I've done a bunch of homestead-y things in the last week or so. Most of them are firsts, or first-time variants. Some of it isn't. I made venison jerky, which is drying in the dehydrator now. I know that will taste good.
I made cheddar cheese with 2 of the 4 gallons of raw milk. It seemed to go well, but the cheese is aging now in a "cave" (a plastic tote with water, to raise the humidity level) for at least 3 months before it can be tasted. I've never made cheddar before. The parts of the cheesemaking process that I've done before went well, but the "cheddaring" part was new to me, so I'm not sure if I did it right.
With another gallon, I made mozzarella cheese the long way. I've made mozzarella a few times the short way, with varying success. It's tasted OK, but wouldn't hold it's shape. I don't think this round was a success. It holds it's shape just fine, but is harder than I wanted, and doesn't tase very good. Mozzarella cheese freezes well, so it's off to the freezer with these guys.
With the last portion of the raw milk, I made yogurt. Not a success. It was my first time making yogurt, and although I pasteurized it, I didn't make any other allowances for using raw milk. After culturing overnight, the "yogurt" was still runny like milk, so I dumped it out and tried again with store-boughten whole milk mixed with cream. This super fatty, creamy stuff turned into great yogurt, and I've had some yummy smoothies in the last few days. I'll happily try this again, but the other parts of cheesemaking I'm not so sure about. Both the cheddar and the mozzarella consumed most of a day. It's tough to rationalize spending so much time on something that can be easily bought at the grocery store or farmer's market (and tastes better). Better to spend time making cheese (or yogurt) that is hard to find, and spend my precious little free time on other pursuits.
Take yogurt. The grocery stores I frequent don't seem to sell whole milk yogurt in anything other than Plain. It apparently takes space away from the sugary, low fat yogurt that fills the shelves. Extra fat, creamy yogurt doesn't exist in the store. Yogurt was easy to make, so I can make exactly what I want and skip the grocery store for that item.
NM and I are taking a "break," which may or may not ever end. He's 8 months off the end of his marriage, and it was too soon for him. We talked about that fairly extensively at the beginning, and he thought it would be OK. I'm an optimist and I hoped it would be OK, but the cliche about it being a bad idea to date someone soon after the end of a long relationship is a cliche because it's so often true. I'm sad, but not heartbroken, and not looking forward to jumping back into the casual dating scene. But this is another area where I must try, try again. This time I'm going to take my time, be less single-minded about it and try to have more fun. It's possible that NM and I might get back together, but our agreement is that I'm not going to wait around. Spring is coming and while I'm sad, it's hard not to feel a little joy when the sun shines. It's been too long waiting for the sun to not enjoy it when it comes.
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