Friday, June 5, 2009

One Last Day

It is my last day here in Burlington and not the nicest. It is warm, but a little muggy and cloudy. Extremely loud airplanes keep ripping across the sky. But, I shall expound upon the good and forget the not so hot.
Sadly I have not taken any pictures, but there are some that my comrades, the Williams, have put up on their blog. They are young, self-proclaimed "urban intellectuals" trying to get into farming. They are just 2 among many interesting folks that I have met here this time.
On Wed. we had a class solely on starter cultures. Again, as with all of these classes, I felt as if a curtain had been swept aside and I could see clearly (not that I can clearly see everything - just my vision isn't nearly so muddy on most concepts). The teacher was surprisingly good, considering he was from Cargil. Yesterday's class, thank god, was a little less sciencey - it involved eating gobs of cheese and smelling lots of random smells and categorizing such sensory evaluations. It was a lovely way to finish out the course. I can now proudly say that I am a cheese maker. As Jamie, fellow classmate and cheese maker, kept saying boisterously last night at supper, "We have cheese cred!" 
Supper last night was great. Expensive, but can you really put a price on good food and good company? I had dishes consisting of raw ground beef (it closely resembles Dad's hamburgers), hummus containing grapes, Australian wine, potato and leek soup with chunks of cheese slightly melted in it, part of a Vermont martini (a VTinin as our waitress called it), my first creme brulee (heavenly, divine, delicious, I'm making it when I get home) and chocolate mousse. I'm still full just thinking about it. To top it all off, I was dining with Jamie (very energetic, Liz's upfront attitude, life-of-the-party type) a lovely Canadian couple (sweet Tanya and her wonderful husband) and a Chilean, Ana (very nice with a father who self-medicates like Grandpa). I didn't get back home until around 11 PM (complete with a bag of Vermont cheese I got from the co-op for a Minnesota cheese-tasting).
I'll be home soon, and I look forward to getting back to cheese making and thinking about future plans. Summer of cheese, here I come!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Greetings from the Green State

Here I am, again, in Vermont, land of greenness and good people. The trip here was pretty uneventful, except the segment from Detroit to Burlington when we were flying over gobs of clouds. It was just past sunset so the clouds were just barely illuminated from underneath. The glory didn't last very long, but when looking out the window, I saw the most beautiful landscape of clouds. Then, after just minutes, it was too dark and the exquisite sea that had been just outside my window disappeared.
I walked around Burlington all day on Sunday. It was a slightly chilly day, but I enjoyed the city immensely. I went down to the lake and saw some windsurfers who were braving the choppy water (it was pretty windy at this point). I decided I should next head over to the local co-op (called Healthy Living) to get a couple of groceries for the week. I picked out a lovely, local goat cheese, an artisan loaf of bread (also local), a pizza to take back to cook and some whole milk (I believe also local). As I stepped out of the door, I noticed some angry clouds gathering, and a gust of wind nearly swept me off my feet. Flimsy pizza box in one hand and bag of groceries in the other, I practically flew home (very much wind aided) and avoided the rain. 
The first two days of classes were about Cheese Chemistry. It was a whole lot of information pretty much putting together everything we've learned in the past classes, plus some more. Many of us left feeling more confused than when we began. (I'll tell you more about my interesting classmates later . . . I almost have to leave for class again). So, to reward ourselves for trudging through such tough material, we headed out of Burlington to visit the education farm, Shelburne Farms.
They are located in a farm/summerhouse that the Vanderbilts built around the 1880's. The buildings are extravagant to say the least. We first met with Nat, the head cheese dude, and got to see the make-room and talk to a couple of college-age kids working there. We talked to them about problems the make room might have, the brown swiss herd from which they get milk, and various other cheesy things. They make only cheddar so it was interesting to see how they had diversified with only one type of cheese. In their massive cheese cave they had blocks aging from 6 months to 6 years or so. They also did a traditional cloth-bound variety and all of their slightly "off" chunks that were edible got sold as Tractor Cheese (with separate labels warning against off flavors and variability, but mentioning that it would "keep the motor running" I believe). We drove further back onto the farm to the house where they now have an inn and restaurant. We ate. It was delicious. It was also very expensive, but worth it. I had a plate of black bean gnocchi. Later, we sat in a living room area and talked. I played with Montse's son (she's the Spanish instructor and loves Shleburne Farms, coincidentally, they also love her and and her sage. cheese advice). It was a nice way to end the day.
I must get ready for the last day of classes - sensory evaluation - so I'll expound on my journey later. Love you all - - - Katie

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I can't believe it's Wednesday already...

Trav thought these radishes were worthy of their own blog post (he's currently out weeding the garden in preparation for the weekend-Steve and Steve are coming to see it :)

P.S. Does anyone notice anything wrong with this picture?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Peppers are Growing...

If you look closely, you can see little peppers on the plants around this one, too. There are only about 50 pepper plants!

In case anyone cares, Trav did not say one thing about that bread yesterday. So I put my purchased loaf in the freezer, and tried it again today.
P.S. KT, where are you?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Who's going to eat all those radishes???

Our computer seems to be working somewhat now; whatever Trav did to it. Anyways, I took this picture yesterday. The weather has been absolutely beautiful.
I was going to take pictures of my beautiful bread, but it did not turn out very beautiful. I won't go into it much, but lets just say that instead of 4 loaves, I only got 2. And not very pretty ones, either - I have to admit that I am really curious to see what Trav has to say about his sandwiches when he gets home from work :) hehe (In any case, I bought bread today.)
FYI: Just spoke with KT (hi KT!), and she was having fun in Vermont. I'm sure she'll be blogging soon.