The other day when I was flipping a cheese (or maybe I was getting it out of the press? brining it? whatever), I suddenly blurted, “I’m good at making cheese.”
black pepper parmesan
My husband mm-hmmed me politely, and everyone else ignored me, but as I puttered about the kitchen I kept thinking about what I’d just said.
Three years ago I didn’t know what clabber was, or the differences between mesophilic and thermophilic cultures, or how to do the squeeze test to see if the curds were done cooking or make a saturated salt brine, and now I’m consistently turning out fat wheels of delicious cheese.
I really am good at making cheese!
Here are a few of the stages I’ve gone through thus far.
- Hope Springs Eternal: where I have zero confidence but truckloads of ambition.
- The Granny Fantasy: where I obsess over finding a cheesemaking granny to teach me how.
- Death By Information: where I read everything I can get my hands on and watch hours of YouTube videos.
- Finding My People: where I get together with other cheesemakers to discuss process, troubleshoot, and eat cheese.
- Make All The Cheese: where I do exactly that, because how else will I learn what’s good and what’s not?
- Crash and Burn: where I culture a whole bunch of cheeses with kefir and then throw most of them out because kefir is from the devil.
- Share The Journey: where I start a YouTube channel, because simply making the cheese isn’t complicated enough.
- Clabber Me Silly: where I learn the power and glory of clabber and use it to make all my cheeses.
- Moi Terroir: where I’m finally coming into my own. I know which cheeses we like best and how fast we’ll eat them up. I understand how little tweaks will impact the final product. I know which tools are necessary and which ones are aren’t. I have my own cheesemaking style, complete with techniques and handy little tricks.
All along I’ve been getting good at making cheese and now I am good at making it. Now I can confidently knock out a 7-pound wheel of cheese in several hours, zero stress, zero drama. It’s just cheese.
Which is a marvel, really, considering how much I didn’t know.
What are you good at? Whistling? Parallel parking? Growing tomatoes? Typing? Writing books? Telling jokes? Giving IVs? Splitting wood? Apologizing? (Three other things I’m good at: making lists, delegating, and trying new things.)
This same time, years previous: happy pork, milk central, margarita mix, energy boost, the family reunion of 2017, the quotidian (6.8.15), delivery, thorns, Jeni’s chocolate ice cream, how we beat the heat.