My kitchen may tend toward the traditional, but it is not static. It can't be the same season to season, in times of plenty or in times of hardship. I can't possibly keep up nor can I adapt to what God brings my way if sameness is my goal. This has been and will continue to be a hard-won truth for me.
A question I receive more than any other is: “How do you do it all?” Do you wonder how I sprout, soak, bake, ferment, and juggle every thing, every day?
Guess what? I don't.
First of all, I haven't learned everything I want to learn about cooking and traditional food. And what I have learned, I don't (can't) juggle all at the same time anyway. By way of encouragement to you, I want to share some of the adjustments I and my kitchen have made in the last few months — just to keep up with life!
Milk, Cheese, Butter…
The addition of a milk cow to our homestead tipped my scales wildly off-balance. At least it felt that way. In addition to the mentally-taxing chore of taming our milk cow, keeping up with the daily 4 to 5 gallons of milk is a constant balancing act.
As it was an ideal time to make cheese and I was creating lessons for the Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse, I made tons of cheese all spring. Many cheeses benefit from longer aging and eventually they took over one-third of the refrigerator — the only available aging location at the time (besides a few cheeses I age in olive oil in the pantry). Because raw milk also took up another third of the fridge, I got to the point where I said: “No more cheese!”
I had to figure out how to keep up with the milk volume in a different way. Instead of making cheese, I started skimming most of the milk and making butter for us out of the cream, and clabber for the dog and chickens out of the skimmed milk. The butter is now piling up in the freezer and our animals are loving their bounty, too!
Plus, we've been having ice cream and did you hear that my friend Mare @ Just Making Noise is coming out with a delectable homemade ice cream ebook soon?
A Cheese Cave
Then last week, things changed again. Our friends (with whom we garden) loaned us a wine cooler to use as a cheese cave. I have to do a few things to make it work, such as adding a bowl of water for humidity. That's okay with me — I'm so grateful to use it! Next week, my son and I will be creating simple plywood shelves to replace the wine bottle racks, and that will give the cheeses more airflow.
This “cheese cave” functions for now as the cellar I will one day have, Lord willing. And using it returns to me some of the use of the regular refrigerator!
To be honest, the fridge situation (stuffed full all the time) plus the lack of a cellar for aging the traditional foods I love to make has been quite challenging. I've been downright depressed at times. I kept lifting up my needs to the Lord and I'm grateful that He provided this transition step.
Yesterday, somewhat spontaneously, I asked my husband if I could pretty-please purchase a charcoal barbeque unit while I was in town. My reasons must have been convincing because he readily agreed. My biggest reason: to not heat up the house this summer with indoor cooking. He hates a hot house. 😉
So, I purchased a big Weber grill. My husband got home a little early, and he and C. assembled it while I got the hamburgers ready to cook. And we grilled — it was awesome. Actually, B. and C. did it all, from lighting the briquets to cooking the burgers.
I am looking forward to a summer of learning how to cook a whole lot of traditional foods on a grill. Kebobs, vegetables, breads, meats, pizza and more! Do you have any great grill recipes I could try? Please let me know in the comments.
Fermenting Summer Produce
I am still figuring out how I will balance fermenting of garden produce and seasonal fruits. Fridge space will always be at a premium because of milk, and I have no cellar. The little cheese cave certainly can't hold everything I want to culture and ferment. So my approach for fermentation is going to be less putting up for long-term, and more fermenting and enjoying what's in season.
What adaptations, seasonal or otherwise, have you made in your traditional kitchen lately? Don't forget to share your favorite grill recipes with me!
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