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no, that's not snow ice cream the gals are enjoying... it's gmo-free soy mash, aka okara, from a local tofu producer.  Yum!

no, that’s not snow ice cream the gals are enjoying… it’s gmo-free soy mash, aka okara, from a local tofu producer. Yum!

It finally looks like winter, for real out there- we got a couple inches of white stuff this morning to dust off the single digit and teens temps we’ve been “enjoying” this past week. I must say, I’m enjoying the change of scenery! After a fair number of dismal gray days, the bright sparkle was most welcome!

We tucked in early last night, after stopping into Revolution Brewpub for a pair of pints to cheers our friends’ John and Steven formerly of Grid Chicago as they announced and celebrated their blog’s virtual move to Streetsblog Chicago. Had a slice of awesome arugula pizza with shaved parmesean and lemon-infused oil to go with my ESB and Coffee Porter… we almost stopped in at a friend’s for their homemade pizza as well, but missed their street while cutting through the park, which was a minor bummer but for the best. We had planned to come home early (and the Bella Wooski was eagerly awaiting our return, and her bathroom break and dinner), as we fully intended to get to work… but were overcome by a powerful and undeniable sleepiness. Best laid plans… and sometimes the nap wins.

So instead, we got up with the sun and the chickens, the fella at five and I at six, got caffeinated and got to work. We rearranged a bunch of materials on the second floor, and the fella used the newly assembled tablesaw to make a pretty badass rolling cart for the pair of sawhorses organizing most of our framing lumber, which will soon have foam stacked ceiling high on top. I made us a breakfast of Tribble and Eggs- we had a bumper crop of Lion’s Mane mushrooms last week, so I finally got to bring one home to try… and they DO taste like lobster! Only cuter. And less crustacean-y. I caramelized half a minced onion in a goodly pat of butter, chopped and sauteed the mushroom pieces, broke three eggs in the pan, added a sprinkle of cheese, and served it up. Awesome. The fella commented at 7:57 that he had three minutes till he had to leave for work, still furiously loading wood onto the cart… I joked, great. Three minutes till I can get back in bed! Just kidding… and took over the wood-loading duties, then put on my mask and swept and shop-vacced the whole second floor, took out the trash, shoveled and salted the front walk, took down the christmas decorations, fed and watered the hens (see pic), rescued a cat the dog had trapped under the woodshed (really, I just distracted the dog so the cat could make a break for it…), a bolt of fluffy black lightening so fast that dumb-dumb dog didn’t even see it get away, and spent the next two hours wedging herself behind the fence and under the shed as far as she could fit, alternately, trying to find the thing. Oh, Wooski…

Time to feed the fish before I head back to the studio to cut soap- I’m really happy with that new Orange Chai batch. I checked on them this morning in the molds, and they look and smell fantastic! Can’t wait to start cutting them- it’s always a surprise to see how they look inside, especially these marbled batches!

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chicagohorses

I was biking back from the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum, after dropping off my final paperwork from the weatherization program I help out with each year, and decided to take a different route home, just following the grid and the sun-compass roughly in the direction of home, when I stopped dead in my tracks. I was in a pretty dense, high-dollar northside neighborhood, but here in a large well-fenced but empty vacant lot were two enormous horses. They had obviously spent a lot of time here, not just appeared- there were two half-full, half-frozen water troughs, some hay, and a deflated ball to kick around. The ground was frozen, but pockmarked with hoof-prints. Of course, I had to get closer and say hello! The gelding near the fence stuck out his muzzle in greeting, and I gave him a soft pat as he munched his hay. I stood for a moment, breathing in that intoxicating horsey perfume that anyone who’s ever loved and been near horses knows all so well, while I cleared space in my camera phone memory bank to snap a photo. I had to send one to my friend, who’s ridden and worked with horses far more than I could have ever dreamed growing up… we’ve got this probably pipe-dream about a horse or two (I really just want a large pony, or a small horse, trained to ride and drive… not much to ask, right? haha) kept nearby. It works in North Philly… so I’m not utterly in fantasy la-la-land, right?
This American Life: Horses in North Philly

Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club

I technically have a horse, but he’s an ancient sway-backed Arkansas pasture ornament, and after over a dozen or more years away in the city, and possession being nine-tenths of the law, he’s my dad and stepmom’s pet by all rights. Overcome by teenage romanticism, I named him Stormy Moon, though Stormy was all anyone ever called him. He was the result of years and years of reading, dreaming, and talking horses… of saving my allowance and birthday money and babysitting cash… of combing the swap-ads at the local filling station, until finally finding and buying the first horse we saw, the first one I could afford that almost met all my requirements. Of course, I knew the CARDINAL rule of horse buying (“don’t buy the first horse you see”) but it was such an ordeal to coordinate and cajole my parents into the idea that I didn’t want to risk it not happening again… I was in high school, planned to go away for college (somehow) so I was running out of time for this particular dream. He was a grey gelding, part-Arab, and to my eyes, the most beautiful thing in the world. He came with tack, or at least a western saddle and some assorted gear. I already owned an english bridle, and other horsey accoutrements. I learned early that putting the cart before the horse is not necessarily a bad plan… and made inspiring wall decor until it could be useful. The Mennonite family that sold him to us said he was gentle and that their kids rode him, but didn’t ride him enough so he needed a new home. He was gentle, from the ground, and as it turned out, more green-broke than kid-broke… My horse experience up to that point was mostly seat-of-the-pants, thick on book-learning and a bit of bareback trail-riding on a friend’s older sister’s bombproof retired show horse. Misty, also dapple grey, was a Quarter Horse that had won trail and halter classes, and competed in barrel-racing and pole-bending before a pasture accident ended her ring career and left her with one eye- she was dead-calm and kid-proof in spite of the affliction, and she carried my friend Jeanie and I, riding double through blackberry hollows, fields, and roadsides without incident. For Stormy and I, our combined inexperience was a bad combination indeed.

My cowboy cousin-in-law Stacy helped haul him home, saddled him up, and said to hop on. Unlike his rodeo horses, which were used to trailer travel and unfamiliar situations, this guy was rattled and already a little out of his element… but I mounted, and set off downhill into the pasture at a walk, then a brisk trot. My poppy (grandpa) and other cousin were baling hay that day, and Stormy caught an eyeful of a square bale ejecting from the machinery and tumbling out onto the field, and decided that this tractor-demon was very dangerous indeed. He sped to a run, whirled and reared, and I went flying. After a mid-air backflip, I broke my fall with my left arm outstretched over my head, and half-broke a bone in the process. Everyone came running as I sheepishly and painfully dusted myself off. True to form, cowboy cousin says “get back on the horse”, which I did with a leg-up, and rode to the back of the hill, where the house and bags of ice were. Spent six weeks in a cast with what the doc called “a greenstick fracture” as one of the two bones in my forearm had bent and snapped on one side but not the other under the strain of the landing… a lucky break, and it healed well… but I never rode that horse much either. I’d spend time with him, and brush him, but we didn’t have the girl-and-pony mind-meld and endless adventures I’d dreamed about for years. I loved him, and admired his beauty and power, but was also more than a little intimidated by it, and more than a little afraid to climb back up there and try again. I was in over my head, and it’s not the last time I learned that kind of lesson. Riding lessons would have helped both of us… or should have been essential, but there was no budget for such things. Someday I’d like to try again, with some guidance and groundwork first. And a dead-broke schoolmarm of a horse. And a helmet, haha. My bones aren’t as pliant as they were back then… but I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot of lessons about falling. And getting back up.

In other news, our pig is ready, at the locker in Chenoa, IL, waiting for us to drive two hours, pick it up, and start turning it into delicious bacon and sausages. I consider it a good omen that my friend, who works at the Spice House, just brought us a jar of their italian sausage seasoning, and didn’t even know about our pig purchase. The fates are with us! He was one of four raised on pasture by a woman in Lemont, on a diet of organic feed, food scraps, and acorns. If he’s half as delicious as the pig I raised in FFA, we’re in for some great meals. 241 pounds of great meals- we requested pretty much “everything but the squeal”. Who wants to fry up some pork rinds with me? We have to render the lard first…

Have more realistic urban livestock dreams, but not sure how to get started? There’s an Urban Livestock Expo event at the Garfield Park Conservatory on February 16th… come learn about chickens (the gateway drug), bees, rabbits, and goats, and meet other current and aspiring urban farm folk; talks and Q&A to follow! It’s being put on by folks from Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts (two great list-servs that I’m on) and Angelic Organics Learning Center, among others I believe? I’m hoping to attend if I can wiggle my work schedule… it’s 10 am-1 pm, which might make it tough. Looks to be a fun event, so put it on your calendars now!

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farm dinners?

So, the fella forwarded me an invite to another of our friend’s quarterly farm supper events… and had one of his always-pragmatic suggestions… that “instead of writing dear diaries to the internet world, maybe you can plan and execute farm dinners. hmm. just a thought.”  Those who know me know that this is a frequent day-dream of mine… I just have a hard time a) with the current state of our venue(s), and b) with the idea of charging my friends to come over for dinner. 

As far as issue a)… either I could get creative and use someone else’s space… (Catington Station? Ahem?)… get a hustle on and get our house put together, or capitalize on the current rough slate we’ve got.  Sure, we’ll just throw a tarp over the double stack of insulation and work-related mess, issue our guests parkas at the door, and charge them double for the grittiness of it.  Free dinner for anyone who manages to shoot the rat. 

Yes, the rat, which has set up camp behind the oven, evaded numerous pellet-gun assassination attempts, tip-toed around the jumbo glue-traps placed on either side of the rear of the oven, and stolen the peanut I used to bait the snap-trap on the counter.  Ew.  Crafty little bastard… and I can’t poison it as I’m afraid it will die IN the oven.  The fella of course countered that the rat could be the first course… “organic indoor raised free range rat”.  I’ve eaten ‘coon.  I’ve eaten squirrel.  I realize the hypocrisy, and I’m sure the difference is purely semantic, but I can’t see myself trying or preparing rat unless actually starving.  Our friend, to whom we related our woes at New Years, said he’d dispatched many a rat when he resided at The Grand Manor, and suggested sardines as foolproof bait.  I’ll be trying that this afternoon… as soon as I figure out how to ensure that I don’t catch a Rott instead.  I guess that’s one way to train her once and for all to stop counter-surfing when we’re not looking… but a little too harsh for my liking as it could actually really hurt her instead of just teaching her a hard lesson.  Hm.

As far as the charging for dinner thing… I guess that’s my own hang-up and inner-cheapness that I need to get over.  I love feeding people… most folks love my food… and cooking for people is what I paid a LOT of money to learn how to do well.  Most people spend a lot of money going out to eat… why shouldn’t they support what we’re doing at the same time?  That said, send me an email, or comment if you want to get added to the email list if and when we put one of these together!

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TheKedzieStopMarket.Ad.CarrollArtsBuilding

It’s a good time, y’all! We’ll be there, with soap, honey, preserves, and maybe even cupcakes? Maple-whiskey AND chocolate-porter if I bust ’em out tonight… and next month (if not sooner)… gringa loca tamales! Pheasant mole? Rabbit and caramelized onion? Mushroom and kale? Pulled pork and pumpkin? I know, crazy. If you mean, crazy good!

The fella has been down the the flu and has required much tending, but hopefully after all the spicy miso soup, emergen-c, and rest will be right as rain by tomorrow… we’re both looking forward to another installment of the market!

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Well, while neither the fella or I have gotten too much of a reprieve from work, we have been relaxing and enjoying the season regardless.  Our friend and new neighbor B came over on Sunday for dinner along with her friend L who works for a rigging company in the neighborhood and was helping her build fence panels at their shop.  We didn’t sell many mushrooms at the farmers market that morning (but sold out of greens and herbs… go figure.  Whatever we bring more of is what we sell less of… but isn’t that the way it goes?), so we had oyster mushroom ragout with rich rabbit stock veloute, mashed potatoes with preserved lemon, our salad greens with walnut, pomegranate, and half an avocado and kalamata dressing, and pasta with tomato-vodka cream sauce (from a jar, but doctored up of course), arugula, and bacon.  A feast!  I can’t say how much it does for my psyche to be able to occasionally have a normal impromptu dinner in the middle of our camp-cabin-construction zone… I wiped the mortar dust off the farmhouse table, excavated enough chairs and room for everyone to sit and we had a wonderful time. 

Someday we’ll both be done with our major rehab projects and be able to enjoy such happenings all the time!  For now, she’s just starting to lay out her strategy, secure the property, and is staying with her parents while she waits for the weather to warm and to heal from her upcoming shoulder surgery.  As for us, we’re trying to track down a truck that is roadworthy and rated to pull our big trailer to the insulation warehouse a couple hours away.  Know anyone with an F250, cargo van, or similar beast for hire? Send ’em our way!  Know anyone who wants to buy a classic ’77 Ford highboy with a custom rack and a crane on the back?  We just acquired a sensible small Toyota from a friend, and are putting ole ‘Blue on the block.  She’d be a great restoration project for someone, or a scrapper’s delight, and we’d like to see her go to a good home… and I can’t wait to get the half of the yard back that she takes up, much as I’ve enjoyed the things that she brought us- like the chicken coop and rain “barrels”.  Heh. 

We’ve had a pretty non-traditional but still enjoyable holiday… we stayed home, and his parents are in Florida visiting family, so we got to spend it together with just us and the dog.  We ordered Chinese food on Christmas Eve, which we usually do on New Year’s Eve while hanging out with neighbors, but I think we all have other plans this year and will be hanging out at the studio on New Years Day instead.  I didn’t do much decorating, other than the outside of the house, where our fence is decked with yew boughs (trimmed from the bush in our front yard that otherwise will turn back into a tree), the front door bears a giant red bow with more greenery, the urn of kindling branches on the porch have ornaments hanging, and I fired up our still-hung Halloween lights, which are mostly green with a touch of purple.  Close enough. 

He had only Christmas day off work, and I had Monday and Wednesday, my usual days off (thanks to a volunteer who lived nearby and filled in on fish feeding for my other coworker who was out of town) and only stopped in for an hour or so on Christmas day to feed, weigh out the next feeding, and return the farmers market gear (coolers, tables, banner, bins, etc…).  After sleeping in a bit, and a breakfast of bacon and eggs, the fella and I drove down to the farm in the afternoon with the big Bella bear, and she had a holiday frolic running free in the fenced two-acre lot around the building.  It makes me so happy to let her run off leash somewhere safe but bigger and more interesting than our yard- she positively glows, and floats about two feet above the ground as she trots and races in circles, sniffing everything, checking the perimeter, and hoping for rabbits.  I wish I could take her with me more often, but she’s just too unreliable still, and would fuss and bark and whine the whole time that I wasn’t with her… and dogs aren’t allowed in food-processing buildings.  Oh well, oh dear.  She’s best left at home where she can hold down the fort while we’re gone. 

After work we headed back to the house, where the fella got a roaring fire going while I threw together a simple dinner- more mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, roasted baby brussels sprouts from Iron Creek farm with bacon and caramelized onion, and a roast chicken with red and white turnips from Radical Root farm, carrots and onion and half a preserved lemon and some good garlic stuffed inside, and finally a green salad.  I chatted with my family on the phone while I cooked- the were mostly being spared in the snowstorm that was sweeping through the south that day.  We sipped eggnog and rum, and Revolution porter, ate in front of the fire, and talked about plans and the new year.  It was the first Christmas I spent not either at home with my family, or at someone else’s home with their family, and was weird but nice.  I would have liked a tree.  Someday we’ll get there.  Maybe next year? 

We traded gifts- one each (we didn’t plan it that way but luckily neither of us really need much, and we’re both hard to shop for!). I got him a tastefully nude farmer calendar, of the ladies of women-run Rosasharn Farm CSA- what could be better than beautiful farm women thoughtfully posed in their fields or with their food, and a recipe per month to boot? If it’s also for a good cause! The calendar is a fundraiser by a group in New York that is putting together a mobile food-processing facility so that nearby farms can sell value-added products… it’s a great idea and a sexy concept! You can learn more about the project and get your own here: Pasture to Plate Calendar. And thank you to the Greenhorns and their blog, The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles for helping me find a great gift for a guy who doesn’t need much of anything! If anyone is feeling charitable, we’d love a copy of their New Farmer’s Almanac here at Alewyfe Farm, or at The Plant!

He got me an even better gift: a still-sturdy leather-bound copy of “The Household and Farmer’s Cyclopedia: One Hundred Thousand Facts for the People.” from 1878, “A Book for the Farmer, Mechanic, and Working Men of all Trades and Occupations, the Stock Raiser, the Household, and every Family who wants to Save Money, a Book of Solid Worth and Practical Utility, containing a Remedy for every Ill, a Solution for every Difficulty, and a Method for every Emergency”!!! Wow. I didn’t know I needed this, but I don’t know how I managed to get through life without it. And from it so far I’ve learned that a horse can drink a LOT of laudanum syrup when unwell (laudanum is basically opium dissolved in booze- a heroin cocktail. Would cure the most persistent cough or lameness I’m sure), that if a mad dog bites you in the butt you should pay someone to suck the evil out of the wound, and that two parts flour of brimstone and one part potash, heated together in an iron pan and then dissolved in water, will rid your house of ants. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Thanks, hun!

I hope that you’re all enjoying this time, wherever you are and whoever you’re with… here it’s finally white and magical outside, and the yard looks a bit less drear and trashy with a partial coat of fluffy snow.  Our house is cold but it could be worse, and we’re warm and well fed.  And we’re getting a pig! For the freezer, not the farm, but from a woman who raises a few a year on pasture, with organic feed, veggies, fruit, and whole grain bread scraps, and finished on acorns… I found her on craigslist and suggested we take a half… but the fella is going whole hog! We’ll be making sausage, curing bacon and ham, rendering lard, and swimming in pork and cracklins soon! Such riches! I’m looking forward to next year and all the projects, challenges, and opportunities that lie in wait… now let’s go get ’em!

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We’ve finally broken the longest stretch of snowless days here in Chicago in a looong spell (290!!!)… outside is a blustery, gusty, wintery mix of wet streets and fat blowing snow. I gave the chickens extra bedding this morning- straw for the nest boxes (where two hens have been roosting at night… can’t say I blame ’em but I sure wish they wouldn’t… luckily the few eggs we’re getting these days are mostly clean regardless) and a thick layer of coffee chaff from the Bridgeport roastery. Trust me, no chicken coop ever smells nicer than one freshly blanketed with fluffy coffee chaff (it’s a remainder of the roasting process which flakes off the beans while the morning magic is happening). I finally put the submersible aquarium heater into the chicken waterer bucket and plugged it into the thermo-cube that turns it on when it’s below freezing, and traced the snake of extension cord back to the porch and plugged it back in. I filled their feeder, tossed them their bag of bolting arugula from the farm and an extra handful of scratch.

Bella has added Houdini to her looong list of names (not all of them suitable for a family-friendly website)… I usually crate her when I’m doing chicken chores, otherwise she’s unmanageably bad. I was tying up the coop gate and looked up to see her on the other side of the fence, all drooly and foamy-lipped and waggy-nub-tail excited… we clip her wire crate door with two carabiners and the two latches, and have zip-tied all the sides together because she’ll get out otherwise (she’s STRONG)… apparently this time she squeezed between the door and top of the crate and bent it out a bit more than before, leaving her id collar behind in the process (thankfully she’s chipped now, and for just this sort of reason- she’s fond of sticking her head where it doesn’t belong and losing her collar on the way out). Bad dog! Now she gets the carabiners, latches, and two leash ends holding door corners tightly to the crate sides. Oh, anxious beast… I went thrift shopping on my way home from work today and got her a blanket for her solstice present- baby, it’s cold INside! I found a blue gingham shirt, a cute cardigan sweater, and two pairs of pants for myself (since I’m down to one pair without patches and/or holes, and spent two hours mending a pair last week… three dollars for two pairs of perfectly good pants seemed a sound investment) and a beautiful woolen handwoven lap quilt from the Handcrafts College in Berea, Kentucky also for THREE dollars. So what if it needs washing? Woolen blankets are like gold around here, especially ones in multi-hued jewel tones made by hand! What luck! I left early-ish from work to beat the snow, but by the time I’d stopped for butter, bacon, eggnog, and orange juice (just the essentials!) and spent too long at the thrift store, the snow caught up with me. Luckily the pavement was warm and wet, and the city was antsy to send the salt trucks around. The ride wasn’t bad, and I found myself grinning most of the way in spite of the ridiculous bags strapped to my rear bike rack which swayed from side to side and caught the wind gusts, almost blowing me broadside into the curb a few times… blinking away the snow that blew around my glasses, taking it nice and slow (wet rims don’t brake well), and actually enjoyed the ride. Warm mittens, tall boots, and a lot of layers meant I was mostly cozy even though I could have been miserable. All about the preparation, and a little bit about your attitude…

And then, Home! Let the gratefully happy and wiggly dog out, started a load of dog laundry (her crate towels, and the sheet we keep over the armchair she gets to sleep in… man, she is a dirty dirty dog. Which is to say, A dog.). Got a fire going in the woodstove, and thought about drying my socks and changing my boots… but first to work! Did a sinkful of dishes, fried up two slices of bacon, and started caramelizing an onion in the bacon pan… brought up a handful of potatoes from the basement that were getting sprouty and soft, and decided that an Irish fry-up was in order. While that was going, I pulled the pot of vegetable stock I’d made but not strained a few days ago from the fridge and poured it from the pot into a colander over a big bowl, and pulled the other pot of rabbit stock, also needing straining, but jiggly and semi-solid with meaty goodness. Our friend makes amazing dog jerky treats with 100% rabbit and brings us an extra bag of bones once in awhile- Bella gets a bunch of them but I always make a pot of dynamite stock for us as well! If you cook the bones long enough, they’re soft enough to crush between your fingers, so I feed those back to her too… I figure if they’re crumbly, she can handle them… they’re not going to splinter and hurt her if I can smush them with a fingertip.

And now, the good part! I finally thawed my feet by the fire, put on some dry boots and wiggled my toes to get the blood back into them (the tall wellies keep you dry from OUTSIDE puddles but the self-generated ones are another story… haha). The bacon didn’t last long enough to make it into the dish, but I tucked into a hot bowlful of lightly curried fried potatoes and caramelized onion redolent with bacony-goodness, washed it down with a whiskey-spiked vanilla eggnog with a dash of cinnamon on top, and got to catch up on some email, do some reading and writing… bliss! Hey, what can I say. I’m a simple girl.

I’m looking forward to the sunrise- Mayan calendar or not, it’s the birth of a new season and while winter is finally here, the sun is on the way back, and it’s longer light from here on out. The darkest days are on their way, out. Happy beginning of the world, again… and happy solstice to you all!

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soyajoy, diy-astyla

You can make your own soymilk? And even tofu? Yep, and it’s so easy, I wanted to teleport myself back to the vegetarian years when I bought the stuff all the time and kick my (even more broke than now) college behind. There are gadgets you can buy that will make it for you (soyajoy, etc.), but you don’t need a machine if you have basic kitchen tools (pot, blender, strainer, brain)… kind of like how you don’t need a “yogurt maker” if you have mason jars and a large pot of warm water… think about how to use what you have to do what you want to do before you throw money at the problem!

Here’s how easy it is:

Soak a cup or so of soybeans overnight in about 4 cups of water (bonus if you buy 50# bags of organic beans from your nearest farmer or mill- it’s $34.50 here from Ted’s Organic Grains in DeKalb… carpool and stock up on all your staples in bulk once and rejoice in lower grocery bills the rest of the year… and them’s drought prices, son… albeit cheaper at the source).

Then throw ’em in the blender with another cup or two of water and get them as smooth as you can.

Add in another 4 cups of water and put the whole mess in a pot.
Stir and bring it up to a boil (it will foam up like crazy at one point, don’t make a mess and let it boil over and scorch all over the stove… ask me how I know).
Seriously, don’t stop stirring or walk away until the foam goes down… this doesn’t take long. Sing yourself a little soy song while you’re at it, or something.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes (this de-activates the trypsin inhibitors in soy that make it impossible to digest the protein otherwise, or so says the Rodale Home Food Systems book on my shelf that like me, came out in 1981). Both of us are still good sources of useful information, haha.

Strain it through a fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth (or a clean pillowcase? use whatever you’ve got… coarse fabric or doubled cheesecloth in a strainer is probably best).

Press out all the drops with a spatula or the back of a ladle. Rinse a bit by pouring more water through and strain again if you want thinner soymilk and to get out the last of the goodies, especially if you’re making tofu with the soymilk and don’t care about the texture of the milk,,. if you’re not, reserve the “first pressings” for drinking and the later bits for cooking with.

There you go! You can add vanilla, honey, sugar, cocoa powder, Tang (ew!) or anything else that strikes your fancy. Now if I only liked soy in my coffee, I’d be set for quarterly grocery runs… Still hooked on the dairy wagon for now as long as I require that caffeine IV drip of joe.. we’ve all got our vices, hey? Actually, I’m fine with powdered milk in my coffee but the fellow draws the line there. Fair enough.

The bean pulp that’s left is called okara- you can season it and use it as a meat replacer or stretcher (the same Rodale book has a surprisingly yummy recipe for “soysage”) or feed it to your chickens! They LOVE it.
Here’s the mise for my soysage, aka “cheatloaf”, which is surprisingly tasty:

What will really blow you away is how easy it is to make tofu at this point… and how similar it is to making cheese, if you’ve ever done that (don’t worry if you haven’t, it’s not rocket science and you can still eat your mistakes)!

Mix up a cup of water and 1 1/4 t. epsom salts (or nigari or calcium sulfate if you have those… I don’t). Bring the soymilk back up to a boil, add the mixture one third at a time, letting it boil again and stirring gently between each addition.

Kill the heat and let sit for a few minutes, and you should get soy curds and whey! Back to the singing… “little miss moffet, sat on a toffet, eating her bean curds, oh hey!”

Ladle into a mold (anything food safe and porous… strainer works fine again, though I have a couple plastic cheese molds that I saved from some store bought panela that had ridiculously sturdy “disposable” molds as packaging) and let drain. Press with a weight on top if you want firmer curds.
Use the whey in your next soup stock or bread. Mind blown! Sooo cheap, it’s almost free.

In other home dairy news… our neighbor just got goats! So in addition to the visiting goats at the park, we also have a trio of permanent resident Nigoras (Angora and Nigerian Dwarf crosses)… Olga and her daughter, and little Walter, the future stud-muffin who for now is getting pushed around by the ladies. So there is goat milk soap in the future… and our neighbor agreed to teach me to weld in exchange for soap-making lessons. I love our street. Most of the time…

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