freestyle fridays

©from maggie's farm 2011
the early bird may get the worm, but it's the mouse that gets the cheese.
jeremy paxman, british journalist

i love cheese.

there really is no way for me to express my love for cheese adequately.

i milk a goat twice a day, every day of the year, just so I can have cheese.

some people sneak store-bought candy into the movies.  i sneak in cheese.

on my husband's never ending list of things i might like as a gift, it always ends with 'if all else fails, buy cheese'.

i'd rather have cheese than chocolate.  anytime.  if i must choose.

sometimes i wake up in the middle of the night, drink a glass of water, and yes, have a piece of cheese.  then i go back to bed and sleep like a baby.

when i'm sad, mad, glad, happy, snappy, peppy, perky, bored, curious, busy, relaxed--cheese goes with 'em all.

if you are aware of a cheeseaholics anonymous, point me in that direction. 

several cheese companies send me christmas cards. no, really.

it's just that bad.

and the most fabulous way to spend a day, for me, is to learn to make...more cheese.

©from maggie's farm 2011
that's just what i did last saturday.  i attended my second cheese-making workshop at a wonderful place, homestead heritage, home of brazos valley cheese.  i spent the day with nine other like-minded cheesy peeps, along with two wonderful instructors--rebekah and rebecca-- dos rebekahs, immersed in cheese.  heaven.

©from maggie's farm 2011
from the homestead heritage website, 

Our Traditional Crafts Village showcases a community of craftsmen who have returned, not to the past, but to the enduring values exemplified in handcraftsmanship. True craft requires more than skill: it expresses the craftsmen's care and concern, their personal investment in everything they do. You can visit the shops of our crafts village, watch our craftsmen work, even attend classes to learn craft skills and, in all this, experience with our craftsmen the joy and fulfillment of returning to craft, the art of work.

©from maggie's farm 2011
for a good look at the community, check out our wordless wednesday post, road trip.  the name of the school in the community is the ploughshare institute of sustainable culture.  classes are offered in a variety of disciplines: agricultural skills, kitchen skills, fiber craft, woodworking classes, and traditional skills like sewing, quilting, and more.  (I want to take them allllllll).  i have taken the soft cheese making class, and this class covered hard cheeses.  the classes themselves are small, and with each class i've taken, the instructors have offered a lot of individual attention, and taken the time to answer every question thrown their way.  they've even sent us away with armfuls of cheese, and their personal email and cell phone numbers. the staff is always so pleasant, and it's very obvious that they love what they're doing, and believe you will be successful with the skill as well. this is hands down the best

©from maggie's farm 2011
cooking class program in which i've participated.  the community is only a little over two hours from home, so it's a day trip for me, but there have been class members from all over the country.  whenever i need a little 'sustainable life' motivation, i enjoy heading out to homestead, where i learn a little, enjoy a lot, and get back in touch with what it is i love to do so much, create.
in saturday's hard cheese class, we learned to make colby, pepper jack, monterrey jack, gouda with caraway, chipotle cheddar, and parmesan cheeses. and the whole way home, i meditated on what i was going to create with my cheese.  kind of like a junkie on the way home with her fix.  i was a little shaky.  mouth watering.  eyes glazed over.  i was a cheese-jonesing sight.  my cheesy imagination was working overtime.  cheesy wheels-a-turnin'. this is what i came up with:

grown up grilled cheese:
chipotle cheddar, tomato, tasso, with basil, on homemade ciabatta, served with from maggie's farm peach chipotle preserves

©from maggie's farm 2011
start with:

a handful, each, of grated chipotle cheddar, and colby jack. 

two ounces of tasso, shredded. (for more info on tasso, visit the following link: what is tasso?.  you may want to substitute speck ham, prosciutto, pancetta, smoked thick slice bacon, or even salt pork, trimmed and fried) 

tomato, sliced thickly (about 1/4"), lightly salted and left to drain for a few minutes, to express a little juice.

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 loaf ciabatta bread.  with knife parallel to cutting surface, split loaf in half lengthwise, and cut into sandwich sized squares. 

©from maggie's farm 2011
and butter, of course.

preheat broiler. 
on one slice of bread, layer one cheese, and tasso.  on the other slice, the second cheese and sliced tomatoes.  place under the broiler, and toast just until slightly melty and edges browned.  like this.

©from maggie's farm 2011
already heaven. but don't stop there. sprinkle the basil atop and assemble two sides into your almost- ready incredible sandwich.

melt a knob of butter over low heat in a skillet. (i use my trusty little cast iron, the perfect size for just one sandwich).  melt one tablespoon from maggie's farm peach chipotle preserves in butter.  turn heat to moderately high, until just sizzling.  place sandwich in pan and weigh it down (you can use a brick covered in foil, or just a heavy can, if you have one.)  monitor browning. (stoves are variable, but i left it on the first side for five minutes.) turn, weigh down. toast an additional five minutes or so, or until browned to your liking and deliciously melty.  this is where it really gets good.

©from maggie's farm 2011
spoon some of that peach chipotle elixir right on top.  and plate that baby up.

©from maggie's farm 2011
a few notes:

1. you may notice i've already taken a bite.  it's part of the quality control process. 

2. you may notice some incredible melty cheesy stuff on those few chips. don't let this distract you from the righteousness of the sandwich, but i learned how to make real queso!  not cheez whiz.  not velveeta.  you're going to want to come over, now, aren't you?

3. you may notice the lone star, light.  well, i'm on a diet.

this week from maggie's farm

what we harvested this week: tomatoes!, okra!, peppers, green beans, cream peas, kale, swiss chard, beets, green onions, red onions, sweet onions, shallots, garlic, zucchini, summer squash, spaghetti squash, eggplant, melons, a few eggs (chickens and ducks are on strike--too darned hot.  i concur.), oregano, rosemary, parsely, mint, tarragon, basil, chives, garlic chives, thyme, and of course, goat milk.

what we produced this week: peach chipotle preserves, peach chipotle with amaretto preserves, deli rye bread with caraway, ciabatta, five blog posts, several photo shoots, and queso.  queso!!

what we tackled this week: the carport (thank you!),  all those bloomin' weeds,  a road trip, a 3-dog, 3-mile hike or two (actually 3), recipe categorization (see it? right there on the right side?  it's in progress.) and, joyfully, hard cheeses.

what we are thankful for: we are thankful that, in the midst of a horrific heat wave and drought (i am not exagerating.  i am understating.), and annual rate hikes, we still managed to reduce our electric bill over the same period last year. nifty. it can only be because of divine intervention, i'm sure.  (cause i am a woman of a certain age and i am going to have my cool house, by hook or by crook)

words that inspire us: 
anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. anyone who keeps learning stays young.  the greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
--henry ford

©from maggie's farm 2011

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