Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tea, Fika, Shabbat,Kaffeeklatsch...REST!

 
 
 
In our chaotic culture of greed and speed, we have forgotten some very important things, things many of this up and coming generation never have known; how to slow down and savor and really appreciate something. Anything. How to live in the moment and just be. To sit back, relax, feel satisfied, and say, "I've had enough." What does it feel like to be content? To think deeply? To ponder...to truly find rest for your soul?
 
Lately I'm pondering the remedy for a people stressed out, adrenal fatigued, sick, medicated and miserable. And really, why? We are blessed with so much. I'm thinking therein lies the problem. We have too much. We are the only country where people actually eat themselves to death, pay extra money to store stuff they can't fit in their already too-big houses and packed garages, and  watch shows about Hoarders and people that are so fat they haven't been out of bed or sat on a toilet for a decade. It makes me sad.
 
 
 
I want to savor my life and the people in it. I have been missing out by being so stressed out. I've hoarded things for myself and grieved over the mental space that physical clutter takes up. I've been pondering the art of living well. I want to live and not exist to own things that really own me. I would love to be free of the clutter in my head, my home, and my heart. It would leave so much more room for my Jesus.
 
 
There is a tradition all over much of the world that we have replaced with a drive-thru coffee experience in the afternoon. What a rip-off! The English enjoy afternoon Tea, the Germans  have a ritual that is referred to as Kaffee und Kuchen, Kaffeetrinken, or Kaffeeklatsch. The Swedes enjoy Fika, India has Chai...what do we have? We do have a coffee house culture that I love but it's just too rare that we actually sit down with friends and family to enjoy a cup of our favorite brew and a bite of something. A good social connection that's face to face. These traditions are not solitary events usually you see. They involve a friend or two, a neighbor, your mom, or who-ever. They also involve a bit of cake, scones, cookies, or even a sandwich- something to eat while you chat.
 
 
 
Composer Johann Sebastian Bach made coffee the main topic of the cantata Be quiet, stop chattering, which became popularly known as the Coffee Cantata. I thought that  was a fun bit of trivia, take a peek.
 
 
 
While my older kids were growing up during the school year we had a daily Tea Time. It' was fabulous and I miss it. We read aloud, or listened to audio books, and we chatted over scones and tea or hot cocoa. Bliss.
I'm bringing Tea Time back. My middle son, youngest son, and granddaughter are with me now, the older kids have moved out. I think this ritual is a blessing and pretty often I feel these kids are getting the short end by not having this afternoon delight. I say I'm too busy and I have a hundred other excuses but there's nothing valid. If I did it then I can do it now. I'll put my iPhone down, I'll not check in on my cyber friends on Facebook , and I'll get face to face with my own flesh and blood people who are here and now in my life. Preach it sister! ....slump. It's so hard to actually break out of the habit and bondage but here's what I'm thinking: Shabbat! Take a rest! Refrain!
 
 
 
 The Hebrew children have this beautiful command from God and I'm in love with it. A time to rest. To empty my pockets of mammon and rest from commerce and commitments and chaos. To enjoy friends and family and food and our Creator and relax and laugh and live in that moment. Good practice once a week for the daily ritual that I long for. Good stuff. A mini Sabbath rest every afternoon and weekly Sabbath too. God is kind. He knows what's what and He knows we burn out and we get this nasty world all over us. He told us to draw back and rest for a while so that we could think straight. Not stress out and need to be medicated to sleep, medicated to wake, and medicated to work. We medicate with prescriptions and we self medicate and God has had the answer to it all along. Trust. Take a break. Think about His goodness and enjoy what He has given us and share it with those around us.
 Quit fretting. No worries.
 
 
 
We will be so much the better for it. Sickness and disease come from not only physical, but also mental, emotional and spiritual toxins. Think how much we could purge from our lives to have  less but really more. A better quality of living, relationships, food, experience...you get what I'm saying, right? Please tell me I'm not alone in this. I don't think I am though. I bet if you don't already have it, you want it.
I'm thinking rituals and traditions can be a beautiful thing and I'm going to be purposeful and institute a couple of the really good ones around here. I hope you do too.
 
 
 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spring's Going On

Milk flow is on and the girls are giving lots! I need to work through the process of getting their milk stars. The kids are all growing up and will be starting to go to new homes soon. I'm feeding several bottle babies and still have plenty of milk to drink and make cheese and soap. I'm making lots of Crottin de Coquet, feta, and chèvre.

I've turned in milk samples from the girls to Washington DHIA for butterfat and protein testing. I'm excited to get results  back. 










Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crottin part 2 and cheese #2


The young cheeses have been taken out of the mold after being turned a second time. They have been salted and are in the drying process on day 2 today. I turned them this morning and they look and smell nice. They are still in my cool office with the window cracked for a breeze. Tomorrow I will put them in the little tiny refrigerator I have set up as my cave for the aging process. They will stay there for at least 2 months because the milk is raw. Within 10 days they should be growing white fuzzy mold so I will document our progress.



The milk I set to ripen yesterday morning with the same amount of culture, rennet and Geotrichum mold powder as the last batch- but used 7 quarts of milk (approx.) instead of 4 gave me a ginormous yield of curd this morning! I remembered too late yesterday that with raw milk you need less culture and rennet than with dead, pasteurized milk.

 



Here I'm taking the curd I drained for about 10 hours in a drain bag and filling my little Crottin molds.





I'm pretty proud looking at my little cheeses! The top ones are about done drying and ready to go age, and the others will be turned and salted in the morning.

Here's the notebook I use for "make sheets" It's a Decompostion brand with an artisan cheese print. I love it. I also found an apron with a similar print on Amazon. Youn know, just for fun :)





As you can obviously see I'm not professional about this at all. It's not my way. I do keep meticulous records on my goats though.

This Proverbs 31 Collette Crottin. :) She's a 2nd generation miniature Nubian dairy goat. Her beauty aside, she's bred for milk- rich, high protein and butterfat, creamy milk!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crottin de Coquet Part 1


Yesterday morning I milked my 5 girls and used 2 quarts of the milk for kefir and 1 quart for drinking, a gallon for cheesemaking and the rest to feed the bottle babies and  cats.

I'm making a little French cheese called Crottin. It means "little droppings"  which makes me smile but the cheese looks so divine I had to try! I've been wanting to since winter. 
I strained the milk and while it was still warm I added the chèvre packet of culture and rennet from New England Cheesemaking Supply. I also added 1/16th tsp. of Geotrichum mold powder. 
I stirred it and let it sit until this morning when I labeled the curd into a drain bag and let it hang until lunch time- too long but I was in town. 









I collected the whey and put it in mason jars in the refrigerator to use in smoothies later. It's also great for bread making and I usually give some to the dogs.

When I got home from town I spooned the curd into very small molds I bought on Amazon. The curd had hung for about   5 1/2 hours. I'm not sure how that will change the final product. 



After I packed the molds I sprinkled 1/4 tsp. of cheese salt over the top of them. I ended up with 8 packed molds. Now they are setting out with the drain bag over them for about 7 or 8 hours and I will take them out, turn them over and put them back in the molds and sprinkle that end with salt as well. 
*everything was sterilized because I'm using raw milk and aging these for about 2 months. 
I'll post part 2 tomorrow or Thursday.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fika

 
‘Fika’ by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall was a great find! I had never heard of the Swedish tradition of a "kaffe" break with baked goods. After reading the 1st chapter I not only discovered this lovely ritual but that it means so much more. It's an ideal. Check out Wikipedia's entry on Fika here and learn something lovely. I enjoy my afternoon coffee but being an American, and not very familiar with my Swedish roots, it's more of a coffee on the road while doing errands than a relaxing way to unwind and connect. My great grandparents immigrated here from Sweden- came over on a boat, but I never knew them and their ways didn't translate down the generations. I wish I knew more about them and the culture.
This darling little book explains Fika, and gives traditional recipes- some easy and some more involved, but all authentic. I'm pretty excited to start having Fika at least once a week.I think I'll start with the Blackberry Almond Cake. My kids and friends would enjoy it, and think how much money I would save by being home more, and not spending $$ on Starbucks!
Check it out, you might learn to enjoy a slow down yourself. If you already have a ritual of Fika, or maybe something like an English Tea, let me know what you do and what it means to you. We have lost the art of slow food and gathering in homes and slowing down. I'm very aware of it but swept up...I'd like to change this about my life. This book gave me a little inspiration to make a start. It's well-written, clear, has the English and Swedish names and spellings of the goodie recipes and it's simply but sweetly illustrated. I give it a thumbs up!
*This book was given to me free in exchange for an unbiased review by the publisher.

The Last 2015 Kids Born

Adelle had twins this morning about 6:30 or so. A buckling and doeling. Humfleet's Gru The Red is the sire. That brings our total to 7 does that kidded, and 14 kids born. I have been BUSY with babies and milk.
The bottle babies will soon be weaned and I will have lots of creamy milk for raw milk cheeses. My goal this year is to perfect my version of the little French cheese "crottin".
My little cheese cave is all set up and I'm ready to go!