Today, Maestro gets to go back to school. This is good for many reasons, but he's only had 2 days of school in the three weeks due to the ice storm and winter break, so he's more then ready. I know that Little Red will miss him terribly, but I also think that it will make him happy to see his friends and his teachers, whom he adores. He and Little Red have been fighting a bit more then usual these last 4-5 days and I think they need a little breather from each other.
We had a fun and very busy long weekend. My parents were down from Maine and we spent a lovely day with them, it was great to see them. I brought my mom to the local natural food store and she really enjoyed seeing some of the things that aren't offered in her neck of the woods. She's also a natural food nut like me, so it's nice to have someone get as equally excited as I do about things like soap nuts for your washer and organic veggie juice that tastes NOTHING like V-8 (thank the lord for that!).
Then we also had our family get together for Christmas. My I haven't seen my niece and nephew in a long time as they are stationed in North Carolina, so it was great to see them. Funny and cute as ever. We're sad to learn that they are going to be stationed in California in a few months for a few years, and I don't know when we'll get to see them again, but it was great to be in that moment with them for some wonderful memories to hold us over.
My nieces (10 and 11, these are different nieces, we don't marry them off that young in our family!) have American Girl type dolls and wanted some new clothes. I made them each two dresses and a nightgown. That was the most fun gift for me to watch them open because I put a lot of hours into those dresses and it was fun to see their faces when they opened them up. But the best part of the time was just all of us being together. We don't get a chance to do that all that often and it was nice to have that chance to reconnect with everyone. Okay, that and a nice, relaxing hour or so with all the grown up girls in the hot tub! Fun to chat and get muscle relaxation at the same time.
So, over the weekend, I also found a source for local, raw, organic milk and organic eggs. My egg lady's supply has dried up so to speak as it does in the winter because the hens go on a winter strike with the reduced sunlight. I really wanted to find a local source for milk, and though I do need to drive a ways to get to them, I was thrilled with the condition of the animals and farm. Stalls were open and airy, happy, clean animals, lots of pasture to roam. The boys had a great time checking out the animals and I loved that we all got to scratch the nose of the cow that the milk is coming from. Her name is Brownie, by the way. The chickens had a huge coop with lots of air and natural light. They are raised organically and they also sell chicken by the pound, which we may try as well. It's hard to find local sources for these things that are taking on new buyers. So, it was a really fun experience for all of us and we look forward to returning once a week to fill up our 4 one quart mason jars and collecting our dozen organic eggs.
Finding Brownie's milk was especially exciting for me because for over year now, I've been itching to make some cheese. This is something I've never tried in all the cooking I do and I've really wanted to. Reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle really set me on the path to all of this local stuff and in this book is a recipe for 30 minute mozzarella. I thought, could it really be this easy to make my own mozzarrella?? Guess what? It is. And the best part about it is I get to pick what goes in it. Want some italian herbs in there? Throw them in, a little garlic? Add that too! I also get to decide how much salt goes into it, which is very helpful for me in my quest get healthier. All in all a truly fun experience. As you can see from the picture above, it's a little brain-like in appearance, but I'm pretty proud of that lump of cheese. I do have one piece of advice before you undertake this challenge for yourselves...use the rubber gloves recommended in the recipe. This stuff gets seriously hot and pulling it is painful without them. I'm gonna invest in a pair for the next time I make this. You can find this recipe at Barbara's website, www.animalvegetablemiracle.com.
I can't tell you enough how great it is to be able to provide these things for myself and my family. The more self sufficient you can become, the better off you make the planet as a whole. That first pinch of cheese and the slow savoring of the flavor was a very big reward for me, and to see the boys do the same and give me big smiles and tell me that's the best cheese they've ever tasted was the best possible reward I could have been given. I'm nourishing my family with my resources and my own hands. It really doesn't get any better then that.
Wishing you homemade cheese of your own making, ~Peacemom