The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ
Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …
For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Cheese Making Expert Level Merit Badge, I got to spend some serious quality time with one of my first loves: cheese.
Mmm, ooey gooey, smooth as silk, slices of heaven. I never met a cheese I didn’t like. Well, I’m not super-fond of American, but I’m not entirely sure that is a cheese. Thoughts?
I had already made a few different types of delicious cheeses earning my Beginning and Intermediate level badges, so I was feeling pretty confident about my skills. While looking up the guidelines, I was intrigued by the suggestion:
If you’re adventurous, try smoking your cheese.
I can’t tell you how confused I was for a moment, thinking of some sort of whey-based tobacco or something, but then I realized what they meant. Like a smoked gouda? Smoked cheddar?
I was halfway there already, since I have a little camping secret I’d like to share with you girls. Are you ready for this?
When you’ve had all the s’mores you can swallow at the campfire, try one of these babies:
A wedge of Brie, roasted on your skewer, then topped with dark chocolate. Or skip the chocolate (Now, there are four words I thought would never come out of this gal’s mouth!) and smooth it on a hunk of French bread.
Bliss on a stick.
But anyway, I assume the merit badge gurus aren’t talking about smoking your cheese quite like that, so back to the drawing board (and cookbooks) for me. I decided to try a smoked mozzarella, because let’s face it, no matter the question, mozzarella is always a good answer. Really! Try it.
Have a bad day? Have some mozzarella.
Need to jazz up some leftovers? Top with mozzarella.
Feel your blood sugar dropping to dangerously cranky levels? Snack on mozzarella.
Etcetera, etcetera, and so on and so forth.
Anyway, I made up a batch of cheese:
A gallon of milk, 1 1/2 t citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup water, 1/4 of a rennet tablet, crushed and dissolved in 1/4 cup water. I poured the milk in my pot, added the dissolved citric acid, stirred, and heated it to 90°F. Then I gently stirred in the dissolved rennet and brought the temp up a little more (to 100°F). Then I shut the heat off and let the pot sit for another 5 minutes or so while the curds and whey continued to separate. Then I fondly recited “Little Miss Muffet” a few times, which isn’t required for cheese making, but is recommended. Then I drain off some of the whey and begin my kneading. It turns from a weird-looking, shaggy mess to a lovely ball of smooth cheese. It’s like magic! Magic, I tell you!
After my cheese was ready, I got Mr. Wonderful to heat up the ol’ smoker …
Cheese Making Merit Badge, Expert Level, Part II coming soon!