Monday, April 6, 2009


As human beings, we're creatures of hopes and dreams. Some people want to find riches, while others merely wish to be enriched. Me? I have legions of dreams (running the gamut from going to a class to take a final only to realize that I've missed every previous class all the way to starring in my own apocalyptic zombie adventure). Those are small dreams, and not really a great fit for this space.

Instead, lets talk about a greater dream of mine. That dream is cheese. Not tawdry dreams involving cheese, don't look at me like that. Rather, the dream of creating such wonders for myself. For too long cheese making has been the province of the industrial cheese monger, a cold anonymous face grimly doling out his cheddars and neufchatels. No more, I say. Furthermore, you too can share this dream with me. Read on, and imagine a kinder gentler world.

Firstly, while the world of consuming prodigious provolone and pounds of parm (also: crates of chevre, a gross of gouda...I'll stop) is a familiar one to me, I know very little about actual cheese production. On the theoretical level, I understand that cheese is simply milk. Technically, if you leave your milk out for a week or two, you will get a "cheese". Experiments in this area have yielded only stinks and icks...a far cry from the fetas of my fantasy. Clearly, more know-how is required. To that end, I purchased the D-Lux Cheese Making Super Kit from Leener's (a fine purveyor of all manner of DIY cookery kits). They advertise it as a kit, but in reality, it is a kind of Cheese Mongering Course. You start at the basic level (where we are now) and work your way all up the spectrum to the Aged-3 Month-Minimum-Traditional-English-Cheddar. Despite the gratitutious praise and prompting of my friends, I knew that I was not ready for such an event, and began at the begininng: The One-Hour-Mozzerella.

All cheese making starts with two things: Milk and a BDP.
Big Damn Pot (center)
The manual suggested that I sterilize all the equippage before beginning. Normally, re-cook policy is to sneer casually at such blandishments, but since cheesemaking is about controlled bacterial action, it seemed like a good idea.

The tools of a cheese-makers Art
Want to have a nice relaxing time? Slowly pour an entire gallon of whole milk into a pot. Don't dump it in like you're ashamed of it. No, let it trickle in, unaware of everything that is about to happen to it. Like the walk of a friend who foolishly went to the bathroom on his birthday at the ChiChi's, and is sauntering back unaware of the cacaphony that awaits.

Sorry that we sing so bad. DO DAH DO DAH.
Now, let your friend milk slowly begin to heat up. While that happens, let me take a moment to create an understanding. Most of the stuff in this compendium can be easily (if not wisely) replicated by aspiring re-cooks the world around, and to that end I provide detailed instructions about what ingredients I use (often inappropriately) and how I use them (frequently ineptly). Turning cow juice into cojack is not quite re-cooking however. It is instead, I submit, total magimythical alchemy. As ordered by the dusty vellum included with the kit, I spent a good fifteen minutes before beginning preparing my potions. Mixing this with that. Spooning that into the other. Stirring thrice widdershins with one eye closed. Quite literally taking spoonfuls of mysterious powders from small stoppered jars. Squeezing several drops of clear and bizarrly named liquid into water (all while my helpers did the Dragnet Goat Dance and chanted).

From left to right: Benzine, Powdered Ear, Liquid Snake, Salt (in spoon), and the liquid from a box of Wet Ones
I'm not exaggerating. Cheese is freakin' magic. For example...2 minutes after adding several of the above solutions to my pot, my innocent warm milk turned into this:

If you could smell this, you'd be dead.
I bolted the lid on and let it set for twenty minutes (after which it both looked and smelled much worse). Next, I drained the "greenish liquid" (their words, I'd have used far worse). The next recipie in the book involved using that lethewater, but as I didn't have a biohazard container and I still valued my relationship with the person in who's kitchen I was squatting, I put it down the drain. Wisely (in my opinion) the next process was to get as much of that stink out of my transforming cheese. This was done by smushing:

Under the master's hands, the cheese dances
As well as such other dignified techniques as straining, more smushing, heating, yet more smushing, a bit of squeezing, and finally kneading (which works out essentially to smushing). Finally, you end up with a nice shiny mass of proto cheese that is hotter than you can belive:

Shown here: smushing
Now the fun begins. I got to take this pile of searing white goo and stretch it. And then stretch it. And then pass it around the apartment, letting everyone stretch it. Nominally, this is to incorporate some air into it, and to help it to become more "stringy". In actuality, I believe it is to instill in the brand new cheesemonger a sense of wonder and awe.

Look at what I have created!
Normal men are content to drink their milk peacefully (or perhaps in a cereal). Not I. I have taken that innocent milk through dark places; and at the end, I have produced something beautiful that is far more than the sum of it's parts.

I'm still holding it. It feels so good. Milk No More.
I wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it firm up a touch in the fridge. Nothing for it but to slice and serve.

Top: Slice. Bottom: Serve (super haute cusine)

PS - If there are any special requests, post 'em in the comments! I'll work with anything, and while I cannot promise it will end up tasting or looking good, it will be one hell of a trip.

PPS - A shout out to all the folks from the Fugly Forums!


  1. How cool... you have the same china pattern I do!

  2. Wow! You should take good care of it. I only have the one left (from the author's early K-Mart period). I felt bad getting it dirty for the picture, but I cleaned with a toothbrush and a chamois afterward...

  3. ...because author's make plates now? I dunno...