It’s a week before the next retreat, and that means it’s serious milking time. I need 15-20 gallons of milk for a retreat, depending on what all we’re making, and I try to store the milk up fresh in one week. That means milking Glory Bee twice a day. She’s giving me about three gallons of milk a day.
Moon Pie is upset with mommy’s long hours, but she’ll get over it. She’ll get her visitation when I’ve got enough milk.
I think mommy misses her, too. Sometimes they both cry.
But they Skype, so everything’s fine.
And me, I’ve been making ice cream, cream cheeses, butter, sour cream, and more with all my Glory Bee riches.

Heavy cream coming off the top:
Wow, that’s the good stuff, let me tell ya.

This is some neufchatel that I packed into 8-ounce containers to go in the freezer.
After it freezes, I pop it out of the container.
Then I place each 8-ounce frozen block of cream cheese in a plastic sandwich-size baggie.
I place the baggies all into a gallon-size freezer baggie and can store for months in the freezer, though this cream cheese won’t last that long. Cream cheeses freeze well and it’s a handy way to make it ahead.

Yesterday, I decided to try clotted cream. Clotted cream is made by heating heavy cream to a very high temperature, 190 degrees, and maintaining it at that temperature for about an hour. Then refrigerate and let the heavy clumps of cream rise to the top.

It’s the richest cream in the world, something of a cross between butter and whipped cream in consistency. Technically, you should skim the heavy clots off the top and use the remaining cream underneath for something else, but since you can whip both butter and whipped cream, after letting it set overnight, I whipped it briefly–which resulted in clotting the rest of the cream. I didn’t whip it long enough to turn it into whipped cream, or whip it warm enough to turn it into butter. (And it doesn’t cast off any whey.) It just all thickened up into sweet, rich clotted cream, the consistency that I remember from when I took a trip to England and had some real Devonshire clotted cream in a little tea house in a tiny town with a castle. (Sigh. England!)
I’ll be serving this up along with other goodies at the retreat, and we’ll be making even more goodies during the cheesemaking workshops.

Meanwhile, I’m in full-on mode every morning and evening here with my little milking cart, the barn, and my pretty Glory Bee. I took a neighbor milking with me last night. I told him to stand back from the path Glory Bee would take to the milking parlor when I opened the back barn door. Sometimes people are amazed at how well-trained a milk cow is. You open the back barn door and she makes a beeline for her headlock. She knows her big feed is waiting for her there and she needs no instructions.
My cow, she makes me proud!

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Covered Up in Bread


I’ve been covered up in baking bread the past week–among other things, one of which I’ll post about tomorrow. (Major overhaul of the house and studio gardens.) I’ve lost count of how many loaves of bread I’ve made, but bread is served at every meal at retreats. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. The next upcoming retreat starts August 28 and it’s a five-day series of workshops. That means 15 meals altogether.

It’s a lot of bread.

I bake and freeze bread in advance because, together with my teacher (for this upcoming retreat, LauraP), I’m giving workshops–but I’m also providing those 15 meals. I’m really proud of the meals I serve at retreats at Sassafras Farm. Everything is made from scratch, by me. Advance preparation is crucial. Anything that can be prepped in advance and frozen is done to make it faster for me to pull meals together. This past week has been a flurry of advance preparation activity as this week will be focused mostly on mowing and milking. I have to get together a good 20 gallons of milk, fresh, for a retreat that includes two days of cheesemaking.

Back to the bread–I want to share some photos of some of the breads I’ve made in the past week, using home-ground whole grains.

This bread was made using kamut.
Kamut is also called Khorasan wheat or Pharaoh grain. It was found in Egyptian tombs. This ancient grain is very nutritious, with about 30 percent more protein than wheat. It has something of a nutty, corn-like flavor, and makes very tender loaves with a golden color. I really like it.

This one is barley with some cooked multi-colored quinoa mixed into the dough.
And this one is hard red winter wheat.
I also made some whole wheat with spelt loaves, as well as some multi-grain including spelt, hard red winter wheat, buckwheat, oats, barley, and kamut. (LOVE that last one.)

I’m really loving grinding my own grains. I mean, where else are you going to get kamut flour unless you buy the kamut and grind it yourself? By the way, all of these breads are made with my Grandmother Bread recipe, just substituting the grains. I like to mix in some all-purpose flour for lightness, and use a dough conditioner/enhancer.

Along with baking loaves, I also made pizza bread. The first day of a retreat including cheesemaking, I teach homemade mozzarella and all the attendees make their own cheese. That evening, for dinner, they make pizza with their mozzarella. I lay out topping choices and give them a partially baked pizza crust to create their own unique pizza with their very own cheese.

Partially baked pizza crusts:
These crusts are made from whole wheat with spelt. I baked them for about 5 minutes, just enough to set them but not bake them completely. I cool the partially baked crusts on racks before packing them up.
Using gallon freezer bags, I put two crusts to a bag.
This was the first batch of crusts I made. I made more the next day, and kept baking loaf breads. Making pizza crusts in advance is something I also do myself. There’s nothing like grabbing a prepared homemade crust out of the freezer on a crazy day to make dinner easy. And, of course, I always to do it in advance this way for retreats.

Preparing for a retreat is a big undertaking. I’m so excited about the next one coming up because I’m really well stocked, am preparing some really special things for the meals, and even got the studio shelves re-organized and worked on my equipment and tools where I needed beefing up.

P.S. You can find out all about upcoming retreats here. There are still a few spaces available, so come on, join us at one of the events!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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