Making chevre cheese from our home-milked goat milk

June 24, 2008 in cheese, Food Porn, Humble Garden, Local Food, recipe

(This was cross-posted to Humble Garden)

Making Chevre: Completed!

(Homemade chevre cheese)

We are enjoying our independence from the food chain. We get our eggs and our milk (and now cheese) from our backyard. We eat our salads from our backyard.

If you don’t now, what are you waiting for?!

If you think food prices are high now, you will be pale with shock soon enough. Think oil-based fertilizers, oil-based pesticides, oil-run tractors and trucks, think floods, think drought, think 2008.

secret egg

(One of our hens, Jennifer, escapes the coop every day and lays her beautiful egg in the shed where the hay is)

The seed companies are reporting a 40% rise in seed sales this year (they were shocked, didn’t see it coming, these people need to get on the web more often).

Now that the baby goats are not such babies and are fully weaned, we have more goat milk to work with. We go through less than 1 gallon of fluid goat milk a day for Baby O (who adores goat milk and is sensitive to lactose in pasteurized cow milk).

Can't have him, McCain

(Baby O with new hair cut, growing lots of muscles from that goat milk!)

Our milking doe, Torte, gives us about one and 1/2 gallons of milk a day. Over two days, we then have one extra gallon of milk, works out nicely.

torte being milked

(Torte in her stanchion)

You may or may not know that it is hard to make cream or butter from goat milk because the fat doesn’t separate out (because the fat globules are smaller and stay spread out, like its been homogenized). We could make it if we bought a $400.00 cream separator but thats not going to happen! I love goat cheese just fine.

torte being milked

(Q milking Torte)

We will be getting a jersey cow/calf to have super high quality milk, cream, and butter. I can wait for that.

Back to the topic for today.

It is VERY easy to make chevre but it takes a few days, you simply have to be patient.

We are using milk we pasteurized for this batch, we may go raw with he next batch.

We used a chevre starter from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, I can not recommend them highly enough.

Making chevre with our home-milked goat milk

(All in one chevre starter)

This little packet is enough for one gallon of milk. This could not be easier, you just bring your milk up to (or down to as the case may be) to 86 F and sprinkle the starter in. Mix well and let culture at room temperature for 12-20 hours.

The curd sets up and excludes the whey.

You then slice it up a bit so that the mass of curd is broken up and more whey is excluded.

Remember that all of the equipment being used must be sterilized.

We bought the plastic chevre molds from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company which I cleaned very well.

These are well worth the cost and will last a long time.

Making Chevre: plastic molds

(Chevre molds)

Using a sterilized slotted spoon, you scoop out the curds and begin to fill the molds.

Making Chevre: curds out of the pot

(Curds and whey)

Making Chevre: scooping in the curds

(Pouring curds into molds)

One gallon of milk yielded three molds worth of cheese.

Making Chevre: curds in the mold

(Filled mold)

Making Chevre: curds in the mold

(Filled cheese molds)

Once they are filled they go on a wire rack over a pan or bucket to catch the dripping whey, cover the tops and let sit at room temperature or in the fridge for 2 days. They will shrink a lot.

Making Chevre: 2 days to drip

(Covered and dripping, on the counter top)

After the two days, the cups were no longer dripping and the cheese was quite firm and much dryer.

Making Chevre: Completed!

(Homemade chevre cheese)

This cheese tastes unbelievably fresh and, I think, uniquely ours. Its a fantastic feeling to sit down to a salad that we grew topped with chevre we made from our own goat. I watched Torte munching on tree bark in our backyard as I nibbled on the cheese.


Autumn Chunky Cheddar Cheese Potato Soup

October 24, 2007 in cheese, cooking, Food Porn, recipe

Autumn Chunky Cheddar Cheese Potato Soup

At the risk of being somewhat repetitive, I am going to talk about another potato recipe today.

As you may know, we have been growing all our own vegetables this year. I have been writing about it over at my garden blog Humble Garden. I have learned a whole lot about organic gardening (mostly its about getting out of the way of nature, the zen approach – A healthy and diverse ecosystem with strategic and complimentary or companion intercropping and intensive permacultivation allows for a balance that gives you healthy plants with very little fuss at all).

We grew straw bale potatoes (potatoes are put on the ground – not in it – and straw is layered over it. See these links: “Its all about the green” and “A small harvest of straw potatoes” ) but have not reaped a large harvest. Potatoes are fascinating for their ethnobotanical journeys across the world and also its plant physiology but most importantly, homegrown potatoes have a distinct flavor different from the ones in the store, making any trouble you put into growing them worthwhile. I urge you to give some a try next year. You could grow them in containers so even intrepid sky high apartment dwellers should be able to hack homegrown taters.

As Alton Brown said in his second Good Eats episode, potatoes will grow in any hole you drop them in.

Even though the harvest was meager, what we have gotten, as I have mentioned before, are definitely tasty. I just wrote previous to this post in “Homegrown Potato Satori” about using them in a simple saute.

The potatoes have been lurking for me a bit because I do not have a large potato eating habit and so I do not know THAT many recipes for using them. I was raised to eschew pasta and potatoes, rice was King.

I was looking for SOME sort of inspiration for our taters before they were no longer brand spanking new.

The other day, I was reading a book called “The Lost Towns of Quabbin Valley” about the towns from the region that is now called the Quabbin Reservoir here in Massachusetts. These five towns were essentially summarily dismissed, condemned to obsolescence, taken by imminent domain and razed to the ground (This man-made lake is the water source for Eastern MA – Boston).

One of the photos in the book shows the North Dana schoolhouse (1910, I think) with a caption that talked about how the children would have hot lunch at school, one day a week.

A quote by Katherine Reed, a 90 year old former pupil, says:

“It was usually soup and often potato soup. Us older girl were allowed to leave class a little early to peel the vegetables. It happened on Fridays, and all the students brought their own cup and spoon.”

School lunch, one day a week, no plates or utensils! They probably had more nutrition in that one meal than is served all week in today’s public school’s meals. Don’t get me started.

In 1910, they were likely using potatoes from home gardens, very much like mine so I was inspired to make a potato soup that they may have eaten. My recipe has some things they likely didn’t have the money to add – cheese and sour cream perhaps, maybe even the pepper.

Autumn Chunky Cheddar Cheese Potato Soup

I searched online and through my old Joy of Cooking and didn’t find any recipes that sang to me. What follows is an admixture of all the recipes that I found with various sections from here and there to make this soup.

You may need to add more or less salt and pepper to bring it to a flavor right for you and your family. We had only this for supper and we were mighty satisfied. We liked it chunky. The thought of blending this soup makes me weep, it would make it into a glue-like mass.

For us, the flavor was the purity of freshly harvested potatoes. The salt and pepper were nice sub-notes. The sour cream, while decadent and optional (isn’t everything?), is a nice pure accent of creamy goodness. I can see using yogurt instead for a lower fat and different flavor. Adding the chives was also a nice additional layer of flavor. I added some cilantro and a bit of fresh sage to my soup more as a nibble of green versus a dominant over all soup flavor. You could incorporate sage into the recipe (I love sage) but I preferred to keep the main flavor to potato.

Cheesy Potato Soup

  • 8 medium potatoes (try to get fresh ones from a farmers market or grow your own) (I used the yellow skinned potatoes we grew)
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 C organic chicken broth
  • 1 C finely shredded cheese (I used cheddar, you might want to get more creative with this if you wish)
  • 1/2 C half and half (or more, up to you)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • sour cream – enough for a small spoon for each serving
  • chives – small cut – for garnish

Dig up potatoes, pitch any that have been nibbled on by resident rodents, hose off dirt while standing in front yard and enjoying the sunny fall day. Once inside, clean away all remaining dirt and peel potatoes. Boil in salted water until a knife slips in easily but the potato does not crumble apart. Remove to a strainer to drip dry. Do not let the potatoes sit in the water.

Bring the milk and minced shallot up to a scalding simmer (do not boil) and add the flour. Whisk very briskly to avoid any chance of flour lumps. Add the chicken stock and bacon fat and bring back up to a simmer. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper. Add shredded cheese and stir to incorporate.

Add potatoes and begin to break them down into smaller pieces. I suggest not using any sort of mechanical device, just the back of a large spoon. Do not make it a mashed potato soup. Leave a lot of texture.

Simmer until the remaining potato chunks are of a mouth feel that you like. Add half and half to the soup and bring back up to serving temperature. Do not boil. Add remaining or even more salt and pepper to your taste.


Autumn Chunky Cheddar Cheese Potato Soup

A Day at the Quabbin: boat

Learn more about the Quabbin Lost Towns:

Puffy Spinach Ricotta Triangles

May 12, 2007 in baking, cheese, cooking, Food Porn, recipe, vegetable

Spinach Puff Pastry

I apologize for not posting much this last week. Its been rather hectic!

To broaden my photographic learning experience, I am the second shooter in a few [tag]wedding[/tag]s this summer with this fantastic guy [tag]Rob Brown[/tag], his site is [tag]Rob Brown Photography[/tag] in case you need the friendliest [tag]wedding photographer[/tag] in [tag]New England[/tag]. I am learning massive amounts from my mistakes and I am really appreciating this opportunity.

For me on a personal note, it means I have been doing more image processing in this past week than I usually do. Even though I have shot several recipes and I have an awesome upcoming post on this fantastic experience I had last week, I have been blog-blocked big time!

I can foreshadow at least three upcoming posts for you (tease you):

Whew, see, its tiring just contemplating some of this!

Here at home, we are planning and about to build the [tag]raised bed[/tag]s for our [tag]garden[/tag] and the first [tag]aquaculture[/tag] tank (with help, mind you. My husband and I have found out we do not do construction well together).

Ok, no more delays! Lets get to today’s recipe. While this is not [tag]low glycemic[/tag] because of the [tag]puff pastry[/tag], the stuffing is and its good for you as well as being delicious. This is good hot out of the oven or cooled off later on.

[tag]Puffy Spinach Ricotta Triangles[/tag]


  • 1 small package frozen [tag]spinach[/tag] (just spinach, no extra sauces and such fripperies that you find in the stores now)
  • 3/4 C low fat or no-fat [tag]ricotta[/tag] cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or lime juice
  • 4 large [tag]basil[/tag] leaves
  • 3 tablespoons fine ground [tag]parmesan[/tag] [tag]cheese[/tag]
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin [tag]olive oil[/tag] with fragnant aroma
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced [tag]garlic[/tag] (more or less, up to you)
  • pinch [tag]sea salt[/tag]
  • 1 teaspoon beaten [tag]egg[/tag] (use the rest as the glaze on the outside of the pastry)
  • 1 sheet of store bought [tag]puff pastry[/tag], thawed


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Put frozen block of spinach in colander and allow to thaw. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, saving expressed liquid. Use this spinach water later to thin the filling, if needed.

In a food processor, mix until incorporated and smooth – spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, basil leaves, salt, olive oil, parmesan, and garlic. Set aside until puff pastry is ready.

Roll out thawed puff pastry on a floured board and then cut into 9 equal squares. Roll each square until rather thin.

Put about one tablespoon of the filling (try to pre-portion it into 9 portions to best use the filling) in the middle of the square and then brush two sides with the remaining beaten egg. Bring the other edges of the dough over to work a triangular pie. Pinch edges, wash with some more egg, fold edge over and then crimp again.

Put pies on a cooking sheet with parchment on it (I spray it with cooking spray, up to you).

Brush whole pie with egg wash.

Bake until golden brown.

I served it with some limes and ginger ale (we are on a diet ginger ale binge here, cant really say why)

Spinach Puff Pastry

Related Posts:

Local Food: Brookfield Orchards in Brookfield, MA: a phototour

April 20, 2007 in cheese, farm, Food Porn, fruit, Local Food


(Apple Dumpling with vanilla ice cream and cheddar cheese)

Here in central Massachusetts, we have an abundance of apple orchards. When tourists come to this region in the summer, they expect to do a few very specific things – buy antiques, pick apples, visit 18th century New England at Old Sturbridge Village, and enjoy a rural landscape. Those of us who live here year round can become rather inattentive to our the local charms but the coming of spring usually pulls us back out of our ruts.

Today has been just a stellar day weather-wise so my oldest daughter and I took a trip to one of those local orchards, Brookfield Orchards, in North Brookfield, MA. This place is a fair hike from our house and is situated in the middle central part of the state.

For those of you who may not know where Massachusetts is –

This map shows you where North Brookfield is in Massachusetts

Their address is 12 Lincoln rd, North Brookfield, MA 01535

(508) 867-6858

Their website is, where you can see all about their mail-order options. They ship apples, preserves, relishes, mustards, jams, gift baskets, and more.

To learn more about the other offerings in the area, check out the “Browse the Brookfields” site for other attractions, like:

The following photos gives you a bit of a photo tour through the outside orchard and the store. Enjoy!

The specialty at Brookfield Orchards is hot apple dumplings, served with vanilla ice cream and/or a chunk of cheddar cheese. (seen at top)

Dormant apple trees that will have stunning blossoms in a few weeks time.

Some of the store.

Loads of antiques and charm.

The ceiling

More antiques.

Some fun kitchen stuff too.

Sites of Interest:

Related Posts: