Time in the Kitchen

I spent the majority of my weekend doing foody things. I attended the farmers market (with Brantley) and picked up a ton of apples and tomatoes, plus some delicious shrimp. When we got home, the real work began!


I started two batches of kombucha this week, which I finished on Sunday. One was a blueberry ginger mint, and the other a raspberry mango. Both are delicious and very bubbly.


I also made a batch of apple butter, and am turning the skins & cores into some homemade apple cider vinegar. My nifty tool that I use for peeling/coring apples is pictured below. It was a gift from a family member, and I absolutely love it.

I also baked 4 loaves of dutch oven bread. Loaves were regular whole wheat, chocolate chip, parmesean garlic chive, and sweet potato. Three are in the freezer for later, however I’ve been devouring the chocolate chip bread, it’s my favorite toasted slightly with some fresh butter.

I also started (but have yet to finish) a large batch of tomato sauce. The house has smelled amazing all weekend.

I was able to do 2 batches of soap, epsom salt eucalyptus goat’s milk, and peppermint cocoa butter. Both are curing as we speak.


Justus is away for work, so I’ll be trying to accomplish more homestead-y type things before he returns. We had our first litter of rabbits born this morning, 3 from Dallan x Queenie, a good start to the 2018-2019 breeding season.

Raspberry mango kombucha

Some Work Outside

The tail end of this week has been absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve taken full advantage of the weather and spent most of my weekend outdoors.

Yesterday my friend Nicole and I took our griffs Reign & Willa to a training day with the Chattahoochee NAVDHA club. Willa (and Reign) have their NAVHDA Natural Ability (NA) tests coming up on September 8, so we were getting in one last good day of training on some live birds with the pros! We had a great day, and were very pleased with how both of our dogs performed. Looking forward to the test! While we were there, I met the cutest little griff puppy (see below), Jax. He is 11 weeks old, and reminded me how cute griff puppies are.

Today I worked outside. I woke up, brewed some hot tea, ate a bowl of granola, and got to work. I had a tentative list of things that I wanted to accomplish, and I’m proud to say that I got every one of them done. I set up some cinder blocks around one side of the rabbitry and filled them with my high quality bunny compost. In the spring I’m going to likely plant some sweet potato vines in them to feed the buns with, but today I planted garlic. I’m hoping I got the cloves in the ground early enough so that they weather the winter and produce next year. I also aerated and re-planted my large wooden planter. I just tossed in some greens (chard, kale, lettuce, etc.) to see if anything would come up before it got too cold. In an effort to keep the chooks out of the bed this time, I hung CDs. This worked with my garden last summer, we will see if it works this year.

Other news, we found the cat. Unfortunately she had passed, we believe our neighbors dogs got her. I have no proof, but we will definitely be battening down the hatches around here.

Better news, Bertha managed to hatch 7 chicks! All of them are dark grey/black except for one (I’m hoping it’s one of Merle’s). There were two other eggs left that she had stopped incubating to take care of the other chicks, so we have them in the incubator. One had pipped and the other hadn’t begun to hatch yet, but now both chicks are out of their eggs in the incubator. One had some shell stuck to it, so I’m not very confident about its survival, but we will see.

Oh also, Justus is working in the taxidermy shop (finally!!) and the dogs are the happiest about it. They’re his biggest fans. HA!

I MADE CHEESE (and didn’t die from eating it)!!

Well, my cheese making experiment was a total success. I ended up making a solid block of ‘farmhouse cheddar.’ It is definitely a more involved process than I had realized, and I do lack some of the proper equipment, regardless my end product was most certainly an edible, yummy cheese.

The recipe/instructions I followed are here.

Let me just start out by saying that I modified the recipe from the start. Instead of doing 2 gallons of milk, I only did one. I used raw milk, however I did go ahead and add the calcium chloride to help it set up/thicken. It worked well. I kept following the directions, however when it came time to cut the curds, I definitely did not cut them properly. I ended up with some very long curd chunks, but I don’t think it made too much of a difference.

My next issue was heating & holding the curds at 100 degrees indirectly. Our water doesn’t get very warm, and my thermometer isn’t the best, so that was really a guessing game. It also didn’t take as long as what the recipe indicated, so I’m sure I did it wrong.

When I drained them, I lined the colander with cheese cloth, sat it over a large bowl, and then covered it with one of the metal stock pot lids I have (to keep flies at bay). This worked very well. I added the salt and mixed everything by hand, which was fun.

Then came time to press. Luckily I had purchased a mold when I bought my rennet and other supplies, however, no cheese press. I improvised. I used rocks to press the cheese. For the second press, I only pressed it for 8-9 hours instead of the full 12 because I was worried about flies during the day while I was at work. And I am certain I didn’t use the correct amount of pressure, but whatever it still worked.

Instead of sitting the cheese out in the open, susceptible to the flies, I covered it with a breathable cover and set it out for the day while I was at work. When I came home, I put it in my ‘cave’ (wine cooler that my rabbit proscuitto is curing in). I turned it 2x daily until Friday (so was in the cooler for 4ish days).

One of my long lost best friends visited Friday night, she was driving home from the beach to Chicago and stopped for the evening. I thought it was the perfect time to test the cheese. I made a modest cheese platter with some olives, brie, stilton, and my cheddar, coupled with some glasses of pinot, and we indulged ourselves on the back porch.

It is not an exaggeration that I had tears in my eyes as we tried the first bite, and, surprisingly, it tasted like cheese! It was a bit crumbly, more of a feta-like texture rather than a smoothness like typical cheddar (due to improper pressing), but it also had a slight nutty and salty taste reminiscent of yummy cheddar cheese. The rind was a dark yellow and smelled musty and delicious. We both enjoyed it. I was just happy that I had actually made cheese successfully (lots of my kitchen experiments don’t turn out well). I am so happy!

I will definitely continue to experiment with cheese making, I also have some thermophilic cultures to test out (maybe mozzarella). Excited for my next batch!

A Productive Weekend

Welp, I had a pretty good weekend this past weekend. Justus is still in Tampa for work, so I got a lot of things done.

Saturday I went to a dog training event with my friend Nicole (we both took our Griffs). That took up the majority of my day besides taking care of another friend, Shari’s, farm.

Sunday was my day. It was lovely outside, upper 70s with a slight breeze. I went to the barn to brush and spend some time with Picasso, then came home and got to work. I butchered six of my 12-week old growouts. I spared the other 6 because the yellow jackets were getting nasty. Then I made some butter and started two batches of dilly beans – one is being lacto-fermented and the other is in the fridge for a ‘refrigerator pickle.’ I also had my first attempt at making cheese. I’ll do a separate post about that. It’s currently curing right now, we shall see how it turns out. Both the butter & the cheese are raw (found a great source even though in GA it’s ‘pet consumption only’). I also tried to make yogurt, but that was an epic FAIL!

Three containers of homemade butter

Other news? I harvested my first shiitakes off of the mushroom log that mom & Johnny got me. Rabbit prosciutto is still in the works and doing well. The geese are doing well, growing like weeds. The Polish eggs that remain in the incubator (4 or 5) go into lockdown this coming Friday (7/27), I hope at least a couple hatch. I am enjoying this time that I’m having at home. Being very productive.

Our Paleo Experience

So, for the month of May, my mother & I embarked on a new diet/fitness journey. We started our own mother-daughter “challenge” of sorts. I am very happy to say that I feel the challenge was successful and has absolutely changed the way I’m looking at diet and fitness.

Our rules included:
– consume a paleo diet: no grains or gluten, no dairy unless fermented, no processed sugars, no counting calories
– drink 64oz of water per day (which I have always struggled with)
– get 8 hours of sleep
– spend 1 hour outside daily if possible
– consume probiotic rich foods/drinks at least 3x a week
– work out together 3 nights per week (yoga/cardio/toning)
– work out alone once per week
– cook the same recipe two nights/week and discuss

The working out process was a bit difficult as mom lives in PA & I am in GA. Thank goodness for FaceTime! We had a really great time with it because each week we would switch who led what workout, some weeks I would lead yoga/toning and mom would lead cardio, then we would switch the following week. It put a variety of exercises into our routine.

I also really enjoyed the cooking “together” part. Mom & I both really love food, and it was a lot of fun to each pick a recipe and cook it. Some were better than others, but we both learned a lot about the paleo diet and likes and dislikes.

Our challenge ended today, 6/1, and I’m happy to report we have both toned & lost weight. My biggest issue was sticking to my diet over girls weekend, there’s grain in SO MANY things. I definitely cheated a bit, but overall I’m pleased with how it went.

Mom & I both concluded that we are going to stick to the paleo diet, slightly modified. We are going to resume dairy consumption, and I’m going to remain gluten-free, however give some lax to the rice & corn instead of being entirely grain-free. When I ate gluten over girls weekend, I just felt awful. I also realized that a big issue with how I eat is that I consume a LOT of alcohol, so I’m working on that, slowly. It’s difficult to make changes to a lifestyle that involves traveling, but for the sake of my body and my health, I’m going to keep working at it.

I am very proud of my mom for sticking this challenge out with me. She is my biggest support system and my biggest critic, so I knew we would be able to keep each other on track. I think she’s shocked at how good she feels since cutting out gluten, it really is shocking.

If you’ve got any questions about our paleo diet, or our new modified paleo diet, feel free to ask 🙂

Milk Baths

Short little blog that I wanted to make regarding one of my favorite things in the world – milk baths!!

A milk bath is exactly what it sounds like, a bath in milk. Now, it’s of course not a bath entirely in milk, that would be expensive. It is a warm bath with milk in lieu of bubbles or salts. I usually will take one if I’ve got milk that’s about to go bad, or that needs used up. You want to take a bath in whole milk as it’s got the most milk fats to benefit your skin. I usually add about 1/4 to 1/2 gallon (give or take) to my bath water. You really can add as much or as little as you’d like.

You do not need to rinse your skin with plain water before exiting you bath, and when you get out, you skin will feel silky and smooth. I like to take a milk bath if my skin is particularly dry or if I have sunburn or another ailment (bug bites, poison, etc.). I have also noticed that milk has helped with dry scalp and damaged hair. Really, it’s just another reason to pour a glass of wine and have a bath.

Soap Making 101!

Well, our first on-farm event was a SUCCESS in my book! Yesterday we held our Spring Soapmaking Workshop, and had very positive feedback and reviews. About 15 people showed up, and our presenter (my friend Sandra of Free Home Farm) did a fabulous job!

We started out with some handouts talking about why soap making is important, how soap works, some basic chemistry and safety information, and the like. Then we broke for snacks before starting the actual soap making. After our intermission, Sandra started the soap making process, including weighing out the fats/oils, mixing the lye, and stirring the soap. The process of stirring (typically via an immersion blender to speed up the chemical reactions) was thwarted, however, due to an unexpected power outage. We still don’t know what caused it, but it prevented us from being able to get our soap to set up in a timely manner. Regardless, Sandra had brought some pre-made soaps along as well for us to see, smell, and take home. We kept the “experimental” soap that we made but couldn’t get to thicken, we shall see if it sets up.

All together it was a great day. We had beautiful weather and a great turnout. I am very happy with how it went. Not to mention both my mom and grandma flew down for the event and to help out, and I wouldn’t have been able to pull off such a successful event without them!

Enjoy some photos of the day below!


Intermission – preparing for the actual soap making
Getting ready for soap making
Mixing the lye and water – monitoring the temperature of the chemical reaction
Mixing (by hand) the lye and fats/oils
Expertly crafted cheese & cracker plate
Everly (our youngest attendee) and I – she was very interested in soap making
Some hot & cold process soaps that Sandra pre-made