Monday, July 26, 2010

Start 'em young

I LOVE seeing things like this. I love seeing younger kids carrying on in the name of agriculture and raw milk. Kind of makes me want to get involved in 4H. Kind of (that and that scene from Napolean Dynamite).

The blog the story is posted on is run by a great company that I buy cheese making supplies from - and they have a whole series of interviews with home cheesemakers.

Related link: here

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Back of the Box" is moving!!

My other blog (the fun food one!) is moving. I'm changing hosts also, so if you are subscribed via email or RSS you'll (unfortunately) need to do that again. The new address is (drumroll, please!):

It won't move again, and so sorry for the incovnveinence (my one reader - Hi Mom!!). Better now than later, IMHO.

Still cleaning up some of the wonky things that happened during the transfer - bear with me, I have dialup. It's up and running at the moment, but may take up to 3 days for all to be able to view it. But if you can't see it now, you will!


Top 10 Things To Do Before Leaving California - #10

OK. I don't *really* have a list written down and hidden off somewhere, BUT IF I DID - this would be on it, and lower down than you'd think.

Top 10 Things To Do Before Leaving California - #10: Tell off a mid-life crisis asshat in a high performance sports car.

I get it. Highway One is scary. It has curves. It has hills. It has curvy hills, and hilly curves. It takes a long time to get anywhere, but goddamnit it's gorgeous and it's even more gorgeous seen from the window of a car driving the appropriate speed. For me this is in the 57 - 63mph range.

For this guy I was stuck behind yesterday, it was 30. In a Lamborghini. I have often had this thought, but seriously - if you're going to buy a high-performance car, I think it's a shame to not drive it as such. And unfortunately I come across these types of mid-life crisis asshats all the time. They buy these amazing and amazingly expensive cars and then take them for day rides on Highway One, most probably full of some sort of romantic notion of roaring up and down the coast a la James Bond. Except they don't roar, they crawl, and locals like me get stuck behind them when all we want to do is go home. 60 miles later this guy wouldn't use any of the turnouts - my tailgating be damned, apparently - and there must have been 20 cars behind this guy. Had I been that car I would have developed seriously suicidal tendencies and taken over. Kind of like Herbie, but Italian. And not annoying. But I digress.

At Stewarts Point there was an accident blocking the road. We all came to a stop and asshat got out of his car and came up and tapped on my window and asked me to stop tailgating him. I suppressed my rage at his blatant asshattery as much as I could and responded with "you had the balls to write the check, but you don't have the balls to drive the car?"

#10 doth been checked off the list.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet, sweet relief

Soo.... came across this today in my daily perusal of the interwebs. As I'm leaving California, I am excited about having found this.

OK. Nix that. The closest In-n-Out burger is almost 2 hours from here, so I'm happy to find this in general.

If you don't live in California, you will not understand the In-N-Out phenomenon. The best way I can think of to debunk it for you is just to tell you: In-N-Out is awesome*. And finding this website** means that if I am ever ever EVER seriously craving an In-N-Out burger, I can make it happen. In the comfort of my own kitchen. In my PJ's. With beer.

And the next time you see that iconic sign, go in and order a double double animal style for me. Thanks!

*also home of California's first drive-thru. 'Nuff said.
**dude. He used math to figure out the sauce on this burger. Another example of how I would have *liked* math if this sort of problem had been involved in my math classes in school.
And the scientific way in which he deduced the amount of relish!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Holy Cow!

There was a knock at more door today. And there was my good friend standing at my door holding a gallon of milk fresh from the cow. In fact I think I freaked out and held the warm container to my face in sheer delight.


She had actually called me earlier to go milk a cow at a friend of hers, but unfortunately I was already enmeshed in the making of rice pudding and bread and couldn't get away.... but her showing up with the warm milk was still a surprise, and I was blown away.

Recently I have been making Mozzarella cheese from scratch - if it weren't for the fact that I am leaving in the next month, I would be attempting some hard cultured cheeses, but alas I do not have the aging time.... Mozzarella is a great compromise - you can still get the funness that comes from making cheese, without having to wait, and without having to use molds, cultures, etc....

Raw milk from a cow is a whole different ballgame. This may seem like an obvious statement, but even though I was expecting it, it still blew my mind. At one point during the cheese making process, according to the book I use* "the curds will look like thick yogurt and have a bit of shine to them". So far my reaction to this step has been along the lines of "yeah. Right. Dude. It looks like watery cottage cheese. What kind of fucking yogurt do you eat?". But my Mozzarella has always come out just fine and still above and beyond the majority of the Mozzarella you can get in the store.

Now. I love the milk I get here, but sorry Clo - I don't know that I can make cheese again without getting raw milk. Holy shmoly. Not only did the curds actually look like think yogurt and her description was accurate, it produced cheese that is awesome. I did overwork it just a wee bit in the kneading process and so it came out a bit tougher than usual, but I just think that really showcased the higher protein content and the higher viability of the protein. The stuff came together and got all silky and smooth almost immediately, and that just wasn't something I was used to. Even though I buy Organic whole milk to make cheese with, the difference between the milks was just mind-blowing. I love it when the difference in what you make and what you buy is so readily apparent. If only I had some little kid standing in the kitchen with me for brain-washing purposes!

I apologize to my new bovine friend for overworking the milk, and I won't ever do that again. Promise. Keep the yummy raw milk coming.

UPDATE: I made Ricotta from the whey, as I am wont to do. It is literally so so sweet (no sugar or anything is added, minded you. Just vinegar and salt) - I have never eaten anything like it. So I may have *slightly* bungled the texture of the actual Mozzarella on my first time out with raw milk, but the Ricotta was heavenly.

*This is, by the way, the BEST home cheese making book out there. Just FYI. She also runs the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company - and they have EVERYTHING you need to make just about every kind of cheese you can think of.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Self-sustainability and us

I had a couple of interesting revelations the day before yesterday....

A Japanese family that I was very close to in High School happened to have a day in Berkeley and I went to see them. I hadn't seen them in 9 years, or since the last time I was in Japan, and that's even more unfortunate as they used to be such a huge part of my life. Anyway - we were talking about my moving to North Carolina and homesteading on my parents' property, and the whole sustainability issue, etc. I went on my normal rant about eco-friendly practices, etc (why I think growing your own veggies at the very least is greener than not driving your car....a whole big long discussion). She asked me what other things I do to be 'green' other than growing as much as my own food as possible, especially as where I am now gets close to no sun and I have to supplement the light in my outdoor garden with lights. I answered with the fact that I have a paperless kitchen, and an almost paperless household. She kind of stared at me blankly - and then quite matter of factly asked me how else my kitchen would be? I then remembered that a paperless kitchen in Japan is the norm. Even with the Japanese tendency to deep fry things, paper towels in the kitchen are pretty much unheard of (some housewives buy special non-waxed absorbent paper for deep frying, but most people just use news print...). Using and reusing cloth is the norm. This also extends to household cleaning - windows are cleaned with cloth or old newspaper, and floors etc, are cleaned with cloths that are washed and reused..... And it's amazing how these practices got leeched right out of me when I came back to the US and proceeded to assimilate back into western society.....

I had a second realization at the same time - I was searching for the Japanese version of the term 'self-sustained'. I couldn't for the life of me think of it, and was obviously stumbling. That in of itself was an oddity as I'm not a huge fan of the term in English.... I finally just had to admit I didn't know the word and went about just explaining my meaning. At which point the person I was talking to just supplied to phrase for me. The thing is - in Japanese it's such an old word that people of my age don't often know it, but it is ingrained in the culture and the language of Japan. It just illuminated the fact that we in the west have so completely grown away from self-sustainability (even though in the not-so-distant past homesteading and growing all your own consumables was the norm....) and have had to come up with a term fairly recently to describe such a seemingly foreign concept. In Japan, however, the concept is still on the forefront of people's minds enough that the term was never completely lost - perhaps from being closed off to the world for several hundred years? I don't know, but it was another one of the sociolinguistic things that just kind of smacked me in the face.

I wonder how many more of these concepts are lurking back in the habits I grew up with in Japan?

Friday, July 16, 2010


I think that this is a truly fabulous idea - and if I weren't moving next month I would participate. Ugh - and just think. If all of those ridiculous chain mails/emails you got as a kid were this eco-friendly (not to mention fun), the world might be a slightly greener place.