Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rogue Cheese

How things change!  Remember this post written oh so long ago?  You know, the one where I confess to being totally afraid of all illnesses, pathogens and poisons food-borne?  Yeah.  I am still afraid.  But I am working on overcoming my fears.  Why?  I suppose it is the carrot-and-the-stick mentality.  Or, in this case, the cheese-and-the-stick mentality.

Homemade cheese is GOOD people.  I mean, really, REALLY, really good.  And I pretty much stink at it.  Not like Megan, who more or less has a dairy farm.  But still.  Even without a dairy farm, you can make some amazing homemade cheese.  Even if you are curd-challenged like me. 

In the world of mozzarella (acknowledged by most pros as easy for beginners), I am 1 for 5.  One.  One time I have had my cheese set up into beautiful curds that could be cut and stretched.  Not such a good record.  I (together with Dr. Google & the great Ricki Carroll) diagnosed my problem as crappy milk.  No, not milk that is unfit to drink. Just unfit to make cheese with.  I could go into temperatures and pasteurization and all that jazz... but I figure Meg will set us all straight one of these days.  The bottom line: supermarket milk = sucky cheese.

So, I set off on a quest to find good milk.  Specifically, good goat milk.  More on how much I want a goat later.  My quest for good milk hit PAY DIRT the other day.  I was buying a yogurt maker at a yard sale (LOVE yard sales) a few weeks ago and struck up a conversation with a very nice lady.  It went like this:

Yard Sale Lady: "Oooh, a yogurt maker!  I used to have one of those.  I bet you will love it!"

Me: (clutching my find a little tighter and moving away)  "Yeah, I am pretty excited about it." (yard sale translation: It is MINE, @&$*#.  Back away slowly if you know what is good for you.)

YSL: "I used to make yogurt from goat milk."

Me: (abandoning my quest to protect my yard sale booty for sheer excitement): "Really!?!??!  I want to do that!  Actually, I really want a goat, but my husband says we have to move first and even then he is pretty skeptical... but I really really want to make cheese and yogurt from goat milk....."

YSL: (after her ears stop ringing from my glee and verbal diarrhea) "I know some people who have goats and goat milk.  They are really..."

Me: "OH!  Seriously?  Can I give you my number?  Will you give it to them?  Will you call me with their number? Soon?"

YSL: (gazing at me as if to determine my sanity or my stalker potential) "Uh, ok.  Write your number on this scrap of paper."

So I did.  And I never thought I would hear from her again.  I was a little, uhm... enthusiastic when we talked. BUT.  SHE CALLED ME!  And I called the Goat People.  And they have milk!  And it is awesome.  And it makes awesome cheese (after you call your friend Megan and beg for instructions that you can't screw up). 

I know this is a boring, picture-less post.  But you see, I can't post pictures of the Goat People.  Or their cool and note-worthy operation.  Why?  Because of rules like these.  I didn't ask if their milk is Grade A.  I assume that it is, of course - and that they have complied with all of the necessary requirements.  The Goat People and I had a long chat about how they collect their milk etc. and I am more than satisfied with their operation.  And, due to my aforementioned food fears, I pasteurize it anyway (at a reasonable temperature that doesn't wreck all of the good milk parts).

Besides, I actually believe the cheese tastes better when you pick your milk up in outhouse-like shed complete with refrigerator and thermometer.  It makes you feel like you went rogue.  Rogue cheese.  Maybe next time I will pick it up wearing Aaron's old camo gear.  That might make the cheese taste even better.  Hmm....

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