a kitchen tour

I tried to write this morning but it just felt like fiddling so I gave up and came downstairs. But what to do? The kids were both gone for the day and, with nothing pressing, I felt adrift. But then, needing (okay, wanting) something sweet, I mixed up a pan of brownies and soon, in an “if you give a mouse a cookie” series of events, I had a bunch of things going at once. Here, I’ll show you….

After I started the brownies, I decided I wanted cake, too (nibble-nibble, says the mouse). I’m trying a new recipe — one that calls for cake mix and instant pudding mix. Yikes, I feel so naughty typing that! But hear me out: through the grapevine, I’ve learned that expert, normally-from-scratch, and wholegrain-loving bakers use this method for their cakes. So I’m testing it to see what we think. And anyway, it’s not like I’m food-virtuous or anything; some days, my diet consists mostly of Twizzlers….

Milk jars draining. Milk jars everywhere, really. The fridge fills up with milk, I empty it out, we wash the jars — this is our pattern. And you know what? I wish we had more milk. That’s right, two to three gallons of milk is not enough. My appetite for cheese making is limited by the amount of milk we get, and already I’m mildly panicking about what we’ll do when Daisy goes dry.

Sourdough baby, happily bubbling away after its breakfast feeding. Also, a squirt bottle of vinegar and water solution. I’m constantly spraying my cheese-making equipment. Just today, I discovered I had mold growing on my Dry Jack cheese and the mat was a fuzzy mess, so: scrub-scrub, squirt-squirt. (The last few days the humidity was sky-high — or cloud-low — which made for ideal mold-growing conditions, apparently.)

Here’s the three gallons of milk that I’m culturing for Ibores, a Spanish cheese. It’s a low-culture, low-rennet, low-temp cheese. Once it’s pressed and air-dried, the outside gets rubbed with a paste made of smoked paprika and oil.

Also resting on the stovetop, a quart of heavy cream (from the store) that I’m culturing for sour cream. I buy a lot of heavy cream; since our milk is low-fat, I add it to my milk when making cheese.

And . . . freshly-baked sourdough bread! It smells so good. Buttery, almost.

I’m burning a pumpkin spice candle. I get most of my candles from thrift stores. Sometimes they’re real duds, but every now and then I get a winner. Not sure which one this is yet — just started it last night.

Another batch of sourdough in the works. It’s in the fold stage — every thirty minutes or so, for a couple hours, I lift and fold each of the four corners. Next, I’ll let it sit undisturbed for several hours before cutting and shaping it into the two loaf pans. 

My cooking notebook (full of my cheesemaking notes, recipes, menus, etc), and my cheesemaking book. Also, the day’s to-do list and a scattering of pens. Pens are everywhere in this house! Sometimes all I have to do to make the house feel clean is put away all the pens. Also, twisties and rubberbands. Seriously, it’s the little things that make it feel messy.

Big things make it feel messy, too. Like the mountain of dirty dishes awaiting my daughter’s return from her afternoon tutoring session with my parents. She’s on afternoon dishes and my younger son is on supper dishes. Speaking of supper, I’m still undecided. Maybe a ground beef veggie soup to go with fresh buttered bread?

Taking advantage of the residual heat, a cracked-open oven door to warm the chilly kitchen. It’s fall, y’all!!!!

Brewing my afternoon coffee. (I turned on the pot and then, when I didn’t smell the coffee, I realized I’d forgotten to add the water, oops.) It’ll go good with some of that warm brownie topped with ice cream. 

This same time, years previous: a bakery shift, stop and sink, test your movies!, simple roast chicken, cornmeal whole wheat waffles.


  • Candi R

    Fall is indeed here in Georgia, too. I love these chilly mornings. You should attempt to make a WASC (White Almond Sour Cream) like this https://sugargeekshow.com/recipe/wasc-cake-recipe/ . I utilized this recipe to make a strawberry and a white cake version as wedding cakes and the crumb was so tender yet sturdy. I’ve also been making chocolate fudge cake box cookies that taste as good if not better than homemade when you add chocolate chips and either slivered almonds or chopped pecans… I love these rambling posts so much. You’re a wonderful storyteller of the simple and mundane aspects of womanhood. You give life, aspect, and appreciation to what woman can do in her home to nourish a family and her own creativity without breaking the bank or going on exotic vacations (though your mission trips contain wonderful stories.)

    • Jennifer Jo

      The adulterated box mix cake was a bust with my family (reviews included: glue-y, too many chemicals, no flavor, and spaghetti is better), so I’ve kinda lost my steam with using mixes as a base. But! the WASC sounds intriguing. Plus, I like that it’s called WASC. Sounds like it’s all business. (And thanks for the sweet words!)

  • Becky R.

    These somewhat rambling posts are often gold, Jennifer. So, I have questions – LOL. Do you only fold in the 4 corners when making sourdough? I have always done all the stretch and folds, but if I don’t need to do that, I will stop. Do you otherwise knead?

    And that cake recipe! I need to know much more about whole grain bakers using cake mix and instant pudding. I hope you will post more about that when you have eaten some cake. Or maybe at least share a link with me?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Oh, by fold in the four corners, I meant the stretch and fold thing. I just lift a side/corner and wiggle it till it stretches and fold it over, and then work my way around. As for kneading, the Kitchen Aid mixes for 4 minutes, rests for 20, I add the salt, and then another 4 minutes mixing.

      Re the cake recipe: I’ll let you know what we think. And if it’s a keeper, I’ll share the recipe here.

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