Here is a cheese I am delighted with. I followed the basic recipe for Chaource, but with a couple of changes: I started with cooler milk, and ripened it longer (this was designed for my convenience) and I used goat milk instead of cow, but added a couple of quarts of heavy Jersey cream.

This cheese is two weeks old. It has the lightest, fluffiest texture you can imagine, but it just melts into cream as it warms on your tongue. It’s a little saltier than my previous batches of Chaource, intentionally. It has a clean goaty tang, with lots of buttery creaminess, and a faint mushroominess at the rind. It is impossible to stop eating!

This is my take on Chaource, a bloomy-rinded semi-lactic cow milk cheese from the Champagne region of France. It is fluffy, melting to creaminess in the mouth; mushroomy and buttery, and this batch was aged (briefly) on Sweet Vernal Grass, so there are strong hay and vanilla notes.

It’s yet another dark and rainy day—which, along with uncommonly mild temperatures, has been the default for this winter. No, that’s not fair—there’ve been quite a few beautiful sunny days, too, but it really has felt like a dark, damp winter.

So today, stuck inside with the rain driving down outside, I have spent the day in the kitchen. We started with hashbrowns made from our russet potatoes that DH dug this morning, fried in lard from our neighbor’s pig. Those were pretty dang good. Then for a late lunch we had twice-baked potatoes with smoked sausage, also from our friends, and cheddar cheese. Wow, were those good! But now, being a little burned out on the (admittedly delicious) combination of potatoes and pork, I’m making homemade pop tarts, some chocolate, some blueberry.

Here’s hoping the sun comes out tomorrow.

Homemade marshmallows, as it turns out, are so easy to make! And, even for a marshmallow hater like me, they’re pretty yummy. They have revolutionized hot cocoa for this family!

Here’s the recipe I used: Smitten Kitchen’s Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows

Today I’m making cheese—a 4 pound hard cheese. I’m not cheddaring it, because we’ve loved the last few that weren’t cheddared—they have been more like a jack.

Yesterday I made cottage cheese with naturally clabbered milk, which makes my favorite cottage cheese. This one went a day too long, so was a little strong tasting, so this morning we used it in cottage cheese pancakes, which are a great farm food—they use lots of eggs and cottage cheese and just a little flour. The pancakes are so good—really light and fluffy and golden brown, and delicious with maple syrup or apple butter.

Also today I’m brining a good-sized piece of pork belly to roast this weekend and serve with lentils. The brine smells wonderful, and I’ll be able to use it over and over this fall when we butcher pigs. I finally just threw out last year’s brine, which had developed a little floating mold colony on top. It probably could’ve been saved, but it seemed easier to start fresh than to rehabilitate the old one. The brine does get a character as it ages and gets used more and more, though.

And finally, today’s last kitchen project (besides supper) is a batch of cheese crackers. Have you ever read the list of ingredients on a box of cheez-its? Good grief—I haven’t! I don’t have the time or the eyes for it! But I do know that it’s a very, very long list. Well, our whole family loves those things, so I’m searching for a recipe that will be a little less chemical-and-other-crap-laden. I’ll try to remember to tell you my opinion on these when they’re done.

Today I roasted these little beauties—Sungolds, Blondkopfchens, and Isis Candies—with a little olive oil and salt, and I’ll can them in a couple of small jars. They’ll be a treat this winter, I think!

 

I also canned regular old tomatoes in quarts, and I finally got around to canning the dulce de leche I made a few days ago, along with a batch of sweetened condensed milk. Now I’m making butter while warily eyeing the bowls of tomatoes and the massive zucchinis that are lurking in my kitchen.

 

Yesterday ED and I went over to Tennessee to pick up the lamb from the three sheep we dropped off last week. The meat is absolutely gorgeous—so deep red it’s nearly purple, and well marbled. This is exciting for us, as these fellows were totally grassfed—ED has been rotationally grazing, moving them daily—so we weren’t sure if the meat was going to be too lean for our tastes. It’s not—it’s perfect. Very, very mild and tender, too. ED is feeling a great deal of satisfaction, seeing the fruits of her labors, and I am just so happy to have a freezer full of lamb and pork for the winter. Actually more than one freezer—we had to plug in another one we haven’t been using to hold the legs and shanks.

This is the beginning of a batch of dulce de leche. I always triple the recipe I have, and it always just barely fits at first! It cooks down pretty quickly, thank goodness, and for some reason it never boils over, knock wood.

 

We skimmed all the cream we could get this morning, and ED is making butter—I’m so glad she doesn’t mind, because I really don’t like making butter.

 

I’m also making a gallon batch of yoghurt, partly because Bernard likes it for lunch.

 

And we’re making a double batch of key lime ice cream to take to a birthday party this evening. I guess it’s dairy day in the kitchen!

Last night we had the kind of supper that comes from being stuck in the house all day, and bored enough to want to really play in the kitchen. From Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I made Fondue de Poulet a la Creme, which was basically chicken cooked in wine and heavy cream with onions. It was exquisite. I also made risotto, using chicken stock and white wine instead of beef stock and red wine, and it, too, was wonderful. And these roasted root vegetables (the picture is before roasting). The purple chunks are sweet potatoes, the white are rutabagas, the golden yellow ones are beets, and the orange ones are our red kuri squash. There’s also lemon thyme, garlic, olive oil and meyer lemon juice. And salt, of course. They were so good!

Bernard made meyer lemon sherbet for dessert—it really was a perfect meal.