Monthly Archives: April 2012

Homemade Yogurt

Made 3.25 gallons of yogurt this batch. 2.5 gallons were plain & 3 quarts were vanilla. Thought I’d share what we do… 🙂

Our PREFERRED method of making yogurt is the “direct set” method. 1/2t of Natren yogurt starter per quart & whisk in 1 quart fresh milk.

From there it goes directly into our dehydrator where it incubates at 101 degrees for 24 hours.  (If we want a flavored yogurt, we whisk it in right before we incubate it.)

HOWEVER, since Natren is kinda pricey, we cannot afford to make such large amounts of yogurt with this powder.  We’ve tried using plain yogurt from a previous batch as the starter for the new batch, but it wasn’t resulting in a consistent end product.  (It’s also not fun finding out after 24 hours that it didn’t work & we need to re-do…)

So, that all being said, here is how we normally make our yogurt:

Heat milk to 180 degrees, whisking pretty steadily. Remove from heat.

If making plain yogurt, we cool milk to 110° either by allowing it to sit or by placing the pot in a sink of cold water.

Once it’s reached 110°, we whisk in 2T (overflowing, rounded T’s) of plain yogurt per quart.

Incubate at 110° for 8 hours.  We have an Excalibur Dehydrator, and WE LOVE IT!! (future post, I’m sure…)

If making vanilla yogurt, we add 1T (homemade) vanilla & 1/4c sorghum or honey or maple syrup when the pot comes off the burner. (It mixes in best when it’s warmer.)

Cool & complete same as with plain.

**My normal routine for plain yogurt as a “starter” is:  one week I will make a quart of plain yogurt using 1/2t Natren powder.  The next week, I’ll use that quart of plain as my “starter” for what I’m making.  (Always being sure to make at least 1 quart of plain for my “starter” for the following week.)  For 4 weeks, I use the plain yogurt from the week before as my “starter”.  The 5th week, I make a new plain yogurt using the Natren powder.  This way, my “starter” has not lost its “oomph”, and I haven’t had any problems with my yogurt not setting.  (And this helps our Natren powder to stretch a lot longer, lol!)

If we find we have a build-up of plain yogurt in the fridge, we just drain it & make some cream cheese

Welcome – new bull, “Cleatus”

Mike & the boys went to pick up our new bull today. He is a registered shorthorn yearling. His coloring is very “chocolate marble looking” – should make some neat looking calves, lol… 🙂 Prayers for the fertility of our herd have begun!

Thanks so much to the Coy Family for allowing us to borrow their trailer. 🙂

Homemade Cottage Cheese

We make/use/eat a lot of cottage cheese.  In order to make butter, we separate the skim milk from the cream.  Here’s a pic of our cream separator.  It’s from the 1950’s, and we bought it off ebay several years ago.  You can see, we pour whole milk in the stainless steel bowl and then the cream comes out of one spicket & the skim comes out the other one.

**IMPORTANT NOTE**  We DO NOT advocate drinking skim milk.  Here’s a link to a past post containing Weston A. Price Foundation links explaining the reason we drink whole, raw milk.  That being said, since skim is a byproduct of the butter-making process, if there are foods we can make from skim to keep our tummies full, we are all for it.  Other uses for our skim milk are as fertilizer for our pastures, ricotta cheese, and for growing more kefir grains.

We fill our 5 gallon bucket up w/ about 3.5 gallons of skim, seal the lid on it, and let it sit for several days in our cool basement.  This is to allow it to “sour” and form a solid curd.  This can be anywhere from 2-6 days…depending on the temperature/humidity of the weather.

Once the milk has set, we pour it into several stock pots.  (I usually do this outside, because the clumpy consistency makes a lot of messy splashes.)

Then we heat the milk slowly to about 120°, stirring every-so-often.


You will see as it’s heating, the whey begins to distinctly separate from the curds.

Next we strain the curds through a muslin-lined metal strainer over a large bowl to catch the whey.


**UPDATED THIS POST 8-5-12** I no longer use the cheesecloth – found that it’s MUCH quicker to just take my hand-held strainer, dip it in the pot, scoop out the clumps of curds, and dump it in another colander with a bowl under it.  SAVES A TON OF TIME! 🙂

Here’s a pic of it:

That’s it!  What you have left is cottage cheese.  🙂

This recipe yielded 5 pounds 10.5 ounces of “dry” cottage cheese curds.  If I’m freezing the cottage cheese, I leave it “dry”, and add the cream/milk after thawing it.  We do add cream and/or whole milk in with the curds because we like more of a moist cottage cheese when we eat it fresh, but that is purely optional. For our family, we like to add the same weight in cream to the curds & mix it up.

We prefer to use 1/2 cottage cheese & 1/2 ricotta cheese when we make stuffed shells.  🙂

We usually store our cottage cheese plain, because half of us like to eat it w/ homemade jam mixed in, and the other half prefer to eat it with freshly ground sea salt and pepper.

Mmmmm! 🙂

Cute, but NOT REALLY….

I can’t even begin to tell you the sickening feeling I felt this morning as I walked home after milking. I looked out toward our house & saw a beautifully colored herd of calves IN OUR FRONT YARD DOWN BY THE ROAD!!! I yelled to Mike & our bodies went into “adrenaline mode”… Thankfully, the happy herd came toward ME & away from the road. Our backyard has an old picket fence around three quarters of it, so we managed to get them to go in one of those corners, by our house. The boys and I were able to keep them here while Mike scrambled to put up a temporary fence along the open section.


So what did Mike use for the temporary fence?? Extra metal fence posts & old cattle panels from when we took our “eggmobile” apart several years ago. They’ve been “waiting” for us to clean them up, but we hadn’t gotten to that yet…

Once the “fence” was complete, we all felt more secure. If this mini herd decided to run together, at least this should keep them contained in our back yard. Fortunately, all it took was coaxing from the lure of a bottle bucket to get a couple calves following us. The rest followed suit, and all babies are back in their home, safe & sound! 🙂

Dear Father – we are so thankful that none of our calves were hurt this morning as they adventured outside of their fence. Too often we’ve forgotten about the “function” of our picket fence, because we dwell on how it doesn’t “look” nice, with peeling paint & loose boards. You showed us today, the value of its function, and we THANK YOU! It’s so amazing to me how you incorporate our “mistakes” into Your plan. May we not be discouraged with long “to-do” lists, but be encouraged that as long as we do our best to be wise with our moments because we are ALWAYS working for You, You can use ANYTHING to help us.  May this incident cause the four of us to be extra diligent in backing each other’s work up – like double checking gates, so that we don’t repeat this same mistake again. AMEN


It’s official: We’ve gone bananas!

We bought the last of ALL the bananas at our local grocery store this week… Spent an evening peeling & chunking them for freezing.

I guess we should be set to make our kefir shakes for a little while, lol! 🙂

Sadly, our Waynesburg IGA is closing its doors very soon. 😦 Even though we didn’t need to shop here a lot, it sure was nice to have it for when we DID need something.  Ours prayers go out to all the people who have lost their jobs, and for our community – at the loss of another local business.

Thank You, Lord, for sending some rain!

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

ISAIAH 55:10-11

Mmmm – soaked oats for breakfast tomorrow!

2c warm water + 4T whey + 2c regular organic oats (192g). Stir & cover overnight on countertop.

Tomorrow we’ll bring 2c water & 1t sea salt to a boil, stir in oat mixture, reduce heat to simmer w/ lid on saucepan for 3 minutes.

Then we stir in a big glob of raw butter, 1/2c (112g) evaporated cane juice, 1.5t sorghum, & a sprinkle of cinnamon. Also yummy w/ some of our cream poured over top of each bowl! 🙂


Isn’t this adorable?  We forgot all about this, until today, lol!  When our cats can’t get into a bucket to lap up remaining calf milk, they soak their paw in the milk & lick it off…  When we saw Blake doing it today, we all started laughing and said, “THE PAW STRAW!” all at the same time! 🙂  Oh, these barn cats are just soooo entertaining…