Hey Superbowl fans!
This year, Crooked Face Creamery is teaming up with Pasta Fresca to offer convenient & delicious lasagna kits for the big game – including lasagna noodles and homemade tomato sauce, as well as our whole milk Ricotta.
Lasagna kits include:
- ½ lb of lasagna noodles
- 1 lb of Crooked Face Creamery’s Ricotta
- 2 fresh (Blue Ribbon Farm) eggs
- 1 pint of tomato based pasta sauce
- ½ lb grated parmesan cheese
- ½ lb grated mozzarella cheese
- Sprigs of oregano
Order by January 31st! Click here to download our lasagna flyer with more information and to pass along to your friends.
Online Order Form
I started my day with a workshop on Controlling Pathogens in Cheese. Presenter Dennis D’Amico of the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese, quickly changed the title to “managing” pathogens in cheese right before he began his talk. As a beginning cheesemaker, I want to be as educated as possible on this topic, and was really looking forward to hearing what Dennis had to say. He began with a brief history on the research of raw milk cheeses, the evolution of our current standards in place today, and the reasoning behind why regulations may change in the very near future. He went into great depth about the safety of raw milk cheeses, but to sum up the main message, I’d have to say the only solution to “managing” pathogens in cheesemaking is to reduce risk on your farm. Implementing risk management plans, identifying the hazards or weak points in your process, and continually working on strengthening those points, is how we control hazards. I learned that pathogens can survive differently in cheeses so identifying the point where the risk is highest during your process for whatever specific cheese you make, is the best time to test them. Testing your cheese at that point allows you to monitor and verify that your management plan is working rather than only testing when the cheese is ready to be consumed.
As I mentioned in my review of Day 1, the focus of the conference seems to revolve around change and preparing for it, rather than just reacting to it. The strategies Dennis discussed are in line with this exact message – have a plan and verify your process to make sure you are managing the microbial activity in your cheeses, and not letting them manage you.
I went on to attend a workshop on Methods of Coagulation which taught me a lot about rennet, acid and acid-rennet coagulation, and what exactly is happening in the milk during that phase of cheesemaking. I need all the help I can get when it comes to milk chemistry so reviewing this information was timely and beneficial. I’ve been wanting to reduce the final moisture content in my aged cheese, so cutting the curd early can help whey expulsion resulting in a lower moisture content. Weaker curds tend to shatter more quickly resulting in loss of yield, so that’s something I’ll have to be careful of. It seems so obvious now. Again, I can’t wait to be back to the cheese room and get back to work.
I was told by Eric, the Maine Cheese Guild President, to not be shy during meals so after registration at breakfast on Thursday morning, I joined a table of a few attendants I didn’t know and decided to strike up a conversation. I was sitting with a cheese buyer from VT and a cheese export specialist from LA. We had a nice discussion about the distribution of cheeses and problems they run into. The VT buyer’s issue recently was not being able to offer local cheeses in her shop. Many cheesemakers in her area sell exclusively at farmers’ markets and in Manhattan (because they can demand a higher price), and do not have enough leftover to sell at local shops like her own. The export specialist is always working on issues around export licenses. Small scale producers can’t afford the license so they are limited when it comes to wider scale distribution. We could have continued the conversation, but it was time for the keynote address presented by Pascale Tremblay, a well-known Agronomist and Quebec TV and Radio Host, on Terrior in the New World. The core message was all about growth and growing pains, how we must prepare for change vs. just reacting to it – with the change in the regulatory landscape in the cheese industry, this is an important message to take away.
Next up was a workshop on basic functionality of starter cultures by Rex Infanger of Danisco. I learned about the various starter cultures you can choose from, the benefits of each, and how to choose the right culture for the cheese you make. Rex also reviewed culture growth, and acid production. One of my favorite quotes was “experience means I really screwed up in the past.” It was good to know I’m not the only one who has had starter culture issues. His main message was you must examine what happens inbetween adding the culture and the final PH – even a temperature difference of 1 degree can affect the final flavor and texture of your cheese.
I went on to take a class on the Health Benefits of Cheese, then the highlight of my day was the Gouda making workshop! The first time I’ve watched someone else make Gouda. I learned many interesting techniques, and realized that I’ve made more tweaks to my original recipe over the past year than I thought. Marieka from Holland Family Farms in WI was a wonderful teacher, very dynamic and full of energy. She made me want to run back to my cheese room and get back to work. I was able to try her Gouda later at the Meet the Cheesemaker event, and it was delicious – everything I would imagine a perfect Gouda would be.
The Eve of ACS…
I woke up this morning frantic. I was running through my packing list and thought I should give my passport one more good look over. It was the fifth time I’ve checked it since I found out I would be attending the American Cheese Society Conference (ACS) a few months ago. As I scanned the little blue pages, a sense of dread came over me. I realized I had totally forgot to change my name from Amy Rowbottom to Amy Clark. All of a sudden my hopes and dreams of attending ACS came crashing down. But…it was lucky day. I talked with a few nice folks at customs who assured me I would be OK. We jumped in the car and made our way to Montreal.
Thanks to a scholarship offered by the Maine Cheese Guild, I’m able to attend my first American Cheese Society Conference. It could not be better timing. This summer we’ve had ups and downs, particularly in the Gouda making department. The temperature, humidity, change in diet, lactation cycles have me spinning. One batch I’ll feel I’ve reached a whole new level, and the next batch…a whole new low. The joys of cheesemaking are not always joyful but have prepared me with a long list of questions to take along to my series of workshops over the weekend. I cannot wait for the actual Gouda making demonstration I’ll be attending tomorrow afternoon. I’ll get a birds eye view of the entire process – the first time I’ve ever watched someone else make Gouda. I’m sure it will be very humbling and will send me running back to the farm, arms flailing madly, ready to dive into our vat and get back to work.
It’s getting late and I’ve got a big day tomorrow. I’ll be blogging again soon hopefully summing up all the brilliant people I’ve met and new things I’ve learned. Thanks for following along.