My beautiful lily Oriental Lily Gluhwein is flowering is the moment. I planted the bulb a couple of years ago, and this year the plant has produced two very full stalks of flowers, despite the paucity of rain recently.
This morning we went for an excursion to a farm near Helensville to purchase some fresh, full-cream milk. For a small fee, we were able to join up with a cooperative which means that we will be able to obtain fresh, unpasteurised milk, almost straight from the cows.
I’ve made soft cheeses before, using milk purchased from the supermarket, but it’s not that easy to find full cream milk in this day and age of trim and ultra-trim milk. And everything I’ve read about making cheese tells me that the best milk to use is that sourced directly from a farm.
We embarked on our 70 km round trip at around 8.00 am, allowing time for brunch at The Cafe in Helensville and for the purchase of a 4 litre stainless steel milk can from RD1.
The agreed rendezvous was a dairy shed at the end of a dusty, gravel road, and we arrived right on time at 10.00 am. I’m not sure what I expected, but there were quite a few people there ahead of us, carrying receptacles of various sizes and chatting amongst themselves.
The fresh milk is stored in a huge gleaming stainless steel tank. Once you have joined the cooperative, it works on an honesty-box system. We are able to turn up on any day between 9.00 and 11.00 am to purchase milk and/or any of the small range of other dairy products available, e.g. yoghurt, heavy cream, light cream or cream cheese.
We purchased 4 litres of the fresh milk, plus a jar of the heavy cream (for our Christmas Pudding on Wednesday). And I’m definitely keen to buy some of the yoghurt, as it has been made using Caspian Sea culture. This is a serial culturer, which means I can use the yoghurt to start new batches over and over again, and it’s one of the few yoghurts that will culture at room temperature.
When we arrived home, I used 1.5 litres of the milk to make a simple curd cheese. The result is a soft, white cheese which can be used for sweet or savoury dishes. My 1.5 litres produced 352 grams of the cheese. Once it has drained through muslin, the curd forms a soft creamy ball which can be crumbled, sliced or cut into cubes, depending on what you wish to use if for. You can also blend it with a little sugar and vanilla or cinnamon for a dessert cheese. I added salt to today’s batch as I wanted a savoury cheese.
Our afternoon tea comprised of some toasted, freshly-baked Italian bread, sliced gherkins (from last week’s batch) and some of this lovely fresh cheese.
Later in the day, Ben dug up some horseradish roots (Armoracia rusticana) to prepare Horseradish Cream. The plant itself looks quite a bit like a dock plant, and the roots are very long and stretch deeply into the soil.
Fresh horseradish is grated finely and mixed with fresh cream, lemon juice or vinegar, a pinch of sugar, then seasoned with a little salt and pepper.
Horseradish is a member of the brassicaceae family, which includes cabbages, wasabi, and mustard – it has a very strong (hot) flavour and Horseradish Cream is very popular in Finland, where it’s called Piparjuurikerma. Horseradish is also a traditional accompaniment to Gefilte Fish.
Our horseradish has been in the same spot in the vegetable garden for about three years now, and is growing very densely. The slightest piece of root will start a new plant, so you need to take care not to put trimmings in the compost heap! At some stage we’ll need to move the plants out of the vegetable garden to a more suitable site. One of the many gardening tasks for ‘later on’.
Apparently hens like horseradish, too! Lottie ate a good proportion of this pile while Ben was trying to photograph it. Afterwards, she cleaned her beak, and seemed non-affected. I’m not sure what her egg will taste like tomorrow, though, and it should get rid of any worms!
As well as being a vermifuge, horseradish is great for clearing the sinuses and also has anti-bacterial properties. There is some interesting other information about horseradish on this page Lilith’s Apothecary. I really value having horseradish in our garden.