Last week I watched some home videos from my childhood. My father spent some insane amount of money to copy all of our old reel-to-reel movies onto 7 cds. I noticed two things. First, home furnishings in the 1970’s were surprisingly orange and avocado and Second, little girls used to act like little girls. In one of the videos, I was about 9 or 10 years old. I was dancing around our living room with 5 or 6 of my best neighborhood friends in our flannel Holly Hobbie nightgowns. We giggled and pranced around and held hands in a circle. We looked and danced like little girls. We were little girls.
So, why does my 8 year old little girl act like a teenager (and do not even get me started on my 4 year old)? My sweet little thing suddenly knows the words to songs I have never heard of and dances like her livelihood depends on it. She has attitude and knows how to appropriately roll her eyes (no idea where she learned that one *wink *wink). She wants to wear high heels and “fancy” clothes. Some mornings she looks like she is going to the office instead of 3rd grade (thanks for the black knee high boots, Grandma). The other day she told me I would “never understand her”. Sweetheart, you are only 8. If I cannot understand you now, we are in for some troubling times. I do not understand how you have matured so far beyond your years. We have tried to keep you sheltered and innocent. We do not let you watch inappropriate movies, you are rarely out of our sight and we encourage you to do little girl things. But, you have never loved dolls, you are suspicious of the Tooth Fairy, you refuse to play board games and dislike any Disney channel that includes the word “Jr.”. I am at a loss. I think I am going out this week buy you a Holly Hobbie nightgown.
A lot of people are interested in my cheesemaking. Everybody loves cheese and turning everyday grocery store milk into something so delicious and amazing seems like magic. I guess it is a form of magic, actually. The problem is that cheesemaking is also a lot of work. It takes patience, time and a lot of trial and error. If you are up for the challenge, I highly recommend it. What I do not recommend is doing it without a friend or a more experienced cheesemaker to show you the ropes. Most cheesemaking recipes are fairly vague. They assume you know what it means to “rehydrate the innoculants” and the rennet and that you cannot do it with chlorinated water; that you know the proper size to cut curds for various types of cheese and you know what a “clean break” is, that you have “dairy wash” on hand and that you can tell the difference between the beautiful necessary molds required to properly flavor your cheese and the ones that popped up because you did not sanitize your workspace well enough. The best part about homemade cheesemaking is that it is very rewarding and once you learn the basics, they sky is the limit to what you can do with a few simple ingredients. So, do not let me scare you. Anyone can make cheese.
For the beginner, I would recommend starting with chevre. Chevre is a creamy fresh goat’s milk cheese. Goat’s milk is easy to work with and fairly easy to find in a non-ultra pasteurized form. Most milks will not coagulate properly once they have been ultra-pasteurized without adding calcium choride. Since, chevre is a fresh cheese you do not need to worry about aging the cheese or growing proper mold. It is also easy to flavor with herbs to make delicious treats.
The basic process for most cheeses including chevre involves heating the milk to the proper temperature, adding innoculants and rennet, cutting the curd and then draining the whey. I hope to be posting some step by step lessons here in the future, but if you are really excited to get started, everything you need can be found at these two websites: http://www.cheesemaking.com/ or from my good friend, Steve Shapson at http://www.thecheesemaker.com/. Steve is even having a Cyber Monday sale and it is good through tomorrow.
My first car was a used 1976 Camaro. It was maroon with a white leather interior and got me everywhere I needed to go all through highschool. Some would say I was spoiled…and I was. But, that car taught me some very important life skills. Although my parents had fairly gender stereotypical roles during my childhood, my father took the time to teach me, his oldest daughter, how to maintain my car. I learned to check and change the fluids, to change a tire and check the threads, to replace windshield wipers and to manage all the standard maintenance for my car.
Fast forward to today. My husband and I have a mix of gender stereotypical roles and some that are not. I cook. I make huge messes, He does dishes and laundry and cleans. I stay home with our kids. He works at a job outside the home. I deal with all the insurance,the doctors, the plumbers, and most of the computer problems. He builds pirate ships in the backyard and forts in the kids’ bedrooms. He also reads and puts the kids to bed every night. He does all the cooking on weekend mornings so I can sleep and he sorts all the mail.
The one thing I wish my husband would take care of that he never has is the maintenance of our cars. So, for this Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I can do it.
I have spent the weekend frantically getting ready for a craft show that I theoretically have had 50 weeks to prepare for and complete my sewing. I make and sell reuseable, washable, food safe snack bags. It is somewhat of an addiction. I am happy to do away with plastic bags in our home and who doesn’t love strolling through a fabric store picking out adorable prints that you know your kids will love. Unfortunately, my kids love the new prints a bit too much. The minute I pulled out the sewing machine from it’s seasonal hibernation, the kids appeared with a list of projects. One wanted a ninja mask and a pillow, one wanted a baby sling (sorry, no time), one wanted a belt. There go some of my profits and my fabulous new superhero print.
Join me as I raise 3 little kids, garden in the City, grow mushrooms, make homemade cheese, bake bread, play guitar, fix a couple of computers, and learn to sew and can. My dream is to live off the land as long as somebody else tends to the livestock and there is HBO OnDemand.