A couple of weeks ago I hosted a cheese-making party at my house. I know you are asking yourself, “What is that?”
A month before the party at my house, I visited with this beauty to the left and Casey Price, owner of Jeremiah Farm on John’s Island. Casey and her family raise goats, the goats produce milk, and Casey sells the milk. When the Jeremiah’s first started selling the milk, Casey began to make cheese with the milk. After tasting the delicious cheese that Casey was cooking up, friends began asking her to make some for them. Thus the idea was born to teach people how to make the cheese themselves. Casey turned part of their milking shed into a cooking classroom and now she also does cheese-making parties where she will come to your house and show you how it is done!
Well, I LOVE cheese, and love to have people over so I decided to host one at my house. I invited the ladies I get together with once a month, another friend who invited two of her friends, a lady from church, and a couple of ladies I had met the week before (we totally hit it off) at Muse in downtown Charleston (if you live here and have not been, go; if you are coming to visit make plans to eat there; and either way, make sure you visit Matt at the bar). After initially hoping I would have the minimum number of five attendees that Casey needed to trek it in from John’s Island, I wound up with twelve ladies at my house. It seems I was not the only one interested in learning how to make this milk-based product!
I did not take pictures that night but I will get you started with taking your own mental pictures. Now, you have seen my living and dining rooms before. After some fancy chair arranging (I moved all the dining room table chairs into the living room), I had just enough seating for everyone and Casey was able to give us the low down on cheese making from the dining room table. So, Casey arrived and then guests started arriving. My dogs, Laddie and Dixie, were greeting and mingling with the arrivals. Dixie was a little nervous, this being her first party and all. Laddie took it all in stride, “Yes, well thank you for the compliment on my soft fur. I just had it done. That lady over there at the door greeting everyone, she hosed me down and spiffed me up.” At least that is what I imagine he would say if he could talk.
Anyway, yes I was at the door and as I mentioned Dixie was nervous – you know how those coming out parties can be. Apparently she was a lot more excited than I realized as I am sure what happened next had nothing to do with my attention being focused elsewhere and not realizing that the poor dog had told me in her own way, “Um, hey lady, you over there racing around with the Swifter at the last minute, I need to go OUT!” Do you see where this is headed? I didn’t. Which would explain why when I opened up the door for one of the guests to come in and was holding on to Dixie to keep her from charging out the door, I suddenly felt warm liquid all over my flip-flop clad foot.
Okay, here is where we collectively say, “Gross!” Yes, that is what was running through my mind as I hollered for David (he had shut himself up in the office while this estrogen fest was going on), asked the ladies to let poor Dixie out, and stood there initially paralyzed in shock in front of friends and some people I had just met. To bring a close to this portion of the story the site was cleaned, my foot was bleached (no, but it was scrubbed), and I put on a clean pair of flops. Newly freshened up and some semblance of order restored, class got under way!
Casey started us out with chèvre (I think I have that right) wrapped with cilantro fresh from her garden and some feta. We paired these with pita, olive oil, and various other finger foods that the ladies had brought to share. We even had some yummy dried meat, fig jam, and flavored olive oil that two ladies who have opened a shop downtown called Goat. Sheep. Cow. brought. I have not stopped in yet but I plan to and hope you will as well. Let me know what you think when you go by leaving a comment below.
After our cheese appetizer we moved onto the main course – mozzarella – one of my favorites. While Casey was preparing this we learned about liquid rennet and citric acid (both needed to make this mozzarella). We watched her add these things and saw the milk curd. Then after some ladling and microwaving, Casey began to knead the cheese into a ball. A repeat of microwaving and kneading a couple of more times, a sprinkle of salt, an inspection for a smooth and shiny texture like taffy, and we dug in. This cheese rocked! It was by far the class favorite. Understandably, there was no mozzarella leftover after the party for poor David.
After our mozzarella dinner we had some plain and vanilla flavored ricotta on its own and also wrapped in a crepe. The finale was equally as delicious as the rest. Full and sassy after our three cheese course meal, we chatted a bit and then people started heading home. Cassey helped me clean up and she left me with whey (what was leftover after the mozzarella curd was separated) and instructions on how to turn it into whey ricotta the next morning. Which, David and I did but, that is another story for another day. In the mean time, schedule a cheese making party with Casey so you can learn to make your own cheese too!