The Very Fancy French Cheese Cave (cheese recipes and homesteading lists)

My fancy, French cheese cave arrived today. Well, it’s a mini fridge, but it will work the same!

The cheese cave does not take up much space. It has shelves built in. At the very, very lowest setting, the mini fridge will be around 55 degrees. Which just so happens to be perfect for aging cheese.

Use a laser thermometer to check temps often. I turned the dial down a little further.

One must take care to keep a drip pan under the tiny freezer compartment, because it will not get cold enough to stay frozen, so it will drip. That moisture is just the right amount of humidity to age cheese.

Once a week, wipe down shelves with soapy water, taking care to leave no residue that could permeate the cheese. Mold will start having a party, because that is what mold does when it is given ample amounts of cheese and temperate weather. Never mind it, it will not hurt you. Just wipe off mold from aging cheese with salt water (1/2 lb sea salt to 1/2 gallon hot water until dissolved. Keep in refrigerator.) Turn the cheeses over once a week.

Make sure to label the cheese. They all do begin to look amazingly alike after awhile. This one is a Parmesan cheese I made that will be ready next year on my birthday in April. It is already almost three months old and is getting a nice layer of olive oil to keep it from drying out.

I have a hard Italian cheese in the press. A woman reached out to me on Facebook and offered me my dear, dear departed friend and farmgirl business pal, Nancy’s cheese press! Lots of homestead memories right there sitting on the counter. The cheese will go into a brine this evening (same sea salt recipe as above) and then dry for a few days, then go into a red wine bath for another day or two, then will age for three weeks. (for a trip down memory lane, click here) (for the Italian cheese recipe that is no longer in the new additions of Home Cheesemaking, click here)

The soft cheeses, like Chevre, stay in the regular refrigerator and should be eaten in about a week. The cheese cave is for cheese that is aged longer than a week, typically 3 weeks to 9 months. (to learn how to make soft goat cheese, click here)

Even though we just moved onto our new homestead a month ago and are missing key elements to a self sustaining homestead (like goats, sheep, and gardens), there are still plenty of ways to homestead without a homestead while getting a homestead set up! The gal down the street sells me her milk that I make cheese out of. I purchase beautiful yarns (or use what I have!) and am getting ready to crochet some beautiful pieces for fall. I can tend to my chickens, pray that my farm dog will like goats, get the goat fencing put up, break down a processed chicken for supper, and make kombucha and other delicious additions to a healthy, happy homestead. Which now has a very fancy French cheese cave.

5 Farmgirls

(Note: this particular mini fridge has ended up staying at around 44 degrees. So, I have been experimenting with using it as a cave with ice packs and that seems to be keeping it closer to temperature.)

The Frantic Mom’s Guide to Dinner

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Too bad supper doesn’t roll around when we have excess energy instead of at the end of the day!  “Should we just go out?” one ponders.  But if $40 is to go towards gas and not a so-so restaurant than mama has to get in the kitchen and figure it out.  Pour a glass of wine, Mama, I will walk you through an easy dinner using just what you have in the kitchen.

Choose a protein- hamburgers, veggie burgers, veggie chicken, chicken breasts, salmon, bean patties, whatever you can find.  I found a package of Ahi tuna in the freezer.

Make a sauce for the protein- Find jelly in the fridge or pantry.  Apricot, chokecherry, jalapeno, apple, blueberry, peach….Now combine it with bbq sauce or soy sauce.  The jelly should be the highest ratio.  Add a dried spice like chipotle, red chile, garlic, dill, basil…be creative.  Add a little broth or white wine to thin to desired consistency or use a jar of jelly that didn’t set!  Done.  Top cooked protein.

Meanwhile choose a frozen or fresh vegetable- artichokes, green beans, carrots, cabbage, anything tastes great with this method.  In the boiling water add a few cloves of garlic, a sprinkling of chipotle, 2 tablespoons of lemon extract (lemons soaked in vodka for two months) or fresh lemons, and sea salt.  The water infuses the vegetables lightly.  A bit of butter and salt is all it takes to transform the vegetables.

IMG_2146Make a pilaf.  I used buckwheat which cooks in 20 minutes.  Rice works too.  Cook in rich broth with raisins and salt until ready, add walnuts and walnut oil or any nut or fruit.

In twenty minutes or so you have a gourmet, delicious, nutritious meal on the table while saving money because it uses what is already there.  Now you have time to start Christmas cards after supper!

Margarita Chicken (easy to make, quick dinner, great with a margarita! Ole!)

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Sometimes coming up with three meal ideas a day can be tiring, even daunting.  I needed inspiration and a margarita and that is how this recipe came about.  The next time you want an easy dinner that is festive and delicious, try this one.  For the complete experience play salsa music while cooking, sip on your margarita, and dance around the kitchen.  Olé!

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In a zip lock bag (I just used the one the thighs were defrosting in) pour a real good splash of margarita mix and tequila over two good sized pieces of chicken.  We get hungry over here.

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Put back in fridge until ready to use.  I kept them in there a few hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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In your first bowl add 1/2 cup of flour.  This is the key to good, crisp chicken.  Dredge the chicken in flour thoroughly first.

In the second bowl break a large egg and beat with a fork.  Dip the flour covered chicken pieces in egg.

In the third bowl combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup of cornmeal, 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning, 1 teaspoons of lime salt (or regular sea salt), 1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper.  Chicken makes its last stop in this bowl.  Completely cover with flour/seasoning mixture and place pieces in a cast iron pan or baking dish.

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Bake for one hour.

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Corn and a crisp salad with chipotle ranch would be delicious with this.  ¡Buen provecho!

Now where’s Mama’s margarita?

 

How to Put Out a Kitchen Fire

I have set the stove on fire more times than I would like to admit.  It’s been a long time but I know my son would laugh at this statement because I am sure he remembers me as a young mom who kept my secret weapon by the stove to put the fire out.

bake soda

Sunday we were at family dinner at Maryjane’s other grandparents’ house sitting around laughing and enjoying good conversation as we waited for the pot pies to finish baking.  Their juices bubbling up over the crust, the smell of home cooking wafting through the air.  Until smoke started rising from the burners.  Susan opened the oven door and said calmly, “The oven is on fire!”

“Do you have baking soda?” I asked.  Frazzled, she said yes but it was in the refrigerator in the garage.  Someone said there was a fire extinguisher.  I said, “Don’t use the fire extinguisher!  The food will all be ruined.”  They continued opening the oven door to see the fire and closing it and beginning to panic.  I ran to the garage, grabbed the box of baking soda from the fridge and in two sprinkles the fire was out.  The food was unharmed, the bottom of the oven can be swept out, and their house is still in tact.  I do love baking soda.  A wonderful family dinner ensued.

baking soda

Other uses for baking soda:

Use as toothpaste.  It whitens and cleans teeth.

Place 1/2 a cup in a bath to detoxify skin and get chlorine out after swimming.  It also softens skin.

Use as a scrubbing cleanser on sinks and bathtubs.  It whitens and cleans without scratching.

Clear a drain with baking soda and vinegar.  Pour baking soda down drain then top with vinegar till fizzy. Leave overnight.  Pour a kettle of boiling water down drain.

Odor control in refrigerator.

Sprinkle a little in the cat box for odor control.

Bake with it, of course.

And put out fires!  Baking soda is a homesteading necessity!