Five Feline Farm

A Central Illinois Hobby Farm

Toasted Almond Honey Ice Cream

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Five Feline Farm is a blend of old and new. We maintain a respect for history and the skills of our ancestors, but definitely appreciate the new approaches.

For example, ice cream.

People have been making ice cream since 200 B.C. with fruit, cream, nuts and various sweeteners frozen together. There is ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurt and sherbet just to name a few. No matter the name, all required some method of freezing ingredients into a refreshing dessert treat.

Most families recall hot summer days with a hand cranked churn, layers of salt and ice around the center urn of sweet flavored cream. People took turns cranking the handle until the mixture was frozen stiff and could no longer be moved. A few hours packed in a fresh bed of salted ice, then out came the spoons.

Eventually someone invented an electric ice cream churn to eliminate the hard work of turning the crank.

Even better came the invention of a counter top, electric compressor small batch ice cream maker. In just about an hour, with minimal preparation, a quart of ice cream is ready to eat.

We’ve come a long way.

Now here on the Farm we experiment with flavors. An hour and a quart is a perfect match to try out new flavor combinations. The latest favorite is Toasted Almond Honey. Simple straightforward ingredients. Cream, milk, honey, sliced almonds, a pinch of salt. No preservatives. Nothing included that can’t be pronounced.

Toasted Almond Honey Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup raw honey
pinch salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Stir together cream, milk, honey and salt until thoroughly blended. Add to 1 quart tabletop ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer directions. Toast almonds in small skillet over low heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned and fragrant. Add almonds during the last 15 minutes of freezing or when machine indicates additional ingredients can be added.

Yes this is a high fat dessert. It is a treat to be enjoyed in moderation and well worth the calories.

If this type of experimenting in the kitchen suits you, stay tuned. There is more to come from the Five Feline Farm kitchen.

Sugar Cane in Illinois?

Photo Sep 28, 9 18 31 AM
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Do you remember the old commercial for C&H sugar?

C&H. Pure cane sugar. From Hawaii. Growing in the sun.

Did you know you can grow sugar cane in Illinois too?

Ok, maybe not as a cash crop or in the quantities needed to process granulated sugar. But you can grow it.

This past summer, on Five Feline Farm, Tohono O’odham “Sugar Cane” was one of the experimental crops. Tall slender canes topped with a red seed head. The cane looks similar to bamboo although not as fast growing and not quite as tough.

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Sugar cane is different from sorghum which is a much more common plant in this area. Sorghum looks like its cousin sugar cane, but the sap of the sorghum plant boils down into a thick dark syrup with a distinctly different flavor. Sorghum molasses is an acquired taste, but full of healthy minerals. Sugar cane is filled with a sweet juice that when grown commercially is processed and refined into granulated sugar.

Shaving off the hard outer layer without cutting into the sweet heart of the cane is an art. Most of the time I had a nice section skinned and the next cut went completely through the sweet center. There was enough though to sample. Chewing on the middle of the cane gives a burst of sweetness and a desire for more. It was more than just that short experience. It was a rocket ride down memory lane to Hawaii. Roadside vendors in Hawaii sell short sections of peeled sugar cane ready to chew. Warm sweet cane juice washes through your mouth as you watch tropical waves spill over the beach. There’s a reason the place is referred to as paradise.

Back to Illinois.

Sugar cane will never be a commercial crop in Illinois but it is a fun plant to grow. After chewing a sweet sample, the extra canes will be used like bamboo and seeds saved for next year.

A renewable source of fun.

Threshing Wheat

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Does anyone this day and age spend their Sunday afternoon threshing wheat? Probably not.

Last Sunday at Five Feline Farm, we did. At least we made a good start.

This wasn’t a massive operation. More of an experiment. What if we could grow and harvest enough wheat to make a loaf of bread? What would that taste like?

The process started last fall with planting hard red winter wheat. Stalks were harvested two weeks ago and dried in the greenhouse. Conditions are perfect inside the greenhouse during the summer for drying things. It is well over the outside temperature and protected from the elements.

Next the heads of grain were removed from the stalk and gathered in a large bucket. Now, how to get the grain out? First try was rubbing the heads between our palms. That worked, but too slow. Plus after a short time, it was irritating to the palms. Next attempt was placing a few handfuls into an old pillow case and beating it with a coat hanger. That also worked. A bit faster than by hand, but still too slow.

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The final effort was placing all of the heads of grain in a bucket and stirring rapidly with a wooden rod. Success. In a relatively short amount of time, most of the wheat kernels were free from the heads.

The job is not finished. The next step is to set up a fan and pour the grain from one container to another while the fan blows out the chaff. A good windy day is useful for this purpose as well.

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Hopefully the end result will be enough wheat to grind into flour for bread. How could this not be delicious and oh so healthy?

More to come on the grinding and baking.