June 15 2012

1. Adventures in cooking continue apace. I bought some vegetarian fake sausages at the co-op yesterday, and made a chipotle-bean-tomato thingy that was REALLY good. And, even using pre-made fake meats, it is still lower in salt than, say, an egg cheese mcmuffin. The bread I make for myself is lower in salt than commercial bread. The beans I make for myself are lower in salt than commercial beans. If I could make cheese, I bet it would be lower in salt than the cheese from the store.

2. M is afraid of tornadoes. To deal with this he watches endless episodes of the tv show Stormchasers.

If we give nothing else to our son, we have given him the idea that the answer to fear is knowledge. However scary reality is — and tornadoes are plenty scary — it is less scary than wondering in ignorance. Everybody knows that the feeling you get when you finally see the monster in the movie is relief, not greater terror.

3. I rewatched the classic Doctor Who story “The Happiness Patrol” this week. There’s something odd in that story, something about the performance of femininity. The actual members of the Happiness Patrol are almost all women, and are attired in exaggerated — even for the 1980s — makeup and hair. Femininity as performance, as statement. And at the same time, compliance and fake smiles and getting along with others are the rewarded behaviors. Expressions of anger, or fear, or resentment are punished.

The whole thing smacks as a metaphor for a woman or child living with an abuser. In some ways. I’m not saying that’s what the writers meant, and the metaphor is not perfect. But there is some serious creepiness under all the pink and glitter.

4 Responses

  1. Well, you know that you actually _can_ make your own cheese. My understanding is that it isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think though does take some prep work. Places like Williams & Sonoma and probably Kitchen Window carry starter kits. And things like Paneer are actually incredibly simple to make. Heck, might make an interesting home school project if nothing else.

  2. Yes, but I don’t WANT to make my own cheese. 🙂

  3. I’m not sure about feminity, but as far as I know, The Happiness Patrol was a very conscious anti-Margaret Thatcher and anti-Thatherism (this being the mid 80s when she reigned supreme and was cutting artistic budgets left right and center, and nearly every actor, scriptwriter, director, producer etc. hated her guts accordingly.

  4. I make paneer all the time – it’s super easy. But it’s kinda the cheese equivalent of tofu; it’s got more texture going for it than actual flavor. I use it in Indian dishes like palak paneer, where it adds a chewiness and cools down the spicy bits.

    I agree that it would be an informative project for the kids. Basically (and completely unasked for)…

    Bring a gallon of milk (should have a least a little fat in it) just to a boil. (Steamed milk, I suppose.) Turn the heat off, add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to it, and stir. The milk should start to separate – use a dribble more of the vinegar if it doesn’t.

    Have a strainer in the sink lined with cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel. Dump the separated milk in slowly; you don’t want to overfill the strainer before the whey drains through. You will be left with a lump of curds. HOT curds. If you have hands of steel, pick up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze the remaining whey out. If not, twist the corners together with a rubberband and let it cool for a bit, then squeeze it.

    Pack it into a container (I like a squarish one for an easier form to cut) and chill it in the fridge until it sets. Congrats – you’ve cheesed it! 🙂

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