Well I finally girded up my loins and attempted a new kind of cheese.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
It's so easy for me to stick with what I know, to keep repeating and repeating a modest success with only minor variations, and call it good. And my chevre IS good. Very good, if I do say so myself. I'm proud of it, as I should be. It's creamy and tangy and delicious. But one thing my chevre is not, and that's feta. Or cheddar, gouda, etc. If I want to learn to make those cheeses, I have to risk some milk.
Like eggs and omelets, I guess. I don't know why it's so hard for me to risk ruining a bunch of raw material, whether it be milk or plain white paper. I've always had a hard time resigning myself to the ruin of some resources in the name of practice. It's just a fact of life, you have to go through a lot of material before you produce something great. Photographers go through lots of film (or they used to, before the digital age). Painters go through lots of paint. And cheesemakers go through lots of milk. But for me, a large empty canvass has always inspired a terror of destroying it with an ugly painting, and fresh new unopened tubes of paint represent the large amount of money that will be wasted if I fail to produce with them anything I'd like to hang on the wall.
Similarly, a few gallons of milk represents a rather large amount of work to me, these days. Not just the time spent milking, which is considerable, but also the work of cleaning the barn, of slinging around fifty-pound sacks of grain, of lugging water. Start adding up costs and goat's milk becomes a pretty precious fluid. It would be easy for me to freeze up thinking about that investment and refuse to risk wasting any of it on a bad batch that ends up going down the drain. I have to force myself to overcome that anxiety.
I'm glad I did. The feta seems to have turned out very well. It's a bit early to tell, since feta has to cure for a few days in salt, but certainly everything went according to plan up to this point. I read the recipe carefully, made a few adjustments in my equipment, and wallah! Feta, one of my very favorite kinds of cheese.
After all that business about the preciousness of my goat milk, now I have to tell the truth, which is that I have way too much of the stuff and I need to find an outlet for the excess. To that end, I'm about to pack up some red pepper chevre and take it down to the farmer's market to see if veggie man and his wife would like to expand our trade deal. Already this week, for my four dozen eggs, I've received one green cabbage, two bunches of radishes, two bunches of green onions, one bunch of carrots, and three heads of broccoli. All organic and delicious. Plus I have two bags of greens from the kale fairy. We have officially entered the season of too much produce.