Friday, April 27, 2012

Cheese-making Class

About a month ago, Antoine spotted this deal on Groupon for half off a cheese-making class in OTR at the Cheesy Gourmet.  We immediately forwarded the deal to my sister, another lover of cheese, and within a half hour we had all purchased the Groupon and had tentative plans to go together. Fast forward to last weekend, when Antoine and I met up with my sister and brother-in-law (and two of their friends, Holly and Chris) to embark on our first cheese-making class.

Cheesy Gourmet is set up behind a little store front in OTR.  Our class, which started at 3:30pm, was stationed in a little alcove filled with tables and chairs just outside of the kitchen.  There was a sushi-making class going on in the kitchen, so it made sense that we be in the alcove since we didn't need knives and sushi rice, just a hot plate and some milk.  As you will see, most of the class consisted of instruction and snacking on cheese.  Oh, and drinking wine!  It had been advertised in the Groupon that the class was BYOB, and I think everyone in the class took advantage of that!  (Sidenote:  If you BYOB, it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring a corkscrew [if you need it] and some disposable glasses)

Our instructor, Joshua, was energetic and encouraged all 12 of us in the class to be animated and ask questions as he went along; actually, he demanded it.  He described that the process he would be showing us was an attainable way to make three different types of cheese: spreads, crumbles, and blocks.  And, through this relatively simple process, we could have cheese spread in under a hour, crumbles in just a couple hours and a block of cheese in about a day. 

Holly and our instructor discussing cheese-making and products.

Chris taking notes.

At the beginning of class, Joshua set up a pot on a hot plate filled with vitamin D milk.  As we waited for the milk to reach a low boil, Joshua directed us to a collection of plastic containers filled with cheese spread he had made, but not seasoned.  It was our job to season them, with a variety of herbs and spices provided, and then feast on them...a tough job, I know!  

Christian seasoning up some cheese spread.

I may or may not have drank over a half bottle of wine on an empty stomach and left the cheese-making class completely wasted.  Okay, I did!  And it was awesome!

A variety of seasoned cheese spreads that Michelle and Christian whipped up:  an Italian-y spread (top), chili powder and garlic (middle), lavender and salt (bottom).

Michelle enjoying some cheese spread.

She's so cute!

Once the milk had reached a slow, soft boil it was time to add the lemon juice.  The introduction of acid causes the milk to curdle, thus separating the curds and whey.
Straining out the whey.

Ta-da!  Cheese.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the class.  Initially, I thought we might learn to make mozzarella...I mean, it looks so easy when people make it on cooking shows.  We didn't make mozzarella or feta or cheddar, because in reality, those cheeses take more ingredients and time (we're talking years of aging people!)  But, the nice thing about this class was that Antoine and I walked out feeling like we could go home and make cheese immediately, and all we'd need is some milk, acid (lemon juice) and a flour sack/cheese-cloth.  And within no time at all, we'd have something we could eat!  The class was accessible and we got to see the whole process from start to finish (without any mysterious swap-outs where the chef tells you, "And this is what it looks like after a 6 months of again at precisely 76 degrees...").  We left inspired to make cheese and try out different flavor combinations.  We left thinking, "We can totally do that!  And we can use our basil or rosemary we have growing to season the cheese!!  And we can put it on PIZZA!!!"  

I'd definitely recommend the class.  It was a fun and instructive way to spend the afternoon.  Take a bottle of wine, eat some cheese, and get inspired.  Cheesy Gourmet also offers a variety of other classes, including sushi-making and Indian cuisine. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend in Instagram

This past weekend was one of those where you don't do much because for most of it the weather is miserable, but you still have a great time doing relatively nothing.  Yeah, that was this weekend.  On Friday, I got out of work almost 2 hours early thanks to some leftover comp time.  So Antoine and I picked up a pizza from Dewey's and headed to Ault Park for a picnic.  Not only was the pizza awesome (I've been on a Ryan's Inferno kick lately...if you've never had it, I highly recommend it.  It's not really spicy, just really flavorful.  Also, we get it without the celery.) but the walk around the gardens was lovely.  Since we didn't have Cheese with us we were able to actually walk around the gardens (stupid no dogs allowed rule!).  Everything was starting to bloom, and even though there was a storm on the way the weather at that moment was gorgeous!

So, what's so special about the rose garden at Ault Park?  Well, that's where Antoine and I are getting just a little over a year! 

 Right here, to be exact.

Tons of flowers were in bloom and it smelled amazing in the rose garden.

The rest of Friday night was pretty relaxed.  We went window shopping and ran some errands.  I know it sounds lame, but Friday night is the best time to go grocery shopping since no one is there.  

Saturday started off very slow.  Just a lot of laying around, not doing much.  But then we met up with my sis and brother-in-law downtown to take a cheese making class.  More specifics on that later.  All I'll say for right now is it was pretty fun and it was BYOB, so even if I hadn't learned how to make cheese I walked out of the class in a fantastically drunk mood!  After the class, A and I made a run to Party Source for supplies to make minty drinks (mint juleps and mojitos), because obviously I needed more alcohol in me, at 5 o'clock on a Saturday night, when I hadn't really eaten much that day.

 Then, while running to the Post Office, I proceeded to have a giggle fit and take a horrific amount of picture of me giggling...

 When we got home Antoine made turkey burgers and sweet potato fries and I whipped us up some drinks.  A raspberry mojito for me (above) and a mint julep with Maker's Mark (below) for Antoine.

 Please note: this is the same raspberry mojito, I only had one!  I do have some self-control.

 While eating dinner, the Cheese-man put on his usual beggar-face.  I caved and shared some watermelon with him.

On Sunday pretty much the only thing I did, besides watch season one and two of Portlandia for the second time, was attempt to do galaxy nails based on this tutorial I had found.  Not the best ever, but fairly decent for a first attempt.  I'll definitely give it another try sometime in the future, maybe try out so different colors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Creature Collection

Here's part one and two of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History photos.  This final set are all taken just outside their Mythic Creatures exhibit; a collection of monster/alien creature toys housed in a glass display case.  For some reason, I was just mesmerized by this fantastic selection of vintage toys all packed tightly into the display case.  Hope you find them as interesting as I do...

The white cyclops is, by far, my favorite.

No, wait.  This guy might be my favorite!

Anyway, hope you have a happy Friday!  I'll be working my tail off at work trying to make a deadline, so I'm so very ready for it to be the weekend!  But aren't we all!?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Compass Collection

Here's part two of my pictures from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  You can find part one, here.  This is a collection of compasses from just outside the planetarium.  I just loved the look of them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

I still have a million (ok, not quite) pictures left from the end of March when we went up to Cleveland to visit Amanda and Aaron.  I had already posted the pictures from our delicious brunch at Lucky's Cafe (YUM!), but I left out what we did after that.  All of us, being comepletly stuffed went back to Amanda and Aaron to rest for a bit.  Antoine and I took Cheese for a walk around their lovely neighborhood, and then we decided to check out the Rockefeller Park Conservatory.  But, on our way there, we spotted a sign for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  They're current exhibit was on Mythic Creatures, which intrigued Amanda and I.  And when Amanda and Antoine said they both had never been, it was pretty much decided that that's where we were going.

The Natural History Museum is one of the places in Cleveland that I have been to, many times.  When I was growing up Cleveland was the nearest large-ish when my school had a field trip to the zoo or a museum, that's where we went.  You might remember my feelings about the Cincinnati Museum Center, how it was old, outdated and did nothing for me.  Well, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History is definitely old and it doesn't stand up to Chicago's Field Museum or DC's Smithsonian...but I love it.  It ties me to my youth.  School field trips, weekend trips with my mom...just the two of us.  And you know what, it hasn't changed much at all since then, but I still love it.  So, here you go...

Oh yeah, one things Cincinnati Museum Center is definitely lacking...otters!  Cleveland's has an outdoor area with bird exhibits, deer, turkeys, and this guy.  So cute!

We spent nearly three hours there, exploring the museum and me taking pictures.  Prepare yourself for two more museum related photo-dumps to come.  I got a little picture happy...I'll blame it on the museum and all the good memories it brings up!