January 15, 2013
Cheesy, ME Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 3
The advert said I could make Mozzarella in less than an hour. For some reason, that appealed to me.
It’s a good thing I read the instructions before Christmas. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known about the thermometer requirements, or the need for a specific sort of pot.
I re-read the instructions yesterday. Re-read them this morning, too.
I set out on my homemade cheese adventure at 10:15 AM.
First thing first: Test and calibrate the thermometer.
I figured out a few things fairly quickly without any help from the well-written, friendly booklet.
1. The thermometer supplied in the kit is tiny.
2. It’s really too short if you’re using an 8 quart stainless steel (required) pot. Might be ok in a 6 quart, but I really don’t think so, because
3. Attempting to use the thermometer resulted in slightly singed fingertips when reaching in to put the tip in boiling water and then hover for a temp reading.
4. The dial is hard to read, even with bifocals
5. The provided piece also requires a gauging hex nut adjustment at water boil point: 212°. I don’t recommend trying to steady the gauge by holding the previously dunked hot tip while adjusting the nut.
Don’t let yourself be distracted by the constant beeping of your neighbor’s door alarm.
Reconfigure. Rummage around for a while and find two digital thermometers in the not-often-used items drawer. It doesn’t burn fingers as much or as quickly when sticking the longer but still-a-little-too-short-to-be-safe thermometer into the pot using a pot holder. Try the logical path of using a pot holder, only to realize you can’t see the degrees because your huge mitt is covering it. Suspect the temp fall before you can de-mitt and get an accurate read.
Continue to ignore the constant beeping of your neighbor’s door alarm.
Spy the kitchen tongs! Place the digital thermometer above the clamps, between the arms. Tilt slightly so thermometer is secure. Place tip in boiling water. Determine the digital back-up go above 208°. Test the second. Sigh loudly and stand confused because neither one registers the required boiling point of 212°, even though the water is roiling.
Calmly acknowledge the constant beeping of your neighbor’s door alarm might be responsible for the beginning of a headache. Believe you are at a good “breaking” point, and escape to the bathroom, only to discover the new bath mat purchased yesterday has given off a nose-singing skunkiferous odor.
Take an 11:00 AM tuna fish sandwich break, and throw down some soul-cleansing, calming, refocusing blog notes. Consider the Book Worm effect: playing bookworm with a friend from 6:30 PM until 3:30 AM might be slowing down your drive. (Yes, you read that right – 9 straight hours, one cup of coffee each, level 50.) Push pulsing alarm noise aside.
Reread instructions. Coffee-up. Successfully block out the neighbor’s beeping alarm, only to find it replaced by the new rhythm of drip, drip, dripping melted ice on your porch
Significantly, decide to pretend that 208° is your new boiling point, and proceed. Sterilize equipment. Start the actual cooking process, remembering your thermometer is approximately 6° of separation from the real boiling point. Think about Kevin Bacon. Think about bacon. Think about adding bacon salt to mozzarella. Think again. Maybe, next time.
Stirring: every good cheese should have a soundtrack. Songs that come to mind:
Something’s always wrong: Toad the Wet Sprocket
Things can only get better: Howard Jones, who also opened the vegetarian restaurant, Nowhere, in NYC, which burned down within 12 months. Hoping I don’t come anywhere near that sort of disaster, which of course leads me to…
Tock Tick Boom by The Hives, serving a double batch of meaning in honor boiling curds and whey and the continuous alarming alarm.
Anything You Can D - from Annie Get Your Gun: “Can you bake a pie?” “No.” “Neither can I!”
Giggling, I forge ahead with my cheesiest attempt yet. And then, it all happens so fast.
1:02 PM – done! It worked! It’s gorgeous! It’s yummy! My slightly black peppered mozzarella with a few drops of garlic oil is set into 9 neat 2 ounce pucks shaped in a cupcake pan. I may have over kneaded it a bi, intent on creating a short video to share.
While my creation cools, I clean-up. Despite delays, I do believe that you can truly make a great mozzarella in an hour with proper prep and experience. I think I’ll snag one and let it turn into an even happier hunk of Greek marinated mozzarella. Oh, boy! Oh, boy! Oh, boy!
Posted by jaselin at January 15, 2013 05:43 PM