Friday, April 07, 2006

Cheese, Gromit!


Ma makes many wheels of cheese in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, and we learn that green cheese means newly made cheese, and it is white, not green. I guess everybody else knew that already, but it was news to me. The green cheeses are round and white, like the moon. The cheese-making episode is wonderful, but our Laura is terrified that her cherished calf will be killed provide rennet. Fortuitously, a neighbor who recently slaughtered a calf has rennet to spare, and if another little girl had bonded with that calf, we never read about her.

Truly distinguished cheeses suitable for vegetarian and kosher cooking (that is, free of calf or other meat) have been available unpredictably here and there, but I was delighted to learn this year that Zabar’s has many kosher cheeses I have never seen before, even a Camembert and a Roquefort! ראשית צמיחת גאלתינו These are wondrous days. Maybe next year in Wenslydale?

I haven’t tried any of the new cheeses yet, but I will be letting you know.

And why is it that I am so crazy about cheeses? If someone told you that they squeeze milk out of a cow, and expose it to bacteria and mold, and then leave it lying around for several months, and that this is the most perfect and sublime food in the world, well, really, what would you think?

9 Comments:

Anonymous lindy said...

Chocolate lady- This is very strange, I think. I am in the middle of writing a post which is about, in large part, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and hunger!

It is also about eating rabbit, rather than cheese, however. I'll probably be posting it in a few days, as I am not done with the cooking part yet. Is it in the air somewhere, or what?

Re trendiness: Sadly, you are probably right that escarole is trendier. I live in Pittsburgh, and we are not on the cutting age in the trendiness dept. I hope this doesn't mean that escarole will be expensive any minute. I can't go stock up on it and make jam out of it or anything. sigh.

3:21 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

Thanks Lindy,

I will be looking forward very much to your Ingalls WIlder post. I think the food material in her books could sustain much worthwhile blogging. And the hunger--heavens; when I was reading the books this year there were several instances when I vivdly recalled almost identical passages in Yiddish Literature. I will have look further into that sometime.

Is it in the air? You mean like a TREND?

5:53 PM  
Blogger ilva said...

I loved all the Ingalls Wilder books when I was a kid, I read them and re-read them so many times but obviously I can't remember anything about cheese as this was loooong before my food blogging days! I think I will go up in our attic and try to find them....thanks for a lovely post!

2:32 AM  
Anonymous countrymouse said...

Oh, you're probably already sick of my waxing nostalgic about commune life, but ::sigh:: i was a cheesemaker. It was my favorite job there by a fair margin. They don't do anything fancy or artisinal or anything, but it meets (and at sometimes of the year, far exceeds) the cheese, yoghurt, and butter needs of 100 people. And i think the cheese is pretty damn good, especially once you get used to the raw-milk taste (essentially the "cow" taste, which squicked out visitors sometimes).
This is where the affinity for all (well, most) things fermented began. It's practically magic. It's about this time of year, or maybe a little earlier in spring, when the wild onions shoot up in virginia, so all the milk tastes oniony for awhile. Not so good for people who put milk on their granola, but it makes awesome cheese.

9:39 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

Ilva,
It is deeply satisfying and refreshing to reread these books as a food blogger, just like a deep drink of ginger-water after a hard morning haying.

Countrymouse,
First, I am by no means tired of your commune stories. Second, did you use vegetarian rennet in your cheesemaking adventures? Do you know what it was? Cheese made with wild onion milk sounds awesome indeed. Still adding to my Yiddish fermentation file--I just keep getting distracted by things like school and work.

12:12 AM  
Anonymous countrymouse said...

Yeah, they use vegetarian rennet down on yonder commune. It's from these people here: www.cheesemaking.com
I'm not sure where it comes from exactly. I think i remember reading that the coagulating enzyme, renase, is most widely available from animal intestines, but can come from some certain types of plants as well. I have a vague notion that they're tropical plants.
I always thought it would have been great to close the production loop a little futher and make rennet from our own cows, but the cow slaughtering and processing expert tends to overload himself with work already, and while a very skilled person, he isn't so good at teaching.
Take your time with the fermentation stuff...i hope work and school and life in general is going well.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous countrymouse said...

and a picture, if you like:
http://www.twinoaks.org/gallery/news_2004/cheese_rounds

11:51 AM  
Blogger esther said...

cheeze... oh you are so right - it is just the most delectable thing ever! the main reason i can't even think about going vegan even though i know i probably should.

and cheese making Ilva - that is something i would love to do more of. i've only made soft white cheeses so far - those you don't need rennet for. so satisfying though.

chocolate lady - i didn't know you were doing a fermentation file.. you got a lot on pickles then i guess? fermentation is my new households obsession - pickles, kefir, sourdough, wine.. the house smells like wild yeast and i love it!

9:18 PM  
Blogger Paz said...

LOL! I guess I see your reason for not being excited to eat cheese. ;-)

Paz

3:23 AM  

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