Friday, July 22, 2011

Three Cheers For Cajeta!!

Aren’t yall in for a treat!! A double treat in fact…For once in my short blogging career I’m actually going to post something USEFUL instead of my endless babble (shocking eh?)…and of course the second part of this double treat is the Cajeta itself.

What is Cajeta you say??

Well it’s only one of the most divine goodies you can easily whip up in your kitchen.

Cajeta is a Mexican treat traditionally made from goat’s milk (you could use cow‘s milk if no goat‘s milk is available). It’s wonderfully complex, smooth and has an endless variety of uses! It is very similar to caramel, though I swear once you have a taste of Cajeta, caramel toppings from the store will seem bland in comparison. Caramel is mostly sugar based, whereas Cajeta is dairy based. This makes Cajeta not as sweet as caramel and the rich, creamy goat’s milk that is the foundation of Cajeta gives it a rich creaminess that caramel simply can’t touch.

So, lets get started! For the very best Cajeta, try and round up two helpers about like these I found:


Then of course you must start with the goat…Sabrina is the generous milk donor in this instance, though any willing dairy doe will do....give that girl a good scratching and a treat! She deserves it.


Now that you’ve got your fresh goat’s milk & helpers, your ready to begin.

You will need:

A large pot…get a big one as this stuff boils up to quite a big mess otherwise.
Measuring Cups


2 quarts of goat’s milk
2 cups sugar (I prefer to use Raw sugar, but any sugar will do)
1 tablespoon of pure Mexican vanilla extract. (If you have it, 1 plump, split open vanilla bean is great too…. Just don’t use imitation vanilla!)
½ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water.

The How To:

In your big pot (don’t use an iron pot), pour in milk, sugar and the vanilla and place over medium heat. Stir regularly until the milk reaches a good simmer and all the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add the dissolved baking soda. The kids LOVE this part! It bubbles up quite a bit after adding the dissolved baking soda (here‘s where having a big pot comes in mighty handy).

Let mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes…or for however long it takes for the bubbles to subside. When your bubbles have gone down, return to heat.

Adjust your heat so the mixture is at a brisk simmer, but not boiling. It needs to be simmering well enough that you still see some simmer bubbles while gently stirring.

Cook at this temp and stir regularly until the mixture turns a pale golden color. This is a divine culinary treat, and things of a divine nature take time….so get cozy & stir…. This isn’t a speedy process.

Once you reach that beautiful pale golden hue, you’ll need to stir more frequently. If I say “stir constantly” that sounds exhausting, so I’ll say stir almost constantly. Whatever you do, do NOT let it sit on the bottom of the pot unstirred after it reaches the pale golden color.

Cajeta in stages: #1 Foamy milk after baking soda #2 Pale Golden Color #3 Mixture thickens & darkens


Now the good part is coming. The more it cooks, the more you stir, the darker it gets and the thicker it gets. The constant mixing can get tedious so this is where your helpers come in:


Just look how well they stir! Told ya they were handy..

Once you reach a caramel-brown color, keep on stirring, but at some point in all this stirring, you can test it out. Drop a few drops in a dish of water, if a soft ball forms, the Cajeta is ready. You can also use a candy thermometer and when it reaches about 240° it should be ready…I don’t bother with the thermometer..It’s just one more item to wash afterwards.

Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. You should have a medium thick sauce. If too thick you can add in hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you like. If too thin, just return to heat and keep on a stirring until desired thickness has been reached.

This recipe should boil down to about ½ quart - ¾ of a quart of Cajeta. For variety you can also toss in a few sticks of cinnamon in the pot while your cooking and you can also give a generous splash (or two) of your favorite rum…

My kiddos love fruit slices & pretzels dipped in warm Cajeta…

Swirled in yogurt & on top of ice cream.

You can drizzle over cheesecake, brownies and apple pie. For a yummy Fall treat, drizzle over baked butternut squash…

Or if you happen to be impatient like me, you can eat it straight off a spoon!!

When I think ahead I chop up fruit while I’m waiting for the pale golden stage so there is little to no delay in enjoying this amazing treat..

The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy, Happy Saturday!!!!

Good customer service is such a rare thing these days....

Hubby got me a coveted Kindle 3G for Christmas.... I'm a book junkie & had been lusting after a Kindle since the very first one came out. It was expensive & needed bugs/kinks worked out so I watched Amazon for years just waiting.....Finally! Kindle 3G (which I need out here in Noodle with no WiFi).

Loved my Kindle....Jerimiah even bought me a really cute, super sturdy leather case for it too!

Anywho, I left it on the bed on accident...My munchkins barreled in like bulls in a China shop & my Kindle ended up on the floor & (I suspect) stepped on. The screen was horribly distorted and nothing I did could fix it. Silly to be heart broken over a "thing" but I was almost in tears... I rarely have "special" things for me and after wanting it for so long it killed me that it was broke. Since it wasn't a malfunction, but damage I didn't think I could get it fixed.

Thursday at 4:30pm I called Amazon.... I DREADED this call as last time I spoke to a fella named Ali from India who could not understand me and I couldn't understand him... Thursday though this awesome fella named David answers the phone!!

I respond "My gosh, you have no idea what a relief your voice is!" I think he misunderstood me and replied: "Well you sound cute too..what southern state are you from?"


Alrighty then, after getting past the chatty part, Mr. David from upstate New York ask me to slide and hold the power switch for 15 seconds...Kindle restarts & is WORSE!

Mr. David says no worries, let me send you an email with return instructions & a prepaid postage label for free return shipping....Then he verified my Kindle model and said the words that made my day:

"Crystal, we're going to ship out a new Kindle, next day air, just return the damaged Kindle in that box with the shipping label I sent to your email."

Color me happy! New Kindle and hardly any wait time to boot!

Friday at 3:00pm my new, fully functional, wonderful Kindle arrives.

This morning my Kindle is fully charged, all my books are back on it and when browsing books on Amazon, I see that some of Jean Plaidy's books are a few bucks cheaper than last time....

Yep, I'm one blissfully happy gal!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Food.

Odd title eh? I know, but I grow tired of the outrage, hysterics and theatrics in regards to home grown food.

And yes, by “food” I am talking MEAT *gasp*

A recent conversation and a few odd FB chats are the reason for this post.

I am an Omnivore, I love my veggies and I’ll happily scarf down a medium rare steak or a rack of BBQ ribs right off the grill. I’m not ashamed of this, I don’t feel bad about it. It’s nature and I’m pretty happy with my lofty position on the food chain.

To the Vegans & Vegetarians out there…. I happily salute you & respect your choices. There are immense benefits to a proper vegetarian/vegan diet and in all honesty some of my favorite veggie dishes are recipes I got from my vegetarian friends. I don’t think your choice is wrong, unhealthy ect. ect.

You do your thing, I’ll do mine.

Anywho, on to a snippet from one of these annoying conversations.

While looking over some FB pictures of the goats, this person, we shall dub her “Lady B”, asked “Where are the two black baby goats you have pictured on FB?”

Those would be Tootsie's twin bucklings born in December who went on to "Freezer Camp". I did not need to retain a buck for future breeding purposes & neither one of them had the qualities to make them an asset as a herd sire for another herd….. So I explained that we grew them up for food and they are now in the freezer.

My Gosh!! The shock, outrage and hysterics that followed such a simple statement were ridiculous.

“How dare you?!?!”

“How could you?!!??”

“That is so cruel, disgusting and inhumane!”

“Why don’t you just BUY meat from the store?!?!“

Yaddia Yaddia Ya…you get the idea on how this conversation progressed.

The funny part of this tirade is my dear Lady B is a meat eater just like me. I’ve seen her eat meat, she’ll happily order fajitas at a Mexican restaurant & I know she loves her fish, steaks, bacon & sausage just as much as I do!!

So why did her ridiculous outburst annoy me so? Well because of the ignorant hypocrisy! If a vegan or a vegetarian wants to rage against me on this, I RESPECT that because they at least live by their convictions, they don’t consume meat. When a fellow omnivore wants to have a hissy fit though, it’s not an argument I respect, they simply look like fools in my eyes.

I tell these people to take a tour of a feed lot or slaughter house. In most cases you see stressed animals unloading from trailers, bewildered by the sounds.....the horrifying smells and the fear is immense. Conditions are generally cramped, pens are full of feces and who knows how these animals were raised.

Yep, this misery and less than ideal conditions is where your burger came from. Just because you CHOOSE not to acknowledge the process doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. By chowing down on commercially prepared meat, you fund & support those practices.

Then there is the meat quality itself. Do you know how that animal lived? What it ate? What medications it was given? No, of course you don’t….Yes there are “regulations” in place for food safety, but I have very little confidence in such regulations and acknowledge there is always room for human error. If you really want something to be outraged and disgusted about check out Pink SlimeMeat Glue **Gag!**

In contrast, lets take a look at my twin bucks that are sitting in my freezer. They played in an open, clean pen. Nursed their mother right up until the end, even though they didn’t HAVE to. They ate fresh hay, alfalfa pellets and a whole grain mixture that was whole oats, black oil sunflower seed, barley and a bit of cracked corn. No antibiotics, hormones or chemicals were used on them past their early deworming that was done 6 weeks prior to butchering. They were never packed into a trailer full of unfamiliar animals & smells…they never had to step foot on a dirty, cramped feed lot & never had to hear the sounds or smell the smells of a slaughter house.

They had a great life and only one, very brief, instant “bad” moment. This moment was one they didn’t even have time to think about. One moment they were head down, blissed out by the unexpected bucket of their favorite goodies, the next it was over. An instant, pain free, respectable demise. A good worry free, spoiled life and a quick, pain free end… I don’t see any way I could have offered them more.

Do I like this part of life? Do I enjoy it?? Of course not…… In fact I still haven’t worked up the courage to do the deed myself, but I do find this alternative a far better option.

We’ve raised meat rabbits & goats. Both make fine, healthy additions to the dinner table (or in the case of the rabbits, they were part of my Dane‘s RAW diet). I’m not ashamed of it.

In fact, my ultimate goal is to raise all of my family’s meat. Any bucklings from next year’s kid crop that are not claimed as bottle babies by 2 weeks old will be wethered and are freezer camp bound & we’re hoping to raise a few turkeys for the freezer as well......Beef is still not an option for us to raise ourselves, no room for a cow, but I do hope to go in ½ on beef or perhaps trade for some farm raised beef.

My children were not present for the processing of the animals. But they are well aware of what they eat and I tell them which animals are destined for the table well in advance. They realize and understand what animals are "pets" and which ones are not. Equally, they understand all the animals, despite their purpose are to be treated humanely.

Some think this is awful. I on the other hand refuse to raise my children in ignorance. I want them to appreciate where their food comes from. I want them to understand the work involved. I want them to understand that compassion, even for those destined for the table is essential.

So, to those who consume meat, but want to rage against my choice to raise my own. Think hard on this. Until you consume not an ounce of flesh from another living creature, your railing against me is nothing more than the highest form of hypocrisy.

On a lighter, kind of funny, but sad note…. Chatting about the chickens with another acquaintance, the topic of eggs came up. A few snippets from that one are below:

“You don’t want to consume brown eggs, they are contaminated with a bacteria that causes the shell to turn brown.”

“Those eggs are not healthy as they haven’t been pasteurized and they could have salmonella!”

“No, thank you, I only get my eggs from THE STORE!…Don’t you know the eggs from your chickens come out of their BUTT?!?!

-Really, and the eggs from the stores come from where? The egg fairy?!? Geez….

Oh and I had to inform her that eggs are not “pooped out”, the explanation of where all eggs come from grossed her out even more (How sad is it that an adult is ignorant of basic biology?!)… lol

Actual farm fresh egg facts can be found at the bottom of this blog post.

I guess I wouldn’t be so shocked at statements like the ones listed in this blog post if they came from uneducated, clueless about everything people…But these insanities are spouted from highly educated mouths and the complete detachment many have from their food supply is quite sad.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Small, Unexpected Gift

We recently made a day trip with my mom to drop her Miniature Alpine doe, Keys, to spend some time with a buck at her breeder’s. Keys was purchased as “bred” last year, but ended up being open and so the breeder is rebreeding her for my mom.

Anywho, we get up there, chat a bit and Shayla sets her eyes on this TINY little doeling. She goes on and on about how pretty she is. "Look mommy!! See how TINY she is?! Look at her, isn't she just BEAUTIFUL? She's even wearing makeup!"

She truly thinks she’s the prettiest goat she ever did see and asked if she could have her. I told her we’d wait and see…perhaps at Christmas.

The breeder however told Shayla she could HAVE the doe!!! Shayla was over the moon excited, nearly bouncing in excitement and frantic to get her hands on the lil' doeling... I'm still shocked by the unexpected generosity & though I had no plans to add another goat anytime soon, I'm very happy for Shayla & quite proud of the responsibility she's showng at the ripe old age of 6.....

This lil’ doe is a 4th generation Miniature Alpine and is quite small…even for a miniature. Add to this she is dam raised, almost 4 months old and VERY wild.

Took a bit of effort, but Shayla did manage to catch her:

The newly captured Ella

Car ride home..

Many people do wean goats at this age. Many wean them at 8 weeks old. As a personal preference, and the fact that I like my kids big enough to breed their first year if I decided to, I don’t wean any sooner than 16 weeks. Does and any kids undersized stay on milk as long as they will take it.

Due to Ella’s size (she’s ½ the size of the mini kids we had born last year) I wanted her to stay on milk.

Have you ever tried to train a dam raised kid to take a bottle after such a long time????

Talk about a lesson in patience! Made even more difficult by the fact that Ella is wild as can be and we have to catch her each time to feed her!!!

Shayla was persistent though!!! Every morning she was in the barn shortly after the sun was up and we’d force the bottle on her. Typically we wore more milk than we actually go in her, but Shayla refused to get discouraged or give up.

Finally after 5 days, trying 3x’s every day, SUCCESS!!


The bottle feeding battle

Ella is officially a bottle kid and now eagerly, if not a bit warily approaches us each time she sees the bottle.

My! What big ears you have!!!

Shayla says she's wearing cream eyeshadow & eyeliner.

Tiny Ella trying to reach the alfalfa pellets
 Next on the agenda is a 5 day round of coccidia treatment, followed by a strict, every 21 day prevention protocol and hopefully soon we’ll see some good growth. By using strict coccidia prevention in kids you ensure great growth and prevent intestinal scaring & damage. Once kids are well grown they'll have a natural resistence to this parasite, being able to keep numbers in check all on their own. Not only do you benefit by having good growth, you also raise goats who have better feed conversion, making them more ecconomical. Like they say... "An ounce of prevention..."

Speaking of growth… I had been meaning to post these pictures ages ago and am just now getting around to it. Sam was raised on strict coccidia prevention, a bottle kid who I allowed to have the bottle until he was 16 weeks old. These are some before & after pictures of my Alpine buck..

Sam and Shayla, 2 1/2 weeks old and Sam & Shayla at 13 weeks, 4 days old…. Weighed in that day at a hair over 75lbs!

Sam's Before & After

What a hunk and he’ll definitely be well grown and in top condition going into his first rut this fall. I’m so proud of my Sambo! He'll be bred to Bleuberry & Sabrina October 2011 & I'm crossing my fingers for doe kids!