Tag Archives: dairy

The Taste of Summer

Blackberries and heavy cream.  The taste of summer.

Blackberries and cream

There are many reasons that I own a Jersey milk cow, and this right here is one of them.  Seems a silly thing to feed and milk a cow twice daily for two tablespoons of heavy cream on a bowl of blackberries a couple times a year but you do what you have to do!

As a kid we picked gallons of blackberries.  Dad would head out to check the cattle and we would all pile in the truck with plastic buckets and pruning shears.  We would chop our way into the thicket of brambles along the pasture and pick for an hour or so.  Every. Night.  Mom made jam and froze the whole berries for winter. It was hot and murderously scratchy work – and our nightly reward was a bowl of berries with a bit of sugar.  If we were milking a cow we would go to the fridge, open the milk jar and scoop off a dollop of the heavy cream of the top.  So thick it folds into leathery pleats as the spoon skims the top, this cream is the food of the gods.

Farm Diary – June 6th

Before we start the Farm Diary a bit of explanation about tomorrow.  Tuesday is P-day for the chickens – as in processing day!  Seven weeks from hatch to fry pan.  We raise broiler chickens in “tractors” on the lawn in a method popularized by Joel Salatin in his book “Pastured Poultry Profits”.  Far be it from me to suggest that Mr. Salatin may be making as much on his books as he does on his farm, but chicken tractors make it easy to raise chickens.  Ours are smaller than his – 4x8x2 feet tall with a hinged cover on one end.   They typically house about 40 three-week old chicks or 15 mature broilers, have a hanging feeder and water and are moved daily.

6:00 – Up but not really at ‘em.  I burned the midnight oil getting a grant application submitted.  WSU Kitsap Extension is working to find money to do some research on raising chickens on pasture.  We got to the final round last year – perhaps we will make it all the way this year so think happy chicken thoughts.  Kiddo #3 has an early dental appointment this morning so I need to be up early and get chores done.  Wake up the kiddos.

6:30 – Gorgeous morning to be out and about.  Head into the barn and have a surprise – there is a dead barn owl on the floor.  Probably came in the load of hay that arrived last night but it is still sad.  They are beautiful birds with soft, tawny feathers and distinctive feathering around the eyes.  Reassured to hear our resident barn owl hooting in the trees I get back to chores.  Milking goes smoothly, give the extra milk to the happy hogs this morning as the fridge is full of milk and a gallon (!) of draining yogurt.  Alexis the Princess Cow is in heat again.  Depressing that she isn’t in calf.  Feed the chickens, stick my head inside and holler at the kiddos to wake up again.

7:00 – Show everyone the owl and daughter puts it in a bag to take to the science teacher at the school.  Kids out the door.  It is nice having a teenager driving at times like this!  Grab some nice fresh Greek-style yogurt topped with strawberry jam for breakfast.

7:30 – Clean up, check email and get the ‘puter loaded up and head into town.  Pick up the kiddo at the orthodontist, commiserate about the pain and suffering associated with braces, sympathize about her father’s crooked teeth genes and drop her at school with the barn owl.

8:00 – Work.

3:00 – Home.  Fill waterers for the chickens and move the tractors.  On hot days they drink A LOT!  Shannon let’s me know that the plucker and scalder can be picked up today!  This is very good news!

3:30 – Put dinner in the crock pot.  Italian meat gravy with a couple leftover pork chops, some bacon (lacking pancetta), a bunch of hot Italian sausage and the left-over pesto from dinner the other night.

4:00 – Hay delivery out.  Start getting things ready for tomorrow.  Gather up a couple of hoses, set up the tables and locate extra 5 gallon buckets for the inedible bits.  Looks like we also need propane to run the scalder.  Convo with Shannon to make sure we aren’t forgetting anything for tomorrow.  We probably will anyhow!  Take the sad, collapsed loaves of bread from the other day and cut them up and make bread pudding.  Bread, eggs, half-and-half, sugar, cinnamon.  Who knew that such simple ingredients would yield such a yummy dish.  The kids will eat it for breakfast tomorrow – if it lasts that long.

5:00 – Dinner.  Spaghetti or polenta with meat gravy.  Time to go grocery shopping as we are out of frozen veggies from last year and the garden is late this year.  Three stalks of asparagus won’t cut it.  Clean up – send crew off with another hay delivery and kiddos off to band practice.  Tomorrow is the end of year concert.  It is a favorite of mine because the 6th graders come up to the high school and participate in a mass band.  About 200 kids grades 6-12 playing “Louie Louie!”  Then the marching band does their schtick and we turn in uniforms for the summer.  The end of the school year is bittersweet as we wrap up activities and get ready for summer fun.

6:00 – Head into town to get the plucker and scalder.  Have to stop and get propane.  Yes, the tank probably needs to be replaced but please fill it anyhow. Thanks!  Stop at Home Depot and buy some tie-down straps.  Apparently the last person to borrow the pick-up decided we didn’t need the old ones any more.  Pick up the plucker and scalder at Stuart and Michele’s.  He is president of the Kitsap Poultry Growers Cooperative and they raise turkeys and broiler chickens and sell eggs at the Poulsbo Farmers Market.  Because farmers can’t really just pick up stuff and run we have a nice visit.

7:00 – Home to milk and do the rest of chores.  Ellie Belle convinces me that she REALLY needs to eat some of the grass in the yard so I follow her around a bit until the mosquitoes get too bad.  Fed the pigs, watered the chickens and removed the feeders from the broiler pens.  We want the birds to have a chance to digest all of the feed before morning. If they are full of feed while we are processing them it increases the chance of contaminating the carcasses.  Mow the lawn and feed clippings to the cows.

8:00 – Clean up after milking, wash and sanitize the bucket, load the dishwasher, wash some eggs and get them ready for sale tomorrow.  Sit down to blog about the day.

Farm life is busy, eventful, interesting and always entertaining.  Hopefully chicken processing will go smoothly – I have been telling everyone “Rain or Shine” and there is a threat of showers in the forecast but here’s hoping that they hold off until we are done with the chickens!  When things don’t go as planned and farm life gets “busy” (cursing malfunctioning equipment), “eventful” (chasing escaped chickens) and “entertaining” (butchering in the rain) it loses its charm and might not be appropriate to blog for a family paper!  I am sure it will be fine as experienced helpers Donna and Cindy are coming to help Shannon and I.  Our novice, Beth, will catch on quickly enough and it will be done in no time.

Check back tomorrow and read all about it!

Farm Diary – June 4th

Okay, so people ask me “What do you do all day on the farm!?”

Farm and Ranch Living Magazine invites a farm family to keep a diary every month so you can get a taste of farm life through their experiences.  There are also a plethora of blogs out there chronicling life on the farm – if you look off to the right side of the page you can see our blogroll and check out what we read!  I have decided to give it a shot as well because then when people ask I can just sent them to Farm to Fork!

We have a small farm with chickens, hogs and a couple of cows. The cows (mainly Ellie Belle) dictate much of the chore schedule because milking is a twice a day, EVERY day activity! This morning went something like this:

7:45 ish – Assemble the milk bucket from bits washed last night in the dishwasher and grab the extra milk for the hogs, fill the wash bucket and head out. Hubby is already outside fixing the pull cord on the mower. It came off last night when I was mowing the lawn to feed clippings to the cows.

8:00 – Radio on, cow in the stanction eating grain, milking machine chuffing away nicely, getting grain ready for the hogs and Ellie kicks of the milker. Investigate a bit and find a sort spot on the end of one teat. I guess I would kick a bit too!

8:15 – Toss hay to the cows and head back inside to strain the milk and make more yogurt.  Think a gallon will be enough?  Hay customer was here early, thinking that we started at 8:00 rather than 9:00. We are early risers but there is lots to do before opening the doors!  Arnold had started on breakfast but went out to load hay so I finished making it.  We do a big farm breakfast on Saturdays because we typically don’t get done with hay until 2:00 or later.  On the menu this morning:  Fried red potatoes, fried eggs, toast with a choice of peach or strawberry jam, and milk.

8:45 – Doors to the shop open, lawnmower bits assembled and put away, kids feeding the hogs, I move the chicken tractors and fill the feeders and waterers.  Cindy comes for hay, visit for a minute, she offers to come and help butcher chickens on Tuesday!  Awesome!  We can use the help, she knows what she is doing and she will bring her knives!

9:00 – Go back inside and start a batch of bread.

9:15 – Outside, cows see the lawn mower and start bawling.  Mow for half an hour in the orchard and around the berries to make them happy.  Memo to self – pick rocks more carefully!

Quick story here – we always give grass clippings to the cattle.  They have a small pasture but it never has enough grass to keep them happy.  We have set up electric fence to give them more pasture (see the “Lawn Moo-ers” post) in the past but I have a “disrespectful” member of the herd right now that makes that a challenge.  He seems to think that fence posts are for scratching on so rather than staying inside the electric fence he requires something a bit sturdier.  Once he goes on to “greener pastures” we will be able to do that.  One day I could hear the cows bawling and wondered what was the matter.  In the past, if one was out or something was wrong the other cow would usually bawl and fret so I was concerned that we had a breach of security or similar.  I looked out and there was nothing the matter – they were just standing at the corner of the pasture looking expectant.  I couldn’t figure what was the matter until the neighbor’s lawn mower started back up!  I realized they could hear the mower from next door – behind the trees you couldn’t see it! – and figured it was dinner time!  I had to laugh.

10:30 – Run one of the kids into Silverdale.  I need to go to town today but I am not ready so I will have to make another trip!  So much for doubling up to save gas!  Before I leave I think – ooohh.  I needed to take care of the bread about now….

11:30 – Home – bread has risen nicely but it got left a bit too long and when I put the loaves in the oven they deflate a bit.  Bummer!  It will taste fine but it isn’t a picture perfect loaf.  Visit with Alice and Lori about raising chickens, the price of feed, protein content of broiler feed, chicken tractors, butchering chickens, 4-H projects, and trying to share the road with the Kitsap Tri-Babes during the summer!  They train at the local lake and bike on Holly Road most weekends beginning now.  Prepare for some slow downs on Saturday mornings by leaving a bit early!

12:00 – Bread out, and yes, it deflated.

1:00 – Hay crew in for lunch.  Leftover pesto chicken and pasta with green salad and deflated bread.  They don’t seem to care that it is ugly and eat half a loaf while it is still warm.  Need to bring up more jam from the downstairs canning pantry now!

2:00 – Post the blog, check the chicken water since it is so warm, move the tractors (too many chickens, not enough tractors, problem solved on Tuesday!) Then, run errands in town, get a few more bulb onions to finish the row, run to the church to photocopy something for tomorrow.

Tonight finds me doing chores again, prepping a Sunday School lesson, and maybe going on a date with hubby!

Don’t know about you but just thinking about all this has me worn out!  See you on Tuesday for a recap of the chicken processing and more of the Farm Diary!

Yogurt Tart

The Julie/Julia Project chronicled the adventures of Julie Powell as she attempted to cook her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year.  I lack the ambition and time to do something like this but I have always loved Julia Child (“bon appetite!”) since my childhood growing up in BC.  TV in BC was grim back in the day.  Two Canadian Channels (plus one independent American channel when you were lucky!) that only broadcast in the morning (think early PBS) and after 4:00pm.  When other kids were watching “Bewitched” all I had was the test pattern.   Julia and the Galloping Gourmet were staples of morning programming, along with Mr Dressup.  I can remember being inspired by her enthusiasm for life and the “exotic” recipes she was making.  We lived a nice rural, meat-and-potatoes life and the notion of an “Omelet Party” was so far out of the realm of my experience, so cosmopolitan, as to be unbelievable.  The fact that many of them were “French” also made them vaguely suspicious and seditious because the tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada pervaded much of my childhood as well.  Like many formative experiences, you had to be there…anyhow…back to Julia.

I was junkin’ and found a copy of “Baking with Julia” which is based on the PBS series of the same name about the same time as Julie and Julia hit the big screens.  It wasn’t quite the same but I was inspired to buy it anyhow.  It contains lots of wonderful recipes – and my current favorite is her Yogurt Tart.  The narrative with the recipe signs the praises of the delicate vanilla flavor and tasty custard.  Now that I have to deal with four gallons of milk a day to deal with I am making lots of yogurt and cheese.  I strain the yogurt and make this recipe with a Greek-style yogurt which results in a dense cheesecake-y custard.  I also omit the added fruit, preferring to top with berries or fruit and make it with a graham cracker crust.  It is a the perfect dessert for a spring or summer meal (assuming the summer EVER arrives for us!)
Ingredients

  • pie dough, well chilled ( or pastry, enough to line a 9″ round cake pan or 9″ round springform pan, at least 1 1/2″ deep
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, mixed berries, sliced peaches, plums, nectarines
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

  • Working on a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ circle 1/8 to 1/4″ thick; Fit into the pan, pressing against bottom and up the sides; Trim to 1/2″ and crimp edges; Chill about 30 minute.
  • Fit a round of parchment or wax paper or aluminum foil into bottom of the crust, fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights; Blind bake crust 20-25 minutes in a 400* oven, until set and lightly browned.
  • Remove weights and liner; Cool to room temperature on a rack and lower oven to 325*.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together until they thicken slightly and turn pale, 2-3 minutes.
  • Fold in yogurt and vanilla, mix just until blended.
  • Gradually add the flour through a sifter, folding it in gently.
  • Pour the yogurt filling into the cooled tart shell, smoothing the top; the filling will only come about 2/3’s of the way to the top.
  • Scatter the fruit over the top of the tart; it will push the filling to the top of the crust.
  • Sprinkle with chopped nuts around the edge of the tart.
  • Place tart on jelly roll pan to catch drips and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden
  • Transfer to rack and cool to room temperature.
  • Unmold tart; Serve at room temperature, or chilled if desired; sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Serve the same day as baked; cover and refrigerate. 1 1/2 times the recipe makes enough for a 9×13 pan.  Perfect for a potluck!

Cows are like potato chips…

… you can’t have just one!

Eleanor is the newest edition to our little farm family.  She is a 4 year old registered Jersey and joins Alexis (aka The Princess Cow) and her son, the Count (born 8-9-10) in the pasture.  She is small for a Jersey but she is milking 4 gallons a day which is plenty for the house, the hogs and some cheese!  Her temperament is affectionate and willing, which I can assure you isn’t always the case with cows, and even though she wasn’t halter broken she has learned to lead in record time.

Alexis, for all her wonderful attributes, has a couple of problems.  She gets milk fever and ketosis at calving and we almost lost her last year.  As a result to the rough start to her last lactation she has been really hard to breed back and get in calf.  She also tends to have a serious drop in production late in lactation so she is only giving about 2 gallons a day.  Right now the calf takes most of that.  But she is a love bug and I REALLY like her!

When the new cow arrived I anticipated that there would be a bit of a power struggle in the pasture to see who was going to be boss cow, but much to my surprise it wasn’t Alexis that was the fighter but the Count.  He and Ellie tussled around the pasture for a couple of hours off and on before settling down.  She did prevail in that one, but they did so much running around I almost expected to see whipped cream at the next milking!  Alexis on the other hand merely bobbed her head at Ellie.   I don’t speak bovine, but it was a rather curt exchange and apparently the message was received that Alexis was the BOSS.

Before you think that Ellie has a problem with this please note – cows are not deep thinking beasts.  They behave instinctively and life is best when they know exactly what is supposed to happen and where they need to go.  That is why they follow the lead cow to pasture and back again and the boss cow gets first taste of the hay.  Once Ellie knew her place in the herd she settled down, ate her fill and promptly laid down to chew her cud.  The Count is now hopelessly in love with her and follows her around and bawls pathetically when she leaves to go and be milked.

Alexis is the one with the PROBLEM.  She is used to being the first to get a pat and scratch, getting first crack at the grain in the milking area and being the favorite in the pasture.  When I went out to take the pictures for this blog post she wouldn’t even look at me and this morning when I was out in the barn area she turned her back on me and pooped (a strong message of derision from a cow!)  I am pretty sure she will forgive me eventually but right now she isn’t a happy girl!

At this point I will just have to work and curry favor by bringing her treats of apples and carrots and get back in her good graces.

In other farm news it might be warm enough to start seeing things coming up in the garden this week.  Everything is so late with the cool weather – even the asparagus is just now getting going – though it took a hit when the passive aggressive lawn mowing teenager decided to mow that particular patch of the yard.  I finally got the raspberries trimmed and tied up.  Every year I promise myself that I won’t procrastinate the task – and every year I am late getting it done and break off a bunch of the fruiting stems in the process.  On the other hand, the patch already produces more berries that I know what to do with so I suppose I shouldn’t stress it.  The weather has been warm enough this weekend for the native pollinators to buzz around the fruit trees.  I am excited about that because I hadn’t seem much action from them this year.  Summer can’t get here soon enough for me!

Got Milk?

Most early settlers had a family milk cow and until the late 1890s cattle were still allowed to wander to graze.  It took an act of the Port Orchard Town Council to get Dan Davis, a local butcher, to pen up his cows and calves and get them off city streets.  An early Bainbridge resident remembers her family milk cow arriving by boat.  Lacking a dock to unload the cow, the poor creature was pushed off the steamer into the sound and guided to shore by men in row boats.

By World War I several creameries bottled and sold milk to Kitsap residents.  Responding to a post war surplus of milk Kitsap Dairy Products borrowed $30,000 to set up a butter and cheese plant.  Renamed the Kitsap-Mason Dairymen’s Association their milk processing plant was the first in the nation to offer homogenized milk for sale and when the Association disbanded in 1969 their plant owned some of the most modern dairy processing equipment in the nation.

Price’s Dairy, established in 1938 on Bethel Road in South Kitsap, also owned and operated a creamery on Bay Street in Port Orchard.  Their farm was a show place with its huge barn, verdant green pastures and purebred Guernsey cows.  They sold breeding stock and exhibited cattle at fairs all over the country.  Not unlike other early Kitsap pioneers, Price’s pioneered the drive thru dairy.  From a 1956 advertising pamphlet:

“Price’s Drive thru Dairy Store, 2 blocks south of Lakewood Community Center. The latest in modern convenience, it was designed for exceptionally fast service for those in a hurry & those who did not choose to leave their cars. Two lanes funnel cars into the establishment, where the customer places his order with the sparkling white uniformed dairy delivery man who fills the order. Forty seconds later, the customer is on his way home with his favorite Price Golden Guernsey products: ice cream, milk, eggs, butter, half and half, bread, cottage cheese, orange drink, whip cream, sherbet, cream, buttermilk and chocolate milk. The drive thru distribution was the brainchild of Kenneth and Lee Price of the Golden Guernsey Dairy Farm. It was one of the pioneer dairy farms in the Kitsap area. The immaculate Price farm, located between Tacoma and Port Orchard, was the home to over 90 registered Guernseys.”

In the 1940 Census of Agriculture dairying was listed as the leading income producing enterprise in Kitsap and in 1954 there were 166 dairy farms operating in the county.  Only a decade later that number would have declined by 33% to only 110 dairy farms.  Many were put out of business by consolidation in the dairy industry, some by lack of infrastructure.   Gerald Petersen stopped shipping milk in the late 60s because he couldn’t make it on three milk pick-ups a week.  His bulk tank was smaller and while he wanted to expand production, he was limited because the tanker was only able to come to the farm every other day.  He wanted to double the size of his dairy herd but that would have necessitated more frequent milk pick-up and the distributor wasn’t able to help.

In 1970 Darigold, the only milk processor left in Kitsap, closed its Bremerton plant.   In July 1976 the Port Orchard Independent reported the closure of the last dairy in South Kitsap.  Al Riebli of Blackjack Valley held a dispersal selling his 80 cows and all the farm equipment.  Citing falling prices, poor health and being “tired nigh unto death of the 20-hour days” he reluctantly sold his cows leaving only four Grade A dairies in the county.  One of them, Mountain View Meadows dairy in North Kitsap owned by Dave and Gloria Edwards, milked 18 Guernsey cows and bottled and sold raw milk from the farm.  Harkening back to an earlier time, Dave worked part time at the Shipyard and rushed home for evening milking.  By the 1980s there were no farms selling milk in Kitsap.  Surrounding counties fared a bit better, but the most recent dairy crisis put most of the Jefferson Co. dairies out of business and Clallam Co. isn’t doing much better.  The remaining dairies pay one farmer to haul their milk and worry about the price of feed!  The one bright spot is Dungeness Valley Creamery in Sequim.  A Grade A raw milk dairy, the Browns milk 60 Jerseys and supply milk to the Mt. Townsend Creamery and sell fluid milk at several local stores.

Fast forward to the present day and there are now two Grade A Dairies selling cow’s milk in Kitsap.   I posted about Blackjack Valley Farm a while back, and I see that there is a new dairy selling milk in Port Orchard.  They have brown swiss cows. In addition, there are two Grade A Goat Dairies as well!  You can read all about the Hansville Creamery in a story done by the Sun when they opened last year.  The other goat dairy, Port Madison Goat Farm and Dairy on Bainbridge, produces and sells cheese.

Kitsap Farm Calendar

Upcoming WSU Kitsap Extension Small Farms Team Classes!

Chickens 101: Backyard or Barnyard! April 9, 10:00am-Noon
At Kingston Farm, Kingston, WA
Hogs 101: Field to Fork! April 30, 10:00am-Noon
At Possum Run Farm, Port Orchard, WA
Cows 101: Got Milk? vs Where’s the Beef? May 14, 10:00am-Noon
At Blackjack Valley Farm, Port Orchard, WA.
Preserving the Harvest!
In a Pickle: Make great crunchy pickles of all types! Learn how to make fermented and vinegar brined pickles.
April 16, 1:00-4:00pm at Silverdale Community Center
April 19, 6:00-9:00pm at President’s Hall Kitchen
$35/person or $50 per family.  4-H & FFA youth FREE.  Take two classes for $60! For information and class registration: http://kitsap.wsu.edu or (360) 337-7157

Local Events

Peninsula Fruit Club Spring Grafting Show ~ March 26, 11:00am- 5:00pm
Learn how to graft, buy rootstock and make a tree or add to an existing tree.  Information on pests, diseases, native pollinators and much more.  Silverdale Community Center, 9729 Silverdale Way.
Grow Your (Kitsap Community Food) Co-op! ~ April 2, 5:30-7:30pm
At Seaside Community Center in Bremerton.  Our “1st Annual Grow Your Co-op” event! This potluck dinner will be open to Member-Owners and the community. http://www.kitsapfoodcoop.org/Welcome.html
Cooking with Kale ~ April 3, 2:00-400pm
Cooking with an unfamiliar green can be intimidating. Explore cooking with delicious, healthful and easy to grow green: Kale. RSVP to 360.813.1301 or cynthia@rlf1916.com by Saturday, 3/26.  At Carter’s Chocolates, Port Orchard Town Center.  $30/Member-Owners & $40/community members.
Sound Food ~ April 7, 9:00am
Regular monthly meeting at the Marge Williams Center Conference room, 221 Winslow Way West, Bainbridge Island.  For information: Sallie Maron sallie@soundfood.org
Dan Hinkley: Design Elements in the Garden ~ April 9, 2:00pm-5:00pm
Master Gardener Foundation of Kitsap County Gala Event and Silent Auction to Benefit the Master Gardener Program in Kitsap County including food-production and demonstration gardens, clinics and educational outreach. To order tickets http://www.kitsapgardens.org/.  At the Sons of Norway Lodge, 18891 Front Street, Poulsbo.

Rich Chocolate Pudding

Alexis the Princess Cow had her calf, the milk is rolling in – and I have gained a new appreciation for my mother and her creative and thrifty ways.  Growing up we always had a milk cow and as a result, a never-ending assortment of puddings, custards, and fresh cheeses filled the fridge as she attempted to deal with the continual onslaught of milk.  There was also an unfortunte incident with a batch of cottage cheese that even the dog wouldn’t eat…but that is another story.  Basically, she managed to use gallons of the stuff without breaking a sweat. 

Most folks in this day and age buy milk as needed; as in “Oh, pick up a gallon so of milk on the way home.” or “We are almost out of milk again!”  Almost no one has a family cow and none of my friends ever has to answer the question, “How am I going to use up 3 gallons of milk today?”  I am sharing with the calf right now and he takes a couple gallons a day, and until last week the pigs enjoyed extra milk.   But, they went to the butcher on Wednesday, leaving me with lots of extra milk until the new batch of piglets arrive in a couple weeks.  Now, before you ask, the answer is: “No, I can’t sell raw milk.”  I am not a Grade A Dairy so I can’t sell, barter, trade or give away milk – no cow shares – no wink, wink, nudge, nudge, look the other way.  The WSDA takes their job seriously and I have no desire to get crossways of them.  If you are interested in buying raw milk my farmer friend Karen Olsen at Black Jack Valley Farm sells raw milk, fresh eggs, pastured chicken and beef from her farm off of Sidney Rd.  You can also buy her milk at Farmer George’s Meats in Port Orchard and at the Poulsbo Farmer’s Market.  If you want to buy local raw milk you can reach her at 360-731-3382 or via email at bljkvalleyfarms@aol.com

Back to my dilemma.  I make fresh cheeses like mozerrella and ricotta ( there are 3 gallons of milk in a pan of lasagna!), yoghurt, yoghurt cheese, buckets of white sauce for things like mac’n’cheese and we drink milk at EVERY meal. I have made soap and I also make aged cheeses like cheddar.  And, this discussion doesn’t even take into account using up a gallon of heavy cream a couple times a week!  Now, some folks might enjoy this froathy, white bounty but I am here to tell you that the sheer unrelenting nature of coping with this much milk taxes you.  So, I took a page out of my mom’s play book and made pudding.  As a child there was always the large pyrex bowl in the fridge, covered with Saran wrap, filled with pudding.  Usually butterscotch or vanilla, but periodically we would get chocolate.  Now, my mom was a home ec teacher in a former life so she made good pudding – rich and creamy.  Not like Jello Cook and Serve which has a undertone of artificial flavor, or heaven forbid, instant Jello Pudding with its coat the roof of your mouth unpleasantness.  However, her recipe is lost in the sands of time and she assured me that it was “just a recipe for pudding!”  So, I went in search of the perfect pudding recipe.  After some trial and error (America’s Test Kitchen let me down a bit this time) I came across this recipe on culinate.com.    It is divine, creamy, chocolaty and purely addictive.  This is not chocolate pudding for the faint of heart! 

Creamy Chocolate Pudding from Culinate.com
Serves 6 to 8 ( I triple the recipe and just use whole milk because it is about 30% milkfat anyhow!)

Ingredients:

  •  3 Tbsp. cornstarch  
  • ½ cup granulated sugar  
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutched) 
  • ⅛ tsp. salt  
  • 1 cup heavy cream  
  • 1½ cups whole milk 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. (about 1¼ cups) chopped semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine and I only use about 2 cups) 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract  
  • Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)  
  • Grated chocolate, for garnish (optional) 

Directions:

  1. Put the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly, making sure no cornstarch or cocoa-powder lumps remain. Whisk in the cream and milk.
  2. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking steadily and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally. When warm (but before the pudding comes to a boil), whisk in the egg, the butter, and the chopped chocolate. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the butter and chocolate have melted and dissolved into the mixture.
  3. When the pudding has come to a low boil and begun to thicken, remove from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract and pour the pudding into dessert dishes or a single large bowl. (I pour it through a strainer into a big bowl – catches any bits of egg that get over cooked.)
  4. You can let the pudding cool slowly on the countertop and serve it soft and warm, if you like. If you prefer to serve it firm and chilled, cover the pudding with plastic wrap (stretched taut if you like skin on your pudding, or pressed gently into the surface of the pudding if you don’t) and refrigerate until set.
  5. Serve garnished with freshly whipped cream and grated semisweet chocolate.