Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mozarella, Ricotta and more...

Our Tomatoes, yum!

OK, there's not really any more, just mozzarella and ricotta.  We have been trying a little cheese making and this week I really wanted some fresh mozzarella so I could make Caprese Salad with all the tomatoes and basil from our garden.  I didn't want to buy it because I really like to eat organic. Not having a lot of cheese-making experience, I was a little apprehensive to waste a gallon of organic raw milk, but I decided to give it a try.  After looking at many recipes, I found this web site I thought their directions seemed the most reliable, and easy to follow. I tried really hard to follow the directions I only missed one thing! It says to let the curds cook for 30 min after you have stirred them, I stirred them, but somehow missed the next 30 min. The cheese actually turned out pretty well. The texture was good, and the flavor was ok, not perfect, but definetly good. Well worth the few hours it took to make. A few notes if you'd like to try it...
The recipe calls for rennet tablets, but I only had liquid and used 17 drops, which is the equivalent of 1/4 tablet, crushed. Always dilute the rennet in non-chlorinated water. The only problem I had with the recipe is that my mozzarella didn't really stretch like I think it should. It would kind of stretch...break....stretch....break. I tried putting it back in the warm water with about the same results. So either I maybe should have broken the clumps apart more, or not cooking the curds that extra 30 min. may have caused this....I will make it again and see if I can figure it out.
This is one of the four balls the batch made.

The other cool thing I learned from browsing cheese making sites, is that you can make ricotta with your left over whey. It is really quite easy and quick, and I felt a lot less wasteful using the whey for something besides watering the plants. Recipe is here
You don't get too much ricotta from a gallon of milk, but a couple batches would be enough for a lasagna.

Ok to end this long post I thought I would share my Caprese Salad recipe, as this is what started all the mozzarella making in the first place!
Caprese Salad
1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
8-10 basil leaves, or more if you like washed and chopped
1/4 Lb fresh mozzarella cut in bite size chunks
1/8 - 1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar to taste
2 tbs. Olive oil or sometimes I use hemp oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix everything together and let it sit refrigerated for an hour or so before serving.

Optional-while probably not traditional, sometimes we add chopped cucumber, green pepper, garlic even avocado or whatever we have on hand to this salad, yum! Made it the other day with beyond organics Persian cucumbers and it was super!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

You would think that after 25 years of marriage and children, that I would have the laundry thing down....well, no I don't.  It is still the same disorganized pain it has always been.  There is not quite as much of it however, as in the past, which is nice. When we had a full house and no where to hide all that clean laundry waiting to be folded, I almost had a handle on it.  I had made a New Years resolution a few years back NO LAUNDRY IN OUR BEDROOM (except the folded kind, put where it belongs :) In an attempt to stick to this, I started folding right out of the dryer and stacking everything for my peeps to put in their rooms where it belongs (maybe occasionally some of it would hit a drawer in my boys rooms, usually not!)  Anyway this worked for a while until our two oldest boys got married and moved out....then I had all this room and a guest room right next to the laundry room...Guess what it is piled with most of the time?  I can't fold laundry, I'm a slave to my sewing machine!  Well regardless of my laundry habits, I want to share a recipe for homemade laundry soap that is super easy to make, very inexpensive, and also all natural, as much as soap can be. You can find several variations of this recipe online, but this is the one I have tried several times and it works.

1/3 bar of soap-Fels-Naptha is what I have used, or my homemade soap (use a bit more if using homemade)
1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda-available in the laundry soap aisle)
1/2 cup borax
A bucket ( I use a 5 gal size, but 2 gal would work, or any container that works)

Grate the soap and add it to 6 cups hot water in a pan on the stove over low heat.  Stir until melted and combined.  Add the borax and washing soda.  Stir until the powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.  I use a wire whisk to blend it all together.  Then add 1 quart hot water to a 2 gal (at least) clean pail.  Add the heated soap mixture and stir well.  Add to this 1 gallon plus 6 cups of tap water.  Stir well.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hrs.  It will gel up, but not a solid gel, it is a bit watery.  Makes 2 gallons, or enough for 64 loads.
Use 1/2 cup per load.  Oh, ya... here's the best part... to make this recipe costs approximately $1.00 per batch!  That is less than .01 per load! Amazing right?

I also recently found a recipe for a homemade bleach/brightener substitute:
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup lemon or grapefruit juice
12 cups water

mix and store in a labeled plastic jug. Use 2 cups per load.  This recipe is from Mother Earth (one of my favorite natural do it yourself sites on the Earth!)

For other recipes, including a powdered form, and some larger batch recipes, try tipnut

This won't help your laundry get folded, but it will save you some hard earned $$$, enjoy.

I would love to see your comments on trying this recipe, or the others available out there.  Anyone have tips on getting jujitsu gi's white? That is my next quest.