By Lassa Skinner
Springtime means renewal. Sunlight strengthens and lengthens, vegetation responds with robust new growth, and the natural course of life restarts its captivating cycle. This season of vitality is especially apparent in goat's milk cheeses, which show off the densest, richest milk of the year, full of nutrients for the newborn kids. The same abundance is true, of course, for other milking animals, but as inspiration for a spring cheese board, nothing compares to fresh goat's milk cheeses. Versatile and varied, they are made in a myriad of shapes and sizes with an assortment of coatings, rinds, and wrappings including ash, leaves, herbs, and flowers.
This classic dish is to Bavarians what mac-n’-cheese is to Americans. To make the little dumpling-like spaetzle, a soft dough of flour, egg, and milk is forced through the holes of a spaetzle-maker into a pot of salted boiling water and cooked until tender. (You can use a flat grater with large holes as a substitute for the spaetzle-maker, but this is more time consuming and can be messy.) The spaetzle is then drained and layered with bergkäse (Alpine cheese) and onions and baked briefly in a casserole. If you can’t find imported bergkäse, substitute Gruyère.
As spring's fresh cheeses arrive,
some wine lovers see red
When my editor at culture asked if I could match a red wine to spring's fresh cheeses, I answered, "Sure," although I was not sure at all I could find said red wine. After all, Sauvignon Blanc is the classic pairing; who needs anything else?
When German artist Jessika Cardinahl sat down amid a herd of sheep in a pasture on Mallorca one vacation morning years ago, she was surprised to find herself welcomed by the local beasts. “There was no distraction, it was so peaceful,” she recalls. Cardinahl, a painter, sculptor, and fiber artist, became deeply inspired by the sheep’s gentle nature and graceful shape. This inspiration is revealed in her work in various mediums, including bronze sculpture; silk and mohair tapestries handwoven in Nepal; large-scale oil canvases; and graphic, candy-colored digital prints. “[Sheep are] all about community, giving, love, compassion,” she muses. “And to us, as humans, a vital part of our history. They mean only good things.”
The preferred playthings among Waldorf schools possess the same qualities as tasteful home decoration: simple design, natural materials, and careful craftsmanship. These miniature creatures are born of Ostheimer Wooden Toys, the beloved German company established in 1939 as an educational resource. But one doesn’t need a tot in tow to enjoy their charms. Each is painstakingly coated with subtly colored, eco-friendly stain before getting a buffing of walnut oil for a satiny luster. Cue the “awwws.”
One doesn’t need a reminder that times are tougher than ever, but it is worth repeating that being an agent of goodwill has never been easier. Do a good deed for an impoverished family (and your conscience): sponsor a healthy sheep (or a heifer, goat, or water buffalo, for that matter) like this one through Heifer International. As the global champion of anti-hunger advocacy, the nonprofit organization coordinates this unique empowerment program, which allows struggling foreign communities to reap the myriad benefits (wool for clothing, meat for food, trade for commerce) inherent to these resilient animals.
Hit the links with your own crew of Daphne’s Head Covers—175 protective golf club sheaths from
which to choose—and you just might distract the competition. The little lamb, for one, has been a member of the team since nearly the beginning, no doubt due to its adorable eyes and especially soft synthetic fur. Not only are the covers backed by a lifetime warranty, but they also boast the largest presence for products of their kind on the LPGA Tour. Fore!
If I had a nickname in the kitchen, it would be the Approximate Chef. It’s an approach I inherited from my mother, who, as far as I know, never followed a recipe exactly and never made any dish the same way twice. So when Elaine (the editor of culture) challenged my kids and me to a rainy-day project of making cheese, I felt a pang of anxiety reading the recipe for fresh ricotta cheese in The Paley’s Place Cookbook. A parenthetical note on the page reads, “Remember, cheese making is a science and temperature is crucial.” Fortunately, one of the many advantages of cooking with kids (and with hanging around with them in general) is that such details do not deter them.
A party dip, a fondue, or a casserole—this over-the-top queso fundido has something in common with all of them. It features queso Oaxaca, the tangy Mexican string cheese, which bubbles over a layer of toasted chilies, shredded chicken, and a creamy sauce infused with allspice. At Doña Tomás, they like to serve it with a refreshing Paloma Cocktail: run a lime around the rim of a highball glass and dip it in salt spiked with ground chilies. Fill the glass with ice, add 1½ ounces of Reposado tequila, and top with a squirt of soda and a wedge of lime, squeezed, and dropped into the glass.
It’s a real show when Jimmy Shaw makes chicharrones behind the sleek counter at Loteria Grill. A blizzard of shredded Mexican manchego hits the hot griddle, then a pinch of cilantro, a sprinkle of onion, and seconds later you’re handed a fantastically lacy, golden crisp. Alas, you are not Jimmy Shaw, so here’s how to do it at home: make several smaller, less dramatic chicharrones instead of one huge one. Use a slightly lower temperature. And think of them like pancakes—the first will be ugly but good, and they’ll keep getting better.