Cheesemaking: Basic Farm Cheese

This is wonderful fun to make. Its something thats so different from the usual cooking and is so rewarding and delicious!

Something that we have had great fun with is learning to make cheese – in very small quantities and only in its simplest form – but its real CHEESE!!

Farm Cheese – or Plaaskaas as we call it in South Africa.

I think officially you’re supposed to add a bacterial culture to give it a specific flavour – but we just make it with salt – simple and delicious! Takes some good concentration but once you get the hang of it its easier than you think – and its easier than making mozarella, I think.

1. Equipment:

  • Thermometer that goes up to 110C (225F)
  • Wooden slotted spoon
  • Whisk
  • Sharp Knife
  • 2 Stainless Steel Pots – 1 large, 1 medium
  • Large sieve or strainer
  • 2-3 pieces of cheesecloth
  • Sterilise all equipment by boiling it for 5 minutes
  • Home made pressing equipment (not as fancy as it sounds!)

2. Ingredients:

6-8 litres of the freshest cow’s milk (raw unpasteurised milk is best)

3t Buttermilk or 1/3 cup plain yoghurt

3. Process:

PART A: The evening before (1/2 hour)

1. Remove the cream from the top of the milk and store separately

  • 2. If your milk is unpasteurised you’ll need to add calcium chloride to get it to coagulate (go solid).

2. Pour your milk into the large sterilised pot.

3. Warm the milk to 20C (68F).

4. Add 3tsp of buttermilk or 1/3 cup plain yoghurt. This bacterial starter helps to start the fermentation process and lowers the pH so that the rennet will be effective.

5. Store in a warm place overnight.

PART B: The next morning (2 hours)

Make sure you have 2 hours available to do this – some parts are critical and the first time you need all your wits about you.

1. Warm the milk to 30C

2. Add 3 ??? drops of rennet to 2T water in a small bowl and mix well with the wooden spoon. Pour the rennet into the milk when it reaches 30C and stir well. In the USA you can buy rennet tablets (here you would use 1/4 of a tablet dissolved in water. In South Africa I ordered the rennet solution from here?? LINK.

3. Cover your pot and leave to sit for at least 1 hour. Do not disturb. It is coagulating!

4. After an hour test for a clean break (if you insert your finger into the mixture and lift it, it should be gel-like and break cleanly around your finger. If there is no clean break, leave for a further hour.

5. Cut the curd (I love this part!!!) Begin on one side of the pot. Cut all the way down to the bottom of the pot – all the way across the pot – drawing parallel lines with your knife about 1cm apart.

Turn your pot 90 degrees and repeat,

then again 45 degrees

and 90 degrees the other way.

Cut each time till you have small cubes.

6. Set the curd by placing the pot over low heat and stir with your clean hand by gently lifting the cubes. Cut any large ones as they appear. Continue stirring for at least 15 minutes so that the curds don’t clump together. Heat the curds to 38C(100F).??

7. Maintain this temperature stirring continually until curd looks like scrambled eggs in your hand. I know this isn’t easy to imagine – you kind of have to try it. You’ll know it when you see it. Rather go too long than too short. The curds should sink in the whey.

place the curds in the cheesecloth lined sieve or colander to drain off the whey. Keep the whey to make ricotta or give it to your dogs as a treat!

Add 2t salt and mix in.

place curds into your homemade press

fill it up and press overnight

the next morning remove the cheese and the cloth and

rub the outside of the cheese with salt.Rewrap it in fresh cheesecloth and place in the fridge.

Replace the cloth daily if it is wet. This cheese improves with time – you should leave it for about a month to cure. We left it for about a week (you can wax it after two), we generally eat it after one 😉 We don’t bother with waxing it as we eat so quickly.

Delicious!! Some day we’ll take it to the next level and make a LARGE cheese.

“And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that [were] with him, to eat: for they said, The people [is] hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.” 2 Samuel 17v29


Why Are They Abandoning the Faith?

David de Bruyn of New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg is a Biblical and deeply thought-provoking writer. I learn so much and am so encouraged by reading the articles on his blog. I have been so inspired by his articles on Pre-Evangelism for Your Children that I decided to do a series summarizing (or writing in my own words) this series. I am sure I don’t do his writings justice so please read the real thing – but for what its worth, here is my version with some of my own thoughts and applications added.

Statistics tell us that 6 out of 10 children who grow up in Evangelical churches abandon the faith completely in or before their 20’s and do not return even when they have children – they are effectively abandoning the faith – a faith that was probably never very real or meaningful to them. They abandon the faith either by word or by action or both.

There are many possible reasons for this – watered-down ineffective youth programmes, age-segragation in the churches, lack of headship and leadership by the father’s in the homes, entertainment media that draws hearts away from God and is used in many youth programs in place of the Word of God. But there is something more to consider… a child is not an empty slate but everything in their childhood will contribute to their ‘openness to’ or ‘rejection of’ – Christ and the gospel message. What is written on a child’s pages will contribute much to their desire to believe God and to be a faithful disciple of Christ. How a child responds to truths such as “Jesus is the Son of God”, “Hell really exists” and “God is deserving of our love and devotion, awe and reverence”, will be shaped by their “filter” of interpretations, feelings and thoughts even before they fully understand these truths.

As seen in the parable of the sower, our children’s hearts can be likened to a farmer’s soil – whether the ground the seed falls upon is rocky, thorny, shallow or fertile will be influenced by how we as parents raise, disciple, train and teach our children.

God’s grace and redemptive power can overcome the lack of preparation of that soil – and without God’s grace and power, the preparation is meaningless – BUT God chooses to use parents to prepare the soil of a child’s heart.

One of the best ways of preparing the soil of our children’s hearts is prayer. We need to pray daily and fervently for our children and for God’s wisdom and guidance as their parents. God is pleased to work in good fertile soil.

Here is the crux of the matter: many 20 or 30-something people today are abandoning the faith because their upbringing was primarily a secular one – filled with lusts and entertainment that drew their hearts from God – with a thin layer of Biblical facts over the top.

As the Word fails to take root in the hostile soil of their hearts, they are forced to reevaluate their beliefs and bit by bit – throw out the thin layer of facts that they once believed.

The question is – how is the soil made fertile – or hostile? What is a parent’s role in the child’s life? What does the Bible say about how to teach, train, disciple and love our children so that the soil of their hearts will be receptive to the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives?

What a privilege that God uses us as parents in our children’s lives and what an awesome responsibility that should evoke the fear of God in our lives and our parenting!

Part 2 – More Than Facts

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth [it]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13 v 23

Encouraging Our Daughters

I’m sure you agree – its hard work being a girl growing up in today’s world. So much of the wrong role models and so many things to filter out. Our daughters need all the encouragement they can get – especially from us.

I so want my daughters to be encouraged and to know how much they are valued and loved.

Here are steps that I have taken to that end…

  • Little notes under the pillow. I love to write little letters of appreciation to my older daughter, (she is 7 and her sister is 2) telling her how much I love and value her, or complimenting her on an area of her character that she is growing in or just a little smile on paper. I was inspired to do this by Teri Maxwell – hmmm, its been a while and its so easy to procrastinate this one – but its so worth it when I see her reaction – it really encourages her and makes her feel special and that “I notice” her and she loves to write notes in reply. My little girl has also taken to “writing” little notes to Mommy and “posting” them under my pillow – so sweet to find at bedtime.
  • Special journal – I purchased a special book (spiral bound with a hand painted rose on the front) to write little messages to my 7 year old daughter – to the effect of “I so enjoy and appreciate your love for flowers. I love the way you bring them to me from the garden and your appreciation of them makes me notice and enjoy them even more. Can you draw a picture of your favourite flower here for me?
  • Before bed  / rest time chats – at the beginning of rest time after the little ones are down for their naps, my daughter and I do our Bible reading together and then we chat or draw together for a bit. I also like to spend a little extra time with her after the others have been cuddled and sung to and are settled so that she can have the attention she needs without interruption and we can talk about the day in a relaxed way together.
  • Once a week girl time – We schedule a time once a week – usually during rest time to do nails, hair and other girl stuff together.

How do you encourage your daughters? I would love some ideas as we are still quite near the beginning of our parenting journey.

“And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8 v 48

House Tour – the Lounge

It seems that sooner or later most bloggers do a house tour – and seeing as I love being given the tour, I thought I should give one too.

Welcome to our home!

Today I will show you what may look like a lounge but is actually a most ingenious washing line / clothes horse… Those wooden / metal clothes horses are good – but nothing like this one. This one is spacious, airy – and you don’t get those little fold lines on the clothes!

When we have visitors coming we clean up so it looks like this…

– the container of Bibles goes into the chest, the guitar box goes behind the couch, clothes are put away and there we have it – a lovely lounge! Actually we try to keep it nice most of the time as we have special family times here each day.

We have family Bible time here each morning and evening – time to be close, to read God’s word together and talk about stuff.

We also have our homeschool “read-aloud lounge time” here.

The lounge is part of a larger room that also contains the dining area on the other side near the front door. I’ll show you that part next time. Its also right next to the kitchen which is very convenient and is one of the things we wanted when we were looking for a smaller home (more on that later).

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Romans 4 v 7

Getting Stuck

Do you have a child that always gets stuck or wedged in strange and creative gaps and spaces?

We have one of those – don’t know how he gets in, but in he goes – and then once he’s in, he’s stuck. He would do well at the Cango Caves with those tiny squeeze-through places that sane people give a wide berth…. although not so much with the getting stuck thing!

He’s a brave boy and brave boys love to explore, to discover and to conquer! He’s been stuck in the bottom shelf of the cupboard: “Mommy, I can’t get out!”

Today he was stuck between 2 bookshelves with his legs stuck under the rebounder (small trampoline). You can see the gap below – he was well and truly wedged!

The most ingenious was when he was stuck face down on his bed with his backpack half around his arms – unable to move or turn over – just a muffled yelling for Mom. I didn’t ask and he didn’t explain.

This was just the first 3 years 🙂

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 1 v 26

Letter to An Old Friend

To My Dear Friend

I miss you! You haven’t died – and yet it feels the same. I miss being able to spend time with you and share our excitement, hope and vision for the future.

Why did you fall away and why did you fall so far? What you are doing is an abomination to God.

Your love for Christ and for people always seemed so real. Its been 10 years since I last saw you – and I weep for you in my heart when I see the things you are involved in. How could you believe that you will find fulfillment and hope in those things? Maybe you have lost all hope.

I remember how no person was too dirty or unappealing for you to approach and share your love and the love of Christ. I remember how your heart was always ready to help and to give. Maybe that is still your heart but you just have lost your way.

I know that your sin makes God angry – just like mine does – but I know that my hope, my faith, my life is in Him. His righteousness covers my sin. His grace is sufficient for me – it is sufficient for you, too.

Why have you forsaken Him?

I am praying for your soul, my friend. My hope is that if you weren’t saved, you would come to know God as He is.

He is not like those who have hurt you and let you down – like the father who left you or the pastor that betrayed you. He is faithful and His Word is true. I know that you struggled so when your Mom died years ago. I know how hard that was for you. You can find peace in Him, you can trust in the sovereignty of God – he will take care of you.

I pray that God would heal your heart. He can save any sinner. He can save you, heal you and restore you to who He created you to be.

“And now abideth faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13 v 13