Hello, dear ones. How are you?

Right now I’m…

Listening… to a cacophany of birdsong. The trees and shrubs have grown wild, taking up the whole front yard and now, apparently, we have an influx of birds. It’s nice — I like the tropical vibe — but come daybreak, some of those warblers sure do get mighty loud!

Wondering… if there is such a thing as a powerful, yet QUIET, box fan? The last one we had in the kitchen made me feel like my eardrums were slowly being murdered so, on a whim, I ordered a new one. It’s a smidge quieter, for sure, but it’s still loud. I get so sick of the constant droning whir. I WANT SILENCE.

Wishing… I could bake. I mean, I could, but it’s just so hot and turning on the oven is like building a bonfire right in the kitchen: stupid. But I really want to experiment with some fresh fruit tarts and we need more sourdough crackers and last night when I ran down cellar to check for bread, there was none (!), so sooner or later I’ll need to just buck up and bake.

Troubleshooting… cheese, cheese, and more cheese. (Also, yogurt. My cousin just told me that she doesn’t even incubate her yogurt — just sets it out on the counter all day. WHAT?!?!) There are so many different ways to make cheese and I don’t know anything. What I need (I just told a friend who popped in to snitch some flaxseed) is a grandma to teach me everything she knows and then, once I’ve been thoroughly schooled in cheesemaking, I can start venturing out to new methods. Without a solid base, though, there’s just too much information out there for a novice like me to even begin to sift through. Anybody want to teach me? Are skilled home cheesemakers even a thing anymore?

Celebrating… last night’s rain. I thought we weren’t going to get anything and then it poured — the neighbor said we got a half inch, whoop! — and now I feel so much better about life. Restored, really. 

Diligently caring… for my bum leg. I went to the physical therapist — my knee pain was making me nervous — and she said all my problems were stemming from my pulled hamstring. Which was a relief, since knee stuff feels kinda like a death sentence (also, super expensive). She worked on breaking up the stuck/frozen fascia and gave me exercises to do and the green light to begin low level running again. I’ll be seeing her periodically over the next month, so I’m trying to take advantage of this supervised healing by pushing myself to do everything right — twice-daily stretches and strengthening as well as walking and running — so that I either a) heal, or b) make things worse which will help her better help me. Or that’s my theory, anyway. Either way, the brief every-other-day cardio has felt fantastic. 

Snapping… lots of photos of the dogs as they inch their way further and further into the house. A brief storm blew up, dropping the temperature dramatically, so we threw open the door in hopes of cooling the house faster. Cue the doggy belly crawl — they think they’re so sneaky.

Buying on repeat… watermelon! A couple years ago I vowed to buy a watermelon each time I went to the store BECAUSE WHY NOT and this year I’m doing it again. I try to keep a big tub of chilled cubes in the fridge at all times. Some days, it’s all I want to eat. That, plus cheese and crackers. 

Speaking of crackers… I just got the starter discard out of the fridge and gave it a feeding. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll bake, hot weather be damned. [whimper, whimper]

Nearing… very slowly, the end of my book. Mind you, it’s only the first draft, and it’s taken me five (six?) years to get this far, but still. This morning I typed “chapter forty” and it felt like an understated victory — “understated” because the next step involves reworking (dismantling?) the whole thing, but at least I will have gotten it out. Kinda like successfully completing a five-year mental poop. 

Cooking… the caramel sauce for tomorrow’s preordered peach pies, and supper: pesto tossed with pasta and shavings of salty, homemade cheese, green beans (the last bag!), and sliced sugared tomatoes. For dessert, either slices of the chocolate cake my son made or ice cream cones, we’ll see. 


This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.15.19), four weeks down, three to go, ouch, zucchini fritters, zucchini pasta salad.


  • Thrift at Home

    So exciting that your manuscript is almost done!! Do you have a publisher? (I feel like I asked you this before – forgive my memory)

    I bought a tower fan by Comfort Zone via Walmart this summer and I use it in the kitchen – moves air pretty well and is not too loud. I like that it can oscillate or not – so I can point it right at me while I wash dishes if I need to or right at the handtowels to dry them out. Our box fan is SO LOUD.

  • theresakishkan

    You’ve probably been eating this for years but one of my favourite summer suppers is salad of watermelon cubes, feta (same size and amount as watermelon), lots of fresh mint, some chives or diced red onion, dressed with Greek olive oil and (right now) the Meyer lemons from my little tree. So refreshing.

  • Becky R.

    I have a large Breville toaster oven that is large enough to accommodate pizzas and turkeys. I have seen several youtube videos lately from people who use this on their covered back porches. I am thinking of giving that a try. It would certainly decrease heat in the house. I make a lot of bread, and I find that even if I get up very early to bake, it makes little difference on the house/heat factor. I live in the midsouth where overnight temps are high and humid.
    Have you found the information from Ricki Carroll helpful? I am thinking of making some brie from her recipe.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Hmm, that toaster oven idea might be a good one. I have a tiny oven but we don’t eat that much food anymore….

      I love Ricki’s book, but I’m at the place where I keep bumping up against problems and there’s not an adequate explanation. I really just need a cheesemaking grandma (or Ricki herself!) to troubleshoot with me!

  • Melissa

    Also, Carolyn at Homesteading Family has some YouTube videos about The Home Dairy. At one point I heard her recommend a book about it, but can’t remember what it was called. If you love the Dream Cheese – and it appears that you do! You would probably really enjoy the other things she makes with their dairy.

  • Melissa

    Possibly one of those cool looking Dyson A/C fans might be noiseless. I recently was somewhere where there was one, and I don’t remember much sound. Probably not cheap though!

  • Robyn

    Are you familiar with Venison For Dinner website/ Instagram? She is into cheese making big time with lots of great info. You might want to check her out.

    • Shoshana

      I was thinking outdoor oven too. You could either do one made of mud and wood burning or maybe just buy a secondhand oven and have an extension cord and have it standing under a shade structure outside?

      • Jennifer Jo

        My husband is SWAMPED with work and outdoor temps are the same as inside so I don’t think that would really fix the heat problem. But a wood burning outdoor oven would be awesome!!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yes, but she says it only turns out good 4 out of 10 times. And (she told me later) she’s using a Japanese culture which is different from the regular yogurt-starter cultures I’m working with.

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