Greenpoint: Creating, sharing and appreciating abundance

An abundance of cheese — some waxed, some ready for waxing and some drying.

An abundance of cheese — some waxed, some ready for waxing and some drying.

During the depths of the pandemic, my eldest came up with different techniques to stay positive and productive, despite the total shutdown in her chosen field.

The first was drawing a picture every day, sometimes with a poem or other writing. The results were beautiful, but as the months stretched on the task itself became overwhelming and depressing.

The next technique was to think about being grateful for the abundance we already have in our lives.

“I’m not talking about a gratitude journal — that’s stupid,” I was told. “But think about what you have in abundance that makes you feel secure and happy.” I mentioned the bags of cans we mean to return and the piles of newspapers, but my child said clutter is not abundance and I should try a little harder.

So I did. We had plenty of firewood, and that is an abundance that definitely makes me feel secure. We had food from the garden in the freezer, and our dried herbs in the cupboard, the kind of abundance we could be grateful for every evening at dinnertime.

My eldest and I are both grateful for our stashes of yarn, some new, some leftover, some gifted by people who didn’t actually want to knit after all, some found in thrift stores. It makes us both happy to know as soon as we finish a pair of socks or a sweater or blanket, there’s yarn waiting to inspire the next project.

Right now, my greatest abundance is goat milk and cheese. Since the dozen baby goats have gone to their new homes, their mamas have milk for us. We’re a small operation, but it’s still a challenge to keep up with two or more gallons of milk a day.

Cheese, of course, is the ultimate milk storage unit, but I can only make one hard cheese for aging at a time. That’s because the biggest pot I have holds three gallons. I’m too small to handle anything larger, since my system involves carrying the pot from the stove to a water bath in the sink to cool the milk to cheesemaking temperature — 90 degrees — after I thermize or pasteurize it.

That means to keep up, I spend an abundance of time making cheese — at least every other day. I also make yogurt and soft cheeses such as chèvre, feta and paneer in gallon batches, but I still always have a fridge and a cooler full of milk.

Sometimes the abundance turns into anxiety, and I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I left a drying cheese out on the counter or whether the cheese cave, a small wine fridge, can hold any more cheese. Then my husband pats my arm and reminds me that it’s OK if we had to feed a little milk to the chickens.

The chickens already drink the whey leftover from cheesemaking, and reward us with an abundance of eggs. The goats like to drink some sweet whey, too. I could be using it to make ricotta and gjetost — a sort of fudgy cheese made from concentrating whey — but right now I don’t have time to make cheese and also keep up with the cheesemaking byproduct. This is why cheesemakers keep pigs, who delight in an abundance of whey.

We delight in the abundance of cheese, especially the rounds of cheddar, tomme and gouda-style cheese, dried and waxed and aging in the cheese fridge.

And when the kids come home next weekend, we will clear a little space by sending them home with their own abundance. I’m sure they’ll be grateful.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on June 5. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or on Twitter @Hartley_Maggie. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are not necessarily those of the newspaper’s.

More: Life & Arts

Categories: Life and Arts

Leave a Reply