This is going to sound really weird but stay with me. We made a drink out of milk, vodka and oranges. It is a very old drink. Possibly Eastern European. Possibly made by a very desperate alcoholic who had nothing but vodka, milk and an old orange in the house. And time. But not a lot of time. Sound familiar. This may jog a memory from one of you and we can trace it a little further.
Our John found this recipe in Gizmodo/Gadget Guide/David Leite. It might be called Pieninis Krupnikas or something very close to that. Anyway even with its origins unknown we thought we would give this a try. John forbade me from blogging it then as he was convinced that is would be hideous and possibly life threatening even blinding but there you are. You gotta do what ya gotta do! (Who said that anyway? Was that Whatsisname the guy with the hat and the gun?)
OK. Pay attention. Trust the Milk!
Panicking yet? I have to say that as Our John read the recipe and I chopped and poured and stirred I had misgivings. Now the recipe said that this will go all kinds of nasty. But ours did not. Maybe because the milk was freshly milked. But it did not curdle.
On the tenth day, (above) it still looked and smelt fresh and good, we strained the fruit out through a colander. (I debated about giving the leftover fruit to the chooks, just for the entertainment, but they missed out, as I did not want drunk eggs!). Then I strained it through a cheesecloth that then dripped through a coffee filter. Then we bottled the clear liquid. Later we poured a little over ice. Clink. Hope you don’t go blind. Oh well. And wow. It is OK and I can still see.
I will give you the Scent Bar Codes: Thick (Big Hits): fresh oranges, cream. Thin (Slim Hints): lemon, the white of a boiled egg (well you asked), and something green, I cannot put my finger on it, maybe cucumber leaves or borage flowers. It is a little reminiscent of limoncello. Summery. Anyway it is really good. But a new taste. No blindness.( Always a bonus.)
Next time I am making it with honey, just to see if that will add a zing. Soon the fresh milk supply will be gone, as the cow down the road dries up for the winter. The next fresh milk we will get will be Daisy’s if all goes well. So I will make another batch then.
This morning is just below freezing, so it is not too bad outside at all. The dawn is almost here, time for me to get busy. Have a great day.
Maybe we will do a walkabout on the Farmy tomorrow. Have a catch up!
This morning is 9F (minus 12 C). Clear and cruely cold. All the animals are fed and watered and I have opened all the barn doors as the sun is shining. A juxtapostition of the senses that I could not hang in a gallery. It is a stunning, fiercely cold, bright and sunny day. But no wind – no wind is good.
I took my hammer with me today to break the ice and as we rushed about doing the chores my face burning with freeze, I kept saying to the animals ‘ The cold is only relative, after minus 10 it is just more cold not colder.’ They weren’t even cold. Just hungry.
No pausing to watch the golden sunrise filter through the cracks in the barn this morning.
Back inside and all is well now. Here is a tip to remember on these below freezing mornings. If your hand is wet from the dish cloth and you have to quickly pop outside to grab a piece of wood for the fire, DO NOT grab the metal door handle with your wet hand on the way back in. Your hand will stick to the metal door handle. I hate that and I NEVER LEARN!
OK. Yesterday we bottled appler cider vinegar. This is How to Make Raw Apple Cider whilst pretending that this is what you wanted to make all along.
Take the bottles of home made apple cider (before we switched to pear cider) and put them in the basement then forget about them for a year. Then take the top off one, cover with a cloth and forget about it again for another year.
Then rediscover it when searching for a bottle of apple cider in the basement. As you remember that the apple cider was so horrible that you left a jar open just in case it decided to turn itself into vinegar. It being half way there already.
If you want to know how to make really GOOD apple cider vinegar on purpose, go and visit Ms Misks. Hers looks sharp and delicate. Her vinegar is so educated it keeps a diary.
Now I am going to fry up a couple of those eggs I collected this morning. The chooks are laying again did I tell you? My old people are pleased. They miss their good eggs.
This morning, I have discovered that if you have a sneezing fit out in the barn in that kind of cold you get a really sore throat. TonTon and I feed out the hay to the sheep and cows. I have discovered this morning how very annoying it is when a big fat cow knocks the cord out of her outside heated water trough. I have to take both pairs of gloves off so I can get a grip, and climb up onto the frozen trough in icy gumboots with a mixture of snow and cow breathing down my neck, holding the cord, then reach back into the barn to plug it back in. After repeated and very satisfying bashing of the ice with a cement brick (first blunt instrument I could see) and then a couple of buckets of hot water lugged over from the house, poor old Daisy watching closely, she was able to get a drink. Good girl, Daisy.
Then I see that I have forgotten to even plug in the sheep’s water, Mama sighs with her mouth full. More bashing of ice and lugging of warm water but on a smaller scale. Then TonTon and I, carrying a bucket each, our eyes squinting against the snow flakes that look pretty from Inside the house, walk across the field fighting the icy snow laden wind to the Chook House. Hmm. We discover that the gale force winds last night broke their storm door. It is swinging and crashing on us as we struggle in. But maybe we will deal with that one later. I have a collection of old doors in the rat-house. We feed and water the chickens and collect the eggs before they freeze solid. On the way out, I smack the door a few times with a lump of firewood so that it at least closes over the interior screen door, kick a couple of cement bricks free from the frozen ground and lean them on the door to keep it closed. Good enough. I have been out here over an hour. I am very cold now.
I have discovered that the pain in your toes and fingers goes away after a while outside, but when you come back inside your face does not work very well, so it sounds like you have had a stroke. Which is kind of funny but not really.
I also discovered that with a little more light the camera can see the snowflakes too. Much more fun from the verandah on our way back inside. Though for the moment snowflakes have lost their charm. They are not as soft as they look. Flake is a misnomer. But now for a hot cup of coffee. Really Hot.
You know how only YESTERDAY Daisy promised not to head butt Hairy in 2012? Well it was still 2011 yesterday. We were working in the barn unearthing the 1953 Dodge. It will be my asparagus truck for the spring, I am going to park it at the end of the track and sell my fresh asparagus from it. As you can see it needs a wee clean up and well, getting it running would be useful too, so this is Winter Work for Our John. So off to the workshop it goes.
There was a muck around with pens, we had to open the big doors and get the truck out, this resulted in the calves (Queenie and Baby Bobby) being momentarily stored in the pen where Daisy and Hairy hang out. They got into a tussle, there was confusion and the next thing you know Hairy Maclairy had bright red blood pouring down his face.
So I went in with the broom (I must get myself a shepherds crook, sticks are so useful for directing animals around, a stick with a Hook would be fantastic) Queenie and Baby Bobby were shooed back into the back pen. I narrowed my eyes at Daisy who just looked innocent and with a flick of my yellow broom dispatched Hairy into the corridor pen. Then sent Daisy to her room to Think about What She had Done!
Within seconds we could see that the entire horn was gone. Broken off at skull level. Thank Goodness the bleeding had stopped as fast as it has started. We sprayed the site with iodine. He is such a good ram. He munched away on hay quietly for a few hours, seemed no worse for wear and then I put him back in with Mama. Where he proceeded to finish off her hay as well.
This horn, pictured below has always been a bother. He had his horns removed as a young animal but this one grew back. Though it grew as slowly as a glacier, at least twice a year John had to hold his head while I hacksawed it down a bit to keep it out of his eye. Never too much because we did not want it to bleed. It is dicey for a sheep to have the horn amputated when they are older, without using heat, as there are blood vessels in the actual horn. However very luckily he seems to have survived his surprise surgery without harm.
The other reason that we are taking the truck out is that it was stored where the two new pens are going to be built. The Winter Work list is rather long. In fact I am only revealing it to Our John in stages, so as not to risk a mutiny.
The Pig Pen will be built inside where it is dark and cool for sleeping and they will have a corridor to their outside yard where the paddling pool and their food and toilet will be. Then another larger pen for larger animals.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Daisy thought, since no-one else on the Farmy was making New Years resolutions through some kind of lack of resolve, that she would. She also wanted to remind me that should I promise to give her four alfalfa cubes as a treat every day for the rest of her life then I should remember that if you make a resolution you should make sure that you follow through FOREVER! So make sure it is a little promise that you can keep. If I fail one day that is OK ,as I can always give her double the next day. I said Thank You, this was good advice.
2012 will bring a new addition to the Farmy and Daisy has promised that she will not be mean to Sheila the Babe and the Pigs, who will be coming to play in the spring. Though she is a little concerned that her paddling pool is going into the pigs backyard.
She had it first she says. But you are too big for it now Daisy. I told her. And the pigs need somewhere to wallow. They are very clean animals, they will not poop in the pool like some cows we know. Pigs will poop very neatly in a designated toilet corner. So, now Daisy is considering pooping on the compost heap down by the creek, if I would be kind enough to leave the gates open for her. Though she could open them herself if she were allowed to, don’t you know. I sense an ulterior motive in visiting the unfenced creek. But she really is too big for the toddlers paddling pool now.She told me very seriously that she has resolved to stop jumping fences and if she happens to jump one by mistake, she will not go into the garage and have a conversation with the little VW, then Poop on its fender just because she is bigger. I said thank you. We would appreciate that too.
She promises she will allow Hairy Maclairy at least 2 minutes of chomping time, before she smashes him in the head with her considerably larger skull. Head-butts are not nice Daisy. But what is he doing in her room anyway, she says. Shouldn’t he be back out with the sheep. Mama is better now!
She will not promise but she will try very hard to stop bawling and mooing Loudly EVERY single time a truck or UPS van comes up the drive. But they might be bringing her something special and she just wants to make sure that they know where she is. She says. She likes packages. They are tasty.
She has promised to stop trying to chew the pom poms on C’s hat. Even though they are silly green pompoms that hang below her shoulders because her hattie has ear flaps and was a gift from beautiful daughter when she visited Thailand. And you should always wear your presents. Even if they have unfortunate colour combinations and pompoms!
The gates. Well this is a sticky area. Opening the latches or plain bashing open John’s gates is very naughty. Yes, well she has conceded that this is a problem but she cannot promise anything. And also she will try very hard to resist turning the barn lights on and off in the night just for fun.
The cats have asked that she will not lick little kitties anymore especially when they are sitting on top of the fences minding their own business-es. But they need mohawks, Daisy said. No they don’t, they don’t need mohawks Daisy. But I love the little kitties Miss C.
I tried to get Daisy to wipe her mouth and tidy up before her Happy New Year photo. But she said Don’t we love her whether her face is clean or not and I said Of course we do.
Happy New Year from the FARMY!!
PS . All the photos except the last one were not taken today. They are from Daisys photo album and have been on the pages one time or another. I hope you HAD a great New Years or will HAVE a great New Years! Don’t you love this international life we lead! celi
After all the Christmas palavalava, I thought you might be ready for something simple and old fashioned. Nothing is simpler to make than butter. There is only one ingredient… CREAM! (And a touch of salt at the end if you want it to keep a bit longer.)
Butter – my favourite! My cream came straight from the cow. Yours can come from the supermarket. Try to avoid anything that says Ultra Pasteurised. You want Heavy cream, Whipping cream or Double cream or just plain CREAM. Depends which country you are living in.
Bring your cream up to room temperature first. This is important.
You can make butter in your Kitchen Aid or Food processor. I have done both with success, the only thing to watch for in the Mixer is that when the butter coagulates, the left over Buttermilk will fly all over your kitchen walls. So pay attention. The Food Processer works very well too, however do not overfill. Small amounts at a time. I will use my new Butter Churn. Here are the blades hanging to dry.
There. You can see that the butter is very seperate from the buttermilk. Now, strain through a cheese cloth. Keep the buttermilk for pancakes. Wrap the butter in the cheese cloth and wring it out, then while it is still in your cheesecloth rinse it in icy cold water, wringing it out as you go.
Empty the butter into a small bowl, add a little running ice cold water and work with a fork, then pour the liquid out. Do this a few times. You are separating the butter from the liquid. The water helps you wash it out. This is why the water needs to be icy cold. If you want the butter to keep for more than a few days make sure you wash all the whey out of the butter. Add a few pinches of salt or none if you choose. (Though the salt also increases it’s shelf life.) Refrigerate.
Make sure you have a little freshly baked, home made bread and Voila!
This is a great way to introduce kids to fresh food and fun in the kitchen. They do especially like the shaking method, they just pass the jar on when their arms get tired!
Simple is good.
I will wish you Happy New Year tomorrow! We are not quite finished with this year yet. One more 2011 Farmy Day! Daisy is writing her New Years Resolutions. Hmm.
We have a story at the end of this post, you will see why soon. But first. The giving and receiving of awards is most wonderful and most terrifying. Choices hurt. How can I possibly choose between you, when I have so many truly wonderful people reading and commenting on my pages. Many more whose pages stand up and beg me to read them each day, much to my grateful pleasure, because you are worth the reading.
My darling Nia from Photographynia , who takes photographs of everything, sent me this wonderful award the other day. The Candle Lighter Award. Isn’t that beautiful. This is a special award. Usually you only award this to one person. Anyone can award it, any time you like, if you come across a page that begs to be noted with this award. It is not one you have to pass on, as such.
I did some research and I found this quote from a friend of the woman who created it. “This award belongs to those who believe, who always Survive the day and those who never stop Dreaming , for those who cannot quit, for those who keep trying. If that is you, you are Entitled in this Award”
Well this is indeed serious stuff. I want to give this award to two of my readers.
Lois who, last I heard, was allowed out of the hospital to visit with her family. I hope she comes back online soon so we can see how she is. But this lady is a fighter if ever I saw one!
Miss T, who sees wonder in the smallest of things. She knows why I think she is a survivor, having stayed beside her mother through the pain of Altzeimers that lasted years and years.
Claire from Promenade Plantings who is presently swanning about up in the mountains, jamming her champagne into the snow to keep it cold and generally larking about, took time out of her extraordinarily exciting schedule to award me with the Reader Appreciation Award.
Firstly zap over to ChgJohn who also received this award from Claire – then promptly named a whole bunch of my most frequent commenters. Bloody fella got in first! So I join his thanks to Tanya, Greg, Katherine, Mandy.. Yes, I mean you guys! And of course The Bartolini himself. You are all deeply, deeply appreciated for your consistently supportive, generous and sometimes bizarre comments. ChgJohn also has the rules on his page. Claire also managed to nominate another of my frequent loveable commentors from a Little Corner in Rhode Island.
You see The rules for this one are strict you can only nominate the top 6 commenters and readers on your blog by the numbers. Well, apparently I am breaking the rules! Nominating another six.
Kathryn, an artist and writer who never ceases to astound and surprise me with her work and words! I love her.
Phyllis from FoodFlowersHerbsandLife, who cooks lovely food, and has such a delightful intelligent outlook on life.
MadDogTVDinners. This fellow is not mad at all and his blog has NOTHING to do with TV dinners and if he is eating this food in front of TV then that must be the most incongruous sight imaginable. Plus he knows an awful lot about Barcelona and is often Online just as I post.
Lynda from Pixilated. She lives on a little farmlet and is endlessly coming to my rescue with excellent if slightly quirky advice. She understands about naughty animals.
Ms Misk, a fiesty woman who I am sure is brave enough to tell me that the thought of my wine will make her gag. And this from a woman who is making vinegar in her fermenting room! Of course I deeply envy her that vinegar. I will get to it, I will!!
Soul Dipper, a woman with a big heart loaded with empathy, a gifted writer with a soft spot for Mama.
Our leader Celia from Fig, Lime and Cordial. Beautiful food from a beautiful generous lady.
Kay from Pure Complex, a striking sophisticated page from an adorable girl. I remind her of her grandmother and I just love that. Being the old fashioned farm girl that I am!
Thank you all. AND thank you to all the lovely people who comment on my little pages. The Farmy loves your feedback, support and advice. And to my wonderful silent daily readers I know who you are, and love that you visit with me. You all keep me writing.
And now, much to my delight I have received the versatility award again. From Ronnie over at Morristownmemos. A delightful sharp and witty woman who writes about all kinds of things and I suspect has a lovely big laugh!
This versatile award gets a story.
The Still Man.
“I’ll get a box and we’ll take it with us. It will taste better after a few drinks.” My two sons who were men laughed to each other.
We had been at a pizza joint in the Loop in Chicago. We could not eat all the pizza, we had ordered way too much and it really wasn’t as tasty as we had expected. So we filled a box to the brim with the last of the pizza to take back to the hotel.
This was a couple of years ago. It was very cold that winter. Dark. Snowing. I was wearing my big coat, and leather gloves, huge cuddly scarf and a hat. My boots, over my jeans with thick socks. Everything was warm except my face.
We walked along in the lazy fashion that families often have. Together, with confident loose strings. I carried the weighty deep dish pizza with everything on it, like a waitress with a tray. My gloved hand directly underneath the wide box. I could feel the heat of it. The streets were teeming with colourful people. Lights flashed and cars sped past, honking and laughing. The jostle of packages, flicking of scarves, the huddle of collars. Soft snow in the air and underfoot. My tall boys, who were men, walked ahead of me. I enjoyed watching them laugh together, shoving each other with their invisible language. Bright snow gathering on their shoulders.
We turned another corner and proceeded down another road, more shops, more people , more movement. Things began to blur in their hurry, the sounds lost their softness and became raucous. The boys were further ahead. I swapped hands carrying my tray of pizza on my right hand now. It was getting heavy.
I saw ahead of me a Still Man. This is the only word that comes to mind when I think of him, and I think of him often. He stood straight, tall, immobile and stared up and out across the street, his arms laid forgotten at his sides, loose. His hands empty. He was waiting. I think that he had been waiting on that corner for months. Not years, yet. He was stood firmly on his feet, in the shadow of a closed doorway. He was not old, nor was he young. His strong head was bare in the cold and as I got closer I could see that he wore no socks, his shoes scuffed and thin, once good. His hands were in gardening gloves. He wore a thin windbreaker. He was dressed in black, his skin as dark as his clothes, though as I got even closer I saw that he had freckles, which struck me as incongruous. A homeless person on the street with no socks and freckles. Even closer now I found his scent amongst the other street smells, he smelt like a beach. Windy and salty.
As I walked past him I found his eyes, they were clear eyes, dark. Dark and reflective. His eyes were mirror sunglasses. He was not begging, he just looked back. Stoic. But not quite resigned. I raised my eyebrows slightly. He raised his eyebrows very slightly back. Without thought I leaned in and touched his shoulder, his hands came up and I tilted my body as I passed and the box of hot pizza slid from my hands to his. It was a small movement, an effortless movement, a movement without thought. I saw my secret smile in his eyes as I moved past.
I never even broke my stride, the boys were further ahead now, I needed to catch up. I increased my speed.
The tall black man heaved up out of his stillness and called out to me. Hey Miss. Hey Miss! God Bless You, Miss! Thank you. Thank you! You are an angel Miss! Merry Christmas to you, God Bless you.! I looked over my shoulder. His face was shining and smiling and real suddenly. His face was a high-tide crashing wave of joy.
I wanted to run back to him and place my fingers over his mouth. Hush now. No, no it was nothing. Oh my god, it was nothing. Hush. I waved and walked a little further on.
Thank you Miss! God bless you, Miss! Merry Christmas, Miss! His voice was a stevedores. A deep bell. A huge voice above the grim walkers. A rooftop voice. I moved sideways further down the street.
Then I stopped and turned fully back to him and he just demanded my voice in return, that Still Man.
Merry Christmas I called back, across the ducked heads. I could not help but smile at this tall, suddenly bright man. My face hiding the shame. It had been too easy for me. It had been a mere flick of my wrist. I had not even thought about it. I didn’t even want the pizza. Hush now, I called. I felt my arrogance like a burn. This arrogant magnanimous gesture of left over food. I put my fingers to my own lips. Ssh. I am so sorry, I thought.
I was half a block away now. I should have run back to him. I should have sat on the ground and taken off my thick woolly socks and given them to him. The boys were calling to me now. I should have given him my big warm hat. All I gave him was a pizza that I did not even want. My sons had a taxi waiting. I should have stood and chatted with him for a while. Thank you, Miss.
I looked back again and nodded to him. He nodded back.
I do not deserve your thanks. I gave you nothing that mattered to me. I should have given you a garden, I should have found you a days work. I should havediscovered what you were waiting for. I bent to climb into the taxi. My son holding the door.
He stood holding his box of food but looking at me. Then the crowds closed and he was gone.
“What happened to the pizza?” eldest son said, looking at my hands, as we settled gingerly into the back of the taxi hurtling out into the traffic.
“I gave it away.” I said.
“Oh, Cool.” Both boys who were men said in unison, then laughed at each other.
I think of him often, that beautiful black man with the freckles and no socks.
Policeman Mama is back on patrol.
See how her belly is curving slightly downwards. I think there are lambies in there. When she is close to lambing that will be a pronounced belly. I can’t tell for sure yet though. We will know in a month or so. Lambs put on the most weight in the last month – six weeks. But it is good to see her standing on all four legs. She has such a Roman nose that sheep!!
PS. For those of you who are new, all the photos for a Farmy page like this, are taken within the day, often within an hour. This is my challenge. This means that these are Current Farmy Affairs. celi.
Sometimes, well most of the time, when I smell and taste things I smell or taste them imagining the scents as a barcode. Each smell or taste (and they always work together) has big flavours and little flavours and hints of this and bangs of that. These all line up in my mind like a barcode with those wide and thin stripes in a line but not in any order. And then I subconsciously label the stripes. Though since I noticed I was smelling in barcodes it has become a damn nuisance as I discover stuff about people that I do not want to know. Man that sounds crazy.
On Christmas night we bottled a little bit of wine from our own grapes. The Vidal Blanc. So we got to have the first taste. And the barcode went wild. The wine is still very young and has a ways to go, but initially my bar code said bangs of grapefruit and banana lumps, with hints of kerosine. I tasted rain and ants. The ants were a sub note. Yikes. And a little early compost. Hmm. The swallow really was citrusy. A bit too citrusy actually as this is supposed to be a sweet wine. Wait, it was horrible. What was going on?
However my wine was still in shock. After the trauma of bottling, the wine needs to settle. Bottle shock will disturb a lot of flavours. So I had to wait. The colour is good though. I think it really is too young to take out of the carboid. But there is dissention in the ranks. John likes to get the wine off the sediment earlier and let it age in the bottle and I would rather leave it in together with the dead yeast for a few more months, so this is our compromise. I will take notes and we will do a blind taste test in the late summer.
I poured another glass of the newly bottled wine last night and stuck my nose in it and it really is rounding out a lot better after 24 hours of sitting and chilling. The banana taste has shifted to a banana pineapple. The compost has become earthy and the ants have gone. (I hate the smell of ants) The rain is still there though and the kerosene has backed off. Still not very sweet. I was hoping for amber honey notes to go with its colour.
Vidal Blanc wine can sit in a bottle for years so it still has some maturing ahead of it. The next cask will be left for another three months. Then we will taste it and maybe bottle it too.
Bottle shock or not. I know for sure that I picked too early. Even though the sugar levels were right in the grapes they can go higher. Next season I will leave them on the vine longer. Once again impatience got the better of me!
Snow this morning and just above freezing so not too cold. The dawn is white on white. I had better rug up and start feeding out.
PS Mama was let out into her field again and had a nice lie down in the sun for a few hours yesterday afternoon. On the mend. I know she hates to be alone but she has done better since I put Mia back in with the calves. Mia is such a space cadet and never sits still. Not conducive to convalescence! Ok time for me to get out there and see what they are up to in the barn. c
And how did I make that fresh buttermilk? Oh, I was hoping that you would ask that question. Because you see, The Matriarch gave me a Butter Churn for Christmas. She said it was from Santa!! Apparently Santa is a very clever old bugger. He knew just what I needed.
A glorious old butter churn. On the label it reads ‘Guaranteed Highest Quality Elgin for the Modern DairyMan.’ Which is kind of strange as often the kids and women did the milking and almost always did the butter churning. But there you are. DairyMAN indeed. It should read Dairy Family. Elgin made this model in the 1920’s. But no matter how old, the gears are good, and back to work it goes, in the old fashioned Farmy Kitchen.
So, as you can imagine I pounced on it, scattering wrapping paper in all directions, washed it, skimmed the cream off a jug of milk from the cow down the road, and between Our John and I, we cranked that thing until we got some butter. Because the cream was too cold it took a long time. I knew that, but I could not wait.
I washed and patted the butter while talking trifle on the phone, with my sons in NZ, sluicing the buttermilk out. The Buttermilk was put aside for pancakes. Buttermilk is the left over milk. It is thin and slightly acidic. Not to be confused with Cultured Buttermilk which is slightly fermented milk. I will make some of that too.
Johns Buttermilk Pancakes