, married for almost 4 years, and have 4 wonderful children ages 11, 8, 7, and 10 months.  We also have quite the herd of critters that we love.  A GSD named Rocky, a Rough Coat Collie named Jinny, a Goffin Cockatoo named Rudy, a Flemish Giant rabbit named Maci, 6 baby chicks, and on Saturday we will be adding a French Angora rabbit named Tricot to our home.  The hopes for Tricot is to brush/shear  him and spin the fibers into yarn.  I'm an avid knitter, so spinning naturally seems like the next crunchy step, yes?

By trade I am a birth doula and placenta encapsulator.  I am currently on maternity leave from my doula work, but am slowly sticking my toes back in.  I am the only person in a several hour radius that does placenta encapsulation, and the only person currently in my state offering the service to others.

Our three big kids are all homeschooled.  We didn't always homeschool, we just started this year.  It has been an adventure for sure!!  With a new baby, things are usually hectic, but we manage.  It has definitely brought the kids and I closer together.  I have learned my children are much smarter than I ever gave them credit for, and they have learned that no matter what, Mom is never going to give up on them.  I'll call it a win so far.

I am addicted to learning new things and taking on new projects.  Seriously.  If you notice there's something I haven't tried, mention it.  So far my bucket list is:
*Learn how to make soap
*Learn how to garden
*Learn how to woodwork (I learned some in jr high, but let's face it, that was a long time ago. lol)
*Finish my natural health course
*Learn how to tat.  The string craft, not the ink in the skin craft.

I currently:
*Sew (Kind of.)
*Make my own natural cleaners
*Raise critters
*Make my own yogurt
*Brew kombucha

Have something you think I should try?  Holla!!