Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cream Cheese Recipe and "Y" "I" "M" "A" Bad Teecher.

I have come to realize that I have issues as a teacher.

Violet does some of her school
in the kitchen.

But this is not what is bad,
I don't think.

We do several subjects at the kitchen table,
mostly because it is convenient for me to start my part of teaching
while Violet is finishing up her lunch
(No, dear family and friends,
this is NOT when we start school.
She does seat-work that I can explain in between
semi-volcanic-sized-toddler-invoked eruptions before this time.)

But after her lunch,
the baby goes down for her nap
and I can think...
 with some cohesiveness.
History and science are the kitchen table subjects.
Science often involves an experiment anyhow
and these are best conducted in here:
my really and truly science lab.

After this has been squared away
and the house has been deemed somewhat safe again,
I begin my own dangers while Violet does her reading aloud.

I began the process of making cream cheese by pouring a gallon 
of raw milk into a heavy pot.

This gets heated on medium-low just barely,
so it's to 85 degrees F, which doesn't take long!

1/8 tsp. of cream cheese culture is added
(I will have to see if there is a specific name for this and come back and edit.
I borrowed some from my Sister-in-law, who gave me this recipe)

2 - 4 drops of rennet are mixed into 1 Tablespoon of warm water.
(Rennet?  What in the world is rennet?

"I'll have to look that up on the internet later,"
says the mad cooking-scientist.)

After adding the rennet water to the warm milk,
it gets stirred for one minute,
and then set aside somewhere very safe
where little creatures that climb and pillage will never find it
so that it can sit for 8 - 16 hours
(interpretation for me: tomorrow).

Well, now, that was easy!
What's the big deal about making cream cheese?

In this household, the citizens think cream cheese is 
one of the main food groups, so this is great!
And making it this way is so much healthier
because it is made "by the beneficial action of wonderful lactic-acid producing bacteria."
(as I found out in my Nourishing Traditions Cookbook),
rather than buying the store-bought,
which is produced by the use of high pressure.

Meanwhile, the little Chickadee is reading along in her book.

This is the book.
Funny, because her curriculum suggested that she read "Farmer Boy" in this same series,
but I couldn't find it.
It turned up later, but we'd already started this,
it being the very first book in the series,
I figured, "Why not?
We'll just read them all."

Herein lies the problem.

I don't remember reading this book.
We may have, but I was very young;
things like this didn't really click in my little pea-brained head back then.

Things really impress me now.

For example:

Violet was reading along 
when I raced over to the table and said,

"What was that?
They're doing WHAT with the pig bladder?
A ball?
Their playing with a pig-bladder ball?!"

Violet, intent upon getting her reading done,
suddenly sensed the deep interest in me
shown by my sudden snatching of her book
and demanded,
"What is a bladder?"

Suffice it to say,
she was not too impressed with their play equipment.

The snatching does not end there.

"Oh, isn't that great!  I should write that down somewhere."

Another time...

"What did they do with the babies
when they all got together for a party at Grandma's?
Put them where?

Let me see.
Let me see.
Aw, look at all the babies in rows!
They didn't have baby-sitters,
so they laid them on the bed in rows.
Isn't that funny!"

Violet has become pretty defensive of her reading book.
It's getting too many dish-water finger stains on it.

I never realized how many great things are in these books.

And then it happened.

I was peacefully working away over on my side of the kitchen
when I heard her read,

  "When the grass was tall and thick in the woods and the cows were giving plenty of milk, that was the time to make cheese.  
  Somebody must kill a calf, for cheese could not be made without rennet, and rennet is the lining of a young calf's stomach.  The calf must be very young, so that it had never eaten anything but milk."

The book was attacked again.

Then I noticed the label on my rennet.
"Ahhh, is that why it says 'Veal Rennet'
That is really amazing!  I wonder how they ever figured that out."

As Violet continued reading,
I felt as if I had just done the same things as Ma,
although in a much easier way.
We didn't have to get together with Uncle Henry and Grandpa
to see who wanted to spare a young calf so that we might all 
have some rennet for our cheese.

After the allotted time, my cream cheese had certainly separated into a
"smooth quivery mass."

I also scooped out my cheese
and let it drain in my cloth,
a jelly stand/bag.

The whey drips out through the bag into a bowl...

and I keep adding more into the bag,
letting it settle down into it,
until it all fit,
just right.

This sat draining for about 12 hours
to make sure it was good and dry.

I tasted the whey.
I took a drink of water rather quickly.

When Violet later read,
"The first day Ma made cheese,
Laura tasted the whey.  She tasted it without saying anything to Ma,
and when Ma turned around and saw her face, Ma laughed."

I understand, Laura.

 I saved the whey, nontheless, because it is very healthy.

Nourishing Traditions Cookbook says that 1 Tbs. of it in water is good 
for digestion and keeps muscles young.   
It also quotes:
"Old Par, (an English peasant) who lived to the age of 152 years and 9 months, existed and even thrived on a diet of 'subrancid cheese and milk in every form, coarse and hard bread and small drink, generally sour whey,' as William Harvey wrote... 'On this sorry fare, but living in his home, free from care, did this poor man attain such length of days.' Terence McLaughlin A Diet of Tripe."

So I used some of it in our dessert
and froze the rest,
to be inserted in other unsuspecting recipes.

Long live my wee folk!

After the 12 hours of draining was past,
the cream cheese got put in the mixer and whipped up
with a little bit of mineral salt.
(This amount is supposed to make about 5 8oz. containers.
It looked about right.)

And the taste...

...was incredible!

Violet might not be so pleased with my
snatching at her school books
or making her repeat what she just read so I can hear it again,

but I have to say that she was impressed with the cream cheese.

Our next chapter looks like this:
she'll not have to worry about my trying to do any of that!

(Thank you sincerely to all the great advice in the previous post.  It was very helpful.
Also, today is the last day to sign up for the giveaway <HERE>.)

Below are 
two of the items mentioned in this blog
that I find immensely helpful:


  1. I read these books as a girl, and now I am reading them to my girls before bed every night. They are fascinated by how Laura and Mary lived. I think it ruined head cheese for them though. We'll never get them to try it now! LOL!

    Your cream cheese looks great,

  2. Some day I shall get brave enough to make any sort of cheese. You always motivate me by the things you do and try. Isn't that a great daily list? Life should be so simple. Very nice post.

  3. I love how you brought these books to life and shared the experience with us. You are such a good teacher...and mom!


  4. Yummy! Your cheese looks fab! I keep wanting to read the Little House books, I read them when I was very young, but I keep fearing that the lady at the library will know they're for me when I go into the kid's section. Are adults without children even allowed in there? Anyway, yummy looking cheese! :)

  5. I feel the same as KI Vick. Tonya your a great teacher
    I wish we had blogs like yours when I was homeschooling

  6. There is an entire unit study built on the Little House books. It takes about a year or longer to do, but my older girls now almost 23 and 27 loved it!

    I was reading about how to make cream cheese and such in NT just this morning. We are getting 12 gallons of raw milk each week and I need to do some cheese making! We are making butter, buttermilk and yogurt now, but I want to try cream cheese, cottage cheese and mozerella as well.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your post. You are quite a woman. I did not know all of that stuff. Some of it I was happy not knowing. I will continue to buy my cream cheese in little silver packages.

  8. Love it!
    I was going to try doing it the lazy whey (couldn't help the pun, sorry:) and just let a gallon of milk sit out til it separated and then drain it. and where did you get that draining stand thingy?? plz email me @ libert1n1(at) yahoodotcom so I can get one stat!

  9. Thanks you, ladies, for all your nice comments! :) I feel like I learn as much as my daughter lately! Anita, that sounds GREAT! I'd love to do that unit study with my daughters. I wonder if it is still available.
    Yes, sometimes knowledge of what something REALLY is kind of dampens the taste of it, (momentarily, at least).
    Ki Vick, I used to sneak into the kids section of the library before I had kids, too: It's essential to keep one's youth alive. :)

  10. Hi!!!! I'm stopping by and following from Thirsty Thursday Blog Hop. I hope you'll stop by my blog Frazzled Mama at and follow me back.

  11. This was fascinating. I imagine it does taste wonderful too.

  12. I L.O.V.E.D this post!! We used the Prairie Primer last year for homeschool. We did almost all of the activities in it. Thank you for sharing this. What fun. We might have to do it again.

  13. What a wonderful post! I loved reading along, and then to hear about your cream cheese! Just amazing. Thanks so much for linking up with VIF! So glad you did.
    big hugs,

  14. fantastic post...i have to say, i've read this series many times so i knew exactly what rennet is thanks to miss guess is that your daughter won't come out until she's read every last book...and we 'do' school much the same way...where ever it is most workable...this recipe sounds delish, but since i don't have any raw milk readily available, not to mention the fabulous rennet, i don't know if i'll ever give it a go...but thanks so much for linking up to fridays following you too.


    stuff and nonsense

  15. okay...the previous comment is really from me (really) but it says 'fiona' because my own dear daughter was logged in rather than me...sigh.



  16. Oh that cream cheese looks good. There is a Little House cookbook that features many of the recipes that are in the books.

    Farmer Boy is one of my favorites in the series. :)

  17. Hilarious - I love that Violet is keeping a close eye on the book!

    This is PERFECT for my new linky party, Foodie Friday. Please stop on over and link up!

    Oh - and found you at Stuff and Nonsense!

  18. I've been wanting to make cream cheese for a while, now you really have me interested LOL And thanks for the heads up, I'll make sure not to taste the whey LOL

  19. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I read that series a couple of times as a young girl. I really need to pull it and get reading it to my kids. How fun to see the Nourishing traditions stuff all integrated. I want to make cream cheese, but we can't get raw milk here in Alaska without having our own animals. I'm hoping to figure out a way to do it on my own without the raw milk.

  20. I love this post! How cool was it to "accidentally" be doing the same thing as in the book as she was reading it. I bet she will remember this story well! She may have been perturbed at you today, but will probably look back on it with great fondness. So glad that I discovered the Helpful Homeschool Hints meme last night; and therefore, finding your blog post. Here's to many more memorable homeschooling experiences!

  21. Great post! What a wonderful experience for you both.

  22. That is great! My son and I are reading that book right now! :) Erin

  23. HI There

    I wondered if I could use one of your images on my website I really like your closeup of the cheese culture on the spoon! Is this ok? Thanks kimberli

  24. Hi, Kimberli! It would be neat if you used my picture. If you could give me credit for it, that would be super nice. :) Thanks.


I love your comments!