Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Sucks

Trying to find things to write about during the winter has been a challenge. However, it has allowed us to plan even more and do more research. So far, we have stopped buying eggs from the grocery store and have switched completely over to local, organic milk. I've started trying to replace sugar with local honey and have been using non-GMO flour and kosher salt. We have also really started thinking about where we're eating and where their food came from.

Where's the beef?

In Justin's last post he talked about Wells Family Farms and how we met with Kim Wells at BADSEED. I had noticed after Kim updated their website that their butcher wasn't certified organic, which really had me concerned. I wasn't about to purchase good beef from someone only to have it ruined at the butcher. I sent an email to Kim asking if their butcher used filler in their ground beef (since this is the main portion of beef that we consume). Luckily, their butcher doesn't use filler, and in fact, she refuses to let them use parts of the cow that would include large amounts of gristle and tendons. Boy, am I a happy camper now, since the last thing I want to find in my ground beef is a piece of something I can't chew. Their cost per pound for split quarter (cuts from the front and back of the cow) is $5.50 per pound totaling roughly around $400. This may seem a little steep for ground beef, but when you consider that $5.50 per pound is also what you're paying for t-bone steaks and filets, it's a REALLY good deal. Once we place our order, make room in the freezer, and get our beef, I'm sure there will be a post about how it is.

Farm fresh eggs vs. "factory" store bought eggs

Last week I was making pasta (first time and yes, I made a mess), and I had the brown eggs from Alice at Western Hills Produce sitting out ready to be mixed with the flour. I stop and remember that I still have some eggs that I bought from Wal-Mart a few weeks back. I really should compare the two side by side. These are both considered large eggs, and I actually think that the store bought egg is considered extra-large. Please note the difference in the picture below. In case you were wondering, the farm egg is on the right. Cost: $3.00 a dozen.

Cheesus Christ!

Exactly what I thought at 4:00 in the morning when I finished the 12 hour cheese process. I attempted to make Gouda without a real cheese press. My concocted press consisted of a cookie sheet, two small springform pans, another cookie sheet, two miniature pie tins and a pile of bricks. The fun part was when the sheet holding the bricks decided to slide off of the counter and bounce across the floor. Surprisingly, no one was injured and nothing was damaged. Making cheese is really not difficult, but very time consuming. I am currently on day 12 of my 25 day aging process, flipping it every day to ensure that the rind forms evenly. The consistency is that of cheddar, which disappointed me a bit. Although, the cheese smelled very good the first couple of days, it has lost it's smell more recently. I am hoping that all of the cheesy goodness is still inside waiting for the tasting. I may attempt to smoke one of the rounds (I did some research on cheese smoking, seems pretty easy) and wax the other, just for a variety of flavor once the cheese has completely aged.

The lovely cheese curds swimming in their whey bath.

Cheese curds being strained out of the whey.

The cheese round after a few days of aging.

All things crusts

I have been trying to find the right bread recipe for light, airy bread that mimics the softness of the commercially produced bread to which we have gotten so accustomed. The few I have tried all taste good, but are very dense. It may be something that we just have to deal with. I found a few recipes that Justin really likes for certain situations and may end up posting the recipes here at some point. Last night, I made a three cheese bread using a recipe from Panera. The inside was interesting and had almost a sourdough flavor. The outside, however, was a bit hard and the cheese had a slightly burnt taste. I followed the recipe and cooking times exactly. Next time I will lower the cooking time and watch it more closely. (Man, I really need that oven with a window!) I have plenty of bread recipes to keep me busy for weeks, but since we don't eat a lot of bread on a regular basis, it tends to be difficult to make without wasting. I need to get my baking stone back out and start making some rustic style breads. I have been reading more about using the natural yeasts in the air to make bread, but haven't yet got the courage to have the flour and water mixture fermenting on my counter for weeks.


  1. This is SO interesting and inspiring! I am so impressed, but you also make all of this seem accessible...someday...when I am allowed to eat cheese again. The natural yeast process is something my dad and I have considered when we brew beer. It's very common in Lambic Ales, which in bars taste like fruit soda but a true Lambic has been brewed in an area without a roof and everything in the air gets in. It often retains a little sweetness and a higher alcohol content. Anyway, it seems more difficult in this area of the country, so I'd be interested in how it works for your bread. Maybe we'll try it with our beer!

  2. Wow, guys! You have embraced this full force. Very cool! And you know, if more and more people would follow, prices would come down. If everyone bought locally, the area producers would flourish and could afford to lower the cost. Looking forward to the Expo! Good job!