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/

 

Agorism Update

It’s been a busy few weeks processing all those pears—I canned over 30 jars of them, we’ve got 15 gallons of pear wine brewing and 9 jars of pear-ginger marmalade. I also harvested our first honey, a whopping 4.5 pints!

(I consider leaving out this part where I admit I did not mean to harvest so much, but I made the novice mistake of lifting out a bar full of capped honeycomb, which in a topbar hive should not be done in high heat, because the comb can pull right off the bar and fall into the hive, which is exactly what happened.  It then smashed onto the neighboring comb, killed lots of bees, and meant I had to then harvest two combs and pull out dead bees with tweezers.  Not my finest hour.)

Also, we’ve had another agoristic experience I’m happy to report: 3 wild hogs from a friend traded for a half-dozen dressed ducks. No cash exchanged, that means no cash to line the banksters’ pockets or to pay for more illegal wars. I love the idea of agorism, it makes so much sense to me. But, like with all things, the theory is always easier to come to than the practice.

In fact, I could have several more occasions for bartering if I felt more comfortable simply asking.  We had a dump truck load of mulch delivered, the perfect missed opportunity.   There are many skills involved that require me to up my game and learn things I’ve spent my life avoiding, because I’ve never liked doing them–like marketing, networking, various other entrepreneurial-type skills. I’ve never been that comfortable or concerned with money and I automatically zone out whenever numbers come up. New challenges pop up over the simplest things that hadn’t much occurred to me before, like how to assign value to things or services. What is a dressed duck worth compared to an undressed hog? This is a question a suburban girl never expects to ponder in her lifetime.

Also problematic is distance. I see that bartering sites are popping up quite a bit now in urban areas and folks are exchanging even more now using old standbys like Craigslist. But Austin, Dallas, and Houston are all about a 3-hour drive one way, which make regular trips there un-economical and far too time-consuming.  While I’m thrilled to see how popular bartering is becoming, it’s not a decent short-term solution for us.

Now that I’m pleasantly and perhaps permanently unemployed I like the idea of trying to find other ways to exchange and earn that wouldn’t set us back so far that Handy Hubby would give up the plan of an early retirement. That’s our five-year plan. We don’t want to start a business, not in the traditional sense anyway. We like the simple, uncomplicated sort of life; we’ve adjusted to it now. I think it was once referred to as “subsistence farming,” maybe even without the negative connotation. That’s another concept I never expected to ponder in my lifetime.

I guess the criticism from a reader that I am a neo-luddite was valid after all.  I’ve changed in our nearly seven years here.  Our paradigm has shifted.  Cities are too crowded, even social media is too crowded.  I hate to think the only option for selling our surplus would be to go back into the matrix and try to navigate the (meta)physical marketplace.  Not that I don’t appreciate it now and again, but I’d much rather go for inspiration than labor.

Such thinking of short-term solutions led me to surf the dark web, to research the black and gray markets. It was a very educational journey full of potentialities. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about that here.

I’d love to hear from y’all–your links, ideas, thoughts, ramblings, all welcome, both practice and theory!

🙂

honeycomb

Our first honey harvest was an accidental success, I learned so much about what not to do!

hogs

Of course it’s Handy Hubby who does the real heavy lifting.  I’m one lucky unemployed redneck wannabe!

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Cheer the ‘Change Agent’

An effective slogan for the social engineers that is quickly becoming all-pervasive is ‘to become an agent of change.’ In education, politics, self-help, being ‘unwilling to change’ is the latest in shaming techniques applied to any perceived neo-luddite who might question the value of said changes. Change simply for the sake of change is universally accepted as a good thing. Whether the change will be good or bad is not considered, to ask such a question gets a blank stare in return.  Because, it’s change!

This is in fact an adolescent’s mindset now being applied to all of human endeavor. To question the diet dictocrats and scientific dictators, the administrators or really any part of the established order, the change peddlers, is to be treated like a child in need of a harsh scolding. Or worse, like a cranky old lady who wants to spoil everyone’s fun. After all, why worry about education, or the future, because robots will do all the work and the thinking for us.

With 54% of the US budget in discretionary spending going toward the military, with the stated goal of “Full Spectrum Dominance” (Joint Vision 2020) we can be sure robots will soon be fighting our wars for us too. For our 800 foreign bases the robots will be multi-lingual, of course. Robots will even be crafted to repair and maintain other robots. This will be so ideal for all of mankind, so get on board with change!

Humans will become sort of like horses, it is said in some elite circles. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-06-16/will-humans-go-way-horses

At Davos and the World Economic Forum they rub elbows over champagne and amuse-bouche while they debate about the plight of the grubby unwashed masses. You can watch some of them on Youtube, but it seems very few do. Kitten videos are more popular by far.

Has there been a dumbing-down in America? That’s not difficult to assess. The early settlers had town hall meetings brimming over with citizens coming to discuss politics, theology and philosophy. Common Sense by Thomas Paine was said to be in every household next to the Bible. This was certainly an exaggeration, but it was an extremely popular book nonetheless. Note the level of sophistication in the language:

“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries By a Government, which we might expect in a country Without Government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”

http://freakonomics.com/2011/09/01/were-colonial-americans-more-literate-than-americans-today/

In this fascinating article we find a bleak conclusion.

In an extensive NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy) survey, only 13% of adults attained this level. Thus, the proportion of Americans today who are able to understand Common Sense (13%) is smaller than the proportion that bought Common Sense in 1776 (20%).

But, change is always good!  Because now we are better equipped to appreciate the great gifts bestowed on culture by the Kardashians.

 

 

Agorism, Anarchy, Action

A workable slogan.  First word practically unknown, the next totally misused, and the latter too often hastily employed, or far too often not at all.

In brief agorism is a worldview or philosophy that requires anarchy and action to function.  Here anarchy is defined simply as a counter-force to State power. State is capitalized because it means the over-arching control grid manifested through coercive government.

Action, even wrong action, is preferable to no action.  The current coercive State relies on the affluence, self-indulgence and complacency of its citizenry.  The bread and circus are provided expressly to keep you from complaining about how you’re being ruled, to what end, and by whom.

It is our effort to get off both the proverbial Western couch and Eastern cushion.  The beige matters, the survival efforts engender peace of mind.  No, it’s not exciting, not anymore.  At one time, five years or so ago, I felt pretty powerful digging my first garden plot, with the help of only Handy Hubby and a wheelbarrow and shovel.  Shoveling poultry manure and plucking feathers have long lost their short-lived novelty.

I noticed on one site large duck eggs going for $10 a dozen, we’re feeding our surplus to the dogs.  Bless their hearts, we do love to spoil them, but wow.  Just for the record, I also make a fabulous duck paté, which I enjoy with a mild pepper jelly and homemade sourdough bread.

By far the best part about homesteading for us is, we eat like royalty.  Yeah, we don’t have the servants to show for it, but it’s still worth it!

 

plucker
Beginner’s faux pas: Don’t pluck on the deck, Duh, because, flies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agorism?

It was a new word to me too, but one I learned is the oldest and simplest of concepts: bartering. I’ve looked more deeply into it–into the origins of the term and the philosophy and politics of it–and I suppose one of these days I’ll write more about it all.

For now, I’m thinking only one thing: We have surplus sometimes. I’ve been giving it away and usually happily so. Occasionally we find an opportunity to trade, but it’s relatively rare. Most often the surplus we can’t give away goes to the poultry and the dogs, also happily, but less so.

One year I took it to the local Food Bank, nearly an hour round-trip, thinking I was doing a good deed for the community. After one particular drop-off I remained in the parking lot for some time engaged on the phone. I watched as several people in vehicles far finer than mine strolled into the building and back out again with my hard-won, organically-produced fresh vegetables. Another avid gardener said she overheard complaints from patrons of the Food Bank that those vegetables are useless since they don’t know how to cook them, and they often take them just for show, along with their preferred items, only to throw them out at home. After that, I changed my mind I was performing any real social benefit. I doubt that supporting the poor choices of the so-called poor is a good idea, sustainably-speaking. If one can afford to drive an SUV, one can surely afford to pay for one’s produce. Otherwise, let them eat Ding-Dongs.

Agorism, otherwise known as bartering, solves our immediate practical problem of surplus, and while all the accompanied philosophy and politics are important to me, they are not as important as this. I’m reminded of one excellent quote on the topic, and that’s as political as I’ll get this post, I promise.

‘When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.” Ayn Rand

Bartering encourages the producers, rewards the producers, as it should be. Either you have something I value to trade with me, or you don’t. Simple economics. I might need a haircut, or a lesson in business development, or maybe I’ve got a real hankering for a pint of pear hooch. Do you need me to have a licensed dairy to trade you my cheese for one of these?

If you do, go to Wal-mart or Whole Foods, no matter, and do your thing. Pay your taxes, vote with your dollar, give the banksters their unfair share. But if someday you decide their cheese sucks, you know where to turn. That is, if you have something worth trading.  How about some gorgeous carrots for some . . .?

Links to share in my on-going research:

http://www.moneycrashers.com/best-bartering-swapping-websites/

http://www.libertarianism.org/columns/black-market-activism-samuel-edward-konkin-iii-agorism

https://www.corbettreport.com/episode-309-solutions-agorism/