Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bye Bye Sunny

It was a sad day today. Well not exactly sad..let's just call it a mixed feelings day. You see we have had horses on the farm for quite a few years now and at first my husband's family, back when I didn't know my husband, took interest in them and gave them care and love. 
Over the years the two horses they had bred and gave birth to beautiful kids and all the while my husband and his brothers were riding them and grooming them and everything. After a few years everyone lost interest. The boys grew up, barely spent time at the farm and all the attention started being given to the cows.
My husband was very much into the horses until he fell over one a few times and hurt his back and ever since he steered clear.
Anyways, when we moved here there were two horses left of the entire happy family. These two were locked up in the barn, barely moving. You could see them sad and lonely. Last year one of them died. We don't know how or why though, we just found him lying there. And so there was one left, his name was Sunny. Sunny seemed so lonely until finally my husband decided to sell him. I mean we do want to start an eco tourism project where kids mostly would come visit the farm and see how everything works but we can also get an older horse for the kids rides since it would only be a few minutes each rather than keep Sunny locked up there and we do have some time until that project sees the light.
Today Sunny was gone. I was sad to see him leave but happy because we sold him to the town's horse lovers. Two guys who have a passion for horses and take excellent care of them. And this way we would still get to see Sunny from time to time in the area which is nice.
Sometimes you just have to let go and make room for something new. The area is now occupied by the young and cute adorable calves and so everyone is happy :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Some Shocking Facts!

A few days ago my husband went an visited a dairy farm near Tyre where the owners also manufacture their own dairy products. The owner there is very nice and my husband was over there arranging with him when and where he wants us to deliver the milk from our farm (he is in need of more milk). the reason i'm sharing this with you all is because after my husband got back from the meeting he was totally shocked at some of the info that guy shared with him in the business. It seems our country is in a much worse shape than we thought. People think they are buying fresh milk and cheese made from fresh milk with no additives but the fact is it's all a bunch of lies.

Apparently even the biggest dairy brands in Lebanon "cheat". They claim not to add solids in their labne but they do. they claim there are no chemicals but there are. Some use margarine and chantilly cream to make their labne and laban more creamy and the public have no idea they are wasting their health away in the process. What's even more disgusting is the fact that the government knows this is being done and they couldn't care less. They conduct their visits (if ever) and check the basic hygiene regulations meanwhile if the manufacturer is adding powered milk to cheese he claims is made from 100% fresh milk they disregard and consider that completely normal!!! We need to educate people so these big companies don't end up fooling everyone and getting away with it and so that the little manufacturers that are using minimal healthy ingredients are punished. I was really upset by what i heard and intend to follow this through and let everyone know the truth.

Will keep you all posted with my findings.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How To Make Akkawi Cheese

Today i will be sharing with you how to make one of the most popular cheeses in Lebanon. Akkawi is fairly easy and tasty. Try it in a pita sandwich with come watermelon on the side and it is a guaranteed winner!

The steps are basically the same as that of Halloum but much less work hehe:

You need:

- Fresh Milk (10 L), raw or pasteurized.
- Vinegar  ( 3 tablespoons)
- Cotton cheese cloth
- Something that weighs around 15kgs..sounds daunting i know but we suggest a pack of 2L water bottles.
- Water (1L)
- Salt (you need one cup for every 6 cups water).

And here are the steps:
1- Heat milk in pot to 60 degrees Celsius (if raw) and to 36 degrees if pasteurized.
2- If raw milk was used. Cool it to 36 degrees, a quick way to do that is to place pot in a tub of cold water.
3- Add vinegar and stir.
4- Leave aside for 0.5 hr.
5- To check if the mixture is ready stick a knife in the middle, it should come out clean. If residue sticks to the knife, leave mixture a while longer.
6- Cut mixture, which is now jello like, into 0.5 cm squares and set aside for 5-10 mins.
7- The mixture should now contain whey which is clearly visible between the pieces. Mix it up a little and set aside for around 10 mins.
8- The cheese has now sunk to the bottom of the pot, remove the whey and set in a bowl aside. Keep removing whey until u find the curd at the bottom.
9- Carefully remove the curd and place them in a cotton cheese cloth (same as the one used for labne).
10 - Wrap the curd in the cloth around 5 cm thick and make it cube shaped.
11 - Set the weight on the curd in the cloth.
12- Add cheese to brine which can be prepared by mixing 1L of water with half a cup of salt.
13- After 24 hours, rinse the cheese with some water and munch away!

Cheese must be kept in the fridge and lasts up to two weeks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Surprise Bee Hive

Today began as a quiet regular day. I had breakfast, finished my morning chores and it was time for lunch. My husband had been craving chicken fajita sandwiches and fries so I decided to do those. I realized halfway that we are out of potatoes but luckily we keep some in stock at the storage cabin in the back yard so i made my way there.
I got there, opened the door and saw a couple of bees flying around and there was an echoing loud buzzing noise in the cabin. It was unusual and i knew i had come across a hive of some sort so i yelled for my husband who came right away and discovered that a queen bee and her army had made their way into an empty hive we had kept in the cabin. 

It was such a nice surprise, we tidied them up and opened the hive appropriately for them to enter and make it officially their home oh and i did manage to make some fries after all hehe

Apparently When bees decide to move to a new home and begin a new colony, "scouts" head out to find a location. These bees are able to travel many miles form the original hive but still find the way back to the colony. Wild bees usually prefer rock crevices, hollow trees and other small, enclosed areas for hives. Once the scouts have found a suitable location, they return to the colony and lead the other bees there. The bees, including the queen, fill their stomachs with honey for the long journey to the site of the new nest. Food that is not digested is regurgitated and used as building materials for the new hive.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How To Make Labne

Labne is one of the best breakfasts in Lebanon. I personally eat it as a dip with almost anything, cucumbers (if on diet), chips, kaak...
Nothing can beat it with some mint, olive oil and even some garlic with a side of hot tea! i'm drooling as i write hehe.
The recipe for labne is incredibly easy.
Labne with Mint and Pita

1- Simply take any amount of Laban you already have or hopefully made with the help of my previous post ;)
2- Add salt to taste and mix well.
3- Put mixture in cheese cloth and hang over the sink for 24 hours (as pic below). 
Laban In cheese cloth over sink

4- ENJOY!!

Labne Balls in Thyme
 If you want to keep the Labne for a while in or outside the fridge just roll it into balls and add any of your favorite herbs and soak in olive oil in an airtight container and they will last as long as you can keep your hands off them ;)

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Make Laban

Hello there! i realize it's been a while since i last posted but the internet connection is all to blame. We have tried several providers and no one seems to be honest enough to say they never answer their phones and you will barely have any internet and when you do you will have to wait a few hours for each page to load. So anyways we finally found someone who seems professional and hopefully a man of his word!

Back to our subject! Today's post is about Laban making, this is a very easy and straightforward way, our laban is a lot like greek yogurt, if not exactly the same. It's packed with calcium and protein and if you're on a diet it can help keep you full a long time ;)

Here's the details:
To make 1kg of Laban you need 1kg of milk.
1- heat milk till 90 deg Celcius.
2- Cool it to 45-47 deg.
3- add one table spoon of yogurt culture or laban you already have (could be any kind from the store), mix it well, avoid bubbles.
4- Cover and preheat oven a little, just 2-3 mins, add laban for 3-4 hours.
5- check it with a spoon, it should have lumpy laban consistency.
6- put in fridge and enjoy once cold! :)

Simple and easy! doesn't even take a lot of time to prepare. Try It with a few cloves of garlic and some chopped cucumbers for a refreshing salad (laban b khyar).