Monday, October 12, 2015

Cheese Making With Maya Zelkin

Russellville Schoolhouse in Shrewsbury, VT
On a beautiful day in September Scott and I attended Intermediate Cheese Making with Maya Zelkin, Potter and Cheesemaker in Shrewsbury, VT. The class was given at the Russellville Schoolhouse, built in 1859 and bought by Joan Aleshire recently to be used for meetings, workshops and community enterprises.  SAGE - Shrewsbury Institute for Agricultural Education uses it for their many events and classes (
We made butter, fromage blanc, feta, yougurt (plain & Greek) and creme fraiche.
We separated out the heavy cream and light cream first from the local raw milk. With the heavy cream we made butter and creme fraiche. The butter was churned in an old fashioned jar with wooden paddles. It took over 2 hours of slowly turning the crank. The creme fraiche was made by adding a starter culture and letting it sit at a correct temperature for 12 hours and then hanging it to remove as much liquid as you want. Obviously we couldn't do the whole thing and that was also true of the feta cheese and yougurt. We made yougurt and then Maya brought out yougurt made the day before which she showed how to make strain through cheesecloth and strainer to make Greek yougurt. With the feta cheese we went through the whole process including cutting the curds and hanging it to strain. Most of these products take 12 hours or more to finish but we learned a lot about the process in the 3 hours of the class.

This is the text book that Maya recommends and the catalogue
for supplies.

Four gallon jars of local raw milk line up ready
for us to transform them

You can see the cream line in the jar. The heavy cream is on the
very top, then the light cream and then the skim milk. This is
what it looks like if not homogenized. 

Maya takes out the churn top which will make
the butter. The wooden paddles don't hold the
butter when you remove it. 

Sophie Broll churns the butter - it took over 2

I'm skimming off the heavy cream for the butter

Everyone helped as it was tiring after awhile.
Saoirse Wellenius churns while Sophie waits for
another turn.

The heating cream needs to be agitated so as not to burn - Al
Petrauskas lifts the ladle up and down gently. Large amounts are
done on the stove.

It's actually easier to bring the milk up to temperature, in this
case for the yougurt, in a hot water bath (for smaller quantities).

A lot of people took extensive notes. Here; Sarah, Skip Zaremba,
Taffy Hyyppa, Carol Trueheart, Al & Jane Petrauskas

The already completed yougurt is being put in cheesecloth and
drained to make Greek Yougurt

Here it is hanging up to drain. Once in a while to
get it moving better you can scrape along the
cheesecloth to unclog. The cooler is to keep the
yougurt at a constant temperature while it sets.

Maya tied the bundle with a chopstick to hang it with

Jenny looks over the textbook while the kids take a break

Saoirse dishes out some fromage blanc to taste
for Fitz Wellenius and Iris Zelkin look on

Finally the butter appears in the jar!

Maya drains the buttermilk off and squeezes the butter
together with Al and Scott looking on

Saoirse washes the butter and squeezes it to remove the buttermilk

The completed sweet butter!

We cut the curds in the feta cheese with a knife in 3/4 inch

The completed cubed feta is then drained and when that is
finished, salted. That takes too much time for us to observe.

The school house main room with the old chalk board and
Skip and Jane 

Our terrific instructor Maya Zelkin

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Let's Celebrate Love! - Will & Sean's Wedding

Both the sun and the sunflowers watched the ceremony

And love was all around - the newly married couple!

The wedding crew and parents - Emily F., Rachel, Gary, Julie, Emily T., Cathy, Piper, Derrick, Gretchen, Peter, Sean, Scott,
Will, John, James, Paul, Nina, Jack, Anthony, Heather, Josh and Zoe
August 15, 2015 - The Marriage of Sean and Will
photos by Mulin Xiang 

It was a beautiful day in every way. Will and Sean celebrated their love and commitment to each other in the presence of their family and friends. And their family and friends vowed to love and support them in their marriage. "We will!", and "We Sean!" rang out loudly from the audience. Officiants Gretchen Colby Rode and John Shellito blessed their union as did everyone there. A few pictures of the ceremony itself lead this posting but let's start back at the preparations for the wedding and continue sequentially. I'm including a copy of first page of the Wedding program here. As the photos are heavy on pixels, I need at least a second post to accommodate Blogspot's ability to display them. So bear with me - this is only the first release. Much more to come!

The living room is ready for action

Gretchen practices her Homily

The chairs are set up at the bottom of the lawn and the wedding
crew is still setting up the lawn games

Signs are all made and set in place

Bows and flowers adorn the chairs

And ready for the guests

Early on Sean and Will go over the planning spreadsheet

And flowers are arranged along the trail

Katherine Heald and I set up for the appetizers and drinks

While Sean and Will go over the game

With Celebrants John and Gretchen

Cookie all dressed for the occasion

And so is the house with it's plaid buntings on the railings

The gardens are all in bloom

And that famous wedding dress goes up
on the trail

Katherine cuts the bread for appetizers

Some of the wedding crew go over the plans; Molly, Morgen, Sean, Will, Julie,
 Zoe, Piper, Nina, Derrick and Emily T.

Nina admires her wedding crew gift - a glass etched and
decorated by Will and Sean. They made one for each of the
wedding party.

The wedding rings of wood and granite nestle in their nests

Corsages and boutonnieres line up for their owners 

A photo of Sean and Will along with
the woodcuts from their invitations 

The welcome table with the "wedding register" - a poster made
by Peter for guests to sign and post best wishes

Will starts getting ready - he and his wedding crew used the
master bedroom

Peter gave him a hand with his cuff links

That's Julie putting a corsage on someone

Sean and his crew used the basement but Mom got to add the
finishing touches.

The grooms to be check each other out

While the guests arrive - that's Larry
Barns signing in

Shira, Cookie and Myles in front - behind are Nick and
Tommy. Parents, kids and crew waited in the garage
until the music started.

The Processional was "The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe" by Alexandre Desplat from Moonrise Kingdom. The front row here: left to right; James, Cathy, Gary, Heather and Scott

Will and Sean after emerging from the woods - terrific fun
move! Molly in the background did the music.

Starting the Wedding Program

Heather, Sean's Mom, recites Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.