Mary Randolph’s Cornmeal Bread

Mary Randolph’s Cornmeal Bread

An old fashioned cornbread recipe.

“Rub a piece of butter the size of an egg into a pint of cornmeal, make a batter with two eggs and some new milk, add a spoonful of yeast, set it by the fire an hour to rise, butter little pans and bake it.” Mary Randolph.

Print Recipe
Cornmeal Bread
Cornmeal Bread
Course Accompaniment
Cuisine American
Keyword bread, recipe
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups white corn meal
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 2 eggs
Course Accompaniment
Cuisine American
Keyword bread, recipe
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups white corn meal
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 2 eggs
Cornmeal Bread
Instructions
On the Hearth
  1. 1. Heat butter and milk until milk is warm and butter begins to melt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
    1. Heat butter and milk until milk is warm and butter begins to melt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. 2. Combine cornmeal, yeast, and salt in bowl. Stir in cooled milk and butter.
  3. 3. Beat eggs lightly and stir into rest of ingredients. Blend well but do not overmix.
  4. 4. Pour into well-greased baking pan and set aside to rise one hour.
  5. 5. Carefully place filled pan in preheated Dutch oven on trivet or rocks. Bake, following general instructions for Dutch oven baking, for about 25 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean and bread is a rich golden brown.
Modern Method
  1. 1. Follow hearth directions one through four, using 8” x 8” square pan.
  2. 2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake cornbread 20 to 30 minutes or until done.
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Why Normande Cows

Why Normande Cows

normande cowIn today’s show, we are going to talk about the milk cows that we have chosen for our central enterprise of cheesemaking – Normande Cows

Today’s Show Topics

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • The Normande Cow Breed
  • Crème Fraîche Recipe

Homestead Life Updates

Scott has been out pruning trees for a couple of days, but taking a nap now. It’s raining. AGAIN. Yesterday and the day before were filled with getting the trees in shape. There are 80 plus trees in our small orchard.

Apples, peaches, cherries, plums, pears, mulberries, kiwis and elderberries are the fruit trees/bushes. Hazelnut, pecans, almonds are the nut trees. He got about 40% complete on the blueberries and blackberries before the rain hit. There are a few raspberry and grape plants around as well. I probably missed one or two in that list. The orchard is a favorite project for him. It’s a lot of work, but he loves it. We have a beehive back there also for pollination.

Farmer’s Market

We were at the Wytheville Farmer’s market this past Saturday. Got to meet lots of new people. A shout out and thanks for your patronage. March 9th is the next market date.  We will have ground lamb and goat as well as some awesome soup bones. You get a free recipe card with each purchase. If you buy a whole or half lamb you get the All Lamb Cookbook. It contains recipes for every cut of lamb in your package.

We want to make is easy for you to get the most out of your lamb. I will admit that the Indian Lamb Curry is my favorite. It’s made from the boneless shoulder roast cut into bite-sized pieces.

March 23rd market we will have ground beef as well.

Need More Freezer Space

blond normande cow

Blond Normande cow

Tomorrow we are going to pick up a freezer we loaned out last year. We need it for the beef we are going to have soon. I’m a little bummed about the need that drove the event. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain peace when you have a homestead farm business. Here’s the story.

We have a small herd of Normande cows. As I mentioned, I’ll be talking in great detail about that breed today. The purpose of the cows is to provide wonderfully nutritious milk so we can make wonderfully nutritious cheese. In order to make that happen, the cows need to have a calf every year. We milk them for about 9 months and the other 3 months we do not. With the birth of a calf in the spring, the milking process starts again. It’s a continuous life cycle.

In order to tell this story properly I need to make a distinction between the cows, the goats, the sheep. Goats and sheep are cute, especially the kids and lambs, and we watch them play and enjoy their beauty. But they are not pets. We have very little hands-on daily interaction with them. The goats get their hooves trimmed regularly and, in the spring, we comb out the cashmere. Otherwise, the goats and sheep pretty much take care of themselves.

As far as the cattle, we have the milk cows in one herd. Then there is another herd comprised of steers that resulted from the annual birthing of calves. We grow them out for beef. The bull hangs out there as well until we need him. The steers pretty much take care of themselves as well. We often watch them grazing peacefully but are not physically interacting with them so much.

The Milk Cows

blanc quail normande

Blanc or Quail colored Normande cow

The milk cows are unique. We interact with the milk cows – just about on a daily basis. These cows are not pets, but there is a special relationship or bond that develops with them. We pet them and hug them and talk to them. Cows are very peaceful animals. It is a pleasure to simply watch them graze. One of the reasons I wanted a milk cow was the experience of peace while sitting beside this beautiful creature and performing the action of milking.

We bond with all of our animals. However, the bond with the milk cows is deeper. The difference is that the other animals are raised specifically for meat as food. The milk cows are raised for the luscious milk they make. They get extra-special attention.

Today, for the first time in my experience on the farm, we had to cull one of our milk cows. She was gentle and calm as they all are. She had intelligent eyes and a beautiful coat. I’ll talk more about the Normande coloring in a bit. We put a halter on her and led her onto the trailer. She was only slightly adverse and it didn’t take long to get her on the trailer. When we arrived at the processing facility, she was lying on the floor of the trailer not seemingly traumatized at all. Once the door was opened, she got up and Scott led her off the trailer. She got a little antsy at that point when we wanted her to go to an unknown place, but she shortly cooperated.

Upon beginning the return journey home, we were both quiet and introspective. It was hard. I think it is the hardest thing I have ever done so far. I’ve seen the aftermath of a coyote attack on our lambs. I found dead lambs and goat kids that perished for reasons unknown. Last year we lost our oldest breeding ewe and her lambs, likely triplets. This past fall we culled an older ewe that twice had issues birthing her triplets.

Lilly

lilly normande cow

Lilly

So, what happened. Lilly was 7 years old. She had a calf in 2014 and she had a calf in 2015. She hasn’t had one since. After more than seven months with the bull this year, she was still cycling. We had to let her go. She was consuming massive amounts of grass and hay and not doing her part to ensure our small enterprise would continue. Perhaps there were extra steps we could have taken to get her to stand for the bull. Or perhaps she had ovarian cysts and could have been treated by the vet but that comes with the possibility of recurrence. I’m sure I will continue to doubt my decision to cull her from the herd. But I stand firm in that it was a decision that had to be made. I had no idea it would be so hard.

I was in tears and indeed am tearing up now at the loss of this animal. We hold in our mind the purpose of every animal on our homestead. Each contributes to the whole process of sustainability and diversity on our farm. They must contribute or they must go. At this point I’m pretty sure I’m never going to get used to losing my milk cows. I can’t help but bond with them. And I will cry each time their life with us is over whatever the reason.

I hope this isn’t too much of a downer but I feel it is important to honor her life and to share our feelings as we move forward on the homestead. It’s not always roses and butterflies. Thank you for your patience with me as I grieve a little.

One way I want to honor her is to share the wonderfulness of her breed and why we chose these cows.

The Normande Cow Breed

It all started because I like to drink milk but did not want pasteurized milk. And cheesemaking has always been a passion of mine since I first learned how to make it back in 1993. The original plan was for one or two cows. So, we researched and researched. We wanted the milk but also knew to make that happen there would be a calf every year. That means we needed good beef as well. Because our values revolve around living close to and in harmony with nature, we wanted a breed that would do well on pasture without supplemental feed.

Finally, we purchased our first cows in the fall of 2011. We bought two for milking and one for beef. I was already enamored with their unique coloring. And as we worked with them, I fell even more in love. Almost all cows have a deeply peaceful quality about them. This breed takes that quality to the next level. It was a defining moment for us in the evolution of our business aspirations. These cows were to become the centerpiece of our homestead.

History

As the name implies, the breed comes from Normandy, a North–Western region of France. Since Normandy is famous for its Viking influence, many people believe that the breed descended from the cattle the Vikings imported. For over 1,000 years these cattle evolved into a dual-purpose breed to meet the milk and meat needs of the residents of Northwestern France.

During the Allied Invasion of Normandy beginning on June 6, 1944 through July 1944, the breed was nearly wiped out. But today they are alive and well. As of 5 years ago there were about 3 million Normande cattle grazing on French pastures, with large numbers in the regions of Normandy, Brittany, and Maine, as well as in the Ardennes and the Pyrenees. Although popular for their beef, they are primarily milk producers.

The Colors

brindle normande cow

Brindle Normande cow

Have I mentioned that these are gorgeous cows? They have distinctive eye patches. There are three characteristic coat colors sometimes referred to as the three Bs: Blanc (white), Blond (fawn or red) and Brindled (dark brown). It’s kind of hard to describe so I’ll put pictures in the post on the website. Please check them out. I believe I mentioned, they are gorgeous.

The arrangements of colors are really varied: Blanc is mostly white, sometimes called quail. The coat is scattered with very small patches of color; The Blond coat has one big fawn or red patch covering almost the entire cow’s body. The belly and head are white and there are those circles around the eyes with all of these coats I’m describing. The brindle is similar to the blond but the large patch is dark brown to black.

Normande Around the World

The breed has been exported to many different countries, and has thrived in all of them. They adapt well to a wide range of climates. In South America, central Europe, Western Europe, Asia and North America the breed has shown its versatility.

While having been exported worldwide, they received their greatest acceptance in South America where they were introduced in the 1890s. Total numbers there now exceed 4 million purebred plus countless Normandy cross breeds. Columbia alone has 1.6 million purebreds with the rest mainly in Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay. They are also growing in countries such as the US, Mexico, Madagascar, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain and Ireland.

Milk and Cheese

Their milk has about 3.5% protein and 4.4% fat, with a 4.2% butterfat content. The reason their milk is so suitable for cheesemaking is because of high levels of Beta Casein and Kappa Casein. We’ll get into that more at a later date.

In France, the Normande is associated with the production of famous cheeses such as Camembert de Normandie, Livarot and Pont Leveque (pone liveck). These are all moist, soft, creamy, surface-ripened cheeses. In France, to legally carry the official name the cheese must meet certain requirements for manufacturing location, type of cow, raw and/or pasteurized milk, and specific processes. The official Camembert de Normande is made entirely from raw milk from the Normande breed grazed in the Normandy region of Northwestern France. There are lots and lots of other cheeses from the Normandy region of France, but the three I mentioned require the use of milk from the Normande breed of cow.

A Sustainable Breed for a Sustainable Agriculture.

Since Normandy cattle have been raised on grass only for many centuries, their grazing ability is highly commended.

Long, damp cold muddy French winters and simple forged diets have prepared Normandes for the worst. As I mentioned, today Normandes have spread from the Andes to the tropical coastlines of South America to Ireland and Canada. Because the Normande has not been selected solely on one character, it has retained exceptional qualities often lost by specialized breeding. Highly desirable qualities such as fertility, calving ease, excellent feet and legs and overall heartiness are prominent. Their thick, curly winter hair ensures good protection against the cold. The eye rings are effective against the sun in the summer. The breed also shows remarkable docility which makes the handling of bulls very easy, though you always watch your back. Finally, raised on grass for centuries, the Normandy shows outstanding grazing ability and that works for us.

That’s it for your overview of this excellent breed of cow. I hope you enjoyed that little trip through French history. Learning new information is always a joy for me and I hope you were entertained as well.

Crème Fraîche Recipe

creme fraicheCrème fraîche is similar to sour cream. While sour cream and crème fraîche are both used to add richness and tangy flavor, they are not the same thing. And is it worth taking the extra time to make your own crème fraîche? I’m going to say absolutely, yes, depending on the use.

How They’re Made

Sour cream is made by adding lactic acid culture to heavy cream and sometimes milk to thicken and sour it. In France, crème fraîche was traditionally made from unpasteurized cream that naturally contained the right bacteria to thicken it. Since our cream is pasteurized here in the US, crème fraîche is now made by adding a fermenting agent with bacteria to heavy cream. So, today’s recipe will be the Americanized version of crème fraîche.

The Differences Between Sour Cream & Crème Fraîche

Sour cream has a fat content of about 20% and may include ingredients like gelatin, rennin, and vegetable enzymes to stabilize it and make it thicker.

Crème fraîche has a fat content of about 30% and does not contain any added thickeners. Crème fraîche is thicker, has a richer flavor, and is less tangy than sour cream.

When to Use Crème Fraîche?

Use it anywhere you would use sour cream. Because sour cream has less fat but more protein, simmering or boiling it will result in curdling. Crème fraîche is a better choice for sauces or soups.

If using in a salad or as a topping, they’re pretty much interchangeable and the choice is yours — some people like the tanginess of sour cream, while others like the richness of crème fraîche.

What You Need

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk

What to Do

  1. In a glass jar, combine the buttermilk with the heavy cream.
  2. Cover the jar tightly with cheesecloth or other breathable material. Let sit at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees) for 24 hours.
  3. Remove cloth, stir. It will be thick but will get thicker. Screw on a lid, and refrigerate for another 24 hours before using.

Enjoy!

Get the recipe here!!

Final Thoughts

That’s it for another episode of the Peaceful Heart FarmCast. Work continues on all sorts of farm projects. There is still more to do in the orchard. The garden will be picking up soon. That always adds a bit of hurried activity in the spring. We are looking forward to it.

I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane and through Normandy, France. We plan to visit one winter when we are not milking our beautiful and gentle cows.

Visit us at http://peacefulheartfarm.com/recipes and download that creme fraîche recipe. It’s so fun and satisfying to make things with your own two hands. And in this case, so easy.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for listening and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

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Crème Fraîche

Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream. While sour cream and crème fraîche are both used to add richness and tangy flavor, they are not the same thing. And is it worth taking the extra time to make your own crème fraîche? I’m going to say absolutely, yes, depending on the use.

Use it anywhere you would use sour cream. Because sour cream has less fat but more protein, simmering or boiling it will result in curdling. Crème fraîche is a better choice for sauces or soups.

Print Recipe
Crème Fraîche
In France, crème fraîche was traditionally made from unpasteurized cream that naturally contained the right bacteria to thicken it. Since our cream is pasteurized here in the US, this crème fraîche is made by adding a fermenting agent with bacteria to heavy cream.
Crème Fraîche
Course Condiment
Cuisine French
Keyword keto, soft cheese
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 48 hours
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
Course Condiment
Cuisine French
Keyword keto, soft cheese
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 48 hours
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
Crème Fraîche
Instructions
  1. In a glass jar, combine the buttermilk with the heavy cream.
  2. Cover the jar tightly with cheesecloth or other breathable material. Let sit at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees) for 24 hours.
  3. Remove cloth, stir. It will be thick but will get thicker. Screw on a lid, and refrigerate for another 24 hours before using.
Share this Recipe
Cheese Makes You Happy!

Cheese Makes You Happy!

cheese makes you happyThe topic for today is how cheese makes you happy! That’s right. There is evidence that the nutrition in cheese can actually affect your mood among other things. I’m pleased to bring you this great news today!

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Cheese and Nutrition
    • Nutritional content
    • Cheese tastes good
    • Facts about fat content
    • Lactose intolerance
    • Why cheese makes people happy
  • Cheese Fondue Recipe

Homestead Life Updates

Scott is working hard on getting the creamery built. Every day that does not bring adverse weather sees him out there building the walls. There are also lots of other odds and ends and details he adds in there that breaks up the monotony. I’m am so blessed to have such a wonderful life here with him. Our life has purpose and meaning as we both work hard to bring you the benefits of traditional hand-made artisan cheese.

The winter drags on. Seems like a long one this year doesn’t it? Every year winter is the same 13 weeks on the calendar but the weather conditions during that period of time alters our perception of time, I think.

There is a common winter ailment called seasonal affective disorder. I’m sure some of you know of what I speak. It’s a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. Symptoms can begin as early as the fall and continue into the winter months. Occasionally, SAD causes depression into the spring or early summer, but that is rarer. Spring usually brings a rush of relief.

I experience SAD every year. This year is different. I’ve significantly changed my diet and it shows. While I can still feel the effects of this winter season, it is muted compared to previous years. I feel kind of heavy sometimes; slightly weighted down by life in general.

As an aside, I generally just suffer through it. However, there are things you can do. Light therapy or phototherapy is the most common treatment. Some schools of thought attribute the issue to reduced vitamin D from the sun as there is less light due to the length of the day.  More severe cases may require medication or psychotherapy.

The symptoms may start as a minor issue such as having trouble sleeping or a general loss of interest in doing anything. Low energy, feeling sluggish or maybe agitated for no reason. As the season progresses, the symptoms get worse and worse. In the past it has seemed overwhelming to me. And then, poof, spring arrives and it all evaporates like mist.

Let’s talk about how cheese might help with that. Did you know that cheese has nutritional properties that stimulate our happy hormones? First, let’s cover the basic nutrition in cheese.

Cheese and Nutrition

Cheese is a delicious and tremendously efficient source of nutrition. It supplies many valuable nutrients, including proteins, sugars, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. A 4-ounce piece of solid farmhouse cheese, for example, supplies more than half the adult nutritional requirements for protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus as well as significant portions of vitamins A, B2, and B12. If you compare the nutritional content of a 3.5-ounce chunk of a hard, aged cheese such as Cheddar or Emmental to an equivalent amount of chicken eggs (two eggs are about 3.5 ounces), the cheese contains about twice as much protein and one quarter the cholesterol.

The miracle of evolution has ensured that milk is an extremely nutritious food. After all, without it how would mothers, down through the eons, have guaranteed the survival of their babies? Cheese concentrates the nutrients in milk. It’s a highly efficient method of getting vital nutrients for our bodies.

Another advantage to cheese is that its nutrients are “predigested” by bacteria and enzymes during cheesemaking and aging. That means the process of breaking down the proteins, fats, and sugars began before it was savored on our palette and began the journey to our tummy.

Plants in the pasture have absorbed nutrients from the soil; the dairy animals have extracted those nutrients, packaging them in the form of milk. That’s another place that a lot of gathering nutrients has already been done for you. Your body has to devote less effort to processing cheese than it does with many other comparably nutritious foods.

Cheese Tastes Good

Cheese tastes good and satisfies us. A big reason for that is the fat. There are beneficial fats available in milk. Many of them work as antioxidants and also provide fat-soluble vitamins good for our skin and other organs. In cheese, milk fats undergo lipolysis, which breaks them down into more easily absorbed and beneficial fatty acids, some of which in turn enable us to metabolize the fats from other foods.

CLA

Cheeses, especially those made from the milk of grass-fed animals, are a good source of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, a highly beneficial nutrient. In small studies involving animals, CLA has been shown to prevent heart disease and several types of cancer. It also appears to enhance the immune system.  CLA is considered a fat-reducing fat. You heard that right. There are studies on this. Let me give you some info from one study. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

Jean-Michel Gaullier, PhD with the Scandinavian Clinical Research Group did the study. It was a relatively small number of participants. 180 men and women were followed for a year. A third got a typical off-the-shelf pill of 80% CLA. Another third got a 76% CLA syrup formula, disguised in a capsule. The last third took a placebo capsule of olive oil.

No one had to change their diet or exercise habits. All reduced their calorie intake a little bit during the study. Likely that was due to tracking with a food diary. That can really wake you up to what you are actually consuming. As far as exercise, all got about the same amount.

The results were:

  • Both CLA groups lost weight – about 4 pounds; the placebo group stayed the same.
  • The CLA syrup group had a 9% body fat loss; the CLA pill group had 7% body fat loss; the placebo group had no body fat loss.
  • Both CLA groups had similar improvements in muscle mass.

Good news ay? Losing weight was good, but I found the conversion of fat to muscle mass to be the most interesting to me.

CLA is found naturally in beef, lamb, goat and dairy products.

Facts About Fat Content

Because cheese contains fat, naturally, it raises concerns. There are some valid concerns there. Not for the fat, but for the calories. A little bit of cheese goes a long way. Real cheese delivers a lot of nutritional bang for your buck and a lot of caloric bang for your buck. The fat is the culprit there. The key is to eat moderate amounts along with your other dietary choices. Let’s talk about the fat content of various cheeses.

Contrary to appearances, hard, grainy cheeses such as Parmesan may actually contain more fat than creamy, luxurious ones such as any triple cream cheese. The rich triple cream types are labeled “75% butterfat” while a Parmigiana–Reggiano claims around 35% butterfat. The trick is that cheeses are labeled by percentage of fat in their solid materials, not in their total weight.

Cheeses retain water, even after much of it is extracted during cheesemaking. The less water a cheese retains, the harder or denser it will be. A dense cheese with, say, 50% butterfat, could actually deliver more fat per serving than a soft, gooey one with 70% butterfat.

Lactose Intolerance

Let’s talk about lactose intolerance. Well–made, aged cheeses are actually one of the few dairy products that will not cause problems for many people with this difficulty. The first and most important step of cheesemaking, alongside protein coagulation, is the conversion of lactose into lactic acid – the souring or fermentation action of lactic acid bacteria on milk. The small amount of lactose left over after active cheesemaking ends is further broken down by glycolysis during aging.

What this means is that for people who have trouble digesting lactose, it’s not a problem because the digestion has already been done for them by the cheesemaking and aging process. Give it a try. You, too, can be a happy cheese eater. Speaking of cheese making your happy. Why is that?

Why cheese makes people happy

A wonderful piece of info I ran across wherein a neurologist talks about how cheese literally makes you happy. Dr. Thomas C Morell is the neurologist. Link to the article will be in the show notes. The title of the piece is Nutritional Neuroscience. The central core of the article is using nutrition to help heal TBI or traumatic brain injury.

There is some really good information about how the brain functions along with how and why nutrition is important to maximize brain function. Later in the article he gets specifically to cheese as “the first food that will help your brain.” He cites cheese as an extraordinarily rich source of proteins and amino acids. One of those amino acids is Tyrosine. Dr. Morell’s comments on the relation of tyrosine to neurotransmitters in the brain are noted in the article.

Some quotes from the article: (again, reference in the show notes) “The body does not produce Tyrosine so it must be obtained from outside sources, of which cheese contains very high concentrations. We quickly began to realize that cheese is one of nature’s perfect foods for the body and for brain functioning! Furthermore, the pleasure of eating cheese in its multitude of varieties is not just for the sensuous pleasure of taste and smell, but actually has nutritional importance that will help the neurotransmitters in your brain. Cheese not only supplies calories for metabolism as well as being an excellent source of Calcium, but contains proteins and amino acids that are intricately associated with manufacturing many important brain chemicals.”

Then he talks about how cheese makes people happy.

“Cheese can make people happy. Why? It starts with Tyrosine which is a building block for many of the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. It can improve mood and well-being particularly during times of stress. Tyrosine is a substrate of many well-known neurotransmitters including adrenaline, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Cheese may be one of the basic primordial foods that improved the performance of our brain, with deep connections from the olfactory bulb to the parts of our brain responsible for memory and emotions. Cheese may just be the perfect food to capture the nutritional-emotional duality that our bodies and brains need!”

I find it so refreshing that our medical profession is starting to look at food as nutrition for building, maintaining, and healing the body.

“Cheese contains high levels of casein which is the primary protein found in milk. As casein is broken down and digested it is converted into Tyrosine. Casein is also broken down into the chemical casomorphin, an opioid molecule in the same family as morphine. This may explain some of cheese’s addicting qualities!”

I can relate to the addicting quality of cheese. As my diet has improved, my urge for eating too much food is strongly diminished. However, once I start eating cheese, I may overeat if I don’t pay attention.

“There are many receptors for the Tyrosine molecule in the olfactory bulb where our sense of smell courses through the Central Nervous System. The Tyrosine in cheese is broken down into several chemicals. One of them is epinephrine (adrenaline) which has many positive physical and mental effects to make us more alert. Epinephrine also increases the flow of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles which elicits the “Fight or Flight” response to stressful or dangerous situations. Norepinephrine helps fight off depression and can improve our attention and concentration skills. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter involved in mood stability and accounts for pleasurable feelings and activation of the brain’s reward systems. Tyrosine is also a precursor to levodopa which is used to replace deficiency of Dopamine in Parkinson’s disease. Finally, Tyrosine is also a precursor to Melatonin, the skin pigment that protects us from ultraviolet sunlight damage but is also associated with insulin production which regulates blood sugar levels.”

How perfect is cheese? It makes you feel good with the neurotransmitter action and supplies energy and protein. All are critical for brain performance and memory retention.

As a final note on the topic, have you ever wondered what those little crunchy pockets that develop in the paste of well-made aged cheeses are? Those are crystals of tyrosine embedded in the long chains of amino acids of the casein molecules. When they make your mouth water, they are not only providing cheese eating pleasure but they’re also setting into motion a series of very real and tangible benefits to your body and brain.

Let’s move on to today’s cheese fondue recipe.

Cheese Fondue Recipe

Cheese fondue can be fancy or it can be a quaint and close tradition in any family or group of friends. As an added bonus, it’s easy to make. The only skill needed is the ability to stand at a stove and stir.

Cheese fondue is a Swiss invention which became popular in the US in the 1960’s. I’m looking to revive that tradition. As its core fondue is melted cheese served in a pot over a portable heating device and enjoyed communally. It can be made with or without the official fondue set. A double boiler set up will work just fine. Using a crock pot is also an option. The key is low, slow heat. Add some wooden skewers and your homemade fondue set is complete.

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Fondue at Home

The perfect cheese fondue is rich and smooth. First, I want to go over a few tips to make it easy for that to happen for you. Stick to them and your family and guests will be transported to the Alps from their first bite.

  • Use Good-Quality Cheese. It will be more expensive but worth it. Even if you ignore all of the other tips, keep this one. Fondue truly is all about the cheese, and the quality and types of cheeses you use will have an enormous impact on the final product.
    • For classic Swiss cheese fondue (meaning one like what you would find in Switzerland), a mix of traditional, firm alpine mountain-style cheeses is best. Gruyere and Emmental come to mind.
    • We make a cheese called Pinnacle that will serve you well. There are lots of other cheeses that will also work. No need to be bound by the “Swiss” label.
    • You want a buttery, creamy cheese that melts smoothly. Cheddar cheese would work. Even though the flavor would be less traditional, it would still taste fantastic. I’ve used our Clau d’ ville Cheddar mixed with alpine-style Pinnacle and the blend warms the heart.
  • Grate – do not chop – the Cheese. Grated cheese will melt much quicker.
  • Toss the Cheese with Cornstarch Thoroughly. Cornstarch helps thicken the fondue and prevents the cheese from clumping. You don’t want lumpy cheese!
  • Classic cheese fondue does call for white wine. Use a good wine. Choose something dry and high acid, such as Sauvignon Blanc.
    • The taste of the wine directly impacts the taste of the fondue. The acid in the wine helps keep the cheese smooth and gives it an even texture. Again, we don’t want lumpy fondue.
    • You can substitute unsalted chicken or vegetable stock if you do not want to use wine.
    • For beer cheese fondue, swap out the wine with your favorite beer. Beer works really well in a cheddar cheese fondue.
  • Add the Cheese Slowly and Stir Constantly. This is SO important to make sure the cheese fondue is buttery smooth.
    • Grab a small handful and sprinkle it into the pot. Stir constantly and wait for each addition to melt before adding the next.
    • Don’t try to rush it—you won’t win. Just enjoy the moment at the stove at peace with yourself, the cheese, and the promise of a luscious fondue.

What Should You Dip?

  • Bread. Always delicious. French or sourdough cut into 1-inch cubes so that it can be easily skewered.
  • Apples. Tart apples like Granny Smith are fantastic dipped with cheese fondue. Cut the apples into cubes.
  • Cherry Tomatoes. One of my absolute favorites!
  • Roasted Baby Potatoes.
  • Steamed Broccoli. Reminds me of broccoli cheese soup.
  • Mushrooms
  • Game Day Delights:
    • Potato or tortilla chips
    • Soft or hard pretzels
    • Ham, Turkey or Beef
    • Bacon. Even better than you think it’s going to taste. Make sure the bacon isn’t  too crisp or it will break off in the pot.
    • Shrimp or mussels
    • Kielbasa or hot dogs
    • Pepperoni
    • Meatballs
    • Pickles.

The choices are up to you. There are no rules there. Anything that tastes good with cheese it going to be heaven. It takes about 25 minutes to make the fondue.

What You Need

  • 1 pound (4 cups) of 2 or more cheeses of your choice – Gruyere, Emmental, Appenzeller and of course our Pinnacle
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dry white wine — such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 clove garlic — minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch – Kirsch is a clear colorless fruit brandy. You may substitute a brandy of your choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg – ground
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Assorted Fondue dippers

What to do

  1. Grate all of the cheeses. In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses with the cornstarch, tossing thoroughly to coat all pieces.
  2. In a stove-safe fondue pot or large heavy saucepan, bring the wine, garlic, and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the cheeses to the simmering liquid a little at a time, stirring well between each addition to ensure a smooth fondue. Once smooth, stir in the brandy, nutmeg, and mustard.
  3. Arrange an assortment of bite-size dipping foods on a platter. Carefully pour the fondue into a fondue pot. Serve with fondue forks or wooden skewers.
  4. Dip and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

If using a crock pot, no need to wait for the wine and lemon to simmer. Put it all in there and stir as needed until the desired consistency is achieved.

Final Thoughts

I’ve run out of words for today. I hope if you have the winter blues you are taking time out of the day to pamper yourself. And remember, this too shall pass. Enjoy some cheese to get that tyrosine going and get happy.

I hope you’ll try the fondue. You can let me know what creative ideas you used and traditions you started by commenting on the Facebook post @peacefulheartfarm.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for listening and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

Recipe Link

Cheese Fondue

References

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Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue

This classic family and friends traditional favorite is easy to make. There is nothing more cozy than a communal meal with loved ones. Enjoy!

Print Recipe
Cheese Fondue
Classic cheese fondue. Cheese and white wine are the center pieces of the dish. Beer or broth can be substituted for another occasion. The list of fondue dippers is endless. I've included a substantial list, but feel free to try anything that goes with cheese.
Cheese Fondue
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
What You Need - For the Fondue
  • 2 cups Pinnacle Cheese or any alpine cheese (gruyere, emmental, appenzeller)
  • 2 cups Clau d' ville Cheddar Cheese or other cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dry white wine Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon Kirsch or other brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg ground
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard optional
What You Need - For Dipping
  • bread pieces french or sourdough in 1" cubes
  • apples 1" cubes
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • broccoli steamed
  • new potatoes roasted
  • mushrooms
Game Day Delights - For Dipping
  • potato chips
  • tortilla chips
  • soft or hard pretzels
  • bacon not too crisp or it will break off in the pot
  • ham, turkey or beef
  • kielbasa or italian sausage
  • meatballs
  • hotdogs 1" slices
  • pickles
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
What You Need - For the Fondue
  • 2 cups Pinnacle Cheese or any alpine cheese (gruyere, emmental, appenzeller)
  • 2 cups Clau d' ville Cheddar Cheese or other cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dry white wine Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon Kirsch or other brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg ground
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard optional
What You Need - For Dipping
  • bread pieces french or sourdough in 1" cubes
  • apples 1" cubes
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • broccoli steamed
  • new potatoes roasted
  • mushrooms
Game Day Delights - For Dipping
  • potato chips
  • tortilla chips
  • soft or hard pretzels
  • bacon not too crisp or it will break off in the pot
  • ham, turkey or beef
  • kielbasa or italian sausage
  • meatballs
  • hotdogs 1" slices
  • pickles
Cheese Fondue
Instructions
  1. Grate the cheeses. Combine the cheese with the cornstarch. Toss together until all of the cheese is thoroughly coated
  2. On the stove over medium-low heat, bring the wine, lemon and garlic to a simmer. Add the cheese to the simmering liquid a little at a time. Sir well between each additional to ensure a smooth fondue.
  3. Once smooth, add the brandy, nutmeg and mustard. Carefully pour the fondue into a fondue pot. Serve with fondue forks or wooden skewers.
Recipe Notes

You can also use a crock pot. For that method mix the cheese with the cornstarch and coat well. Then simply add all of the ingredients to the pot and let it heat slowly, stirring often.

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