Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goodbye Hand Milking

Hello modern technology. Goodbye hand milking. We have been hand milking our goats since they freshened in February and March. Last fall, I found a Hoegger portable milker on craigslist, but the lady I bought it from no longer had the belly pail that went with it. So, I had to wait until I could afford the belly pail and accessories. The expenditure was pretty low on the priority list. Slowly but surely it moved up the priority list. The pail and its accoutrements were delivered by UPS today and we got it set up before our evening milking. Everything worked great. Each of the does tolerated it with little suspicion.

Memphis tolerated the new milker very well

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Valencay Update

We cut into my first Valencay last Saturday at the Lynchburg Community Market and shared it with the bread people over at Lorraine Bakery. It was very mild and creamy. The flavor was very subtle and slighty earthy. Maybe a hint of mushroom. My palate is not that distinguished yet. It was about two weeks old. I'm going to cut into another one of the same batch this week and see how it is developing. I'm stoked!

Above is what the Valencay looked like at two weeks old

Here it is at about 3 weeks. We'll cut another one this weekend. The rind is very bloomy!

I'm still making chevre at least twice a week. We are staying busy! Goat barn, hay making, and garden updates coming soon!

I made another batch last week.

Here is a cheese getting ready to be dusted with ash

Here is the same batch at 7 days old

We're still making chevre at least twice a week too. Definitely keeping busy! I'll have gardening, hay making, vineyard, and goat barn updates coming soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I've been venturing into the world of aged goat cheeses. More specifically, I'm trying to make good mold ripened aged goat cheeses. When it comes to goat cheese, mold makes it better! Last Wednesday, I started a batch of Valencay. I began the process with making a curd very similar to what I would make for Chevre. The only difference was that I added Penicillium Candidum and Geotrichum Candidum cultures when I added my starter culture. Thursday, I cut the curd and spooned the curds into my Valencay molds, which I had ordered from New England Cheesemaking Supply. I had more curds than molds, so I attempted to emulate a Humbolt Fog type cheese. I used a camembert mold, spooned in half the curds, added a layer of ash, and then the rest of the curds (after the first half of curds had settled).

Friday evening, I unmolded the cheeses and gave them a dusting of salt and then a good coat of ash. They are aging in my new "cheese cave." I was able to pick up a working refrigerator on the cheap a the local fire department fundraiser auction. I ordered an override thermostat from an online homebrew supply. Using the new override thermostat, the temperature in the fridge is staying around 55 degrees. Unfortunately, the relative humidity in the fridge is hanging around 40%. To provide a more humid environment, I'm aging the cheeses on a rack in a plastic box.

When I checked the cheese Sunday night, there is definitely mold growing through the ash. We'll try these in about two weeks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

goat barn in the making

One of the reasons I've been so slow at posting here is that I've been working on our new goat barn in all of my spare time. It's a work in progress. Right now it is a shed row style with two stories. The second story if for hay storage. I plan to add another side on when the budget permits.

Trusty Rusty (the old red trailer) makes good scaffolding.

We got the roof on over the weekend

Lots to do still!


Here's my first attempt at a raw milk Feta.

Science experiment maybe, feta yes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Into High Gear

Holy crap, Spring is here! I've been so busy I forgot to blog. Most of my extra time has gone into building the new goat barn. I think Danielle has a post dedicated to that going up today, so as not to reinvent the wheel, hop over to her blog for more on the goat barn raising.

We have two goats that are due to freshen in the next week and preparations are being made for the flurry of activity that will follow.

Jacqsonne is milking away and we are making cheese about every three days. I've been making mostly chevre because I cannot keep up with the demand; however, I've been able to sneak in another batch of the non-camembert experiment and last night a batch of feta. I've never made feta before. I'm excited!

I'm usually wrapping up my pruning in the vineyards about this time in March, but not this year. I usually get started on the pruning around mid-January. We had so much snow this year and is stayed around that I was not able to get into the vineyards until a couple weeks ago. I've just barely started. I'm way behind! I hope I finish before bud break.

I've got to run and do something with the Feta. I'll get some pictures up soon.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thrown Together

Over the last couple days, our area was blanketed with about a foot of snow. Yesterday, we spent most of the day inside as the white stuff continued to pile up. So, this morning, Dad and I set out to work on pushing snow. We finished pushing our driveways and the neighbors driveways around lunch time and decided it was time to get out of the house. So, Danielle and I along with my parents headed to town to run errands and pick up some groceries.

While at Sam's Club, Danielle asked me if I've tried any of their different sausage offerings. We picked up a package of their Spinach and Asiago Cheese Chicken Sausage. When we got home I pondered how to turn the sausage into dinner. I browsed the world wide web for ideas, but nothing really jumped out and said cook me. I decided to improvise. I'll apologize now for the lack of step by step pics. I didn't think about making this a blog entry until the dish turned out so well.

I started by cutting up a pound of the sausage. I got a saute pan (thanks Ginny and Joe) pretty hot and added a couple rounds of olive oil. I cooked the sausage until it was beginning to show just a little of browning. I then added maybe 4 loose cups of spinach. I didn't measure anything. I cooked that until the spinach had wilted. I transferred the sausage and spinach to a bowl and added about two tablespoons of butter to the pan. When the butter melted, I added three cloves of chopped garlic. I let the garlic caramelize but not too much. Never overcook garlic! Its not good. Trust me.

To the garlic, I added about a half cup of roasted red peppers, roughly chopped. I use these all the time. They really add another dimension to a dish.

While the garlic and peppers were commingling I thought I needed to add some acid to the sauce. I looked through my everyday wine selection and realized that the only white wine I had on hand was a Moscato. That would be too sweet for the sauce I was envisioning. Then I saw a bottle of Verjus from Chateau Z Vineyard. I had never had Verjus, but Cliff convinced me to buy it a few weeks back. What is Verjus you ask. It is the juice of unripened grapes. Usually verjus is pretty acidic but gentler than vinegar. Bon appetit has a more in depth definition of you're still wondering. I added a little less than 1/4 cup to the garlic, pepper, and butter concoction.

To this mix I added about a tablespoon of chopped Italian herbs. I had basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Use whatever you have. After the liquid had reduced by half, I added about a cup of heavy cream and reduced some more. To the bubbling goodness, I added a 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan and a generous helping of black pepper.

I added the sausage and spinach back to the saute pan and brought the sauce together. I don't know what to call it. I served it over Tagliatelle noodles. We'll just call it good.