Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mollie and the Amazing Cheese

For Christmas I was gifted the most awesomest gift possible.
Anyone that knows me knows my deep and abiding love for cheese.
I can honestly say there is not a cheese out there I've met that I haven't LOVED!
(There are several cheese trays on the wedding menu)

The wonderful A.A. Mollie thought it a wise decision to buy me a ricotta and mozzarella cheese making kit! And Mom thought it wise to watch football on a lazy Sunday and make said cheese.

While the wonderful D finds and replaces the busted windshield and GPS.
It's a mystery as to what Dad and Max were up too.
I'm guessing it involved BBQ.

Please note that cheese-making is an intense project and takes many tries. This is my disclaimer.
Luckily this kit makes 30 batches.

We started by putting Little O down for a nap.
Buzz was super tired too.
As was Thing 1,
Thing 2 stayed with us downstairs.
He needed a tubby time.

Mom is a cleaning mc clean clean cleaner.
So, we started out with a clean mc clean counter top.
And a stellar pot.
red of course.

She's cleaning.
Just watching her wears me out.

The CHEESE kit!
(Thank you Almost Aunt Mollie)

Now, following directions has never much been my forte.
But Mom insisted that we not improvise in cheese making.
I didn't listen to her.
But I tried.
Start by getting 1/4 c warm water and dissolving 1/4 tablet rennet in said water.

Stir to dissolve.
Read the instructions again because you already forgot the next step.
Watch Mom go clean something else.

Mix 1 1/2 t citric acid into 1 cup cool distilled water.
Cool as in temp not as in rad, groovy, or fabby water.

Pour 1 gallon of good quality milk into the pot and stir VIGOROUSLY while adding the citric acid solution.
Oddly enough, finding good quality, high fat milk in Austin was extremely difficult.
I find that American's are very weird about milk and cheese.
But that's a rant for another time.
The next time I make cheese I will get milk from a cow.
I mean a farmer with a cow on a farm.
You get the idea.

No heat the milk to 90 degrees (with the awesome new thermometer I got for Christmas)
Thanks Dad!
That man knows his kitchen appliances I tell ya.

Still heating.
And heating.
This took awhile.
As not scorch out gallon of ten dollar milk.

Still heating...

Now remove pot from burner and SLOOOOWLY stir in the rennet solution.

Me: "rennet solution?"
Mom: "That tablet thing we cut and dissolved like 8 years and 98098 steps ago".
Me: "hmm...where did it go? Did you clean it already"


Now cover the pot and leave it alone for 5 minutes.

Check the curds.
Sing Little Miss Muffet.
Sing it again.
Notice that your curds look nothing like the ones in the pictures in the instructions.
Consult with co cheesemaker.
Decide to let it sit longer.
Go watch Mom clean toys.
Laugh at her because cleaning up toys is a waste of time.

Check the curds AGAIN.
Sing some more.
Still not looking like the picture.
Let it sit longer.

It finally looks like the picture.
There is a clear separation between the curd and the whey.
Sing again because you said "curds and whey".
Cut the curd with a knife.

Now ladle curds into a large microwaveable bowl and drain off as much of the whey as possible.
Press the curds.
But not too much.

Note microwavable bowl that is not in fact red.
Place bowl in microwave for 1 min.
drain whey.
place in microwave 30 sec.
drain whey.

Mmm...cheese curds.
Time to start stretching it.
Now this is where we started having some problems.
It's supposed to be 135 degrees as you stretch.
As it cools you put it back in the microwave.
We had two issues:
  1. We didn't have any gloves and TRUST me 135 is pretty hot.
  2. We kinda drained off so much whey that the cheese was really dry.
But hey, give us a break this was our first attempt.

Stretching cheese.
Burning fingers.
Trying to see if it looks anything like it's supposed to.

Still stretching.
And where we made mistake #2.
see above.

The picture in the instructions shows this LOOOOOOONG line of pully cheese.
Like silly putty.
Clearly we do not have that.
What we do have is red burning fingers.

Now form into balls.
Yes, we laughed at this.
We laughed even harder when the instructions said "or braid it".
does it look like our attempt is braid-able?

I cut off a few pieces to eat.
Even better drizzled with salt and EVOO.
Take the balls (hehehe)
and drop them into an ice bath.
This makes sure they hold their shape.

Now bake up a pizza!
On my new pizza stone mind ya!
Thanks Uncle Matt and Aunt Jessie!

Artichoke hearts.
Mom's SUPER AWESOME Cornmeal dough.
Dad's SUPER AWESOME tomato sauce.
Fresh Basil.
And a stellar bottle of wine!

I just LOVE when my Momma visits.
How will I make until May when she visits again?
I know....
I'll practice my cheese making skills.
I think I'll try ricotta next.

Stay tuned!
pinkpancakes from 3 Forks Ranch signing off...

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