"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Virtuous Kitchen

This is what my kitchen looked like at 5 pm today. 

This is what my kitchen should look like just about every day between now and mid-september. More usually - that is to say, outside of preserving season - virtue in a kitchen is defined by its cleanliness, and I'd be the first to admit that I am not a virtuous woman (though I am tons of fun). In midsummer, however, virtue in the kitchen is defined differently, by industry. 'Tis the season of industry in the kitchen, and I am elbow deep.

Today, I was up at seven and I ran out to milk the goats, because last night was the first night I separated the babies and I knew the mamas would be extra-full. They were indeed: I got about three quarters of a gallon of milk, which, together with yesterday's haul, was enough to make a quart of yogurt as well as a couple pounds of cheese. 

This is my current cheese set-up. I am still not a very good housewife as far as cleaning is concerned, but at least my training as a nurse has enabled me to create a sterile field (okay - a clean field). When I make cheese, I begin by scrubbing a stainless steel pot, a colander, and the entire kitchen sink with soap and very hot water. When the curds are ready to drain, I boil the cheesecloth - which is really a cut-up 100% cotton pillowcase - and line the freshly scrubbed colander with it. I ladle in the curds and wrap them in the cloth. Then, after salting and various other secret cheese procedures, I place a clean plate atop the cloth and press the curds with two stacked-on-top-of-each-other kettles filled with water. It's not perfect but it's going to have to do until my husband makes me an honest-to-God cheese press. 

Today, friends, I took a leap and actually followed the recipe for cheddar. The hard part is going to be not eating it. Real cheddar should be aged for a minimum of several weeks. I haven't decided how to age it, in wax or in a cloth wrapper, and I'll have to age it in the fridge because I don't have anything analogous to a cheese cave, but still. It's technically cheddar because I cheddared it. So there. 

I also had a few pounds of pickling cukes which really needed to be turned into pickles quickly. 

These are quart jars. I made two quarts of dill pickles and one quart of bread and butter pickles. I adore bread and butter pickles, and so does my mom, but my kids all prefer dill. Plus I had to use the dill my sister gave me from her garden. Three jars doesn't seem like a lot of pickles. I think I'll have to do some more. I'll see what's available in the farmer's market this week. Seems like there's always one week when whatever you are looking for is as cheap as dirt - you just have to be ready to pounce on it and take advantage.

In other words, you have to keep a virtuous kitchen, at least for the summer. 


AnyEdge said...

The key to good pickles is to use a little garlic in the vinegar, and then when they're done pickling to hang them on a small crucifix. That way they repel both werewolves and vampires.

Because pickles AREN'T FOOD.