Friday, 25 July 2014

Cheeseday Rolls Around

The day dawned crisp and clear. The kind of crisp and clear that makes you want to get out into the garden, even though it isn't really Spring yet. It was definitely cold enough to see your breath, but not quite frost cold, although my toes were a little sceptical about that. The lawn guy who used to bring the clippings that I mulched my garden paths with finally gave up trying to get into my pants, and with that also gave up bringing the lawn clippings. So the garden paths are now quite overgrown, and the long grass was drenched in heavy dew, soaking through my shoes, numbing my poor little toes. But with no breeze and a clear blue sky, the watery sun put out enough warmth to be able to stay out for a while and get a few thing done.
Spring is going to be very hectic, trying to get the garden in shape. The winter has been cold and nasty enough to not be able to get out into the garden, but not cold enough to halt - or even really slow - the growth of the grass and weeds. Sigh. So much to do. Eventually though, the many other things that needed doing today going around and around in my head got the better of me, shouting and yelling and clambering over each other, each vying for my attention, until finally I put the trowel and bucket away, and moved on with the rest of my day.

I have settled on a selection of cheeses to make to fill my needs, and have worked out a schedule for making them, doing one cheese a week, that should keep me in a good supply of all the types. My main cooking cheese will be Cheddar, and I will make it in a variety of flavours - Beer, herb, plain - depending on what I already have aging when it comes time to make the new one. The two other hard cheese I will do are a Wensleydale - which I will vary between Cranberry and plain - as an eating cheese, and Parmesan, for my pastas and pestos. Parmesan is the longest aging of the cheeses, requiring 10 months, where all the others only need between 4 weeks and 3 months.
The soft/mould cheeses I have settled on are Gorgonzola for the blue cheese and Neufchatel for the white cheese, being for eating with bread and in salads, and for cooking in pasta sauces and with grilled veggies (grilled mushrooms with Neufchatel... yum!). Feta is a staple for me, and now that I will be making it I will be able to use it a lot more. I use it - marinated - in salads a lot, as well as in a lot of my cooking. Mozzarella is the last of the cheeses on my list, which of course is a must for my homemade pizzas, as well as for salads.
Halloumi I only eat occasionally, and is fast enough to make that I can make it the day (or day before) I need it, and the same goes for Ricotta, which I normally only use in ravioli, cannelloni, and lasagne. So those two aren't on my cheese schedule, I will just make them as needed.
This week's cheese is Mozzarella, which I have just finished making. Meanwhile, the Gorgonzola is now wrapped and happily growing it's blue mould, the Neufchatel is happily growing it's white mould, and the Beer cheese (a type of Cheddar) is happily not growing mould at all, now that it has been waxed.
I have been eating the Ricotta Salata that I made last month, and while it is a nice enough cheese, it is not one I will bother making again, as everything it is used for, the other cheeses I have settled on will be much better for. But it has served its purpose as a quick aging cheese so that I could have a homemade cheese to use while getting my cheese schedule underway and waiting for the others to come ready.

Freshly baked Peasant bread, freshly made Mozzarella, and a Romanesco broccoli fresh picked from my garden.

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