Big Plans… Lessons in Cheese Making

So having Friday and Saturday off this past week I of course had some big projects planned, cheese making, blood orange marmalade, resume updating and job applications. Oh how plans change.

It would only happen with such excellent plans brewing that the T-man would get the flu, and subsequently infect me! I did put up a fight by drinking disgusting amounts of a certain vitamin c powder mix. But alas, this horrible bug got the better of me.

So I awoke Friday morning feeling mildly ill but hoping to power through and determined to accomplish all the awesome projects that I had in mind. I ran errands and gathered supplies for all of my projects. After returning to the apartment rational thought began to sink in and I decided that I had bit off a little more than I could chew. I don’t give up easily though, and decided to buckle down and tackle the cheese project first.

My lovely mother had gotten me the book “Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll for Christmas and I have now finally gotten around to making my first cheese. I had decided to start with the fromage blanc recipe. So at 12:45 pm on Friday I started the cheese.

Step 1: Heat one gallon of milk to 86 degrees and then stir in the starter packet.

Milk Warming

Milk Warming

Step 2: Cover and let set at 72 degrees for 12 hours!!! – okay lesson learned, when making cheese or rather planning to make cheese, read the entire recipe not just the ingredient list!

Well at this point I was too far in to turn back, so no choice but to press on.

So at 12:45 am on Saturday (note I was feeling fairly ill by this point) I strained the milky cheese mixture through the cheesecloth. Now the recipe said to gently scoop the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth. By this time in the morning I was beyond sleepy and not feeling well so “gently scooped” turned into roughly dumped. As in i just dumped the whole pot into the colander.

Now as described in the recipe you are supposed to do some fancy thing like tie up the cheesecloth and let it hang so that the liquid can drip out. (I generally describe things as fancy when I just don’t think they are that important and can be accomplished in an easier way)  So I just stuck the colander over the pot and let the liquid drip like that. Then I happily went to sleep.

Still in the colander, but looking more cheese like and less milk like

Still in the colander, but looking more cheese like and less milk like

I woke up Saturday and checked the cheese, decided I want to “rush” the process a bit so I weighted the cheesecloth with a few soup cans to press out the remaining liquid.

At about noon on Saturday I was feeling awful and decided that it was time to finish the cheese project. I tasted the cheese and it tasted like something between cream cheese and greek yogurt. Not awful but I knew I could spruce it up.

I split the cheese into three bowls, adding honey to one; lemon zest, lemon juice and pepper to the second; and chopped rosemary, tarragon, and green onion (all from my window box garden) to the third. I have to say that for a first attempt I was mildly impressed with myself.

Delicious Herb cheese spread

Delicious Herb cheese spread

However feeling like a dead person waking I decided that all the other projects would have to wait. I am taking a sick day today, so hopefully I can recuperate today and maybe tackle the marmalade tomorrow… now off to sleep with my gallon of orange juice beside me.

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