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How, Where & Why. Our Q-n-A segment…
I read that cheesecloth or a towel are used to drain whey when making cheese, so why do I need a cheese press?
The cheese press is used to compress the curd. Whey is drained out prior to this step. The reason a mechanical press is used is that it provides the right pressure and containment for a continuous time, which is not something a person can accomplish manually, even if you are a super hero. I am not questioning the possibility of your strength, but do you really want to spend hours applying 50 pounds of pressure to your cheese before you get to enjoy a bite? No.
Of course, I am being silly. The cheese press is actually a very simple device, and quite elegant too I might add. Most models use a vise mechanism. This is a clever invention where size is misleading. Small vices can apply pressure far beyond the abilities of raw human muscle. It should be one of the seven wonders of the world, which means that now there would be eight. Incidentally, if like me you are fascinated by such wonders, I highly recommend a little gem of a big book titled Ancient Inventions, by Peter James and Nick Thorpe. Now, back to our question.
The purpose of the cheese press is to lead the curds to bind. Because of the thin layer of fat that occurs on the surface of cheese curds, they do not naturally join together. Pressing the curds in the cheese press squeezes the them so that this fat “ruptures” and exposes the inside of the curd. Then, curds can “stick” together and form a single block of cheese. Essentially, pressing cheese is about squeezing it into a cohesive shape, not about extracting moisture.
Cheese is pressed incrementally, typically beginning at around 10 pounds of pressure and up to 50 pounds.
Now, let’s say you made your own Cheddar… you will certainly want to have a taste. Here is a simple way to enjoy it in just moments and, this is very important, share it too.
Cheddar Apple Crostini
Baguette – 24 slices
2 apples, chopped (unpeeled, for color)
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar
1/4 cup grated Romano
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Pumpkin seed to taste
Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients (except bread), keeping pumpkin seed and pepper for last and adding both to taste. Bake bread slices alone for 4 minutes at 350°. Turn and bake an additional 4 minutes. Spread each slice with the cheese mixture and return to 350° oven for about 10 minutes (until slightly bubbly). Serve cold or warm.
More about Cheese Making
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The carrot is a root vegetable; not that you did not know this already. Thus, unless you have planted carrots before, since you cannot see it, you may wonder when a carrot is ready for harvesting. But you can see the top. Generally, carrots with the largest and greenest tops have reached maturity and are ready to be pulled.
Another way to determine harvesting time (which can vary slightly from one carrot to the next even if they were planted at the same time) is to consider the diameter of the crown. This it the largest part of the carrot, just before the top. As a rule, the carrot has reached maturity when the crown measures about 2.5 cm or about an inch in diameter.
To harvest with ease, first drench the ground with water to loosen it up. Then, grasp the greens at the crown and gently tug and twist. If the top breaks, use two forks, one on each side, to pry the root out of the ground.
If you have dogs, there is a chance you are being watched while you dig out the succulent orange harvest. Why is it that no one screams at you when you spend hours digging in the garden? This is a puzzling existential question for a dog.
Your dog may want to dig his paws into the soil, but you and I both know that this is your domain. How to keep your canine friend out is simpler than you think, but it does require time and effort to train your companion (I’m still talking about the dog).
A basic sit-stay-and-come training class is an indispensable first step. Dogmo must first understand these simple commands. Next, place a border around your garden. This can be as simple as laying stones around it to clearly identifies a boundary. Then, make it clear that staying outside of the boundary is the behavior you approve.
You can communicate this approval by using a verbal command your dog has learned, “Stop, stay, sit” when it is about to cross the border. Then, immediately praise and offer a treat when you observe the desired response. Praise with great abandon. Make it a big deal. In a few weeks, the verbal command and praise will suffice and your friend will learn to sit nearby and enjoy watching you garden without offering its “help.”
As for carrots, they are good for your dog’s teeth, so here is Granny’s variation on the theme: Once your canine companion understands that staying out of the garden is the behavior that pleases you, pick a carrot or other produce it likes, walk over to the dog (do not call it to you, that would defeat the purpose) and offer this very special and coveted treat. It is offered on your own terms.