Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheesemaking: Reinventing Muslin And Crochet Thread

It has been a goal of mine in the last few years to begin incorporating more vegetarian meals into our diet. The cost of meat is high and I have been convinced that dried beans are the wonder food because of their price and health content. For my birthday I received "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman.

For dinner one rainy day the boys and I decided to make cheese.

What you need:

1/2 gallon milk
Quart buttermilk
Salt to taste
Washed muslin from your stash (or you could do it the real way and use cheesecloth)
Crochet thread (or yarn or any type of string)
Stirring spoon
Little hands to help you stir and squeeze

1. Place your collander in the sink. I put mine in a bowl to catch the whey.

2. Put your muslin cloth over the strainer.

3. Bring the milk and salt to a boil.

4. Pour in the buttermilk all at once.

5. Stir the mixture.

6. The milk will begin to separate into cheese and whey.

7. Pour the whole thing on top of your cloth in the strainer. It will look like dry cottage cheese. In fact, it is dry cottage cheese and you can eat it this way.

8. Pull up the corners of the cloth and twist it to form a ball. Run it under water and start to twist the liquid out. When it is cool enough to handle the kids can help squeeze the rest of the whey out.

9. Now tie your string around the top of the ball and let it hang from a spoon over a bowl or your collander. This will set and cool the cheese.

10. When it is cooled off simply unwrap your creation and serve it with your favorite soup and crackers. It is truly delicious.

Along with the book I also received the most adorable cupcake pan from Nordic Ware. We used it to make cornbread.

The kids loved driving their cornbread cars around the clean table and the cheese was delicious. It was a fun way to learn how our commercial food is made and was a perfect activity for a rainy day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dinosaur Bones

There's always a selection of "healthy" cereals in our kitchen for a quick breakfast or snack time and they all live in clear containers so they look somewhat appetizing. I never had a problem getting the kids to enjoy Kellog's All-Bran cereal with yogurt bites (well, it does have some sugar in it). The other morning, I found out why.

Camden had eaten all of the bran flakes and collected the yogurt bites so he could assemble a T-Rex skeleton..

Chase saw and, of course, tried to do the same. Being only two years old, I don't think he caught on to the yogurt bites resembling bones and built his dinosaur with the bran flakes instead.

The whole episode made me laugh. Leave it to a kid to come up with the best unique and fun ways to eat food...

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Helping Hands

These little hands that help today
Will make a mess, explore and play.
Be patient with them while they're small
For hands grow big as legs grow tall.

My childhood home was like any home across the country in that the central hub was the kitchen. I have fond memories of making mini pies in foil pot pie plates with my mom after a summer afternoon picking mulberries in the park across the street, prize fish caught from the lake fried for dinner, hours of chatting over a simple breakfast bagel, Kook-Aid stained lips, screen doors, steamed up windows on Thanksgiving morning and the list goes on... For years on the wall between the two windows that overlooked my favorite tree swing in the backyard were two little plaster handprints and one small, sandy footprint. I remember marveling at how the casts seemed to shrink with each new year.

With Cam starting Kindergarten next year it has occurred to me how very fast these years are moving and just how grown up the kids are becoming. So, to capture my little helping hands I decided to take a lesson from my mom's plaster casts. You can buy handprint kits that give you the frame, mat, and materials but I was able to match my kitchen decor with some IKEA frames that I had on hand and purchasing the clay only (which was far less messy than the plaster used decades ago).


Crayola "Model Magic" (ok, I purchased a super huge box of it because I have no control when it comes to craft supplies and I will surely come up with something to use the rest for- one small package will do for your project)

a small hand
a rolling pin
your choice of frame and mat (I used construction paper for the background because it is all I had on hand but it will probable fade over time)
mounting material (tape or glue of some sort)

Just roll out the size and shape of dough that you want your handprint on and press those little fingers or toes into it. You will have to let the clay dry for at least 24 hours and then be sure to write the name of the person, age and date. Then just stick it to the mat and hang it up!

I think my little hands compliment my other pieces of "art" in the kitchen.

They all reflect the mood of raising children, don't you think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Top Of The World

Today was the most lovely day of the season! I forced myself to stay far away from the craft lab and work outside. Cam started the afternoon with some Goopaloop (our name for trail mix- see recipe below) on the deck while listening to "Top Of The World" by the Carpenters on repeat on his giant "I-pod".He then went on an expedition. Recently declaring that he wanted to become a biologist when he grows up I created a bucket for him to take when he explores the critters living in our backyard. In it is a garden spade for digging (it doesn't matter that he has a giant, handmade sandbox, he still prefers to dig in the dirt), garden gloves, an explorer's hat, clipboard and pen, magnifying glass and his digital camera.

Meanwhile, the little ones slept and I painted.

Life is good...
Cam's Goopaloop
Kix cereal
Mint chocolate chips
Goldfish crackers
Whole oats (oatmeal)

Mix all together in a bowl and dole out accordingly. Caution: the chocolate chips are the first to go!