Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29, 2012 - Thursday

The CHEESEHEADS are back home!  Man... I'm just here to tell you.. I have some CRAZY friends!!  What a fun day yesterday as we drove into Georgia (near Jessup) to a farm out in TIM-BUCK-TOO to make CHEESE (mozzarella and ricotta). 

We started in the old OGC parking lot... all piled into my van... coolers in the back...everyone with their rubber gloves and 'projects' to work on in the car.  You would have thought we were driving for 2 days!  Ha... !!  Now... let's first talk about the rubber gloves... WE ALL HAD the normal YELLOW gloves... you know... "platex living gloves"... WITH the exception of Susan A. !!  Yes... my friends...she is my "pastel" queen friend and she managed to find baby blue and white rubber gloves!  What a hoot... (it's all about the presentation you know). 

We drove into this little town (sorry...can't remember which one it was for sure) and were looking for some antique shops to wander around in (we were somewhat early for our appointment).  Couldn't find one stinkin' antique store...and as we were turning around - Carol spotted a QUILT & FABRIC STORE!!  In this!!  We went inside and it was very sweet.  I found some adorable fabric to make several BABY bibs for my new great-granddaughter - "Aubree" (she will be arriving in June!)

After shopping... we hit the road again... soon we were at the farm.  This farm was built in the 1800's and was an actual working farm - cattle, chickens, herbs...etc.  All natural - no chemicals.  We met Raven (yes..that's his name...isn't it cool?  Sounds like a Romance Novel doesn't it?)  He and his wife run the farm.  She was in Vermont at a special presentation for some group so he was our teacher for the day.  He did a GREAT job!  (There's just something about a man in an apron cooking - in the kitchen...know what I mean?)

Here are some photos of the day's events:

We were greeted by this HUGE - lovable dog!!  He was so pretty!!!  He LOVED Lisa!!

Then... I spotted my favorite rooster - he was gorgeous.  There were chickens - EVERYWHERE!!  They have free range and followed us all around the farm...right at our feet - talking to us the entire time.  See the ones in the fenced in area?  They are "layers" and he keeps them in there for the better part of the morning.  That's when they lay their eggs and it's easier for him to collect them...rather than running all over the farm looking for their nests.  HUGE eggs too!!

Then it was Turkey Time!!!... Yes... she was penned up!  However... Mr. Tom Turkey... below...well he was a different story (His name is Cocheese ... sp?)

This is Cocheese (I know that's not spelled correctly....but we'll go with it for now!).  Now let me tell you... this was ONE BIG... HONKING... TURKEY... and he was GORGEOUS!  He strutted his stuff with us ALL day... making his gobble noise...fanning his tail and feathers, shaking... I'm not sure which one of us he was trying to "mate" with... but he wasn't giving up!  See the blue on his face?  It was beautiful!  I've never seen a turkey this color.  Simply stunning!

Then we found this friendly fellow... he had been napping and our loud talking and laughter woke him up.  However, he didn't seem to mind a bit when Lisa gave him a good rubbing.  He was a happy boy!

We're walking all around the farm and I spot a pen that looks like it could have been for pigs.  I snuck around the side and peeked in.  HOLY COW... there was a HUGE PIG inside (I guess that would be HOLY PIG).  I squealed a little and woke him up.  Needless to say.. he had to WADDLE out to see us (I mean that literary... he was so HUGE he could hardly walk).  I could tell by his appearance and snout that he was not a normal domestic pig (he looked like one that showed up in my back yard in Middleburg one morning...that's another story I'll have to share with you...).  Sure enough... he is a WILD pig they find and raise - then slaughter (sorry big boy). OH MY GOD HE WAS BIG...  razor back!

Then in the next cage... we found the sweetest goat.  She was just looking at us...smelling us.. she even let me pet her sweet little freckled nose.  Then I looked inside the pen and she had TWO baby goats.  They were so tiny...later we found out they were 2 weeks old.  This was the first time she's had twins and the first GIRL goat.  We tried to coax them to stand up and come see us... but NO.. they were too comfortable 'napping'.  So we just had fun with 'mamma'.  Lisa and she are having a happy 'moment' together...chatting about her babies!

WE now move into the cheese kitchen and .... "let the cooking begin" !!!

I had NO IDEA that making cheese was such a science!  WOW... did you know there are all kind of books on making cheese at home?  The most important thing... MILK - right from the cow!  Unpasteurized... since we can't get that (Raven hand milks his cows EVERY day...whew...) we have instructions on using powdered milk... (we all came home with a cheese making kit).

First you heat the milk and other stuff (sorry...can't remember the name ) until it reaches a certain temperature...

Then you move the mozzarella to drain... then you cut into smaller pieces and reheat and pull....

Once it's reached a certain texture... you form it into balls and add it to ice water.  That keeps the shape.  If you don't... you'll get a flat piece of cheese!

Once all of the mozzarella is made... the leftover "whey" (liquid) is used to make ricotta cheese!  Did you know that?  I had no clue!  We got two cheeses for one cooking!  Now.. how darn clever is that?

Here comes the ricotta cheese!!!  It had to cook on the stove until it reached 200 degrees... then we softly scooped it out... and strained the liquid through cheesecloth.  Added some fresh cream and salt.  You then let the liquid drain through the cloth... squeeze out the liquid... and hang it over the sink until you have only the soft cheese inside.

Here were our end results.  Raven made us some bread with pesto, tomatoes and cheese.  Then we had crackers with herb ricotta cheese.  VERY YUMMY!!

We are now certified cheese makers!  The entire process takes about 30 minutes!  Can you believe that...?  30 minutes to have fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese.  Of course...we were there for several hours so we each had the chance to work with the cheese... pull/stretch it... and then of course... DEVOUR IT!!!

What a super.... super....  day!  We decided it was fun to do these type of outings...learning new stuff.  We each are going to research fun things to do and then plan more outings.  It was such fun!

We headed back to Jacksonville... ending our great day of just being friends and being together!!

So... here's the lesson for the day.  Don't put off doing fun things.... grab a couple of friends or your family and make it a  DAY of just being together and learning fun - new - stuff!!

Chat with you tomorrow... I'll try and remember to tell you the story of the PIG in the backyard...


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