Sunday, 22 June 2014


The Artisan Cheese making Kit that I ordered from Mad Mille came on Friday - I ordered it on Thursday, so kudos to MM for their superfast shipping! The Artisan kit has all sorts of equipment in it, like a cheese press, a thermometer, as well as a big draining spoon, curd knife, moulds, etc. Expensive, but worth having if you are going to be making cheese on a regular basis. If you are only going to make cheese occasionally, then you can get by with McGyver-ing things, but if you are going to do it on a regular basis, it is worth laying out hard-saved cash for proper, quality equipment.
So this weekend's cheese making escapade resulted in two cheeses. The first, a Ricotta Salata - a ricotta cheese that is lightly pressed to make it drier and firmer, then aged for at least a month. This produces a semi hard cheese, that can be grated, and is great with pasta. Here it is, salt rubbed, and ready for aging.

The second cheese I did was Halloumi. I do love Halloumi! I will be grilling some of it up tonight, to serve with a warm quinoa salad. The quinoa has been cooked in whey instead of stock. Using the whey in place of stock is an excellent use of the leftover whey from cheese making. It is loaded with minerals, and high in protein, so is such a terrible waste to just throw it out. Here is the halloumi, cooling on the cheese mats.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cheese Glorious Cheese

One of the few things I still walk the several miles to the supermarket for is cheese. And it is also one of the most expensive things I buy. For a dairying nation, it is appalling that our cheese is more expensive than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Even more appalling, NEW ZEALAND cheese (and butter) is more expensive here in NZ than anywhere else in the world! Our own cheese - we pay more for it on the supermarket shelves than the people we export it to!
Basic cheeses like cottage cheese and ricotta, which only require lemon juice, I have made often over the years, but getting the necessary supplies to do the fancier/more complex cheeses was always difficult if not impossible. Now that Mad Millie has come on the market here, I can finally get all the things I need to make my own cheese. Yay!
Making cheese is actually quite easy, and a lot of fun, not to mention satisfying. It is just time consuming. But it is worth it. It tastes sooo much better than store-bought, is a lot healthier, and is substantially cheaper. For $6.50 of milk, I can make about $25-$30 worth of feta (which I then marinate in olive oil and herbs, which would then go for around $50-$60 in the shops), or $30-$35 worth of mozzarella, or around $40-$50 worth of halloumi. I am going to try making parmesan soon, because I should be able to do around $30-$35 worth with the $6.50 of milk. There is really no way I could afford to eat these types of cheeses if I didn't make them myself. I can barely afford to buy basic unmarinated feta in the shop, certainly not any of the others. When I have a little extra cash (not that often), I do buy a little bit of feta, and put it up to marinate, but for the others, I usually have to wait until Mum comes over from Aussie for a visit every two years or so, and she splashes out to get us some really nice cheeses. Next time she comes, I will be able to serve up my own cheeses instead.
Yesterday's cheese was mozzarella. Although the recipe specifies unhomogenized milk, this batch I did with regular, homogenized milk, and had no problems with it. The first batch I did a few weeks back I did do with unhomogenized, but it wasn't any better, or easier to work, than using the homogenized - if anything, the homogenised milk batch turned out better. This is good for me, since the nearest place I can get the unhomogeized milk is the supermarket - yup, that one that is several miles walk away.

And the prize for making mozzarella is... PIZZA! Making your own cheese gives a whole new meaning to "pizza made from scratch".
Here are the toppings all prepped, just waiting for the dough for the crust to rise. (The recipe for the dough can be found on my "No Fail Pizza Dough" post).

 We have my home made pizza sauce (also on the "No Fail Pizza Dough" post) in the jar, chopped sorrel fresh from the garden, and on the platter we have starting at the top left: my home fermented capsicums, fresh mushrooms (popped up on the lawn overnight), the fresh mozzarella, salami (ok, that's store bought, I'm not quite up to making my own salamis yet), the stuffed baby eggplant I put up a couple of months ago (the eggplants were from my own garden), dried tomatoes in olive oil that I did last year (tomatoes from my garden too), and my home cured olives.
Da dada da dada dah... PIZZA.



Saturday, 14 June 2014

Shelly K's Block

Yay! I have completed my work on Shelly K's block for the Garden & Flowers DYB Round Robin. I am definitely catching up.

On Shelly's block I started with a SRE following the print in the centre patch, then I surrounded this with floss embroidery. A wonderful groundcover vine done in fly stitch with pink and dark red berries, purple Michaelmas daisies, Solomon's Seal, cast on buttonhole stitch roses, and tiny 3-bullion stitch tulips. I finished the block with a silver and crystal butterfly charm in the upper left corner. Each motif (except the daisies) has green in it, but each green is actually a different green from any of the others.
I hope Shelly is happy with the work, I quite enjoyed doing this one, and am very pleased with the way it came out.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Velia's block

Those who know me know I like to slather embroidery on a block like an Australian slathers sunscreen in summer. So when Velia's block arrived, with Shelly's lovely, delicate work, it was a challenge to keep my embroidery light, to keep the tone that had been set.
Shelly's work consisted of SRE, and delicate seam work with a sprinkling of transparent seed beads in matching colours. I love that kind of subtle use of seed beads, and often use it myself. Transparent seed beads are like fairy dust - a little bit of magic. They add a sparkle to the seam, elevating the stitching from ordinary (albeit lovely) to something special.

My work on Velia's block consists of a narrow seam treatment in floss and transparent beads, a wide seam treatment with SRE, and A SRE motif.

The narrow seam treatment is a stylized Wisteria, done in zigzag buttonhole, detached chain, colonial knots, and seed beads.

The wide seam treatment is a Briar Rose motif. The briar is zigzag couched floss, with detached chain leaves in floss sprinkled through. The roses are done in silk ribbon, in French knots and scroll stitch.

The SRE motif is of the Eusebia fuchsia.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Flora's Block

With everything that has been happening I have fallen way behind in the Round Robins, and am now frantically trying to catch up. To that end, I have finally completed Flora's block in the Flowers & Garden DYOB - yay! I hope she is happy with it.

In the top right we have stumpwork lilacs worked in silk ribbon and floss, with a gorgeous gold ladybug charm. The seam for that one is a row of long-and-short blanket stitch, with the long arms made into forget-me-nots done in seed beads. In the middle to we have a row of bluebells, and on the left the seam is done in feather stitch, with rice pearls added for flower buds. The floral patch next to that has a spider web worked in silver metallic, with the seam done in a row of herringbone topped with tiny gold daisy spacers with cream seed bead centres.
The seam under the silkie is done as alyssum - a cascade of white colonial knot flowers and green detached chain leaves. Dangling underneath is the spider that lives in the web. The bottom right corner has a foundation of lattice, with No.10 purl twisted thru it to form the climbing rose stems, and detached chain leaves and bullion buds added.

The bottom left corner I have overlaid with lace. This is one of the oldest, and most fragile of the antique laces I got in the box of laces in the post Arsenic and Old Lace... Without the Arsenic (But With the Cup of Tea). It was identified as being Point de Venise, most likely from around late 18th or early 19th century. I carefully tacked it on with gold pearl centres to the flowers and straight stitch stamens topped with pearlized milky-orange seed beeds, and straight stitch and seed beads on the lace edging. I have also added little flowers made of the same seed beads and a colonial knot to the spaces in between the edging, on the seam.