Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Milking it

Monday, March 12, 2007

Edible flowers.

The pace is picking up around here. The garden is demanding attention. Beds need to be weeded, tilled, and planted. So far I can see freshly planted arugula, lettuce, leeks, onions, and cabbage. Other beds harbor asparagus which will sprout sometime soon. The berry canes are still bare. The kale and collards are still going strong. It has been really warm for the past couple of days, and there are signs of life in the bushes and trees. The pear tree had a couple of blossoms emerge yesterday. Today, it looks like it is covered with popcorn. The bright yellow forsythia bushes are all in bloom, as are the hot pink quince bushes. The bugs are also emerging from their sleep. Butterflies are paying a visit to the garden. I keep seeing ladybugs on the kale. Bumblebees and honeybees have been busy foraging for nectar in the chickweed and henbane. I love being outside, but I can't take the sun and heat. I'm not used to it, and my translucent skin does not allow me to be in the sun--I fry in 10 minutes. Perhaps that's why I'm not a passionate gardener. I like learning more about gardening, but I really want to make cheese.

In order to make cheese, one must have milk. Sammy's farm has the milk. Sammy is starting to milk the goats. The girls have been giving birth to all of these cute, baby goats, but now it is time for them to earn their keep. Sammy has built a new milking parlor for the does and has a brand new bulk tank for holding the fresh goat milk for cheesemaking. Tommy Holden, the dairy inspector, has been working closely with Sammy to get the milking parlor licensed. Now Sammy just needs to get his hauler's license so he can deliver the milk from his farm to Goat Lady Dairy. Hopefully, he'll get that done on Friday.

Sammy and the girls.

Steve and I took a drive to Sammy's farm after breakfast in order to pick up some goat milk for making cheese. The goats are kept far away from the cows. Sammy has provided lots of room for them to roam, as well as a big barn for them to lounge in. Today is Sammy's birthday. He's in fine form. His partner is in town, and they're going to Ruby Tuesday's for his birthday dinner. Sammy really likes their salad bar. The man knows what he likes. We talked about favorite foods. He has a couple of favorite BBQ places. In Thomasville he recommends Tommy's on National Highway(?), and in Lexington he says Speedy's is the best. He's also partial to "country-style" food. This means down-home cooking. Chicken fried steak, fried chicken, overcooked green beans with fat-back, fried fat-back, mashed potatoes and gravy, cobbler, and many kinds of pudding. The best around is to be found on the Sunday buffet at "The Classic" in Denton, N.C. south of Lexington. Oh, yeah. My dad would love this artery-clogging fare. I know I do. Sammy and I have a dinner date for Sunday. "We'll get there around 11:30am. That way, we'll beat the church crowd." Oh boy! I can't wait.

Pigging out at lunch time feels (slightly) healthier than at supper time. It allows more time for the body to digest and work off the meal.

Steve pays Sammy for the first goat milk of the year.

Steve, Sammy, and I did a milk tasting before we poured the milk into buckets. Sammy, being a good dairyman, doesn't drink milk. Steve insisted that he try it so he knows what the milk is like at different times of the year. Since the does are one to two weeks into lactation, the milk will have a distinct taste to it. We each grabbed a Dixie cup and took a sip of fresh goat milk. It tasted clean, slightly tart, and minerally. The aftertaste was not the best. It lingered and had a slightly full and bitter finish. Steve says there's a small amount of colostrum in the milk right now. It should be gone in couple of days. This is normal of "early" milk, but it is acceptable for cheesemaking. We load the milk into 3.5-gallon white buckets that Steve gets from Dunkin' Donuts. 70 gallons later, we load the van and head for home.

We arrive in time for lunch. Ginnie has made a braised ginger beef with rice. Another amazing creation.

After lunch, we go into the cheeseroom and prepare to make a batch of fresh cheese. Steve has moved the old pasteurizer back onto the room so we can make fresh cheese for a few days. We pour the milk into the steel drum and start it up. It begins to heat the milk and the monitors are all in synch. Then the recorder, the instrument that certifies the cheese as legally pasteurized, decides to go haywire. It says the liquid is 175 degrees and climbing. We know the milk is cold, not scalding. Steve becomes very agitated. He pulls out notebooks and tries to recalibrate the recorder. Nothing is working. We can't make fresh cheese without a functional recorder. "Well, I've got to focus on this right now. Why don't you guys go garden?" I'm sad. I wanted to make cheese. Little Carrie is excited. She loves to dig in the dirt. Off we go to pull weeds.

Steve spent a long time with technicians on the phone. We pulled a lot of weeds. Little Carrie likes to garden barefoot. I like to protect myself in everyway possible; sunscreen, gloves, long sleeved shirt, floppy hat, bandana on my neck, and tools make me happy. I'm sore from stooping over the veggie beds.

Ginnie's recipe for quick collard greens or kale:

Remove thick stems from greens or kale.

Cut collard greens in a chiffonade, as if are cutting basil.

How to cut chiffonade: Stack the leaves on top of each other,

Roll them like a cigarette,

Cut them into tiny strips.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok (she uses a wok.)

Saute garlic until fragrant and brown.

Add as many greens as will fit in the pan.

Add some chicken broth. About ½ cup?

Stir and add more greens as they cook down.

Cover and cook adding broth as needed and stirring occasionally.

Cook for about 30 minutes, until tender.


Jim said...

Hi sweetie--
Tell Ginnie I used her recipe for quick & easy greens with the kale that came in the veg box last week and it turned out great! Just the thing with my steak and baked potato! Love you!!

Sairbair said...

Glad it worked. They're yummy. This is the healthy version. No bacon.
Love, Sarah