Fresh Cheese with Herbs

Do you remember your mother or grandmother making cheese? During events at Venoge sometimes visitors recall memories of fresh cheese being made. Some recall cheese being hung in a cloth on a clothesline to drain off the whey.

Visitors’ stories reminded me of a cool day in spring, several years ago, when Gretchen Langdon demonstrated cheese making at a Locust Grove event. We made a large amount that day, but for Venoge we make small batches just for visitors.

This is the recipe we use at Venoge now. It varies depending on the herbs on hand, but it is always quite tasty.


  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 1/8 cup of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Herbs such as garlic, dill and chives to taste


Heat milk to a bare simmer, just below boiling. The milk will be frothy on the surface. Add vinegar. If the milk and vinegar do not begin to curdle in about a minute, add additional vinegar.  Let stand about ten minutes.

Strain curds using cheese cloth or open linen, then squeeze mixture in the cloth.

Add salt and herbs. Squeeze out liquid again.

Squeeze out additional liquid. You can cut into pieces, shown below, or place it in a bowl and use it as a dip or spread. Either way this is a deliciously light treat!


Roasted Eggs

I became aware that roasted eggs were a ‘thing’ when I read “The Backcountry Housewife” (a must read). The writer states that:

“Experimentation has shown us that eggs do indeed roast quite nicely in their shells when buried in hot ashes for a quarter of an hour or more. A fine explosion results when placing the eggs in contact with hot coals, however. The roasted egg is very similar to a boiled egg.

Made dishes of boiled or perhaps roasted eggs are common in old recipes. These dishes are generally composed of the eggs, whole, sliced, quartered, or stuffed, with a white sauce. Mushrooms, onions, or oranges (if available) are common accompanying ingredients. …. If the eggs are stuffed, the filling may be mashed and seasoned yolks or bread crumbs. Forcemeat might also be included.”

Kay Moss and Kathryn Hoffman. The Backcountry Housewife. 18th Century Backcountry Lifeways Studies Program, Schiele Museum, 2001.

When we tested the method at Venoge, we waited until we had a nice mound of hot ashes to bury the raw eggs. We had a thin layer of ashes on the bottom and about an inch on top and sides. A few hot coals were present but none touched the eggs. It can take a bit longer than 15 minutes depending on the heat of the ashes.

The advantage of roasting versus boiling was apparent immediately. There is no need for another pot on the crane or trivet taking up space. Just remember where you buried the eggs!


  • Eggs
  • Hot ash (free from coals)


Place eggs on top of a thin layer of hot ash. Be careful to not include any coals or the eggs may explode or get too roasted on one side.

Cover eggs entirely with ashes and wait 15 minutes. You can turn eggs during cooking depending on the heat of your ashes.

Remove eggs and let them cool. We place ours in cool water so we can peel them easily. Remember older eggs peel easier than fresh eggs. So if you are having trouble peeling the eggs, like we did, it is likely you are using fresh eggs.




In the Venoge kitchen, butter is the first thing we make.  Most of our recipes will require either the butter or the byproduct of making butter, the buttermilk.

When Venoge was an active homestead, milk from the cow would be placed in a wide shallow bowl. Shards of a milk bowl have been discovered at Venoge.  Once cream rose to the top it could be carefully skimmed off and churned into butter.

Since we don’t have access to a cow, we buy a quart (32 oz.) of heavy cream and put it into our half gallon churn, made by Henderson’s Artifacts. If you are unable to find heavy cream, whipping cream can be substituted. The difference is that heavy cream contains 36% milk fat and whipping cream contains 30% milk fat. A pound of butter and several cups of buttermilk are made from a quart heavy cream.

When the cream is at the right temperature, about 60°F, it takes about 15 minutes to turn into butter.


  • Quart (32 oz.) of heavy cream
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Herbs (optional)

Instructions – using a churn

Begin with heavy cream that is somewhat cooler than room temperature. If the cream is too cold it will take longer to churn. If the cream is too warm the butter will still form, but it will be very soft.

Pour cream into the churn, put on the lid and use the dasher to whip the cream.

Continue churning with the dasher until the consistency changes and the cream thickens. As you continue the cream will again change and it will slosh at the sides of the churn. At this stage the cream is turning into butter.

Keep churning until liquid, called buttermilk, separates from the newly made butter clumps. The buttermilk may be slightly opaque. Save off the buttermilk for drinking or use it in a recipe where milk is needed. The butter will be yellow to pale yellow depending on the source of the cream.

Use a strainer to separate the buttermilk from the butter or a butter paddle, as pictured below. Either will help hold back the butter clumps while you pour off the buttermilk.

Use the paddle again to squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter.

Straining butter

Squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter.

Rinse the butter with cool water. Rinse thoroughly using your hands or the butter paddle. This will help keep the butter fresh so it does not turn rancid. We use our butter immediately, but it can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for longer.

Add salt or herbs at this time. We prefer to keep our butter unsalted or ‘sweet’.


Fresh Butter


  • Pint (16 oz) of heavy cream
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Herbs (optional)

Instructions – using a jar

If you don’t have a churn, try making butter using a jar. Approximately a cup of butter and a cup of buttermilk are made from a pint of heavy cream.

To begin, fill your jar half way with heavy cream that is about 60°F. As the butter is forming it will double in size. Screw on the lid.

Shake the jar. In two minutes or so the cream will begin doubling in size. Continue shaking as the cream turns to a thick whipped cream consistency. It may take another 8 minutes to get to this stage. As the cream begins to separate it will make a sloshing sound. Keep shaking the jar until the cream has completely separated into butter and buttermilk. This is the final stage and may take 1-2 minutes to reach.

Strain off the buttermilk. Squeeze out excess buttermilk from the butter using a paddle or spatula. Rinse the butter with cool water and squeeze butter again to excess liquid.

Add salt or herbs if you like. Chill and serve.