(From left to right: Whey, Fromagina Cheese, Buttermilk)
This weekend I made cheese and buttermilk.
Both were from the good folks at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, pre-arranged packets. The Fromagina is a soft cheese, good for desserts (with honey); the buttermilk I made because I can and occasionally even I like a glass of buttermilk. The whey is a by product of the cheese making process, a reasonable drink in the morning (people actually pay for whey supplements. I get it free as a by-product of cheese making).
This was not a great deal of effort at all; in both cases I brought the milk to 86 F, add the culture, and then let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours. For the cheese, there was an additional 10 hours of draining. A pretty simple investment of time.
The important factors are this:
1) I can do this. And if I can do this, then anyone can do this (Literally. Heat milk, add culture, let sit).
2) By being able to do this, I extend the reach of my supplies both through preservation of a product and the transformation of a substance into something else (if there is ever a run on milk, I can at least do something else with the milk I get).
3) Anything that can be done to make something - any creative act, even if it is as simple as adding culture to warmed milk - is striking back against a system that encourages us to be 100% dependent on others.
The reality is there are small ways that all of us can do small things to express ourselves and create small spaces between ourselves and a system that encourages dependence. Take the small step. Make the cheese.
It really makes for a rather delightful dessert.