If this plastic free business is our way of fighting the good fight while living the good life, then two goats down the road are our secret weapon. This fall we joined a milking co-op run by a community of friends a short walk away. Our Friday morning share supplies us with a week’s worth of milk and gives us a taste of the farm life here in Old Santa Fe. All in just one bitterly-cold-crack-of-dawn milking extravaganza per week.
It adds a certain rhythm to our days, that bounty of six or so quarts the Mamas give us. There’s yogurt to be mixed up and incubated (and hopefully not forgotten). There’s cuajada (see below) to make from raw, still-warm-from-the-udder milk, and then bread to be made from the leftover whey. Later in the week I’ll cook up another batch of cheese, this time my beloved panir or ricotta or queso blanco, depending on what’s for dinner.
I’ve heard it said that eating cheese made from fresh goat milk is like eating a whole meadow. The goats are lovely, to be sure. But the only requirement for all this home made goodness is milk, and that can come from a cow and the store. Of course, you could get your own goats, like this gal did. Or, ask around. You might be surprised how many goats can be found in the back yards of urban neighborhoods, their milkers eager to sleep in one morning a week so that you, too, can discover the pleasures of being sustained by the milk of a gentle, sweet eyed creature.
To make a soft, mild cheese called cuajada: add 5 drops of vegetable rennet per quart of warmish (80 degree) milk. Let sit for thirty minutes or until firmed up. Cut into “cubes,” then gently ladle curds into a colander lined with a tightly woven cheesecloth. Let drain to desired consistency. This Nicaraguan style cheese doesn’t melt when heated, and so is great in quiches, stir fry’s, and pasta dishes. It also spreads onto bread and tops salads beautifully.
Want to go plastic free but don’t have goats or time for cheese making? Ask at the deli of your grocery store for a portion of bulk cheese wrapped in butcher paper.