Give me fuel give me fire… give me That Which I Desire!

*ahem* I’ll tell you where you can put your stupid copyright infringement… right HERE! -> *opens mouth wide*

I have a confession. I like food. Wait, you already knew that? You want to say you like food too? Wait, everybody likes food? Well, maybe it’s not such a secret. The consumption of nutrients is so vital to our continued existence that it’s a bit of a no-brainer that it should be pleasurable as well. I’m going to leave ascetics and anorexics out of this for the sake of my own sanity.

Sure, we all love food, but I’m also equally sure that there’s one particular foodstuff that really gets our happy-bone thumping, makes our eyes crinkle and bursts an inadvertent ‘Mmmmmm’ from our lips, tightly closed to savor every last morsel.

A post by BBB on his love of bacon prompted me to make a suggestion over on Blog Azeroth that posting about our particular food-loving quirk would be a fun way to get to know each other. Well, truth be told, I just can’t wait to see if it’s accepted, I wanted to write that post right away!

What’s my food foible? Well, other than an irrepressible love of cooking, it’s milk, milk in all it’s myriad forms and incarnations.

My obsession started innocently enough. I grew up with dancing cartoon milk cartons all singing to the tune of “Milk, does a body good!” Not to mention I love the taste, that smooth creamy texture, cold and alltogether satisfying. Not to mention its virtues when poured over cereal and used as a softening agent for Oreos and Grahmcrackers. Mmmmmm. Thus was my childhood.

I was also a very inquisitive child, wanting to know how things came to be. My parents didn’t cook much, and most of what they did cook involved a lot of pre-packaged assemble at home ingredients. Two things I remember asking about repeatedly were the creation of bread and cheese. I knew bread came from wheat, and I knew cheese came from milk. I also knew, like any good Christian girl, that when the Jews fled Egypt they didn’t have yeast for their bread so their bread was flat and unleavened.

Unfortunately, whenever I was to ask how these were made the answer was always, “It’s very difficult and complicated.” For bread it was “Hard to get right” and for cheese it was “Dangerous and only to be done in a factory”. Well, this didn’t make any sense to my young mind. I knew both foods were ancient and that factories had only been around for a hundred years or so. I asked what people did before factories and though I can’t recall the answer, I know that it was unsatisfactory.

In college, however, I taught myself how to make bread from scratch. It’s no stretch of the imagination that my daring spirit would soon branch out and attempt to learn how to conquer cheese as well.

A quick trip around the internet and I was hooked, determined to try my hand at cheesemaking. Below is what I found.

  • Cheese Making Illustrated – THE best cheese making resource I have ever found. Plus, there’s pictures!
  • Fias Co Farm – She’s a freelance artist, has dairy goats, makes her own cheese, gets fresh milk and puts all her accumulated wisdom up on the internet. It’s little wonder that I fell in love.
  • Urban Home on the Range – VIDEOS! When you’re making cheese and a dubious look into your pot of lukewarm milk reveals less-than-appetizing swirling curdlets and the cats won’t leave you alone, videos are an amazing confidence-booster. Hers is the best recipe I’ve tried so far and the resultant soft cheese is killer in lasagna.
  • Gourmet Sleuth – Some pictures, a few videos, but more recipes than you could shake a stick at!
  • The Cheesemaker – Supplies! His molds are pretty pricey but the cost of the cultures and dressings looks pretty reasonable. Plus, anybody with half a brain should be able to make a cheese press with the aid of a drill out of some pvc pipe, a pan, and a few bricks.

Throughout my travels I noticed a trend. Artisan cheesemakers almost always keep their own animals. Why was this? Could they not get suitable produce from the supermarket? I know a true love of a craft nurtures a desire to understand all phases of production, but surely there were cheesemakers out there who were using supermarket milk.

That led me down a long path of eye-opening information. Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist, and I do my best to believe in the fundamental goodness of mankind. Granted, there are those who enjoy nothing more than the perversion of the good, but many bad acts are committed with the best intentions. What exactly am I talking about? Why, the Raw Milk debate of course!

Most cheesemaking sites advocate for using fresh raw milk. Raw milk contains all the active enzymes and nutrients, reacts best with rennet and other curdling ingredients and, when it gets older it simply starts to sour instead of turning putrid like pasteurized milk does. Ever wonder how we got sour cream? It’s cream, that’s old! You can’t make sour cream from storebought whipping cream. It’s been pasteurized and if you try to let it sour naturally you’ll get a fungal putrid mess.

After further investigation I stumbled upon this man’s blog:

  • The Complete Patient – I started reading some few months ago, digesting every article with curiosity, wondering what all the hubbub was about. Why are small dairies being raided? Why does this whole thing have the feel of government sting operations and witch hunts about it? What in the world is going on?
  • The Weston A. Price Foundation knows what’s going on. You might enjoy seeing what they have to say.

I quickly learned, to my horror, that this is an actual and real issue. Most people give little thought to the liquid swirling in their morning cereal. I’ve done my research. I’ve looked at the government reports, at the laws, at the dairies, and at history. Yes, history. People have been drinking milk for thousands of years, the bible describes Eden as a place flowing with milk and honey. It just doesn’t make sense that raw milk is such a dangerous substance that it needs to be regulated and banned with all the energy and zeal that accompanies the battle against Methanvedamine labs.

I could continue on, but if you’re interested in the Raw Milk debate and the fate of small farmers I urge you to do your own research. Read both sides, look for fear-mongering tactics and hard facts, search out discrepencies in information (there are many). It’s a big scary world out there for people who want to enjoy fresh raw produce.

As for me? I dream of one day owning some dairy goats, or perhaps a sweet little Jersey cow. And who would have thought, all this knowledge and activism came from a simple love of milk and everything to do with dairy!

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  • Comments (3)
    • Pilsner
    • October 1st, 2008

    I had some, uh, acquaintances that live at the Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee, and they keep goats for milk and cheese there. I keep tellling Guin that once we have a house with a yard we should get a goat, but really all I want it for is a pet. I was traumatized by a goat-milking experience as a child. Protip: When taking a bunch of 6-year-olds on a field trip to a farm, don’t laugh at them when they’re trying to enjoy the scheduled activities.

    • Tigerfeet
    • October 1st, 2008

    They laughed at you! That’s horrible! Milking an animal is awesome. I have fond memories of my grandpa teaching me how to milk a cow (had to put her in a stanchion though because she was a beef animal and not used to someone handling her udders)

    Seriously though, I would love nothing more than to have a smallish farm and be able to show children where their food comes from, because so few people know, or even have respect for the animals that support us. You can be a carnivore and still be kind and nurturing to your animals, it’s a respect thing.

  1. So when ya gonna make the move and get some dairy goats? Think of all that yummy cheese that you could have aging and growing ever more delicious.

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