Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vice Grips

The next few weeks are crazy for me. I have three articles due, my family coming to town for a week in the middle of the semester, and I have a 2.5 hour presentation in class on which my entire grade for the course is based. I feel like there is a giant fist squeezing my chest and digging its knuckles into my shoulders. I'm seriously sweating.

Last night I was freaking out too much to concentrate on the reading I need for my project, so thankfully I got to play dodgeball and let all that out. There is just something about wailing those yellow balls that lets me relax. Our team actually won last night for the first time, so that made it even better. Our best player is a gal from the women's rugby team, not the men's. We call her the Dread Pirate Ashley.

At one point, she was the only player on the court in a game of returns. Then she caught a few of their balls, getting them out AND bringing our guys back in. I was amazed. I love her and her dodgeball skills.

By the time I got home, I was so sweaty and zen I worked for three hours in a row and got a huge chunk done. The grip has relaxed a little...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mmmmm Bread

I took a bread baking class in the Strip this morning. I was there on assignment for a magazine article. In other words, I was just paid to eat brunch and learn to bake bread.

I walk into the room to a table heaped with the most amazing foods. Fresh Humboldt Fog cheese. Parmesan. Italian meats. Quiches stuffed with fresh vegetables and more meats. Pastries straight from the brick oven. "Have a seat!" the owner explodes. He has a huge burn across his face where he slid a hot baking pan into his chin. His temples are dotted with flour. "I made these pickles. You're gonna want to eat a whole one." He slides the pickle onto my plate, along with the last slice of ricotta pie and then he fills my wine with red wine. "I made this wine, too. And the olives. I make all this stuff."

By this point, I feel like unbuttoning my pants. The owner regales us with the best stories I have heard in years. The woman across from me, whom the owner calls "Cesar" has been chugging away at the homemade wine. She is drunk. As I ask questions, the word slowly spreads that I am a writer here to cover the class. A mother leans in to spell her daughter's name for me, so I'm sure to write it down. Cesar says, "You want a story? This lady next to me is my husband's ex wife! We're friends! I bought her this class for a Christmas present."

The smaller woman nods along. She is drunk, too. We're all getting drunk, though it's not yet 11am. "I'm wife number...what am I?" A man walks in carrying five-gallon buckets of dough and we all ignore him.

"Three. You're three."

"That's right. You're four then."

The air in the bakery smells of chocolate and onions. The baker is now passing out homemade pasta with beans and garlic. "This is peasant food in Italy!" Then he translates this into Italian. The building is an old autobody shop from the 1850s. He tells us on hot days, he opens the great garage doors and they sit out back and sweat while the cookies bake. He tells us the history of civilization, charted through bread and Demeter's breasts.

Every few minutes, the chef pauses to really emphasize how the loss of the familial table is killing the world. Recipes are dying with the elderly. Families are breaking apart. All the while, he is putting food on our plates and telling us we are in his house. The word companion, he says, literally means one with whom I break bread.

We move on to learn the art of bread baking. Everything is in metaphors and I understand it all perfectly. He works his hands through the dough like an artist and I can't stop staring at his fingers while he speaks. "We're dirty bastards in this kitchen," he says, warning us not to touch anything but the work space because it's all hot and dirty.

When I move to put my loaf in the oven, he is ecstatic that I am left handed, like him. He hands me a long wooden paddle for the bread, called a peel. "This is Sergio's peel," he says, telling me his mentor gave it to him. It weighs about 30 pounds. I can lift it, though, and he lets me use it to shove the bread in the brick oven. I am last, so my loaf is called the "hero's loaf," because when mine is ready, that means they all are done.

Finally, stuffed and overflowing with bread lore, we pull the loaves from the oven and line them up, each marked with our knives and burst open like flowers. He is silent for the first time in three hours. "Listen," he whispers. We all get quiet, lean in. The bread crackles. "It's applauding for you."

We are beside ourselves that our bread looks so good. We all bustle out the door, tipsy and laden with leftovers, which he shoves in our bags as he shakes our hands. I am carrying probably $60 of cheese and imported meats along with my loaf of bread. I want nothing more than to eat the whole thing and rush home to write my story. But how to condense such a day, such a character, into 200 words? I wonder if it can be done.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I am having a good day. I got my copy of a magazine with nine pages of my writing in it. (I put links to the articles here and here) I get an indescribable rush from opening those pages, smelling the ink, and seeing my name typed in glossy print above my words.

In this case, because I was just so fascinated with and interested in the garden people, I was really ecstatic to write about the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden. What a top notch facility. In the future, I will be a volunteer there. Before that, I will take my family inside and show them everything I wrote about.

Days like this, when I get a fatty paycheck and a new magazine for my file box, I begin to suspect I really can make it as a writer. That this thing I do can become my primary income source and not just something I love to do in between tutoring shifts. It almost seems like cheating to get paid for my writing, because it's something I would just do anyway.

The story came about because I was really, really curious about the gardens. So I asked ten thousand questions. I've been doing that for 27 years! My mom gets excited to tell people my first words were, "What'sat?" A question I asked without stopping since I was only a few months old. Who knew you could make a career from asking questions and writing down the answers?

I feel really lucky and thankful today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fish Purse

I met with my crazy fish clients this morning. This meeting was pretty normal as far as those meetings go. We talked about the newsletter, new products, their new website. Things were really cordial. I like them. I think I like them because they are hopelessly weird, like me...

Anyway, on my way out today they really stepped up the purse stuffing. Usually it's a sneaky bag of chips or one small fish package in my bag while I'm walking away. Today, I got twelve pounds of various fishes. I took pictures so I could share with everyone.

First, I got this kind:

I mentioned to them before that my husband eats this kind of fish, fried in a pan with peanut sauce. They liked that idea. Then they said if he liked that, he might enjoy this fish:

It has the skin on and apparently a milder flavor. "Learn to cook fish with this fish," they said, because apparently it's sturdy and easy to work with.

Last, the dude walked up to a cooler and started stuffing individually frozen cod fillets in a bag. No packaging. Just fish in a bag:

It was all so heavy I was actually struggling to walk to the car! I had this big fear that I would slip on the ice and my twelve pounds of fish would go flying. There is barely room for it in my freezer. I took a picture of it all in a heap just because I can't believe it. 12 pounds of fish.

It's such a strange feeling to have someone force something like this on you. I feel grateful, but also bad. They don't have to give me fish. I'm already being paid to write wonderful things about their products, so this doesn't change my project. I'm also not writing an article about these specific products (anymore...) so I don't need them for research.

I can't decide if I should have a Lenten Fish Fry celebration or just ask my dad to cook it for me since I like how he makes fish with onions and butter. Since ten million relatives (really just ten...) will be at my house soon, it's nice to have a stock pile of healthy food I guess...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Today an SUV honked at a man being pushed across the street in a wheelchair. Like laid on the horn angrily with the hand not holding his cell phone. The old man, wearing a red ski cap and huddled under a blanket atop his jacketed body, was being pushed by a young person wearing scrubs. Some sort of hospital worker. It was a little icy outside, and snowy. They weren't going really fast, but who can blame them?

When I heard the honking and looked at the angry, angry person behind that wheel I felt several things. First, I wanted to take the yogurt I was eating while walking and dump it into his gas tank as I scraped my house keys along the SUV door. Second, I felt enormously sad that this man's life was so empty, so horribly superficial that he needed to get so angry at this unfortunate wheelchair person.

My whole way home, I just kept praying that my priorities never get that misaligned. I get very stressed out by things and tend to get angry while driving, but I hope that I will always see the wheelchair and wait patiently for that person, because I know he or she would rather be running across the street as fast as possible and is not able to do so. Please, oh please, let me be a grateful person and not like that horrible SUV man on his phone.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Today I spent most of my time working on a project for class. The two hours I wasn't doing that, I was shopping. Shamelessly. It came to my attention that Costco sells a box of fancy cards (birthday cards, wedding cards, condolence cards, thank you's, you name it!) that have cute decorations and tasteful sayings and stamped envelopes. There are 35 cards in that sucker and they are the sort of cards you find in the froo-froo section of most stores, usually near things that are breakable. The whole darn kit was $15! Why would something so wonderful be so inexpensive? I about died. So I bought that.

Then I went to Target and discovered you can buy a ceramic pot full of dirt and the seeds to make specific food things. Like a pizza kit or a salsa kit or just a tomato basil kit. I stood contemplating kits for a really, really long time. Embarrassingly long. I think twenty minutes just staring at one shelf. It felt so luxurious. Did I want a fancy lily in my house? Pizza herbs? Supplies to make my own chamomile tea??? I went with the pizza kit, which has pepper, basil, oregano, and parsley seeds. When I got it home, I discovered that the kit doesn't come with enough dirt to fill the pot. I have to go into my yard with a chisel and get some filler dirt. Why?

When I was on my way home with my cards and my dirt (and 92 Airborne tablets and 5 pounds of pretzels, etc.) I came to a four-way stop at the same time as a woman who was going to turn left. I was going straight, giving me the right of way. I was about to put the car in first gear and drive when the woman started waving me on. Like, "oh no, dear, you go ahead." As if she had the right of way. But she didn't. I did. When I didn't wave a little "Thank you!" wave, she glared at me like I was a jerk. I'm not thanking her for reinforcing my right of way! Not even on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. No way. Why do people disregard traffic laws like that? It really grinds my gears.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Warm Bed

It's cold here. Ten degrees. My friends from grad school all employ interesting methods to stay warm at night to avoid turning the heat higher, so I thought I would try their tricks. First, my friend Patsy told me how her mom used to put a hot water bottle in her bed, and she has continued to do so on her little east coast excursion.

So I tried this. Only we don't have a hot water bottle. We have a mason jar that I got for Christmas with cookie dough mix in it. I filled it with boiling water and carried it upstairs using a pot holder, while Corey made the bed and held the covers open. We put in the jar standing up at first, then thought it would be more effective if we rolled it around a little so it could heat up everything. Turns out, the mason jar was not water tight. It made a big, cold lake in the middle of the bed that seeped through to the mattress pad and mattress itself.

We named it Lake Superior and all night long, my soggy socked foot would make my leg cold. Every time my pajama clad leg wandered into the lake, I awoke in a cold, wet, start. Corey just slept curled in a ball and we both cursed our stupidity for not testing the jar first.

Last night, we went with my friend Paul's suggestion. He fills a sock with rice and sticks it in the microwave before putting it in bed with him. I dragged out some old rugby socks worn thin around the heels and filled them with $.86 Giant Eagle rice. I tied a knot in the top and nuked those suckers for three minutes. They were piping hot and did not seem to be leaking. So we stuck the black snakey things in the bed and it was warm and it was lovely to squish our toes around on the socks or cuddle up next to them. They kept their heat for hours, too. It was wonderful except for one small thing.

Even though they were clean rugby socks, apparently the microwave brought out their stored funk. Our bed and bedroom smelled like sweaty popcorn, the pungent odors of my feet wafting into our warm faces all night long.

Given our choice of the two evils (cold, cold nights or warm smelly bliss) I picked the sock. Corey yanked it out of the sheets and hurled it at me, yelling, "How could you bring this into our room? This is so nasty!"

I think what I might do is go to the sports store and buy a clearance pair of kids' tall socks. Then they will be clean and not rugby-foul and I can fill them with rice and sleep so, so soundly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Faux Pas

I had a very strange experience at a restaurant the other night. Every Thursday, the graduate students in my program host a reading at a local bar/restaurant. We get the whole basement, which we typically fill up with eager drinkers and eaters, and read poetry, nonfiction, or fiction for an hour and a half. The wait staff hates us.

They are usually big butt-wads, infrequently taking orders, making us run credit cards immediately for even $2 beers. For example, when I read, Corey ordered a beer when he first arrived and thought he might have 2 more over the course of the evening. The waitress never came back after she delivered beer 1 and took his money. He was so thirsty he sucked ice cubes from someone else's drink. I can only suspect they get stiffed sometimes and feel angry about that.

This past week, I ordered a beer and a bowl of chicken chili. My check, handed to me immediately, was $6. My friend at the table ordered fries and I think a club soda. Her bill was also around $6. Each of us handed our waiter a ten dollar bill and he scampered off, presumably to get change. But he never came back. For an hour, I scanned the basement, not even paying attention to the readers. Where was our change?

I finally asked a waitress what to do and she said she would round him up and send him over. He walked up to us, looking incredulous, and said, "Oh. Did you guys want change for those checks?"

Now I have never been a server. I don't have it in me. Many of my good friends have, though. I usually tip pretty well. I was planning to leave him a nice tip. Not $4, though. Not for a $6 check. I later found out it was his first day as a waiter. But I still felt upset with him. As a person who has never been a waitress, I know things like always, always bring change or at least say, "How much change would you like?"

I was aghast, for lack of a better emotion. Had I known it was his first day to start with, I probably would have given him the whole ten-spot. But I just couldn't get past this boy's pluck. Who assumes a 66.67% tip? My friend and I growled and left him a five between us. I felt like just saying, "Oh. Did you want a tip for that service?"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heavy Days

A female student came up to me today. "Can I tell you something?" she asked. Something in her voice, the way she darted her eyes back and forth to see who was in earshot, told me this would be a heavy discussion. She fidgeted. Told me how she thought for a long time and decided it almost seemed like nothing, but sat weird in her stomach. "I feel creepy," she said. I felt like I understood.

It had to do with a man. A violation of the sort that makes you feel like you are crazy and wonder if perhaps you imagined the whole thing. Strange behavior. Simple things turned horribly wrong. She talked for awhile as my stomach churned and I fought back the urge to just hug her, the urge to bolt from the room. Something in my face must have betrayed the gravity of it all. "He's going to get in trouble now, isn't he? Bad trouble. I shouldn't have said anything. Do you promise not to tell?"

I looked her in the eyes and promised. The big lie I told today. What I should have said: It feels creepy because it is creepy. If it felt wrong and bad, that's because it was. He is going to get in trouble because he did something worthy of reprimand.

Instead, I just told her it would be ok and called my mom. And then I told the appropriate people what had happened. And I feel heavy.

I never imagined the weight a confidant would feel in such a situation. As if this now becomes my fault. But what comfort would my silence have brought instead? The best I can do is take note of the heft of this day and imagine the late nights of anxiety for this girl, what it must have taken for her to confide. I wonder what she left out, what she deemed unworthy of repeating or what secret horrors felt too unsafe. I think about the weight I carry and am thankful for it, because she no longer has it.

This is the most adult I've ever felt. Now I wait for the backwash.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Astonishing Discoveries

I had no idea that there was such a thing as a toilet snake, or that one could be purchased for around $10. Why don't I have one? Why don't we use this thing all the time instead of the stinky plunger that quotes bible verses at us? (John 14:6 is on the handle. I question whether this is evangelism by Home Depot or a fun joke by the plunger maker) Is it harmful to the toilet to snake it all the time? Because our old pipes require frequent "adjustment, " and I think the snake beats out the plunger any day. I think I'll take Em's advice and buy one before my nephew gets here in two weeks. Lord knows what he'll try to flush.

I also had no idea that Google's documents allowed for so many cool options. I really question why I use Word at all now that I've given myself a tour. The functions I use most (spell check, font changes, double space) are all available AND there is a neat little analysis thing that tells me the reading level and difficulty of my writing. How rad is that? It also tells me word counts and paragraph lengths and other things important to people who are paid by the word. Plus, I don't have to carry around a USB thingy. It's all just in there all the time, whenever I need anything. Computer crashes? My thesis is ok! It's all on google! (I suppose a drawback to this would be a power failure that took away my Fios...but who can write with no internet anymore anyway?)

Finally, I have discovered that I am a terrible dodgeball player. I'm just really sucky. All balls I throw are caught and most balls thrown at me strike paydirt. The best I can do is tip a ball into a teammate's hands, getting myself out, but giving them a ball to throw back at the other team. I saved Corey's life like this last night in a dodgeball game. By life I mean ability to continue playing dodgeball. Unlike most things I'm terrible at, I am not overwhelmed with desire to be better for some reason. I think I'm ok being a bad dodgeballer. I know that this is just off-season activity and that, come March, I'll return to a world where, if I am not good, I am at least driven by fire to constantly improve. Dodgeball has become the one thing in the world where I can suck and not care, a fleeting thing that doesn't keep me up at night. There had to be something! That's a nice thing to realize.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not What I Wanted to Do This Afternoon

We have old pipes. I guess they clog easily. I found out early that ours is a non-tampon-flushing sewer system. I'm not sure what happened with our upstairs potty, but suffice it to say I am not working on my article for my approaching 5pm deadline.

On the advice of a contractor friend, I have boiled water, dumped it down the drain along with a box of baking soda and a half bottle of vinegar. I have made a volcano.

I am trying everything I can to avoid Drano and the plumbing bill. I never thought I would have to say the words, "I wish I owned a toilet snake."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A World of Updates

Black Santa is growing some grassy hair. I took the plastic bag off his head, defying the instructions, and the mold dried up. I also moved him to the window when it was in the 70s last week so he got more sun. I think I'll have to move him back so he doesn't get cold, though.

As Black Santa grows and develops, so do my cheese skills. One week, five gallons of whole milk later, and I can make a mean mozzarella. I have found the best milk for cheese in Pittsburgh: Dean's. I'm not sure whether they use antibiotics, but their milk makes a darn firm curd. I am getting closer to being able to have string cheese.

See how that baggy almost contains a tube-like piece of cheese to be peeled in gentle strips? My co-worker told me it looked like a soggy white turd. I told her she wasn't allowed to taste any and made her sit there while my boss and co-tooters all enjoyed some fatty cheese that almost made strings. No matter what it looks like, it tastes great spread on crackers.

I have learned that salt messes up my cheese consistency. I'm going to stop adding it during production and let people salt to taste with the finished product. I wish I understood chemistry so I would know why these things happen.

I am also buying many tickets for exciting journeys. First comes a train trip home while Corey is snowboarding in Utah. Taking the train eliminates my ability to cart home the load of books I wanted from my parents' house, but it costs the same as driving and I'll be able to read and do homework (or even sleep). I vow to sort through the books and make a donation trip, reducing the load by over half. One can only read a crumply Stephen King paperback so many times in a lifetime...

While I'm home, I might teach my family to make cheese!

Next I am scouting for plane tickets to Phoenix for my final spring break of this lifetime. Since my sister and nephew are coming here for Groundhog's Day, I'll just go there in March and see them twice! I might take cheese bacteria with me where the goats are nursing and take a stab at some chevre.

Last came the most exciting purchase of all. A Katy-Corey graduation/anniversary/Corey's mom's recovery celebration Team Lev journey to Tuscany. We haven't quite purchased the tickets, due to my failure to update my name with Continental when I got married. I cannot purchase my ticket until the damn paperwork goes through. I didn't bother to change my name with my frequent flyer program and now I suffer. When I try to get a ticket, it notices that there was once a person of similar name and email and freaks out with red exclamation points. I couldn't even solve the problem on the internet. This requires a real person, who doesn't get to work until 8am on Monday. Tomorrow at this time, I will be en route to the region known for Chiante. I will be five months away from real Parmasean and truffle oil and olive trees. (Bushes?)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh, Stop!

I went to a new dentist today. My old one stopped carrying my insurance. My first stop was a cleaning from Hygienist Judy. Judy couldn't believe my teeth. "Look at those teeth! Look how well you care for them!" She called her hygienist friend in from the hall to look. They ogled. I smiled, with the cotton wad in my mouth.

"You just don't know the mouths we see in here. You have no idea! This will be the best mouth I see all day." She went on and on, even my x-rays were wonderful. "Just the best teeth!"

Then the dentist came in to have a look. "Holy wow! Can I take a picture of those gums to show my other patients? Seriously, can I?" I smiled even bigger. He took a picture. "Didn't your old dentist tell you all about your beautiful mouth?"

"I just thought they were being nice..."

"No. These are the best teeth. Just really wonderful dental care. What's your secret?"

I told him about fifth grade, how a dentist came to my class room and gave us little red tablets that stained the plaque on our teeth. When mine, even after vigorous brushing, were bright red I was horrified. I have scrubbed my brains out ever since.

The dentist says they aren't allowed to do such things in public school anymore. This is terrible news, because it scared me into brag-worthy gums. I will certainly try to acquire those tablets for my offspring, because everyone deserves to feel as good inside as I did upon leaving the dentist.

What a self-esteem booster!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

At Wit's End

I just watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I looked forward to it for so long, being deeply in love with Johnny Depp and intrigued by the sea lore, etc. While I acknowledged the overwhemingly complicated plot, I let it ride. I knew it would work out into the happy Disney ending I wanted. I don't watch these movies because I want to be stimulated and think about the gripping reality of life. I watch because I want Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly to do it and live happily ever, breeding pirate babies. I also want the bad guys to die and the other characters to get archetypal revenge until all is right in the world.

But that DID NOT HAPPEN in this movie. Instead, Elizabeth Turner sits at home on her ass and has to wait around, seeing her true love only one day every decade. That's bullshit! That's not a marriage and it's not romantic. It's not like they are communicating. It's not like he is texting her from the netherworld to say he loves her every now and then. No communication, no looking at his face, no smelling his hair, no laughing at his farts. Nothing. One day. Ten years. That's it.

As a woman, I resent this ending. Why should the woman have to sit at home and raise their son and wait for him while he ferries souls across the great divide? Why shouldn't she get to have a real and present marriage? As a person in a romantic relationship, I am also affronted by this ending. It isn't happy when they have to be separated like this. It does not deserve the swelling music the filmmakers added there. I keep thinking about what I would do if Corey were shipped off to Iraq. If I didn't get to look at him for even one year, I would be devastated.

One day? Ten years? It's such crap that it kept me up all night.

Elizabeth also has to raise a child completely on her own in a time when it's not like women are allowed to work for a living. (Because they procreated after one sandy attempt, such is his mighty sperm) She can't be a banker in the 1800s. She can't go run an advertising agency. What's she doing for money?

As I lay there dwelling on the horror of that ending, my worst nightmare come to life on screen, I thought up my own new ending. Elizabeth sneaks aboard the Flying Dutchman while Will is playing with his son, whom he meets for the first time at age ten, mind you. Elizabeth lights the ship on fire and burns it, so there is no Flying Dutchman to ferry souls and Will is freed from having to captain it.

Then he can come home to her and that would be an appropriate ending. I'm so upset.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Black Santa

A few weeks ago, I went to Chicago to visit Jenny Lui and other rugby friends from Penn State. We were dashing through the snow home from the bars, it was very cold, and it was very late, but out of the corner of my eye I saw something painted on the window of Home Depot. Something I had never seen before and it filled my heart with joy. It was Black Santa.

I was beside myself, commanding everyone to look at Home Depot's diversity, at a wonderful thing painted in soap on the store window. But nobody cared! Or so I thought.

A few weeks later, a package arrived at my house. It ended up on the floor in the living room and I assumed it was Corey's mess, kicking it around and yelling at him for days as I tripped over it. Eventually, he grumbled and ripped it open. It wasn't for him at all. It was a gift from Jenny Lui. My very own Black Santa!

But this Black Santa was a Chia-pet. A Grow-A-Head, to be exact. I love it. I love every piece of its foam hat and beady eyes. I love it even though it has mold growing out the back of its head and its feeble attempts at grass hair look more like someone peed on my Black Santa. Mark my words, by next week my diverse decoration will have sprouted into something marvelous.

(See that white dangly stuff? Mold. All of it.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Pizza! Cheese!

Attempt number one at making cheese was a failure. I left happy hour with my rugby friends, to moderate teasing and disapproval of this way to spend a Friday night, and failed at making cheese.

I stared at it sadly last night and finally came to terms with the fact that my curdy water was not going to become mozzarella. I bought a different brand of milk today after yoga and had a successful cheese making session!

At first I thought it was another failure as my mixture did not make giant solid curds. I refused to lose again, though, so I strained the stuff anyway and stuck it in the microwave per instructions. I almost died of a heart attack when I pulled it out, kneaded it around a little and it became mozzarella cheese.

I added the salt, slapped it around, and there it was. A tiny lump of cheese, yes, but actual Katy-made cheese.

That there is one gallon of milk's worth of cheese. Not bad for my first time, though. I'm going to get better at making curds and have less waste. Next time, I realize, I need to heat the milk a little hotter and slap the cheese around more forcefully while I am kneading it. No need to be gentle with that curd! I'm debating trying again this afternoon, but I am not sure whether it's ok to spend $15 on milk in 24 hours just trying to make fatty cheese.

I took my small bounty and made it into a pizza, though not one where I made the dough. Corey protested that I put far too much cheese on the pizza, but as of yet he has not had any lactarded side effects from the delicacy.

If I do buy more milk and go again, I will make string cheese and pack them in lunches during my first week back from vacation. I can't wait!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Cheese is Here!

The cheese box arrived today. Friday, two days after I ordered it. As promised! It arrived about four minutes ago. It looks like this:

I am trying so hard not to run to the co-op to buy whole milk. I want to make cheese immediately, but I made plans for 5pm this evening. That means I have to leave the house in a little over an hour. I fear that is not enough time to make cheese.

I am trying to slow my beating heart and calm my anxious fingers. Instead, I will carefully read the directions and study the cheese bacteria catalog until I can make the cheese later this evening. Tomorrow might be a pizza day after all!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I am going to make cheese. In my kitchen.

I am reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is very similar to Omnivore's Dilemma but includes a section about the Kingsolver family making their own cheese. I became very inspired by this. The Kingsolvers make their own cheese, make their own pizza dough, and use sauce from tomatoes they grew in their yard. Imagine eating pizza completely independent from industry, wholly your own creation.

I have to say I feel really, really excited about this. We didn't get any tomatoes in the ground last year when we moved in to our house, but we can get canned local tomatoes from the farmers market and make a truly Pittsburghian pizza.The thought is so thrilling to me, this notion of being able to personally create the foods I typically imagined a magical machine producing somewhere far away. It puts a whole new light on the notion of providing for my family.

I went to the website Kingsolver talks about in her book to order cheese supplies. The site makes me feel even more excited to make dairy products at home. My big goal is to have mastered mozzarella making by Corey's birthday, so I can move on to ricotta and make lasagna for him. My next cheese goal after that is to master making pizza dough and possibly pasta noodles so that when my family comes in droves to Pittsburgh for Groundhog's Day, I can serve them homemade cheesy pizza or stuffed shells.

As I drunkenly explained these goals to my rugby friends last night at a party, I expected them all to get excited with me. This is interesting! Who ever knew that regular people could MAKE cheese??? They just furrowed their eyebrows and said that Corey and I really need to get television. It may be true that we need TV, but how much more fun will it be to watch The Office while eating nachos made with my homemade cheese?

I am fully prepared to acknowledge that I have reached a new height of nerdiness and/or weirdity with this new project. All I can say is give me a week and then come over to my house, because there will be delicious cheese there and I will share it with you.