Thursday, November 4, 2010

A cool, rainy day at Elk Cliff Farm

I don't think I've ever mentioned Elk Cliff as the name of our farm.  It's named after the small rock cliff above Elk Creek that runs along 2 sides of our property.  I guess there were elk here at one time.  Kind of hard to imagine. 

We had our first fire in the wood stove for the season today.  It feels and smells wonderful.  I'll be tired of it in a few months but for now I'm enjoying it.  Rain is always a good excuse to spend the day in my kitchen.  I had accumulated more than 5 gallons of milk so making cheese was a must today.  My regular cheese press and mold/form doesn't hold that much cheese so I used my newly made mold.  One of our stainless steel stock pots had a pin hole in it so I cut the bottom out of it with a Dremel and a cutting wheel.  It worked great.
I was lucky to find a cake tin that fit perfectly in it to use as a follower (the thing that presses the cheese).  On the last pressing I placed the letters EC, for Elk Cliff, on the bottom so it will be pressed into the cheese.  The letters are those children's plastic ones with magnets in the back so you can put them on your refrigerator.
Luckily the letters E and C can be turned upside down so they'll read correctly in the cheese without me having to find a way to use the magnet side.  I hope it comes out well.   I made Manchego cheese which is soaked in a brine solution made of salt, water and calcium chloride.  I'm considering washing it after a week with grappa, something I was introduced to in Italy.  I thought it might be interesting to start experimenting with different washes to instill different flavors in my cheeses.

I also decided to try making butter again today.  Polly, my Nigerian Dwarf (thank you Mollie), has been giving me a good amount of milk lately for a dwarf.  Her milk probably has more butterfat than my other goats so I decided to keep her milk separate today and use it for butter making.  I put a pint of it in a jar, along with a little cream that stuck to the jars I poured milk out of to make cheese,  and shook it for about 30 minutes.  I got at least 1/4 cup of butter from it.  I'm thinking I might keep a pint of a different goat's milk each day and do the same and see whose milk I get the most butter from. 
I had to make butter today because I was also making bread, the same bread I posted the recipe for a while back, only today I made it a little bit differently.  I followed the same recipe but let it rise in a bread pan.  When I preheated my 6 qt. dutch oven I placed another bread pan inside so I rolled the bread out of one bread pan into another when it came time to bake.  I was hoping for a  more upright loaf-shaped bread this time and it worked.  I really love this bread and will keep experimenting with it. 

As I said in my profile of this blog, most of the things I do is by the seat of my pants.  Today I decided I should start keeping journals of my cheese making so if one turns out really good I can repeat it.  I still don't do that with my wine making.  It's always a surprise. I'm going to try to be more disciplined and organized.  We'll see how this goes.


  1. Is there a problem with my nose? I haven't smelled the bread yet, and I've been here all day except for my run.

  2. Love the E C letters-- you are so clever.

    I thought you kept good records on everything. Makes me feel a lot better.