Friday, April 06, 2007

Pasteurizing to Radio Free Europe

Yet another week has just flown by. We were very busy in the cheese room. To entertain ourselves, Steve has a satellite radio receiver. When we are performing a repetitive task, we crank it up to one of several stations. Carrie Carrie says she likes all music but she tends to prefer things with a country flair. Little Carrie tends to prefer the more sensitive side of the rock world as well as reggae. Steve likes to crank the Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffett) station. I am a music snob and will usually make my opinion known when we listen to music. I like a station called Spectrum. It features "world-class rock" and plays old, new, and easy-to-swallow alternative rock. I've heard Elvis Costello, Wilco, R.E.M., Robyn Hitchcock, and Neil Young. The Coffeehouse station is also pretty good. They play acoustic rock. The Bluegrass and Outlaw Country channels are fun to listen to. I've heard Junior Brown, Neko Case, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash. Don't think I'll subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio, but I do like some of their playlists.

This week I got to learn how to run the pasteurizer. This is a critical step for me, because I'll probably make some pasteurized cheeses. They don't need to age as long, so you can sell them quickly and make your money back faster. This is a good thing when you are working with a slow food like cheese. Raw milk cheese must age at least 60 days before you can legally sell it. That ties up your inventory for a while. I want to make both raw as well as pasteurized cheese, so I can have the best of both worlds.

Steve is entrusting me with this critical step so he can have one more person available to process milk. We have a lot of milk being delivered, so we've got to set curds almost every day. We'll be making pasteurized and raw milk cheese in greater quantities for the next few months, as long as we've got the milk available. Gotta make hay while the sun shines!

The trickiest part of the entire pasteurizing process is cleaning the equipment. Hoses go everywhere, chorine is splashed, pumped, and sucked through several hoses and circulated. Milk is transferred from the bulk tank (a refrigerated holding tank) to the sanitized pasteurizer and then the process can begin. I've got to flip switches, press buttons, open valves, close valves, remove hoses, and watch the temperature at critical points during the pasteurization process. It is very loud procedure. Remind me to put the pasteurizer in a room with plenty of sound insulation. I could go deaf if I work around this thing for more than a year.

Today, I sorted photos while the milk was heating to 145 degrees. I took a CD full of photos of Wal-Mart a couple of days ago, and I got to pick them up yesterday. Out of the 1,000+ photos I've taken, I printed 468. I've got a lot of favorites and found it hard to print only a few of them. Now I've got to put them into a photo album. Every time I walk out the door, I see things I want to photograph. I see tent caterpillars, vultures warming in the morning sun (they flew off before I could take my lens cap off!), pretty flowers and butterflies, giant bullfrogs, cheese, and the North Carolina landscape.

Bobby and a whey-fed friend.

My allergies are driving me crazy. Every tree is in bloom this week. According to the local news, the pollen counts are off the charts. Just my luck! My sinuses have been complaining. I thought I'd be OK since I'm not used to most of the pollen around here, but I was wrong. I feel fine, so I know I don't have a cold. My nose is just very stuffed up. I'm avoiding dairy products right now. It is hard to do here at Goat Lady Dairy. I can't test for quality assurance. Stupid allergies.

I have Saturday off this week. Little Carrie gets to go to the Triad Farmers Market. It is suppose to be cold tomorrow, but I'm in the mood to do some more exploring. I think I'll borrow their Honda Civic and drive over to Winston-Salem. Old Salem is an old Moravian community preserved like Colonial Williamsburg. Shopkeepers wear period clothes and demonstrate old crafts like baking on a hearth and wood carving. I hear they have a great toy store. I'm also thinking about driving to Lexington, barbecue capital of the world. It has more than 20 barbecue places. Sammy says I've got to go to Speedy's on Route 8, north of "downtown" Lexington. Lexington has its own style of Carolina BBQ. According to Sammy, it is all about the vinegar sauce and the smoke--hickory smoke--and Speedy's does it right. I’m salivating right now as I type. Perhaps I can go there for breakfast.

Sammy's word for today: cabrilate (v) meaning to standardize, adjust, regulate. We need to cabrilate our dipstick so we can tell how many gallons of milk are in the new pasteurizer.

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