Saturday, October 18, 2008

Learning to Make Cheese with the Queen of Cheese

When I found out I was going to Western Mass for my internship, one of the first few things I did was sign up for a cheese making class with Ricki Carroll. Ricki is known as the person that taught Americans to make cheese at home. She has been at it since the early 70s and even has a DVD and a book called "Home Cheese Making". I have the book and tried to make cheese using her recipes with the raw milk we get locally in Seattle. I had success with lemon or vinegar cheese, but was way overwhelmed with mozzarella or cheddar.

It just so happens that Ricki's workshops are held 30 minutes from my home in Northampton! So today I had the chance to see cheese made in person and have all my questions answered. In the 6 hour class we made not only cheddar and mozzerella, but also Queso Blanco, Mascarpone, Whole Milk and Whey Ricottas, Fromage Blanc, Creme Fraiche and Mascarpone. We sampled it all!

The class was completely packed. Apparently after Animal Vegetable Miracle by B. Kingsolver came out (Kingsolver takes this class in the book) Ricki's business doubled! Despite the jam packed class, I loved the class and learned that cheese making is a lot easier than it seems! The people next to me bought everything that is needed to get started and spent $400. Wow! Maybe I'll wait on the hard cheeses that require an expensive press.

Hanging soft cheese in butter muslin

Curds forming

Pouring curds into cheese cloth

Squeezing out the whey

Filling the press

I was talking to some other people there and found out that King Arthur Flour is in Norwich, VT and offers baking classes. Coming up in the next few months they have a class on Baguettes, Artisan breads, whole grain baking, sourdough, croissants, holiday pies I am definitely going to sign up for one. How could I pick just one though?

They provided a lunch which included tomato and mozz salad, local greens salad, chicken, honey crisp apples and carrot ginger soup. Oh and of course a variety cheeses.

She has some very beautiful and unique clocks

Front of her very colorful house

Front Porch

Across the street

In other Phish tickets for me. I guess its not such a bad thing that I don't have to drive 9 hours to Virginia.

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