Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cheese, Grommit!

I was gifted a cheese-making day by my friend Heather at Sweetwood Farm when she needed just one more person to make up the numbers. I was also to be of assistance if one of the goats decided to choose that day to birth .... but that didn't happen. So, I got to just hang out with a great group of people, eat good cheese and learn the magical art of cheese making. 

Now, usually you begin your cheese making lessons with first taking a soft cheese class. It's much quicker and easier:  boil milk, add lemon juice or vinegar, wait a little while and Voila! Strain, season and/or flavor and eat. I've watched Heather teach this a couple of times.  

But this class was a hard cheese making class and it called for much more time, effort and dedication. I had no idea what I was getting into. 

This is the basis for your at-home cheese making:  a kit containing a cheese mold, cheesecloth, cheese mat all in a clear plastic "cheese cave" (used for in-the-refrigerator aging. There are other things needed, of course, that were supplied by Heather: the milk, cultures, Renet, heaters, etc.

It was a full day -- 11 to 6. There was an awful lot of heating milk to the right temperature; and then there was adding the cultures & Rennet; the testing to cut; the cutting of the curd -- always in between more heating and lots of temperature taking. Somewhere in amongst all that we ate a magnificent potluck lunch. When finally it was ready to mold, you get your hands into the pot and gently lift the curd into the cheesecloth-lined mold. More draining and waiting ..... then you unwrap, flip it, wrap it and put it gently back into the mold. Here's my lovely little cheese ..... 

... ready to be taken home and brined and dried before we even begin the aging process. 

After class, there was an opportunity to visit the new baby piggies, the gorgeous little Italian Maremmano puppies and the first of the newborn goats. Here I am with one of the twins. They are so adorable! Another arrived just this morning.

It's so true -- There's never a dull (nor a free) moment on a farm.

What an amazing opportunity it was for me to take part in the cheese making class. It's up to me to tend it now; and it'll be at least 3 weeks before I can even think about tasting it.

How exciting!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hope and Sweetness

We had an amazing day in Nova Scotia yesterday with lots of sunshine and melting and outdoor action. I joined the students for a visit to a maple syrup farm, Rex Veinot's Sugar Shack. 

There were about 80 of us in 2 school buses. My bus must have held the unofficial Brazilian boys choir because they entertained us the whole bus trip, there and back again. Personally, I think a LOT of these kids were so happy to be outside.

We began with a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast complete with all the pure maple syrup you could want. After breakfast, there was ice cream with maple syrup.

We then broke into 2 groups and half walked the 3 km return trip to the 1st sugar shack while the others got to see the process and finished product. The weather was perfect: it was sunny and warm and all around the snow was melting. Everyone was happy, even the kids with inappropriate foot wear. (Keds? Come on guys!)

These pictures show the old bucket and tap method as well as the new process -- lines from every tree being emptied into the blue tubs at sugar shacks where it then gets sent to the central "cooking" shack where the magic happens.

After the tour, everyone lined up for maple syrup toffee. Thickened maple syrup is poured onto clean, cold snow and you take your stick and roll it up. So sweet and so yummy!

And there was also lots of great product to buy:  maple syrup, maple candy, maple cream and maple butter -- soft, creamy, spreadable maple syrup.

This morning, the sun is once again shining which means a day of melting and a day to be outdoors.  But first, I can hear the stirrings of 2 little International mice.  The eggs are boiled, the bacon is sizzling and the biscuits are baking in the oven as we speak, just waiting to be slathered with maple butter. Um ummm!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring is happening without us here!

Every day has begun the same way: you wake to snow either falling or having fallen. The ground outside is white; the car is often white; the steps need to be scraped; the windshield needs to be scraped. It is not pretty. It is NOT fun.

And then one morning as the snow gently falls (and you can hear tiny laughter coming from each evil flake), you look down from your front step and see this: lovely, wee little crocus' peeping through the snow. 

  • Is this what spring will be like in Atlantic Canada this year?
  • Is our only glimpse of our flower beds going to be with a background of white?
  • What will survive?
  • What will grow?

Forecast for tomorrow morning?
Freezing rain changing to rain at noon. 

Excuse me: I need to continue crying now.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

He is risen.

  • There are mini Asian food containers of chocolate on the table and delicious cheese croissants from the farm market. 
  • There's a couple of huge bouquets of red and yellow tulips. 
  • The sun is out (Hallujah) and shining down on this cold, cold April 5th. 
  • And there are big and lofty food plans afoot in this household: plans for both a stuffed chicken and a small honey/apricot ham; for Hasselback potatoes, a fresh market salad and a yogurt/sour cherry pie.
My God is alive and there is a celebration to be hand today with 2 lovely young international students.

Happy Easter. 

May your day be one of joy and celebration as well. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

I am very, very far from being anyone's stereotype of what a good Christian should be. And like most people, I have many faults; I fall down a lot; I sin.

But I know that I have a Saviour who gave His life for me. And I have a God who loves me and says it's okay for me to be me: He made me this way.

For this I am eternally grateful. My life is better because of Him.

I'm happy today to out my window and watch winter's slow melting process; to see that dirty, cold crust finally beginning to thaw. Someday it will reveal fresh, new, green growth. Very symbolic of my continuous journey with Him!

This is indeed a good Friday.

Blessings my friends.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter

Yes; we have a couple of days of "warmer" (I use that term loosely) weather where miniscule amounts of snow melt .................. then on a random morning, we wake to snow on the ground.

Amidst the rain/snow/cold, I shall focus on Christ and what He did for me this weekend. And I shall look forward to Sunday's celebration .... and a little chocolate!

Enjoy your Easter or your Passover.


  Sorry! I thought I could return to a normal schedule. But my sense of 'normal' has changed. After the past 5 years of various ailm...