Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade Lemon Cheese

Last weekend I decided to try a homemade cheese recipe because:
  1. I love cheese and the recipe sounded tasty.
  2. I recently read the book "The Urban Farm Handbook" and the authors have a blog site that I frequent for tips on "eating growing, raising and preparing your own food."  They have a monthly challenge and March's challenge was dairy.
  3. I'm a foodie and love learning more about foods and processes!
Now back to the cheese.

The recipe for this challenge can be found at: Eating Rules Cheesemaking Challenge and is pasted below.
Lemon Cheese

This is a soft, ricotta-like cheese, reminiscent of the “Farmer Cheese” my grandmother used to bring us when she visited from the Bronx. This recipe is from Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making.


◦1/2 gallon Whole Milk (2% will work, but produce a drier cheese)  (I used raw milk purchased from Lavon Farms in Plano, Texas)

◦Juice of 2-3 Lemons, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup

◦Approx. 1/2 tsp. Cheese Salt (any salt will do)

◦Finely chopped Herbs, such as chives, oregano, or lavender (optional)


1.In a large pot over medium-low heat, gently bring the milk to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to stir frequently to keep from scalding the milk.

2.Turn off the heat. Add about 1/4 cup of lemon juice and stir well. Let sit for 15 minutes.

3.After waiting, the milk should be curdled, and the whey (the liquid) should be clear. If it’s still milky/cloudy, add more lemon juice, stir gently, and give it a few more minutes. Depending on the acidity of the lemon juice, it may take quite a bit more. It won’t hurt to use more, but if you use more than necessary, the final result will have a stronger lemon flavor.

4.Line a colander with butter muslin and gently pour the curds into it. Allow it to drain for a few minutes, and then tie the corners of the muslin together to form a bag.

5.Hang the curds to drain. I use a twist-tie and rubber-band combination to hook the bag over the kitchen faucet.

6.Allow to drain for 1-2 hours, until it stops dripping and has firmed up a bit. (If you’re in a hurry you can speed the process somewhat by squeezing the bag gently from the top down).

7.Remove the cheese and mix in the salt and herbs to taste.

8.Ricki says to store the cheese in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, but I guarantee it’ll be gone long before then.


This recipe can be easily doubled.

Heating the milk

Wrapping cheese in cheese cloth

Letting the cheese drain

Homemade Lemon Cheese with Chives!

Husband, son, and college daughter liked the cheese. I did too. The chives complimented the cheese nicely and the taste of lemon was not over powering even though I had to had additional lemon juice.  I enjoyed this challenge and after making this recipe, I clearly understand what curds and whey are.  I think I may try some homemade Mozzarella Cheese soon, and possibly  Easy Homemade Yogurt.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring is Here!

Well Spring officially arrived last week, but due to warm temperatures we have been quite busy around around our place.  Here's an update on what's been going on.

The new knock-out rose transplants are all doing well and all the peony roots have shoots that have emerged into small plants.  The daffodils are about through with their show. The Spanish blue bells and allium have emerged, but not blooming.  The garlic I planted last fall is up and doing great. The purple coneflower rootings have sprouted. The daisy transplants are doing well. Returning herbs are parsley and thyme. I'm amazed that they survived the drought and came back.

Spring Garden - Asparagus (up and looks great / some are bigger around than a fat finger), Peas (climbing and bush - both blooming now and have small pods), Carrots (small but sprouted), radishes (small), leeks (sprouted), beets (sprouted), lettuces (seeds - mixed gourmet blend, romaine, Bib), cabbage transplants are doing well, cauliflower transplants (puny - not looking as good as cabbage), turnips (spouted - lots of green tops), spinach (sprouted), kale (dwarf and red; both have sprouted); potatoes (greens tops are coming through), yellow and red onion slips, and chives (seeds and tranplants).  **Will share new idea for growing potatoes in tomato cages soon.  I am hoping this will be a nice alternative -since Texas clay soil is more challenging for this vegetable. 

Early Summer Garden - 10 tomato transplants, Corn transplants (Kandy Korn), Corn (Kandy Korn seeds in /not sprouted), green beans (bush and pole / some seeds have sprouted as of today), lima bush beans (not sprouted) crowder peas (not sprouted yet), pickling cucumbers (transplants), salad cucumbers (transplants), dill transplant, oregano transplant, parsley transplant, Korean scallions (from a friend and some from Vietnamese ccommunity garden in downtown Dallas), grapes (new transplants), summer squash transplants (zucchini, pity pan, yellow),  summer squash by seed (pity pan, zucchini and pity pan), sweet bell pepper transplants, and chili peppers transplants (Serrano and jalapeno).

I might have forgotten something, but the list gives you and idea of the variety we have to date.  When it is in the 80's pretty consistently, I will plant melons, okra, and zinnias -- maybe more. 

A few pics of the progress. Some of these were taken earlier in March. 

Peas climbing up a trellis
Bush Peas, Chard, Lettuces, Kale, Cabbage, Arugula, etc.

Pole Beans transplants.

A new variety of daffodils for my garden this year.

A new peach tree (Belle of Georgia)

My asparagus looks great!!  I'll enjoy this next year when it's 3 years old!!

A 4-6 inch rain headed out way last week.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


When I started planning my potager/kitchen garden, I knew that asparagus would be included in my selection of plants to include.  Last year I planted a row of New Jersey Giant roots/crowns. Through the horrible drought last year, I watered them with a soaker hose and they seemed to do fine.  I was actually impressed at how well they did in the extreme Texas heat.  Earlier this month I was excited to see the first shoots coming up through the layer of compost I had piled on top late last fall.   All the books say to harvest after the asparagus has been in the ground two years.   I sure am tempted to harvest this year, but to ensure my plants make the strongest root system possible, I will wait. Hopefully, my patience will be rewarded with many years of fresh asparagus. 

Pork Chop and Bacon

We purchased two Yorkshire pigs last weekend - now known as Pork Chop and Bacon.  They weigh about 40 pounds each now. My sons, Taylor (25) and Brody (14), named them and plan to care for them and then "harvest" them once they reach about 250 pounds later this summer/early fall.  In the past few years, we have become more aware and concerned about what the government approves at commercial pig slaughter houses. Therefore, we have decided to raise our own pork so we know what we are consuming. 

They seem to like their new home under cedar and elm trees in our back pasture.

The trees will provide shade in the summer heat and also provide a nice place for them to rub/scratch themselves.  They have lots of green rye grass in their pen that this shot doesn't show.