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Back in Business

October 3rd, 2012

We’re back in business as far as our raw milk is concerned. Luckily it’s much easier to come by in Maine that in Ohio. Back in Ohio, we were lucky that our dairy farm was only a few miles away, though I would have driven a long way to get milk from them. They stocked us up with lots of milk before we left and we were on our last jar.

I had a list of farms to call and visit, but then our neighbor gave me the name of a friend who does dairy on a small scale. We headed down the road yesterday to see her cows and chat with her. She has 3 Jersey cows that she milks. The dry periods are staggered throughout the year so she’s always milking 2 cows.

They were out frolicking in the 40 acres of pasture. In fact we weren’t sure if we were going to find them when we first arrived, but they finally came around. One of them thought my camera was a delicious cow treat and kept trying to eat it.

We made it home with a gallon of fresh raw milk. The cows we got milk from back in Ohio were Normandy cows. The Jersey milk is definitely different, much creamier. Milk is one of those funny things you always think it just tastes like milk until you start drinking pastured raw milk. Then you start to notice the changes that come throughout the seasons and from different cows.

Now that we’ve been drinking raw milk for many years I could never go back to the regular stuff. Even when we had to get lightly pasteurized milk from another small local dairy it always tasted boiled and weird to me. I’m happy that we should have enough options here in Maine to have a steady supply of raw milk all year long. Though I must admit, I’ll miss heading out to the farm on Thursdays and my chats with Dawn!

What product do you source locally or make at home that you could never buy the store/processed version again?

Friday Favorite: Homemade Ice Cream

August 24th, 2012

As I sat down last night at 10:30 once again with no blog post written drawing a blank, then Mr Chiots handed me a bowl of homemade black raspberry ice cream with some dark chocolate on top.

We’ve been putting that old fashioned hand crank machine to good use. Each week I mix up a batch and we enjoy some every night. I have developed my own recipe over time, one that works well with raw milk. It is essentially: cream, whole milk, egg yolks, a small amount of maple syrup or honey, and a dash of salt. Then we mix in whatever flavor we want. When I get a few spare minutes of free time I’ll be adding my recipe over on Eat Outside the Bag.

A few weeks ago I steeped 2 cups of the whole milk with fresh mint leaves from the garden for mint chocolate chip. The week after that we stirred in organic cocoa and a few shots of espresso. This week it’s wild black raspberries. You certainly can’t beat homemade ice cream. One of these days I’m going to try a recipe for savory ice cream. Since I don’t have a sweet tooth I find this idea intriguing, Mr Chiots however isn’t so keen on the idea.

Savory ice cream – would you love it or would it be too weird?

Make Your Own: Ghee or Clarified Butter

January 7th, 2010

We’ve been trying to find local alternatives to things we buy from far and wide. One of the things I purchase regularly is organic olive oil from California. I won’t quit buying and using olive oil since it’s a healthy and delicious, but I have been trying to find something to replace it in some recipes. A couple years ago I read about ghee. Ghee is basically clarified butter or pure butter fat. Because the milk solids have been removed it has a higher smoking point (won’t burn as easily as butter) and it is shelf stable, so it keeps much longer than butter. It’s super easy to make and it’s a delicious addition to many dishes.

Since you’re all making your own butter after yesterday’s post, I figure you’d need a way to use it up. To make ghee you need unsalted butter, you can use fresh homemade butter or store bought butter. I’d recommend finding some good quality local pastured butter of course, but you can use the regular stuff from the grocery. The final flavor and color of your ghee will depend on the quality of your butter. I generally use at least a pound of butter, usually two.

Put the butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, it will sputter a bit so you want some extra room and a taller pan. Then place the pot on medium heat and melt the butter without stirring.
When you first melt it, foam will appear. The butter will sputter a bit, this is the water boiling out of the butter. Gradually as you boil the butter the foam will disappear and you’ll end up with a beautiful golden liquid that smells wonderfully buttery! Keep an eye on your ghee, you don’t want to end up with browned butter ghee. It usually takes between 20-30 minutes depending on the temperature and the amount of butter you’re melting.

It’s time to remove from the heat when you see golden brown milk solids on the bottom of the pot. You can use a spoon to move some of the foam aside to keep an eye on the milk solids. You want to remove from heat before the milk solids become too brown. Pour through a strainer fitted with some several layers of cheesecloth to strain out the butter solids (which our pets love). Then pour the ghee into a jar or container of your choice, I prefer a wide mouth mason jar.

You’ll end up with the most beautiful golden liquid. This liquid will harden when it cools becoming opaque. Depending on the temperature of your home you final product can be between the consistency of a thick liquid that you can pour to a scoop able thickness. Your ghee does not need to be refrigerated, but you can if you want to. You can use ghee like you use oil, for frying eggs, making popcorn and sauteing veggies. It makes a wonderful addition to just about any dish.

Have you ever had or made ghee?

Make Your Own: Butter

January 6th, 2010

We’ve been getting raw milk (also called Real Milk) from a local farm for a few years. Actually I should say that we’ve been getting raw milk from our cow for a few years. The sale of raw milk is illegal in Ohio, so we participate in what’s called a “Herd Share” program. We bought a cow and we pay the farmer’s to take care of it for us. It’s legal to drink raw milk if it comes from your own cow. This milk is as fresh as you can get, we pick it up the day after it’s milked, it’s unpasteurized and unhomogenized. Since it’s not homogenized the cream rises to the top, it’s also called cream line milk. If you look closely you can see the cream line in the milk on the right.

We pay about the same price for our organic pastured milk as we would for organic milk from the store. We are happy knowing that the farmers that take care of our cow are getting a much better wage for their work than from an organic dairy. It is really delicious milk, it’s hard to explain; but it tastes like milk, unlike the white liquid you buy at the grocery store. It’s fresh and delicious and slightly sweeter than grocery store milk. It’s also wonderful because I do not have lactose intolerance problems like I do with store-bought milk.

Making butter is super easy, all you need is cream and a jar. Of course you can make it in the mixer or the blender, but I prefer to make mine the old fashioned way. I simply shake the cream in a jar until it’s butter. It really doesn’t take long, between 10-20 minutes depending on the cream, temperature and how good of a shaker you are. I prefer to make mine in half gallon jars, but you can use quart or even pint, although the more cream you use the bigger you final batch of butter will be. Fill your jar 25-50% full of cream, I try to keep mine around 40%. The more cream you have in the jar the longer it takes to form butter because there’s less movement of the cream. I also like to keep the cream at about 50-60 degrees to make butter. If it’s too warm the butter will be kind of a whipped butter and it will be more difficult to rinse and knead later on.

While shaking you’ll notice the cream turn from liquid to whipped cream. It will become harder and harder to shake as it gets thicker. Eventually you’ll notice that it will break, this happens when the butter separates from the buttermilk. You’ll definitely notice the difference in sound at this point. As you are shaking, notice the color of the cream as well, it will start to turn more and more yellow as the fat molecules group together.

It will now be easy to shake and you’ll notice the butter will start clumping together. I like to rinse mine when it formed marble sized pieces. Pour the buttermilk out of the jar, but keep the butter in. Make sure you keep your buttermilk, it makes great pancakes, muffins or biscuits. Add some water back into the jar and shake again, do this two or three times until the water is just about clear. Empty butter into a strainer to strain off water. Transfer the butter into a bowl and knead with a spoon until it form a ball, you’ll notice you’ll be working water out of the butter. If the butter is too soft put in the fridge to harden a bit before kneading.

You can add salt to your butter if you’d like, I prefer to keep mine unsalted and sprinkle some salt on my bread after buttering. Homemade butter is really tasty, it has a different taste than store bought butter. I sometimes let the cream sour a bit before churning to make a cultured butter, this only works with raw cream though, you’ll have to add cultures to store bought cream if you want cultured butter. The first time I made butter I was amazed at the color, the stuff I buy from the store is almost white, as you can see mine is very very yellow. This is because the cows we get our milk from are pastured.

We’ve been making most of our own butter since we started getting raw milk. It has become part of our weekly routine, we make about a pound and half of butter each week. Around the holidays I sometimes have to buy butter from a local dairy because I don’t have enough to make all the holiday goodies. Making butter is a great hands on educational activity to enjoy with your kids as well.

Have you ever made butter? Do you prefer butter or margarine?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.