Sanity still reigns on the wee homestead and I thought maybe a few of y’all might need a decent dose of it during these crazy dog days of summer amidst continued global chicanery.
The garden looks more like a jungle, but there is a method to the madness. Mostly it’s called ‘too hot to bother’. Still, it looks better than it ever has this time of year (which is saying very little) so I’m proud of a few things worth sharing.
The pigs are eating well off the luffa, which does so well here it actually out-competes the grasses. I wish we liked to eat it too, but I do use the sponges. It’s widely consumed in some cultures, so I might keep trying recipes to see if anything can improve its very bland taste. Plus, the bees love it, so it’s definitely a keeper.
We’re pretty limited on the veggie harvest this time of year, which means eating okra almost daily. I’m really not a big fan and it’s not even a fun one to harvest. It’s prickly and the fire ants scout every inch of it waiting to fall into your gloves or onto your thighs as you cut the spears. Its only redeeming qualities, if you ask me, are that it thrives in the heat and the flowers are pretty.
It’s our first harvest of scuppernong grapes and I’ll soon be making some wine and jelly. I’m kind of sick of canning, after all the pickles and having tried several new canning recipes this year, but I must find the grit somewhere and get back to it. For my latest experiments we’ll soon be tasting pickled watermelon rind, melon butter, and some exotically flavored cucumbers. That’s in addition to all our usual staples of pickles and salsas and sauces.
I’ve also made poke wine! It tastes pretty weird, but is supposed to be an excellent medicinal, so I thought it would be good to have on hand this winter. Despite popular hype, poke berries are not poisonous. Well, not exactly anyway. The seeds inside the berry are poisonous if chewed. You must extract the juice or swallow the berries whole.
Our pear harvest was quite small this year, but those will be processed soon too, into cider and preserves. My favorite, figs, have been doing better after a couple years of total failure. Too bad we eat them too fast to preserve them!
I’ve settled into a nice routine with milking our goat Summer and am extremely pleased with the cheeses I’ve been making. It took some getting used to, fitting it all into a workable new plan, after making mostly large-batch cheeses for several years. I’m using only traditional methods now too, so no more expensive cheese cultures to purchase.
Organizing seeds and preparing the fall plantings are also in high gear. It’s a real challenge in 90+ degree temps to be considering the cool season crops. I’ve got some started indoors under lights and my direct sow method amounts to throwing a variety of seeds in the ground every week, waterIng liberally, and keeping fingers crossed. Usually, eventually, some seedlings get brave and make an appearance and if we’re lucky, will produce something before the first frost.
Handy Hubby’s still rockin’ the new utility room and it’s already looking fabulous! It’s been a 100% DIY project for him and he never fails to impress. Once done I’ll give him a proper staging and big kudos post.
Can you tell who your ancestors were from the sorts of foods you like?
Folks say you develop a taste for the foods you grew up with and keep a sort of inner-scent nostalgia from childhood, like when Proust describes his semi-conscious love affair with Madeleines.
I’d say that’s only the surface layer of the story. The first time I smelled beans cooking from scratch, as in not coming from a can, I felt I was wafting on scented dreams that could not possibly have come from my own limited lifetime.
We didn’t eat sourdough or sauerkraut either growing up. We ate Oreos, McDonalds, KFC, TV dinners, mac & cheese, and we loved them. All the way through university I lived on mostly fast food and had little clue what cooking from scratch actually meant.
So, considering I was well-adapted to such convenience foods growing up and had developed such a taste for them that I craved them after moving to areas where they were not available, what gives?
Hubby had a much more traditional outlook from his childhood than I did. More than any other single influence in my move toward better nutrition, he was my inspiration. He introduced our household to fermented foods, and now I’m primarily the one who nurtures those crafts. His folks had already been gardening in his youth and still had a ‘subsistence’ mindset, and by that I mean they still ‘put up’ food, something that was unheard of to me growing up.
Do you eat to live or live to eat?
Breaking bread together still means something in our country, I think, but barely. Somehow even the traditional ‘pot luck’ is hardly lucky anymore when food sensitivities reign and diet dictocrats menace and folks’ general health is so poor who knows what will set them off the deep end.
Sensual, comforting, beautiful, sublime, simple, food is far more than sustenance, just as depicted in a popular and a most favorite film of mine, Like Water for Chocolate. Can your mood affect your meal? Can your meal affect your mood? Any true cook or gourmand knows, indeed, it can, and often does. That is ‘the weather’ both inside and out, tempers the dish, for better or worse, and that’s a fact I’ll swear by.
Which came first: the cheese, the beer, the wine, the bread, the kraut or the Kombucha?
In Czech they say their beer is liquid bread. Fermentation is a key miracle of life that I had no idea existed until I was nearly 40. I’d visited caves in France where Champagne is aged and others where Roquefort is crafted and been to festivals where the ‘new wine’ and liters of beer were copiously enjoyed and obviously had eaten pickles in my lifetime, but none of these experiences cemented the notion of fermentation in my mind.
“In all raw whole foods, the food plays host to beneficial bacteria that are particularly suited to devouring it. These native cultures also help to transform the basic foodstuff into traditionally fermented foods: Cabbage contains all the bacteria it needs to become sauerkraut, wheat has all the bacteria and yeasts it needs to become bread (or beer), and grapes have all the culture they need to become wine. Milk is no exception: The native biodiversity of raw milk provides microorganisms that help infants digest their mothers’ milk (and cause the milk to decay if it is spilt); these microorganisms are all that the milk needs to become the many different styles of cheese.” The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditional, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses by David Asher
The first time I tasted Camembert with onions was in Germany, partnered with great beer, and it was instantly a favorite meal. At home I bought an American-imported version of both, but they were not the same. Once I started to make cheese myself I realized why, and also realized, I’d become a bonafide cheese snob. A freeze-dried culture is very different from a ‘territoire’ cultivated culture—as different as Velveeta is from the homemade ‘Mexican queso’ it’s supposed to imitate.
“Generations upon generations of traditional cheese makers evolved the diverse methods of making cheese while carefully practicing their art. All classes of cheese were discovered by cheese makers long before they had a scientific understanding of the microbiological and chemical forces at play in its creation. Industry and science hijacked cheers making from the artisans and farmers some 150 years ago, and since then new new styles of cheese have been created; yet during that time hundreds, possibly thousands, of unique cheeses have been lost.” (Asher)
These cheeses were made from my own fungal cultures and have a far superior taste compared to the cheeses made with the typical freeze-dried cultures: brevibacterium linens, geotrichum candidum, penicillin roqueforti
I know how bizarre this will sound to many, because that’s how it sounds to me, now. I didn’t even know vegetables had seasons and I’d never tasted cheese that wasn’t processed and wrapped in plastic, but I assure you, for a girl raised in the American suburbs this was/is typical.
I remember the first time a visiting Czech friend tasted an American beer, he remarked, “That’s an interesting beverage, not bad, but it’s not beer.” It was Budweiser, the ‘beer’ that was originally from Plzen, called Budvar. Even then, already as a ‘worldly’ adult, I didn’t fully grasp his meaning.
Now I understand he was noticing the obvious lack of real fermentation. Like breads made from instant yeast instead of natural yeast, or cheese made from freeze-dried cultures instead of natural cultures, there is most definitely a difference and once you are sensitized to it you cannot even refer to this difference as subtle. It’s glaringly elementary, yet it’s pitifully difficult to describe.
We grew up with artificial sodas like Coke, but we don’t drink them now, because once you master your own favorite Kombucha flavors, artificial flavors become unpalatable. Ditto on the artificial condiments—ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, Tabasco—these all fared from real and healthy foods that once kept our ancestors thriving for centuries before science learned how to mimic them, but not in nutrition, only in taste, and even then, only sort of.
It’s similar to the modern rose that is hardly a rose but in looks alone. And even then, only sort of. Do modern cultivars creating the equivalent of fake boobs recall that roses, like boobs, once had a nutritive purpose that surpassed mere vulgar voluptuousness?
It would appear that no, they do not, because even here in the ‘rose capital’ of Tyler, Texas, boasting a very popular annual festival with a Queen and everything, I’d never have fathomed roses were once cultivated primarily for their hips.
Selective breeding and shortcuts require compromises that are most often not worth it once you develop refinement and can truly appreciate how unsurpassed is the luxury of time. Two days for decent bread, two days prep plus six months aging for a great Alpine cheese, a year for a drinkable wine, a century of painstakingly crafted cultivation for a beautiful yet still nutritious rose—when you nurture the sensitivity of your palate and your gut, you realize there really is a hierarchy of taste and fake is never going to be an adequate substitute.
I’ve set goals all my life, many of them I’ve achieved and many more I’ve not and many more still I decided were not worthy of achieving once within the goal posts. But there is always remaining this matter of food, and it always fits. Not the short-term convenience foods I grew up with, but a much wider tradition that settled into our lives rather organically and that reflects the ancestral wisdom I believe my own ancestors were mistaken to leave behind, which I feel very fortunate to have the time and inclination to revive and cultivate.
With Handy Hubby perfecting another lost art—growing, slaughtering and butchering all on-site—perhaps we should up our game goals? ‘Luddite Power Couple’ is that a thing? 😉
Late summer here is my personal version of hell and I bitch about it every year.
What better time to take a break from my current reality where I feel like an indoor prisoner and wake up daily wanting to lash out at all the idiotic Geoengineering causing drought here and weather chaos all around the globe.
I even want to take a break from my last post pondering passivity and violence and just notice for a day, or so, all the little things and little ways we have improved upon since I last felt this level of droughtrage.
I know I am just a bit more blessed this year than last, mostly by my own sheer will and resilience, and that of Hubby as well, no doubt, and that of some inspiring neighbors and cyber-friends, and perhaps if I dwell on that fact just a bit, next year will be just a bit more blessed in turn.
Last year’s late summer garden
Or rather, lack there of 🙂
Last year’s late summer garden vs this year’s, not great, but still better!
A new young friend who loves plants as much as I do helps me identify the hardy, native heat-lovers of our area, and diligently and graciously watched our wee homestead so I could join my extended family at a reunion in July. I look forward to returning the favor when her family vacations in October. This is the sort of small steps a resilient community is made of, not the top-down control of Rockefeller’s ‘Resilient Cities’, because it’s the neighborly reliance that brings real hope and treasures and peace of mind.
I still don’t like okra, but I’m harvesting it anyway for the pigs and neighbors! Every once in a while I throw a few into a meal, along with other traditional Southern favorites we didn’t grow up with, but are learning to appreciate, like collards and Southern peas, eggplant and jalapenos, all which have survived the heat, but would not be here now without regular irrigation.
It’s very hard to keep up with the constant weeding and mulching requirements in such circumstances, but these plants, along with the sweet potatoes, are actually successfully competing with the grasses in some cases. Amazing!
I won’t mention the melons, because I’m hell-bent on keeping this post positive. So let’s mention instead the ‘mouse melons’, aka sanditas, or, Mexican Sour Gherkins. 🙂
Instead, let’s mention the fact that the young sweet potato vines and okra leaves are edible and quite tasty!
And the fantastic find this summer which I’m most excited to expand next year considerably, the Mexican Sour Gherkin.
Crop of the year, in my humble opinion!
Even in the dead of summer, of brutal heat and no rain, we enjoy meals raised primarily on this land. As an added bonus now my raw milk source is 5 minutes away, whereas last year at this time it was 5 hours round-trip!
The aging fridge is full of cheeses we will enjoy all winter: Cheddars, Goudas, a Parmesan and an Alpine, several Brie almost ripe, a Muenster even! YUM! Last week I taught a couple of neighbor ladies to make 30-minute mozzarella and we had such a nice time.
Next they will teach me skills they’ve acquired—spinning, dying, soap-making–a few more small steps in our agorism adventures. Skill-sharing has been such a crucial aspect of our most successful ancestors and I would be challenged to express how rewarding it is for me still, at 50 next month, to be learning so much that is new for me. It is indeed a sort of middle-age renaissance!
I also foraged for elderberries, mustang grapes and peppervine berries, dried some and made some syrups and preserves.
And, Another 400 pounds of pears, or so!
I do believe still that’s thanks to our bees. For several years we thought it was a weather issue, late frosts, whatever, but I am beginning to suspect it was a pollinator issue all along.
We will see, that’s just a hypothesis so far. And in any case we continue for another year to benefit from the cider, the preserves, the cobblers, and the pigs are getting their fill, too!
The Datura remains an absolute favorite of mine, blooming in crazy heat and exhaling the most exquisite fragrance into the evening air. The thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano are gracefully resilient as well, I appreciate all y’all!
And our dear Tori, who just as I was typing this post chased an enormous coyote off our chickens!
The blessings are very close at hand, the frustrations a million miles away. I vow to maintain that truthful balance deep in my heart as I brave the coming days.
Cheeses currently in our aging fridge, which is nothing more than a cheap beverage model sadly impersonating a cave in Switzerland: Swiss (of course), Tomme (another Alpine cheese), Munster, Camembert (wrapped in fig leaves), Pepper Jack, Farmhouse Cheddar (cloth-wrapped), Gouda, Dill Havarti, Mozzarella (the old-fashioned way), Ricotta. Plus, in the kitchen fridge: yogurt, kefir, Mexican queso, and chocolate ice cream–all homemade with the freshest Grade A, raw milk from small farm, grass-fed cows available for purchase in East Texas.
Some of these are cheeses the way our ancestors made them–even using fig sap as rennet and kefir as starter culture. Others of them have been made possible only with the help of modern science–freeze-dried cultures in order to create the holes and flavor of Swiss, for example, or the orange-rinded stinky varieties like Munster or Limburger, or the blue veins of the pungent Roquefort, the reliable white mold of a Camembert–which make it possible to imitate, with a reasonable degree of success, the most famous of region-specific cheeses we’ve come to know and love over the generations.
The first time I tasted cheese that did not come wrapped in plastic I was a teenager in France. It was also the first time I tasted milk straight from the cow. I was stunned to realize these products, considered the same from my own home to my host family’s home, had almost nothing in common. To the eye they appeared congruent, but to the other senses they were not even distant cousins.
But it’s one thing to harness an appreciation for the depth and subtitles of a finely- crafted cheese, it’s quite another to think you can make one. In Texas. In an ‘aging fridge’ from Wal-mart. With $7/gallon milk you drive 3 hours to acquire and sometimes using cultures manufactured in a lab.
Is it just for the love of cheese? It’s true, while doubtless they can’t compete with their cave-aged predecessors, still available in their natural state to only a precious few, I’ve made some of the best cheeses I’ve tasted available in this neck of the Piney Woods.
Handy Hubby appreciates my rather expensive and quite time-consuming hobby, but that’s just a bonus. I think these old skills and crafts are crucial to maintain and pass along to future generations, that’s for sure. But none of these good reasons would be enough, even all together, if it weren’t for the pleasure of the process.
The sensuality of cheese-making cannot be over-stated and to describe it would take poetry far superior than is my capacity to create. This is a hobby that touches, demands, cultivates every one of our senses and a fair amount of intellect as well. A whole-minded approach is crucial for success, because process alone will only get you so far.
You may scoff and think a cheese is a cheese, it’s a matter of taste alone, and they mostly taste the same. If so, you poor, poor dear.
“Those . . . from whom nature has withheld the legacy of taste, have long faces, and long eyes and noses, whatever their height there is something elongated in their proportions. Their hair is dark and unglossy, and they are never plump, it was they who invented trousers.”
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Tastequoted in A Natural History of the Sensesby Diane Ackerman
You may laugh and say . . . “sound?” If cheese-making requires a subtle practice of every sense than that includes sound . . . how silly.
Someday I will make the case for sound in good cheese-making, because I think there’s a case to be made. In addition to my own experimentation, I suspect I need search no further than the many monasteries made famous for their cheeses for more supporting evidence.
Cheese is still more pleasure than exudes the senses in the thrill of retrieving and treasuring a fading art, and in marrying the inevitable couple of progress and tradition.
“We are all served more and more by factory machines, maybe inevitably, and by schedules, even our own, and in time, as has often been pointed out, we come to serve them. Some of us are becoming chafed by it all. We seek to reaffirm ourselves, to do and make for ourselves, to find new ways to do so–many of them admittedly old ways, but new and revitalizing ones to us and our friends. We want to find out how the basic components of our lives are made and come to us to use. We seek to become part once more of the processes, and possessors once more of the details of our own existence.”
The Cheeses and Wines of England and France, with Notes on Irish Whiskey by John Ehle
A few favorite references and a favorite resource:
After several grave posts it seems an upbeat update, some good news and great resources are in order. So, I will for a moment ignore that it’s still sweltering here and in the 90s with no decent rain for far too many weeks.
Normally we’d have flourishing fall crops by now, but many are struggling with the daytime heat. Two decorative/medicinal favorites that keep my spirits up with their beauty and endurance when so much is brown or perished are Datura and Castor Bean.
Datura Inoxia at dusk emits a sensual lemony fragrance
These old timers are highly under-rated in the garden, in my opinion. They are useful, rugged and gorgeous and so misunderstood in our modern culture as science labels them “poisonous” and horticulturists scare folks away from them simply because if your pets or children eat a handful of their seeds they’ll most likely vomit. Should they choke down entire sections of these plants, they could die.
Interestingly, there are very few documented cases of such stupidity. Our chickens scratch and peck all around under these plants and don’t get sick. And our Great Dane-Mastiff loves to sniff the just opened flowers at dusk, as do I, and our bees!
The bees also enjoy the arugula blossoms, which is another favorite heat-loving plant and my favorite lettuce. I have a great many books on plants, but two favs are: The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners by Wolf D. Storl and Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Eberling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl.
Speaking of our bees, the feral hive that was relocated from an old steel drum in the spring is still hanging in there. After some concern for their slow growth I was able to locate the queen. My first queen-spotting–it was a proud moment–it’s pretty tricky for us newbees!
Feral hive relocated to our top bar hives
I’ve been experimenting with companion planting and it’s true, carrots really do love tomatoes and roses do love garlic. Not all of the companions or incompatibles from these books have proven correct for me, but those two definitely do. Roses Love Garlic and Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.
New favorite dish: duck confit–duck legs and thighs slow-cooked while submerged in duck fat, then fried in the fat before serving. For all those who might be thinking this sounds like a cholesterol nightmare, I say, don’t knock it until you read the research of The Weston A. Price Foundation.
Duck confit in the works–so delish!
Best resource this year: The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditonal, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses by David Asher. A shout out to the fantastic website Little Green Cheese for introducing me to it, it has absolutely been an eye-opener. I’ve been making cheese for a couple years now, and this is the book I should’ve read from day one.
This, in my humble opinion, is the way cheese was meant to be made. Most of the recipes use kefir, who knew, kefir as a cheese culture! Clabber cheese has become a new standby, which is really ironic, because it was a staple for so many of our ancestors. It’s basically raw milk spoiling on the counter-top.
Handy Hubby had to taste it to alleviate his automatic doubt and skeptical disgust. I learned a new expression from the famed Michael Pollan in his fascinating new series Cooked! He calls the miracle of cultures and molds and so forth,“The erotics of disgust.”
Unfortunately, for most folks’ health, their disgust-threshold is disastrously low.
By the way, the Clabber cheese got the thumbs up from Handy Hubby! 🙂
Another by the way, the above rose is La Duchesse de Brabant, another fav who fares well in the heat.
I have my cheese days and Handy Hubby has his days at the smoker. Usually it’s a Sunday, because we try to always take a day off for lounging in the hammocks and over-consuming adult beverages. Cooking, writing and researching deep politics we don’t typically consider work. It’s more that we just agree to ignore the heavy labor for a day.
It’s raining again today (thank heavens!) so we’ve got our real redneck on, swinging under the carport, dogs at our feet, noting we have too many roosters–we have to yell to hear each other over the crowing and the drops echoing off the tin roof.
On today’s meat madness list: Hubby’s own pastrami, a couple of ducks, lots more duck necks for future soups, and some sausages. Yes, we are just two here. We cook in bulk, just like we shop. By the way, we are awash in ducks. I’m scouring every cookbook and online site for new recipes and hoping somewhere, somehow to find someone to trade with for something.
Today we are experimenting with our ‘hard-core homemade’ menu by crafting a Reuben to reckon with. The recipe comes from Julia Child, but we kick it up more than a couple of notches.
Everything about it is homemade—the rye bread, the pastrami, the Muenster cheese (I’ve been babying that baby for two and a half months now), the mustard, the mayo, the ketchup and the saurkraut. (As I side-note, I had no idea ketchup used to be a very healthy condiment, because it was fermented, and nothing like the corn syrup concoction with seemingly unlimited shelf-life sold today.) Before finding this recipe in the gorgeous cookbook Baking with Julia, I didn’t know a ruben had ketchup. The Eastern European rye bread recipe also comes from this book. Normally I make a sourdough rye, my own painstakingly-crafted recipe, that is delicious. But this one is made with yeast and looks so awesome in the photo (see below, mine is rising as I type, but I’m sure it won’t look quite that pretty), I just had to try it.
On the dark research front we have another score, and quite a synchronistic one.
Yesterday I was confronted with a compelling contradiction. I spoke with my mom on the phone and normally the conversation would not swerve into politics at all, but these days it’s front of mind for a lot more of the population than usual. She is concerned, as so many are, especially about ISIS. Her source of information is the mainstream news, known in ‘alternative’ circles as the lamestreamnews. I tried briefly to convince her that she is watching State-run propaganda and we might as well be living in the USSR, that’s how bad it’s gotten. She had not heard of false flags, of course, how would she?
Conversely, a friend on social media concluded this is a positively wonderful time for anarchists/voluntarists/agorists/libertarians and free-thinkers in general, because Americans are really wakingup en masse. People are engaged in the elections and Trump is spilling the beans that the whole game is rigged and folks are listening, was just a small portion of her lengthy don’t-be-so negative-and-see-the-silver-lining lecture.
To her, I would like to say the same thing I’ve been saying at the university where I’m thrilled to be teaching my last class ever: Engaged is not educated!
I tossed in my sleep considering this great rift in understanding and reactions, and to my very pleasant surprise when I woke a brilliant piece of insight had been posted on Youtube by Truthstream Media, which I promptly sent to Mom and re-posted across social media.
This couple does excellent work, and if folks are really waking up, it’s thanks to them and those like them, boldly and courageously speaking truth to power, and putting their youthful exuberance into righteous anger, expressing a proper amount of snark and frustration, usually, but always deliberate, creative action, and especially oh-so-many undeniable facts for the lamestream watchers to reckon with.
I’m not really sure why I love making cheese so much. My sister noticed one reason it’s not like me at all–‘it’s a lot like chemistry,’ she said. I know! I don’t like numbers, or recipes, or chemistry. At least, not that kind of chemistry. Or, maybe I do, but school sucked the pleasure right out of it for me.
Cheesemaking has a pretty high learning curve, which does suit me. I took three good courses not too far away in Waco, Texas and I’ve been at it a couple of years now.
What I’ve learned as most important in cheesemaking is a good life lesson for me, so maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to it. Most cheesemakers, if asked the most important aspect of cheesemaking, might say, sanitation, or quality of milk, or aging capacity. I don’t deny all these are crucial, but for me personally, it’s patience.
I’ve had some limited success with poor milk quality, though I don’t care to repeat it, because the failures far outweighed the success. Now I drive five hours round-trip to the nearest Jersey Grade A Raw Milk available in our region: Trimbel Farms. I do wish it were closer, but quality is not something I’m willing to forgo.
Aging capacity is always a challenge, unless you are lucky enough to have your own mountain cave, which is impossible in Texas, as far as I know. Affinage is the correct terminology, and if I wanted to do it correctly, I’d move to Switzerland. Not really an option.
Patience is the real challenge for me. Process is everything. This is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m a natural step-skipper, I don’t follow directions well, never have. My motto, what can I get away with not doing? So I always test the system. While this works for many things, it does not work for cheese. Typically, there are only four or five ingredients. You only really need four–milk, rennet, culture and salt–which account for a good chunk of all the cheeses there are.
Not only that, but to know if I’ve failed I must wait two or three months or longer, in most cases. So much for instant gratification. Of course, there is always 30-minute mozzarella, which for the beginner with no cheese press and no way to properly “affine” is an ideal way to go. And, it’s delicious, better than anything you’ll buy in your average grocery in this neck of the woods. I still make it regularly and it never disappoints. Three ingredients: milk, rennet, citric acid. Well, and water and salt, if those even count.
I’ve had limited success with my all-time favorite, Camembert, one for the more advanced cheesemaker. I’m still not sure why I can’t succeed consistently at it, though I use the same techniques each time. For those interested in trying, I direct you to my cheesemaking and beekeeping friend, the lovely Rashel of The Promise Land Farm, who has mastered this fine art.
Maybe I love cheesemaking because it requires undivided attention for a couple hours, and peripheral attention for days, or even weeks and months. I’ve tried to multi-task while in the process, like today. I had grading to do, I forgot the flame was still under the pot, and over-heated the milk by 15 degrees. Big mistake! One that cost me about three hours. Luckily, it was early enough in the process I didn’t ruin it altogether. A mistake to remind me: Patience dear one, focus, prioritize, slow down.
Listening, learning, forgiving myself. And never, ever giving up. Maybe it’s my commitment that drives me to succeed at it. But, why this commitment for this particular process?