Friday, May 19, 2006

Adventures in Cheesemaking

Since I'm out of a job until the fall, I signed up for the USDA's WIC program, which provides vouchers for certain high-protein foods (such as milk) for women, infants, and children under 5. Bagel has proven to be one of the many people in our family who are having trouble tolerating cow's milk, so they gave him vouchers for evaporated goat's milk. In theory, they could have gotten an exception for him and given him soy milk (which is less than half the cost per gallon of the evaporated goat's milk), but that would mean doing a lot of tedious paperwork, and as we all know, government bureaucracies would never be able to fulfill their missions if they had to fill out lots of tedious paperwork. So they gave him the goat's milk instead. We tried it... once. The stuff is so nasty and salty that there's no way in hell you could persuade a toddler, let alone an adult, to drink it. (I am, however, going to try to persuade Steve of The Sneeze to drink it as part of his "Steve, Don't Eat It" series.)

So here we are, the proud owners of a whole mess of cans of totally undrinkable evaporated goat's milk. I went to the manufacturer's website to see if they had some suggestions on how to use it, and they did! Did you know you can make Creamy Marshmallow Fudge with evaporated goat's milk? It sounds almost as appetizing as the cakes FH's mom makes with Ensure. You know, the ones she frosts with shortening.

The one suggestion they had which sounded even remotely tasty was to make goat's milk cheese. Unfortunately, their recipe used a starter from New England Cheesemaking Supply. I priced it, and it'll cost money to get the starter, which kinda defeats the purpose of making cheese from free goat's milk. But then I found this website which has recipes for cheese using buttermilk and yogurt as starters. I thought I'd try making some cheese.

I started off making Paneer out of some of the extra cow's milk we get from WIC, because if I can make Paneer, then I can make Saag Paneer, which is the third-tastiest Indian food in the world (after Naan and Lamb Coconut Korma). I made Saag Paneer before with Ricotta substituted for the Paneer, and it was really good, and surprisingly all my children and my husband ate it. When you find a dish that they will all eat, especially if it is a vegetarian dish, you add it to the meal rotation pronto. So I was pleased when the Paneer came out well. I finished it last night; it's a fast cheese to make.

After I finished the paneer, I started in on the Feta. Right now I'm just waiting for the curd to set. It's been sitting overnight but I still don't have a "clean break" so I thought I'd wait several more hours to see if it "gels". If not, I'll have to start over with another five cans of evaporated goat's milk. But it's not like there's a shortage of it.