Of the two books I have on using the products of one’s home dairy, I have teed off fairly roundly on the one, but I haven’t said anything about the other. “The other” would be a slim spiral-bound book called, crazily, Goats Produce Too: The Udder Real Thing, Cheese Making And More Volume II by Mary Jane Toth. Once I got beyond the utter church-ladies-recipe-book style of the thing in both format, tone and (frankly) badly written instructions, I have decided that the late Mary Jane Toth is my hero in all things dairy. (Deep bow.)
The fudge was a start.
Don’t judge a book by its cover says the nag in my head. Surely, there’s plenty of appeal to Ricki Carroll’s book: it’s glossy, there are 75 recipes in it, plenty of pictures and how-to’s and it’s gone through the hands of an editor and a graphic designer but goodness you get to a recipe, get all excited to make it and realize DUH you don’t have the one thing needed to make the cheese happen: and in 74 of 75 cases that one thing is something she’s glad to sell you. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It just means 1. I should really read the recipe closely and 2. I should continue the idea that my cheese will continue to cost me money in terms of ordering the stuff to make it.
But Ms Toth’s book is refreshing, despite its lack of panache. It’s totally commonsensical. And: you don’t need to pay her a dime to make cheese, or anything else dairy-related. In point of fact, you can get many of her recipes for free on the internet, and most of the needed ingredients right out of your refrigerator (yogurt as thermophilic starter, buttermilk as mesophilic).
Incidentally, I have never made fudge before. It was tasty, and chewy…or I should say “is” because I am sure it will take us weeks to eat it all!
Num! I loves fudge!
I think that cheese making is quite the investment, but I’m glad to hear about Mary Jane Toth. I’ll check out your link, and thanks!
You’ve nailed one of the reasons I haven’t gotten into cheesemaking as much as I thought I would. I keep getting books but have major eye-glazing-over issues with the special ingredients or multi-stage processes. I know in a lot of ways it’s just a matter of getting used to it–I used to be the same way with preferments in bread recipes, and now of course those don’t seem as scary. So thanks for the link. I really need to try some simpler recipes to get started. I also have bookmarked hippieingeeksclothing’s feta recipe, which seems in my range.
Oh and the other problem is I live in WI, where artisan cheese makers WAY better than me are all over the place, it’s hard to justify the experiments!
A friend of mine had goats (maybe still does…I no longer live in NJ), and while I helped take care of them, including milking when she was away, I just couldn’t get past the goaty smell when it came to the milk. That said, the fudge she made from their milk was GREAT! Enjoy.
ooh i wonder if i can filch some goat milk from a buddy and try fudgering… hmmm…
I’m saving this info for the gardening girl. I have too much of the crazies to make cheese, but she is a normal person.
She should thank you for her gifts; many of them are from your suggestions.
p.s. I give you full credit for the genius ideas.
Love your post! I don’t have much love for the self-proclaimed “Cheese Queen”. People have been making cheese for centuries without the benefit of the prescribed ingredient list and conditions mandated by Rikki’s recipes. Making cheese from her book makes me recall (unfondly) of afternoons spent in chemistry lab. I enjoy the more “homespun” approach of Mary Toth, Felix Sandor and Carla Emory. The product might not also be consistent, but it’s generally tasty and the process is a more relaxed, pleasant adventure. Thanks for the great blog – we enjoy it regularly!
Not wanting to buy extra stuff that I don’t need is currently derailing me on my cheesemaking adventures. The one thing that is keeping me from trying out some “alternative” approaches (like yogurt as culture) is not wanting to waste a whole bunch of milk. Since we don’t have our own milk animals, our grass-fed raw milk isn’t cheap and I hate to ruin 2 gallons of beautiful milk. Oh, I see now, we need our own milk animals, don’t we? Wait till my husband hears this! 🙂
Paula, indeed: most people have no problem getting over the fudge hurdle, but home cheese making…well. There is a bit of investment needed for it but it doesn’t need to be the hundreds of dollars some people lead you to believe. But tens of dollars, maybe.
Sara, hah. At least you know what you’re in for if you take on cheese too then. But you’re right in the mere fact that your geography might take away any reason to DIY, right? Actually bread-making and cheese-making are very similar in that there are the three same steps that need to happen, despite the bread or cheese you’re making. The other steps and the other ingredients are where the difference occurs between the pedestrian and the artisan.
Ellen, well, there are many, many things you can do to minimize the goat-y smell (due to two strains of bacteria that are particular to goats) but the main one is to use the milk when it’s very fresh. People will swear that there’s no obvious difference between fresh goat and cow milk, but I sure can taste it.
Mama Bean, I say go for it! And cajeta, and caramel…and goat-milk ice cream.
Pamela, you give me too much credit. But I like the idea that my hairbrained schemes have turned into well-liked gifts!
Rachel! Hi. I have been reading your (mostly husband’s) blog since he introduced himself on the Eat Local SW Michigan list serve…I envy your “outdoor facilities,” really I do. We should meet sometime. I would like to see your farm, and would love to show you the greenhouses… But indeed, actually enjoying what you’re making, whether it’s jelly or cheese or whatever, should be primary. Too bad too many sources scare people off and/or make these tasks stress tests.
Oh goodness Andrea I really wasn’t trying to force you down the home-grown! But nah, if you read any of these recipes if they say “or X ounces prepared (mesophilic or thermophilic) starter” just read it to say “X ounces of (buttermilk or yogurt) starter.” It’s that simple. It’s also why I used all of my first big milk harvest into making mother cultures (fresh, which is a touch different than buttermilk; buttermilk; yogurt; and an Italian thermophilic).
El, we would really enjoy meeting you and showing you around our farm some time. I’ve had greenhouse envy all winter and would love to see your set up as well. I’ll email you soon.
CC, finally finished it! Yum. Cajeta is next!
Great, Rachel, I look forward to meeting you. Let’s plan it for after our oven gets finished this month…that’d be a fun thing to see too!