Cheesecake From Goat’s Milk Chèvre

I know I’m posting this on April Fool’s Day but this is not a joke. See?

The cheesecake doesn’t use any cream cheese. It’s still silky and luscious. And no, it doesn’t taste GOATY!

But let’s take a few steps back and talk about the cheese first. I have tried mozzarella a few times but have not been very successful so far. You can read about that at Spring and Cheese and Third Time’s A Charm, if you’d like.

This milking season I’ve decided to start out with a simpler cheese. I found a great tutorial/recipe here in the recipe section at the Cheesemaker’s website for Chèvre or Fromage Blanc.

It requires you to have a mesophilic starter culture and rennet. I still have these supplies from last year and they worked just fine. I purchased this rennet and this mesophyllic starter culture  from Hoegger Supply. They sell everything goat related that you can think of and I’ve ordered quite a few times from them and have always been happy. (And no, I’m not being paid to say it.)

The recipe for Chèvre also says you can use cheese moulds or a fine mesh draining bag. I used both and liked the result from the draining bag better. I made my own out of fine muslin by simply sewing a drawstring bag that would fit over a large stockpot that I have.

I didn’t have a plan to use the Chèvre in a cheesecake but the idea started percolating in the back of my mind when I saw the texture of the cheese once it was done draining. So, when my husband said it was time to dig trenches and put our overhead electrical service underground for our pumps, I told him I was planning on making a cheesecake and wouldn’t he like me to do that instead? I definitely played my cards right because I’ve been on a baking strike since December. I have not made any sweets except for one birthday cake. He agreed and said the boys and he would dig and he didn’t desperately need my help until the next day.

I don’t know if you’ve ever made cheesecake but I find it a very simple thing to whip up. The hard part for me is in the baking. This time I tried the method provided in the recipe from CrunchyCreamySweet.com. It worked perfectly. (I’m having technical difficulties with her website and can’t seem to get her link to load for the actual recipe to share with you right now. I’ll post the link as soon as I can.)

So, here’s my recipe using the goat’s milk Chèvre instead of cream cheese and at the end I’ll provide the directions I used from CrunchyCreamySweet.com.

Side Note:  I used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of the 1 cup it called for and planned on drizzling some maple syrup over it (so I could reduce the sugar somewhat). It worked well and next time I want to try omitting the sugar entirely.

Goat’s Milk Chèvre Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of finely crushed graham crackers
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 24 ounces of Chèvre
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of greek yogurt (I used goat’s milk yogurt that I had strained to make it into thick Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp milk (I skipped this because some of my Chèvre was a little “wetter” than regular cream cheese)
  • 3 well beaten eggs

Instructions (from CrunchyCreamySweet.com):

Prepare the water bath:

  • wrap a 9″ springform pan in aluminum foil and set in a roasting pan.
  • boil 2 cups of water. set aside.
  • preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Make Crust:

  • place graham crackers in a food processor and process until finely crushed.
  • add sugar and melted butter and process on low until combined.
  • press the mixture into the 9″ springform pan.
  • bake for 7 minutes in preheated oven.
  • set aside.

Make Filling:

  • place Chèvre in a food processor and process on low. process for 15 seconds. increase speed to high and process for 5 seconds until smooth. (I didn’t do this because I used an immersion blender instead. I’m sure you could do this in a regular blender.)
  • add sugar and process on low until combined.
  • add flour, yogurt, vanilla and milk (if using) and process on low until smooth.
  • add eggs and process on low until completely incorporated.
  • pour batter over prepared crust. tap the roasting pan gently on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.
  • place the pan with the springform pan in the oven. pour enough recently boiled water to come at least 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan but not over the foil.
  • bake 1 hour and 20 minutes. check at 50 minutes and add more boiling water if necessary.
  • when the 1 hour and 2o minutes are up, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in there with the oven door slightly ajar for another hour.
  • remove cheesecake and let cool completely.
  • refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight before eating.

Enjoy 🙂

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Nina’s Birth Story

It’s almost been a month since this year’s kids were born.

February was literally a blur. I had vertigo writing out the March calendar on the dry erase board when I came to the end and had to write “April 1, 2, 3, 4”. APRIL! The next thing I know is it’s going to be August.

Anyway, cuddly, loveable Nina, our dairy goat, gave birth to twins on knitting night. It was February 10th, a Tuesday and I was on my way to go knit with my awesome neighbors and drink some wine. Nina had been extremely boring all day (because I was watching her and waiting for her to go into labor). Her udder had been filling for the past week and just in the last day it looked like it had filled completely. Anyhow, I went to check on her a half hour before I was due to leave and she was already pushing.

It was not an easy delivery. The first baby came out and was followed by some bright red blood. That worried my husband and I. There wasn’t a lot of blood but it was worrisome, nonetheless.

Then we waited, and waited. Nina was as big as a house and I had started to wonder just how many kids she had in there. It is not too uncommon for a goat to have five kids at one time. FIVE!

Her second kid was born nearly an hour after the first. (A normal amount of time is 30 minutes or less.) She had a very hard time getting him out and I was worried I’d have to scrub up and “go in”. I did not have to but I did pull that kid’s legs as she pushed. It turns out they were his back legs, he was delivered bass ackwards. It wasn’t exactly a breech birth but close.  After the kids nursed and we took care of the umbilical cords the new family of three collapsed on the straw and the two bucklings promptly fell asleep. She hadn’t delivered her placenta yet but she was so content and exhausted I didn’t think waiting around to see it delivered would prove fruitful, so I went to bed.

The next morning the afterbirth was hanging there, (ugh!) on its way out. As it neared 24 hours I started to worry. You aren’t supposed to pull it because you can cause a hemorrhage. I went online and researched ‘retained afterbirth’. Once again, I was worried I’d have to scrub up and “go in”. After reading as much as I could stand, I decided I liked the idea of tying a small rock with enough weight to apply a steady downward pressure to it.

I tied the rock to the placenta. To date, in this new farming career of mine, that was the GROSSEST thing I have ever done. And, I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of gross things so far. But it worked! Not immediately but I guess it tilted the scale. The next morning it was mercifully gone.

The little family has remained happy and healthy and it seems Nina’s new kids have already doubled in size.

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Piper’s Birth Story

Piper is a wonderful dairy goat. She’s so calm. When I bought her from Sunny Pine Dairy as a bottle baby a couple of years ago, the girl who worked there helped me pick her out. She told me her mother was a wonderful milker. Her temperament was excellent and she had a good udder.

Last year, we grieved with Piper when her big buckling did not survive his birth.  My husband said she looked broken-hearted as she watched our other goat with her live baby.  She formed a special attachment with us that year as we milked her.

This year, we were especially happy for her when she gave birth to a lively little doeling.

Piper’s due date this year was February 6th. I had not witnessed any discharge or bagging up in Piper in the days previous to her delivery. (Bagging up is when the udder fills with milk.) On February 9th, I did noticed that her udder was starting to fill. I thought maybe she was still a few days away.

Later that afternoon, we heard some strange noises on the baby monitor. The boys said it sounded like there was a buck in the yard with them. I ran down to check. Piper was on the other side of the hay feeder already pushing.

I stayed out of the way and took a video.  She would push and yell when she had contractions and then there would be a minute or so of quiet.  When I thought she might be having a bit of a hard time, I offered a little assistance by gently pulling on the baby while she pushed. The kid slipped right out. I wiped the kid’s nose clear and then stood back and let Piper have a little time licking her new baby and bonding. Then I helped dry her off. Once she was up and stumbling around, I made sure she found the right place to have her first meal of the all-important colostrum.

Here’s the video. BEWARE. Do not watch this unless you just absolutely LOVE details, ok? It is graphic. Seriously. If you just want to watch the baby after it’s born as she takes her first steps and such, start the video at 3:30

But, they say birth is a miracle. It makes me tear up every time I watch it so, here it is:

 

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Finley’s Birth Story

Piper, Nina and Finley are our goats. We bred them to a Boer buck in September. Their due dates were February 6, 11 and 10, respectively.

Finley started showing some discharge on February 2. It was clear but I got all excited and started the ‘great goat watch’. I got out our baby monitor and small closed circuit camera. I ran an extension cord to the goat house and hooked up a light. I got each doe out and trimmed her hooves. And then I waited, and listened and waited, and got other people to come and watch and wait when I had to go do errands and then I waited and listened and watched and waited… I spent 6 days doing this.

Finley, Feb 4, 2015

Meanwhile, both of our vehicles decided they needed a mechanic’s special attention. So, on February 8th I went and borrowed a car from a friend. Then around 3:40 pm, I checked on the goats and noticed Finley had some extra discharge. It was cloudy and gloppy. Since I had gotten all excited the first time I noticed her leaky ways, I just told myself it would still be hours before she delivered and I left to pick up my husband from work.

We got home at about 5:10 and I went straight in the house to start dinner. I sent my son, Lucas, to go down and check on her for me. He came up saying she was either doing a gross poop or there was a leg hanging out of her butt! He hadn’t taken a flashlight with him so he wasn’t sure. I told him to stir the beans and I ran down the hill to check myself. I stayed until both her bucks were delivered.

Her first kid was all black. I kept trying to put a feed sack under her to catch her kid but she just kept moving. Soon an all black kid was born. Then after we had begun drying him off she shoved out another buck. He was huge and red; just like his daddy.  He did get up after a bit but the little black one was up pretty quickly. After a little bit of time with them both and lots of attention from Finley, we moved them all to the goat house because it was raining.

After getting everyone under shelter, the big red buckling started to seize. He was having trouble breathing or something. I stuck my finger in his mouth to ‘sweep’ whatever might have been in his mouth out but I felt something slide further down. My hubby told me later that was not an acceptable maneuver when doing CPR. However, he did regain his breath. My sweet husband worked on him non-stop. He coughed, he sputtered but he did not live. My neighbor has always said, “They either get up and live or they don’t”.

Here is the little survivor who is already trying to take over the world.

We’ve called him Fidel.

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Piper and Nina’s kids

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Piper’s Birthing – Two Videos

I am posting the cleanest, happiest one first. This has very little blood, guts or gore. The baby is out and Piper is cleaning her off. If you want to see more of the actual birthing, just keep scrolling down this page. I am going to do a separate post with the birthing sequence of videos in chronological order.

The video below is of Piper’s final pushes. I assist a little and baby is born!

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Lucas pets the new kid-video

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Video of new baby

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First Kid of 2015-album

This is a gallery so you need to click on each photo if you want to see it larger. I will be giving the birth story in a later post.

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How Can You Love January?

I love January like a mother loves nap time.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the photo above, my garden lays sleeping under layers of farmy compost and crusty snow. It is resting and regenerating. It doesn’t need me right now. Do I miss it? Nope. It will be awake before I know it!

I used to hate January. I also used to live in Alberta, Canada. (That pretty much explains it.) Cold is relative and the cold there will make you appreciate the “cold” almost anywhere else.

I’ve heard January described as a “giant bucket of suck” compared to the excitement and twinkling lights of December. I suppose it is all in how you look at it. I find December full of events and obligations and I relish in January’s quiet. It seems like there is nothing that HAS to be done in January. It’s also a fresh, clean beginning.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t suffer in the winter from the shorter light length of the days and the reduced activity outside. I totally do. I have found there are some things that help, though. So here’s my list to help beat the winter blues:

1. Farm animals. I am serious. Now, while I’ve been told that the worst about having farm animals is the winter chores, I just don’t find this to be true.  For me, it helps a great deal that I have animals who need me a couple of times every day to bring them food and water. I just don’t begrudge these chores. I always take the time to dress properly (wool socks, these gloves, and sometimes snow pants). When I am warm doing my chores, I don’t rush through them. I feel no urgency to get back to the warm house and I take my time talking to and petting the animals.

2. Get in the kitchen and make something fresh. Recently I made cabbage salsa. There was cilantro to chop, garlic to crush and a lime to squeeze. The smells and the fresh colors were a joy to be around.

3. Grow sprouts.

Yellow mustard and white clover sprouts

Yellow mustard and white clover sprouts

It gives me a real boost to see these things come to life. I use them in wraps, sandwiches, stir fries and salads. You can sprout a variety of different things and it’s really easy. All most seeds need is the temperature of your house, moisture and sometimes darkness.  I especially like sprouting yellow mustard seeds from the bulk spice section of the grocery store. You can buy specific seeds for sprouting but I find these too expensive. I feel safe as long as the seeds are intended for food.

To sprout seeds, I follow a few simple steps:

  • overnight soak
  • drain and rinse then transfer seeds to a container and spread them in a single layer
  • cover them with tinfoil to keep out the light
  • rinse twice a day
  • While this is not necessary, after they sprout their little white roots, I remove the tinfoil and set them on the windowsill to do some photosynthesis. I keep them covered with plastic to maintain the moisture. You may need to vent the plastic if the sunlight is strong or they will cook! (This wasn’t necessary for me in the winter but depending on where you live, it might be.)

Lentil sprouts

  • Once they have grown to your liking store them in the fridge.

To make the rinsing process easier, you can buy needlework canvas and make an insert for your container by stapling the corners to make a box or, like I did, sewing the edges. This will also help to keep the sprouts from sitting around in too much water. I lined the plastic tray I made with paper towel because I am not a fan of plastic touching my food.

Cross stitch seed tray

 

I’ve been sprouting mung beans (these produce the same bean sprouts you can buy for stir fry), lentils, buckwheat and clover. I plan on trying sunflower seeds, oats, quinoa, basil and peas.

Here’s an informative link if you want more details:  How to Grow Your Own Sprouts.

 

4. My last bit of advice is to find outdoor activities to do. Once, last winter, we had a memorable hot dog roast outside while it was snowing. Now my family makes it a habit to get all our winter clothes on and sit in our camp chairs around a fire. Last weekend my husband and I went sledding with our two boys. I screamed all the way down the hill. I highly recommend it!

My mother and sister in 1996

My mother and sister in 1996

So, while you might be wishing winter away, I am here whispering, “Shhhhhh, sweet January, take your time…”

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