This past November, I turned 35 and decided to celebrate that milestone by making cheese. I'd never made cheese before and was inspired by novelist Barbara Kingsolver's account of her weekly cheese production in her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Her publication recounts the year that she and her family decided to consume locally grown food---the majority of which they produced themselves. Both Pat and I read the book and were inspired to challenge ourselves to not only produce as much food as we can at Spring Bird, but also, support local farmers and gardeners. Somehow sorting some curds from whey seemed like a good way to take the plunge. We followed directions and ordered supplies from New England Cheese Making Supply Co. which Kingsolver details in her book. In order for cheese production to be successful, you can't use overly pasteurized milk. So, we bought non-organic milk from our grocery store that is sourced from relatively near farms and used their recipe for mozzarella. However, if we were to continue a practice of weekly cheese making, we are considering Barrington Natural Farms for raw milk. They have a herd sharing program that allows for weekly milk supplies, and since we can wave "hello" to the cows from the edge of our subdivision, we could only achieve a more locally derived milk if we had a cow of our own. In the end, we've made mozzarella two times and ricotta and cream cheese once each. I think we need a few more go's to get the hang of it and to not have to be so dependent on the directions. The cheese does taste better and fresher, but perhaps this has to do more with the love and effort we put into it rather than the actual product. One part that I do like about this process is that we used the whey for making soups and in baking bread. So, nothing is wasted which is always a wonderful thing in cooking and food production.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.