“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.”

I made cheese!

I’ve long been aware that basic cheese making is incredibly simple, but as with most of my ambitions it took a while before I got around to trying it.

Recipes for basic farmer’s cheese (which is the same as paneer) are all over the internet. All you need is milk, lemons, and cheesecloth. A fine mesh strainer would probably do fine in place of the cheesecloth, but I actually used both.

Seriously, all you do is slowly heat the milk to gentle boiling, then turn the heat down and add lemon juice (I used a bit more than 1/4 cup). The juice separates the whey from the milk solids. Then you strain it all through your cheesecloth and squeeze out the remaining liquid.

I lined my mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl to catch the whey. I’m freezing the whey to use in bread and soups. I salted my milk while it heated up, otherwise unsalted whey has several more uses.

It’s pretty tasty, especially with honey. I’m going to put some on tacos tomorrow.

Pictures after the jump!

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dessert and downward-facing dog

I made truffles last night. Making truffles was one of the easy items on my 30 by 30 list, so it doesn’t make for a particularly interesting blog post. But there were a few other things on the list that I didn’t write about for the same reason, so here’s something.

I used this recipe from Instructables. To flavor the cream, I followed the second method and put ground coffee into a tea ball to infuse it while it heated. I ran into a minor problem though, because I only had half the amount of chocolate the recipe called for and was too lazy to go buy more. The taste turned out fine – great even – but it meant that when I rolled the ganache into balls they were melty as hell. So I have wonky truffles. I popped ‘em in the freezer and then rolled ‘em in cocoa. Tasty wonky truffles accomplished.

So ugly, but pretty yummy.

So ugly, but pretty yummy.

Oh, surprise! I actually did another thing.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been going to yoga classes at Tula Yoga & Wellness. This afternoon I attended an aerial yoga workshop, which is a prerequisite for their regular aerial classes.

It. Was. Awesome.

The sling is a prop, so not everything is done off the ground. Spinal alignment is a big focus. That said, we spent plenty of time in the air. And upside down! We definitely did this:

photo by Tula Yoga & Wellness, via FB

(FYI, These photos aren’t from today).

Savasana is done in the sling and it’s super comfortable. I could have fallen asleep.

photo by Tula Yoga & Wellness, via FB.

photo by Tula Yoga & Wellness, via FB.

I’m looking forward to future aerial classes. These ones have a fixed price (whereas most of their other classes are donation-based) so I might not be able to afford it quite as often as I’d like, but that’s okay. Variety is the spice of life, and all that.

Apologies in advance if I become a full-blown yoga fanatic. I promise I’ll talk about other things too. Probably.

photo by Tula Yoga & Wellness, via FB.

photo by Tula Yoga & Wellness, via FB.

Fair Day and other things

It’s nearly September and I’m a little hurt by that. I do love fall, but it’s a bit spoiled by what comes after. That said, the end of summer means one big thing: the Great Minnesota Get Together. That’d be the State Fair for you non-Minnesotans. As has been tradition for the past decade plus, I went with Kate, Kelsey, their father, and of course Robin. Kate’s boyfriend joined us for the first few hours and did very well.

We spent about 14 hours there, although about an hour of that was spent taking our customary nap/break behind the dairy building. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: the food list. What did we eat this year? Let’s see…

  • Cinnamon rolls w/ milk (or coffee)
  • Mini donuts
  • Footlong
  • Beef sticks
  • Giant turkey sandwich
  • All-you-can-drink milk
  • Lemonade
  • Beer gelato
  • Four beer flights
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Pretzel curds
  • Oven fresh brownie w/ milk
  • 1919 root beer
  • Sweet corn
  • Corn & blue cheese fritters
  • Coconut macaroons
  • Cream puffs w/ milk
  • Sweet corn ice cream
  • Lobster roll w/ fries
  • Dairy barn sundaes (or a cone)
  • Deep fried Snickers
  • Porketta wings
  • (Kelsey and Robin had schnitzel strips without us)
  • Another footlong
  • Red velvet funnel cake

Over all the summer has been pretty standard. The annual Ladies Cabin Weekend happened at the end of July. My oldest brother, Cody, got married at the beginning of August, then Darren and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary a few days later. Probably the most exciting thing is learning that I’m going to be an aunt again – Kyle and Jenna are expecting a wee one in March. Hooray! I’m going to teach him (or her) all about Doctor Who and musical theatre. Nerd child.

I started going to yoga last week and it’s one of the best thing’s I’ve done for myself. Once upon a time I did Core Power’s free week, but most studios are so expensive to join and even drop-in classes are spendy. Since then I’ve practiced a little at home, but mostly just in the form of simple stretching. Tula Yoga & Wellness in St. Paul is donation-based, so you can take most of their classes for as little as $5. They also have aerial yoga which I am excited to try eventually. /accidental commercial

Summertime, and the living is… easy?

Here’s a quick list of ALL THE THINGS, in no particular order.

We made it down to Wisconsin to see the grandparents. That was over a month ago, on June 7. Grandma is not doing well- at the time she was still staying at a care facility, but they were able to bring her home recently. A nurse comes to the house four hours a day. I’m glad we made it down; it had been far too long. We were able to celebrate grandma and grandpa’s 63rd anniversary with them (anniversary was June 8) which was very special.

family

Grandpa told us we should “take something to remember grandma,” which was a little awkward. She’s still alive. Still, this little glass chicken dish caught my eye, and now it’s in our living room.

wee chicken

Darren lost his plumbing job yesterday, only because his boss decided he doesn’t like having to teach him everything. He still works for Papa John’s, so it’s not like we’re suddenly in a financial panic. He intends to go through the process of getting a union apprenticeship, so I think in the end it will work out in his favor. Cross your fingers he passes all the tests! That said, if we turn down plans, please know it’s only because we’re trying to avoid spending money. Feel free to come over and drink at our place.

I had a four-day weekend for Independence Day. I learned that I only enjoy fireworks from a safe distance, so when we went to a party that involved yard explosions I spent most of the evening inside with the dogs (our dog and a friend’s). No regrets. Brenna was in town that weekend for her dad’s 60th birthday, and we were able to get together on Sunday. We went to the beach, then to Grumpy’s Bar in Roseville where Tara met us. Afterwards, we headed back to the Muddy Pig in St. Paul where we were joined by Sean, Dave, and of course Darren.

deegs

I told you this was in no particular order.

Last night I took Kate, Rebekah, and Michelle to RiffTrax Live: Sharknado. They broadcast from one of our – my company’s – theatres and I managed to get us comps. I was the only one that had seen the movie previously, but I tend to forget a lot about movies if I have only seen them once (and often twice, or even three times…). That plus the riffing made for mega good times.

sharknado

Legendary.

Now it is Friday. This coming Tuesday I am dragging Darren with me to see Welcome To Night Vale on tour, because they’re coming to another one of our theatres and once again I was able to nab some comps. Until then, I think I’m going to spend some time binge-watching House on Netflix. Haters to the left.

the haps

It feels like a lot has been going on in the last three weeks, but not much of it has been very exciting.

Darren started a job as a plumber’s apprentice at the end of April. It’s part-time right now, just because that’s how the work load is. It’ll pick up to full-time in the summer. His boss, Jeff, runs the business alone and Darren is his first employee. For an apprenticeship, Darren will have to register with the state and there’s mandatory schooling involved. I think it’s 144 hours per year for five years, then a test. He hasn’t registered yet, but will soon. He’s still doing the delivery thing part-time about four nights a week, so we’ll see how it goes.

Although who knows how long it’s going to be before we can really judge anything, because poor Baxter developed a hernia last week. He saw the doctor on Monday. She said he was very lucky; it’s minor enough that he doesn’t need surgery, just a lot of rest. Which means he can’t work for a bit. He has a follow-up next week, so here’s hoping the thing gets better instead of worse. We can handle him not working for a couple weeks, but if he ends up needing surgery then who knows.

What else? Had more work done on the car a couple weekends ago. Wheel bearing, blah blah. Darren’s boss has a mechanic buddy who did the work for much less than shop labor would have cost, so that was awesome, but he’s in Coon Rapids. His house is like two blocks from Kyle and Jenna’s, so Kyle met us there and we had lunch, then he brought us home. What an excellent brother.

We assumed we were going to be car-less until the next day, but it was finished later that afternoon. Getting back out to CR was a friggin’ ordeal. The amount of time it took to find someone willing to help us out was rather depressing.

We’re trying to work out a time in the near future to go visit my grandparents in Wisconsin. Probably next weekend? I guess Darren may or may not be able to make it because hernia, but at least Kyle, Jenna, and I will go. Fingers crossed Darren can come too.

Someone destroyed the washer and dryer in our building last week, so we have to do laundry elsewhere until they’re replaced. Last night we went to the home of some pals so the dogs could play, we could grill, and our clothes could get washed. It was fun, but I hope our machines get taken care of soon. Hauling that stuff around is annoying.

That’s about it. Summer hours start this week at work, so we close a couple hours early on Fridays for the next few months. And this weekend is a long one, thanks to the holiday on Monday. Three day weekend with no plans? Sounds like a dream.

Birthday stuffs

Tuesday night I was digging around for something that I never did manage to find, but in the process I came across a folder I had forgotten about. In it, I found miscellaneous items and a photocopy of my mom’s pregnancy notes. How timely!

preg journal 1 preg journal 2

It’s hard to read, so I’ve transcribed below (I am twin B, Kyle is twin A). Happy birthday to me (and Kyle)!

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But the question is, what do we name it?

Four years ago, we acquired a sad-looking but functional ’97 Dodge Caravan. It was a hand-me-down from Darren’s parents and we payed exactly zero dollars for it. But it’s been on its last legs for a few months now and especially after this winter, replacement is a necessity. Since around September, we’ve been passively searching for an affordable vehicle that can handle the weather that we deal with in this sorry state.

Darren’s coworker Joe buys cars at auctions, fixes them as needed, and sells them. When he told Darren he had a Subaru for sale, we were intrigued. It’s a 2002 Impreza; the car itself has 150K miles on it, but the engine was replaced at around 130K. There’s some cosmetic issues – small dents, mostly, and a wee patch of rust on the wheel well – and the muffler needs to be replaced. It also needs a good cleaning. But instead of taking care of all these things and selling it for double the price, we got a sweet deal (so sweet that the loan payment is only $35 a month) and will be unloading the stupid van at the same time.

I have exactly one picture of said car.

I have exactly one picture of said car.

Darren got a shop recommendation from someone in the know, and made an appointment for muffler repair next Thursday. So we can’t really drive it yet, unless we want to risk a ticket because it’s so very, very loud. We’re hitting up the DMV tomorrow I think, and we’ll get the insurance switched over sometime this week.

All of this to say: ALL WHEEL DRIVE, YOU GUYS! And I’m so excited to not be rolling around in that shitty mom-van anymore.