Archive for March, 2012

It’s been 3 weeks since my last post. What have I been doing ? You know, besides the usual?

[Digression: I started feeling really bad about not writing for so long.  And then I got irritated at feeling bad because this is supposed to be FUN! And mostly for me anyway, so why all the negative feelings? Then I read this and it really struck a nerve. If you blog, do read it. You’ll feel better about infrequent blogging!]

Knitting socks…this pair is for daughter #1 and

…this pair for daughter #2.

They don't look it in the photo, but they are the same size!


Making a quilt for a colleagues who just had their first baby.

Starting a few seedlings

(I know, I know…they are very leggy because I don’t use grow lights. It’s on the project list!)

Making more frames for raised beds.

Positioning before digging it in.

Ready for planting!

Chasing the cat out of the new raised beds. (See photo above – can you spot little cat tracks?)

Enjoying beautiful spring weather, celebrating the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts of America with a brisk sunrise ceremony, traveling to Warsaw to hear Jane Goodall (!) speak at a teacher’s conference, celebrating my daughter’s 10th birthday,  attending student art shows and music recitals..and NOT looking at my blog stats.






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Urban Farm Handbook March Challenge – Home Dairy

I really didn’t think we’d be able to make cheese. I thought we’d need some special ingredients that we wouldn’t be able to find here, even though it turns out that getting worms  was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be (last month’s challenge).

How wrong I was…The first part of the challenge required only milk and lemon juice, and yes, you can buy lemons in the Czech Republic. The milk had us a bit worried. It’s supposed to be milk that hasn’t been “ultrapasteruized.” We hoped that the organic milk we found wasn’t, though we couldn’t tell for sure. Turns out it was fine!

And it was so easy. Really, really easy. So easy I couldn’t believe it… Even without the thermometer they recommend you use. SO easy I think we’ll do it again soon. Here’s us following the directions:

Step 1: Heat up the milk, stir constantly.

We took turns…

Wine goes great with cheese.

After the milk reaches a certain temperature, about 80C, you add lemon juice. Without a thermometer we really don’t know if it reached that temperature, but we figured cheese was made way before people used thermometers to do it. We stopped heating the milk when it started getting that pre-boil frothy look on top.

Add lemon juice.

Sofie did the honors.

Never have we been so excited to see milk curdle!

You let it its for 15 minutes, then pour it into a cheesecloth-lined colander.

You can see the curds have separated from the whey.

Blessed are the cheese makers?

Make a bag out of the cheesecloth and hang it over the faucet.


We finished our dinner, drank more wine, talked…and after an hour…


Full from dinner, but unable to wait, we sampled with only some added salt. Yummy!! So yummy that neighbor and partner in challenge, Andrea, might actually be re-evaluating her vegan diet.

The recipe says to add herbs, but so far I am just eating it plain.

Breakfast the day after cheese making.

As we marveled over how easy it was to make the cheese it occurred to me that this was all very sad in a way. We’ve become so far removed from the process of making our food that we need someone to show us how to do something that a couple of generations ago almost everyone knew how to do. It’s not so much the loss of knowledge, but the loss of power over our food choices that has me worried.

Making cheese makes me feel powerful again.  Making cheese is so simple (have I mentioned that?!) that I don’t need anyone to make it for me. So, if I don’t like what Big Ag and transnational food corporations are doing to food, and I don’t, I can opt out. Ditto for growing my own food, baking bread, making things. That’s really why I’m doing this (I know some of you have been hoping that it’s not just insanity on my part).

So, I’m feeling powerful and ready for Round 2 next week. Dairy gurus – bring it on!

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Spring in the Garden

It’s been warm and even sunny on some days and I am finding signs of spring in my garden.

Chives poking up a few shoots.


Primroses growing fast.

Rhubarb shoots ready to go.

A dandelion BLOOMING!

Swiss chard growing new leaves.

And most exciting of all…

New leaves on the strawberry plants!

Doesn’t gardening make the coming of spring SO much more exciting?

I'm ready!

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