Monday, October 05, 2009

I've been very domestic and very country the last week or so, with get-aways to New York City for the "scandalous" new production of Puccini's hardy perennial Tosca at the Metropolitan opera on Saturday, and the farewell tour concert by beloved American mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade (with glamorous gal-pal guest Dame Kiri Te Kanawa) in Boston on Sunday. Fritz, who does NOT like opera but who loves beautiful voices, joined me saying farewell to von Stade at Symphony Hall.

Last week we spent a chilly, slightly rainy afternoon at the Deerfield Fair. We go every two or three years. It's always fun. Fritz knows some of the vendors in the commercial area, we both love going through the arts and crafts building, and there's the animal barn area with pigs (Fritz used to raise them when he first owned the property), sheep, oxen, and our perennial favorites--the fancy poultry. Pictures follow:

This team just learned they were to pull 9,500 pounds and wanted none of it.

Piggy pile--how did that tan guy get into this litter?

Fritz and sheep (above); three top prize-winning quilts (below):

Do these feathers make me look gay?

No, but these sure do the trick!


Earlier tonight I took a cheese-making workshop at the Exeter Adult Education Center. I'd had a idea that I'd like to try making my own cheese for several years when I became blog buddies with Doug Taron (Gossamer Tapestry) who had been making cheese at home for some time and encouraged me to give it a shot.

I don't know, but I may have radiated gay because as we were all taking seats at small tables in the former Home Ec room of a converted high school, a lesbian couple headed right for me and we instantly became the gay table.

The handouts (cheesemaking equipment suppliers; local sources for raw and vat-pasturized cow's milk and goat's milk; recommended book lists; recipes) were excellent. The presenters were two women who've been making their own yogurt and various cheeses for years. It turns out that their preferred cow and goat milk suppliers are both within seven miles of me here in Raymond.

They made ricotta, mozzarella and a direct set goat cheese during the evening, having us do a lot of the work with them (we were about 14 altogether). They talked about how several of their former suppliers have now begun pasteurizing the milk too much for cheesemaking, and about failures they had to deal with until they could locate suppliers who will never pasteurize or who will only vat pasteurize which is gentler on the milk and doesn't break down the protein as much as in regular pasteurization. They were very level headed, fun to work with and responsive to questions.

Everybody oohed and aahed when I pulled out my digital camera to record the desired condition of the curds at various points in the process ("Why didn't we think of that?").

Curds (milk solids and protein) successfully warmed and solidified.

Curds, drained of whey, cut and ready to be kneaded into mozzarella.

The final phase of making mozzarella looks very much like a taffey pull.

I also took a lot of notes and brought home a good deal of whey to experiment making bread with. The evening ended with us eating all the new cheese. I learned a lot, including that it isn't an impossible process and is most likely something I will get into pretty soon.

How went the opera?
You should talk to Doug about cheesemaking. It is his passion - After bugs.
Where DID that tan piggy come from?!? :-) Too cute.

Mozzarella. Yum. Owait, I'm lactose intolerant! Crap-all-mighty.

Hope you're having an excellent week Will. Take care. Now remember to keep the 'cutting the cheese' bit to a minimum. haha!
Ooh, I can see a bit of you in the reflection! :-D
Since mozzarella is "foreign" cheese here in france, it might be fun to learn how to make it at home and not have to rely on the supermarket.

But, on the other hand, we don't have any milk producers in my region (they grow grapes and goats here), so it may not work out...

And goats milk mozzarella doesn't sound right.
Walt--they did say that any cheese can be made of goat milk--of course here will be a different taste. This would also solve Rob's lactose intolerance problem (and mine as well--I can only eat cheeses aged over 90 days) as goat milk doesn't have lactose.
Michael--I have spoken many times with Doug about cheese making. It was he who reignited my original interest after I came across his blog with accounts of his activities making cheese.
Now you just need your own goat herd. Or maybe a goatherd.
Hmmm, TED--nice looking guy, lederhosen, standing on the hill yodeling as the goats eat the brambles and trash weed.
Could work.
This post definitely has a 'back to the land' feel to it. I'm so glad that the cheese workshop went well. I think the middle one is my favorite of the quilts. Also, that's a really nice picture of Fritz.
Cannot wait to hear your take on Tosca! We saw Frederica von Stade in Eugene, OR in July - she was just delightful. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was not with her that evening, though. Enjoy!
Nice to see this post & the great pics... you men are the best balance of butch & aesthete.
Love the piggies & love the cheese...& am crazy for the 2 of you.
What an interesting workshop! Your comment about instantly becoming the 'gay table' made me laugh out loud.
Pictures of chickens that look queer? Let's call them gay cocks! That should earn you a lot of Google hits.
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