Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cheese Making-Part Due

THIS, ladies & gentlemen, is a successful batch of Full Moon Mozzarella!
Following the same recipe as last time, I did make one small adjustment. I used 1/2 a Junket rennet tablet instead of 1/4 a tablet.  Supposedly, Junket isn't as strong as other forms.  This amount seemed to work beautifully.

And yes, this time, I did use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.  I'm still laughing at myself over that little mistake.

Same lineup as before.

After citric acid, curds start forming.

Added rennet and let sit and TADA!  We have real curds this time!  I was SO excited!

After cutting into cubes, it looks like this. I feel like Little Miss Muffet with her curds & whey!

After bringing temp up to 105 degrees, I got this.  YUM!

Then came the microwave process.  I was amazed how much whey came out of the heated mozzarella.  I used a small-hole colander and put the mozzarella in it as I folded so the whey could drain easily. 

Make sure to use gloves because this stuff is H-O-T!  It only took a couple of minutes to go from a big glob to shiny, stretchy cheese. 

I put the finished mozzarella in the salted water and into the fridge it went.

The ricotta is in my sink draining as I type. It will drain for a few hours before it's ready to devour.

As desperately as I wanted to make caprese salad, (Farmer's Market trip produced some beautiful late-season tomatoes and basil) I'm holding out for dinner.

Tonight's menu:  Homemade pizza.  There is homemade whole wheat dough in the fridge and I'm making pizza sauce in a few minutes.  The mozzarella is going to make this so delicious.

Tomorrow, I'll post all the recipes so you can make your own from-scratch pizza.  Trust me, you're gonna wanna make this! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adventures in Cheese Making-Update

Today I tried making mozzarella and ricotta cheese for the first time.  I used this recipe for 30 Minute Mozzarella. 

I gathered my ingredients and utensils.

Notice the wonderful local milk I found.  Fresh Jersey milk thick with cream.  The jug I used was only two days from the cow. 

Poured milk into pan and waited for it to reach the required 55 degrees.  Waited and waited and finally it happened. 

Added the citric acid and look!  I see curds!

It seemed to take forever for it to reach the required 105 degrees.  I stirred and waited.  And stirred and waited.  And stirred and waited some more.

After what seemed an eternity, the milk reached its goal, I added the rennet and set it aside to cool.  The curds were supposed to separate from the whey in approximate 5 minutes.

This is what it looked like in 5 minutes.  Not quite what I was hoping for.

So I let it set for 5 more minutes.  It did set a tiny bit so I proceeded to the next step, heating it to 105 degrees.  Again, it seem an eternity for this to happen.  Curds were there but they were pretty gloppy.  But, being I've never done this before, I figured it was OK.

I took out the curds to drain and went through the microwave process.  It never got shiny or stretchy.  It just looked like Ricotta.  Delicious, creamy Ricotta but it was supposed to be Mozzarella.

Then it hit me.  I glanced at the thermometer and noticed there were two sets of numbers.  One was Celsius.  The other was Fahrenheit.  Then I laughed.

Yup, I wasn't paying attention and used the Celsius reading.  No wonder it took so long to reach the right temperatures!  My 30-Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta took about 2 hours!

So my first cheese making adventure was sort of a flop, although the Ricotta is absolutely delicious.  I'm making lasagna tonight and it will taste wonderful.  Fortunately, I thought ahead and bought some mozzarella. 

Here is the lasagna I made.  Hubs said it was the best he's ever had!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Halloween/Fall Snack Mix

Last night, I got a craving.  I wanted something sweet but I wanted something salty.  I couldn't decide if I wanted chocolate or caramel, crunchy or chewy.  It was frustrating to say the least. 

I finally decided.  I'd make party mix.  Covers all the bases.  So this morning, I went to the store for supplies.  I didn't really want to heat up the house so I cheated a little bit and used pre-made Chex mix.  Then I just looked around to see what sounded good to me.

Here is what I ended up with.
The cereal multi-pack was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself!  I got six different cereals, 4 sweet ones and two plain.  Good balance.  I also decided to add some fruit and nuts to make it a tiny bit healthy.
I dumped all of it into a really big bowl and I got this. 
Doesn't this look tasty?  Believe me, it really is.  It's a fantastic mix of salty & sweet. 
And it looks pretty too!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Skills-Tooth Powder

I like nothing more than fresh breath and a sparkling smile.  I did a stint in the 90s as an Oral Surgery Tech and a chair-side Dental Assistant so yeah, it's in my nature.  I also like nothing more than saving money & helping the environment. 

Enter homemade tooth powder.  Frugal, natural, effective and tasty. 

There are a ton of recipes on the Internet.  This is my version.
Tooth Powder
2 parts baking soda
1 part sea salt
Clove oil*
Wintergreen oil*
*Clove and wintergreen oils are pretty potent.  Start with less and add to your taste.  Clove oil is excellent for oral health.  Feel free to substitute peppermint or cinnamon for wintergreen. 

Add soda to Magic Bullet or food processor.

Then sea salt.
I used coarse salt but use what you have.  Just don't use table salt.
Approximately 10 drops of clove oil.
1/8 teaspoon Wintergreen or to taste.
Blend together until salt is finely ground and all the oil is incorporated evenly.
Put in a lidded jar. 
To use, simply dampen your toothbrush and dip or sprinkle with powder.  Yes, it will taste a bit salty and it's not really very sweet.  Trust me, you'll get used to it quickly and will be pleasantly surprised how fresh your mouth feels.  I can't stand how sicklingly sweet and 'chemically' regular toothpaste tastes to me now. 
How easy is that, right?

Tenderfoot House Tour-Befores & Afters

Tenderfoot Hearth has gone through a lot of changes in the past three years.  Our house is a 1963 Cindarella or Storybook Ranch home.  This means it includes things like window boxes, shutters, diamond pane windows, and exposed rafters.  

Unfortunately, the former owner wanted to turn a Ranch into a Victorian.  The interior was dark and filled with very busy floral wallpaper & fussy lighting.  Pretty but not a good match for this house.  They also had no sense of color and simply used white and hunter green on the exterior.  Making things even darker. 

Obviously, we made some changes inside and out.  Here is the before of the front entrance.
Notice all the fake, overdone flowers.
And the after:
Yup, that's real plants there now.
Now you can actually see the beautiful paned glass in the door.  I painted the door a crisp green to match the planters.  I also painted the old bronze light and doorbell hammered silver.  Amazing what a difference it made.

Inside, we went from this:

To this:
And from this:
To this:

Next post, I'll show the other rooms and the major pool overhaul.  I think we're doing a good job bringing the house back to the 1960's where it belongs.

Garden Update

Remember those garlic cloves from a few weeks ago?  Well, check 'em out now!  I'm so excited!

You can also see I planted kale and Swiss chard.  I've never tried fall veggies before so I'm looking forward to watching this grow.  From everything I've read, Oklahoma has the perfect climate in the fall for a good crop.  Warm days with lots of sunlight, cool evenings & a fairly late first frost.  Gives these little guys a fighting chance.

I can't wait for the first harvest later this fall.  I'm also excited to see how far into winter I can extend their growth.  Perhaps a salvaged window cold frame is in my future?

I also can't wait to try sauteing fresh garlic scrapes and sweet new kale next spring. Yum! 

I tell ya.  Gardening really is fun.  You never know what exactly is going to happen.  It's also nice to know as fall turns to winter, in my garden under the snow, there is a secret world waiting to show itself when the sun returns.  The excitement and anticipation will keep me going through the dark of Winternights. 

Speaking of excitement, here is a flower from one of my bushes I though was long dead.
Isn't this beautiful?

So Sorry

Sorry for the lack of posts.  It's been busy here on the ole Tenderfoot Hearth.

First off, Hubs & I celebrated our 3rd anniversary in grand style.  OK, maybe not exactly grand but good enough for us.  We went to the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa for the Heart concert.  It was a fantastic concert and fulfilled a 4-year old promise Hubs made the first day we met.  Heart was playing that summer and we were going to go, but, alas, the concert was sold out so it was a big ole no go. So we finally go to see them.  It was worth the wait! Those ladies can still sing a razor line. 
Snuck a picture.  My bad. ;)

The other excuse is pretty lame.  Life.  Yup, life sometimes just gets in the way of computer time.  Actually, it's not such a bad thing.  I've spent a lot of quality time with my family & friends.  For me, there is no better way to spend my time.  That is the whole point of my efforts here at Tenderfoot Hearth.  Making life better for me and my family.

So, if I neglect my little blog from time to time, I beg your forgiveness.  It just means I'm living a happy and satisfying life with those I hold dear.  I'm pretty sure ya'll can forgive me for that one. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Honey Oatmeal Seed Bread

Fall is in the air and it turns my thoughts to hearty stews bubbling away in the crock pot and butter melting on warm-from-the-oven bread.  

I have to say, Fall is one of my favorite cooking seasons.  Mother Nature provides such a bountiful harvest.  Tart, crisp apples. Earthy turnips and yams.  Pumpkins, cranberries and delicious chewy seeds and grains.  Yeah, I love Fall.

One of my favorite ways to use grain & seeds is for Honey Oatmeal Seed Bread.  This is our 'go to' bread.  It's delicious for sandwiches, toast, or just smeared with fresh butter.  Leftovers make great croutons, bread pudding & bread crumbs.  Yup, we use up every single scrap.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly giving, I'll share a big slice with the squirrels and birds outside.  They love it as much as we do.

I use a bread maker since I make a few loaves a week. 

The line up
Honey Oatmeal Seed Bread

1 cup water, very hot
1/2 cup oats (I use either old-fashioned or quick cook.  Just don't use instant)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 large egg
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup flax seed
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1-1/2 cups white flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast

This recipe make a 1-1/2 pound loaf. Make sure to use the light setting.
Pour oats into bread maker & cover with hot water.  Let sit until slightly cooled.  Add butter, salt, honey, molasses and egg.  Layer on both seeds, then add flours.  Sprinkle yeast over the top.  Bake and devour!

A well-used bread maker is a thing of beauty!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


In honor of those who lost their lives, risked their lives, and gave their lives.
Oklahoma shall never forget!

Fall Projects-Garden

The air was crisp.  There was a light breeze.  Yup, today was the day.  The day I finally tackled that square foot garden.
Fortunately, it went a lot smoother than I anticipated.  I guess the landscaping mat really did its job. There were a few weeds to pull but the soil was loose and the roots were very shallow. YEAH!  It only took about 15 minutes.
After I pulled the weeds, I supplemented the old soil.  I'm sure it was probably just fine considering it's been sitting for a year.  Self composting too.  We have big old oak trees so there was a lot of rotted leaves to stir up.  So I hoed in some new dirt into the old dirt, smoothed, and watered lightly.
I got out my trusty roll of cotton twine and restrung my squares.  I forgot how pretty the white grid looks on the dark brown soil.  And finally, I planted my garlic sets!  I can't wait to see what happens through the seasons into next summer.  I hope to have 24 beautiful garlic bulbs.
That's the fun part of gardening.  You just never know what's going to happen.  It requires patience and a lot of hope. 

So for the time being, I shall sip my iced tea, scratch my mosquito bites and dream of yummy things like garlic chicken and pesto. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tenderfoot Hearth Turns Three

Three years ago, I married a wonderful man and began a new chapter in my life.  Things at Tenderfoot Hearth have changed a bit over the years.  OK,  they've actually changed a lot but one thing stays the same; our love. 

So here's to you Mr. Quaggaman.  Happy 3rd Anniversary!  I love you more than ever!

Vampires Beware!

I have a clove and I know how to use it!

I live in Oklahoma.  The Autumn here is very temperate and perfect for fall crops.  Things like kale, second crop lettuce, and garlic.  I decided to try my hand with garlic for a harvest next year.  I went to three local nurseries.  No luck.  Went to Lowe's and Home Depot.  Still no luck.  Surly the Country Store in Bethany would have them.  The gentleman there said they had them but sold out already.  I didn't walk out empty handed.  They had some delicious local honey there so I bought a quart.  They also have rabbits and chicks.  I'll keep that in mind for spring.

I even broke down and made a visit to The Evil Empire (Walmart).  Nope, they didn't have them either.

Seriously?  No fall garlic sets in the entire city? 

After two weeks of frantic searching, I finally found my garlic!  Of course it was at the OSU OKC Farmer's Market.  Aren't they pretty?

The lady I got them from was so helpful and sweet.  She told me exactly how to plant them and tend them through the winter.  Even if The Evil Empire had them, I bet they wouldn't have had a clue how to plant them. 

This week, our weather is a bit cooler, highs in the lower 90s (yes, that really IS cooler) and lows at night in the 60s.  Perfect weather for a bit of gardening.

Now the search is on for kale.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Hubs & I bought our house two weeks before our wedding. It's in the city, sitting on a bit over 1/2 an acre in an older neighborhood.

The neighborhood was established in the early 1960s. A time when the backyard was the hub of entertaining. Manly men BBQ'd chunks of meat while the little lady served that new and exotic french onion dip and sipped Tom Collins. The yards were large with lots of shade trees and soft, green grass, perfect for croquet, badminton and little feet. I'm fortunate enough to also have a huge swimming pool, the height of 60's entertaining.

Here is how it looked when we bought it three years ago.

Beautiful, right?  But that beauty come at a very high price.  It takes water to keep all that beauty green.  A lot of water. 

We live in Oklahoma and we are smack dab in the middle of a drought.  Reports have said it's as bad as,or possibly worse than, the drought of the Dust Bowl era.  For the past few years, we've had burn bans and mandatory odd/even watering restriction programs.  Not good for the green when the temp is 100+ for weeks on end.

It's also not good on the green in our pocketbook.  If you use more than your 'alloted' guesstimated amount, the city charges more.  Not only do they increase their rate, they increase it for a whole year, even if you decrease your usage! 

Combine all this with a desire to be more ecological, well, it means it's time for a major change in how the yard looks and how it is used.  Enter xeriscaping.

Xeriscaping simply refers to a method of landscape design that minimizes water use.  It typically uses native plants or plants that grow in similar climates.  This is the direction Tenderfoot Hearth is headed.

Remember that verdant yard?  Well, here is what it looks like today.

Yes, I am intentionally letting the grass and plants die.  My poor little 94-year-old neighbor is just beside herself!  She just can't quite wrap her head around where all this is going.  Fortunately, she trusts me. She loves all the changes I've already made and said she looks forward to see what exactly I've got up my sleeve.

I think she likes that I challenge the norm and take some risks.  I like that I challenge the norm and take some risks!  Believe me, this is risky.  All the houses in my neighborhood are green and lush.  My poor yard sticks out like a sore thumb right now.  But that's OK.  By spring, all that dirt will be replace with some other types of green things.  Green things which don't require overusing our precious resources.  Green things that can be eaten and shared with those doubtful neighbors.  Green things I can be happy with. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Care & Feeding of a Red-Headed Stepchild

Thank you, MorningStar!

I have a secret.  I have two men in my life.  I love both of them.  One is my sweet Hubs who I see every day.  The other man I only see every other weekend.  We sneak in time when we can.  I've had a love affair with him for almost 4 years.  From the moment I saw him, it was love at first sight.  His smile was like a balm to my soul.  His laugh was infectious.  He charmed me even though I was madly in love with Hubs.  Yup, a 10-month old can do that!  Oh, did I mention this little man is my stepson?

That 10-month-old is now almost five.  Five and a very picky eater!  Have you ever seen a kid turn down cookies?  No, me neither.  He likes spaghetti but won't eat other shaped pasta.  He won't eat beans but will devour a bean burrito.  Real orange?  No.  Mandarin orange sections in a cup?  Yes please.  Needless to say, it's been a challenge feeding this child.

The official list of what he will eat right now (this was compiled from reliable sources):
  • Cold hot dogs with ketchup
  • Chicken McNuggets with BBQ sauce
  • Tortilla chips, salsa and cheese dip
  • Taco Bueno Bean Burritos
  • Canned spaghetti
  • Chocolate pudding cups
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Peanut butter and crackers
Notice a problem here?  Yeah, me too.  All of this is processed crap.  Everything is full of salt, artificial colors and fat.  The fruit is full of sugar.  The only natural, healthy things here are salsa and peanut butter.  Not exactly the way we eat at Daddy's house.

So, what's a Stepmom to do?  Be sneaky, that's what!  'Cause, well, you know, that's how we Stepmoms are! Calculating and sneaky.  Bwahahaha!

To cover the hot dogs and nuggets, I turn to MorningStar Farms.  They have a bounty of delicious frozen foods in almost every grocery store in America.  The Chik'N Nuggets are crispy and tender and their Veggie Dogs are yummy.  Served with homemade ketchup and BBQ sauce and they are gobbled up.  They even have corn dogs if you are so inclined.  Hubs and I are crazy for their Hickory BBQ Ribletts. 

Canned spaghetti and Mac & Cheese are either replaced with homemade (he likes mine) or Annie's Homegrown brand.  They make boxed mac & cheese and canned "P'Sghetti Loops" with soy meatballs.  Both are delicious. 

Pudding and applesauce are pretty easy.  Homemade.  Peanut butter is low salt and sugar.  Salt free crackers work just fine.  As long as it looks familiar and tastes good, he'll eat it.

His veggie intake is pathetic but I try.  I always present options on his plate. I give him baby carrots, celery sticks, and a serving of whatever cooked vegetables we happen to be having.  He likes to dip things, so I give him a little dish with ranch dressing for the veggies.  Anything to try to entice him to just try them. I read somewhere that it takes ten attempts before a kid will try something new, so I'm persistent.  One of these days, he'll happily munch those carrots!  I just know it!

Until then, I'll just have to be satisfied with the small changes I'm making.  Oh, I also mix pureed veggies into things without him, or his father, knowing it.  As I said, we Stepmom's are sneaky like that!

What to Do with Leftover Waffles

In our house, when I make waffles, there always leftovers.  Both Hubs and I eat one with our sides of Morningstar Farms 'sausage' or 'bacon', and coffee and we're full.  So what to do?

The answer?  Save them for later.  Simply wrap your waffles tightly and freeze. When needed, just pop them into the toaster for a couple of minutes for a quick, nutritious and filling breakfast.

So now that you've got a toasty waffle sitting there, what can you do with besides the traditional?  One way we enjoy them is to make a breakfast sandwich.

This morning I made a copycat of  McDonald's Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle.  I love the combination of savory and sweet but I don't like the fat and calorie count, much less the price tag associated with eating fast food.  I also don't like supporting a company who uses pink slime and industrialized farming techniques.  The price of that is way too high!

All I did was toast 1/2 a waffle (mine are the perfect size for a sandwich), heated a MorningStar Hot & Spicy Sausage patty, and hard fried an egg with a piece of melted Monterey Jack cheese on top.  To make my sandwich, I drizzled a bit of maple syrup on both waffle pieces, then stacked the egg, cheese and sausage on one piece and topped with the other.  Delicious! 

It's easy to get creative with this kind of breakfast sandwich.  Instead of sausage, try bacon or ham.  Heck, you could even thrown on some leftover fried chicken and have a classic chicken and waffles breakfast!

If you like, add a fried or scrambled egg and some type of cheese. American slices are SO boring. Try homemade mozzarella, pepper Jack, or smoked Swiss for a flavor sensation!

If you're like me and love sweet/savory combinations, drizzle on some maple syrup, honey, agave, or molasses.  Or spread with jam, apple butter or mango chutney.  Anything goes here!

If you aren't into the sweet idea, add veggies instead.  Fresh or sauteed onions and mushrooms.  Leftover roasted peppers.  A slice of sweet, home-grown tomato. 

You can also make a delicious dessert sandwich with peanut butter, fruit and honey or agave. We've used chocolate peanut butter, bananas and honey for a sweet treat. I've even been known to sneak in some marshmallow fluff. 

Some combos to try:
Ham, fried egg, longhorn Colby, with molasses.  Southern style!
Bacon, leaf lettuce, and tomato.  A spin on the classic BLT.
Scrambled egg seasoned with cumin, avocado slices, onion, cheddar cheese, and cilantro.  OLE!
Peanut butter, thinly sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, drizzled with honey.
Smoked turkey, cream cheese, and cranberry sauce.  I'd even add some onion to this one.
Eggs sauteed with leftover cooked greens, onion, Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.
Pecan butter (so good!), chocolate chips, and marshmallow fluff. 

Use your imagination and your leftovers and come up with a delicious breakfast-on-the-run that you're family will love!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Waffles (or Why I Hate Guy Fieri)!

I watched too many episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives yesterday.  They featured chicken & waffles on one show and blue cornmeal waffles on another.  They looked so yummy and left me with a hankerin' (yeah that's a word!) for waffles in a bad way. 

I promised myself that today, in honor of Labor Day, I was going to take it easy. No cooking. No cleaning.  Just resting, but damn you, Guy Fieri! This morning, I HAD to whipped some up waffles!  So much for resting!

As I've stated, I'm into making things from scratch.  There is no Bisquick or instant pancake mix in my house. So if I wanted waffles, I had to measure, spoon, mix and whip.  No shortcuts. 

What I ended up with was Light Whole Wheat Waffles. Light and fluffy with a hint of whole wheat goodness.  I don't mean light as in low-calorie.  I mean light as in texture.  These puppies really satisfied my desire and did it in a healthy, natural way. 

P.S. I don't really hate Guy Fieri.  I love his shows. ;)

Labor Day Waffles

Ingredients: **
3 eggs, separated
1-1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbl. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk (can use buttermilk if you have it on hand)
1 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbl. butter (that's 1/4 cup), melted

1.  Separate eggs, putting yolks and egg whites into two separate mixing bowls.
2.  Mix yolks with milk and vanilla.
3.  Mix dry ingredients together and add to yolk mixture.  Stir till blended.
4.  Add the rest of the milk and the melted butter. 
5.  Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into yolk batter.
6.  Ladle specified amount into a hot waffle iron and cook.

Serve with lots of sweet creamy butter and real maple syrup.  We've been known to replace the butter with peanut butter.  Good stuff!

Feel free to improvise for your families tastes by adding in chopped nuts, fruit, coconut, chocolate chips, whatever tickles your fancy. 

This makes six 7-inch round waffles.

**I use organic products, free-range eggs, and grass fed hormone/antibiotic free dairy.  I try to find local sources if possible.