Monday, May 24, 2010

Farm Stories

Saturday I went on a little adventure with a friend to Yamhill County--an area of picturesque countryside west of Portland, filled with vineyards, farmland, and orchards.  Our destination was Kookoolan Farms, which is becoming well-known in these parts for their classes in cheese-making and their farm shop stocked with an amazing assortment of supplies for the creative cheese-crafter.  The little self-serve shop also sells colorful eggs, pasture-raised meats, raw cow's milk (hard to come by in Oregon), and homemade yogurt. I came home with a number of lovely things.
We also drove through the tiny towns of Yamhill and Carlton.  I was swooning over this stately Carpenter Gothic house with its two porches and three balconies!  
 Though I love living in Portland, an old house in a country setting can certainly stir up yearnings in me for a quieter life with a little more elbowroom.  The fact that I would like to have some chickens and a pair of little milking goats furthers my urban-living conundrum.  Perhaps I will get to have my hobby farm in retirement.... :-)
At home, my friend and I started up a batch of chevre, which sat overnight before being drained through cheesecloth.  Although a fairly easy cheese to make, I'm not sure it was a true success.  The curds and whey didn't seem to separate as I thought they would.  Nonetheless, what resulted was a nice, fluffy soft cheese, quite similar to cream cheese.  I added a little sea salt and some rehydrated herbs and it turned into a pleasant spread.
And speaking of fresh, dairy creations, I've also been making my own kefir with goat milk.  I was inspired to do this because I wanted the probiotic benefits of the fermented milk without the expense of the grocery store variety.  So, I purchased some kefir "grains" on etsy and now make up a fresh batch about every other day.  It's an easier process than yogurt because there's no cooking involved; however, the finished product isn't as delicious as creamy, plain yogurt (topped with strawberries!).  I do, however, love the tangy-ness that the kefir adds to my morning smoothies.  Here is what the "grains" look like:
Happy Monday!