Friday, April 27, 2007

The Importance of Cheese

I have been rather frantically busy the last few days. In between extended hours in the studio, I have also had paperwork to do, all of the usual kid and house stuff because Doug was in the city on Wednesday and Thursday, prepping panels, and last night there was a memorable trip to the vet with a bleeding dog who got a chunk of her ear bit off while outside protecting us from intruders. AND I am still obsessed with making cheese.

This morning I waxed two cheese rounds that I made in the last few weeks. The unwaxed wedge of cheese on the plate is what's left of the very first successful (the first few tries were a disaster!) batch that I made. The cheese is supposed to age for at least 2 months for better flavor, but I had this smaller round and we were dying of curiosity so we tried it after only a week. It was really good! Anyway, I wanted to let the others age longer so they get waxed. One is cheddar and one is caraway cheddar. The cheddar round is a bit funky, I had trouble getting enough weight to press it and so it isn't as firm and solid as it should be. Then my neighbor loaned me her cheese press (yes, two people on the same road who happen to be making cheese, what are the odds of that?), and so that one, on the right, turned out much better. Today I have another batch in progress, this time with cumin.

I have also made several batches of goat cheese from milk bought at the health food store. It is incredibly easy to make and the flavor is much better than store bought especially if you press fresh herbs into it.

I know, I know, super fascinating pioneer life of a painter. I just feel that I should try to balance out all of the manufactured stuff we have with a few things that I can make myself. Making things, whether it's a painting or a sweater or cheese gives me a feeling of purpose and accomplishment.


James Wolanin said...

Can you make Soy Cheese? :)

jcitybone said...

Maybe your cheese is related?

Hope your dog is ok

Tracy Helgeson said...

Jim, Ha! Maybe I'll try it sometime. It's not my favorite though, so I will have to send it to you for a taste test.

Brian, Funny link! Thanks! No relation, my cheese will NOT sit around that long and will probably not be that good either:)

Penny is good. She was very nonchalant about the whole thing really, except for the car ride-which she HATES! She's got a big chunk missing from her ear and we are just hoping it won't start bleeding again. Evidently dog ears are very difficult to stitch and they bleed a lot.

meno said...

I should figure out how to make goat cheese, as i love cheese. Then again, maybe i shouldn't.

Stupid pets, it's always something. Something expensive!

Thanks for your answer about picture size. It did make sense.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Meno, $212.36 to be exact.

Goat cheese is so easy. Basically you heat goat milk, add a starter (like yogurt) let it set and then let it drain for a day or two. You can actually buy a good goat cheese kit at if you really want to try it. That's what I started with.

Are you ever going to tell me which painting you bought so I can thank you properly!

Lynnea said...

Making things when you have the time for it is so much fun too. And the taste is almost always better. I am way impressed that you made your own cheese!

meno said...

Oh sure, it's the most beautiful painting you've ever done. :)

Shadow on Road. It sits on my mantle. I always wanted to ask if anyone ever frames them or if the sides being painted means they aren't that kind of picture.

I love the colors.

I think i will get a cheesmaking kit. i used to make my own yogurt, so it can't be too hard. Right?

Tracy Helgeson said...

Maggie, making cheese isn't really that hard-if it were I wouldn't do it! It's just process oriented, you have to hang around and do things at a certain time.

Meno, ahh so you were the mystery buyer! We always wondered who bought that piece. That particular gallery only tells me the last name of the buyer, and it wasn't Meno:)

Thank you so much!

I don't frame anything anymore because I felt that even the simple frames distract from the images. However, it can be framed, but I usually don't want to know about it:)