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

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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

Keeping Up With The Dishes

About 3 years ago we decided to stop using a dishwasher and instead to do the dishes by hand. Its taken me a loooo-ng time to get into the habit and not get wayyyy behind with the dishes. I have a separate counter space for the dirty dishes which is good and bad as it can be a temptation to leave them there.

What works great is if I do dishes 3 times per day  – quick and easy, after each meal, children helping – quick and its done.

It also helps if I rinse out dirty pots and pans immediately away so that they are easy to wash. If I leave them for “later”, they can easily stay dirty for a day or two. I still struggle with big items that I have rinsed but not given the final wash – sometimes easy to forget those till tomorrow.

We have two drainable drying racks and like to leave the dishes to air-dry so there is a limit to how much we can wash at once. Again 3 times away works great – smaller loads.

We want our children to grow up knowing that cleanliness and good food takes hard work- and its a blessing if we work as a team. We want them to enjoy the fellowship and fullfilment of it all. I want my girls to love their roles as homemakers and be equipped to stay on top of things. My older son’s job is to clear the table after each meal – quick transfer to the kitchen counter where I scrape, stack and rinse, then wash. My two daughters sweep under the table (our 2 year loves this and our 7 year old happily sweeps up after her 🙂 Our 3yo boy pushes the chairs back in and then entertains everyone. My older daughter also empties the drying rack in the mornings. Dad fills in all the gaps – we make a great team!

I love washing the dishes – it makes me reflective and is even a bit therapeutic – calms my thoughts. I think and pray about the children and my attitude and even though its usually a rush to do the dishes – its wonderful when they are done! I am very thankful that we do not have a dishwasher (or even place for one if we wanted to change our minds 🙂

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” Deuteronomy 7 v 9

Budgeting Part 2

Click here to go to Budgeting Part 1

So, if you are ready to begin the budgeting journey – where do you start?

May I just say, to use a budget effectively – you do not need to be good at maths, or using a spreadsheet…

you just need to be determined and to persevere!

1. I would recommend that you start by making a list of all the expenses that you know of – just brainstorm. Its best to do this on a piece of paper to start with and then transfer it to a spreadsheet later. You don’t even need to worry about the amounts yet. Just write down the names of any bills you pay, things you buy regularly, etc. Don’t worry about the order of items or categories yet, just the names of what will become your budget items. Your list might start something like this gas (petrol}, car insurance, household insurance, monthly rental, food, eating out, hardware, garden, telephone landline – and cell phones, internet, clothing, etc.   Try to be specific but don’t go into too much detail with things like food – broad budget items can be broken down later.

2. Add an estimated amount to each item – you can refine the amounts later, just get something down

  • Some items on your budget may be fixed like monthly rental or bond payments – these amounts are easy to record.
  • Some items vary each month like your telephone, electricity or water. A good amount to start with would be to take an average of the past 3, 6 or 12 months. Remember that your winter electricity or water bills might be different to your summer ones, etc. so adjust your estimate accordingly. Don’t worry if it is not quite accurate as the first month will just be a trial run and you can update amounts as you go. If you’d like to use a spreadsheet to calculate your average there are many ways to do this but a simple was is to go to any cell on the spreadsheet (if your amounts are R563, R668, R445, R545, R633, R677 then you would type the following =(563+668+445+545+633+677)/6
  • There will also be items on your budget that you don’t know what to record. This is where the budget will be greatly effective and be a great help in showing you where the money goes. You need to learn how to plan for and record everything you spend without it being complicated and cumbersome.
  • note – I would find this pretty much impossible without internet banking – I highly recommend that you sign up if you haven’t yet. Let me know if you have concerns about its safety as my hubby is an internet security specialist and I can tell you a bit about how it works.

For the first month you should build a buffer of about 5% of your total income into your budget because many of your budgeted expenses will not be accurate and may be under the actual cost. You can do this by adding a budget item called buffer and calculating the amount.

3. Once you have written down everything you can think of, have a break and come back the next day to do the next step. This will help you to think of budget items you may have forgotten and to complete your list of potential budget items before continuing to the next step. Add items to your list as you think of them. Here is a list to get you started… look through this list for ideas but don’t add things unless you are sure you need them.

4. The next day start by adding to your list any items you can think of, then…

  • Read through your list and try to make a new list of categories that the items fall under. e.g. Bank choose names for your categories that suit you. I find this works much better than trying to use categories someone else came up with. Here are some ideas to get you started: HOME EXPENSES, DAILY LIVING, SAVINGS, INSURANCE / RETIREMENT, VEHICLES, OUTINGS / MEALS OUT, UTILITIES, – or you could group DEBT into one category, or FIXED MONTHLY PAYMENTS into one category. What works for you?
  • Try to group all your budget items under the categories ending with a category called miscellaneous for those items that are once off or irregular or don’t fit anywhere else. I have many individual items which I put into the budget each month. I find that works much better than just having a general “extras” category. So in a given month the last few items on my budget under miscellaneous might be DUVET COVER R200, GARDEN HOSE R300, MOM BIRTHDAY GIFT R?,  MAKEUP R300 as we think of things we would like to purchase that month. MAKEUP is an example of an item that only needs replacing every 6 months or so but is expensive enough to be added as an individual item.

You are now ready to start entering the information into your spreadsheet

Come back tomorrow to learn how to go about this…

Budgeting Part 1

Its hard to take the plunge and start a budget…

…and where do you start?

You could try downloading a template but I find that you usually have to change so much that its actually easier to start your own.

You need a spreadsheet program and a very basic knowledge of how to use it. If you haven’t used a spreadsheet before, don’t worry – I mean VERY basic. All you need to know how to do is: enter information into the cells, create formulas for adding and subtracting and a few other small things. Spreadsheets are really easy and if you like numbers you’ll love the way spreadsheets work. I will tell you how to do these things as we go. Its great fun – and a great way for your children to learn more about computers and numbers as they help you with the shopping list, etc.

Each family is different and some husbands like to do the budgeting themselves and others like their wives to do it or to do it together. In our family I do the budgeting and my husband okays it all. I keep track of the nitty gritty, plan and set out the budget and then operate it through the month. He glances at it once or twice but doesn’t have time for much more – that works for us. Its funny because I’m actually not good with money (but I’m learning!) I am good with the planning, the numbers, the calculating – I love that part – and I’ve become good with the keeping track but I need to be accountable or I spend too much. My husband provides the accountability – other than that he gives me complete freedom with the budget which is a blessing – we talk about major decisions and he always says if we spend more than planned on something, then we first have to see where its coming from (i.e. to spend less on something else.)

I’ve learned through my mistakes, and I’ve learned where to pad the budget for the unexpected – and where it is wasteful.

I will be taking you through the steps that I have developed over many months to make not only budgeting easier but sticking to your budget, shopping to your budget and updating as you spend, planning shopping lists to print, etc. – all from your budget.

It takes many months to get it right as you build your budget so adjust your expectations – don’t expect too much too soon and don’t be discouraged or lose heart – keep at it!

Budgeting part 2

“He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy [is] he” Proverbs 16 v 20

Our Family Schedule Part 1 – Mornings

Our schedule is constantly changing and improving in little ways. Either I figure out something that would work better or the seasons change requiring different activities – or as the little ones grow older we adjust the schedule accordingly.

A schedule is a very personal thing and will look very different for each family. I have got lots of ideas from looking at other family schedules and I hope to inspire you with ideas too! But don’t be overwhelmed by the parts that don’t fit – they just aren’t right for you.

OUR MORNING SCHEDULE

  • After getting dressed and room chores, we have a fruit snack at the table with Dad. (we have our breakfast in 2 or 3 parts)
  • Then its chores time – feed the dogs and birds, clean birds cage, dishes, drying rack, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, etc. Mom does most and helps the little ones but they all have their little jobs to do. Chores time is about 30 minutes long so we dont do all of these things everyday. When the little ones are finished their chores, I put on some music in the sunroom and they race around on their little plastic motorbikes while our 7 year old daughter and I work on lunch and supper preparation.
  • Then older ones do Bible copying and little ones do ‘lines and curves time’ with Mom (a pre-handwriting activity  – I call it that but actually it involves music, playing with sticks, building mat man, etc. – see this post for more detail).
  • Twice a week, instead of Bible copying / lines & curves with Mom we have Music time and Exercise time all together.
  • Then we have lounge time for an hour where we read missionary stories, literature, talk about history, look at our timeline and world globe, learn about animals, etc. We love learning and listening together. Everyone sits on their blankets and can do a simple colouring or puzzle activity while we read and discuss.
  • Then the little ones go to their rooms to listen to their daddy tapes (as inspired by the Maxwell family – I will write a separate post on this soon) while the older ones go to the desk to do their English and Maths activities.This helps me catch up with things after lounge time and to work with the older two on grammar and maths,and also gives me time to prepare for craft time. After daddy tape the little ones run around with a ball or go outside and get soaked (sometimes) or do puzzles at the desk with us while we finish or I put out a tactile activity for them – sometimes related to our craft e.g. playing with oats when we are learning about horses and what they eat.
  • Then its craft time. After the brain-taxing activities everyone is ready to be creative. I prefer craft time earlier in the day when I have more energy for being creative and for clean-up, than later in the day when more structured activities seem to work best.

The crafts fit loosely into a schedule ( this is more to help me think of ideas than as a rigid structure)

Monday: Cutting Sticking Drawing Foam art or stickers – puppets, pictures, etc.

Tuesday: Painting or sandart

Wednesday: Work on whatever lapbooks / virtual travel notebooks we are currently working on. e.g. put cottonwool on the sheep

Thursday: Themed craft from our history studies e.g. tower of babel – build the highest tower you can with 5 toilet rolls, some tape, some cardboard, etc

Friday: Clay or playdough

  • Once the children get lost in their craft activity and no longer need my help, I finish the lunch preparations. My husband works from home so while I don’t need to do a packed lunch more than once a week, I do need to have a substantial lunch ready.
  • We tidy up and settle down for lunch (I often put on a story CD at the dining time while we eat or we chat about what we’ve been learning – often about animals especially dinosaurs!!)

More about what happens after lunch in Our Family Schedule Part 2 – Afternoons (coming soon!)

See also – Creating a Family Schedule

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Colossians 2 v 8-10

Linked to Works For Me Wednesday and Big Family Fridays and

A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-Home

Organizing 12 – Those Kitchen Cupboards Again

Its been a rather busy few weeks – not much organizing getting done – but I have the vision! I have been planning this one in my head for a few weeks so it was quick and easy when I did it! Much to be said for planning ahead! This cupboard was rather chaotic – especially the mats, aprons, serviettes and tablecloths shelf (rather a lot for one shelf but there just wasn’t other free space!)

So, we went from this.. (above)


to this!

After emptying the cupboard out onto every available space, I moved the plastics down from a high shelf and added the plastic cups and stuff – 2 shelves into 1 – good start. I filled a give-away box along the way too. We hung up aprons on plastic hooks on the outside of the cupboard, then I put the mats on the middle shelf, sorted the tablecloths into cloths for inside use and outside use – and moved the candles from under the sink to here.

Then I moved the flour and nuts to this top shelf and put all the serviettes in the middle where the plastics used to be. Finally I can reach the serviettes (napkins 🙂

Now there is space under the sink for my son’s bird seed!

And there is an empty shelf which was full of ?? cups?? Not sure – but now I can put the floating games and puzzles in there – yay!

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.” Psalm 40 v 8

My Organizing Journey:

Part 1 – Organizing!

Part 2 – Recipes & Cluttered Surfaces

Part 3 – First Set of Drawers

Part 4 – Crafts and Art Folders

Part 5 – The Fireplace

Part 6 – Puzzles and Activity Boxes

Part 7 – Recipes into the File

Part 8 – Hubby’s Desk Drawers

Part 9 – The Whole Office!

Part 10 – Bedroom Closets and More!

Part 11 – A Fridge for Getting Healthy

Part 12 – Those Kitchen Cupboards Again