Cheese-making: Science and Sensuality

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.

These are the kind of cheeses one has a tough time finding where to legally buy, or sell, not only in America, but in quite a few other Western countries as well.  In most of the countries who consider themselves ‘free’ as far as I’m aware, acquiring licensing for everything dairy under the Federal sun will still not grant you the right to sell such cheeses.  Big Brother is so very worried about our health, after all.
http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/30/some-like-it-raw-the-state-of-unpasteurized-cheese-in-the-u-s/

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 Taste quoted in A Natural History of the Senses by 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

cheesebooks

A few favorite references and a favorite resource:

2016quesocheesedip-1024x932
The Promiseland Farm

If you want to start somewhere, this is a super easy cheese even a picky American kid would surely like, think Velveeta, only healthy.  http://thepromiselandfarm.com/queso-cheese-spread-dip/

 

Science Fraud & Fantasy (part 8)

Is the Hollywood fascination with vampires attempting to condition us?

Scientist studying mice are thrilled as the results appear conclusive—blood transfusions from the young to the old counters the aging process in the brain.

“As human lifespan increases, a greater fraction of the population is suffering from age-related cognitive impairments, making it important to elucidate a means to combat the effects of aging.”

http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v20/n6/abs/nm.3569.html

At what point in human history did the scales tip toward destruction as an acceptable means to resurrection? Certainly destruction is already a foundational aspect of nature, but why intentionally exacerbate it? Prolonging life has been an obsession of mankind since the dawn of civilization, but is this the fascination of the many, or a privileged few?

And where do these precious few draw the line, if ever they do?

The solutions are invariably more technology to solve the problems created by technology. The weather is not acceptable, let’s fix the weather with toxic pollutants. The human life span is not acceptable, let’s fix that with the blood of our youth. Our food is not sufficient enough, let’s fix that with fake food. Kill the bees with science, build robot bees with technology.  And on and on.

Data is easily manipulated to serve multiple bottom lines. But you don’t need scientific data to bring up an obvious point to anyone who is staunchly pro-technology, and they are not hard to find. Say to him or her: I can see, from photos and my own life experience, that children today are not as healthy as they used to be.

One simple question and you will have them fumbling and finger pointing–not my industry, not GMOs, no. It’s TV. And the TV executives say, how absurd, we are not responsible for children’s sedentary behaviors. It’s the parents. And the parents say it’s the schools’ responsibility, and the schools say it’s the government’s responsibility, and round and round we go.

I say, scientists and technocrats and fervent followers, the children are more unhealthy, what say you?!

The junk food, the GMOs, the pollution, the vaccines, the internet, the failures of the family, the failures of the government, an unhappy God, disease spread by too many immigrants, too much sun, too little sun, who, or what is responsible?

Perhaps, Oh Wise Ones, instead of finger pointing, might you look for examples where this is not the case? What about look at some communities where it is clear the people look healthier, maybe compare their habits with some of our own clearly unhealthy-looking peoples. What do they have in common? What might we learn from their habits, what might we rediscover from the traditions of our own ancestors?

Weston A. Price did just that. His work is becoming more well-known, but the experts are not convinced. Why? Because they don’t like his conclusions, they go against everything the diet dictocrats have been saying for a century.  And, heaven forbid, they have nothing at all to do with technology!

Our ancestors, the indigineous cultures, were healthier thanks to their diets, long before science came into the picture. Science and technology are taking us further from optimum health and longevity, not closer to it, as they seem so intent to achieve.

In the 1930s, a dentist from Ohio travelled the world to study the diets of indigenous peoples who exclusively ate local traditional foods. He compared their glowing good health, excellent bone structure, and mental stability to the Americans of his day, who were suffering from dental problems, mental illness, allergies, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and cancer. What Dr. Price discovered: • Traditional diets contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, D, and K2, found in seafood and the fat and organ meats of grass-fed animals. • When indigenous people adopted processed and denatured foods such as white flour, sugar, canned foods, vegetable oils, and pasteurized milk, they developed the same chronic diseases that plague us today.”

http://www.westonaprice.org/

What solutions are we implementing, here on the wee homestead?  We started with organic gardens and poultry, then beehives, now we have just added piglets. Sheep and goats are coming soon.  We cook our meals from scratch, slaughter our own meat, bake our own bread, make our own cider, and our own cheese.

piglets
Happy, healthy piglets weaned with constant access to the great outdoors courtesy of our wise young friends at The Promiseland Farm, who also have fantastic, educational articles and videos on cheesemaking, beekeeping and other farmish things.

 

http://thepromiselandfarm.com/

Should through our efforts we manage to live long, healthy, productive lives, we will die peacefully when our natural time comes, contented we did not feed on the blood of our progeny.  We may even be blessed enough to benefit future generations by safeguarding some of the skills acquired by our successful ancestors over thousands of years.

This week’s breadcrumbs:

http://responsibletechnology.org/

https://theinternationalreporter.org/2017/01/04/new-90-day-rat-study-destroys-corporate-gmo-propaganda/

Technology gone seriously bat shit crazy, and folks are lapping it up.

https://www.corbettreport.com/interview-1240-rick-falkvinge-on-rule-41-and-the-new-online-order/

While listening to the above interview Handy Hubby quips: “Closing the blinds on your windows now means you must be doing something wrong.”

Exactly.

surveillance

Hunt-Harvest Happiness

There is a special kind of euphoria that comes from harvesting my own food that I have not felt in any other productive endeavor. I read somewhere that the worst day working in cooperation with the land is better than the best day in the office, and I must wholeheartedly concur.

If only I’d learned that sooner, I would not have such steep learning curves to navigate in middle age!

Mushroom hunting is certainly on the top of that steep learning curve list, not to mention a potentially deadly hobby. While there are actually only a few truly deadly mushrooms, there are many that will make you sick and quite a few choice species that are so similar to poisonous species that even experts are occasionally fooled.

For the novice mushroom hunter there are only a handful of no-brainer finds, and as the dogs and I walked our trails this morning, I spotted one of the choicest of these, the Hedgehog. Actually there were three, and I took the biggest, a whopping one pound ten ounces. Interestingly, the season of these mushrooms is winter, which makes me wonder, when it’s still an unseasonal 85 degrees Fahrenheit here and hasn’t rained in many weeks, how do they judge winter exactly?

hedgehog2

In the garden it’s the summer crops that are thriving—to accompany my Hedgehog mushroom I harvested some cucumbers, radishes, basil and Napa cabbage. The second crop of tomatoes this year are nearly ready too. If Handy Hubby were home I’d add to that some thinly sliced duck breast. Then I’d look at our plates and think wow, I can’t believe how often now our meals come from our own land, our own hands. What amazing peace of mind this is considering how unhealthful and/or expensive food in the grocery stores has become, with the distinct impression it’s only getting worse.

If I turn on the TV or read a newspaper I’m reminded I once considered the daily grind and the endless mindless consumption ‘reality’.  Now I often watch and read the various panic porn channels online and sometimes they get me pretty riled up.

Then I walk out to our garden or through our woods and I remember what is really reality. Civilization is not realty. And what we are currently calling civilization is about as far from reality as it gets.

Y’all can keep it! My happiness is in the hunt and the harvest and of course, Handy Hubby. All the rest of it is worth less than a hill of beans.

pttrail

Our faithful and exuberant foraging, hunting, harvesting companions. 🙂

Homestead Updates & Resources

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
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!

beearugula

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!

queen
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.

tomcarrot

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.

duckconfit
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.

 

Success is Overwhelm

Is this true for most people, most of the time?  Does success always lead to overwhelm?  Is that why some of us have an intrinsic fear of success, whereas others fear failure?

So I’ve canned, made hooch, made syrup and various desserts and even got a welcome barter for raw milk, fresh from the cow with our surplus of pears.  Pears still litter the living room and fill the fridge and are starting to ripen faster than I can keep up.  The pears are starting to depress me.  My wrists and forearms ache from peeling.  Other chores are being neglected.  It’s no great difficulty to sit in front of the TV or Youtube and peel for hours on end without any real stress or rush, and yet still I feel the need to curl into a fetal position and pretend I’ve managed it, rather than being only about half-way through.

I just submitted my last grades for my last class at APUS forever.  I should be celebrating, because I’m really glad about it.  And, I should be thrilled for the new hobby that this pear surplus has made me start digging into:  wine-making.  From what I’m able to gather so far in my novice stage, what we’ve been calling “hooch” is actually what winemakers call ‘must’.  I think.

While I am thrilled for the new hobby and the last grading, overwhelm has tainted my success.   It feels something like grid-lock.  There are still many, many pounds of pears that need processing, and once processed, need to find a semi-permanent storage spot, and then we need to learn to really love eating canned pears.

I think I don’t know the difference between success and overwhelm, really.  To me, they are two sides of the same coin.  Handy Hubby will not be pleased to learn the only thing I can imagine now is we need to add a hobby room to the house, and a cellar.  I’m going to need lots of wine-making equipment, then in a year or so once I’ve got that down, we’ll need a still, for cognac and such.

He might also be reconsidering success.  😉

piesuck

A failed pear-blueberry galette from Baking with Julia.  I just plain suck at crusts, there seems to be little hope for me, no matter how I try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meat Day!

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 lamestream news. 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 waking up 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.

Manufactured Civil Unrest and Regime Change: Is America Next?

 

 

bread

Breads from Julia Child’s book: Baking with Julia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Foods for Great Health

I’ve loved cooking for as long as I remember.  As a young girl that meant macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper from a box.  Being from the mid-west casseroles were of course an early specialty.  But we did not eat healthy.  We were like most suburb-dwellers since the rise of supermarkets and fast food.  Canned vegetables, TV dinners, bologna sandwiches, I’m sure you get the picture.

My palate and preferences have evolved significantly over the years, a good deal of it thanks to Handy Hubby, who is a fabulous cook.  What we like to cook differs, but usually compliments one another, and our time cooking together is fun and bonding, usually.  That is, as long as he doesn’t watch me chop anything.

Our preferences took a big leap when we started growing much of our own food.  This has been a huge and continuing learning curve, but it excites me to learn new things and I find growing and harvesting our own food immensely satisfying.

For newcomers now it’s becoming much easier with homesteading-type courses popping up all over, even online.  City and country folk are really getting organized around important traditional food and lifestyle concerns, like raw milk, GMOs, pesticides, water quality and on and on.  I find it thrilling it’s getting so popular!  In the beginning friends and family thought we were nutcases moving out here and experimenting with this lifestyle and no one knew what “homesteading” meant in the way that’s now becoming quite a movement.  Much more on all of this in future posts!

For now I just wanted to share for those just starting out on the journey to better health one course I just heard about through The Weston A Price Foundation, an amazing resource for the traditional foods resurgence.  My favorite cookbook is written by their President, Sally Fallon, called Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  It’s got it all: fermenting, cultured dairy, game and organ meats, sauces, condiments and very interesting culinary history.

The course sounds like it would be a great place to start for anyone just getting interested, and it’s free!

https://foodwifery.com/processed-to-real-foods/