Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I've been trying to keep busy lately with Lisa away. It seems like every time she leaves town for a few days, I plan some household project to surprise her with and always I'm way too ambitious. I had it in my mind this time that I would empty closets, clean out the garage, even move furniture. In short, a lot of bending, lifting and carrying–– none of which I do well, some of which are potentially hazardous.

So, this time I'm concentrating on manageable projects– things I can do which require short bursts of focused, engrossing activity followed by ample time to lie down. (I'm just imagining someone reading that last line without knowing anything about me and my circumstances and deciding I am the laziest lout in the whole world). So far I can find nothing very engrossing about dusting or vacuuming, so I'm sticking to more fun projects.

Friday, I experimented with making mozzarella. Lisa and I tried this the previous week but the milk we used was probably ultra-high pasteurized because it only turned into unpalatable, squeaky curds. Friday, I used a different milk but with almost the same result. This time, though, it wasn't squeaky, but crumbly, so I decided to call it queso fresco and enjoy it with a Mexican style dinner. And so I did.

Saturday, I baked a whole-wheat-walnut-raisin bread which I can't wait to make again for Lisa. Yum.

Sunday, I brewed barley wine which hopefully will be aged nicely by next Christmas... or the one after that. If you live close by, you may be getting a bottle. I want it to be a surprise so forget I said anything.

Monday, I tried the mozzarella again and succeeded in making a perfectly good, though tiny bit of cheese. The trick turned out to be using a particular, locally produced, non-organic milk. I read somewhere that, ironically, organic milk is more likely to be ultra-pasteurized. Go figure.

Yesterday was semolina bread. As Lisa might write: "Meh." It's still a recipe-in-progress.

Today? Today I faced up to the fact that housework is unavoidable. It will require a good deal of self motivation and naps but after a week of use and abuse, this old place needs some love.


cath said...

Yes, I don't think I've ever seen store bought organic milk that is not ultrapasturized. And the ultrapasturizing process does something funny to the milk proteins. When I make mozzarella I go to the local dairy and get a gallon there (and pick up some ice cream while I'm at it). The only problem, I never know what to do with all the whey afterwards. Maybe I will have to make some cheese this weekend . . .

robb said...

The whey does a great magic trick. Bring it up to 195ºF and let it sit for 10 minutes off heat. It turns into ricotta.

Anonymous said...

Looking for projects, eh?


I am very jealous that you have figured out how to make cheese. There is a really great Indian meal that featured spinach and home made cheese, that I love, and since we moved to a rural area- full of cows but devoid of Indian food, we are crap out of luck.

I need to pick your brain- do you make just beer or other wine related items, according to your latest blog?

What sort of grapes should I plant if I want to get a reliable source? We have 3 old vines behind the barn, that after 2 years of trimming really are not giving me hardly anything. (It's quite possible that I dont know what I'm doing, either- keep that in mind.) Maybe my 30 year old vines are past their prime, not all vines are meant to go forever, I guess.

Glad you are making bread, Gary makes a great bread, maybe it's a guy thing. Hope Lisa makes it home ok. I wonder what that special water of her town would do for your beer?

Out here in Pa we just had a car break down in front of our house that looks like it is full of the next generation's local Junior Meth lab. I guess I am getting old and judgemental. If they get out of hand I guess I can always make THEM paint the house, eh?


Music Woman said...

Oh I would love to learn how to make cheese!

BTW..... squeaky cheese is awesome, so I hope you didn't throw it away!

I'm working on making my own ice cream..... though every day I say "I'm going to do it today!" and forget to put the ice cream maker parts in the freezer.....


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