Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I thought we'd get to see forever, but forever's gone away

Well, we've got a lot of ground to cover today.
1. homemade Gouda
2. dairy workshop
3. cheese review
4. Baba Capra mission creep

1. I forgot to tell you about trying my last wheel of Gouda. For those who don't remember or want a refresher course in stupid ways in which I waste time and money, here is the project, which began last year (posts from pre-December 16th are unrelated). A short summary of the results: the first cheese was crappy. The second cheese was moldy.

But last week I took out the final cheese and tasted it. The year has been good to it. It had started to mellow and develop some of that sweet, caramel flavor that is found in aged Gouda. It was no triumph, however. The protein crystals had all formed on the outside of the cheese, the wax was detached, and there was a bit of liquid sloshing around, confirming my suspicions that the reason the second cheese molded was because I hadn't pressed out enough moisture.

You can see that it is ugly, but we didn't die after eating it, so it was a mild success.

Everybody but Emmett (of course) tried the year-old cheese and thought it was decent. I turned it into macaroni and cheese. This experience and my workshop yesterday have increased my desire to get a cheese cave. Will it be a used florist's cooler? Will it be a bar fridge? Will it be an actual cave dug in my back yard (doubtful)?

2. Yesterday, thanks to Barbie Corbridge emailing me the information, Magic Wendy and I attended USU's Artisan Dairy Workshop. Before I start my glowing recap, I have a bone to pick. They spent the first half-hour of the class talking about the many different services USU provides the community through county extension agents and USU specialists. But I've never had a single worthwhile conversation with a county extension agent. Every one of them has been ignorant and patronizing, including the guy I just got off the phone with. This one even said you only get two cuttings of alfalfa in a season. Does he even KNOW any farmers?

But the rest of the class was so interesting. We had classes about food labeling (not needed by me yet), sanitation of animals and equipment/facilities (zones 1, 2, 3 AND 4), and contamination (including listeria and Norwalk), a tour of Rosehill Dairy (I bought a half-gallon of cream and some sour cream), a cheesemaking demonstration, presentations by two local cheesemakers, and a cheese tasting. There were dairy farmers looking for ways to diversify and survive the dairy recession, home cheesemakers, people wanting to start a small cheese business, a guy who has a popsicle business who wants to add ice cream bars . . . it was fascinating to talk to all of them. I want to go again next year.

3. At the cheese tasting we had Beehive, Gold Creek and Snowy Mountain. Gold Creek and Snowy Mountain each did a presentation, but Beehive either didn't get asked to speak, or they are too big town for us these days. They better not sell out!

Snowy Mountain:
They are not impressed by you. They call Utah the Velveeta state. They are determined to improve Utah's palate. Their cheeses are named after Utah mountain peaks. Delano is a great blue, Timp is a milder blue, Kings Peak is creamy and rich and delicious, Strawberry is a little salty and would be fantastic with fruit. I loved, loved these cheeses.

Gold Creek:
This guy is so creative. His boss paid for him to take USU's cheesemaking class, and he is a genius. His Parmesan is great--moister than an aged Parm like you would typically buy, but it has that cool fruity taste it's supposed to. His smoked cheddar is so nice, really subtle and not like you're camping. The feta was good, but I don't really like feta, so I'm not a good judge.

They seem to still be busy inventing new flavors, and yesterday I tried their new one with an Earl Grey Tea rub--it was very good, but Barely Buzzed is still my favorite--it was nice to taste it again. I can't remember which other ones were there, because I got to that table last and my brain was overloaded. Butter rubbed? I think that was there.

Anyway, I gave myself a stomachache and feel no regret. I can't believe the number of world-class cheeses that are made within an hour or two of my house. I mean, we're no Vermont, but I think we do pretty well for a podunk little place.

4. I love sheep's milk cheeses, and they are some of my favorites, so I talked to the Snowy Mountain lady about buying a lamb from her this spring. Her herd came from a woman in New York who became very ill, and wanted her fancy-pants herd of sheep that was fifteen years, much science, and many dollars in the making to stay together and go to someone who was serious about starting a sheep creamery. So the Hansens bought the whole herd of sheep and brought them here to Utah. Coincidentally, Stig said that what you need to succeed in cheesemaking is a lot of money and a lot of luck, because that's what he's been using and so far it has worked well.

I want some sheep to go along with my goats. Think of the amazing cheese I could make! But we're swiftly reaching the point where we'll have to get serious about using our land properly. I can't have this glorified pet situation anymore. I need to do rotational grazing. Pigs! Eating corn out of the manure pile! Chickens eating maggots and parasites, also out of the manure pile! Sheep and goats grazing but not overgrazing our field! And maybe a horse someday so we can drive to town once the Rapture comes. It's a way good plan. Oh, for the funding to make it happen.


Sarah said...

Sounds so awesome and fun and really tasty. I want to try Kings Peak now. Like, right this very minute, now.

All8 said...

Mmmm....Totally jealous of your journey of cheese, but then I love Feta.

Tori said...

We're plugged in to the same outlet of the collective unconscious, or something.