Traditional, But Not Static

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My kitchen may tend toward the traditional, but it is not static. It can’t be the same season to season, in times of plenty or in times of hardship. I can’t possibly keep up nor can I adapt to what God brings my way if sameness is my goal. This has been and will continue to be a hard-won truth for me.

A question I receive more than any other is: “How do you do it all?” Do you wonder how I sprout, soak, bake, ferment, and juggle every thing, every day?

Guess what? I don’t.

First of all, I haven’t learned everything I want to learn about cooking and traditional food. And what I have learned, I don’t (can’t) juggle all at the same time anyway. By way of encouragement to you, I want to share some of the adjustments I and my kitchen have made in the last few months — just to keep up with life!

Milk, Cheese, Butter…

The addition of a milk cow to our homestead tipped my scales wildly off-balance. At least it felt that way. In addition to the mentally-taxing chore of taming our milk cow, keeping up with the daily 4 to 5 gallons of milk is a constant balancing act.

As it was an ideal time to make cheese and I was creating lessons for the Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse, I made tons of cheese all spring. Many cheeses benefit from longer aging and eventually they took over one-third of the refrigerator — the only available aging location at the time (besides a few cheeses I age in olive oil in the pantry). Because raw milk also took up another third of the fridge, I got to the point where I said: “No more cheese!”

I had to figure out how to keep up with the milk volume in a different way. Instead of making cheese, I started skimming most of the milk and making butter for us out of the cream, and clabber for the dog and chickens out of the skimmed milk. The butter is now piling up in the freezer and our animals are loving their bounty, too!

Plus, we’ve been having ice cream and did you hear that my friend Mare @ Just Making Noise is coming out with a delectable homemade ice cream ebook soon?

A Cheese Cave

Then last week, things changed again. Our friends (with whom we garden) loaned us a wine cooler to use as a cheese cave. I have to do a few things to make it work, such as adding a bowl of water for humidity. That’s okay with me — I’m so grateful to use it! Next week, my son and I will be creating simple plywood shelves to replace the wine bottle racks, and that will give the cheeses more airflow.

This “cheese cave” functions for now as the cellar I will one day have, Lord willing. And using it returns to me some of the use of the regular refrigerator!

To be honest, the fridge situation (stuffed full all the time) plus the lack of a cellar for aging the traditional foods I love to make has been quite challenging. I’ve been downright depressed at times. I kept lifting up my needs to the Lord and I’m grateful that He provided this transition step.

Barbeque

Yesterday, somewhat spontaneously, I asked my husband if I could pretty-please purchase a charcoal barbeque unit while I was in town. My reasons must have been convincing because he readily agreed. My biggest reason: to not heat up the house this summer with indoor cooking. He hates a hot house. ;)

So, I purchased a big Weber grill. My husband got home a little early, and he and C. assembled it while I got the hamburgers ready to cook. And we grilled — it was awesome. Actually, B. and C. did it all, from lighting the briquets to cooking the burgers.

I am looking forward to a summer of learning how to cook a whole lot of traditional foods on a grill. Kebobs, vegetables, breads, meats, pizza and more! Do you have any great grill recipes I could try? Please let me know in the comments.

Fermenting Summer Produce

I am still figuring out how I will balance fermenting of garden produce and seasonal fruits. Fridge space will always be at a premium because of milk, and I have no cellar. The little cheese cave certainly can’t hold everything I want to culture and ferment. So my approach for fermentation is going to be less putting up for long-term, and more fermenting and enjoying what’s in season.

What adaptations, seasonal or otherwise, have you made in your traditional kitchen lately? Don’t forget to share your favorite grill recipes with me!

For more posts on simple living, please visit Simple Lives Thursday, a blog hop hosted by me and four blog friends.

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Comments

  1. sandra says

    Hi! of course this will not be new to you… but grilled peppers! around here there is no such thing as a bbq meal without a colourfull roasted pepper salad (with lots os garlic, olive oil and wine vinegar) whether with meat or fish (usually fresh sardines during the summer) or seafood. It keeps nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days at least and I know that it can be preserved, although I have never done it myself.

  2. says

    Wardee.. I can TOTALLY relate to your fridge space dilema. It is sooo hard to juggle all the milk. I actually have two fridges.. in the house.. and still can barely manage :-/ I suppose when it comes down to it, if I had an industrial sized fridge, I would still FILL IT UP lol…

  3. Toni says

    Hi Wardee,

    When I was taking the Fundamentals e-course I decided that my kitchen had to change! I went thru cupboards,pantry and drawers and rearranged everything to accommodate a more fermenting lifestyle…and just plain getting rid of what is not needed. This is definitely an ongoing process! For this kind of cooking/preparing food I soon learned that only the essentials are necessary! There are many old farms around here that have old summer kitchens, now wouldn’t that be nice! We have a small garden, but lots of zucchini that I need to do something with. It’s funny…because I was hoping to do some catching up with my girls on school subjects that they are struggling with, plus we’re doing a really cool Science e-camp over the summer thinking that we’d have more time…Ha! It’s pretty challenging and I am realizing that summer is definitely not more time! I really appreciate all that GNOWFGLINS has taught my family and I!!! It’s kinda good to know that you struggle too…(not to sound rude at all)…but we are all growing together and we are definitely growing for the better and healthier!

  4. Heather says

    It sounds like you need to find a place to put a 2nd fridge! I would find one on craigslist (but I shop craigslist first for just about ev.ery.thing.) Last summer, we lived in a place that had a fridge that was just a fridge–the fridge was huge, but the freezer part was JUST an ice-maker and room for its container. I would totally LOVE to have one of those again. I have a chest freezer, so the freezer compartment on top of the fridge is not all that necessary, but, even without a cow, I can often use the extra fridge space!

  5. Cynthia says

    When we do lamb, beef or veggie kebabs, we marinate quartered onions, bay leaves (broken in half), peppers (red cut into 2×2″ish pieces), cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and the meat, if using, in olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Skewer and grill.

    Our Cypriot landlady used to make lovely chicken kebabs having marinated them in yoghurt, olive oil, garlic and oregano. So delicious and moist.

    With ground meat, we like the Armenian take of finely minced meat (not lean – usually 3 times through the meat grinder) with finely minced onion, allspice, red and black pepper and salt. You can add parsley or garlic & cumin for other flavours. These are usually squeezed on a flat skewer otherwise the ground meat slips off. They could be wrapped in caul fat, which will keep in on the skewer, add flavour and moisture. Or, make hamburgers!

    Those are some of our favourites… :)

  6. says

    Yes, I definitely have had to “adapt” my traditional foods wish list. In spite of all your great videos and lessons on sourdough bread, I just can’t get a finished product I like. So what I do is use your overnight fridge sourdough bread recipe and then I just make sandwich rounds or flatbread from it. I also found juggling too many cultures (kombucha, kefir, yogurt) was just too much for me personally so I searched hard for good store brand alternatives- Still make my own kombucha though. Thanks for letting us all know you are struggling with the same challenges we are.

  7. says

    Thank you for the “permission” to feed good human food to animals. I was struggling with that this week! I had picked and processed 50 lbs of free cherries when my sister gave me 35 more pounds she couldn’t get to. I really, really didn’t want to do them, but felt guilty about wanting to give them to my chickens. They were wormy, so other people didn’t want them. Well, today I read this and then dumped the box out for my hens. Thanks for the push in the right direction. I’ll really appreciate the eggs!

  8. Katie says

    Wardee,

    Our new favorite recipe this summer is simple and yummo. Pick any pepper, sweet, hot, whatever you like as long as its of the longer thin varieties like banana or jalapeno, and cut off the top. Take out most of the seeds and then stuff with a favorite cheese (which you have a lot of :)). Wrap in bacon and skewer. Grill and then eat. Sooooo good. Our pepper vocabulary has increased since we are talking to our farmers at the market about what variety we should try next. We also bought a really cheap smoking box and have added it to the fire with hickory chips. It makes everything super great. The other thing we really like is creative burgers. Last night I diced up bacon, cheddar, and whole peppercorns and added it some bison. We also like lamb with red peppers and feta and red onion. Usually we just throw together what we have in a bowl and its nice because the kitchen can be cleaned while the burgers grill since all the condiments are already mixed in. I love grilling and I bet you will too. The possibilities are endless-fajitas, kabobs, lamb chops, steaks, fish, shrimp. And don’t forget about veggies; grilled corn on the cob is awesome. Just remove the husk and save some back, add salt, butter, garlic, pepper to cob and then wrap with the saved husks. Grill and eat.

  9. Katie says

    Sure. We found it at Home Depot. It’s cast iron and I think it’s made by Weber. It was in the accessories section and was no more than $20 (we’ve had it for a few years). You basically soak the wood chips in water (you can use lots of different types of wood for different flavors) for an hour or so. You put the wet wood chips in the box and close the lid by sliding it on the box. The box goes under the grates below the food. As the wood dries out, it smokes and then imparts the wood flavor on whatever you’re cooking. The way we learned what flavor woods we would like was by sampling smoked salts from our local spice shop. These salts get their flavor using the same method and are super good on a nice steak.

    • Allie says

      Hope you don’t mind if I cut in on this conversation, but thinking about Wardee’s cheese and your smoke box…my question is to Wardee – if you are thinking of smoking some of your cheese? I just had a flashback of delicious smoked cheeses my Dad would bring home during the holidays….mmmm

  10. Buffi says

    My husband and I grill non-stop in the summertime. Pizza is quite amazing on the grill. Roll out your favorite dough, and brush one side with olive oil to prevent sticking. Put the oiled-side down, and grill uncovered on high for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill, oil other side, and put toppings on grilled side, and grill COVERED again for 4-ish minutes until cheese is melted.

    Also, to use up those veggies, make grilled veggie sandwiches with any cheese you like. Slice bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, red onion, whatever you have, to about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt on both sides and lay out to let the liquid drain off for 1/2 hour or so. Brush with olive oil and grill on med for a few minutes on each side. Remove and add slices of your favorite meltable cheese (fontina is great, so is mozzarella), and serve on some good crusty bread. It is great with a dijon/mayo/sour cream spread (1 part mayo, 1 part sour cream, dijon to taste).

  11. says

    I just did a post on grilled pizza, too. I don’t even oil it if I put it directly on the grill. As long as the grill is hot it won’t stick at all. When I put it directly on the grill, I keep the toppings precooked, skip or use warmed-up sauce, and keep the pizza rolled thin. It gets cracker thin and smokey but stays stiff. I find it is a little floppier if I oil it and that’s not the way we like it, but that’s a personal preference.

    I also use a stone to make thicker, breadier crusts. It’s also pretty good, just different. I even do foccacia and other breads on the grill using the stone or a dutch oven.

    I brush stone fruit with melted butter and grill them cut side down.

    I LOVE my gas and my charcoal grill.

    • Buffi says

      I have never had a floppy crust when oiling the dough before grilling it. It always comes out firm. I have never tried it with a stone though. I will have to try that.

  12. says

    I don’t have a milk cow, but I do have milk goats and I can relate to the fridge problems. One of the best things that ever happened to me was when my husband retired and brought home and apartment sized fridge they were giving away. At last! Room for my milk and cheeses!

    I want to do more fermenting and just recently bought some airlock devices and DH will put the grommets in lids for me. I need to do some more reading first, though.

    I am glad you are over the steep learning curve part of keeping a cow. One other good thing to do with the skim milk is … mix it with water – 1 part skim milk, 10 parts water, and drizzle it on your vegetable garden. We did that last year and it was very successful. The soil organisms LOVE it! It is good for lawns too. :)

    You probably already do this, but I often trade our fresh milk for things from like-minded folks.

    Thank you for all you are learning and sharing with us.

  13. says

    Thanks so much for the sharing the news about the ebook, Wardee! Pray that I get it done in good time. I am careful not to let the work of putting together the ebook interfer with my family. It has been challenging, but good. I’ve been learning how to put it out of my mind when I need to :o)

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