To the Cheese Cave!

I look back on this past month and a half and wonder where my life went.  Yes, I got swept up into the political show again… and anyone who knows me knows that when I become interested in something, it is often an all-encompassing, sweeping obsession.  Which is exactly what happened.

When I look back on it, I wonder if I could have spent my time doing more “valuable” things, though I also don’t feel that it was time wasted.  In my immersion, I read a lot of op-ed pieces (which I sort of regard as political junk food), but also sought to understand what I didn’t know about how our political system works (the things I probably should have retained in Government class way back in high school, sorry Mr. Drake) and how current events frame throughout the course of history.  It took a lot of time and energy but to be an informed citizen, I feel, is worth it.  I also will be volunteering my time this Fall to make phone calls on behalf of the Clinton campaign; therefore, I feel it is essential for me to know what I’m talking about and learn how to go about conveying what I see to others.

For all this, I am reluctant to call it “time wasted”.  It goes back to what I felt at the beginning of the election: “why do we have to spend so much time with this every four years?!”  But we live in a Democracy, we SHOULD spend time with it; it is each one of our duties to spend time with it, and ideally much more frequently than every four years.  It should be a constant dialogue.

So that’s my soap box… the conventions are coming up in the next few weeks after which maybe we’ll get a break from it?  Probably not, as we’ll be onto the General Election.  Therefore, I have to make it co-exist with other aspects of my life and other things I want to spend my time doing, other than reading the latest op-ed… like CHEESE!!!

So now… Quark sits waiting for the rennet to form a curd.  I sliced into the Camembert I’d made during the workshop, which has been aging and forming mold in the refrigerator for the past few months: it was quite tasty and I think it’s ready to eat.  The Blue cheese from the workshop has also developed its nice blue mold nearly over all of it and today I poked holes through it for the blue to creep into its crevices.

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I have a list of cheeses I want to delve into, but am having problems narrowing down which one(s) I want to focus on and the options are sometimes overwhelming.  My list of ones to try includes some eight different varieties, some hard, some mold-ripened.  I finally concluded today that I need to continue to do what I did when I began this cheesemaking journey: I started at the beginning of my cheesemaking book and worked through the soft varieties one-by-one… I need to focus on just one for now. … Maybe two.

It’s a hard decision because I really want to delve into the white bloomy-rind cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert, and Chaource.  But then, I have my cheese press I’d bought at the workshop, still unassembled, waiting… so I feel like I should get into hard cheese.  But right now, my heart is screaming Brie!

There are other things that need to fall into place before I begin these ventures: first, I need to go online and order necessary cultures, molds, and other equipment I can’t buy locally, in order to make these cheeses.  Second, I need a proper aging “cave”.  The refrigerator is a little colder than desired (most cheeses want to be aged between 50 and 55 degrees F); the Camembert and Blue from the workshop have come along in the ‘fridge, but have taken much longer than they should have at that temperature, which might compromise the end product.

Cheesemaking resources online say that a wine ‘fridge makes a great aging “cave”.  My boyfriend and I looked at some at Lowe’s a few weeks ago; he’s also interested in getting one to use for his home brewing hobby.  The one we looked at was tall and skinny, and its top half was able to be kept at a separate temperature from its bottom half, which would be good for our potentially separate aging needs.  Its temperature range spanned about 45-65 degrees, perfect for my cheese cave.

I think I’ve finally narrowed down my plan.  Hard cheese: Manchego.  Bloomy Rind cheese: Chaource.

…to the cheese cave!

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