I either have a crazy relationship with this old Universe of ours or a sub-conscious that likes to play with my waking self, but whichever is to blame, it seems that when I say some confidently, judgy or snarky, it comes around to bite me in the rear; in like, minutes to days afterward. I call it my Instant Karma. Who knows what I have done in the past, but the obvious lesson being handed down to me over and over, is one of humbleness and deflating the ego :)
So, wouldn’t you know that after posting a project that I was so proud to proclaim as “my easiest DIY project ever”, that you can read about here, the Joksters That Be would use it as an opportunity to remind me of my lesson AND have a good laugh to boot.
Bam! Split, right down the middle. We tried to glue it, but it just wouldn’t hold. The thinned walls (by drilling a larger hole into them) and soft wood of the turned legs just couldn’t withstand the angled pressure of the wheel post.
Well, if you remember in the original post, I mentioned a concern that the turned legs in the front were too skinny in diameter to handle the posts of the wheels, so I bought some 2×2 to make extenders for the legs to sit in if need be; but we really thought we were in the clear.
Ah, well. I got to work MAKING new legs. Yep, making my easiest project ever, more difficult, more time-consuming and more tedious. But I thought this would be the best thing to do, so they could be at the exact height of the back ones, and because I had some wood to make them already.
I used my multi-tool to slope the bottom of the leg and to shape the corners, striving for a look similar to the back legs that came with the settee, which you can see below:
(back leg with wheel)
Everything got a good sanding; then came the finishing.
I used India Ink to trace the natural grain on the poplar, which looked ridiculous before the stain. But I knew that I wanted to use the dark Walnut stain left over from the Clocks I made at Christmastime, and that would tone down the stark black of the India Ink.
I bought standard bolts that are used for furniture legs. Home Depot had them for $1.82 for two, but we found that the bolts in the old legs were easy to unscrew and we could have used those without buying new ones.
To screw the bolt in, find your center and predrill a hole smaller than the bolt diameter. Then use two nuts to lock together to have something to twist and screw into the hole. (why don’t they put a slot at the end so you can use a screwdriver?)
Twist the new legs on the furniture; then follow the same steps I outlined in this post, here, to install the wheels on the new legs.
Then sit back (pun intended, haha) and cross your fingers that the new legs can withstand the jokes of the universe, physics or the overflowing junk in your trunk, and stay in one piece so you can get on to more pressing projects :)
And speaking of more pressing projects, I installed a new window in the bathroom this weekend and it was so easy….uh, wait, wait, I still need to add trim and a window sill and I seriously don’t want to just GIVE the Big U more fodder for making me a crow eatin’ buffoon. :)
(doggies on the move make it hard to get clear pictures LOL)
My beautiful Borador (Labrador/Border Collie mix), Sydney, is very sensitive to commercially made products. Those of you who have been around for a while, might remember last summer when she was experiencing awful welts, ear infections and skin problems and when I had to whip up a DIY doggie no-bite collar to help things heal. You can click here and here to see those posts.
I am happy to report that we have come a long way in Sydney’s health. No more hot spots, skin rashes or welts, or itching. I am convinced that changing her diet back to grain-free food, using natural soaps and detanglers and eliminating commercial treats and rawhides are the reason.
There are many pet owners whose animals have suffered serious injuries and death from commercially made dog treats. Unfortunately, many seem to come from China. It is not always easy to know where exactly the treats are made. Companies don’t always make it clear on the package- a U.S. company may distribute the treats, but upon further reasearch they you notice they are MADE elsewhere-let alone in what kind of condition the facility is in or the quality of ingredients they are using.
I think one of the ways to make a stand against the harm being done to our companions is to take matter into our own hands; even if that just means making our own treats- if enough of us did we could hit the companies where it hurts, their profits, of course.
And making treats is very easy, not to mention a stress-free way to give your pooch something they will love with no worries of harmful ramifications, since you control the quality and type of ingredients to make them.
I created the following recipe on Sunday, the same day I made some cheese (woot). My sister uses a similar recipe we found on Facebook, but they call for wheat flour, something I want to limit in Sydney’s diet. They couldn’t be easier to make and Sydney LOVES them. Loves them so much, she acts a bit crazy around them. I joked with Edmond that I swear I didn’t put anything addicting in them LOL. When we have them in our hand, she
stands sits at full attention. It cracks us up. I think we could teach her just about anything right now….maybe how to sort my laundry even :D .
They are not grain free as I added oats to them, and if you want to do wheat flour, just substitute that in. But bear in mind that many dogs have allergies to wheat and I suspect Sydney does better without it too.
If you would like to make these GRAIN FREE as well, just OMIT THE OATS and increase the amount of garbanzo/chickpea flour. You can find garbanzo/chickpea flour at your local co-op, health food store, Indian or Mediterranean food stores, or the health food area of the grocery store. If you are having trouble finding it, any bean flour would work.
Here’s what you will need:
Wheat Free Dog Treats
2 cups of Garbanzo/Chickpea flour (a great source of protein)
1 cup of oats
1 can of pumpkin
1-3 tbls. of chicken or beef broth (optional)
1 heaping tablespoon of Parsley
1-2 tbls. Peanut Butter (not shown)
Mix the pumpkin, egg, parsley and broth (if using). Add the flour and oats. You can adjust the amount of flour until you have a dough that can be handled to form or roll and shape.
Divide the dough in half. In one half mix the peanut butter. I swirled the peanut butter instead of mixing thoroughly. This should give her a great big taste of peanut butter.
I made simple rounds but you could also roll and out and use a cookie cutter to shape. I baked the first batch at 250 F for a couple of hours. I wanted to dehydrate rather than bake. They are not as crispy as I would like, so I will bake for longer next time.
The peanut butter batch I baked at 350 F until they looked brown and crispy. This worked fine, but I think dehydrating them keeps some of the nutrients intact that baking at a higher temperature doesn’t.
Crispy or not, these treats sure make her happy, and I can feel good about giving them to her.
And believe me, she knows right where they are….
Edmond and I tasted each flavor, and they are not bad at all. Kinda Oatey, kinda bean-y. Not something we would bake for ourselves, but hey, to each their own. :)
Do you have a recipe for dog or maybe cat treats? Please share if you do. Together we can keep our sweet pets happy and healthy.
I am super excited about some opportunities for farm shares and goat shares at local farms this summer. I cannot not wait to get my hands on some fresh goat milk to make some goat cheese. Sounds fun, right? Funny thing is, I have hated milk since childhood. Couldn’t and can’t stand it to this day. I used alternative milk or juice in my cereal instead. I remember being absolutely disgusted at whole milk with the fat swimming at the top. I called it “fat milk” LOL. I think, actually, we all did.
Anyway, with decades of milk hating (including butter or anything creamed (soup, pasta sauce etc) though I have since began to like them in moderation), it may come as a surprise that I actually love yogurt and cheese (the stinkier and more sour, the better). AND I’ve realized that I love sheep and goat milk cheeses the best.
I also love fermenting everything. I haven’t done so much lately, but I have made wine, ginger beer, kombucha, sour dough starter, yogurt, lebneh (yogurt cheese). I also have made some alternative “cheeses” from cashews and almonds. Guests at my house never knew what weird thing I would have bubblin’ on the countertop, resting on a heating pad.
Around this same time I saw a documentary on New Zealand Farmers and one in particular that had her own goats and a small business making goat cheese. This appealed to me greatly, and I knew I also wanted to do the same some day.
Isn’t is funny how sometimes in life something resonates with you so deeply though you have no prior experience with it and viturally no knowledge of how to actually do it; all you know is, that it is exactly the direction you want it go in your life.
Well, this weekend, years later, I finally took the plunge to finally make some cheese. I wanted to make a feta, and chevre. I had it set in my mind, after a couple days of research, that this was the time to actually do it.
The problem is I can’t find any commercial goat milk locally that isn’t ultra-pasteurized. You cannot use ultra-pasteurized, really, they say you can add Calcium Chloride to make it work, but who wants to do that? You need fresh or second best, pasteurized milk. Period. I guess sheep’s milk is the tastiest, followed by the more traditional goat’s milk, then blandest, though doable, cow milk.
Being ever so impatient to ride this cheese train, with my ticket paid in full and leaving the station, I grabbed some Calder pasteurized cow milk from our local Co-op; along with Rennet tablets and 8oz of buttermilk (kismet, since when I bought it, I had no idea I would need it).
I researched a number of websites for basic recipes, techniques and trouble-shooting; then was ready to begin, first by heating the milk to the required 86- 90 F degrees.
When it reaches the desired temperature, take it off heat and add a mixture of yogurt and reserved milk to act as a live culture (recipe at bottom of post). Set it aside to rest for an hour. You can also use buttermilk, which I will do from now on, for reasons I will explain further into the post.
When the hour is up it is time to add a 1/4 tablet of Rennet to 1/2 cup of water. I crushed mine first then dissolved it in the water. When dissolved add it to the milk. Then wait. And here I got different instructions. Some said wait overnight, some said only until the curd sets for proper moisture retention; each type of cheese has a certain amount of moisture that makes it unique. For feta, that is usually an hour after adding the rennet.
But it wasn’t really setting, so I waited overnight. The next morning, I was sad to see the curd did not set. Still as liquid as it was in the beginning with maybe a few teeny curds. Trouble shooting the problem, I learned that maybe the yogurt was not full of live cultures or maybe I didn’t use enough Rennet. Shoot!
I was trying to figure out what happened when we saw a date on the rennet for April 13th; was it expired? Maybe. We weren’t sure if it was an expiration or delivery date. Rennet has a short shelf life and gets weaker and weaker as it ages. Edmond dashed over to the co-op, and found out it was expired, got a store credit, more milk and then over to Whole Foods to get some liquid rennet.
Meanwhile, I stayed at home determined to not waste the unset milk. Everywhere I read on the internet said to throw it out. If it doesn’t set then there is nothing you can do with it.
I didn’t believe it, and in true Nicki fashion, I said to heck with these people who have more cheese experience- I’m going rogue.
I decided that since my rennet was weak, I really was left with milk and a small bit of yogurt. What would it hurt to heat the milk back up, this time to 145F degrees add the juice of a lemon and make the much adored and lovely Paneer cheese of India? The worse that could happen, is I would have to throw it out :) But guess what? IT WORKED!!
When the milk was at 145F I took it off the heat, added the lemon juice, let it sit for a few minutes to curdle, drained it by hanging over the colander then molded it; which essentially is just weighting it down to form a solid mass.
Half gallon of milk 2 tablespoons or juice from a lemon is all you would need to make your own.
Below shows it under pressure to mold it into a firm round to cut into cubes before cooking. This was after hanging it to drain for and hour or so. (sorry for the blurriness, ugh)
Haha. I used whatever I could find to weigh the curd down. It is in my cous- couser from Morocco. It is a colander on top and regular pot on the bottom. Perfect for draining the whey from the curd. I should probably find a better way to weigh it down, however. :)
With so much whey left from draining the curds (the yellow liquid in the picture above), I decided to go one step further and make ricotta. Now for the ricotta I would need to heat the whey up to 186 F degrees. Well, to just boiling. Since I only had a half-gallon of whey, I knew there wouldn’t be much ricotta made; Continuing on the rogue theme, I threw in my 8 oz. of real Cultured Buttermilk (very important! Calder makes one). Eh, what could it hurt. Take off heat when the temperature is reached and add the juice of a lemon (around 2 tablespoon or so). Stir gently, but not too much. Drain, then hang, then eat :)
OH MY GOODNESS……YUM!! The buttermilk added so much flavor that I decided to only use it instead of yogurt for the live culture in my cheese making future.
Paneer and ricotta are pretty similar. I guess the main difference, is in Italy they recook the whey left from making cheese, so it is a by-product and used mostly as crumbles, and in India, for paneer they make it straight from milk, in crumbles, spreads, and solid cubes. Taste wise, they are not really very different.
In total it made a scant 1/2 cup of ricotta. It also looked a little dry for a spread, so I added some whey and threw in a pinch of oregano and basil; let it sit for an hour or so in the fridge before enjoying it on my gluten-free crackers. It was probably drier than it could be ideally, from heating the buttermilk to boiling. Next time I will try not heating it so high, maybe closer to paneer heat because seriously, that buttermilk added so much flavor to rather bland cow milk.
So what about making feta? Yep, I did. I used the vegetable liquid rennet on another half-gallon of milk. Went through the same techniques as above and this time it worked!
This time I only waited for an hour for ideal moisture retention. Then cut the curd, very gently, into cubes. Make slices across your curd then turn and slice again perpendicular to the first. This releases the whey, as shown above. Now you drain it all through cheesecloth or light weave towel or pillowcase over a colander to keep the whey to use for you brine later. Bring all the sides up and tie together and hang it on your cupboard knob or faucet over the colander. Give it a few hours. Then once again weight it all down to form a solid mass. Let this sit overnight.
The next morning, cut your curd into the size of cube you want then prepare your brine. To do this, measure your whey. You need enough to cover the curd cubes completely. Many people use large mouth jars which helps keep the curds properly covered in brine. I say just make it all into a brine to make sure you have enough. For every 2 1/2 cups (20 oz.) use 5 tablespoons of salt. You need this much salt to make sure your curds develop a brine and firm up on the outside. If you don’t use enough, your curds will simply melt into the whey and you are out of luck. I used sea salt, but there is also a cheese salt. Some use a coarse kosher salt.
Stir until the salt dissolves, pour over your curds and let it all sit in the fridge for 3-5 days before eating. The longer it sits the crumblier it will be. If it is too salty, simply rinse before eating.
Though it has only been two days, I tried a small piece without rinsing and it is yummy! I can’t wait to make more, very soon and preferably with fresh goat milk.
Here is a basic recipe to get you started.
Half gallon of milk (not ultra-pasteurized) (heat to 86 degrees)
1/4 cup of buttermilk or 1 tablespoon of yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup of milk (add with milk off heat and let sit an hour)
1/8 teaspoon of liquid rennet or 1/4 of a tablet (add after hour and let sit another hour, if curd is not set let sit a little longer, if it still isn’t after a few hours, make paneer/ricotta)
If curd is set and you get a clean break, meaning when you stick your finger in the curd and pull it out at a slight angle, your finger remains pretty clean and not covered in yogurt-like material (research Clean Break ), cut the curd, gently, into cubes.
Drain the whey and curd through a lightly woven cloth until it stops dripping (usually 2-4 hours)
Fold the cloth over the curd and weigh it down with something heavy overnight to form a solid mass.
Cut the curd into cubes the size of your choice
Make a brine 12.5% salt to whey. That is about 5 tablespoons for every 20 oz. or 2 1/2 cups.
Let marinate for 3-5 days; the longer the better.
Here are some fellow bloggers that have detailed tutorials for you to polish your techniques.
I am not hating milk so much anymore. Weeellll, not true. Still, don’t make me drink the stuff, LOL.
It’s that time of year again.
The crocus and daffodils start making their appearance.
And on my property, so does loads of wild garlic. The Allium Vineal Variety:
Throughout history, the onion family was the first fresh greens that the early American settlers could enjoy, after a long cold winter. The first bit of fresh food popping up at the earliest of spring; Tantalizing the taste buds in preparation for all the lovely produce that will surely follow in the next few months. I can fully appreciate the excited anticipation they must have felt at the first sight of the lovely pungent plants.
Last year was the first time I harvested wild garlic to eat. Wanting to make sure it was definitely and edible plant. I made some lovely scallion pancakes. I shared the recipe and offered tips on how to identify wild garlic which you can read by clicking HERE
Though it is technically a wild garlic, and smells as such, the bulbs taste similar to a scallion or very mild onion and the leaves taste and look like chives. So you can replace those with the wild garlic in any of your favorite recipes.
When I first moved here I used to mow them down often, easy to do since it grows all over the yard, and I didn’t realize what it was. Since, I have dedicated a few areas for the garlic to grow undisturbed, in the hopes that it would produce larger bulbs in the years to come. This seemed to work. The bulbs this year are quite large compared to last year.
My resident rabbit likes it too, as I found many plants with the tops chewed off :). I don’t mind, there is plenty for us all. We will have problems later, as she likes to get in my garden every chance she can.
This year I have enjoyed it in chili:
Just replace the wild garlic in for the onion of your favorite recipe, and use the chivy green leaves for a topping.
I also used some garlic with smaller bulbs to sprinkle on top of some orange chicken with spinach and kale rice. As I would a scallion.
Do you harvest wild garlic or onion to use early in the season? Or are you lucky enough to have asparagus as your first taste of the summer to come?
I am loving that I can harvest fresh produce so early in the year; When I have just planted the earliest of crops and the air is still chilly. I will be sure to share when the lettuce, peas, radishes and broccoli rabe start making their appearance in the next few weeks.