It's the Cheesiest

I made cheese today. And no, that’s not code for I scored a big business deal or had gas. I made two balls of mozzarella cheese in my kitchen.

It was so easy! The recipe said it was going to be easy and then it wasn’t really all that easy and then, like most things, I only remembered the easy parts, forgot the part where I had to set the big pot by the front door to try to bring the temperature down to the prescribed 88 degrees and almost spilled it all over my front foyer while trying to get the dog hairs out of it, and once again, it was easy.

I made cheese because my friend Barbara had made cheese once.

Immediately afterward, she invited us over for lasagna and it was the best tasting meal I’d had since the time I had dinner at Barbara’s house before that. 

So I invited two friends over, rounded up the ingredients and set aside this afternoon for cheese making. 

I had a hard time tracking down one ingredient, citric acid, which looks just like cocaine in its little baggie, but I did finally find it at the co-op, a hippie health food store. The bulk spice aisle was crammed with people, all digging the scoops into the oregano/marijuana, cumin, hyssop (although God only knows what these people were making with their spices).  I felt almost obligated to explain why I was scooping an approximate 5 teaspoons of citric acid/cocaine into a baggie and muttered, “I’m making cheese.” No one heard me; no one paid any attention to me at all until I did what I couldn’t help myself from doing, sniffing the white powder. How could I not? I can’t stop myself from smelling clothes out of the hamper, the kids’ report cards, and anything that comes in a box in the mail. What does citric acid smell like? Not good, as it turns out. It’s kind of like Tang with no sugar and no flavor. I coughed and sputtered, put a twist tie on and went home and made cheese.

My adventurous friend Laura and my single friend Tara and I drank 2½ bottles of wine while making the cheese. I didn’t have a pot big enough, so we had to do two batches. We saw some advantage in that, thinking we could see how the first one was turning out and do better for the second one.

By the second batch, Laura was doing a lot of eyeballing, estimating and interpreting the instructions. “I was a chemistry major,” she snapped when we tried to stop her from squirting a “good amount” of rennet into the pot.

Worried, Tara and I stood by with thermometers and measuring spoons and drank more wine.

It all worked out great. Besides being three bonnets away from being Amish, we managed to turn the afternoon into a fun time. As it turns out, making cheese is a conversation starter for discussions about breast feeding, today’s use of the “F” word, and marching band.

Next we’re going to try to tackle cheddar, although Barbara tells me that requires more equipment and more complicated ingredients. I can’t wait to go back to the co-op to pretend like I’m buying drugs.