Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheesy Saturday Night

Yep, we're one hip happenin' couple.  We spend our Saturday nights doing exciting things like.... making cheese.
We started by boiling milk at a very low temperature for what felt like two hours.  I swear it's more boring than watching water boil.  And you have to stir it constantly so you are just standing there....forever!  It has to reach 175 degrees.

Halfway through boiling the milk I looked out the window and saw a family of deer moving through the property.  Oh, I had all the time in the world to look out the window since I wasn't the one stiring...

Once it's at 175 you add buttermilk and then lemon juice.
Within 30 seconds it will start to curdle. 
Remove from heat and let it set.
After 10 minutes pour it into the cheese cloth in a strainer to get all the whey out. (Yes, it's gross looking.  It's curdled milk you know!)
Once its all drained it's time to squeeze it...................
Then tie it up to hang........... (we had no twine so I found the prettiest little pink ribbon my husband could use :-)
Let it hang for 30 minutes than put into container and add in whatever spices or flavorings you like.
 For this first batch we decided on Black Truffle Salt.
Once you have your spices mix them in.
Stir them really well then press the curds together with a spatula and put in the fridge overnight...unless you like warm cheese curd.  (Ick!)
Sunday morning we went to Jackson for breakfast and the farmers market was in Mel's parking lot so stopped to get some yummy tomatoes, berries, jam, pickled onions and lemon curd.
We came home and did some housework then plopped down on the couch to watch a movie.  Halfway through we remembered the cheese and paused the movie to check on it...and taste it of course.
We ate the whole thing with our fresh tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thunder, Lightening, Fire and Flowers

After a crazy few weeks at work and the realization I hadn’t picked up my camera in over a month I had to get out for the day.  More than happy to share my love of photography and adventure, my friend Kat suggested we go wildflower hunting.    We had a horribly dry winter and hoped it wouldn’t affect the flowers on the passes. 

We headed up 108 and drove for what felt like hours looking for any sign of color.  Nothing!  The only thing we saw was dead grass, dead plants, everything dead.  We saw a sign for a road we’ve never been on.  Since we were in Kat’s car we wanted to be a little cautious.  My truck with 10-ply tires can take a beating.  Her sporty little job with low profile tires isn’t as tough.  Luckily the road was paved and, with the exception of a very occasional vehicle, no one else was around.  It was nice to be in a comfortable car instead of a bouncy truck though. 

We wandered around a meadow disgusted by all the dead plants.  Then we remembered a freak cold snap we had last week and wondered if it was the 20 degree nights that did them all in rather than the lack of rain and 100 degree days.  We turned around and headed farther up 108. 

When we got to the top we started to see a little more color.  Then more color….and no where to pull over.  We finally found a spot big enough for the car and took off to walk the creek. 

Kat took a more cautious approach.  Me, not so much.  I went straight up the middle of the creek.  Usually a foot deep or more it was only a couple inches in most places. 

The flowers were stunning.  Lots of color and a few I hadn’t seen before.

We stopped at a vista point on a sharp curve.  At first glance it looks like absolutely nothing other than a parking lot on a ridge.  We took a quick little walk and between the trees was this valley.

We saw some ducks in a pond on 108 right before 395.  We threw on our telephoto lenses and got out to see how close we could get.  As soon as we got out of the car they went to the other side of the pond so we took a few shots and kept going.

After spending quite a bit of time at the creek we went over to 395 and up Monitor Pass.  Everything was dead.  The area where I normally stop usually has acres of flowers….Dead! 

We went to Markleeville for lunch and when we left we saw smoke to the East.  So...we went over to Highway 88 to check it out.  One of the ridges outside of Minden was on fire.  We had been seeing some amazing clouds and knew they were producing lightening.  For the 5 minutes I had internet access I read that it was indeed lightening that caused it and three other fires in the area.

Heading home we were amazed at the color of the sky and the cloud formations.  When I got home I decided I wasn't going to pass up the amazing sky and headed back out to watch the sun set.  One of my favorite places to watch the sky is on Hunt Road.  It’s a road over from the road I live on and is very rural.  It’s rarely traveled, wide open and has beautiful oak trees. 

I got home around 9:15 and started editing pictures.  I kept hearing a loud banging.  I thought the neighbors were building in the middle of the night again.  One bang was so loud I thought Brian fell out of bed.  It wasn’t until a flash of lightening came close to the house and the thunder rattled the pictures on the wall did I even know what was going on.  The thunder and lightening lasted until 4 am.  It was a really long, loud night.   We lost power around 11 and I’m glad its back on now.  It would have made for a very hot day since it’s 102 today.