The new rhythms of bread making have hit home and I haven’t bought bread since the beginning of the year. I’ve added flat breads to my repertoire and when I can master soft rolls, bagels and english muffins we’ll be about as self sufficient in making the bread types we eat most. There are lots of other enticing recipes for specialty breads but I vowed to myself that I needed to get the basics right first and anyway January seemed to disappear so it was time to move on to the next domestic adventure.
Home cheese making is one of the latest crazes in New Zealand after the launch of DIY cheese making kits last year. I succumbed to the romantic thought of rustling up my own creamy creations last year but it’s only after I was given a voucher for a cheese making course for Christmas by a dear friend of mine did I fully find my cheese making courage. So far I’ve rustled up ricotta and mozzarella which are the two cheeses we cook with most. The ricotta is ridiculously easy and with a bit more practice I’m sure that the mozzarella will be as rhythmic.
It’s easy to fall in love with cheese making. The pure magic of creating so many different cheeses from milk is intoxicating and far more fun than any of my chemistry A level lesson that I remember. And the eating of the end product is far more satisfying than anything I’ve been out and bought off the supermarket shelf. I can’t deny it was a special moment to load up a plate of heritage tomatoes and basil just picked from the greenhouse with freshly made mozzarella. For a moment, just a moment, it felt like summer which is a rare thing in these parts as the last month or so Wellington has been under a stubborn cloud that has spoiled our fun.
I’ve plans for making cottage cheese, cream cheese and mascarpone before stepping up the level of cheese making disciplines to make cheeses that need to be pressed and matured. I think my ultimate achievement would be to be grating my own parmesan cheese which from all I’ve read takes more than a year to mature.
All this domesticity is quite addictive. As days go by I become less attracted to filling up the shopping trolley and just making my own. As I sit down to eat I find myself making an audit of those things on the plate which have been home made or grown. So far the effort has been pretty minimal it takes a little advance planning and preparation rather than hours slaving. It’s amazing what you can put your mind and hand to if you really try.