Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Cheeseman Cometh...

 Top: Sage Infused Cheddar.  Bottom: Farm Style.

Just so you all know: I am new to cheese making and am in no way a master cheese maker. Well, at least not yet. I have always wanted to try cheese making and after many years of thinking about it, I decided now is the time to just DO it. Dive right in and make homemade cheese!

The tipping point was when my wonderful wife bought me my first cheese-making supply kits and recipe books for Christmas. I'm guessing she got sick of hearing me talking about it all the time! So with that said, keep my experience level in mind as you try out some of the recipes in future blog posts. 

Up to this point,
over these snowy days of winter, I've tried making a few mozzarella and hard cheddar cheeses. In the beginning, there were lots of emotional ups and downs, existential internal dramas, and lessons learned throughout my trial-and-error period. But surprisingly, they all ended in certain successes. I believe fully that I am indeed becoming one with the curd.

But I have to say that, so far, I love the making of hard cheeses more than soft cheeses. I don’t know why this it because I get an intense feeling that I’m making something…important? Something akin to a piece of art? Like when I write a really, really good song. Something that when people walk into a room, as soon as they see it, you can hear them say to each other: Now, there’s some fine craftsmanship.

Me still lovin' the soft cheeses...
Don’t get me wrong - soft cheeses are amazing and yummy. I wouldn’t pass up a great spreadable goats cheese or tasty mozzarella. They play their part in the grand spectrum of the dairy arts, but they all seem so temporary.  Some soft cheeses are consumed almost as soon as they are made. Their memory may fade by dessert time.

But a good hard cheese travels through time whilst undergoing such amazing physical and chemical changes. At the end of its long journey, the aromas and flavors do victory dances through your senses as the hard cheese tells your palette the tale of its epic adventure through the ages. That’s right, kids! Hard cheeses are things of wisdom.
Or maybe it’s me. Maybe it's because I feel like I’m making something that I can own or “collect”? It’s cool to look in the cheese cave, which I will talk about later, and see these wheels on the shelves. There’s a certain level of self-fulfillment and pride when you step back and say, “I made that....I nurtured those.”

Farm Style Cheddar right out of the press air drying.
After all, there’s a substantial investment of time and energy put into it. You are going to care for this...thing... like a two pound baby for two,four...even up to ten months, in some cases.

You will be checking on it, wondering if you screwed it up until that fateful day that it sits hapless upon the buffet table next to a perfectly paired wine.
There’s also been another, more unexpected pleasure to this new pastime of mine. In this day and age it’s hard to find time to slow down and do any of the things in life that you want to do. Like listening to new music, which I have loved doing since I was younger. I've found that making hard cheeses demands me to slow down and become one with the process. There’s no multitasking or the making of other plans for the day.

Especially when it comes to particular steps in the process, for example, where you have to stand at the stove and stir curd for almost a full hour. I’m just standing there, stirring the curd, and listening to the entire new David Bowie album.

I imagine cheese making a horrible profession for someone with A.D.D.

But that’s what I’m getting into here: I’m focusing on a simple, yet complex process—and I’m finding it surprisingly enjoyable. I’m reveling in the wonder of one of life’s most magical alchemies’ while also finding the time to just…be…and use that time to carve out space to listen to the music that inspires my creativity.

So, with those early revelations out there, I do hope you enjoy this blog and get something out of it. Whether your a master cheese-maker, a beginner, or more apt to critique the music I'm spotlighting here...Please feel free to comment or drop me a line. I'd love to share and connect with other cheese and music lovers out there.


If anyone is interested, I have started a Facebook group page for anyone who wants to chat about music and cheese:
Please come join in!

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