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Drawing the Line at DIY – High Steaks

January 18, 2015

We celebrate birthdays around here like many.  On your special day you get to pick a special meal, and maybe go to a show, or do something fun related to a hobby.  Food is always a big deal, because home raised farm food is a big deal.  Tenderloin steak?  That’s takes two years from birth to table, and you gotta figure the steer isn’t all tenderloin.

So when my daughter requested cheesecake for her birthday dessert, it got me to thinking.  We try to tow the line when it comes to the food we raise and eat.  But it’s pretty darn easy to run to the store these days and stock up on Philly cream cheese and just bang out a cheesecake.  But that’s not how we roll here since we have a cow.

We have a cow, but that doesn’t mean it’s all high on the hog.  We have to make a choice.  Birthday cakes are special, but so many take dessert for granted.  What does it take to get to that cake?  Choices.  Besides having to milk the cow which is a given, we have to make a choice.  Do we want cream or butter?  Or actually cheese or butter?  We can’t have our cheesecake and butter our bread too in reality.

And then there is the running joke around here…

“How’s the cake?”

“Ummm, I think you need to practice that recipe some more.”

Yeah, okay I’ll get right on it.

So suffice it to say, I’ve been practicing.  I’ve been making cream cheese which isn’t hard, it’s just time consuming to skim, culture, age, and drain the curds.  Then you make the cake.  It turns out we’re giving up a few pounds of butter for a cheesecake.

I’m also making the graham crackers for the crust with this recipe.  But I’m drawing the line at growing the wheat for the crackers.

Where do you draw the line on your projects?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2015 3:12 pm

    I’ve been known to make my own sweetened condensed milk… recipe calling for farmer’s cheese – I start by making farmer’s cheese. And come on – I’m pretty sure you spilled the beans already about that butter in the freezer… happy birthday cheesecake, I’m sure it will be delicious.

  2. January 18, 2015 3:13 pm

    Also, true about the steaks. People think because gas went down today their beef will be cheaper tomorrow. Not quite…

  3. Allisa Imming permalink
    January 18, 2015 3:14 pm

    You’re a cool mom. Happy birthday Girlie!

  4. CassieOz permalink
    January 18, 2015 3:14 pm

    I draw the line at grains of any variety (but can often barter for bread flour). Only soft wheat will grow here, and barley and oats. All too much work for the return. I also barter for coffee (won’t grow here anyway), sugar (for preserving) and salt (ditto). It’s not a good year for home production so we’re having to buy most veg, although the freezer is full of berries and there’re enough branches of apple, pear, quince and stonefruit trees to save some from the &^*%# parrots. I refuse to buy fruit!

  5. January 18, 2015 3:19 pm

    Hah! I love this post. I really had no idea you could make cream cheese at home. A pleasant surprise. I found a used spinning wheel for sale on a local swap-barter webpage and have been wanting one for a few years. I hummed and hawed about this thing until it sold one day. Turns out my husband bought it, and gave it to me for Xmas. 🙂 So now I need a sheep, or alpaca lol. And then I’ll need to start a dye collection, and get shears. Oh and I guess I still need wool carders too. And then I’ll need to learn to knit; because right now only my teen daughter can knit; I crochet. Hah ha But the joy for me is the process; and not just the end result.

    Of all my friends; I am on an island alone when it comes to interests. No one gardens, no one knits, sews. Cooking from scratch is a major achievment for these people. And to them scratch means “open the package of cream cheese and…” They don’t understand why I would want to go to the lengths that I do. They just laugh and shake their heads… All I wonder is this; if you don’t have a farm to keep you busy, and you don’t have any hobbies, don’t really cook and don’t really bake, no garden…. What do you do, and how is it satisfying?


    Sent from my iPhone


  6. quinn permalink
    January 18, 2015 3:36 pm

    Well, I wanted to knit with cashmere yarn. So I’m raising cashmere goats. This coming Spring I intend to combine 5 years of hand-harvested fiber and end up with some yarn!

  7. Bee permalink
    January 18, 2015 4:01 pm

    Around here, nobody will eat the kind of cheesecake that comes from Philly cheese. I spoiled them long ago. I don’t worry about the crust because I don’t make one. They’re willing to stretch for the toppings: the middle one wants lime topping on her next Bday cake. My daughter likes chocolate or caramel (I can make the second one with home ingredients). I usually draw the line on things other than food. Although I like to sew and am a good seamstress, it’s not worth it to make Tee shirts, which are the mainstay of my wardrobe. I can buy one at the thrift store for a couple of bucks. And jeans just take too darn much effort. I buy the good heavy-duty ones from LLBean and wear them until they’re in shreds — which usually takes about six years. I agree with Theresa — what on earth do those “other” people DO?

  8. ncfarmchick permalink
    January 18, 2015 6:42 pm

    My husband thinks making bread is too much effort but, if you try to avoid soy, you pretty much have to. Even most of the so-called healthy breads at the store contain soy of some kind. I make condiments (mayo, prepared mustard, salad dressings) which I have been called crazy to do but the taste is so much better. Have made soft cheeses, butter, but do not have a cow – someday, I hope. I agree with some of the others above that making all clothes from scratch is not necessarily cost effective if good thrift stores are near by. However, I do A LOT of altering and reworking of clothes for myself and my two boys (not so much my husband) to make them most useful for us. I would say that I don’t intentionally draw the line at anything. My circumstances – location/climate, time available – do that for me.

  9. January 18, 2015 9:09 pm

    My hubby draws the lines at cows and pigs and since he is the one who looks after the animals while I study, so he calls the shots. Lamb got a miss this year too because the dear sweet creatures escaped once again ( @£$^$$%^) and there was no way we were going to get a ram as well, if that is what they are going to do, said hubby. Next year then! Cereals we will give ago, but still not perfected that and the wild boar (wild hogs) rolled our oats, literally and squashed them flat. Had to put the sheep on there to eat what they could. Veg, eggs and chicken we do though from scratch

  10. January 18, 2015 10:04 pm

    I’m still working out where my line is! No cow (I’m working on it!) so dairy is all bought, as are grains. Would love to buy a grain mill though! At this stage I am just trying to replace the “ready made” things from the supermarket – sauces, breads, drinks etc. One thing at a time…it’s a journey 🙂

  11. Janet permalink
    January 19, 2015 7:22 am

    Yum! Cheesecake! Not anything better that I can think of than homemade cheesecake. Unless it is homemade tiramisu! Of course, by homemade I mean made with freshly made mascarpone cheese. Sigh. Happy birthday!

  12. cookier permalink
    January 19, 2015 8:49 am

    I live in a city, but I have lines too!! I love your blog because it helps me understand where to draw my lines. I buy everything I can at farmers markets, first of all. I try to do all my store grocery shopping by foot or by bike, and I have rules in my head about where in the city I may go by car. I freeze as much as possible in a small chest freezer and use my oven to dry extras. I use thrift stores for much else, and knit gifts with wool from a friend’s wool share program. Our family of 4 are snout to tail “ethicatarians”, we will eat whatever is put in front of us if it’s from an ethical source, but become vegetarian or vegan, depending on who and what the food came from. Happy Birthday cheesecake, and many many happy returns.

  13. Beth in Ky permalink
    January 19, 2015 9:41 am

    We love our self sustaining lifestyle… the hubby had someone recently tell him we were “OC about food” !!! Really??? What should we be doing with our time, drinking, gambling, & scratching our butts?

  14. January 19, 2015 1:42 pm

    I’m day-dreaming about “truly from scratch” cheesecake right about now…:)
    What a wonder; so many steps involved. MOH it literally took you years to make that cake.
    You had to acquire Jane; wait for freshen, etc etc

    It is a way of thinking that turns into a way of life. It includes an astoundingly dogmatic determination in one way, and a sense of pride and achievement. Most importantly is that you will never be “without” when you have the means to Do It Yourself!

  15. deb permalink
    February 1, 2015 5:32 pm

    Just discovered this blog and love it! it is comforting to know there are so many other (apparently)normal folks out there who produce their own ingredients… i can so relate about the cream cheese, or making the crackers for a crust.
    We are just starting a homestead in our 60s… how nuts is that?

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