Friday, October 30, 2009

Playing With Cheese

Cheese making. Yes, my friends- cheese making.

(Ricotta salata above, 3 cheddars below)

I know, I know- I fell into a hole. It was the 'unemployment sucks' hole; the 'crap, I'm turning 40' hole; the 'what am I gonna do with the rest of my life' hole. After I realized that dietetics was decidedly not going to work (higher math, hello) I couldn't see past it. Took months. I was miserable. Summer was awful. I read and I knit, but mostly, I sulked.

To add insult to injury, gardening in Michigan just completely blew this year. Few tomatoes, terrible for hot crops in general. No heat at night makes for miserable little plants.

But then I had a revelation. I made my first raw-milk cheddar.

Now, I've been fiddling around with soft cheeses for a while-- paneer, various spread-type cheeses. And of course, butter and yogurt. But the pressed cheeses felt distant. Then one day, I just did it. Took 7 hours. Pressed cheeses are definitely an all-day event.

But, let me tell you- cheese is magic. I labored for 7 hours and gave birth to a cheddar.

In fact, that first cheese (a little more than a month ago) changed my life. I realized almost immediately that, holy crap,
I belong in culinary school, and I am now enrolled in Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI-- about a half-hour drive from here. I start in January.

So that's where I've been. Off with my cheese.

Haven't cut into the cheddars yet- I have some doubts about the first one; I suspect the curds were too undercooked and it will be bitter because of the high moisture content. But that's the cheese learning curve for you- it's sort of a long haul. Jerry-rigging home equipment on a stupid glass-top stove has proven to be the toughest challenge, but I'm finding ways around it.

I'm going to start posting "A Cheese A week"- I'll go into more detail with individual posts.


Paula said...

Brilliant! This sounds like the real you, laboring away, refining a food making process. I'm completely enthralled that you've taken this up and want to see you in your uni. You will be wearing whites? Please say yes.

chaiselongue said...

The cheese-making sounds wonderful and it's great to see you back blogging and commenting again. Looking forward to the cheese a week!

Tammy Coxen said...

Welcome back! Good to see you blogging again, and the cheese making and culinary school things sound wonderful.

kheli said...

YAY! You're back! _I've missed you. Culinary school sounds perfect! You will do fantastic. And 40-smorty, I will be 47 next week and feel the best I have ever felt.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Regarding funk .. as we germanics say ... "You're not dead, get over it."
Hey! Wow .. listen here ..
A long time ago in a different century, RG and BL lived for two years in Plymouth. BL was just a bit younger than you .. not much. She had almost no college experience. She went to Schoolcraft those two years, worked hard at it, and had a ball and got a degree! An outstanding experience.

When we then moved back to Washington she enrolled at U. of Wash. and went by bus every day, and took care of a house and me and 2 kids. She got outstanding grades, a degree and went on to a fine career in her chosen field of business admin.

It can be done ... YAY .... oh ... and the cheese looks grand! There are a few local cheese makers around here - have their own small herds. They are looking for help quite often. Local organic milk, locally made cheese, fancy wrapping and Logo = big bucks in corner stores and Farmer Markets!

ShadowRiderHope said...

Woo, congratulations! This sounds like the perfect path for you, and I've heard wonderful things about Schoolcraft's program. :) Best of luck to you!

johnkwhite1941 said...

Good to see you blogging again. And,that is wonderful news about your planning to attend culinary school at Schoolcraft College. You will make a great chef!

johnkwhite1941 said...

The cheese project sounds interesting. Reminds me of my grandmother making butter and soap.

I know you will do well in culinary school.


heather t said...

OF COURSE! *slaps forehead* Culinary school - perfect!

So glad you are out of your funk. Enjoy and keep us posted.

d. moll, said...

Sounds like a good fit, be sure you wear comfy shoes, I hear the feet can take a beating (a friend of ours went to a culinary institute in San Francisco). Your cheeses like divine! I've bought a "sheep share" from a local farmer which includes handmade sheep cheese and yogurt, can't hardly wait 'til it starts next spring.

eatclosetohome said...

Oh, hooray! To cheese, and school, and everything!

A week or so ago, my husband fell in love with some tiny cattle - old-fashioned breeds that are just a bit larger than sheep. They give 2.5 gallons of milk per day, and we wondered what we'd do with that milk. Obviously, the thing to do would be to give it to you to make cheese with! ;)