adventures in live blogging and cheese making – now edited with links and pictures

With all due respect to Chicory, who did this first and better.  Please, note this is so far from a How To Make Cheese Post.  Really, you’ll learn very little from reading this.  We used local whole unpasteurized, un-homogenized milk and a cheese kit from the Cheese Queen.  Ok, so we cheated a little with the milk – one half gallon of it was not local, but can from PA.

5:56 pm – meeting on Elsie’s back porch involving wine and planning (let’s just note that there was a *very* cute girl sighted on the way into Woolen Mills).  References to drooling and “shinny smooth cheese”and then we tried to make our own batteries because I forgot my stupid MF camera.

6:01pm – decision made to start with a batch of mozzarella.  Decisions questioned and the thought of making mozzarella and ricotta at the same time put forth.  Also, “don’t throw out that whey!”  Some claim it can be made into lemonade.  We all say ew.  LB points out that ricotta takes longer and so we think to make it first, so it can hang out and drain.  LB is smart, but a poor animal namer.

6:20 pm – 1 gallon of local milk heating on the stove, citric acid added, heating begun.  Snacking continued, highlighted by cho-girl’s contribution of cheeses brought from her trip to the lake.  Waiting.  Waiting some more….

6:24 pm – peach tasting for Elsie’s next peach tree.  Beekman wins, hands down.  Okra pickles opened and tried.  Fab.

6:43 pm – still waiting.  More wine.  Cho-girl takes over stirring duties.  LB reminds her to “tighten up” and threatens her with a finger.

6:45 pm – 175º F.  We are, as they say, “pulling into the home stretch.”  They being LB.  Directions read heat to 195º

****it seems that somebody else was writing here – cho-girl, maybe?*****

6:48 pm – Starrhill Girl adds more citric acid, LB stirring, this immediately turns the cheese “weird looking” AND “curdy”.

6:49 pm – stove off. Curds and whey at rest.

6:50 pm – SHG leaves to get better documentating equipment. The rest of us will nosh.

****look, me again*****

6:55 pm – clearly, I’m still here.  Time to scoop out Teh Curds.  Crap. The laptop battery is dying.  There is photo documentation happening, y’all.  I swear.  Live blogging is hard.  LB seems to think this would all be going better if we were all naked except for pasties.  Heh.  Or not.  Not Heh.  Elsie relates a story about her SB cooking bacon sans shirt.  Heh.

******* left to go get the power cord*******

From here on out there are pictures – for pictures of the previous section, you’ll have to rely on the good will of Elsie.  Let’s hope she’ll post the ones from her camera.

7:30 pm – cheese is draining. 

Pot got washed in my absence.  Cute girl was not in evidence.

7:34 pm – mozzarella begun. 

Differences between the processes of the 2 cheeses noted.

Vigorous stirring well executed by LB.

*scams begun while waiting for One Large Curd to form:  buy a cow, communal housing so milking of said cow could be shared, buying of The Hard Cheese Kit, Herb Wife to be invited to the next cheese making to guest blog, smallest cho to come live with me and so he can have a kitten.  More scams to come.*

Also, N.B.  everyone present is bossy.

8:05 pm – curd being cut by Elsie.

LB does not yet believe in this cheese.  Poor cheese.  Heat is brought on.  Chicory’s cheese making guide is consulted.  Not for the last time, I’m sure.  Thanks.  Elsie is also, simultaneously, making a fruit fly catcher with yeast.  And whey.  LB stirs curds. 

8:15 pm – work on ricotta (Cheese The First) continued by Elsie. 

Ricotta done. 

And done.  Meanwhile, LB folds the now curded mozzarella and cho-girl deals with even more whey.  Anyone need whey?  We’ve got some.

8:23 pm – curds compared to mercury.

8:25 pm – attempts made to access facebook for currently nameless pursuits.  Facebook seems to have bit it.  However, we are *this close* to having cheese!  Woo!  And Hoo!

*not me again*

8:35pm – Starrhillgirl is kneading teh cheese! 

It is stretchy, but we don’t know if it is stretchy enough?  We are putting it back in the whey bath….  stirring, stirring….  Is it ready now?  She is trying again…oh, yes, a whole different ball of wax.  Or cheese.  It is lovely and stretchy and glossy, just like they say.    We have decided we need a cow.  2 gallons of milk have provided about enough cheese for a sitting.  A gallon of milk provides enough mozz for a very nice large pizza.

8:38 pm – There are currently four balls of mozzarella. 4 egg-sized, pullet egg sized balls of cheese. That ain’t much, y’all.

The LB reports she is shit faced. But that is a lie, although, hardly any water has been consumed during this process. The snacks prolly made it less likely for the wine to go to our heads.

8:41pm – the LB is now reading many recipes. We really need that cow.

8:42pm The adorable teensy tiny balls of cheese are sitting submerged in their ice bath.

“Getting firm!”, Elsie reports.

Moved on to the pursuit of drowning fruit flies, what with the gorgeous 3! kinds of peaches to eat and scrutinize, it’s no wonder there are some extra critters keeping us company.

More conversation about bread making – little balls of cheese all but forgotten?! LB returns with canisters procured from SHG’s car – for carting extra whey home. Some whey deemed better than other. Saved buttery, yellow delicious-smelling whey. Plain Jane Whey flushed down the drain.

8:49 pm – SHG has drained rest of yummy looking whey to retrieve more cheese from the pot. Conservation, y’all.

8:50pm Elsie is cutting the mozzarella!! Out of it’s cooling bath, it is pretty and firm, the Scrapings Cheese-to-Be may not Be, jury’s still out.

8:52 pm Elsie picked a tomato from her front porch bunch, basil from the back, and is layering everything together in goodness. Out comes the pepper to garnish the top of our lovely evening’s pursuits. A leetle heavy handed on the balsamic? We’ll see. I doubt it can it go wrong at this point. 

8:54pm SHG still trying with the bottom of the pan cheese. Grainier. Not so pretty.

OK, time to sample? please?

9:05 pm – done.  Whew.  Pics to be added.  Editing to happen.

*me again.  Ok, so to sum it all up -cheese making is fun, but not particularly ecomonical.  It took us 2 gallons of milk (at around $4/half gallon – local raw milk cheese is expensive, yo) to get the cheese you see picutred above.   Also, live blogging is hard and I think I didn’t do it right.  Oh, well.

as if i’ve been doing it all the time

Look!  A food post!  Dinner on the internets.  Just for you.

Last night was the Thursday version of T Tuesday.  We ate at home, because it’s expensive to eat out all the time, yo.  Plus the bounty of produce is upon us like a plague of locusts.  Anyway.  T came and K came with her breast pump backpack and LB said she wasn’t coming because she needed to go home but lo and behold, a big van rolled up into Starrhill and there she was.  Changed her mind, I guess.  The lure of T and K is great and far reaching.  I got the LB’s boyfriend to eat, too.  He’ll do anything if you call him by his full name, he will.

Lord, there was a lot of food.  T came with tomatoes and cucumbers and sweet risotto with poached peaches and macaroni and cheese with tomatoes and beets and the biggest hunk of cheese you ever saw.  I’d made fingerling potatoes with salt and olive oil, empanadas (cabbage vehicle!), kholrabi pickles, steamed shrimp, and there was bread and cucumber water and toasted rice tea and wine.  Whew.  There was a picture, but WordPress makes pictures hard, so you’ll have to use your imaginations.

See just like NaBloPoJuly.  Only lamer.

in no particular order

*I’ve been putting up food like, um, like….something.  Frozen blueberries, cherries, broccoli, and kale all stacked up in the freezer.  The preserved lemons and sauerkraut turned out well and are done fermenting and pickling and are now at home in the fridge.  My neighbors are giving me their box of local produce the week after next when they go to the beach, so I’m all set to blanch and freeze away.

*July is a good time for iced tea and I came across this, while looking for stuff about kombucha (so good, but wow, it seems like a lot of trouble to make).  So there’s rice cooling on a plate right now.  I need to go finish it up.

*there are new  babies – here and here.  The former being here in Virginia.  I got called to be at the birth, because they couldn’t find their friend who was supposed to be there.  Lucky for me!  And lucky for the friend, she skidded in about 4 minutes before the baby came.  Additionally, yay!  Cakie has a brother!

* LB and I had the most amazing dinner yesterday, post The Birth (yes, it only took the middle portion of the day, this birth – noon to 12:53 to be exact – there was time to do all sorts of other things).  We had big-eye tuna bits sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper and yellow squash with rainbow chard and garlic scapes.  You’ll just have to believe me that it was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.  Honest.

*then we had gimlets on the back deck with IB because that’s how we roll around here.

Ok, four of those five items were about things you can put in your mouth, so there’s my NaBloPoJuly for today.  Pictures of the sauerkraut and company coming, I swear.

new rule

NaBloPoJuly posting happens every other day.  Yes, there are bonus points for the everyday thing, but let’s face it:  every other day is plenty.  Am I right or am I right?

Bonus CLAW pics here and here.  Note that last link needs to be opened in IE or Safari if you’re on a Mac – it doesn’t work in Firefox on Macs.  Weird, huh?

random recap plus nablopojuly lameness

Opps.  I missed NaBloPoJuly-ing yesterday.  Crap. To make up for it, I made Amish Friendship Bread enacted the Curse of the Amish Friendship Bread this afternoon.  It seemed like a good idea and did free me of having any of the cursed starter left in my kitchen.  It was like an exorsism.  Anyway, I haven’t tasted it yet, and I played fast and loose with the recipe, as is my way, so who knows how it will taste.  My small axillary red-head helped and got to take a bag of starter home for her pains (Hahahahaha!  I curse her house with AFB! Hahahahah!).  She also got to lick the spoon.

Other happenings in Starrhill:

*CLAW was last night and was bigger and louder and hotter than fuck.  But I did get this hilarious picture out of it – look to the right, please.  I like how it says “penalty” on either side of my head.  Plus, wow, my posture!  Go me.  Also, go SARA – they got a shitload of money out of the deal, so yay!

*There are pics waiting to be uploaded of Teh Sauerkraut and the peach-blueberry crumble I made yesterday.

*I am trying to come up with ways to freeze cooking greens – ideas?  Steam them and then spread on a cookie sheet to freeze and then pack into a bag?  My cup other flow-eth with cooking greens.  I froze some broccoli Monday.

*From Tuesday’s RE visit – 3 follicles, 2 on the right, one on the left.  Old Clear Blue’s doing me wrong, though and won’t register a high reading, even though my CM tells me there’s a mess of estrogen floating around.

*Hard Girl is kicking my ass at NaBloPoJuly.

*The ants are out of fucking control.  They are making a nest in my upstairs bathroom.  A nest.  With ant eggs and everything.  Fuckers.  I called my pest control guy (yes, I have a pest control guy – I tried every eco-friendly/alterna/home remedy solution under the mf sun and then gave up and called in the professionals) for an emergency visit.  Whew.  Ants in my bathroom.  Fuckers.


Oops.  Almost forgot to post today….this fakey-NaBloPoJuly shit is hard.

In the world of food, I ate dinner over at the neighbor’s today, well, tonight.  Leftover fish soup that was so good I sort of wanted to bathe in it.  Which might be a good idea, since I haven’t washed my hair in a while.  I’d tell you how long, but then you’d never speak to me again.

I finally got around to making salsa – but had neither cilantro nor lime.  I am reasonably certain my grandpa is rolling over in his grave.  I’d like to be able to say something here like, “but it was still good!”  But it wasn’t.  Just mediocre.  Oh, well.

In other, facinating news, I put earings in today for the first time in a while and now my ears hurt.  Back in March, when I had my surgery, I took them all out, as instructed by the List Of Rules Of Surgery.  And then I never put them back.  I started to worry that my holes would close up and while it was a job to get them all in, I didn’t have to break out the ice cubes and needles.

And now, for my last and final trick, I’m going to go swab my ears with tea tree oil and pee on a stick.  Heh.  CD 10.  Wanding in the morning.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by today?

the girls all dance with the boys from the city

There was an article in today’s Kids’ Post about local food.  Now, I’m sure to some, The Washington Post is a crazy radically liberal paper but, really, y’all – though I do love it – it’s pretty damn far from the fringe.  And the Kids’ Post is about as mainstream as it gets.  And there was an article about local food in it today.  Woo and Hoo, as we like to say in these parts.  Sometimes cultural change comes quicker than I’d expect.  Used to be, if you went down to the farmers’ market here before 9 or 9:30 it was empty and you had your pick of good stuff, but now it’s a sea of over-priced strollers and upper-middle class Central Virginians by 8 am.  You’ve got to get your ass over there buy 7:15 if you want your local eggs and goat’s cheese.  And there’s an article about local food in the paper.  Who knew?

Now, you’ll remember* I love some local food.  Hell, I love food in general.  That shit’s good.  (Can you tell I spent the day with LB?).  And I’m pretty sold on local food – for all the reasons people are and also because of my general desire to never, ever leave the house/neighborhood.  And because local food is just good.  The quality of food – the plain out good taste of it – is pretty important to me.  In the same way having good art around me is important, or noticing the texture of the sky over Starrhill is important.  There’s some inherent value in beauty, I think.

It’s this desire for, and appreciation of, the beauty of food that keeps me from calling myself a real localvore.  For all I do tend to eat predominantly local food (in large part for its aesthetic merits – it just tastes better), it will never be all I eat.  I’m not so much a 100% girl with anything.  And I *like* food that’s not local.  The sliver lining of globalization is coffee and chocolate and the Irish Whiskey one of my former roommates brought when he moved in.  And lemons and kiwi and pineapple.  I won’t ever be a real localvore because of these delicious and coyly smiling antipodes of the McDonald’s and Starbucks** on every corner – fancy cheeses and Prosciutto di Parma from the store across Main street call me.  Mango pickles and saffron and the avocados my uncle used to ship us are good like water is good – plain and pretty all at once.   Broadened food tastes do the same thing any broadened perspective does – makes you look outside yourself.  And I’m drawn to them for that, but also just because they are damn good.  Aesthetics is the trump card.  This might make me a hedonist, but it will also make me buy a pineapple to eat with my homemade from local milk cottage cheese.

But yeah, it will be a Fair Trade pineapple if I can swing it – there’s nothing pretty about shitty working conditions.  But that’s a post for another time.  I have to go check on my sauerkraut.

*Referencing one’s own blog.  Adds to clarity? Excessive hubris?  Discuss.
** Please remember that those places are truly the devil incarnate.  As are chain mega-bookstores.  Shop local, y’all.  But that’s another post, so just trust me for now, ‘kay?