Monday, November 30, 2009

Rainy Days And Mondays

It's rainy and it's Monday but it didn't get me down, though sometimes I do feel a little grumpy on Mondays.  I can't really explain it.   Not today though.  I had plenty of things to keep me busy and that's a good thing.

When we got back from a walk yesterday we found 17 lbs of venison in our refrigerator with a note on the door that said, deer meat in the fridge,  Love, Manley.  We don't hunt but it's rare the month of November passes without someone bringing us some of their recent kill.  We love it.  Manley got 3 deer this weekend and was generous enough to share some with us.  I had never heard of canned venison until we moved to rural Virginia.  I've known plenty of deer hunters, but none that I knew of canned their venison.  They froze it.  A few years ago someone told us about it and we must have looked a little skeptical because just a little later he brought us a jar.  We were amazed.  It was delicious - very tender (but not mushy) and not gamey at all. 

Today we had to decide what to do with the 2 very giant pieces of meat.  James suggested we can some of it.  I had forgotten about the canned meat.  I told him I'd do it.  Usually he does all our canning and freezing.  I'm glad he does.  It's time consuming and you must follow directions and pay close attention to the timing.  I usually have a hard time staying focused on monotonous jobs that take a while to complete.  It's good it was raining because it forced me to stay indoors and give my full attention to the venison.  I hope it turns out okay.  I canned 7 quarts and froze the rest.  I'm looking forward to some good stew.  The picture here doesn't look very appetizing but I'm still feeling pretty good about it.

I also made my first cheddar cheese today.  Last week I received my cheese making cultures, salt and wax.  I built my own press which is nothing to look at but it worked.  It took 2 gallons of goat milk to make about 2 1/2 pounds of cheese.  It's very easy to make but does require you to stay nearby while you very slowly increase the temperature of the milk.  It was very different from the mozzarella, chevre and ricotta cheeses I usually make.  I had to cut the curds with a knife and then I watched as they shrunk as the whey came out of them.  After the heating was done I drained the whey and saved it to make ricotta later.  I put the curds in my cheese mold/press, made from an old plastic pitcher which I drilled holes in and made shorter.  The press part is a piece of PVC (painted red from another project) with a plastic yogurt container lid glued to the bottom of it.  First it had to be pressed with 20 lbs of weight for 15 minutes.  Next I removed the cheese from the press and cheese cloth, turned it upside down and put it back in the press and added 15 more lbs of weight.  I'm using dumbbells for my weight.  It sat for another hour then I turned it again and put 50 lbs on it.  Notice how the cheese is white.  They sell coloring so I could have made the cheese orange but it seemed silly to me since it wouldn't change the flavor.  I wonder why they color the cheddar cheese we buy.  Tomorrow morning I can remove it from the form, salt the sides and let it dry for a few days (I think) and then I seal it in wax and wait..........and wait.   The recipe says it can be eaten in 4 weeks but is best if you wait 12 weeks.   I don't think I can do that.  My homemade wine never gets a chance to age for a year because I keep wanting to taste it.  I should hide the cheese from myself.  That shouldn't be so hard to do.  I lose things all the time.  I hope I find it before the dogs or mice do.


  1. I hope a dog doesn't get into the cheese!

  2. Yeah, me too. After seeing what happened to Mollies I was careful to store all my cheese high where my dogs can't reach it. My dogs would do just what hers did.

  3. The cheese looks great! Making cheese is something I want to do, soon! Its on my want-to-do list.

    I can never wait for things to age either.