Since our first tasting of the Jasper Hill Cheese, I have been busy with my photo shows and HOME cheese making.
There have been several styles of cheeses made from my kitchen.
I have been experiencing a slight temperature consistency problem with my min-fridge "cheese cave" over the past couple of years in my cheese making. My cave has been running a little too cold for the cheese affinage (aging), average 50 to 55 degrees. Different styles of cheeses may require a slight variation in temp for ageing, some as low as 40 - 45 degrees which works quite well in the mini fridge but 50 - 55 is more difficult to obtain.
Here's a peek at what I've been up to...
I spent last weekend at Shelburne Farms, hangin' out in a 19th century bedroom with a sobering portrait of Napoleon staring at me from above my bed. Actually, I spent more time outside touring the property, the garden, the bakery, and of course the dairy. On Saturday I made cheese all day (or watched, at least). It was awesome. If you’re jealous, I’m sorry and I don’t blame you. The sweeping lawns/pastures and beautiful architecture in this pocket of Vermont are almost too good to be real.
Lucky for me and my fellow weekenders, the weather behaved the whole time (my sunburned nose is proof). Nat, the diplomatic and unflappable head cheesemaker, led our group through every level of the farm’s operation and even fed us fresh curds in the make room.
July 25th. Tonight's dinner was late and so, appropriately, quick. Blanched corn -- the first sweet stuff of the summer -- tossed with cracked pepper, torn garden basil, lemon cucumbers, brandywines, and Ploughgate Farm's Queso Fresco. A perfectly tangy and tender take on a cheese that's so seldom made right. Marisa Mauro was taught the authentic recipe and has started selling limited quantities at her local farmers markets. I was lucky enough to plea some off her at July 24th's Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, and it didn't last 24 hours.
This is why I have a love/hate relationship with the annual VT Festival: all us cheese lovers are able to try the fleeting side projects and small-production items, fall for them, then miss them.
Yesterday I moved from one apartment in Boston to another - a disgusting activity, given the temperature outdoors.
During the process, my moving-helpers and I decided to pull the empty drawers out of my dresser before carrying it down the stairs to the street.
This is when we found a handful of yellowed sheets of paper, wedged up in the interior crevices of my dresser.
I just got this inspiring little blog from Anya, a young contributor to our magazine:
Hello my name is Anya Firisen. I am ten years old and I wanted to make cheese. I thought that cheese making was interesting because I love cheese and I love to cook. So I thought, well why don’t I try to make the cheese that I love so much. So when my Mom got my Dad a book called “Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll for his birthday, I really wanted to try it for myself. My Mom said, “You and Anya can make cheese together!” When we went over to our friends’ house their mom said “I booked a cheese making class but now I can’t go, do you want to go in my place?” Of course I said yes.
The great thing about working behind a retail counter is that you never know who you’re going to meet.
Twelve years ago, while working for Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, I struck up a friendship with Sean Thackrey, a well-regarded local figure, best known for his extraordinary winemaking abilities involving unusual grape varieties. In addition to creating a successful winemaking business, Sean has also amassed a world-class collection of antiquarian books and texts on wine production, the subject of which made for some lengthy and lively discussions between us.
These works, some of which pre-date medieval times, are extraordinary and, on a couple of occasions, he allowed me to spend a leisurely afternoon, gently looking though some of these volumes, wrestling with Latin and early French (wishing I’d paid more attention to both at school) and generally be awe-struck by the weight – both physical and informational - that these books represented.