Homemade Cheese Press

I like to try new things… all the time… I want to learn it all! In my quest for learning new things I decided to tackle cheese next. There are a million different kinds all using the same basic ideas and techniques and all end with a different product. There a few cheeses that are pretty basic and can be made in any kitchen with minimal equipment and ingredients but I’m more interested in the aged cheeses.

This brings me to needing a basic cheese press to produce the delicious cheese wheel. I wasn’t interested in spending too much to buy one, to be honest I really didn’t want to spend any money all.

As luck would have it, my dad is building another shed and had some pretty nice wood scrapes. He also had a piece of 6 inch pvc that he donated to my project. A quick trip to the hardware store for nuts, washers, springs and all-thread rod and I was in business.

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It’s not the prettiest contraption I’ve ever made but it’s functional.

I used an 8 inch piece of 2×8 for the base and two 8 inch pieces of 2×4 for the top cross pieces. I drilled a hole on each end of  the bottom of the base about half way through with a large bit. Then I drilled the center of each hole all the way through with a bit slightly larger than 3/8inch. (the all-thread rods I bought were 3/8 in and need to fit through the holes). I lined up the 2×4’s and drilled holes on each end to line up with the ones in the base.

Then to assemble  I used a lock washer and nut on the bottom of the rod to secure it through the base. The lock washer and nut fit in the larger hole that was drilled half through so they don’t rub on whatever surface I set the press on. On the top of the base is another nut with a flat washer.

The pipe is set on the base and the first  2×4 is slid on to the rods. Then another flat washer topped with a heavy spring. The next 2×4 is slid on the rods and fastened with a flat washer and wing nut.

I also cut 3 circles out of a 2×8 to fit inside the pvc pipe. These are what is pressed onto the cheese to get a uniform wheel. Depending on the amount of cheese to be press all three circles may not be needed.

Now for the fun of making cheese!

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The High Chair Restoration

I love things that are old, used and can be up-cycled or repurposed. I had mentioned to my mother earlier this year that I would love an old wooden high chair. Something that would stand the test of time and could possibly be passed on to my children.

I had found a few wooden chairs at box stores. I wasn’t impressed. There were what I thought to be over priced and still had a fair amount of plastic. The quest was on to find one that fit the “old and no plastic” specifications that I had hoped for.

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Wouldn’t you know, on the way back from the cities my mom spotted a high chair on the front step of an antique shop. The price must have been right because she pulled over and hauled it home!

It’s turned into one of my fall projects. Little Mister won’t be using it until this winter but the longer it sits the more projects pile up behind it.

The first step to disassemble the chair looked to be a bit challenging as there appeared to be tiny finishing nails holding the spindle in. But with a little wiggling it practically fell apart. Good thing I decided to disassemble or the little guy may have ended up on the floor. Ok, so it didn’t come apart that easy but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

IMG_0665Then was the task of stripping and sanding the old finish and stain off. A little wood stripper and scrapper got the process started. The pieces that wouldn’t work in the lathe I sanded by hand. Thank God I didn’t have to do it all by hand! I love the decorative spindles and such but sanding all the little crevices takes a fair amount of time.

IMG_0666Once sanded, the real fun began… Staining. I had a little can of stain left over from the farmhouse style table my husband and I made this spring that I used for the chair. Not much of my furniture matches and yet somehow it all mixes well together. But, waste not, want not. So I used up the last of what I had for stain. A few pieces the same won’t hurt either.

Next will be assembly…

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Feed Bag Tote

With chickens comes feed and with feed comes really nice bags that I can’t seem to throw away. (The plan is to soon be producing our own chicken feed but for now a little free range and a little store bought is what we have.) I have a vast collection of reusable grocery bags but over time they get worn and need replacing. I would look rather ridiculous going through the line at the market asking to have my groceries put in a 50lb. feed bag, so a little “nip-tuck” is in order.

I adapted the pattern for the tote from the one that I used years ago to make canvas totes. (I have a bag problem, I know. They’re just so handy!) The whole project takes an hour or so.  It’s a great way to use up the feed bag stock pile and it’s easy enough that the kids can make them too!

First things first, I give the bag a good wipe down. I don’t want dirt and feed dust in the sewing room.

IMG_0686Then I cut the bottom of the bag off (about 9 inches or so). Turn the  bag inside out and sew the bottom closed. Use two seam allowances so the bottom is good and sturdy. (1/2 inch and 1/4 inch)

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Next fold the centers of the top of the bag together. (you will end up with a “home plate” shape. Open the triangles and measure 10 inches across and mark. Sew the same double seam on the mark. Do the same to the other side. This is your square bottom.

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Then for the handles. Use the piece you cut from the bottom of the bag and cut 2 strips 3 inches wide. Cut these in half so you have 4 pieces 3 inches wide. Sew 2 together lengthwise. (Again, right sides together) Fold the edges in about a 1/2 inch on both sides. Securing with paper clips. Unlike fabric, pin holes don’t go away in the feed bag. To minimize the holes I use paper clips or binder clips instead. Fold the strap in half and sew both sides. (This will be done right sides out).

IMG_0700Once both handles are sewn, it’s time to attach them to the bag. With the bag still inside out fold the top edge down about an inch and a half. Fold the top down another inch and a half so the rough edge is hidden. Secure this with paper clips again. Measure and place the handles where you like. This bag is pretty close to square so just make sure the handles are opposite each other.

Hold the handles in place with a binder clip. They will be pointing down for now. Sew around the bottom of the hem on the top of the bag first. Then position the handles up (so they are coming out of the bag) and sew around the top. Both of these seams will be 1/4 inch allowances. I like to reinforce the handles by sewing an “X” on each.

IMG_0705At this point the bag is complete. You can cut the extra triangle from making the square bottom. I leave it in tack for a little extra bottom support.

 

 

Step by Step Pictures:

Feed Bag Tote

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Cut the bottom 10 inches off.

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“Home plate” shape. To make a square bottom.

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Open the triangles.

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Mark 10 inches across and sew.

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Cut 3 inch strips for handles.

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Cut the strips in half.

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Sew together. Fold edges in about a half inch.

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Fold in Half and sew both sides.

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Finished handles.

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Fold the top down an inch and a half.

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Then again to hide the rough edges.

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Measure and place handles. Sew bottom edge of the top.

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Sew the top with handles up and sew “x” for reinforcement.

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The extra triangles that can be cut or left for extra support.

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For the Love of the Grain

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You can do a quick online search and find hundreds of reasons to avoid gluten and grains all together. One of my passions is grains. I can understand the benefits of both sides of the argument, and I still prefer to  ride the fence leaning towards grains.

Grains in their natural state are seeds with an outer shell ( hull) that is usually removed before processing. Depending on the use they are stripped of most nutrients and minerals and then “enriched” later. Some are left as “whole” grains and are ground, pressed or cut. In any form most of the “goodness” isn’t absorbed by the body as one would think. Most proteins pass through without nourishing us to their fullest potential. They also are actually rather difficult for use to digest even when an allergy or intolerance isn’t present.

A few easy steps can be taken to remedy this and help you get the most out of them as well as making them easier to digest.

Corn, for example is virtually indigestible. Yes, you may get a little nutrients from it but not nearly what is possible. Corn or some form is added to almost everything it seems now days and not to our benefit. Mainly thanks to the government subsidies making corn seemingly a profitable crop when realistically it’s no more profitable than any other. This has caused an over abundance of corn that needs to go somewhere. But we’ll save that soap box for later.

When corn is soaked in mineral lime or lime water (not the citrus) it begins to break down. It’s nutritional and mineral value increase by reducing the  mycotixins and adds niacin. It also becomes more digestible. Many cultures have been doing this for hundreds of years. The Maya is one culture that found the benefits and continues to use this method to date. Turning maze into masa, masa harina and then into tortillas, tamales and more.

On the corn subject another interesting tradition that is still used today originates from the Andes and is still used in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador is communal chewing of corn into gobs called muko. The muko is then turned into Chicha a corn beer. Yes, beer made from spit out corn.

When cereal grains are soaked, fermented or sprouted the grains are broken down and the nutrition is gained. Soaking grains over night is a good start and just that. Soaking allows the hard to digest fibers to soften and neutralizes the phytic acid. Grains soaked for 2-4 days with water changed regularly will begin the sprouting process. These grains can then be used soaked or dried and ground into flour. Fermentation is the ultimate goal though.

Fermentation increase the vitamin and mineral content naturally. It Decreases the starch because of the acid produced and neutralizes the anti-nutrients. Probiotics have been around forever but are now getting more recognition and turning into the next “big thing”. Fermentation is the natural process to them. Though the probiotic properties are lost once baked the breakdown of the fibers, neutralization of anti-nutrients and added nutrition is pretty good. Thus making the dreaded grain actually not to bad.

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Renewed Hope

Upon starting the Carbohydrate Specific Diet the list of forbidden foods was daunting and quite over whelming. No sugars, no dairy containing lactose, no potatoes, no grains including rice and most dry beans… Fruits, vegetables, meat and some dairy is still a wide variety to choose from but still a challenge to make meals without those key ingredients that I used to use so often. As with any new venture starting is the hardest part.

Once I was used to not having grains the rest has been comparatively easy. The challenge now is making meals for the whole family that will please all and I can eat too (for the most part). Spaghetti squash rather than pasta, zucchini for lasagna noodles were easy changes. Whipped cauliflower for mashed potatoes. Things haven’t been too bad.

Saturdays and Sundays have traditionally been the days that we make a big breakfast; eggs, pancakes or biscuits with jam, bacon, sausage, hash browns… Breakfast has seemed so disappointing without grains and fruit preserves. This morning I tried something new Pancakes – SCD. I had been seeing this recipe for pancakes that was 1 banana and 1 egg whipped together to make pancakes. Good, yes but still missing something. So I altered it a bit adding cinnamon and almond flour. Yum! Finally a little something that made Sunday breakfast a little closer to “normal” this morning!

Pancakes - SCD
Print Recipe
Finally a little something that made Sunday breakfast a little closer to "normal" this morning!
Pancakes - SCD
Print Recipe
Finally a little something that made Sunday breakfast a little closer to "normal" this morning!
Ingredients
  • 1 each Egg
  • 1 each Ripe Banana
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients well so there are no lumps.
  2. Lightly butter a cast iron skillet or pancake griddle and spoon the batter on the skillet.
  3. Flip once lightly browned on the bottom.
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