The week is over. At last.
Two [destroyed] flat tires later, two trips to the vet (some $400) with the discovery that my dog Zada, companion of seven years, is critically ill with Lymes Disease and two other tick-bourne illnesses. She will be ok, after 21 days of antibiotics, and we are hoping that there will be no lasting damage to her lungs. The moral of that story is find (and use) a flea and tick preventative that actually works. I’ve started Zada on an oral flea and tick preventative, having had no success over the years with any of the topical ones – hopefully this will work better, with no odors and sticky fur every month! Updates on that to come, as I know so many people who struggle with the same issue.
On the up side of this week, our 3rd (and final, for right now) WWOOF volunteer arrived, and is great! It’s a little stressful having three extra people around, but so much is getting done because of all the extra help! A huge section of the back property has been cleared of dense, prickly underbrush, leaving only large trees and space between them to start planting. Much work has been done digging out stumps around the Nid construction site, the left over soil from the foundation dig has been transformed into a beautiful sweet potato bed, and the Nid itself is transforming into in real structure. We finished the bamboo of the walls, made a couple more window openings, and put the bamboo lathes and then reed mats up on the roof – so all of that is about ready for the fabric and cement! I’ve also just started the half-dome roof over the loft, perhaps the most structurally challenging part of the entire building, with curves running in both directions, and then an eyebrow/gothic arch window out the back. I’m not good at making things easy for myself! Luckily everyone still seems to have great faith in my ability to make a house from sticks and string…
Somewhere this week I found time to make banana wine, spicy mango-papaya kimchi, and fresh cheese! The banana wine will have to age 18-24 months before it will be pleasant, but the kimchi came out very well, after fermenting for about 4 days. The firm-ripe papaya maintained a slight crunch, while the ripe mango melded with the cilantro, salt, and chilli into a fabulous slurry. Feel free to hit me up for that recipe too, but I thought that today I’d share with you my easy Fromage Blanc recipe. It does take a couple of days from start to finish, but only about 10 minutes of that time involves any work at all!
What you’ll need:
1 gallon whole milk
1 sachet mesophillic cheese starter (available at most home-brew stores)
2 drops liquid rennet dissolved in 2 tablespoons water (or 1/4 tablet rennet)
1 2’x2′ cotton cloth, or an old cotton pillowcase (clean!) DO NOT USE CHEESECLOTH!
1 gallon or larger bowl or saucepan
Leave the milk in a warm place until it has reached room temperature or about 85ºF. In winter this may mean leaving it in your oven so the pilot light warms it, or on top of the fridge. Pour 1 cup of milk out – make yourself a nice ice coffee. Once it’s at room temp, add the sachet of starter, replace lid, and swill around until mixed. Add the rennet and repeat. Leave in a warm place for 8-14 hours. By this time it will look like yoghurt. Now put your cloth or pillowcase draped in your large bowl, and carefully pour the contents of the milk jug into the cloth. Tie the cloth by its corners, and suspend over the bowl for 4-8 hours, until fairly firm. I do this by either hanging it from a hook in an overhanging cabinet, or from the back of a convenient chair with the bowl on the floor. If you plan to use the whey, be sure to cover the bowl with a second cloth, otherwise the pets and the bugs will all feast on it! Once your curds are no longer soupy, spread the cloth on a clean work surface, sprinkle the curds with about 1.5 tablespoons of salt, and some fresh or dried rosemary (if you like). Use a spatula to mix it until the salt is evenly distributed. Now, if you have a cheese mold, you can scrape it all into that, sit the mold on a glass, the glass in a bigger bowl, cover it all with a plastic bag, and stick it in the fridge for 24 hours. Otherwise, tie it back up, hang it for another 4-6 hours, then transfer it to a container in the fridge for 24 hours before eating. Enjoy! I use this in place of cream cheese; it has a much fuller flavour and a less sticky texture. It goes really well with a little chutney on fresh homemade bread or toast!
Don’t forget that this Saturday is scheduled to be a Nidulari bake day! Please have your bread orders in by Friday at noon. If you’d like some of my special fresh coconut tarts, please mention it in your order so that I bake enough of them! We still have a variety of chutneys and a couple of jars of fabulous ginger-mango jam.
Have a great week, everyone!