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And the photos and Stories keep coming in
Here are some photos from our friends
... can you tell these folks really love what they are doing!


From Lee Jackson .. who has been a long time friend of NECM
Thanks so much for the latest newsletter-
I have learned a lot from your answers to questions of other cheesemakers-
We really enjoy the articles focusing on small home Cheesemaking- thank you so much for the great series of photos of the tiny set up in the Little House.  Great inspiration!  I look forward to each issue and go back many times to make sure I have not missed anything.  It is so good of you to share all the knowledge you have accumulated with us~! I have sold many copies of your book for you Ricki- it is the greatest for beginners!
Best of winter to you both
Lee Jackson
New Rocky Comfort Nubians

From Peter Rath in the beautiful Seychelles ... where cheese and quality milk are not easy to come by.
We often experience shortages here for various reasons that I will not elaborate on here...and one of the shortages is cheese. There are some people that import privately, and then charge an exorbitant price for their inferior product. We decided to try and make our own.
Yogurt is made locally, and is sold with fruit added, but is inclined to be watery and not always available, or only one kind is available at any one time. So we decided to try our own dairy derivative cottage industry.
 One of the main problems in trying to produce a home made cheese/yogurt is that there is no dairy industry here, probably because there are no milk cows, because there is no pasture land. (see the pics of our island, Mahe) So the population uses either UHT or powdered milk,. both imported, though the former is reconstituted locally. The latter is a good idea, because it allows one to control the quality of the milk, (the milkyness/fat content) and one is always sure of a very healthy product. The problem is that the drying process seems to affect the bacteria population slightly, and so to make cheese, one needs to inoculate the milk with a starter. Another problem is that the water here is purified by chlorination, and this could perhaps affect the various cultures that are needed to produce good cheese/yogurt, so we use bottled spring water that has been purified with ultraviolet light.
We have successfully produced, on a small domestic scale, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, very thick and creamy yogurt and also yogurt cheese; this latter item works very well in recipes which call for crème fraise, cream cheese, curd cheese or even thickened cream. Last week we baked a classic cheesecake, the like of which we have not tasted here, or even in other countries where we have visited.
The photographs I sent before (I attach slightly enlarged versions of some) were taken in what we call the Laboratory, where we do all our cheese yogurt experiments. Very handy to have a special place with its own refrigerator wash-up sink and cooker.

Joey shown below with two cheeses we offered for sale at a fund raiser. One was Queso Fresco and the other a Farmer's cheese. In total there was about 4 pounds of month-old cheese, and it was sold out within the first 15 minutes
.

From Greg Hamlin ... who has done a great job of making this press from our plans
I've attached a couple pictures. I built this press out of some 3/4 inch
plywood I had handy. The weight is a can with 7 lbs of lead (makes it
compact). I made a follower for my mold from a thick plastic cutting board
(I cut it on my bandsaw).

This press is much more convenient than my first (some precariously stacked
pots of water)

From Keith Brinch in Christchurch    New Zealand
Greetings to you from New Zealand, I have been making cheese for about 3 years now ( Last nights cheese was # 90 ) and do mostly the 'Continental' styles ( Gouda Swiss etc) It is quite a lot of cheese when one considers that it is 90 cheeses @ +- 6.5 Kg. each, if my maths are OK then it is close to 1/2 a ton !!!!!! also about 5 tons of milk.
 
        My 'make' is only 55 to 60 liter ( +- 13 gallon ), doing the Gouda' styles and only one cheese at a time, I have managed to devise a method of 'direct salting', but still pressing under whey !!!! This method works quite well and I have not had a single 'flop' as yet, just good luck and hygiene !!!!
 
        I just had to contact you to compliment you on some very professional looking cheeses, especially the one with the 'ripened rinds'. ALL other attempts that I have seen look like 'home jobs'. I am just a little afraid of doing the ripened varieties seeing that I only have on 'communal'
 storage area. I get away with the 'blues' by putting it into a large airtight bag within the same area. I used your book ( a rather old copy now ....1996..... ) as the basis for all my cheeses. So too another very good book from Australia ( Home Cheesemaking ....by Neil and Carole Willman .... ISBN 0 646 13342 X. ) You might very well know the book, they run a company similar to yours :-      www.cheeselinks.com.au
 
        My favorite, so to many others, is one that I call " Blue Decadence ", well that is what it is.... A 'homemade' recipe that is based loosely on a 'Double Gloucester, BUT with the extra cream that I take off from the previous days 'Swiss Style'. Having Annatto in too just adds to the impact of the colors. To help with the 'breakdown of some of the cream, I add some 'Lipase'...... After at least 6 months the cheese is 'needled' and left to blue for 2 to 3 months... The taste is spectacular......not so the waist-line !!!!!!! ......NOT Weightwatchers, Jenny Craig or anything similar !!!!!
 
        I really enjoyed the article on your trip to Georgia, looks like the people are just so 'down to earth' and friendly.... How did you manage to get on with the language, did you have someone that was a local speaker ????? A very 'User-friendly' website, compliments to the 'constructor'.
 
        OK then, thanks for the chat, keep up the good work....
 
                                                                                                        Keith Brinch               Christchurch    NZ

And here is a really funny skunk story from Melinda

Dear Ricki,

            Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed taking your course. Hope your trip was fun and the construction is over at your house. Your bathroom made a great impression on me and I spotted this dish in a little shop I went in – before the “BS” (Before Skunk).

The Skunk Incident!

            The goats started freshening-the milk started flowing… In a half hour I had two sets of triplets and a quad. (I even named a beautiful, blue-eyed, tri-color Ricki!) I made a batch of Mozzarella on Friday. It turned out great. RAVES! Then all hell broke loose.

             Got up at 3a.m. on a potty run - heard a goat in distress - (they’re about 50 feet from the house in a kidding barn.) Figured Kissi was dropping - so I threw on my sandals, tee shirt, grabbed a cup of coffee and the mag lite and scooted out the door, when I opened the barn door the barn was nuts. Kids knocked into my work area and the 3 does that had freshened were beating the crap out of one of the kids in the kidding pen. The Itty Bitty Titty Committee was going ballistic! As I reached to rescue the “kid” I realized that it wasn’t a kid but a skunk. Opened the hatch - pulled the does off of him and he saw the lite of night and took off.

            Once my heart slowed down and I took a swig of coffee (which Flower had sprayed) and yes it tastes as bad as it smells. I spotted him making good his exit. Chased him through the field, got a box over the top of him and realized I didn’t have a lid…

           So from 3am to 7:30am I stood on top of a box in the middle of a field in sandals and a tee shirt freezing my ass off before anyone missed me.

            Skunk turned out Rabid - I kept asking the guy from county if it was an April Fools joke. No such luck!

            So, I’m on a 6 month lockdown with all of my does. Did wind up with 19 kids from 10 does, but I can’t show them or sell them. I’m looking at a lot of goats this summer if I don’t have any dead bodies.

             There’s no approved vaccine for goats. Cornell has never given vaccine under 3 months. I did a ½ dose at 11 days on the nine kids, did does, did me… Did I mention they go by body weight?

            Unfortunately, the two kids with marks were Itsy Bitsy and Ricki (now known as Ricki Rabie.) Being 18 ounces at birth, they had gotten pretty banged up in all of the fray. Ricki’s still in the house with us. I refuse to quit - must come from sitting on that box for 4 ½ hours.

             I AM SO LUCKY!!!

1) In another 4 weeks my pastures would have been full with livestock for the public to feed.

2) I could have not caught the skunk.

3) I could have slept through everything - showed at shows all over and sold kids to everyone all over the state.

4) Though I realize if he tested positive there was rabies in the saliva -  he acted normal - out at night, running away - so he must have been in the early stages. I’m VERY lucky - but needless to say I haven’t had much time to make cheese.

             So, a little thank you for a great day…this too will pass. I do know that I will make more cheese… but I will NEVER drink out of that Mug again-ugh. I’ll send a picture of your namesake if all goes well. If you have a spare candle please light it for me.

Melinda


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The Cheese Queen is in Food and Wine and Barbara Kingsolver's
book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!

Thanks for joining our cheese making family, keep those stories & photos coming. We love to hear from you!

In Peace,
Ricki, the cheese queen

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