Category Archives: Cheesemaking

You Gotta Make Ricotta!

In a large pot, add citric acid solution to 1 gallon milk, mix thoroughly, and heat until 185-195 degrees F.

In a large pot, add citric acid solution to 1 gallon milk, mix thoroughly, and heat until 185-195 degrees F.

As soon as the curds and whey separate, turn off the heat. Allow to set undistrubed, for 10 minutes. Drain.

Enjoy! I made chocolate ricotta mousse with it. YUM!

Eddy and I still had about half a gallon of milk in our fridge when we picked up our CSA basket this past weekend. Guess what it came with? Another gallon of milk.

Eddy and I don’t drink a lot of milk, so when we find ourselves with excess milk, we turn it into cheese! This time, I used half a gallon of old milk and half a gallon of new milk to make whole milk ricotta.

Making ricotta is easy when using a recipe from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you know how much I love that book. It is my cheesemaking bible.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon citric acid in 1/4 cup cool water.
  2. In a large pot, add citric acid solution to 1 gallon whole milk. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat the milk to 185 to 195 degrees F. Do not boil. Stir often to prevent scorching.
  4. As soon as the curds and whey separate, turn off the heat. Allow to set undistrubed, for 10 minutes.
  5. Line a colander with butter muslin. Ladle the curds into the colander. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese has reached the desired consistency.
  6. Enjoy! If enjoying later, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Cheese should last 1-2 weeks.

Pretty easy, huh? Don’t have citric acid or butter muslin? If you live in central Arkansas, head to The Fermentables. If you live in northwest Arkansas, go to The Home Brewery.

Next time you find yourself with excess milk, don’t throw it away. Make cheese with it!

Make Your Own Feta!

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I’ve been turning local goat milk into cheese for some time. So, imagine my grief when my goat milk lady told me that she plans to get rid of her girls. Fortunately, I soon found a different goat milk lady, so cheesemaking is back on!

I usually make chèvre with goat milk, but from time to time, I make feta. Making feta is easy with Ricki Carroll’s Feta recipe. I uploaded the recipe to the Recipes section, so check it out!

I believe making feta at home helps reduce my environmental footprint. First, I use local farm-fresh goat milk to make my feta, thus no energy to ship cheese from afar. Second, my feta comes with no packaging. Lastly, I make my own cheese, so I know what’s in it. My new goat milk lady, just like the previous one, uses no antibiotics or growth hormones. I refuse to use any preservative or artificial flavoring. My cheese is just cheese – the way it’s supposed to be.

And, I save lots of money by making my own feta. I pay $9 for a gallon of goat milk, and I get about a pound of feta from it. In comparison, most grocery stores charge anywhere between $3.99 to $4.99 for about 4 ounces of feta.

So, eat locally and save money by making your own cheese!

Green Your Party: Make Your Own Cheese!

My chèvre made with local raw goat milk.

My chèvre made with local raw goat milk.

What goes well with homemade bread? Homemade chèvre, of course! Two years ago, I started to buy raw goat milk from a lady who raises goats right here in the city. Eddy and I don’t drink goat milk, but boy, we can chow down some feta and chèvre. I’ve been turning goat milk into cheese for the last two years, and it’s been AMAZING. I pay $8 for a gallon of milk and get about 1-1.5 pounds of cheese. Compare that to $4.99 for 4 ounces at Kroger.

Cheesemaking helps me save money and reduce packaging. An added bonues: you get woos and ahhs every time you serve homemade cheese.

So, green your party by serving homemade cheese!

Sign Up for the ROOT Cafe Summer Food Preservation Workshops!

the root cafeThe ROOT Cafe presents Summer Food Preservation Workshops!

A big part of eating local year-round is preserving the summer’s harvest.  Join the ROOT Cafe for any or all of the following dates:

  • August 4th – Cheese-Making & Herbs 101
  • August 11th – Canning 101: Dilly Beans
  • August 18th – Raw Food 101 with certified raw food chef Lorna Schmuckle
  • August 25th – Canning 101: Delicious Jams
  • September 1st – Perfecting Pesto & Freezing 101
  • September 8th – Canning 201: Totally Tomatoes

Classes will be held at Christ Episcopal Church (6th and Scott) in downtown Little Rock from 6-8 p.m. on the above Tuesday nights.  Each class is $20, or you can sign up for all six for $100.  Prices include all materials and finished goodies to take home.  Checks can be sent to: The ROOT Cafe, P.O.   Box 2814, Little Rock, AR 72203, or brought to the first class.

Class sizes are limited, so register early! To register or for more information, contact (501) 944-8500 or therootcafe@yahoo.com.

Meet Local Producer: Honeysuckle Lane Cheese

Located in Rose Bud, Arkansas, Honeysuckle Lane is the only certified cheesemaker in the state at the moment and the first raw milk cheesemaker in Arkansas.

Located in Rose Bud, Arkansas, Honeysuckle Lane Cheese is the only commercial cheesemaker in the state right now and the first ever raw milk cheesemaker in Arkansas.

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese is named after, what else, honeysuckles that line the Daleys' driveway.

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese is named after, what else, honeysuckles that line the Daleys' driveway.

Cheese curds await the Daley magic.

Cheese curds await the Daley magic.

Ray Sr. and Ray Jr. flip the curds to drain excess whey.

Ray Sr. and Ray Jr. flip the curds to drain excess whey.

The father and son cut the curds.

The father and son cut the curds.

Ray Sr. mixes salt into the cut curds.

Ray Sr. mixes salt into the cut curds.

Look at the beautiful curds!

Look at the beautiful curds!

Ray Sr. mixes jalapenos into the curds.

Ray Sr. mixes jalapenos into the curds.

Ray Sr. and Ray Jr. built the machine that mixes the curds.

Ray Sr. and Ray Jr. built the machine that mixes the curds.

Ray Sr. scoops curds into a cheese press as Ray Jr. places a lid on the press.

Ray Sr. scoops curds into a cheese press as Ray Jr. places a lid on the press.

The father and son press the cheese.

The father and son press the cheese.

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese ages its cheese for 60 days at 45 degree Fahrenheit.

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese ages its cheese for 60 days at 45 degree Fahrenheit.

Cindy, Ray Jr.'s wife cuts and...

Cindy, Ray Jr.'s wife cuts and...

...packs the cheese.

...packs the cheese.

Voila! Cheese is born.

Voila! Cheese is born.

Ray Sr., Cindy, and Ray Daley, Jr. - the people behind Honeysuckle Lane Cheese.

Ray Sr., Cindy, and Ray Daley, Jr. - the people behind Honeysuckle Lane Cheese.

The cows behind Honeysuckle Lane Cheese. The Daleys mostly raise Jersey cows whose milk contain higher butterfat, thus resulting in better cheese.

The cows behind Honeysuckle Lane Cheese. The Daleys mostly raise Jersey cows whose milk contain higher butterfat, thus resulting in better cheese.

I love cheese. I especially love white cheddar from Honeysuckle Lane Cheese. Located in Rose Bud, Arkansas, Honeysuckle Lane Cheese has been making raw milk cheese since 2005. Recently Eddy and I visited the people behind the cheese.

Ray Daley, Sr., cites fluctuating milk prices for the reason why he and his son, Ray Jr., decided to start Honeysuckle Lane Cheese. The Daley family still engages in dairy farming, but unlike milk, cheese has a longer shelf life, and its prices do not fluctuate as much as milk prices. The family now diverts 1/4 of its milk to their cheese operation.

The father and son learned all about cheesemaking from a couple of experienced commercial cheesemakers in Missouri and Oklahoma, and they launched Honeysuckle Lane Cheese in 2005. “The name comes from our driveway,” says Ray Jr. “It is lined with honeysuckles.”

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese is truly a family business. Cindy, Ray Jr.’s wife, milks 38 milking cows that the Daleys own. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the father and son make cheese. On the day that Eddy and I visited, they were making jalapeno cheddar cheese. The Daleys grow and chop jalapenos that they use in their cheese. “If I don’t wash my hands thoroughly after making jalapeno cheese, my hands would be burning all the way home,” said Ray Sr. They mix chopped jalapenos into the cheese curds made using their raw milk. They then scoop the mixture into several cheese presses and press for 24 hours. They cure the cheese for 60 days at 45 degree Fahrenheit in their walk-in freezer. After 60 days, Cindy cuts the cheese, Ray Sr. vacuum seals the cut cheeses, and Cindy labels and ships them to their destinations.

“‘Locally grown’ websites really helped us expand our market,” said Ray Jr. “At the beginning, we sold our cheeses at a handful of local stores around Rose Bud. Now we sell them in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Conway, Hot Springs Village, and Searcy, online, at stores, and to restaurants.” The business has been so successful that the Daleys are thinking about adding another type of cheese to their lineup – gouda. They let us try their experimental batch. Let me tell you, it was GOOD.

The Daleys make great cheese because their cows eat grass. “Our cows eat grass all year long except for in winter,” says Ray Sr. “We feed them hay in winter, and hay changes the color of their milk from usual cream to white. That’s why we sell truly white cheddar in winter, whereas the rest of the year, we sell cream-colored white cheddar.” The Daleys do not add any artificial coloring or flavoring, and they use no antibiotics or growth hormones in the raising of their cows (unless a cow gets sick and needs medicine). They also do not use pesticide or herbicide on their grass. “The change in the color of our cheese only occurs due to nature,” says Ray Sr.

When Eddy and I decided to visit Honeysuckle Lane Cheese, I knew I had to meet the cows. The Daleys raise mostly Jersey cows. Jersey cows produce milk with higher butterfat content,thus resulting i better cheese. The Daleys cannot remember the last time they bought a cow. Most of their cows are daughters and granddaughters of their original Jersey cows. At Honeysuckle Lane, even milk production is truly a “family” business.

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese products can be purchased at The Station Grocery & Deli in Little Rock as well as various natural food stores throughout the state. You can also purchase their cheese through Little Rock Local Food Club, Spa City Co-op Market, Village Community Market, and Conway Locally Grown. Check them out and send yourself to heaven with cheese from Honeysuckle Lane Cheese!

Weekly Meal Roundup

dsc00779dsc00147Cold spell is back, and so are the hot pots. Eddy and I love to make kimchee hot pots when the weather gets cold. They are easy to make, you can eat LOTS of veggies, and you start sweating in no time.

This week we made a hot pot using kimchee made right here in Little Rock. The ladies at the Sam’s Oriental Store make them every week, and they are FANTASTIC!!! An added bonus – they reuse the glass jars that kimchee come in. Simply wash and return to the store after you finish eating. Isn’t it great?

We also thew in pork from the Petit Jean Farm, Napa cabbage and green onions from the Armstead Mountain Farm, and shiitake mushrooms from the Arkansas Natural Produce. YUM, YUM!!! The next day we used the leftover soup to make kimchee udon. Mmm…. we were in heaven!

Friday Eddy and I hosted the Arkansas Earth Institute Discussion Course After Party. Recently we finished taking the Voluntary Simplicity course, and we decided to celebrate the great time that we had by throwing a party. Thanks, everyone, for coming! Since we still have TONS of Arkansas strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, we decided to make mixed berry ice cream using the stored berries as well as our chickens’ eggs. It turned out great! We also made orange pecans using Arkansas pecans that we stored last fall. They were yummy as well!

What have you been eating lately? Share by leaving a comment! And now, here is the roundup for this past week.

Sunday

Breakfast – homemade whole wheat & rye pancakes made with homegrown eggs & AR pecans, topped with AR honey, homegrown eggs, AR sausage, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic bow-tie pasta with homemade pesto made with AR basil & garlic

Dinner – homemade minestrone with Swiss chard & beans made with AR tomatoes & Swiss chard, pecan mashed sweet potatoes made with AR sweet potatoes & pecans, sauteed asparagus

Monday

Breakfast – organic War Eagle Mill (WEM) oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic udon with AR kale, homemade miso soup

Dinner – homemade stir-fried Asian vegetables made with AR cabbage, shiitake mushrooms & Napa cabbage, organic AR rice, homemade miso soup, home brewed beer

Tuesday

Breakfast – organic WEM oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic bow-tie pasta with homemade pesto made with AR basil & garlic

Dinner – dinner at Bosco’s (Thanks, Leah & Jason!)

Wednesday

Breakfast – organic WEM oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – homemade mustard green gratin, pecan mashed sweet potatoes made with AR sweet potatoes & pecans, arugula & radish salad made with AR arugula

Dinner – Mexican at El Dorado

Thursday

Breakfast – organic WEM oatmeal with WEM flax and AR pecans, honey & honeybee pollen, banana, home roasted coffee

Lunch – at Master Gardener’s class

Dinner – homemade Korean kimchee hot pot made with locally-made kimchee and AR pork, Napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms & green onions, homemade miso soup, organic AR rice, mixed green salad made with AR greens, topped with homemade miso vinaigrette, home brewed beer

Friday

Breakfast – homemade whole wheat & rye pancakes made with homegrown eggs & AR pecans, topped with AR honey, banana, AR sausage, home roasted coffee

Lunch – organic udon with leftover Korean kimchee soup, veggie dumplings

Dinner – homemade hummus, mixed berry ice cream made with homegrown eggs and AR milk, strawberries, blueberries & blackberries, orange pecans made with AR pecans, homemade goat cheese made with AR goat milk, homemade bread, Boulevard 8-grain bread, crackers, tofu spread from The Station, olives, Blueberry Hill cheese, taro chips, cookies, home brewed beer, wine, home roasted coffee, tea (Thanks, everyone, for coming and bringing stuff!)

Saturday

Breakfast – homemade French toast made with homemade bread, homegrown eggs, topped with AR honey, home roasted coffee

Lunch – pork ribs at the Storm on the Water Barbecue Contest at the Clinton Library (Thanks, Adam, for treating us!)

Dinner – too full from the barbecue contest to eat 🙂

My New Year’s Resolutions

  • Continue to reduce my environmental footprint and become more self-sufficient
  • Lose more stuff
  • Reduce food waste
  • Become a better knitter
  • Learn to sew
  • Learn to make soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and toothpaste
  • Start keeping bees
  • Take better care of chickens and ducks
  • Finish installing a drip irrigation system
  • Install an outdoor solar shower
  • Build a cob oven
  • Learn to cure bacon
  • Bike more
  • Hike more
  • Forage more
  • Learn more about mushrooms
  • Learn to make hard cheeses other than cheddar
  • Go back to yoga and kickboxing
  • Start running
  • Become a better composter
  • Become a better gardener
  • Become a Master Naturalist
  • Say Itadakimasu before the meal and Gochisou sama deshita after the meal – Many Japanese say Itadakimasu before the meal and Gochisou sama deshita after the meal to express gratitude to all who had a part in producing and preparing the food. I used to say those words, but somehow I stopped saying them. Last year I learned how difficult it is to produce and prepare food from scratch. I battled our chickens who kept feasting on my vegetable garden, cried over unsuccessful batches of cheeses, and fought ticks and chiggers to forage mushrooms and edible plants. Never again will I take food for granted. I want to reinstitute this Japanese custom in my everyday life so that I can remind myself that no man or woman is an island, and that I am sustained by many people and, most importantly, the Mother Nature.