I grew up in the midwest, okay, northern Illinois, where basically it’s not a meal without a dairy product. Before the big-box stores took over, there were huge fields surrounding the town where I grew up – and those fields were full of cows.
Northern Illinois borders Wisconsin – more cows, more cheese. Thus the fans of the Green Bay Packers are called “cheeseheads” and are frequently spotted with foam-rubber swiss cheeses on their heads.This is not entirely due to the presence of cheese in their lives. It’s just that it’s so damn cold there in the winter that all semblance of reason flees to Boca until about May.
So, yes, cheese. The first time I went to Holland, I stayed with friends in Maastricht, and when my hostess pulled out the tupperware container of cheeses for breakfast, along with a basket of warm bread, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
My husband likes cheese but doesn’t quite understand how, or why, one would easily – happily – make a meal of cheese and crackers, or cheese and apples, or cheese and pretzels. Or just some slices of cheese. It is an act of love that he’s given me this book: American Cheeses: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses: Who Makes Them and Where to Find Them. It was written by Clark Wolf, who is friends with all those California food pioneers: Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, etc etc.
The book has great pictures of goats and cows and cheese-makers and, of course, cheese, but it also has recipes: three different recipes for mac and cheese (including one made with three-peppercorn goat cheese); Kentucky spoon bread with goat cheese and country ham; oven-roasted raclette with sausage, potatoes, and pickled green tomatoes; chipotle-blue cheese dressing; cheddar cheese and poblano chile soup with crisp cheese crackers…
Some of the recipes are way more complicated than I am capable of at this point in my culinary career (I made sloppy joes for dinner. On hamburger buns. There was no side dish. My children had leftover pizza. Abysmal).
This book must be on a cardiologist’s Most Wanted list, however: the mac and cheese recipe, for instance, calls for butter, milk, heavy cream, and two cups of goat cheese – and the chef recommends serving the dish with slices of fried aged cheddar.
Do you think that this book is perhaps a bit of a Trojan horse? That in the guise of feeding my cheese addiction my husband may be trying to kill me with butterfat?
Maybe. But what a way to go.
Note unrelated to cheese, other than cheesy self-promotion: I’ve got another post in the NYC Moms Blog. Click here to read it.