August 31, 2012

Dilly Cheese Casserole Bread

It is 'cottage cheese' time here!  When the summer temps get warm and the sun shines just right through the kitchen windows, making the house temperature JUST RIGHT,  I make cottage cheese.  It is so much easier to make when everything is just right.  I am milking three cows in the morning, and after feeding the orphan calf, cats, etc., I bring 5 gallons to the house.  After saving some for drinking, and separating the cream from the rest, I have approx. 3 gallons of skim milk to make the cottage cheese.
The process is simple; it just takes knowing the house temp is just right for the next 12 hours!  Add certain amount of cheese culture powder (or cubes of mother culture from freezer), let set until firm, then cut the curd into cubes.  I heat it in a canner of hot water on the stove, stirring occasionally, until the curds are firm. Wash the whey out, drain for a few hours and it is ready to use! 
I love it with salt and just a touch of pepper.  Use quite a bit of salt as most cheeses contain a surprising amount of salt.  Most of the time I add several tablespoons of cream or thick 'top milk'.  YUMM!

I am also having fun making this bread!
Dilly Cheese Casserole Bread

Mix and set aside:

1 pkg of yeast
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup warm water

Heat 1 cup of cottage cheese and mix with yeast.


2 TB sugar
1 TB butter
1 TB minced dried onion
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dill seed (use dill weed for a milder flavor)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
Add 2 1/4 cups flour to form a stiff dough and make into a ball.
Cover and let rise until double, 50-60 minutes. Stir dough down. Turn into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole or loaf pan. Let rise in warm place until light, 30-40 minutes. Bake 40-50 minutes in 350 degree oven until golden brown. Brush with butter.

How I do it in the bread machine:

I dump everything in, in the order listed, not bothering to heat the cottage cheese.
On the Quick Dough cycle, the machine kneads quite a bit more than if you were doing this by hand. Plus it will rise about 20 minutes after kneading, before a 'stir down' just a the end of the cycle.
I then form into two medium loaves, in basic bread pans and let rise until nearly double, approx 30-50 minutes. My medium loaf pans bake at 350 degrees in approx. 12 minutes.

Don't be impatient... let this bake long enough or it will be too tender to make good sandwiches!
Nice toasted with butter and or cheese... Nice plain as part of a beef sandwich!

August 22, 2012

Now to catch up on AV 'goings-on' for 2012!

Hey, I am now posting about THIS YEAR!!!
I just got back online to The Violet Voice group.... and I simply MUST update my AV posts!  :)
Everyone else is going along at a brisk pace, and I don't want to get left behind ... again!  :)
I sold a few violets this spring to those loyal local customers... and kept 'a lid on' my propagating, so have 'a few extra'.... but am not overwhelmed!  It is such a relief to look at the av shelves without seeing so many things that need repotting or cleaning!  :)  NICE!!!

August 21, 2012

I sold violets on Ebay!

Summer 2011,
I could see that local sales for violets, in a three-county radius  of about 150 miles was very DRY!
So, I assessed my plant stands and decided I had to sell or throw out!
By this time, the unsold plants were well estaablished blooming plants... just the type everyone seems to want from Ebay...
(Myself, I like small ones.. they seem to do better at adapting to my house!)
So, I became Fun and Fancy Flowers on Ebay.
I listed about 20 violets over three weeks, along with about 10 other auctions for leaves and streps.
I sold nearly all... made a small amount, and got rid of the violets.  Again, I had happy customers, who were happy with my packing (which I learned from other vendors who sent my excellently packed orders), and happy with the plants.
I had fun... but spent HOURS weekly/daily in the photo-taking, listing, label and invoice printing, email communciations, packaging/wrapping, driving to town to ship, feedback, etc. 
I figured I made $10 above costs of cups/tape/paper/ink and other costs of shipping plus the basic minimum cost of growing the plant and the pot it was in. 
Let's see... what does that work out  profit per plant?  Let's not look at that!
Here is a photo of an auction plant of my very best strep... probably on my top 10 list of all AVs and gessies!
Falling Stars

2011 African Violet News

I 'may' have found a way to discipline myself...  Fall 2010 to Summer 2011 was a good time for my African violets!
They were fed on time, and watered when they needed it.  I fell behind on the repotting, and again, I potted up too many babies, so had to toss the mis-shapen and ugly starters.
I decided to sell 'a bit' more seriously so began a variety of other houseplants besides the violets.  Here is a favorite of mine... Babies Tears (Helxine)... isn't it cute?
Below is a photo of the window near our dining room table...  a very nice south window, and I found the streps love it here, especially during the winter time! 
I also found another window where the streps did well, and did they DO!  These are the 20 or so medium sized ones, which I sold as soon as they had more than one stalk blooming.  This window was great for this final stage, and I grew the younger plants on the plant shelves under lights.
Here is my 'main' plant stand, which had the for sale starters, the growing-on babies and my personal plants I was trialing.  I grew the leaf trays and the just transplanted babies on another identical plant stand in our bathroom.
So, I began to sell in earnest... putting up posters, handing out cards, advertising in local papers, etc.
Not much luck.... noone was interested in houseplants!  A few past customers bought boxes full of violets... and were very happy!  I got rid of plants, made a few meager dollars, and made AV fanatics happy.. which made me happy.

2010 African Violet Summary

2010 was an average African violet year for me:
I began 'hot and heavy' with tons of enthusiasm... and by June, I was overwhelmed with TOO MANY, again!
I gave many away, and cut back, NOT ONLY BY LETTING THEM DIE FROM NEGLECT!!!
I exercised some will power and threw out varieties that I dislike  (I don't actually HATE any African violet!) as well as duplicates that were not needed for gifting or my own collection.
I ended 2011 with many leaf pots to pot up, babies to pamper all winter, and nice, if not perfect, mama plants.
I did order a few leaves/starters, and this one became a favorite, even though it was mislabeled.  I haven't yet proven which variety it is, but it is nice!

2011 Garden Summary

I harvested MANY POUNDS of veggies in 2011... but the flowerbeds were neglected!  And I can't say my veggie garden was neat and perfectly clean! 
I was especially proud, actually crowing, about my peppers.  Growing nice peppers here in Montana is done, but not every year and not by every gardener... things have to work just right all summer long!   And you have to have the right summer weather.   I harvested approx 44 pounds from these 12 plants!
My strawberries did well... this was the first year for them!  Wow, they produced lots of runners for next year!
I put up some temporary wire panel arches/hoops along one side... testing the look and function, as I want to put up permanent wooden arches/trellis later.  I had cucumbers and lima beans planted on the arches and beets in between.
(Overall, I brought many buckets of veggies to the house!  We ate well and I filled many jars of relishes and pickles.)

Flooding in 2011

With all the snow that accumulated in the winter, Spring 2011 saw flooding on the Milk River.  The river flows 300 yards from our house, a few hundred feet from our barn and corrals.  The original landowners were wise to flooding and the house and buildings are on ground a bit higher than the surrounding area.   Plus, we have the new house built up on a 5 foot foundation/mounded dirt.   We are, after all, in a flood plain.  And this year, we stayed dry.... at least the house and the ranch shop.  Other areas of the ranch yard were under water.  About half of our fields lying close to the river and in the bends were underwater for months, drowning out the forage crops.
This first photo, taken mid June, is looking down our road toward our buildings.  The corrals and pastures close to the barn were under water, so we turned my milk cows loose to graze along the road.
Below, John is filling the fuel tank in the back of his pickup... to fill the tractor he was using to seed wheat.
The wheat fields are about 20 miles north, out of the Milk River valley and dry!
If you look closely, you will see a tow strap hanging over the tailgate of the pickup.  John has lived here all of his 50 years, and he has experienced floods before.  He hooked the tow strap to the underside of the rear of his pickup, so that if he could not back away from the bulk fuel tanks, he could hook up a tractor to pull him out.  He said in the past he has gone 'underwater' to hook a strap to a vehicle stuck in food waters, and he was going to be 'smart first'!

2011 Ranch Update

This photo was taken January 30, 2011.  Here in Montana, we had a cold, long winter (as did much of the USA)... with lots of snow.  The antelope, running wild here in large herds, found it hard to survive.  They just could not dig to browse on the grass and brush of the prairie.  They moved toward the rivers and civilization in search of food. 
Here, a small bunch walked down our road (which was plowed) in search of something to eat.  The snow was deep enough that they followed the tracks made by vehicles or plowed roads.  THE AWFUL THING: even though some did find ranchers' haystacks and other livestock forages, the antelope population ended up dying by the thousands here in the middle part of Montana.  The hay and domestic livestock feeds did not provide what their usual diet of sticks, branches, brush, etc. provided.  :(