Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just Say Cheese

Spring has sprung or so they say. We are definitely in spring mode here in West Texas with temperatures in the 70's, iris blooming, redbud popping with colour, and daffodils almost done. Some of my favourite things. But alas, spring comes with wind, dust storms, and pollen. And I have been sick for a week. It is a toxic time for me. I have asthma and this beautiful time of year can lay me low. And this week has been no exception. I can't get out to my studio equipment because it is just too nasty outside. But I'm whinging.

Instead, I've become quite absorbed in a non-studio project that I've wanted to start for a long long time. Cheese. I love cheese. I love living breathing cheese. I love artisan made cheeses. This week was the time to start and it helped that milk was on special for a mere $2.50 per gallon! So I've made chevre, ricotta, and more ricotta, something that resembled mozzarella, cheese curds, neufchatel, and the finale, a farmhouse cheddar. What you see above is a ricotta draining that is destined to become a ricotta salata and the cheddar pressing. This has been fun! And it all actually smells and, even better yet, tastes like cheese. At least the things that can be eaten fresh.

This little gem is a 1 pound tiny wheel of farmhouse cheddar. It is waiting to dry on the outside, get waxed, and then aged for 3 or more months. I made it on my sis's 50th birthday. I call it the Jean Memorial Cheese (in memory of her fading youth). My hubby on the other hand has a more optimistic take and refers to it as the Jean Commerorative Cheese. Is this one of those glass half empty or full things? At any rate this cheese is destined to travel 16 hours in June in an Eskie to celebrate! Tasty or not, it will be fun.

One thing I've learned over this week is that cheese making has a lot in common with ceramics making. Both require a lot of attention to detail: a feel for texture, patience, experience, experimentation..... They are both messy. I mean really, really messy. You get stuff all over your work surface, yourself, and really just about everywhere you've been working. But this weeks fun is all clean now and tomorrow I'm off to start work in the truly messy studio!

Cheers and best wishes for a great week,


1 comment:

SueBeads said...

Wow - how ambitious! I don't think I've ever met anyone who made cheese! I'd love to hear how it turns out, and see more photos!