Kathleen Burek and her husband, John, from Montague, MA, have been living a "back-to-basics" lifestyle since they got married almost 50 years ago.
They brought up their 4 boys (who are now middle-aged) with a large vegetable garden, horses, a cow, goats, chickens and turkeys. They wanted their sons to know where their food came from.
When the boys were young, they had 8 goats (Nubians and LaManchas) which Kathleen showed at the Cheshire Fair in Swanzey, NH and at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, MA. She learned about the value of goat's milk from the Southern Vermont Dairy Goat Association.
|Their home in Montague, MA|
|They built this barn themselves.|
|One of their sons has a construction business, so there is a lot of heavy equipment around.|
|There are too many different breeds here to even mention!|
Kathleen purchased their book, Cheesemaking Made Easy (now called Home Cheese Making), a press, and a bottle of liquid rennet. A friend, who also had goats, told her how to make the cheese she makes to this day.
Kathleen now drives a school bus and sells Pampered Chef kitchen supplies. The boys are grown and all the animals, except the chickens, are gone. Normally that would be the end of this story, but recently, Kathleen read Goat Song by Brad Kessler and she was inspired to have goats again. So, this fall she will be getting two Nubians - one to be bred and one younger.
|Husband, John, waiting patiently for his cheese.|
|This room is huge! You are only looking at half of it here.|
|How's that for fun kitchen wallpaper?|
In anticipation of her new goats, Kathleen dug out her 30 year old press and she has begun making her cheese once a week. She's using milk from a neighbor's goats until she gets her own.
|Her neighbor's Saanen.|
Kathleen likes to add garlic and spices to her cheese, but she points out that you can literally add anything. It's similar to Panir, but Kathleen calls it Easy Farmstead Cheese. I tasted it, of course, and it's yummy!
Kathleen's Easy Farmstead Cheese
1 gallon goat's milk
1/2 cup reconstituted lemon juice
Salt and herbs to taste
|Everything's ready to go.|
Add lemon juice and stir for one minute.
Pour into colander lined with butter muslin.
|She uses a Pampered Chef strainer.|
|Adding chopped up rosemary.|
|You can take the curds out of the butter muslin and place them in the mold, if you wish.|
|We have no idea how much pressure Kathleen uses, but we can guess that at least 5 pounds would be right.|
|The cheese appeared somewhat soft when it came out of the mold, but after refrigeration, it firmed up to the texture of Mozzarella.|
Tips from Kathleen
While she was making the cheese, Kathleen shared a few thoughts:
1. If you can, drink goat's milk and make your cheese from it because it's healthier than cow's milk. It takes humans 3 hours to digest cow's milk and 1/2 hour to digest goat's milk.
2. Making cheese requires patience- like milking a goat or nursing a child. Get in the zone and do not try to do other things while you're making cheese.
3. After milking your goats, filter the milk and then chill it immediately. Otherwise it will get that "goaty" taste.
4. Use stainless steel pots and utensils, disinfect them every time you use them and let them air dry.
|This is the milking stand John built for her 30 years ago and she will be using it again in a few months.|