April 20, 2012


Top three things of my day: 

1. My co-worker brought me rennet. What is that, you ask? Actually I have no idea, but it's an essential ingredient in MAKING CHEESE. I cannot explain how excited I am. And that will only be made even better by anticipation over delayed gratification--I work until Wednesday. But when Wednesday comes...

2. Think of the word "burly." Now picture a man epitomizing that adjective, complete with straw hat and beyond-walrus mustache, as he lumbers over the cheese cooler beside where my now-very-familiar cheese-cutting location at work lies. He is carrying both a "Healthy Choices" cookbook--and a 15 lb log of colby cheese, as well as three smaller cheese selections. The man himself, dirty jeans, cowboy boots, and beefy worked-hard hands, was epic enough; the rest of the situation completed his awesomeness.

 3. My fantastic husband had a most delicious gumbo on the stove by the time I got home from work, and he had the (albeit dubious) culinary genius to substitute rhubarb for celery. It really does look about the same, so why not? Like I said, faaaaantastic.

Things like these help me find the joy in life.

Please keep giving me the eyes to look for them, God.

April 16, 2012

Dairy Fever

It's nice when someone else catches the dairy fever, and you realize maybe it's contagious to be compelled to experiment with as many milk products as physically possible. It's like, we can, so we might as well!
I speak of my parents' visit this past weekend. As far as birthday presents go, their presence was a fantastic one.
Saturday brunch
I also have to quick brag on my husband, who started off my birthday with a massively impressive breakfast in bed. Blueberry-pecan pancakes, fresh kiwi, pistachio yogurt sauce, and chocolate raspberry coffee. That's right; be jealous, everyone. :)
Actually, everyone made my birthday great. I thought it might be hard to celebrate away from Ohio and people I know, but it was super special to get phone calls and cards and Facebookings. So thank you.
But back to the dairy explosion in the kitchen. Since Mom and Dad were only here for the weekend, we had to make the best of the time available. Meaning, when we got home from the MCC sale midafternoon on Saturday, we got to work. We made butter, Greek yogurt, ice cream (Jeni's recipe, with baked rhubarb, fresh from the garden! MMMM), ricotta cheese (seriously. we made that.), and creme brulee (I've told myself for years I'm going to make that--bam).
Sooo much fun, and I don't know if she's ever seen a kitchen that discombobulated. :)
I already blogged on making butter, so you have a good idea how to do it, although I have since learned you need to let it set for a few minutes after blending before separating.
I'll post later how to make Greek yogurt, but we can't overstimulate you by going into detail on everything, my dear readers.
The ice cream, what can I say? It's Jeni's. It's only fault is that once you eat it it's gone.
Every time I think about that ricotta cheese I get a little bit excited, too. Just take two quarts of milk, heat to 180 degrees, add 3 T vinegar and 1/2 t salt, let sit covered for 2 hours (the hardest part!), and little curds have magically formed. You can't see them underneath the whey until you dip your spoon in and scoop out the little treasures. Strain through a cheesecloth and you have seriously made what I fondly call ricottage cheese.
See? (You can't really see. But still.) It's awesome!
The creme brulee, I tell you, it's given the "fancy dessert" status not because of it's difficulty in creating but because of it's extreme deliciousness. We registered for our wedding for a bakeware set that included ramekins simply due to their connection with potential creme brulee, and with only this one usage, they're essentially worth it. Plus I got to use a flame torch (see I don't even know what to actually call it but that just sounds so cool) to toast the brown sugar topping.
We did all this while also making pizza and staying tuned to the tornado happenings in our non-immediate proximity. And then we ate ice cream and watched TinTin after playing the Bean Game. What more could you ask for??

April 5, 2012

So It's About Time...

...both for me to actually post and for me to introduce you to our new Kansan home!
These past few weeks since the last time I blogged, I've been thinking of a slew of things about which I want to blog. I start formulating them in my mind, putting these pictures here and these thoughts here, and then they simply fail to materialize.
Before I began this blog, I wanted to make sure that my focus on simple living would articulate itself not only in the blogged activities/thoughts but also in the way I blog. This is supposed to be simple, as in, not becoming this addictive or overwhelming thing that I dedicate too much time to or spend to much time focusing on when I should be enjoying other aspects of my life. I put the idea of not posting too often in my foundational guidelines for my blog--so far, I've fulfilled that above and beyond. :)
That said, I haven't fallen off my blogging inspiration yet, and hopefully will post some of my adventures in the not-so-distant future. To start off, however, let's take a quick look at our house.
We are renting it from Brian's grandpa, and we could not ask for better. Besides being quite ample in size, especially for two people that came from a teensy apartment, our red-brick abode is only a dirt-road mile and a half from the farm and a mile from my job. Brian's grandma loved flowers, and so I get to benefit from her labor and enjoy the flowers all around the house and the perimeter of the yard (although from the look of those weeds I am going to have the opportunity to input a frighteningly decent share of my own labor as well :) ). In the back, there's a clothesline and a brick planter where my fresh herbs and salad greens will go, and then even two volunteer peach trees! I will attach pictures of the outside later, since I haven't actually taken any yet and this week has had surprisingly close to Ohio weather--overcast and drizzly. Perfect for hot tea :)
As far as the inside goes, once again, very nice. Brian and I officially own one piece of furniture: a lampstand made just for us by an elderly man from my Ohio church. Thankfully, the family was gracious enough to leave our house furnished, and so we can actually sleep in a bed, sit on chairs, eat around a table, and such. :) Here are just a few selective pictures to give you a glimpse of what it looks like for us.

It started out like this...
And with a little TLC got to this. Pardon the jars all over the drying rack and table--just another project in process. :)

Our bedroom, complete with blankets over the windows because I will wake up with the sunrise otherwise. :)
I spent several days unpacking and rearranging. Several very necessary days.

Ah, one of the most important spots in our house--the game cabinet. For being married only six months, we have a pretty good supply...

So, there you have it. Although I do suggest that a much better way to see where we live is to actually see where we live...there are two more bedrooms in the basement, and I'm not above bribing you with fresh butter, farm-raised brown eggs, and surplus chocolate, not to mention our fantastic hosting skills...:)