July 11, 2012

Got raw milk? Part 3 - Does it taste good? + other benefits

I've gotten a lot of different responses when I tell people that we drink raw milk. The most common is about how it's not pasteurized, but we already discussed that. The next one is something along the lines of, "ewww...doesn't it taste weird?"

Naturally, my thoughts on this are purely subjective. Although I am drawing from my experience with the rest of my family, and various people who come over and are brave enough to try it.

Personally, I think it tastes amazing. It's rich, creamy and smooth, with a thicker texture than store-bought milk. One of the reasons for this is that it's full-fat - no skim or 2% here! But even when compared to store-bought whole milk, there is a marked difference. I will say that the first couple tries take a bit of getting used to, but it's only because your palate is used to the taste and texture of store-bought and something new is surprising. Now, after drinking it for over a year, I could never go back, even if my decision was based on taste alone. My palate is used to fresh, raw milk now, and when I'm forced to consume store-bought for some reason, I can actually taste the chemical-ness of the synthetic vitamins and minerals they add to it (to replace what's lost during pasteurization).

My kids, hubby and almost everyone else I can get to try it agree - it just.tastes.better.

Changing the subject just a bit, I want to talk about the "whole milk" aspect. I'm well aware that the government and their ridiculous food pyramid tell us that skim milk is best because it's low-fat. I beg to differ. Any real-foodie will tell you, YOUR BODY NEEDS GOOD FATS!

Keyword: 'GOOD'.

What your body doesn't need is junk fats from things like soybean and corn oils. People have written entire books on this subject so you can read those if you want to learn more - I'll just summarize. Raw milk contains fat and cholesterol that is essential to our health and found in every cell in our bodies. It also contains incredibly healthy CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) but skimming it results in the loss of this fatty compound (see THIS post for more info on CLA and other health benefits). Our entire family has been drinking whole, raw milk for well over a year and none of us has noticed any negative weight fluctuations. My advice: whole milk tastes better and it's best for your body. Consume the fat and skip the skim.
OK, back to the main reason for this post...
It might be worth mentioning that my mom and her brothers all told me they remembered the milk they got as kids tasting "grassy" during the summer months when the cows were out to pasture. I've personally never had this experience with any of our milk. There are ways to avoid it - like keeping the cows off pasture for a few hours before milking - I'm not sure what our farmer does, but our milk always tastes great.

Other Benefits?

This is my favorite part. I have had so much FUN experimenting with the versatility of raw milk! Raw milk SOURS. It doesn't get ROTTEN like store-bought milk, it gets sour.

And what can you do with sour milk?

Oh SO MANY things!

Let's look at what happens to milk when you leave it on the counter.

Here's how it looks straight out of the fridge. You can see the cream on top with the milk below. This milk has already started to sour...it was about 9 days old when I set it out. At this point, you can remove the cream from the top because it has now turned to sour cream, and use it just like you would use sour cream from the store. Cool, huh?

The next stage is called "clabbering." Solids are beginning to appear, but it hasn't completely separated yet. If you shake it, it should just look thick and lumpy. You can stop right here and store this milk in the refrigerator to keep it from going any further.

I separated mine at this point. (It actually went little past clabbered here, but it still worked fine.)

I used what was in the bowl to make some soaked whole-wheat pancake batter - which I personally think is one of the best uses for clabbered milk!

 Seriously, these are some of the tastiest and easiest pancakes ever! (The recipe I usually use is here.)

The jar continued to be left on the counter for another day or two. You can see the separation here - it's beginning to form curds and whey.

At this point, I used a fine mesh strainer and a floursack dish towel and strained out the majority of the whey.

After the first quick draining, I pulled the towel up, attached it to my cupboard handle and let it drain for the rest of the day. 

When you remove the towel, you can see that this gets nearly ALL of the whey extracted from the curds.

Guess what you have now?!? Cream cheese! The texture isn't quite like what you'll find in the store, but it's so much better...fresh and full of probiotics. We spread it some banana walnut bread and put a drizzle of honey on top and it was fabulous! You're also left with a jar-full of whey, which should stay good for about 6 months in the fridge. I use ours in smoothies, for soaking grains and for making homemade mayo, but there are other uses as well.

I just find the whole process absolutely amazing. All you have to do is leave it on the counter and the good bacteria work their magic taking the milk through a process that leaves with an entirely different food that's even better for you than the original one!

Since sour milk is probably what most people end up with and aren't sure what to do with, here are a few other ideas:
Pancake, muffin, or quick-bread batter
Buttermilk biscuits
Add to pumpkin pie instead of evaporated milk
Mashed potatoes
Scrambled eggs
Use as fertilizer for garden plants
Feed to pets for a probiotic boost
You can drink it straight-up. It tastes like buttermilk.
One of my favorite uses is to soak batter for homemade breakfast cereal.
Soak frozen fish in it until thawed to improve texture
There are many, many more. If you end up with some you don't know what to do with, google can help you out!

I hope this little series has helped you learn a thing or two about raw milk. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed those ones. And if you got brave enough to give raw milk a try, I would love to hear about it!

July 10, 2012

Dossier to China!!!

Today we have some great news! Our dossier made it through the authentication process and our agency has approved it. We are Dossier To China (DTC) as of today, July 10, 2012! Everything will be shipped to China today and should be there in about 2-3 days. Once there, the dossier will be translated, reviewed and logged in, giving us a log-in date (LID). This process takes about 4 weeks, but once we get a LID, we're eligible for a referral!

Having a LID by August would make us eligible for referral when the September list comes out. It's just a little bit hard to believe that we're finally done with the majority of the paperwork and actually getting to the part where we'll learn who our new addition will be.While it's almost certain it will take a few months to get a referral, it's still exciting to be in the stage where that's the next big event. I'm honestly hoping it will take at least a few months, because that will give us time to raise the needed funds for the referral fee and the post-placement report fees that are due at the time of referral. The paperwork is done, unfortunately the bill-paying is not!

We covet your prayers for this new little one, whoever they may be, while we wait for our LID and referral. Specifically, we're praying that the Lord would somehow prepare her for meeting her new family and leaving her old life behind. And also for our children, to prepare to willingly and lovingly accept their new sibling.

We're getting closer!

July 7, 2012

Independence Day


noun:freedom from the controlinfluence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

Around here, we like to celebrate INDEPENDENCE Day. A long time ago, one of my family members developed a dislike for calling the this particular day the "fourth of July" instead of what it was meant to be; Independence Day.

I have to admit I thought it was a weird thing to get up in arms about at first, but it's really begun to grow on me. The word actually has some meaning. It stands for something. 

Whereas the word "fourth" -


 [fawrth, fohrth]
adjective: next after the third

Well...that word certainly has a place, but it really doesn't seem to adequately describe the why we celebrate the day. So, we'll call it Independence Day, if for no other reason, than as verbal reminder of the freedoms that we so often take for granted as Americans.

We spent the day enjoying time with family, sharing good food, and doing activities together. And of course, we did a few fireworks too. My hubby found this was a great excuse to practice his favorite activity and grab a few shots of the kids. He used his "lay on the ground" trick to get some of these. He often contorts himself into somewhat awkward positions to get good shots of the kids, and it's often in our front yard, so don't be alarmed if you see him out there looking a bit unusual :)

[Photo Tip:  This was shot with a Canon Rebel T2i and a Tamron 2.8 70-200mm lens.  Camera settings were f2.8 - 1/640 - ISO 400 at 150mm focal length.]
Smokey Silhouette

Tyler teaching Keira how to light a Smoke Bomb
Keira is not pleased by the smell

I think Tyler could do this all day!
Keira's first experience with a punk.

We had a great time celebrating the day, and hope you all were able to do something special too!

Ni Hao Yall