Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Nah, just a bag of cheese curds.

I do love working at a rural school.  One of my student's father works on a large dairy, but also has a small herd of cows of his own.  As a side income, his wife makes traditional Mexican cheeses from the milk.  I've been buying her queso fresco, queso blanco and a tart sour cream from her since last spring.  Melissa, who was in my 4th grade last year, and her little sister are the delivery people and carry cheeses on the bus to me once or twice a month.  They deliver them to my classroom, I hand over the money for the cheese and then our ritual is that I offer them a tip of about fifty cents which they politely but adamantly refuse.  I insist they take it, they gradually give in, and finally they have their tip and everyone is happy.  

Last week I asked them if I could ever buy a gallon or two of milk so I could try making my own cheese.  Two days later Melissa arrived at my classroom lugging a gallon of fresh, sweet milk with the cream floating on the top.  I'd assumed that I'd pick it up one afternoon after school and never would have asked them to bring it to me.  Nevertheless, I was delighted.  Big tip!

The milk is now well on its way to becoming a fresh French cream cheese called Bondon -- a simple cheese of whole milk, starter and rennet.  I started it last night and let it set in the pot for 24 hours forming curds.  This afternoon I drained off the whey and now it hangs in the laundry room from the rod above the sink.  By tomorrow morning it will have stopped dripping and I'll put it my my cheese press for the day.  

My plan (if the cheese turns out) is to bring one of my cheeses to school on Monday for Melissa to bring home to her mother.  I hope that she likes my cheese half as much as I like hers.  

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