Old Waffle Irons and Revelations
My dad got a new waffle iron and I begged him to send me his old one. It’s cast iron, probably 15 pounds and it was made in 1901. Last Sunday when I was making some delicious waffles, I was caught by the fact that the waffle I had just made was one in a long line of them – people have been making breakfast on this thing for over 100 years! It is not electric, it is not covered with Teflon, it has no timer and yet it does the job. And it got me to thinking that sometimes we get so caught up with that specific tool that some TV cook tells us we have to have in order to create the perfect omelet that we forget that omelets are just a bunch of cracked eggs in a pan.
And that inspired me to reflect on why making all my food is so important to me. Please visit all the other blogs on this site as they are wonderful places to look for ways to DIY the food in your life!
The birth of cheese was of necessity. They had a lot of milk that they didn’t want to go bad so they made cheese. But it became a passion and an art form throughout the ages. Everyone is talking about getting closer to your food, knowing your farmer etc. Cheese making is a perfect way to go even deeper than knowing where your turnip was grown. You will create something that most of us grew up thinking was made at the supermarket (at least I did!).
We need to unplug and return to the art of cooking and creating food. I love cheese. I love the way it tastes and the way it looks and the way it melts between two pieces of freshly baked bread to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. But I also love the craft of cheese making because it connects me with a tradition, with a long lost personal practice that is now isolated to factories and machines.
In the posts to come you’ll find that you do, in fact, need a few things to get started in your cheese making efforts. Enzymes are the biggest thing – unless you have your own animals and know how to get the enzymes and rennet out of their stomach lining, you’re better off buying them online. You will need some cheesecloth, a cheese press, milk and patience. No fancy tools, no special trainings – just you and the cheese. Cheese making is just a pot, some milk and some time. The process has withstood the march of the millennium.
We can bake our own bread, grow our own vegetables, and make our own cheese. That is our response to the ever-imposing, ever-distancing world of the Internet and electronics. I am a not an off-the grid, generate-my-own-electricity; only-take showers-with-rainwater kind of girl. I think that type of life is an admirable one, but not one that we should feel bad for using our IPhones and watching Gossip Girl occasionally (or every week, religiously). I am an average, 20 something, bartender with a passion for taking back my life from the grip of the mega-corporations. All that to say, if I can do it, anyone can. And you can do it for reasons other than making a statement…maybe because homemade food is really good.
People were making their own food, cleaning their clothes in the river, raising their kids without Baby Mozart and reading flash cards since the beginning of time. It’s only the last 50 so years that we started to think that those practices were archaic and obsolete. It turns out, though, that these “improvements to society” have actually dramatically altered our world for the worse and now we’re scrambling to figure out how to get it back.
Start to appreciate what the pioneers did to make their food. Chop your own vegetables instead of buying a bag of pre-chopped ones. Spend 20 minutes cooking dinner for your family instead of 2 minutes heating up a microwave dinner. Turn your TV off. You don’t have to buy a cow or move to a farmhouse is Indiana. Start small. Talk to each other – face to face, not with texting. Make your own cheese. It’s going to taste really great when you do.
To end this post, please watch this video of an old Italian man making mozzarella in his garage with a big pot and a wooden stick. (the music is really great)
Next week: we will tackle the elusive mozzarella – watch the video to get more excited