Friday, February 5, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - Getting some culture

I don't know why we haven't discussed this before. Certainly, growing up in Wisconsin, I'm predisposed toward dairy products. Then last week, someone suggested I go into the caseic arts professionally.
And I do love me some cheese. Fat Guy, remember? It seems only logical that Fun Fact Friday should be full of melty goodness.
Cheesemaking fascinates me, and I love the concept of terroir as translated from winemaking to the science of cheesy comestibles. That all cheese comes from the same basic ingredients - milk, rennet and salt - yet maintains a worldly variety of flavors and textures, the idea kicks ass.

If you've never had a fresh cheese curd, you haven't fully lived. The sweet, salty, squeaky goodness is heaven. Batter them and deep fry them and it just gets better. Blue cheese on steak or in a Cobb salad? Yes, please. And what are carnitas without a little queso fresco?
And the nerdery of cheesemaking? Endless. There's so much involved in just adding the rennet enzyme (mmm...stomachy!) to milk, at the right temperature, treating the resulting curd to arrive at a soft or hard end product. Then there's aging, monitoring moisture content, adding flavors like horseradish, dill, caraway or wine, that make cheese so versatile.

And then there's dealing with the waste...er...whey. Whey can be used as fertilizer as well as a food additive, and I've known people who drink it for the protein. Somewhere down the line, nutrition stores caught on to this, and started isolating and powdering whey protein to help weightlifters bulk up.

Me, I prefer to bulk up the old-fashioned way.

By eating cheese.


Because there are times when my simple, country nerdiness isn't enough, go check here or here to find out the details of cheesemaking, and go here for a great interview about the modern science behind it all.

17 comments:

Cary said...

I love cheese like nothing else on this planet. Not good for a dude who needs to lose some lbs, but you know what? FUCK IT.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

Mmmmmm...cheese. I may forever loathe Ellen for having a guest on her show when we went to see her in Burbank who gave away a book on the evils of cheese. Bite me. I love the cheese nerdery and Wallace and Gromit~!

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Ahh. Cheese.

There is nothing so wonderful as smearing good cheese on crusty french bread and chewing away the pain.

Seriously, who needs chocolate when there is cheese to be eaten?

Bev said...

DAMN, I also love cheese. And wine. And wine with cheese. I bet I'd even like wine-flavored cheese. But NOT cheese-flavored wine.

I have to draw the line somewhere.

calicobebop said...

Ah, the blessed goodness that is cheese. Can't think of anything finer. My mom has a recipe - I'll have to get it from her and post it just for you. It's a cheese pie. I think it's meant to be cheese bread - but it winds up looking more like a kind of pie. Anyway - I'll get the recipe and we'll both bulk up.

Were's the fridge? Ah yes...

Elliott said...

Cary, lots of things aren't good if you need to lose weight, but I live by the theory that dairy promotes weight-loss enzymes in your body.

HH, let me guess - militant vegan? Evils of cheese, pshaw. And I regularly emulate Wallace during cheesytime.

Amber, I agree, I'm a savory eater myself, and throwing some fresh mozzarella on bruscetta is heaven.

Bev, I know my poor HTML skills frustrate you, I'll find your cheatsheet again soon. Promise. However: http://www.wisconsincheesemart.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=port+wine&search.x=0&search.y=0

Calico, always willing to try out cheese recipes, looking forward to it. And we all know how I feel about pie, so that's just an added bonus!

Cary said...

Cheese haters can suck it.

tracey said...

i love cheese so much i would marry it if i could. our wegmans grocery store has a really decent cheese dept - i could wander the aisles sniffing the cases like a lost soul for hours.

i'd rather good cheese over chocolate any day.

Elliott said...

Right on, Cary!

Tracey, Florida has a very poor selection of good cheeses, the wine-rubbed Manchegos and variety of Mexican cheeses to which I am accustomed. Our old neighborhood grocery store in WI had a beautiful cheese case, and one of the others in the area had an entire cheese room. It was heaven. Add that to the list of 'pros' in the moving-back-to-WI front. After family and friends, of course.

Really.

gaf85 said...

Elliott,
I like cheese but regretfully it doesn't like me. I am lactose intolerant and have to pop these tiny little enzyme tablets before ingesting dairy. It really sucks but have learned to live with it. Sadly though it makes me a bit cautious about consuming cheese and what it might do to me. TMI?

Elliott said...

I don't think that counts as an overshare, I feel bad for the lactose-intolerant. What about goat's cheese? Same problem?

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Isn't all the lactose consumed by the bacteria when they're making the cheese?

And, I'll second that deliciousness of the battered, fried cheese curd. Fat men of the world...ah, forget. Too much effort.

dogimo said...

Cheese is packed with goodness! The calcium builds mental quickness and tact. Cheese contains conjugated linoleic acid - essential for proper sentence formation. The "good fat" content of cheese contributes to three out of the ten minimum dietary needs of the soul.

Whether we're talking about from a science-based health perspective, a doctrine of philosophical necessity, or just plain old-school pagan veneration and worship, cheese has secured its place in the firmament to stay.

I love it. We all love it. Cheese.

Nej said...

Love, love, love cheese!!! Except smoked cheese...I've tried it again and again, and just can't do it. Sad, eh?

Nej said...

Oh, and the cheese curd thing. Tastes marvelous. The squeaky thing though, sends shivers up my spine. Kinda like fingernails on a blackboard.

I've never tried it fried. That sounds awesome!!!!!

Elliott said...

Nej, love smoked mozz stuffed into a grilled burger or melted over the top, but it does have limited appeal.

The squeak is my favorite part of the curds, but if you refrigerate them it goes away. Fried is definitely an upgrade.

Nej said...

Dang it. This comment stream is making me crazy hungry!! That all sounds so good!!! :-)

Be nice and share!

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