Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We Bought A Cow!

Her name is Amy and she lives in Kington, Michigan at Hampshire Farms, a family owned, certified organic farm in Kingston, MI. (The photo at the left is not at Hampshire Farms, but it was the only one I had of us with cows in it.) We met Randy and Shirley Hampshire several years ago when they began selling their certified organic grains, flours, cornmeal, beans, popcorn, bread, eggs and other products at Eastern Market. In June 2009, we were among the first families to invest in their cow share program. We had been thinking about switching from organic to raw milk for some time and when the Hampshire's started their program, we knew they were the people we wanted to invest with. Check out their website at http://www.hampshirefarms.com/ and be sure to stop by their stall at Eastern Market in Shed Three.

My family and I have been on a journey that started for me, in 2000 when my older son joined our family. I was a vegetarian for three years and started eating meat again when I was dating my now former husband. I made my son's baby food and started my own backyard garden in 2004. We have made a concerted effort in the past six years to be more thoughtful about what we eat... leaning toward local, in-season food. When I adopted my second son, I did a lot of reading about traditional diets. The Weston A. Price Foundation and the local Healthy Traditions Network have provided a lot of information to consider. Their website is http://www.htnetwork.org/

Some of their strongest recommendations are related to animal products-- grass fed meat, unprocessed (raw, real) dairy. etc. Unfortunately, in Michigan as in many other states, it is illegal for farmers to sell unpasteurized dairy products directly to consumers. So, we bought a share in a cow. We pay a monthly maintenance fee that covers Amy's room and board and every week we pick up a gallon of milk at Eastern Market from the farmers.

This past week, I made a soft cheese with our milk. This is a cheese that my mom (and Situe and other members of our family) made on a regular basis when I was a child. It is unbelievably simple and even more delicious with raw milk.

Here is how it is made:

Put 1 gallon of milk in a stainless steel pot and add 1 teaspoon rennet. I use vegetable rennet purchased online from http://www.leeners.com/

Heat the milk over medium heat. As the curds form, push them down into the milk. Once the liquid is cloudy, scoop the curds into a small strainer and press the whey out of the cheese back into the pot. One gallon of milk should yield about 6-8 patties of cheese.

Sprinkle the cheese with salt and add about 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of the whey (remaining liquid). Place the cheese and the whey in separate glass containers and chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Store the cheese and whey together once both are chilled.

We enjoy our cheese with calamata olives and pita bread.