I am not a foodie in the food snob sense, but I do love food, no question. I’ll try anything at least once – and this after a childhood so picky that my name might as well have been “No Potatoes and No Beans”, my response whenever I was asked what I wanted for dinner – and I’ve experimented a lot more in last 6 months, making hummus and homemade mayo and stuff like that. This past week, though, I did some pretty cool stuff that I ended up really happy with. Read the rest of this entry
This series of posts describes my recent trip to Bobolink Dairy Farm. I decided to break it into chunks because I apparently have a lot to say about it. Today’s entry finishes up the cheese-making process.
As the milk starts curdling, Jonathan draws on his engineering background and draws the exponential growth rate over time on a makeshift graph, illustrating the point of the curve that we are going to add our final ingredient, which will stop the milk from turning into yogurt and instead make it draw together to form cheese. It’s a special enzyme, we learn, one that comes from the stomachs of calves (and all mammals): rennet. This enzyme will cause the proteins to coagulate and separate into curds and whey.
It’s all well and good to draw graphs and whatnot, but there is no way to know exactly when the right time to add the rennet really is, according to a clock. Instead, we have to once again rely on our senses. We smell the milk, looking for sour notes, and taste it, looking for the same thing. After twenty or so minutes, we can all smell it, and the flavor is different, acidic, and we’re ready. In goes the rennet. Read the rest of this entry
This series of posts describes my recent trip to Bobolink Dairy Farm. I decided to break it into chunks because I apparently have a lot to say about it. Today’s entry chronicles the early part of the day.
This is the part where I go backwards a little bit before going forward, because I like to ramble, and because there was some stuff I forgot to say. First, I want to answer the question: Why Bobolink?
When Lady Aravan and I were on our journey to better health, we by chance started watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. It’s not a cooking show, but it is a show about food and travel, and we liked Tony’s acerbic sense of humor and presentation. One show he did was set in New Jersey, and in that show he traveled to a small cheese-and-bread-making farm called Bobolink. There he met a raw-milk enthusiast, baked bread, and had what sounded like the world’s best pizza. Read the rest of this entry
This series of posts describes my recent trip to Bobolink Dairy Farm. I decided to break it into chunks because I apparently have a lot to say about it. Today’s entry chronicles the journey itself.
Dawn broke on the big day as we woke up to head to the dairy. Actually, dawn didn’t break until well after we’d woken up, bu that just made it feel all the more farmier. A quick breakfast (cereal and a protein shake for me; leftover homemade pizza and cottage cheese for the Lady. Seriously.) followed soon after, and then we got bundled up. We knew it’d be in the 30s and we’d be tramping in snow, thanks to an email from Jonathan White, the cheesemaker and half the head of Bobolink Dairy Farm, the other half being Nina, his wife, who bears the lovely description of Dancemaker on the website since she is a ballet dancer as well, and who teaches breadmaking classes. Read the rest of this entry
This series of posts describes my recent trip to Bobolink Dairy Farm. I decided to break it into chunks because I apparently have a lot to say about it. Today’s entry is sort of an introduction and background.
For Valentine’s Day this year, Lady Aravan got me the coolest present ever: a trip to a farm to take a cheesemaking class.
Now, to a lot of people, that might sound like hell on earth, or at least dull and pointless. I mean, Wal-Mart has all the cheese you’ll ever need, right? Perfectly yellow, helpfully shrink-wrapped, every single one of each variety tasting exactly the same as all the others. Such perfect uniformity is yummy! Read the rest of this entry
Before Lady Aravan and I decided to get healthy, I was an Alton Brown fan. For a long time, though, I wasn’t. I didn’t get his show at all. I was used to recipe-style cooking shows like the Rachel Ray show (more on her later) or travelogue-style shows like No Reservations. Good Eats was very different, with its long explanations and quirky humor. Finally, though, the show clicked for me and I started to get it. Alton doesn’t try to teach you a recipe (which would feed you for a meal), but rather he tries to teach you how to cook (which will feed you for a lifetime). Some friends bought me the first Good Eats compendium, and that took it all even further. Read the rest of this entry
For the first time in my life, I went to an honest-to-god butcher. I was driven to do so by reading Alton Brown’s Good Eats: The Early Years, where he lobbies hard for people to find local butchers, and an article Lady Aravan posted about growth hormones in meat. Afterwards, I decided I would find one near me. I did, and Lady Aravan and I took a trip up there. I was intimidated, I have to admit. After a lifetime of just grabbing whatever I wanted from little individually-wrapped packages, here was someone waiting for me to tell them what kind of cut of meat I was looking for. I choked, and the man kindly suggested that he had a really nice piece of sirlion. I said that would be great, and got a steak that he said would feed four people (I assumed that might be enough for Lady Aravan and I). He cut it, weighed it and wrapped it, then I talked about pulled pork and he suggested something else (a pork butt that he deboned). They sell Boar’s Head products, which Lady Aravan and I both love, so we ended up getting a pound of bacon – cut from a slab – along with Boar’s Head mustard, hot dogs, pepperoni, and bleu cheese.
1. Man, was yesterday a serious Monday, as in an epic “Case of the Mun-days.“ I was dreaded Monday as soon as it got dark on Sunday, as was Lady Aravan, and boy howdy were our premonitions of impending suck correct. The best thing about today is that it isn’t yesterday.