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.