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Archive for the ‘Dairy’ Category

Detail, "Still Life With Cheese", van DijckAs I mentioned in an earlier entry, I’ve been working one day a week at a dairy on the Eastern shore of Maryland.  I’ve had some experience with rural living, and I’ve definitely been interested in food for many years, but before working at Chapel’s Country Creamery, I hadn’t had a glimpse of what it takes to make food for a commercial market.  (Selling a bucket of rhubarb to a pie-making neighbor doesn’t really count as “commercial”.)

It’s both easier and harder than I would have guessed to produce cheese on a small, artisanal scale.  Making cheese is certainly complicated, and if I had to figure it out without the benefit of owner Holly Foster and the other women who work in her dairy, I’d be lost.  But the steps we take aren’t difficult.  In terms of what we’re physically doing, making cheese is about as hard as making biscuits.  You need to put in the right ingredients—culture and rennet in the case of cheese—in the right order at the right time.  You need to stir the curds and whey properly, not too much and not too little.  You’ve got to pour the curds in the molds, flip them when you’re supposed to, and put them into a cave with the right humidity and temperature.  It requires care, but it’s not rocket science. (more…)

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For the last month, I’ve been volunteering once a week at a dairy farm–Chapel’s Country Creamery, in Easton, MD.  The experience has been absolutely terrific in so many ways.  The owner, Holly Foster, is a lovely person and so eager to share her knowledge, as are the other women who work with her.  And it’s fascinating to have a window into rural life, with 4H fairs and pet goats and Bambi-eyed calves.

There’s lots to say about the creamery work, but today I just want to write about the farmers’ market I helped out at on Saturday.  Working at the creamery is pretty tiring–we’re on our feet for six straight hours with just a couple of short breaks.  The market felt more like play.  I have a friend who owns a wine bar in Baltimore, and once during a tasting he told me that serving folks wine was the best people watching ever.  This weekend I understood what he meant. (more…)

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