I’ve obviously been busier using up leftover turkey and beetroot-cured gravlax lately than experimenting with cheese-making. More focused on important tasks such as bashing and melting boiled sweets for the windows of a gingerbread house with Ruby.
Just before Christmas I did have a go at making an easy semi-hard cheese that matures in weeks rather than months though. I rubbed olive oil and coarse sea salt around the little cheeses (very little actually, attempting cheese-making has made me realise quite how much milk goes into producing a tiny amount of cheese and given me even more of an appreciation for bought artisan cheese) and put them in the cold room upstairs in a sealed container with a damp cloth for humidity. When I say ‘cold room’ don’t misguidedly think I have some room purpose made for hanging hams and letting cheese mature. It’s a very bare, un-plastered room that we’ve been meaning to turn into our bedroom ever since we moved here.
Lack of time and money have meant the bedroom has been a little delayed. As ever, I’m optimistic that this year may be the year we move out of the spare room. In the meantime the unheated bare room is proving very useful. The dark bit behind the door is rapidly becoming pickle corner.
With a house full of family over Christmas, the fridge was bulging and leftover veggies destined for bubble and squeak were sent up to the cold room. Actually we so enjoyed the Boxing Day leftovers that Guy came up with a suggestion. Next year, we cook Christmas lunch on Christmas Eve, then without eating any of it, immediately take it up to the cold room ready for leftovers!
Obviously too many days of Bird Bingo, muddy walks across the fields and wondering whether piccalilli or Middle Eastern pickled turnips is the correct pickle for that days’ leftovers has gone to our heads. The festive period has also had a disturbing effect on my cheese. Last time I had a peep at the cheeses ripening in the cold room, I couldn’t spot any mould forming (or much of a rind either) but there was definitely something unique about them. Some artisan cheese-makers may use nettles, even ash to add a distinct look and flavour to their products. I detected something else adorning the rustic exterior of my carefully made cheeses. Something with a definite flavour of my December kitchen. Yes, glitter.
It obviously says a lot about my optimism then that one of my plans for the new year is to have a go at making mozzarella. Yes, I know I’ll end up with strings of cheese everywhere but I’d like to try it. I’m chuffed that the feta has worked out, it’s very salty but good used sparingly, crumbled into flatbreads with leftover lamb – I cooked a leg of lamb slowly over potatoes using a recipe from The Fabulous Baker Brothers book as an easy way of feeding everybody the day after Boxing Day. Will write about how I made the feta soon.
After being inspired by the medieval bread baked at The Hearth in Lewes, would love to experiment more with bread this year too. Using interesting flour, a home-made sourdough and a long prove.
But with the glittery cheese a reminder of the results of my multi-tasking I’m trying to keep my resolutions and plans for the new year simple. While I’m still harvesting parsnips, swede, chard and beetroot from the garden, can’t help but have lots of plans for the new things I want to grow though. And the size of the ewes in the field next to us is reminding me of the delights of Spring already. Lovely to think that it’s not long after Christmas until there are new lambs in the fields and broad beans to be planted. Which makes me look forward to these sort of pleasures…..
Hope you have lots to look forward to in 2014 too. Happy New Year!
Hopefully I’ll have room to make cheese one day (and a huge quantity of milk).
Happy New Year 😉
I was shocked at the amount of milk – don’t know about the room, but ideally you need a cow.
Glittery cheese – you could be on to something there… It’s lovely to see your collection of summery photos, especially after such a grey start to the year. Let’s hope there will be lots more sunshine-filled pictures this year!
Fingers crossed! I know we were spoilt last summer, I know I’ll be far too optimistic in choosing things to grow/ordering seeds, having had a glorious summer when anything would grow.
What a gorgeous post! I’m loving Guy’s idea of the leftover Christmas meal 😉 There’s definitely something special about flavours developing and maturing. Hope you had a great start to 2014 already. I’m looking forward to more shared garden and foodie adventures.
Thanks Chava and Happy New Year! Hope you’ve had great hols and can’t wait to catch up.
There could be a market out there just waiting for glittery cheese! Have a great year Andrea!
You too Cathy and maybe I’m on to something!
I love your passion for having a go Andrea. I have a vision of your “bare room” as a magnificent walk-in larder. I suspect I like this time of year because I can use my little balcony as a cold store. Right now there sits a Xmas pudding, zipped into a sturdy bag away from marauding pigeons, which we didn’t quite get around to. Must eat soon. Enjoy your bounty and Happy New Year.
I remember having cheese out on the windowsill of my student halls of residence room ready for toasted sandwiches.My passion for regular snacks coupled with shoddiness has obviously not dimmed! Hope your pud escapes the pigeons and Happy New Year!
Happy New Year Andrea! May 2014 bring you happiness, homemade Mozzarella (I’m very impressed at your cheese making!) and a prosperous garden full of Shabby Chick deliciousness! Loving the glitter cheese, my glitter crazy daughter would be very impressed.
I suspect the glittery nature of the cheese may have something to do with multi-tasking making gift tags with Ruby. I’m sure I’ll get in a state with the mozzarella too but loving having a go at cheese. I bet you have some wonderful milk in Herefordshire you could experiment with too. Happy New Year, hope it’s a fabulous, fun and tasty one for you too!
Glittery artisan cheese – I think you could be on to something! I finally cracked open my home-made cheddar over Christmas – will post about it in full tomorrow but let’s just say I don’t think Montgomery’s have much to fear 😉 Look forward to hearing about more of your cheese-making in 2014 – maybe we need to set up business together 😉 Happy New Year!
Can’t wait to hear about your cheddar, you’re well ahead of me, I’m still tackling soft cheeses of the world – obviously as they seem to be the easy ones! Look forward to sharing cheesey adventures in 2014. Happy New Year!
You should defnitely make sourdough bread. I did a complete step by step guide on my blog!
I remember seeing it, your step by step guide was great. Will no doubt refer back soon.
Roll on summer, especially with a serving of glittery cheese! We have customers who buy a turkey to cook on Christmas Eve so they can eat it cold on Christmas Day. Makes sense to me. My in-laws insist on cooking casseroles for the family Boxing Day feast, which I find profoundly disappointing as I’d rather have a leftovers feast.
Feasting on leftovers is wonderful isn’t it – something about the easy, relaxed style of it as well as having an excuse to bring out all those home-made pickles! Totally agree, the casserole can wait until later in the holiday.
Loving the idea of leftovers for Christmas day. We spent the day with friends so I ended up cooking a small turkey on Boxing Day – with all the trimmings – just so we could transform them later. Happy New Year. Love reading your blog in any season.
I knew cooking food purely for leftovers made sense! Thanks lots Sally and hope you have a wonderful New Year.
Your cool room sounds ideal, are you sure you want to finish it! I’m nagging Rob to build me an outdoor larder this year for storing home grown goodies. Happy New Year to you all, hope to see you soon X
I’m sure we’ll have lots more use out of the cold room as I don’t expect progress will be too swift! Guy is boarding the top of his workshop at the moment too though, thinking it’ll be a great store for squash, cider, hams, a spare freezer etc. I bet your outdoor larder will be great. Hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas and would love to catch up. Happy New Year!
The Gingerbread house looks fab and as for glittery cheese could be a best seller come next Christmas
Wishing you a happy and successful 2014
I forgot to mention that the gingerbread house was Ikea flatpack! We had great fun putting it together with copious amounts of icing sugar, whatever sweets we could find in the sweet drawer and chocolate buttons for roofing. Wishing you a wonderful 2014 too.
Happy New Year to you too! I love the gingerbread house you made. Will your spare room become your cheese room when you swap?
I think the gingerbread house will become part of our Christmas routine, it was such a lovely thing to do on Christmas Eve afternoon. Have big plans for the cold storage above Guy’s woodworking workshop as I think family and friends might not be too happy staying in a spare room stinking of my cheese.
Happy New Year Andrea! What a lovely post and I am so looking forward to hearing more about your cheese making as well as your beautiful garden and food!
Thanks lots Laura and a very happy new year to you too. Looking forward to getting lots of food inspiration from your lovely blog and also looking forward to my garden being beautiful again!
Andrea, just the most gorgeous post, thank you for sharing it with us! Your kitchen looks like a lovely serene place to spend time in, and your unfinished bedroom will carry with it the most delicious aromas when you finally get around to moving into it! Beautiful set of photos at the end – glad to see you’re having a mild winter! Have a great 2014! xx