The last few days have been about new things around here.
First, I decided to take Sue’s comment during food week and give it a whirl and try making my own cottage cheese. I followed her direction, but made a half batch rather than full as she gave quantities for in the comments. I used UHT – ultra-pasteurized milk. It’s that or powdered, but we only get powdered in full fat, not skim. And she said SKIM. So I tried it. And it worked. The only problem with UHT milk is that it tastes just a little different than fresh cows milk. I use it a lot in things, like coffee etc, but hardly ever drink it straight up for that reason. It also has a slightly different color, in the cream tones, not white. So, the cottage cheese was good, but not quite the same.
Now, something about my personality kicks in during these moments. Sue said that it HAD to be skim. That got me wondering why and if it really had to be. Also, we did some math and using 2 litres of UHT milk got us about a cup and a half of cottage cheese and cost us about $5.40 US. I decided to try making a batch using whole milk powder. You know what? It worked! I followed the preparation directions in Sue’s comment, but changed my quantities slightly. I have a glass measuring/mixing bowl, with an 8 cup + measure. I used that and filled it to the 2 cup mark with powdered milk, then filled it to the 8 cup mark with water and stirred with a whisk until the milk powder was dissolved. Then I heated it and removed it, and added 2/3 cup of white vinegar. It curdled up right away. I stirred it slowly for a couple of minutes and covered it and set it aside. The rest I did exactly the same. The results were that I got more cottage cheese than I did with the skim, I think because there are more fat and proteins in whole?? Also, it was whiter and had a much better flavor. This is how I’m going to make it from now on. Oh! It’s also much less expensive for us so it’s something I can do regularly.
Now, another new thing for us… Chris has seen cows milk for sale randomly over the years, but we’ve never really stepped out to buy it before. Last week we talked to Yonese about the whole thing to find out how readily available it was and what she thought about buying it. She told us it was sold in the market and she knew where to get the good stuff, as in the stuff that was full cream milk, not watered down to make a better profit. She said it cost $20 for a gallon, which is really any container that’s close to a gallon. We looked up some info about pasteurization online and realized that it was a simple process, so today I asked her to get two gallons. I know it sounds like a lot, but we use a lot of milk on a weekly basis.
After Yonese got back from the market I got out my big stock pot and but the milk on the stove to heat. It took about 20 minutes, but I would leave it for a couple of minutes while I was getting other stuff ready and would come back to stir it so it wouldn’t scorch. Did you know that you only need to heat milk at 160F for 30 seconds to pasteurize it properly? True. I don’t have a thermometer yet so I heated it until there was steam coming off of it and kept it there for a few minutes. After that I put the pot in the sink in a cool water bath and kept changing the water. You need to start bringing down the temp of the milk. While it was starting to cool I washed and bleached two giant jars that we have and prepared to plastic gallon jugs. The jars are the first step and now have the milk in them in the fridge and will stay in there overnight. I needed the jars so I had wide enough openings to skim off the cream in the morning, then I’ll transfer the milk into the jugs so it’s easy to pour, bleach out the jars and keep them ready for next week. I’m so excited about this. We’ve both missed fresh milk all the years that we’ve been here and it’s going to save a bunch of money each week. Consider that we got two gallons for about $5 US, and we were paying the same for about a half gallon of UHT milk. It would cost us $20 for the same amount of UHT milk. Which is crazy. Fun huh?!?
Okay, now on to my favorite new and exciting thing of the week. Sigh. We have hot water. Yes we do. When we were planning the building project we decided we would factor in a solar hot water tank, and actually bought the thing months ago. Because it’s been so hot there hasn’t been a rush to install it, but Chris decided it was time last week, so they got it all put together and built the steel stand for it (makes it less likely to get damaged if it’s up off the ground) and got it all bolted down, then early this week Evens got it all plumbed and yesterday it got hooked up. But it was overcast yesterday, so we only felt a minor change in water temp. But today, today is sunny. And after I did my time on the treadmill, in soup like weather, I had a warm bath. People, I don’t remember the last time I felt this clean! Seriously, when you’re sweating all the time and feeling grungy, you want a shower, but then the shower is cold so all your pores get closed up and your body still wants to sweat. My pores all opened up and let out their crud and now I feel soooooo clean. What a treat. I forgot how good that feels.
Olivia has also enjoyed a warm bath that didn’t involve boiling water in the kettle first. Normally bath time is just before bed, but today brought special circumstances. She woke up for her nap and when I went in to get her up I found her bare butt to the breeze. Yes folks, she got her diaper off on her own. And then peed all over her bed. And her stuffies. Fabulous.
We’re heading out first thing tomorrow morning for the weekend, so the blog will be quiet. Hope you enjoy the next few days. We’ll be back online next week sometime.