June 5, 2008

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese...

With a toddler.
First, you'll need rennet, milk, citric acid, a thermometer and a big ol' stainless steel pot.
Oh, and a toddler. Preferably one this cute:

Dissolve the rennet in water. We use vegetable rennet over here. See the whole milk? You can make it with lowfat milk, but why bother?
It's not going to be delicious.
C'mon, you might as well just save yourself the effort and eat rubber or chew on a tire or something. And those two things have no calories so they are definitely diet-friendly.
Anyway, dissolve the rennet:

Mix 2 tsp citric acid with 1 cup water:
Look down at kitchen floor and see crazy child hopping around. Behold the mess she has made so far. Realize that you are only a few minutes into what is at least a 1/2 hour process. Wonder what else will happen:
Pour citric acid into milk in pot. Turn up heat and wait for the milk to hit 90 degrees:

Toddler finds spare pot. Knows how cute she is:
90 degrees! Add rennet, stir for 30-60 seconds, turn heat off and let sit for 5 minutes. Hear ominous noises from down the hall. Hey, where the heck did Sadie just go? Oh yeah, down the hall. :
Better check that out. Oh, hey Sadie. Why are you hissing at me?:

Milk is not in thick curds the way it should be. Let it sit a bit longer:

The curds are still too small so I whipped out the cheesecloth to strain it and hoped that it would catch all the curd:

It seemed to work, but then I was confronted with the dilemma of how the heck one cleans cheesecloth. I'll tell you a secret- I threw it out, I am going to just buy a new one..shhhh. Don't hate me- Our washing machine broke yesterday and we are currently without a way to clean clothes, and that puppy was not washing off in the sink by hand. Yes! I tried, what do you think I am, a monster???

Toddler can no longer take you ignoring her. PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!!!!
Take out curds, heat up in pot or microwave and squeeze and knead:
While you are kneading and it is impossible to touch anything, toddler decides to visit one of her favorite haunts, the garbage. What does she find? The eggshells (raw egg) from the earlier baking of cookies, of course:
Suddenly you are bombarded with images of your child stricken with Salmonella, lying in a hospital bed. The doctors are shaking their heads, wondering what kind of mother you are, Letting a child, a child! play in the garbage with raw eggs!

So you say "GET away from the garbage, Sadie!" forcefully. Hoping that for once she'll actually listen when you say no. Well, it works. Maybe a little too well:

OK, a few snuggles later, everyone's OK. You heat and knead the curds again. The cheese gets shiny and mozzarella-y looking:

You cool it down and oh my goodness. You made cheese. I made cheese!


And for being such a good sport during my neglectful cheese experiment we went outside and played with bubbles until we were a soapy mess:

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