Saturday, January 10, 2009

Culinary Creativity in the New Year

Over the holidays we tried several new ways of creating new foods and herbal products. It all started with New Year's Eve, and champagne.

We each toasted, kissed, and drank a glass full of champagne while dancing in the New Year in our living room with an internet feed of Times Square...then Beth had an idea. She had always wanted to make vinegars for use on salads. Why not take the remaining champagne, add in frozen raspberries from this last summer's harvest basket that the Cooley Family Farm grew for us, plus herbs.

Beth decanting her Raspberry-Thyme Vinegar. recipe

It is good on salads, with a slightly sweet, mild taste. Add walnuts to the salad for a treat.

For more than a year now, we've co-owned two dairy cows at a local German Baptist farm. In return for paying for the upkeep and maintenance of the cows, we receive two gallons of organic raw milk each week. The cows have been giving approximately 4% there seems to be plenty of cream. Brent tried several, several times at making butter from this cream.

He finally was able to make a small amount, but decided the effort to make butter from the cream of 2 gallons of milk simply did not "churn out". The butter tasted a bit "barn-ey". We think the cream isn't heavy enough.

However, Brent redeemed himself by making an entire gallon of yogurt from the raw milk. It was really pretty easy. After bringing the milk to 190 F, allowing it to drop to 110 F. Then stirring in one cup of plain yogurt. Empty the yogurt spiked milk into clean jars and incubate around 90-100 F overnight (about 6-8 hours). The yogurt came out very well. I've been eating it with fruits and nuts for breakfast.

Our daughter, Colleen, decided on a unique science project for school. Having tasted chocolate cake made with beets (and liking it), she wondered how people would respond to an offer to taste beet chocolate cake A) if they didn't know it was made with beets, B) if they did know it was made with beets, and C) how many liked it after tasting it from each group. Her results show that fewer people wanted to taste it if they knew it was made from beets, however nearly 100% of taste testers said they liked it. What a culinary rebel she is!

We even decided to try our hand at making natural cosmetics and bath salts. We made astringents, creams, moisturizers, and aftershave. I don't think we've come close to a marketable product, but it was fun trying out our ideas. Here is a photo of us with our youngest daughter, who helped out in the production of the cosmetics.

So, we've set the stage for the New Year - rejoice and follow our inclinations to experience, try things out, pursue the things we cherish and love to do, and follow our hearts supporting each other along the journey.