Sachets

sa·chet \sa-‘sha: n 1: a small bag or packet 2: a small bag containing a perfumed powder used to scent clothes and linens

In my opinion, herbs are magical! These modest looking plants have the power to heal and protect against disease, flavor foods, perfume the body and delight the senses.

Scents, aroma, fragrance… evoke memories, especially florals, perhaps of childhood days when there wasn’t a care in the world.  Since everyone’s sense of smell is different, you really must experiment with different plant materials to find your preferences.  Most everyone likes lavender; it’s a nice relaxing base scent and often used in sachets (but you can use a mixture of your favorite scents).

HOW-TO:

Pretty little sachet ‘pillows’ are a beautiful way to add a lovely scent to any room of your home. A sachet ‘pillow’ may be made from any fine cotton, linen, muslin-type fabric. HINT: Recycle old linens and pretty hankies for pretty sachets!  Simply cut 2-fabric squares (mine are approx. 4X4 inches) allowing for a 1/4-inch seam; print side facing inside. Stitch all around, leaving a 2-inch opening at one end. HINT: You may add a piece of twine or yarn for a ‘hanger’. Once the sides are sewn, turn right side out. I tea-stained my sachets for an ‘aged’ prim look.

A Refresher on Tea & Coffee ‘Dyeing’

Tea or instant coffee can be used to create an ‘aged’ look to your handmades. I like to use Lipton tea or Maxwell House instant coffee.  Put a kettle on to boil. Add 5-6 teabags (depending on the appearance/depth you’d like to achieve) or several tablespoons instant coffee into a bowl, add water and allow to steep. You can use the tea bags to blot your item to be ‘aged’ or submerge the entire item into the cooled bath water. Gently squeeze out excess water/towel blot. Pre-heat oven to lowest setting (about 170 degrees F) and place items on a cookie sheet and into the oven with the door slightly cracked. Check your piece often until desired effect is achieved! Viola! Instant heirloom!

My sachets are filled with lavender and a touch of flax-seed (about 1 tablespoon). The flax-seed makes them feel great…nice and squishy! They stack nicely and look pretty tied in a bundle for a gift and look great tossed in a bowl together.  HINT: Save a 1/2 gallon or  smaller plastic jug, cut off the bottom and use the ‘top’ half as a funnel!  

A few more benefits of scented sachets:

They make a great hostess gift
Linens smell fabulous when used in a linen closet
Freshen your car or office
Eco-friendly
Display near your bed or toss under your pillow to aid in sleep
The scent lasts and lasts, just give a squeeze to release heavenly scent
Toss in your yarn stash as a natural moth repellent
Freshen your closet and clothes or toss in the dryer

LAVENDER FACTS:

Lavender is one of the most treasured herbs. It is loved for its rich aroma and garden beauty.  An effective medicinal herb, it helps relax and revitalize. A favorite herb for bath & laundry since Greek and Roman times. For fiber enthusiasts, a natural moth repellant! English lavender, Lavandula augustifolia, hardiest of the species, is most often used in cooking.

GROWING TIPS:

Lavenders want well drained soil, good air circulation, and as much sun as possible to promote flower production. Lavenders prefer neutral to alkaline soil. In humid climates, coarse sand worked-in around the crown will help the plant dry out. Lavenders require no feeding, though an occasional dressing of low-nitrogen organic fertilizer will make your plants happy. 

PRUNING TIPS:

Lavender can be pruned in the early spring or in the fall (not too late so as to give plants time to harden off before winter). Generally speaking, trim plant by one-third, keeping the typical mound shape of the plant. If you do not plan to harvest the flowers, then a light pruning just after flowering, will be sufficient to promote new growth. Cut each flower stem back to the first or second pair of leaves.

♥blessings!

Horseradish: 2011 Herb of the Year

Horseradish, the leafy plant, and its root.

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, is a perennial plant that comes from the same family as mustard and cabbage. It can reach 1.5 meters in height and is mainly cultivated for its root that is used as a condiment for meat or fish.
Besides the root, almost all the constituents of this plant can be used by man in order to release pain or to treat health disorders, as horseradish is a very efficient herbal plant. Raw leaves of horseradish pressed against the forehead can chase away almost instantly headache, the root cures tonsillitis, while the tea made from horseradish flowers can treat the most serious cold and flu. Indians used to chew the horseradish root to escape toothaches and it was used as a natural medicine to treat scurvy.

The spicy root of horseradish can be used as a natural treatment against rheumatic disorders and respiratory disorders. Juice or sauce extracted from horseradish root can release sinus infections by dissolving the mucus in the nose. (Ever taste a spoonful that brought tears to your eye?) Due to its antibiotic properties, horseradish can cure urinary tract infections and kill bacteria in the throat that cause bronchitis, coughs and related problems. It is so beneficial because it is laden with a high amount of vitamin C and B complex, nutritive minerals (potassium, calcium, iron), natural antibiotics, enzymes etc.

In the kitchen, the pungent root of horseradish adds assertive flavor to all types of dishes from cocktails to dessert. An essential ingredient to a proper Bloody Mary, but, the most popular use of horseradish is in cocktail sauce. Made from ketchup and grated prepared horseradish, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon juice, this sauce is used as an accompaniment for shrimp, bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels and with breaded or battered fried fish. Try embellishing simple ho-hum tartar sauce with horseradish for an uplifting zing! Fold freshly grated horseradish into just-whipped cream for a regal accompaniment to roast beef.

The early, small tender leaves have a pleasant flavor with just a touch of pungency and can be added to salads.

You can mix fresh grated or prepared horseradish with fresh beets, mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese – and mustards to make them more piquant – embellish with chopped herbs such as garlic, parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, paprika, or a pinch of sugar or a dash of lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Lastly, dried horseradish leaves yield a yellow dye!

Article resource: Softpedia and IHA.

Word for the day…

GARBLING, TO GARBLE –

Garbling is the old-fashioned and technical term used by herbalists to denote the process of stripping dried herb leaves from their stems, removing the ‘impurities’ such as twigs and stems, yellowed and decayed leaves, fauna, etc. to prepare them for storage and/or use.

The word garble has been around for a while—500 years in English and more in other languages. It was first applied not to communications but to trade goods. It was used to describe sorting the good from the bad.  For example, picking the husks out of a shipment of spices was called ‘garbling‘.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that it had different forms within Arabic and that this likely means it wasn’t originally from Arabic. Instead, it might be related to the Latin word for “sieve.”

This meaning was used in English also to apply to people, so that if you were going to decide on membership in a club you would ‘garble’ the applicants so that you would accept your favorites, but not allow people you didn’t like.

The word changed its meaning in English.  Originally sorting good from bad, it soon came to mean mixing bad in to fake more of the good. In other words, traders were evidently trying to pad their shipments.  This intentional contamination of commodities was what lead to the word being used to mean intentionally misrepresenting messages. From there a logical progression would seem to be that unclear messages were called by the same term, garbled, even when the loss of message clarity was unintentional.

Origin of GARBLE

Middle English garbelen, from Old Italian garbellare to sift, from Arabic gharbala, from Late Latin cribellare, from cribellum sieve; akin to Latin cernere to sift. First Known Use: 15th century

Be still, my bleeding heart.

Do you have a lot of shade in your garden? My shade garden actually exists very happily on the north side of the house between a stand of blue spruce pines we planted over 20-years ago to buffer the predominately winter northwesterly winds. Shade tolerant herbs and plants thrive equally well in my shade garden – with very little care on my part…an added bonus!

Here’s a list of a shade tolerant herbs/plants to consider: 

 

There are also many native woodland plants that thrive in shady conditions. Do a little research before purchasing plants to understand their cultural needs – and you’ll be rewarded with a shade-loving garden too.

Pardon the promo…

Just wanted to share a few things I’ve been working on lately. As you know, I have a little cottage business, Sheepy Hollow Herbs, LLC, promoting hand-made woolies, farm-raised wool, herbs, herbal sundries and soap… in an outbuilding here on the farm. I also participate as a vendor at a few fiber shows during the year. So, I’ve been freshening my shop displays, packaging etc and thinking about my booth displays as well.

I found a fellow artist on ETSY and really liked her handmade signs…so I purchased a ‘HERBS’ sign to use in my shop/displays.

You can find more of Sandi’s work at www.marionettemoon.etsy.com

Since there’s never enough hours in the day, I was hoping Sandi would make me a sign for my shop business to use ‘on the road’ (since Sandi also offers to do custom work). Alas, due to circumstances, no custom orders at the present time. So, I attempted to make my version of a small sign ~ before I try to make a shop sign! Eh, it turned out OK, but with this prototype, I’m already thinking of things I’d do differently.

 

Speaking of signs, a friend of a friend, made sheepy signs for ‘us’ to use at the Armada Agricultural Fair for educational display in the fiber/sheep barn. Joe uses CNC technology to make custom signs at a reasonable, affordable price! Check him out at http://www.countycustoms.net  Aren’t they the sweetest sheepy display signs? The back removes like a photo picture  frame so you can insert an 8 1/2 X 11 paper, but you can make any size you desire. We have eight signs to use/display in the fiber barn!   

These are sooooo cute, you’re going to want some signs for your Ag display/4-H Club too!??

Last, did I mention we completed our house painting project? A good thing too, since there’s too much work to be done outdoors now that Spring (?) has arrived. I have to laugh when I tell you I painted the upstairs hallway an ACE ‘Italian Red’ – well, it’s out of sight being upstairs and all. hee hee

YIKES! The black ‘dresser’ is a new vintage piece I purchased from a local shop The Lamb’s Tail www.thelambstail.com It replaces a bench I had ~ thinking this would be more useful ~ providing additional storage for linens, blankets and such! I’m still ‘airing out’ the musty barn smell – put a bunch of my lavender & cedar sachets in the drawers.

Before I sign-off, check out these wonderful murals and their history at Carole’s Country Store Blog!  http://017924b.netsolhost.com/ccblog/  BTW, I also added a link in my sidebar ‘Favorite Places’. Even though I don’t have a historic house, I wish I could have a mural painted in the foyer or somewhere in my house!!! Beeeeautiful! I just love them!

Now, back to work!

2010 Herb of the Year ~~ Dill ~~

Dill is the International Herb Association’s 2010 Herb of the Year!  Dill, Anethum graveolensis, is native to the Mediterranean region, an annual or biennial, propagated easily from seed, prefers a rich well drained soil and full sun.

Dill has a long and ancient history in many countries as a culinary and medicinal herb. The earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago when the plant was referred to as a “soothing” medicine. Dill seeds are often called “meetin’ seed” because they were chewed during long church services to keep members awake or kids quiet. The seeds were also chewed in order to freshen the breath and quiet noisy stomachs. Today, dill is used in grippe water for babies with colic. 

Charms were often made from sprigs of dill to provide protection from witchcraft; they were hung around the house or worn on the clothing. Dill was often added to love potions and aphrodisiacs to make them more effective. The herb was also believed to have an effect on marriages bringing happiness and good fortune.  

You’ll probably know dill best from making dill pickles. Whole dill seed heads can be used for this purpose. Dill weed, seed, and oil are frequently added to baked goods, snacks, condiments and meat products. The fragrance industry makes use of dill essential oil to produce soaps, perfumes, detergents, creams and lotions, but I can honestly say I never purchased any dilly perfume or soap! I prefer to eat my dill!  

Cooks often prefer to use dill weed (leaves) because it has a stronger flavor than that of dill seed. The seeds are often used as a condiment, but they can also be combined with onions, cabbage, potatoes, cumin, chili powder and paprika. Chopped or whole dill weed can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, meat dishes, pasta, and eggs. It can also enhance all types of sauces, dips, butters and cheeses. An especially good combination is that of salmon and dill (tartar sauce?). 

Like most herbs, dill is harvested in the early morning after the morning dew has evaporated.  The higher moisture content of the plant when harvested at this time results in better flavor. Don’t let your dill plants bolt if you want a continuous supply of dill for harvesting. As with most herbs,  keep their tops trimmed regularly…cut, cut, cut.  Dill weed is best harvested before the plant is fully mature and before the flower buds have opened. Dill seed may be harvested at the end of the plant’s life cycle when the seeds have turned a golden brown color…or allowed to self-sow for next year’s harvest. 

Most cooks prefer fresh dill to dried because of its superior flavor, but leaves will stay fresh in the refrigerator if placed in a cup of water for two to three days. Dill may also be air-dried and stored in a dark, airtight container for later use (but, replace the dried when you’re back in the garden). I prefer to store my winter supply of dill picked fresh and placed in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. 

I hope you plan to include dill in your herb garden!

A Recipe for Parsley…

tabouli

Do you recall all the parsley in my garden in a previous post (it’s actually about half of the parsley in my garden)? Well, if you have lots of fresh parsley, here’s a recipe that perhaps you’d like to try… TABOULI. First, a few facts about parsley. Parsley is a biennial – that means it comes back the second year and produces seed. But, I generally treat parsley as an annual and plant it every year. It’s not as prolific the second year because most if its energy is spent on producing seeds, not the leafy greens we’re after. If you’re a seed-saver, plant a fresh batch and save the seeds from the second year.

Now, I prefer Italian plain leaf parsley versus French or curly leaf parsley and most cooks will tell you the flat leaf variety has more flavor. While most folks consider it a garnish, it’s actually very nutritious, a rich source of iron and vitamins A and C. It’s also a natural breath sweetener! The goats, bunnies and chickens love any harvest surplus!!

Tabouli is a healthful Mediterranean dish traditionally prepared with cracked wheat (bulghur), parsley, mint, garlic, tomatoes, green onions, olive oil and lemon. I’ve substituted lentils for the bulghur and added a chopped cucumber. It’s great chilled or served at room temp, by itself or in a pita!

Prepare 16 oz lentils (or 2 cups bulghur) according to package. Drain any extra water and set aside. Chop 1 cucumber, 2 small tomatoes, 1 bunch green onions, 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint, 2 cups fresh chopped parsley and 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic (to taste).  Make the dressing: 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 cup olive oil, salt to taste, 1 tablespoon pepper. Mix all ingredients. Makes about 8 cups.

For dessert, how about GOAT CHEESE TRUFFLES?

goat cheese truffle

Ingredients: 8 ounces high quality Chevre goat cheese (preferably your own), 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 teaspoons vanilla, cocoa powder. Method: Melt the chocolate chips and cool slightly. Cream the goat cheese and vanilla; add the cooled chocolate and continue to cream. When well creamed, use a melon ball to measure out the truffles. Place on a wax papered cookie sheet and place in refrigerator. When firm enough to handle, roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder. Refrigerate. Your friends won’t believe it’s goat cheese. HINT: The truffles freeze well – perfect for midnight snacking…straight from the freezer!  Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy Goat Lady Dairy

A Working Weekend

Matt was home over an extended 4-day weekend (mid-terms) so I spent lots of time rattling the pots and pans in the kitchen preparing his ‘favorites’. Used up the last of my goat’s milk cheese with baked manicotti…YUM! I made meatloaf –  it’s always a family fav – for another supper, and last, stuffed green peppers with a basil/tomato sauce with pick’ns from the garden just before the hard frost.

For dessert, I had to bake an apple strudel…but not the type you’re probably most familiar with…light airy filo-type crust? This ‘apfel’ strudel is my mom’s recipe from the ‘old country’, Nieder Osterreich (Northern Austria) from a little farming village called Rastenfeld where my mom was born and raised. It’s a simple-folk farmer’s hearty-type dough, made with flour, sugar, butter, sour cream, milk and egg yolks. It rolls out easily and is then filled with fresh sliced apples, sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter (I toss in a few raisins and a little cinnamon). Another BIG Y-U-M!

  apfel_strudel

Here’s the recipe, made the old-fashioned way – BY HAND. NOTE: MAKES TWO APFEL STRUDELS: In a large bowl, add 4 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, pinch salt. Stir with whisk. Now, make a hole in the center of the flour and add: cut in 2 sticks butter, 4 tablespoons sour cream, 4  tablespoons milk, 4 egg yolks (reserve the whites to brush on top of the strudel if desired). Now comes the fun part! Push up your sleeves and with your hands, begin to pull in flour from sides and incorporate into the ‘wet’ ingredients. Once you have formed a ball of dough – of sorts – turn out onto a floured dough board and work gently adding a bit more flour if needed until ingredients are all incorporated and smooth. Put finished dough aside under the bowl while you prepare your apples. Peel, core ‘n slice 7-8 large apples (I use Northern Spy but any good baking apple will do. Now, back to the dough…cut the dough in half (makes 2). Roll out half the dough to fit lengthwise on a parchment paper lined 11 X 17 baking sheet, approx 1/4 inch thick. Arrange sliced apples down the center of dough. sprinkle on sugar to taste, add cinnamon & raisens if desired, and dot with a few bits of butter. Gently fold over dough to center and pinch ‘n tuck ends closed. Brush on egg whites and sprinkle with sugar if desired – OR – when baked, just dust strudel with powder sugar. Repeat process with second half of remaining dough (for second strudel). Transfer from wood board to baking sheet, next to first strudel (see pic). Bake at preheated 350 degrees F until golden brown, juices should be flowing, approx 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing. Enjoy!  

Since I had man-power available, we managed to perform necessary flock management, worming, feet trimming, etc. getting everyone prepared for the winter and breeding(?). I also managed to skirt, wash and pick Reeces’ fleece, my ewe lamb – whom I sheared this past September. I was hoping beyond hope for a nice warm day to perform this ‘chore’ when it turned so unseasonably cold! Nevertheless, I accomplished the task in two days…well, I had to let the fleece dry overnight in my drying barn before I could ‘pick- it’. That’s kind of like teasing the wool apart – in preparation for spinning. But first…

drying fleece

Before I could USE the drying barn (I forgot to mention sequencing) – remember ALL that lavender drying all over screens and racks in the drying barn??? Well, it took me two days, but I finally ‘garbled’ (that is, removed all the leaves/buds from the stems) every bit of lavender I had harvested this past summer and temporarily stockpiled in the barn. YEAH – well done! Smells heavenly. I saved some of the longer lavender stems to bundle and use as scented ‘faggots’ for the fireplace.

And, I also made another batch of goat milk soap – this time I used peppermint and rosemary essential oils and some of my farm-raised organic peppermint for color. TIP: I use a ‘dedicated’ electric coffee grinder for grinding herbs and other botanicals for creating various herbal sundries. I always look forward to soapmaking day – the kitchen is usually filled with wonderful scents. After the soap is allowed to “set” for approx. 24 hours, I remove the soap (in this particular batch, a 10 pound loaf) from the mold. TIP: Use freezer paper to line your mold for easy release. I immediately cut the soap ‘loaf’ into individual bars. TIP: A non-serrated knife/blade makes a clean cut and/or a cheese-cutter (straight or curly/fancy blade cuts the soap nicely. Sometimes you can find them at the dollar store. I usually get anywhere from 24 – 30 bars depending how I cut the loaf. TIP: A small old wood drawer makes a nice soap mold! The bars of soap are placed on wire racks where they’re allowed to cure/harden for another 3-4 weeks before the soap is used/sold.

cutting_mint_soap

Last, but not least, hubby also mulched our veggie garden compost with his chipper/shredder that operates off the tractor PTO. We have a 3-stage compost system. One bin accumulates, one bin is in-process/cooking and one bin is the final ‘product’ …which is usually always empty because we put it right back into the garden beds in the Spring.  Since we already got hit hard with frost several times, I’ve been cleaning-up the garden beds and accumulating lots of garden debris. You increase the rate of decomposition by increasing the surface area…that is, chop up your veggie waste. Here’s the final product – it looks almost ready to place back into the garden – full of nutrients for next growing season!

compost

That’s flat leaf parsley in the foreground – normally lasts in the garden ’til Thanksgiving. I’ll pick lots and share with family. I’ll use some to make a parsley pesto and prefer to freeze the rest since ‘dried’ parsley begins to loose its flavor quickly. 

3-Stage Compost Bins
3-Stage Compost Bins

A busy, blessed weekend!

Chevre means “Goat”

Holly, my daughter's Alpine doe.
Holly, my daughter’s Alpine doe.

If you visit any country in the world, you’ll probably find cheese on the table! Through history, cheese appeared on the scene only after man domesticated animals. It’s not hard to imagine a biblical David with a bag of dried curds hanging from his belt as he delivered cheese and drink to his brothers in the field when he first encountered the giant Goliath!

If you enjoy raising fresh veggies for your table, baking bread or perhaps wine making, you’ll enjoy creating artisan cheese for family and friends – especially if you’re blessed with a few dairy goats!

In the process of cheese making, time, temperature, live cultures and patience becomes our teacher as we wait for the warm curds to form and set.  I consider myself a beginner cheese maker and I’ll share my adventures in this craft to hopefully provide a bit of confidence to YOU!  I will tell you that I’ve successfully made several soft cheeses (all from my goat’s milk) with minimal investment in cheese making equipment – chevre, ricotta and feta…and yogurt.

Today we’re making chevre. Chevre is the French word for “goat”.  It is a soft, creamy cheese made from fresh whole goat’s milk. It makes an excellent spread and may be used as a substitute for cream cheese or ricotta in cooking (but, you’ll want to make ricotta too because it’s also simple to make!). Chevre is also a versatile cheese since you may add many different herbs and spices to it to create so many different variations! TIP: Naturally occurring lipase enzymes in goat’s milk is what gives goat’s milk cheese it’s unique flavor.  

The first thing I noticed about my goat’s milk is that it is very white! Did you know: Goat’s milk contains no carotene, so it produces a whiter cheese. Goat’s milk is also naturally homogenized. Goat’s milk has smaller butterfat globules than cow’s milk – making it more easily digested. It also contains about the same butterfat content as cow’s milk.

A few words you should know: curds, whey, cultures, rennet. When we make cheese, the protein solids produce the curd. Every cheese starts with the same basic ingredients: milk, heat, bacteria/culture and rennet. Generally, pasteurized milk is warmed to a temp where ‘good’ bacteria thrive; rennet is added to help with curdling  the milk… that is, to acidify the milk. Over time, the curd forms from protein, fats & solids separating the watery liquid called ‘whey’  from the ‘curd’.  TIP: The whey may be used as a substitute for buttermilk in recipes and/or for the ‘liquid’ portion in bread making. You can also make cheese from whey, drink it, feed it to your livestock or enrich your compost pile.   

Before your begin your cheesemaking adventure, you’ll need some basic cooking equipment. I prefer stainless steel pots, lids and utensils, a good ‘dairy’ thermometer that’s easy to read (20 – 220 degrees F), a slotted spoon, curd knife, whisk, measuring spoons & cups, colander and cheesecloth.

 IMG_0212                                                                                            

If you have your own fresh goat’s milk, you’ll need to pasteurize it first. Place 1 gallon goat’s milk in a double boiler (put the milk in a  smaller pot and put it  inside a larger pot filled with water). TIP: Make sure all your equipment is absolutely clean. Hot simmering water works well, but if you use hot soapy water and a weak bleach solution to clean & rinse your cheese making equipment make sure there’s no soap/bleach residue! We don’t want to kill the ‘good’ bacteria!

How to pasteurize raw milk: Slowly heat the milk in a double boiler until it reaches 145 degrees F. Stir occasionally for even heating and don’t read the temp near the bottom of the pan. Hold the temp at 145 degrees F  for exactly 30 minutes. Remove the pot of milk from the pot of hot water and place it in the kitchen sink full of ice water. Stir the milk until the milk temp drops to 40 degrees F and refrigerate for future use.

For chevre cheese, we’ll drop the temp to 86 degrees F.  Add & mix in 1 packet direct-set chevre starter IMG_0223_2(purchased in a freeze-dried powdered form from any cheese making supplier). I’ve listed a couple resources in my fav list.  Stir gently in an up-and-down motion.  Cover the pot with a lid and wrap it with a towel. I place the pot on top of the refrigerator where it’s nice and warm. Allow the milk to sit undisturbed for 12 hours – for ripening. 

 

IMG_0207After 12 hours, the curd has formed and appears yogurt-like. The liquid portion surrounding the curd is the whey.  

 

 

 

 

IMG_0209Using a slotted spoon, gently ladle the curd into a butter muslin or cheesecloth-lined colander. The whey will run off through the muslin into the container below while the curd remains in the muslin to dry. Gather the four corners of the muslin and hang the cheese to ‘dry’ for 6 – 12 hours  until desired consistency. Here you see the ladeling process. TIP: You may also use cheese molds for this purpose.

IMG_0211_2The pic gives you a ‘primitive’  idea on how I place a wooden utensil through a knot in my butter cloth and suspend it between my kitchen cupboard knobs to drain!  But, you get the idea…lol 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0219_2Finally, you may unwrap or un-mold the cheese, add a little salt if you wish to bring out the flavor, along with fresh-picked (or dried) herbs, garlic, spices, etc.  HINT: A bit of flake salt is usually added to soft and hard cheese. Salt’s alkaline base slows down and/or halts the acidification (souring) or fermentation process; it removes excess ‘tang’ and adds a little creaminess. It also acts as a preservative. Cheese salt is a coarse, non-iodized flake salt. Diamond Crystal kosher salt is a good substitute.   NOTE: One gallon milk produces about 1 -1/2 pounds of chevre and may be stored for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  YUM…enjoy!

LET’S TALK ABOUT SHEET MULCHING

If you’re thinking about starting a new garden or flower bed or foot path, sheet mulching is a quick and easy ‘short-cut’.  BASICALLY, SHEET MULCHING requires NO DIGGING UP GRASS OR WEEDS. ENCOURAGES MOISTURE RETENTION. ENCOURAGES WORM ACTIVITY AND “AERATION” OF THE SOIL. A MEANS OF DIRECT COMPOSTING.

For a new garden bed, it’s best to start in the Fall, but you can make-do in spring using this method. You’ll need water and a garden hose, newspaper, leaves/wood chips, compost (optional to enrich soil) and a shovel. Basically, dig a small trench (2 inch X 2 inch) outlining the footprint of your garden bed or path. Turn on the hose and layer the full-page newspapers over the grass/weeds about 5 sheets at a time, wetting them as you go so they don’t blow away. Keep layering newspaper with 5 – 10 sheets down into the trench as well. Cover wet newspaper with leaves, wood chips, etc. You may cut slits into the newspaper and plant now if you wish. Ultimately, the grass/weeds will decompose, enriching the soil. It’s simple and immediate…for all those gardeners who need instant gratification…every now and again!