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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Say Cheese Pleeze!

Sometimes I call myself an artist and
other days I think"maker" more aptly fits.
But is there any difference?  I tend to think of an artist 
as one who has perfected a craft, or
at least taken it to new areas.  As a "maker"you get pleasure
in dabbling.  Today I am a maker:

I am easily seduced.  Easily talked into trying new things and a real sucker for seeing if I can make something.  So when Barbara Kingsolver began to sing the praises of home made cheese in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I couldn't help myself: it was mere hours before I was on-line and ordering the goods from her favorite Cheese Queen.

 Whey Cool, no?

I decided to start with feta as I could use whole milk and it seemed rather forgiving since it did not need a lot of precise "pressing" and aging.

However everything else was very exacting: the timing, the temps, the slowness of stirring and the gentle lifting.  I think cheesemaking must be the most zen art I have ever was slow, very precise, very methodical and not given to any short cuts.  And not one of those traits is my long suit.   
Here I am separating the curds from the whey.....

This was a way to let gravity continue to drain the whey while letting the cheese curds compact.

Then I sliced the wad of compacted curds into manageable wedges so they can sit in a concentrated salt brine for 12-18 hours.  But yuck, after sneaking a taste I think it too salty for my tastebuds.  But hey, it's not over yet.

I removed the wedges from the brine and let them "stabilize,"  covered lightly with a sanitary cloth, for 2 days.

And now, the cheese pops back into a light brine solution to rest for 7-10 days before it is at peak flavor.  Whew....I am already guessing my feta will need a milk soak to neutralize the saltiness.  I can also see that I am at a critical fork in the road: either dive in and order a hygrometer et al while retrofitting a small frig into an aging cave, OR enjoy the fact that this experience taught me once again that many things I take for granted are, in fact, someone else's art form!  

To those cheesemakers who have studied the science and perfected the art of creating wonderful fromage: I tip my hat!  Kudos from an appreciator who will continue to enjoy your work.

So I'm out of the kitchen and back to the studio tomorrow, thanks for chasing this squirrel with me!

Art Fully Yours,

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