Fromage Facile… or maybe Lavender Paneer

I realize it has been awhile since I last checked in, but, though I’ve been absent on the inter webs, I’ve still been working hard on some great things to share with everyone! On the weekend of the 11th, I went to Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville. It was my second year to go and is still such a pleasure to be able to attend. The fair is right outside of Asheville (at least the fair that is held closest to Knoxville) and vendors and teachers from all over the country come. There was over 150 demonstrations and workshops with a countless amount of vendors selling everything from composting toilets to herbal elixirs. The focus of the fair is providing and teaching sustainable lifestyle techniques. (I really suggest for everyone to go. Its always mid-April and is a blast!) After coming home from the fair, I had the biggest headache from all the knowledge my brain was trying to process through, but I also had a lot of inspiration and excitement for growing food, discovering recipes, and having fun!

So the weekend of the 11th, I was at Mother Earth News Fair and the next weekend I began experimenting. All that excitement went into some fun recipes. My weekend consisted of making kimchi, quiche, cheese, dandelion wine, and more. It was so fun to be able to spend time in my kitchen (something that can be hard to do during the school year) and to try new things. One of the biggest lessons I brought back from Mother Earth News Fair was to enjoy where I am. One of the herbalists who spoke, Linda Conroy of Moonwise Herbs, made sure to explain that we are to begin where we are. She can use herbal medicine in a different, more advanced way then I because she has spent over 20 years practicing herbal medicine. And thats okay! We don’t need to push ourselves too hard into things we aren’t ready for, but instead access where we are and then find what we can do from there. I’m a dreamer so this can be hard for me. I get fixated on the farm life I want to be living now and come up with grand schemes that I am not ready for (like when I ordered 30 day-old chickens from a hatchery while I lived in a small house in the city). It takes away from the joy of the project. So as I offer recipes, some people may not be ready for them. It can be intimidating to try cooking in a new way and aren’t part of your usual diet. I’m going to try to meet people where they are and if you have questions you can always ask!

Fromage Facile

recipe taken from Claudia Lucero of Urban Cheesecraft and her book One Hour Cheeses

This cheese only takes 30 minutes to make, is fun, and the ingredients may already be in your refrigerator!

The great thing is you can’t mess it up! The only oopsies that happen will only cause you to make a different cheese than a creamy fromage. For example, heating the cheese above 175 (like me. whoops!) or adding to make acidity will only cause you to make a Paneer which is a delicious Indian cheese that is great fried or as a substitute for tofu!

The dessert cheese I had planned (made with lavender and covered in honey) ended up being better fried and I ate it for breakfast with balsamic collards. YUM! I still included the picture below, but your fromage will be creamier!

Cheese Experiment #1
Cheese Experiment #1 Pictured with Chickweed Pesto, Crimson Clover, and Violets

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk (I used whole milk from Cruz Farm but just make sure the milk you use it isn’t ultra pasteurized)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (If using bottled lemon juice, make sure there isn’t added sugars)
  • I cup buttermilk
  • Herbs of choice (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flake salt

Supplies

  • Butter muslin (fine cheesecloth)
  • Colander
  • Large pot (preferably stainless-steel)
  • Thermometer

Begin by pouring the milk into a large pan and turn the heat to medium. I heated my milk with lavender leaves to give it a subtle lavender flavor, but any herbs can be used! Continue to heat on medium heat while stirring occasionally to avoid skin forming on the surface and sticking on the bottom of the pot. After about 5 minutes I took out my herbs and continued heating the milk. When the milk hits 175 degrees add the lemon juice and buttermilk, stir in completely and take off the heat. Let the pot sit for 5 minutes. You should be able to watch as curds form (thats your cheese forming!!!) and the whey separates.

After the curds and whey have cooled, gently pour them into a colander lined with cheesecloth. This strains the whey from the curds. I kept a bowl under the colander to save my whey for later use. Let the curds sit for 1 or 2 minutes till they look like oatmeal and then stir in the salt.

Pack the cheese into a paper-lined dish to form it into a wheel. Flip the dish onto the serving platter, peel away the paper, and enjoy! Or I simply formed my cheese into a ball by hanging the cheese filled cloth from the spout in my sink to drain. Either way is tasty!

-Beth

Farming Gives Me the Giggles

As we enter into April and Spring, we are also entering into exam season. This is a dark time for the student. I feel the shackles and chains constantly, a reminder that I still belong to school and am a slave to the exam schedule. I have begun to spend my time at school sneaking lusty glances out windows (and on UT’s Ag Campus the view can be especially gorgeous and inviting) or purposefully forgetting notebooks in my car so I “have to” venture speedy walks between classes. Trying to endure this final month of stressful papers and grade-defining tests can be hard to stomach, but I have discovered the therapy that comes in the field.

Monday’s the interns have three hours of class time that we use to prepare for the summer ahead of us. This Monday we went to the farm to lay more drip-irrigation, transplant broccoli and onions, and get the last fingerling potatoes in the high tunnel. It was a very rainy day (and had been most of the weekend) so I didn’t expect us to go to the farm, but maybe stay in the greenhouse or go over Farmer’s Market logistics… I was mistaken. I was mistaken and wearing sandals. (You will notice that usually farmers opt for boots while working in muddy, slushy fields. Not sandals.)  Though my choice of footwear didn’t seem ideal at the time, it was probably one of the best mistakes I’ve made. Ending a 6 hour day of classes covered in mud is the best therapy Mother Earth has to offer.

As we began our work of transplanting broccoli, I accepted the fact it was going to be a messy job and didn’t attempt to avoid the inevitable. Pushing holes into the ground to put our young broccoli in their final home, I could feel the organic, earthy, and living soil beneath my fingers and the deep contentment that ensued came in waves of giggles. Uncontrollable, slap-happy, goofiness that cannot be explained by me except by saying that after touching unresponsive, unfeeling computer keyboards, stainless steel, and particle board desks all day, my heart had unknowingly been craving, longing for something substantial, feeling, and a template that could accept my advances. The soil not only accepted my efforts, but magnified them. I’m not the one who will grow the broccoli (though I do play a part in it too), but the earth will be the one to hold, nourish, and protect the seeds we sow and the plants we plan. The beauty of the moment was in being a part of the cycle, playing my part in something that is beyond me. The life of a student can be isolated, a lone warrior battling deadlines and evaluations. The joy lies in being a part of something so grand, timeless, and beyond understanding.

Then the rain fell. It was the best 3 hours spent I’ve had in a long time.

-Beth

Its that time….

Hey Y’all!

My name is Callan Charron and I am one of the 5 interns that will be running the CSA and farmers market this summer. I am so very excited to get started! I have loved the outdoors since I was a little girl, and always knew I wanted to do something involving the earth. Planting a small seedling and watching it grow amazes me and I am so anxious to learn as much as I can so one day I can be sustainable and teach those what I have learned so that slowly but surely we can all turn the world a little more green. I never really knew how much work there was to planning a garden until now. It has taken me long hours to narrow down varieties and correct spacing and proper care for each individual plant that I will grow. Plants are kind of like children, all different with their different temperament levels. Each must be taken care of in their own unique way. I definitely think this summer is going to challenge me in many ways, especially physically, but I feel confident. Also, loosing a few pounds from sweating in the hot sun is always a plus, haha. We are already getting geared up by seeding some of our crops in the greenhouse. Some plants need to be started in the greenhouse to give them an extra push to start growing, then we will transplant them into the field. As the weather keeps getting better, things will start rolling. Summer is almost here and what better time to start eating healthy and trying new things than now!

Happy Easter

Hi! This is Beth, one of the five new interns for 2015 at the Market Garden. study Food and Agricultural Business at UTK and I’m about to enter into my Senior year. I look forward to this summer and all the new experiences it will bring of learning, growing, and cultivating. One day I hope to have a small farm of my own. I also greatly enjoy finance, economics, and marketing and would love to team up with other farmers to help them become more profitable (or just plain ole profitable). That’s just a bit about me in case you wanted to know a bit of why I wanted to be an intern at the farm. Maybe I was able to meet some of you at Three Rivers Market CSA Days. I was there for a couple of days in March and had a great time getting to talk about the farm and meet some awesome people.

As the weather has warmed up and I’ve been watching sprouts pop up in the greenhouse, I realized it was about time to put up a post and say “Hello”. Once again spring came by surprise and the to-do lists are quite immense, but I thought I would take a moment to post a greeting and show you some of the eggplants sprouts that came up over Easter weekend. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but since the greenhouse has been empty over the holiday, I’ve taken up singing to the seeds. They seem to be pretty big fans and thankfully their limited knowledge of music means they are equally tone-deaf.

A beautiful spring day at the farm
A beautiful spring day at the farm