Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I used to be a biker. Now I'm a hippie. The transition was not an easy one.

Just ask my eldest.  Those were the words she used to describe me to one of her friends and when she shared it with me I had to laugh.  I feel a little overwhelmed at trying to figure out how to start this blog.  I've never been a very good writer. However, this has been such an inspiring chapter for all of us that I thought it might be worth putting on paper, so-to-speak.

This chapter of my story started six years ago.  We went into a venture with my folks.  They had the money, Michael had the know-how to build a home.  They bought thirty acres out in the country.  It had an empty warehouse on it.  Long story short; we built a duplex out of the warehouse and started our home in it.

It has been the best six years of my life.

Once we got the home done we moved onto setting up a garden.  As we learned about growing our own food we also started thinking that we needed to learn how to become self-sufficient.  Everything that we have done has been an attempt to be able to be so.  I could tell you about the reason we did this or our goat and chicken stories and  all we have planned for the future but I feel there will be time for that later.

Right now, I want to talk about cheese.  Yes, cheese, mozzarella and ricotta to be specific.  Several months ago, in the interest of learning how to make our food,  my brother and I took a cheese class together at the Stock Pot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The "Cheese Wench" taught the class. (You can follow her on  I was hooked!  The samplings of all the cheeses were so delicious!  The two most important lessons I walked out of that class with were these: 1) ALWAYS use farm fresh milk, and 2) It'll get better every time you make it.  She was right about that too.  

As soon as I could I called my best friend Mary Ann.  She had told me of a local farmer that sold fresh milk.   The first batch I made was a bust. That didn't stop me though.   I got online and with the help of quickly figured out what I had done wrong (there is no such thing as a thirty minute mozzarella FYI) and dove into my second batch.  It was wonderful.  I flavored it with rosemary and lavender.  We could not get over the difference between store bought cheese and hand-made cheese from fresh milk!  It is so much more flavorful and creamy!

From that point on I made it any chance I could. I made rosemary/garlic, chili pepper/paprika, garlic, black pepper, basil/sage, cinnamon/cranberry, lavender/basil cheeses.  I felt like an artist as I flavored my cheeses.  All the herbs I had grown.  I was creating delicious, home grown cheese!  The downside was it only has a shelf life of seven to ten days so I ended up with more than we could eat.  I started giving it away.  I brought some to my dentist's office when I went in for my cleaning.  They all loved it and told me I should sell in the farmer's market on Cherry Street.  I gave more and more away and each time they were telling me, "I'd buy this if you'd make it for me."  So, I did.  This year we raised the Christmas money for the kids by selling cheese.  My brother tasted my cheese and said, "That's it, I'm setting it up for you!", set up a store for me on  I told him I'd sell my cheeses if he sold his bread.  He agreed and we are now the proud owners of  I have a handful of local clients that I am building on.  I've learned how to pasteurize the milk and have two referrals to local restaurants.  I'm renting a commercial kitchen, have gotten my food handlers permit and after the first of the year I'm going to start selling my cheese.  I have decided to keep it to a local market only for this time.  Shipping it is so very expensive.  Maybe some day.

This is what blows my mind.  Something that started out as a desire to live clean and be able to provide for ourselves and our families has developed into what looks like a viable business!  Where it is going to lead is still unknown.  As the old expression goes, "I may not not what the future holds but I know who holds the future."  I'm not going to sweat it.  I'm really looking forward to sharing our progress with you.