Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cheese Please

I love cheese!  All kinds of cheese.  Just the thought of cheese makes me happy.  So it is a good thing I live in an area that has A LOT of dairy farmers and cheese factories.  One of the reasons we here in Ohio have an abundance of cheese is because we have so many Amish who must do something with the raw milk they produce.  (Ohio law does not allow them to sell it)  But they can sell it to cheese factories and that makes me happy.  You know what would make me even happier?  If there was an easy way to make my own cheese.   An Amish friend gave me a great recipe from the cookbook "Healthy Choices" by Marvin and Miriam Wengerd.  Funny thing..... I already had that cookbook but had never really looked through it.  (the title might have something to do with that)  So now I have a way to make my own cheese using ingredients everyone has in their kitchen.........milk, apple cider vinegar and salt. 
This is a firm cheese, similar to Farmer's Cheese.  The flavor is mild but you could add herbs to give it more kick.  I have adjusted the recipe to a more manageable size.  The original recipe was 3x the measures I will be using.
Start with 10   2/3 cups of milk.  Heat to 180 degrees.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.
Stir until it separates.
For the next steps you will need cheese cloth, a colander, a mason jar filled with warm water and a large can with both ends cut off.  The can and jar will be your cheese mold/press.   Have this ready before you start heating the milk because the curd must be hot when you pour it into your makeshift mold. I used a plastic container that I cut both ends off.  You also need a pretty large bowl......much larger than the one shown.  Trust me on that.........  Also make sure your jar can fit inside your can. 
Put colander over bowl.  Now put can on colander.  Line can with cheese cloth.  Pour cheese curd and whey ( liquid that separates from curd) through cheese cloth and add salt to the curd stirring with a spoon.  This is a little awkward but do the best you can.
Here is the super cool part.  After the salt has been added, gather the ends of the cheese cloth and twist tightly, kind of like you would close a bread bag.  Allow the end to lay on top of the curd bundle.  Now gently put the water filled jar on top of the bundle and let set for a few hours.  You have just made a cheese press!  Remove cheese from cheese cloth, once it feels like it is firm and won't fall apart.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one full day.  This allows the texture to "mature".   This would be a great project to do with children, just be sure you handle the hot whey.  I bet the kids would gobble this cheese up, especially since they made it!  Diana

Monday, October 29, 2012

Real Hot Chocolate

Morning light is taking longer and longer to arrive these days and the air is getting a little nippy too.  So it seemed like a good time to share my favorite morning and late night treat......real hot chocolate.  This is not the same drink as the hot cocoa that most of us are familiar with.  NOT THE SAME.  I first had this delicious drink in France.  Served for breakfast with real croissants filled with chocolate, it was to die for and I became obsessed with learning how to make it.  About the same time, Williams Sonoma started carrying a Hot Chocolate Pot, which I quickly bought, and I was all set.  This drink is much, much richer than the one made using powdered cocoa mix added to plain old water.  That is because it is made with milk, cream and real chocolate. 

Real Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • 1 cups of whole milk
  • 1/3 cream (you can use more or less depending on how rich you want it, I have used an equal amount of cream and milk and it was great)
  • 2 ounces of chocolate, finely chopped or grated (you can also use more if you wish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
    Heat cream and milk to almost boiling.  Pour into chocolate pot (or blender) and add remaining ingredients.  If using blender turn on medium speed until chocolate is melted.  If using chocolate pot, attach beater and mix until frothy and chocolate is melted.  Serve while hot.  This make one generous mugful.  For more than one serving just multiply the ingredients.
    Once you have had this you will never go back to american style hot cocoa.  Never.  Diana

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    Easy Peasy Halloween Cupcakes

    Primary was in charge of the cupcake walk this year at the Halloween party so that meant baking a whole lot of cupcakes!  And they needed to be quick and easy to make since we needed soooo many.  Below you can see some of the ones that I made.
    Headstones and bones on a cookie crumb grave.
    Pastel candy corn colored high top cupcakes.
    Halloween candy corn bark tops simple cupcakes.
    The cake walk was so much fun, both for the children and for those of us that serve in Primary.  Diana 

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Chocolate Apple Cupcake

    Looks like a real apple doesn't it.  But it is not, instead it is a luscious spice cupcake with apple pie filling, topped with a apple shaped chocolate shell.  Inside that shell is american buttercream frosting.  Oh yeah!
    So How did I make the chocolate dipped apple sans apple?  Look below.
    Using food safe mold putty, I encased the top of a stemless apple.  Waiting the proper time, I released the mold.
    I sprayed the mold with Pam non stick spray which I then smeared evenly around the inside.
    The mold is then coated with melted chocolate and put in the freezer.  Make sure you leave a hole at the stem area as pictured.  Repeat the coating and freezing step at least once more until a nice thick shell is formed.  CAREFULLY manipulate the shell out of the mold and set aside.  (This is not a process that can be rushed and I certainly wouldn't want to do it for dozens of cupcakes but for a few special ones it is great).  I filled the apple shells with green buttercream and plopped them on the top of the cupcakes.  Stick a lollipop stick through the stem hole.  These cupcakes really look like an chocolate covered apple but are so much more fun!  Also the mold could be used for other desserts too.   Diana

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Skull Box

    For Halloween I love decorating the house with creepy morbid items. 
    And this skull definitely fits in with the creepy morbid theme.  The skull was painted white and then given a coating of glitter spray. 
    I used some shinny fabric to give him a collar to class him up.  Then the cardboard box was decoupaged with book pages which I then gave a coat of whitewash. 
    A coat of sealer over the whitewash and that finished it.  Now I need to get busy on all the cupcakes for the church's cakewalk.  And the curtains for my bedroom.  Oh, and the chair slipcover......  Diana

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    New Sewing Center

    I can not believe the deal I got at a local auction!  We went to this auction because they were supposed to have a lot of farm equipment, but this fabulous desk was also there.  I paid, get ready for this, $90 for it! 
    I had been looking at different options for the sewing area for months and just couldn't part with the thousands of dollars all the cabinets were running.  I thought I would have to settle for the folding table I had been using when I found this desk. 
    Oak is not my favorite finish but it is prevalent in the sewing/guest room so the desk looks fine in there.  Only problem is now I want to redo a few other things in the room since I am not embarrassed of the sewing area anymore!  Maybe a new curtain or quilt....... Diana

    White Redos

    Here are two new projects for my bedroom.  I decided to change some of the decor after falling in love with some white suitcases I am forever talking about.  I needed a lot more white in the room so this is what I did.
    Below is a cheap dollar store canvas I have had for a few years.  Ugly.  First I tried white washing over the topiary but that didn't really work.......
    And here is the old picture frame I had bought at a garage sale.  My hubby added the chicken wire.
    With a coat or two of matte creamy white spray paint it looks so sweet.  I used small clothes pins to hold on post cards.
    Below is the topiary picture, turned on it's side.  I modge podged vintage book pages on the front and then did a cool transfer technique from Graphics Fairy.  The pocket watch is also from Karen.  Only one problem.  I forgot to reverse the image, as my hubby pointed out with a grin, so all the numbers were mirror image.  Bummer.
    In an attempt to hide my mistake, I scrubbed a bit harder on the numbers til they disappeared......Yeah, it worked.  Now it just looks a little more faded in those areas.
    I really like the look of both pieces and have a few more projects in mind before the bedroom will be done.  Diana

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Another Suitcase Redo

    Here is the finished suitcase I told you about in a previous post.  Chalk board paint really brings a vintage piece even more charm!

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    The Rural Society Fair

    This past weekend, I attended The Rural Society Fair just down the road.  This was my first year and it was wonderful.  There were so many vendors and the weather was beautiful if a bit chilly.  Held at the Warwick Farm, vendors filled the barns, green house and outbuildings.  Lovely paths through the gardens were lined with more booths brimming with pretty items.  A few of the booths had been at the Country Living Fair in Columbus last month.
    Below is a cute display I couldn't resist!  Those white suitcases came home with me!
    This fair is held twice a year in central Ohio and is well worth the trip!  Of course for me it is just a short drive, but I am lucky that way!  Diana

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Sew Sweet Quilt

    Haven't posted in a while because I have been working on this quilt.
    Most of the fabric is from Moda's Sew Sweet collection.  At least I think that is what the collection is called.......  I had to use different fabric, not from moda, for the border and binding because I only had a jelly roll of the Sew Sweet.  I never think ahead when I start a quilt, I just start sewing...... 
    I machine quilted it on my Elna with happy results!  One tip.  You run out of bobbin thread often so I was having to re thread both the bobbin and top a lot.  I learned to have a spare "quilt", which was just a small sandwich of left over fabric and batting, to test my machine after each re thread.  If I had done anything wrong I would rather have the messy nest of thread on the back of the test quilt than on my real quilt.  Saved me hours of having to pick out thread! 
    Here is a close up of my favorite fabric!!!  It sweet little pins on a beautiful aqua background.   So glad this quilt is done and I am itching to get to another one.   Diana