Friday, May 31, 2013

Homemade Domiati Cheese

With a little less milk around here for a while, I thought I would make a type of cheese that I have not tried before.  Domiati, if you are not familiar with the variety, is an Egyptian cheese named after the city it was invented in.  This cheese is brined in a way similar to Feta, but the difference between Feta and Domiati is that Feta has a more crumbly nature while Domiati has a bit of a spring to it. 

I want to warn you ahead of time before you look over the recipe, it uses a LOT of salt, but rest assured, the cheese does not ends up tasting too salty.

Here is the recipe:

Start out with 1 1/2 gallons of milk.

Put the milk AND 1 cup salt into a sterilized pot and heat, while stirring, to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Thermophilic culture on top of the milk.  Let set for 5 minutes to rehydrate, and then stir in.

Immediately dilute 1/4 teaspoon of rennet in a 1/2 cup water and thoroughly stir the pot again.

Cover the pot after stirring so as to hold the 100 degree temperature and let the pot sit for 2 hours.

Next, cut the curds and then let them firm up for 5 minutes.

Now, stir the curds for 15 minutes and then cover the pot again and let the curds settle to the bottom while preparing the colander.

Then, in a colander lined with cheese cloth over a container which will catch the whey when it drains, scoop the curds into the colander.

Reserve 1/2 gallon of the cheese whey and to it add another 1/2 cup salt.  Let this sit, covered, at room while the cheese continues to drain.

Every 2 hours, for a total of 12 hours, flip the cheese from front to back to ensure it drains uniformly.

At the end of the 12 hours, cut the cheese into cubes...

...and then store the cheese in the reserved, salted whey.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Matthew 4 & Fasting

This summer I am very excited that I will have the opportunity to facilitate a Kay Arthur bible study on fasting. I know I have a lot to learn on this subject and it seems from the growing interest I have received from the women who would like to join me in my study, fasting is a discipline many Christians lack a good understanding of.

In both my studies of scripture and my studies of gut health, I have come to the balanced view that fasting is both good for the body and soul – a practice which God intended for us to keep on a regular basis for our complete health.

...when you fast...” Matthew 6:16a

Jesus going off into the desert to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, as it is accounted in Matthew 4, may have been an extreme example of fasting, but as the scripture above from Matthew 6 states the matter of fasting for a believer is not an “if”, but rather a “when”. And, Jesus at one point in scripture is recorded as to telling His disciples of the powerful faith life which will be available to those who practice the discipline of fasting.

...if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:20-21

Just the spiritual component alone has given me the desire to understand and practice this discipline more in my life. But, then there is the physical component that helps the body too. Here is a quote I happen upon a few months ago as I was studying the GAPS book, written by Dr. Nastasha Campbell-McBride MD

In 1921 it was discovered that fasting changes body metabolism: the lives uses body fat to produce substances called ketone bodies (hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone), which can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide the brain with energy. Normally the brain uses glucose as an energy source, but in fasting glucose is not available, so the brain switches to using ketone bodies instead.”

If any of this information has sparked your interest in joining us for this summer study please contact me via my email to get on the list. Remote or local, we will study this simple 6 lesson study over the summer and with prayer and fasting grow to be more faithful and disciplined in our pursuit of God's way to live a more complete and healthy life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chicken A La King with Popovers

Wanting to use some up some extra eggs, our chickens are now into their very fruitful summer production, I thought for dinner I would make some popovers and top them with Chicken A La King.  This sauce is basically a take on a simple rue with lots of "good fats" incorporated for a wonderful and healthful family dinner.   Also, if you make the sauce while cooking the popovers, this is a dish that is easy to whip up in a rather short period of time.

Here is what you will need for ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups cut up, leftover, chicken
1 Tablespoon dried tarragon
2 cups sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

First get the popovers going in the oven and then melt the butter in a sauce pan.

Add in the flour and stir until the flour and butter make a lumpy paste.

Next add in the stock and then whisk and bring to a simmer.  While the stock is heating up take time to cut up the chicken and add the tarragon.

When the stock is thickened, add in the chicken and stir until heated.

Lastly, add in the sour cream and heat until warm enough to stir - make sure not to boil the sour cream as it will separate.

Serve the sauce over your just made popovers.

Vacuum Sealing Cheese for Storage

Storing cheese for me is a bit of a practice of necessity.  I would love to say that I wash my hand-made rounds with wonderful brines and flavored washes, but truly my schedule usually leaves me so flustered that I sometimes look in the refrigerator and wonder, "Now which cheese recipe was that?".  And sadly, I have to admit, at times I have actually stored cheese without a label!

Thus, my vacuum sealing method has been perfected in helping me to store and age cheese here on our farm.  And, if done right, I have had no issue with unwanted mold on my nicely brined and pressed cheeses which makes it the most utilitarian method for this sometimes very frazzled hobby farmer.

Here is the simple method I use to vacuum store the cheese:
First I create a bag out of the vacuum seal material.

Next, I put the half round of cheese in the bag.

Then I vacuum seal the bag shut.

And finally I label it with the name of the cheese and the month it was made (that is close enough for me).

My goal is to start washing some of my rinds, but for now the majority of my cheese will be stored this way just to ensure we will have cheese that tastes good months (or maybe years) from now.

Matthew 3 & Credible Ministry

In reading through Matthew 3 a few weeks ago I saw a paradox I have struggled with on both sides throughout my life. A struggle that vies religious standing with the divine gifting of the Holy Spirit. Let me explain:

The Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to see John, not to repent and be baptized, but rather to criticize him and at the same time show off their worldly religious credentials. John had none of these credentials and yet his ministry was booming. This unusual man clothed in camel's hair, who ate locusts and honey, did not have the high credentials these so called “learned” men did. But, God Himself had set apart this desert living nomad who daily changed the lives of the men and women who he helped bring to repentance.

It was a confusing situation to all those who looked at John's ministry from the outside with no change of heart. These men of religious standing had to be completely aghast as to what they were witness to as they approached John at the river. To them, John was not following the proper chain of command – the religious “laws” of the day.  A law they had been told all of their lives would gain them proper recognition in the community as a man of God. And yet, here John was drawing in multitudes of people and changing their lives in ways each of them had probably only dreamed about when starting along their own path of religious devotion per the rule book.

Following the “rule book” is of course a loose term that does not apply directly to the bible or the Torah. Of course there were a lot of traditions within the Jewish community, as there is in the Christian community today, which were the basis for the rules they sought to follow to please God. But also over the years of fervently living for the Lord there were things added to the daily routines of these religious people which attempted to regulate faith, thus becoming a check off list developed for good measure. Unfortunately these men were so blinded by their religion that they didn't realize that the trade off of living by a list of rules ruled out living in faith each day with the God they said they were so devoted to. So that day when these men came to John, all that was left in their lives was the list of rules they lived by - which had become their god.

It is hard to watch people in Christian ministry today do the same thing. They jump through all the hoops the world says will make them effective in reaching people for Christ. But when they actually go out and try to make those methods effective, they fail sooner or later because they left God in the dust in the pursuit of applying the proper steps to do good ministry. As a backlash then you see these same people condemning real ministry, ministry which God is orchestrating not by human credentials but by the work of His Spirit.  In their condemnation these men and women who feel they have hearts set on God, get their minds completely off the work of God so instead they can make some sort of level playing field for how they feel things should be working out per the rules they were taught to follow.

One minister's work I love to read, but who never went to seminary, is Jim Cymbala. I believe Mr Cymbala is one of the most effective men on God I have ever had the chance to hear speak. If you have never read any of his books on the work that God has allowed him to be part of at the Brooklyn Tabernacle I believe you are really missing out. This man's life is inspiring to say the least, just as I believe John the Baptist was to those who came to him and witness God at work in his life. A a man completely sold out on living for the Lord without any pretense.

As I thought about all of these things regarding credentials and effective ministry, I was drawn back to my own life and how God has worked in and through me in some rather unusual ways in areas I was not trained to work or do ministry in. I remember praying on and off over the years as to whether I should pursue further schooling in one area or another so that I would have more worldly credentials to put next to my name when moving forward with the plans God set before me. But, each time I did pray and listen, God would always lead me away from any formal education to yet instead minister through the opportunities He sent, solely gifted by the Holy Spirit for the task. Tasks I must admit were impossible on my own merit.

What about you? Do you find yourself challenged by a calling God has put in your life that you would not consider yourself capable to do on your own merit? Or, are you a rule keeper who is determined to make your life for God fit nicely into a specific list or plan you have been told is the foundation to effective ministry and the pursuit of God? I would challenge you today to seek God in faith alone and be willing to throw off those hindrances. God alone can give kingdom effective credentials. God alone promotes each one of us at the right time if we live for Him and follow Him alone in faith. And, God alone gives us the ability to be His mouthpiece, His hands, and His feet to a world that is so desperately seeking to see Him and hear from Him apart from religion – just Him alone...real Truth...real Light...real Love.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sun Dried Tomato Quesadillas

For a quick dinner tonight I whipped up a batch of these quesadillas using some leftover soaked grain sourdough flour tortillas along with my homemade taco seasoningMy reason for adding the sun dried tomatoes was because after this long winter I am just yearning for a touch of summer in my cuisine. 

By the way, these tomatoes were not really sun dried but rather they were heirloom tomatoes I grew in my garden last year and dried in my dehydrator for long-term storage.

Here is what you need to make up these simple quesadillas:
butter for frying  

On top of one tortilla, place 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 of the tomatoes.

Top the tomatoes then with 1/8 cup cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of taco seasoning.

Top with another tortilla and then place on a buttered 350 degree griddle.

Fry until browned, flip, add more butter and fry the other side until browned.

Repeat 3 more times...and then cut into wedges and serve .

Tangy Lemon Custard Bars

For a long time now I have been trying to make lemon bars by converting traditional, unhealthy, ingredient recipes to ones with more healthy alternatives.  But to my dismay, these revisions never turned out a really good tasting end product.  This recipe though did work out, and it made an incredibly wonderful dessert but at the same time is a totally different take on the lemon that puts a very healthy traditional custard on top of a simple gluten-free crust.  

NOTE:  For those of you who are beginner cooks, just a warning about custard - it needs a lot of attention and constant stirring to keep the eggs from turning into scrambled eggs instead of a thick rich custard.

Here is what is needed for this recipe:
8 large eggs (10 medium), divided
3/4 cup butter, divided
3/4 cup honey, divided
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup coconut chips
1 cup real lemon juice

In a food processor, blend 2 eggs and 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1/4 cup honey.

Add in the coconut flour and coconut chips and process again until well blended.

Put mixture into a pan greased with coconut oil or butter and bake at  350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes (until crust on the edges starts to get brown).  

The baking process takes about the same time as the custard making process, but make sure to keep a close eye on both.

To make the custard, put the 6 to 8 eggs, 1/2 cup honey, and 1 cup of lemon juice into a sauce pan and stir CONSTANTLY and QUICKLY over medium heat until it becomes thick. (This should take about 15 minutes so be ready for quite the arm workout!)

Remove from heat when thickened (also check again on the crust).  Add in the 1/2 cup butter and whisk in until the butter is completely melted.

Now over the cooked crust...

..pour the custard and then place in the refrigerator to cool completely before serving.

Dill Sourdough Crackers

To accompany some of my homemade Fromage Blanc, which I flavored with fresh herbs from the garden and toasted sesame seeds, I decided to make a sourdough cracker with dill in it.

Here are the ingredients you will need for this recipe:
1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup butter
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon dried dill
salt for sprinkling on top of crackers.
extra flour for rolling

To start, mix the sourdough, butter, and flour.  Knead together.  Let sit for 4 or more hours.

Next knead in the dill and salt.

On two sheets of parchment, roll out the dough and then cut into desired cracker sizes.  I have found it easiest to roll the dough out width-wise first and then turn the sheet and finish rolling out the dough lengthwise to fit the dough square in the center of the parchment.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Kefir Soaked Brownies

Kefir brownie with homemade chocolate ice cream
My middle son Timothy loves brownies.  Actually I might even go as far to say he has a passion for them.  What is mother to do?  Well, this recipe is a pretty good compromise I believe that satisfies this child's desire for chocolate and my desire to feed him healthy food.

Here is what you are going to need for ingredients:
2 cups milk kefir
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup SUCANAT
3/4 cup softened butter
4 large eggs (5 if using medium sized)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons natural chocolate flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Start by combining the kefir and flour in a bowl.  Knead the mixture together and then let sit, covered, for 8 hours.

After the soaking is complete, mix the butter and SUCANAT together and then add in the eggs, salt, cocoa, baking powder, and flavorings.

Finally, scoop in the soaked flour and beat well with your mixer.

Put the entire mixture into a baking dish that has been coated with coconut oil or butter.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serving these brownies with homemade chocolate ice cream just makes them even better, but alone is wonderful too.  Enjoy!