Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thinking About Lighting

We've taken a hiatus from working on the kitchen for several months, but once the weather warms up a bit more we want to tackle the few remaining projects with a will. I have worked out where every jelly cupboard, pie safe and appliance will go, finally figured out the issue of how to have work space without using modern countertops and am now trying to work out lighting. I want chandeliers that look at peace with the age of the house and the decorating scheme, but don't necessitate an ambulance call when I look at the price tag. For instance, this:
Isn't it lovely? Indeed. And the price tag? $2360.00 This one and the next are from Authentic Designs.

The one above is a more modest $552.00, but still unaffordable.

Then I began looking at the options from Circa 1820 and found several choices that I really like. Such as this one:
It costs $278 and comes in lots of delicious distressed paint combinations.

Or this one above. It is a mere $198. I ordered a print catalog, I really prefer shopping that way and I'm hopeful that just the perfect light will be there. Many of the lights that will go in the rest of the house were either already here or were given to me by my family, so I actually haven't had to spend any money on lighting so far.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maple & Honey Coulommiers

Since work on the house has pretty much come to a standstill for the "Winter" (30-40 degrees and rain seems like perpetual Spring to us) I decided that now would be a good time to dust off the cheese making supplies and get at it. One of our very favorite cheeses is Coulommiers, a cheese in the Brie/Camembert family. Three of my friends requested a tutorial, so this is for you Amy, Jenny and Ken. 

A few notes. This is the first time I've ever made a cheese from pasteurized milk and I know that it will give a softer set. I figured that since this is a semi-soft cheese that it shouldn't matter too much; the cheese was notably softer, but still fine. Second, I found vegetable rennet locally so I used that. Since it was expired (didn't check that until I got it home) and presumably weaker in strength that may have contributed to a softer cheese as well. Third, I added 1t of maple extract and 3T of honey to the milk, I've never added a liquid before and that may also have contributed to a softer cheese. If I would try it again I'd add dehydrated honey. Fourth, my cheese thermometer broke and I sent Gill for a candy thermometer. It was useless for this recipe so I guesstimated the temperature. Fifth, the book says to never directly heat the milk, but I always do. It works out. And lastly, there is both science and art to cheese making. I get the science, but prefer the art. My directions will frustrate you if you are a "follow directions" kind of person.  :-)

Step 1, heat the milk to 90 degrees. Since the lowest temperature on the candy thermometer is 100 I kept it below that and heated the milk until it felt blood warm.

Step 2, Add 1/8 teaspoon of Flora Danica starter, stir well, cover and allow milk to ripen for 20 minutes.

If you want to add herbs or honey or whatever, do it now. Generally when I make this I add chives, onion powder and garlic powder. It is sublime

Step 3, Dilute 2 drops of rennet in 1T of cool, unchlorinated water. Add rennet to milk and stir well. The recipe says cover and let set at 90 degrees for 45 minutes, I put a lid on the pan and put it in the oven.

Step 4, Place a cheese mat on a cookie sheet with one end of the sheet raised a bit. Put cheese mold on top.

Step 5, HOLDING THE MOLD WITH 1 HAND! and using a metal serving spoon, slice thin slices of curd from the top and gently place in mold. Don't sweat it if they just plop in, it'll still be fine.

Step 6,  Ladle in all curds, the mold will be filled to the top. Place a weight on top, I used a small cast iron frying pan.

Step 7, Let cheese set at 72 degrees (ha ha, I just left it on the counter overnight) for 6-9 hours. Whey will be draining all over your counter and onto the floor.

Step 8, You are now ready to flip the cheese. Take a length of dental floss and run it under the cheese so it won't be attached to the mat.

Step 9, Flip the cheese onto a fresh mat and continue to let it drain and settle.

Step 10, Flip cheese several times a day. The cheese is done when it stands an inch to an inch and a half high and pulls away from the sides of the mold. You can eat it right away or wrap it in cheese wrap and age for a week or two. The aging gives it a bit of a wang, for wangless cheese eat immediately.