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Yes, we had 35 super-duper second place winners in our 35th Anniversary Essay Contest (only 34 are shown because one wished to remain anonymous)! All of the essays below are continued (and shown in their entirety) in our blog article. The entries are in alphabetical order:
Mike Baird in Olympia, Washington
|"I'll take an aged Brie, one with a creamy center. Just how creamy do you think you can make it? Excellent, we'll see you Thursday."|
"Amazing," I think as I write down Katherine's order. "How have we come so far?"
Just a year ago, my wife and I sat huddled around the wood stove during an enormous blizzard wondering when the power would come back on ... continued
Victoria Barnes in Homestead, Florida
|Victoria Barnes||If anyone ever told me I'd be living on a farm and making cheese, I'd probably roll on the floor laughing at them. However, they were the ones rolling on the floor laughing at me when it actually happened.|
Just two years ago, we bought a house in an "avocado grove" that had abandoned goats. At the closing, the man who had abandoned them and lost his farm said that he'd come for his critters, but he never did. We were up for the avocados, but the goats were definitely a "horse of another color."
I started caring for these poor, neglected, and frightened animals and I started falling in love with them... continued
Eric Boerner in Mount Laurel, New Jersey
|My family knows no other business than that of the Hospitality Industry. As a young boy, standing at my grandfather's hip he taught the time honored profession that produced quality food and strong family values. We made the most of a few ingredients, relying on technique and locally farmed products to sustain our family. Life was peaceful... continued||Eric Boerner|
Kristen Caldwell in Bonney Lake, Washington
|(Note: This is a story told through a series of Tweets.)|
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Got a gift certificate to a cheese making class. #soundsdifficult #noextratime #sillygift
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Off to cheese making class. #whatdidigetmyselfinto
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Loved the class! #makeallthecheese!
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Got a cheese making book from library. #somanyideas #lotsofcheeses #needsupplies... continued
Haydee Chavis in Livermore, Colorado
|The hands down, biggest change in my life happened in 2009, when my husband and I moved from Los Angeles, California to a ranch in Northern Colorado that had been vacant after his father passed away.|
I am - was, rather - 100% city girl. I had never roped or milked anything in my life, nor thought I ever would. Yet, as fate would have it, I wound up moving to the country to raise dairy goats because... continued
Kim Ellis in Stuart, Oklahoma
|Cheese making has taught me to laugh at myself and it has reinforced the lesson of "it's what's inside that counts." I started making cheese to have more control over the food I feed my family. Being on a budget, I started researching supplies. |
I decided I would put most of my money into ingredients and have my husband build my cheese press. We found the plans in a magazine and for less than $20 I had a press- PVC pipe, some boards, and water jugs for weight.
Miss Lilly the cow was ready and I made my first cheese. Well, it seems, that sometime during the night the boards and jugs shifted. Crooked Cow Cheese was born. There was a lot of teasing and laughter... continued
Allison Garcia in Harrisonburg, Virginia
|My name is Allison K. Garcia, and I am entering this essay for the cheese press. Thank you for this opportunity. About five years ago, I got interested in the "real food" movement. I started going to my local farmer's market and attempted to garden (I kill less plants every year). I took an online workshop from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen about how to cook real food and learned that it wasn't as hard as I had imagined... continued|
Audrey Haas in Jacksonville, North Carolina
|I'm not a proud person. (Well, maybe sometimes.) But when I brag about how delicious my kitchen creations taste, it's all about my personal delight and enjoyment, and I will revel with equal exuberance in whatever delicacies you bring to the table. And when recipes fail me, the valley of disappointment goes as deep as my delight did.|
So, when I tasted my first batch of Gouda, and it was slightly bland with an aftertaste of dirty socks, I saw all that work go down the drain and I was severely disheartened in my cheese making ventures. But then I stopped and thought about it; I didn't have the right size pot, so things got sloshed more than was good for them, and my equipment may or may not have been properly sanitized... continued
Audrey Haas (on the right) with friend Tawna
Natalie Holsten in Papua, Indonesia
Natalie Holsten and her daughter, Zoe
|When I moved to a small island in Indonesia 12 years ago, I knew there would be sacrifices. No more fast internet. Reliable medical care would be hundreds of miles away. Holidays without family. No fresh dairy.|
Most things, you learn to live without. But when it came to my dairy, I knew I couldn't.
Learning to make yogurt was a rite of passage for me, as much as learning the local language and adjusting to the new culture was.
I'd never been handy in the kitchen, but when forced to either cook it or live without, I cracked open some cookbooks and learned.
When it came to yogurt, friends stepped in and guided me through the process... continued
Marinus Hoogendoorn in Kajang, Malaysia
|I am a Dutch national and therefore a cheesehead by birth.|
I have lived in Malaysia since 1991, and cheese is, in particular, not a word that makes people jump up and down in this country.
Asians have very particular taste buds; a food product must have that special taste they know or recognize, and if not, they will reject it. Fish cannot taste fishy, chicken not chickeny and lamb not gamey... continued
Cindy Jones in Golconda, Illinois
Cindy Jones's cave
|In case it isn't immediately discernible what raising goats has to do with teaching high school Spanish, I will attempt to clarify as I ramble through this discourse.|
About five years ago, long after our three children had settled into their own families, I once again approached my husband with the idea of getting a couple of goats. He had always said "No" - including some anecdote from the past. Of course, they would "eat everything" or would certainly be impossible to contain; yet, I could hear through his protest to the horror story from his high school years when he inquired of his Farm-Advisor dad about getting a couple of sheep. In the span of a couple of weeks, he inherited an entire herd of about 50 while the owner toured the country... continued
Jessica Keahey in Fayetteville, Arkansas
|My first peek into the world of cheese making came as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law: Ricki Carroll's book, Home Cheese Making.|
But it wasn't until that spring that I really started to give cheese making some serious consideration. It was a hard and unhappy time for me, and it's amazing that my loving husband survived.
So why the malcontent? I felt trapped at a lonely desk job full of paperwork that didn't seem to make a difference in the world. I was depressed and deeply frustrated with my life's course.
And to top it off, I developed a seriously debilitating fear of flying out of absolutely nowhere... continued
Cindy Knepper in Brimley, Michigan
|It was March 13, 2013. My son, Justin, called me and told me to meet him outside. I opened my door and heard "Baaa." There were two goats in the back of the van. Lady Lillan and Hershey, two milk goats, what a birthday gift!|
Having grown up on a dairy in northern Wisconsin, there was a stirring anticipation in me. Even though it had been years since I was on the farm, some things are always a part of you... continued
Jerrilee LaMar in Poseyville, Indiana
|My cheese making epiphany came about very subtly, but quite profoundly as I reflect back on it. About ten years ago my husband and I had become weary of the fast pace of our lives. I was the VP of Nursing at a large hospital system, and my husband was the operations manager of a solid waste business. We had both worked hard to get where we were, but found that we didn't have much time for the simple pleasures that we had both enjoyed when we were first married... continued|
Doug Lumley in Eastleigh, England
|A few years ago, my wife was trying to think of something to buy me for my birthday.|
We were missing some of the good cheeses we had experienced whilst living in France; so, Jan got me a voucher to go to a cheese making course.
Little did we know how this would change our lives... continued
Sylwia Modzelewska in Greenwich, Connecticut
|Sylwia Modzelewska||People think I'm crazy. Mother of two small children, full time employee and a student at Community College, who somehow finds the time to make her own cheese.|
My co-workers cannot understand where my energy comes from. However, after dealing with critically ill patients at the ICU unit at work, producing my own cheese seems like some type of escape and therapy. Not to mention that my family also benefits from it in many, sometimes unexpected ways... continued
Steve Murtaugh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|After retiring at the end of 2010, I decided to get back to basics and renew more of the culinary arts of my grandparents. Having mastered most of the wine-making, cooking and baking arts, long ago, I decided to step back to the less technological skills. I started with basic pickling and some limited canning, then moved on to making my own whipped creams and butters... continued|
Steve "Bear" Murtaugh
Noreen O'Connell in Milford, New Hampshire
|6 years ago we got our first Alpine does from a friend. Two became 6 and 6 became 14; as you know, herds grow exponentially.|
What are we going to do with all this milk? I bought several of Ricki's kits and started selling Farmhouse cheddar.
Next came the vat pasteurizer and processing plant and now we make chevre in 4 flavors. We have gone from backyard goaters to Milford Goat Dairy LLC.
The demand for the cheddar and chevre is so great that I haven't had the time or the milk to experiment with new varieties - maybe this winter.
Not bad for a 68 and one-half year old retired dental hygienist. (the end)
Susan O'Dwyer in Harrisville, New Hampshire
|I have always wanted to be a farmer. I'm 64 and a life in front of the TV set seemed like a bore. I needed a plan for retirement, and it had to include a way to make at least some "pin" money.|
After cutting down our woods, seeding, watering and watching the grass grow, we bought a Jersey calf and named her Daisy. I figured as she grew, so could my knowledge. When we tasted her fabulous Jersey milk, we realized what a wonderful gift this new life really is... continued
Jim Price in Stevenson, Washington
|So how has cheese-making changed my life? Well, I'm a bit fatter, does that count? Oh, and my friends think I'm even odder than they already thought. I think. And speaking of thinking, it does that. Makes you think. Not hard, necessarily, but in a good way. It's more like a science project than cooking something.|
After I retired a few years back, someone gave my wife a magazine. She was interested in an article on beekeeping. Why, I don't know since we aren't farmers and our garden consisted of two tomato plants and a potted zucchini. Anyway, she left it on the little table in the john and an article on sourdough bread caught my eye. It was a long article and my butt went to sleep but I stuck with it... continued
Sister Gertrude Read in Virginia Dale, Colorado
|"If it happens that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a brother, let him nevertheless receive the order of the one in authority with all meekness and obedience." From the Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 68, If a brother is commanded to do impossible things.|
I am a Catholic Benedictine nun, and a cheese maker... continued
Sister Gertrude Read
Tommy Reddicks in Indianapolis, Indiana
|I am a lifelong "foodie." While others may dream of cashing in on a great car, new home, new TV, or a new smart phone, I am guilty of spending my extra cash on exotic fruits, aged meats, wonderful wines, and pungent cheese. |
My favorite meal is a spread of six to eight cheeses, sliced cured meats, palette cleansing fruits, macerated olives, crusty artisan bread, fine olive oil and balsamic for dipping, and a beautiful red wine. In fact, I met my wife twelve years ago on a blind date where the standard for the connection was a love for wine and stinky cheese.... continued
Priscilla Rowan in Carlisle, Iowa
|Making cheese has changed my life in many ways. Because I am fairly new at this, I don't think I can even pen this eloquently enough. But what stands out the most to me is that it always seemed so out of reach; that only another person with expertise could accomplish this art. Little did I know what strength lies within a person when they just set out to try... continued|
Kiara Sabiston in Spencerville, Ontario, Canada
|I'm being homeschooled so it's only natural that I learn some practical skills such as making cheese.|
I love making cheese with my mom, but I enjoy other things as well, such as feeding the goats, milking the goats, being with my goats, pretty much anything to do with goats! I have made chevre, mozzarella, and yogurt... continued
Shawn Saindon in Portland, Maine
|I've been making cheese for about a year now but I've been talking about making cheese forever. |
I finally started after last Christmas when my wife bought me my first cheese-making supply kits and recipe books from New England Cheese Making Supply Company. I'm guessing she got sick of hearing me talking about it all the time!
For years, I'm sure the security guards at the local grocery store had me on some kind of watch list. They'd routinely clock me as I would get drawn, like a moth to a flame, towards the cheese section. I could almost hear them say on their radios, "There he is, boys! Keep your eye on that weird cheese guy."... continued
Madi Shaw in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
|Why Did the Goat Cross the Road? To Make Cheese at My Farm.|
So, I wanted a way to milk out my 4H projects. I was udderly excited to start raising Nubian dairy goats. Ok - I know this all sounds very cheesy so let's stretch our way through my real story.
I have been involved in 4H since I was five. I began as a Dauphin County, Pennsylvania 4-H cloverbud and when I turned 8, I was finally able to participate as a full-fledged clover.
I love all animals, but I can honestly say that, now at 12 years old, my favorite projects include my rabbits and my goats... continued
Luigi Stranges in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
|Ever since I was a young boy in Italy, I remember watching my mother make cheese whenever she used to have extra milk from our 6 goats and 12 sheep. When I was 10, we came to Canada, and a few times a year my mother would go to the farm and get some cow's milk to make cheese and ricotta. I still remember how good it used to taste. I would ask her what type of cheese she was making, and she would always reply with the same answer, "just cheese."... continued|
Tina Tilley in Newburgh, Maine
|Five years ago, if someone met me and asked me what I did, I'd say that I worked in the Molecular Microbiology lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I loved my job in the city.|
What I didn't like was the near-death commute every day to work, and I didn't like the disconnected environment in which my children were growing... continued
Phil Tillman in Arroyo Grande, California
|"But if you retire, how will you structure your time?"|
A good friend asked me this as I retired, just a decade ago. "Why on earth would I want to structure my time?" I thought. Retirement was going to be about freedom, not having a schedule, and doing what I wanted when I wanted. Then Rain came along... continued
Ian Treuer in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
|How has cheese making changed my life? I never thought that when my son gave me a cheese making kit for Father's Day five years ago, it would lead to this amazing journey that I am on.|
The constant learning and sharing of information about cheese making and cheese in general has given me a skill and ignited a passion that I had not known existed... continued
Werner Troeder in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
|My wife Annemarie and I adopted kids, Amy and Marcus, and have been living for a long time in Ocho Rios on the north coast of Jamaica.|
After almost 20 years of healthy bread baking, we have started this year with making cheese.
Here in Jamaica you will find a lot of imported cheese in the hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. So it is no wonder that the cheeses are processed industrially, mostly from pasteurized milk. The Brie and Camembert are even with preservatives and taste the same. I found in a supermarket a pizza full of chemicals and amazingly, with artificial cheese... continued
Ken Viscosi in Holland Patent, New York
|When I decided to try making my own cheese, I found that it almost felt like welcoming a new child into the family - a real life changer. For example, you need to make room, make time, spend some money and, of course, there is the unconditional love. And you won't know how well you did until it ages a bit.|
There have been a few changes around our home to accommodate this newcomer. Besides the lingering smell of the ripening milk in the kitchen, there is a cheese cave in the cellar now which I made from an old refrigerator. Plus there are the various ingredients occupying valuable real estate in the cupboard, refrigerator and freezer. I also had to find places for the 2 molds and 22 quart pot that I just invested in... continued
Sue Welna in Ennis, Montana
|It has been years since I took pen in hand and sat down with a blank piece of paper to write down the magical words that would reward me with the A+ I so coveted. Fast forward to 50 years, turn the pen and paper into a computer and the hope of the wily A+ into a prized cheese press and you have the new me!|
The transformation is courtesy of a cheese making class I attended two months ago here in Ennis, MT. The instructor, a local resident who is very savvy in the art and who is also the owner of Oberhasli goats, was an inspiration. In seven weeks we made 7 different kinds of cheese... continued
Roland Wilk in North York, Ontario, Canada
I love cheese! When I grew up, all we could choose from was Cheddar and Gouda. I was exposed to the wide variety of cheeses only as an adult, and slowly developed an appreciation for the hard and soft, bland and smelly, dry and slimy.
Two winters ago, my wife and I were visiting my son and his family in New Jersey. Well, that family certainly LOVES cheese, but they have a challenge in that they keep strictly kosher. There is a wide variety of kosher cheeses available, but they all seem to taste the same!... continued