Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bunnie cheese; what color is a tomato?

There may have been a time when I would have said "a tomato is red and round."  No more.  This has been a banner year for tomatoes in my yard, where the damp ground has finally found a purpose:  keep the base of the raised beds damp enough to prevent drought stress to the tomatoes up above.  No drought stress, no blossom end rot (where calcium deficiency becomes an issue not due to too little calcium in the soil, but to too little moisture to bring that calcium into the plant).  Each of these tomatoes are ripe: although some are pink, some striped, some yellow, some orange and yes, some red.  I am picking them less ripe than I would like, but if I don't the birds get every one.  They finish ripening in the screened porch, and taste pretty good picked "vine ripe" rather than actually, fully ripe.  Did you know that you should never put a tomato in the refrigerator?  See if following that rule helps the flavor and texture of your tomatoes.

So, what is Bunnie cheese?  Well, the chick I nurtured from big blue egg to great big, crowing cockerel, went to his new home this weekend.  There he will get to be a rooster with Easter Egger hens of his own.   In exchange, although I was thrilled just to find him a good coop where he could live, I was given a gallon of fresh goat's milk!  The photo is of me pasteurizing the milk, which I then turned into a soft, ricotta like cheese using an acid precipitation method (using vinegar or buttermilk, plus heat, to separate out the curds, since I did not have any rennet).  The cheese is amazing, and I have already used it both on pasta with a "fresh sauce" (tomato and garlic sauce made using uncooked, fresh tomatoes, plus fresh basil and parsley), and scrambled in my morning egg.  I did love big, goofy Bunnie, the only chicken I know who liked to lay in his water bowl, but the homemade cheese softened the blow.

 I will be away for the next full week, but will catch up with posts on harvests logged while I was gone and with updates on all the goings on in the hive, coop, and garden when I get back. It's time to see if there is honey in the supers to harvest!