Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cheddar Experience

My first hard cheese was a large 4 pound wheel of cheddar. This cheese was really fun to make, but required a good deal of attention, especially during the “cheddaring” process, which involves exact temperatures and a lot of flipping of cheese hunks. I didn’t add enough coloring, so it was more of a white cheddar, and while it isn’t sharp, it is pretty tasty. Right now, a few waxed pieces are happily aging away in my cheese fridge, hopefully getting better and better.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Melancholy Traveler

Whenever I have to travel alone, I am plunged back into that desperate time when I was so very alone freshman year of college. Even though I know it can't possibly be THAT bad, I still find myself anxious, quiet, and frankly, a tad bit depressed anytime I have to leave that safe warm haven of home. Even since I've learned to mingle and small talk, I don't enjoy playing with others, which always ends up making me feel a bit left out. And I'm so very HAPPY at home; it's always hard to leave somewhere you feel so cherished.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Bulldog Element

No brief narrative in my life would be complete without the mention of the bulldog contingency, Roy and Oswald. For years after seeing a baby bulldog on the beach with my mom, I dreamed of Roy. When I graduated college, I met him in real life. At nine weeks old, Roy was the clumsy, fat, adorable prince that I had been wanting for so long. I drove across the country from Carolina to my new life in California with Roy by my side- the black and white bulldog is still one of the great loves of my life.

Oswald the great white beast came into our lives in 2007- E. had seen him listed on the bulldog rescue site. After a long application, a home check, and lots of begging, the rescuers agreed to let us introduce him to Roy, and lo and behold, the two boys got along just fine. (Well, Roy was a little pissed at first, but he got over it.) He’s truly insane and doesn’t stop wiggling, even though he’s around 4 years old, but I can’t imagine life without him.

E. and I are obsessed with our bulldogs- they’re like our children. Enough said.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Part 3: Honeybees

Ring, ring. My dad calling me on a sunny, perfect Saturday morning.

Dad: “What’s up, La?”

Me: “On my way to my first beekeeping meeting! What’s up with you?”

Pause. 1…….2…….3………

Dad: “You’re going to mess with bees?”

Me: “Well, it’s just always something I’ve been curious about, and I met this local beekeeper who does a type of class, so I thought I’d try it.”

Dad: Another pause. “Did you know I did that once?” My dad has an organic farm in North Carolina, where he grows amazing German Johnson tomatoes, shoots birds, and, apparently, once raised a hive.

Must be something in the genes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Part 2: Cheese

Last year, I got a hankering to try making my own mozzarella. Ignoring all warnings that mozzarella is by far one of the hardest cheeses to make, I bought some milk, printed directions, and got to it.

It was a complete and utter failure. So was the second attempt.

This would be an excellent time to point out that my husband, E., is a complete saint. My knight in shining armor. He’s smart, supportive, and loving, and above all, his background is chemistry. Ha! He immediately got online to troubleshoot my mozzarella, then stayed up with me until 3 AM to make sure the third time was a success. Sigh.

There aren’t words to describe the feeling when I dipped that cheese into hot water and finally- FINALLY!- the curds melded together in my hands, forming a shining, stretchy mass of pure deliciousness. We ate every little bite, smiling all the way.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Part 1: Wine

I was born into a wine family and I’ll die in one- for us, wine is a lifestyle thing. I moved to California in 2004 to learn the industry, and even ended up marrying a winemaker. I can safely say I’m one of those people who has (at least) one glass of wine a day.
I’ve grew up on the sales side, and after working from tasting room on up, I find myself in a place where I get to learn even more about actual selling, but also about viticulture, winemaking, and…as in any other job…management. I’m lucky enough to spend most of my days gazing out the window at ever changing rows of vines, rolling hills, and acres of untouched beauty. And I work for people who encourage that and encourage ME.
We’re responsible people growing almost-organic grapes and selling them for fair prices. We make our own wine, too, which is pretty darn delicious. (I can say that because I don’t make it myself.)
Amazingly I’ve developed a pretty killer palate for food over the past few years. I can typically pinpoint exact ingredients in a dish blindly. And yet I’m not yet as proficient in wine tasting; above average, maybe, but not an expert. I guess that means I have to keep eating and drinking. Research?