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Home Made Cottage Cheese


Kevin emailed me a wonderful site about home made cheeses. Check it out at Jack Schmidling Productions I started reading it and soon became enraptured with the idea of making cheese. I love cheese. I come from a long line of cheese lovers. I have been known to eat blocks of extra mature cheddar. Now I know that that's too much information but I can't help myself. I adore cheese.
That’s why the thought of home made cheese became so appealing. Now instead of just buying the ready made piece of art, I would be involved with the creation from beginning to end. It would be my creation.

After reading the site and various others I soon realized that there was more to cheese making than I had originally thought. Who knew that some hard cheeses needed 6 months to mature before you could even nibble? I mean I know at the supermarket some cheese are labeled “6 months mature” or whatever. But I don’t think I could withstand knowing that somewhere close by, in easy reach there would be a cheese, slowly and deliciously maturing for me. To be honest I don’t think I could stay away for 6 months. The other small snag was that hard cheeses require a cheese press. This started to seem a little too much effort for me.

This is what I wanted: a cheese recipe that wasn’t too complicated, that didn’t require the wholesale sterilization of my house (Felix, our Siamese cat would have hysterics), that would allow for instant consumption- no 6 months wait for me! I found it here.

1 Gallon 2% Milk
½ Cup Vinegar
Salt to taste.

Heat milk to about 190F. I bought a candy thermometer. If you don’t have – this temperature is reached just before the milk begins to boil. Turn off heat and add the vinegar. Allow to cool. When cool separate the curds and whey using a colander. Add salt to taste and mix. The cottage cheese is ready to eat. Store in fridge.

See photo album for series of photo’s and some comments. We were really pleased with the way this came out. It is certainly smoother than commercial cottage cheese. I decided that we needed to use the cottage recipe at once. So I made salmon salad.

Cooked Atlantic salmon
Home made cottage cheese
Slice of turkey lunch meat chopped.
Cherry tomatoes.
Chives - chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon to squeeze over salad.
Avocado peeled and cut up
Orange Bell Peppers chopped

Our lettuce, chives and cherry tomatoes are from Kevin’s veggie garden. We have had an excellent season this year. Our squashes are enormous. Kevin has a marvelous squash dish he makes. I am trying to convince him to post that.. so watch this space.

For more information about home made cheese making check out the Cheese Supply

IMBB 7 Dumplings

Dumplingstock_IMG_2648Is My Blog Burning? #7 – Dumplings

I’ll be honest. I’ve never knowingly and willingly made dumplings for myself or anyone else.

Until now.

I looked through my cook books under “Dumplings” in the index and found a recipe for a potsticker – a stuffed dumpling browned in the wok and then boiled rapidly for about 10 minutes. It sounded like my kind of “dumpling” – more than just a carb, this dumpling was filled with goodies.

The recipe called for tiger prawns, spring onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar and salt and pepper wrapped in Wonton Wrappers, fried and then cooked in stock. (From “Wok Bible” Hamlyn ISBN 0 600 60990 1 p 58.)

Here is my recipe:

Phyllo Pastry (use 4 sheets cut into quarters.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil/ groundnut oil.
2 Cups Hot Chicken Stock*
Soy Sauce to serve**

1 cups pre cooked, deveined shrimp finely chopped.
½ cup finely chopped turkey sandwich meat
1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onions or to taste
2 – 4 finely chopped pepperoncini or pepperdews or chilies (depending on desired hotness!)
1/3 to ½ cup cooked white rice
½ cup loosely chopped Chinese cabbage/ Bok Choy
Teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil

Add 2.5cm/ 1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced
Salt – be careful with adding too much salt as there is a lot of saltiness in the chicken stock

Once rice has cooked and cooled add to ingredients, and stir together. Roll out Phyllo pastry sheets. I used 3 to 4 sheets at a time and cut the sheet into quarters. I used 1 – 2 teaspoons of filling, placing filling in the middle of the cut phyllo pastry square. I dabbed some water around the outside and then folded over. The water helped the pastry stick together. I had about 12 dumplings once I had finished. Tip: make sure filling as been chilled in the fridge for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Also keep the phyllo pastry in the fridge until needed.

Put olive oil in wok. Heat to high. Place dumplings one side down in wok. I had to cook these in 3 batches – 2 batches of 6 each and the last 2. I browned on both sides. Since my wok heated up very quickly watch so that they don’t burn. When both sides are browned, add half the chicken stock mixture and boil for approximately 10 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed into the dumpling. When stock has been absorbed, remove and prepare wok for next batch.

Serve hot with dipping sauces, and salad.

*For chicken stock- Penzeys Chicken Stock 1 teaspoon of stock to 2 cups of hot water.
**Soy sauce dipping sauce:
Equal quantities soy sauce and white vinegar
Castor sugar
Add Tabasco sauce for an added kick.

Moose Spotting and Lake Agnes

lakeagnes_IMG_2700After we left the Fox Park, WY star party we decided to head south to Colorado and Lake Agnes for a picnic and some moose spotting. Stop at the Moose Visitor's Center first. The restrooms are really nice, and the center has a good and informative display about the local fauna and flora. They also have a life size stuffed moose to give one some idea of the size of these creatures. I had no idea how enormous they are. Also moose can be quite fierce and should not be approached. (There is always some crazy who gets himself injured, or worse killed.)
The Visitor's center has good maps, and weather info. It also keeps track of where moose have been spotted. This is good to know and can help with moose spotting.
The route to Lake Agnes is well marked and sign posted. The dirt track to the trail head is quite rutted, but most vehicles should be able to manage it. The parking lot is quite small and large SUV's tend to take up quite a lot of space. There is a picturesque log cabin, which is always locked up, and a reasonable long drop. There is a comfortable wooden picnic table and a view of a long green meadow which is easy on the eyes. The trail to Lake Agnes is 0.8 mile. But the elevation gain is quite steep. It shouldn't take more than an hour of slow walking, with frequent stops for air, and water. Fitter people would scamper up this path in next to no time. Going down is quite quicker and easier.

Lake Agnes is set at the edge of the forest. Two thirds of its banks are made of steep talus scree. There are trees and fallen down logs on the shore closest to the trail. These make a comfortable resting spot. Camping is not permitted, and dogs are required to be leashed. The lake has trout, and we saw a number of fisherman out and about. The Never Summer Mountain range borders the far shores of the lake. They are impressive in their bleakness.

After a good couple of hours enjoying the serenity of Lake Agnes we returned to our cars, and then continued along the main road. Watch out for moose feeding in the willows. We saw a moose and her calf quite plainly as well as a lone cow alongside the road. Of course these creatures create instant traffic jams. So watch out for cars, and traffic clueless people.

Here is a link to read more about Lake Agnes, and the moose reintroduced in Colorado. Also check out this.

Wyoming Star Party

Star-Party_IMG_2683The “Weekend under the Stars” is an annual event held in Wyoming for a gathering of approx. 200 star gazing enthusiasts. RV’s, campers and cars laden with telescopes of various sizes, and configurations make the trek over a dirt road to a wide open alpine meadow for a weekend of star gazing. The Star Party began on Thursday and ended on Sunday. Due to work committments we left in convoy from Denver on Saturday lunch time.
The Star Party was located at Fox Park, Wyoming. From Denver we took the I-25 North and then took exit 281, Owl Canyon Road, to connect with US 287. This road is a short cut and meanders through flat farm land. It is quite difficult to determine were the Canyon actually is. The route to Fox Park is well marked, and the organizers of the Star Party did a good job with signposting.
We arrived at about 4-ish. We were definitely one of the last parties to arrive. We found a space to set up camp which we did immediately. The most important thing was to get the telescope set up and give the mirror time to settle. Then we ambled over to the Registration tent where a presentation was going on. Luckily we had thought to bring our chairs. After various presentations and door prizes we ambled back to our campsite for a cup of tea, boiled on our camp kettle. Kevin and Peter decided to do some exploring and checking out other people’s gadgets while Mom and I prepared dinner. Peter had volunteered to be in charge of dinner, and had prepared a gorgeous pork stew with potatoes and asparagus. We had soup for starters and cantaloupe for dessert. Soon it was dark. Kevin used the North star to line up his spotting scope with the telescope. And then we had several wonderful hours of star gazing.

We saw various nebulae – the ring nebula, gas nebula, and a number of galaxies. Here is another link to some of the Messier objects we tracked. We also saw M27 (dumbell nebula).

We were extremely lucky. We had wonderful clear skies. As the night darkened we gazed up at the glorious arc of the Milky Way. Spectacular. There were a number of shooting stars, and we saw some satellites. We saw an iridium flare something I've never seen before. Check out this link for a description.

We turned in around midnight. Kevin got up around 4 am to do some more star gazing. He wanted to see Saturn’s rings and Orion’s belt. I am afraid once I get horizontal NOTHING will make me stir.

The next morning we were up early for a nice big breakfast before breaking camp.
We plan to attend next year's star party. For more information on Star parties check out the Texas Star Party site and the Nebraska Star Party site. These gatherings are much, much larger than this one. Here is the link to the Wyoming Weekend Under the Stars.