Possums, hello! And Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy New Year all rolled into one! There’s something I want to talk about. I’ve been meaning and meaning to come here but I didn’t know quite what to say – it (whatever “it” is) is as yet unformed so I think I need to approach it sideways as one might a nervous cat, or like many things in peripheral vision it might disappear.
Though as a child I regularly flew between New Zealand and Japan on my own, there was always someone to meet me at the other end. My nana delights in telling a story with three-year old me as its protagonist, coming off the plane, waving to my as-yet-unmet poppa and gaily singing out “hi poppa!” I think to her, this represents a blitheness she doesn’t associate with herself as a child put in an unfamiliar position and therefore amazes some part of her with every retelling – of which, incidentally, there are many; we are a family that delights in repetition.
While I sometimes wish I had a rapier-sharp wit, I comfort myself with the fact that my brother and cousins at least, appreciate that a joke told many times becomes funnier as it ages. I mean, it saves breath – you don’t even have to tell the whole thing after a while.
The first time I went on a trip without someone to meet me though, was when I visited Vietnam with Anna. It was a trip of less than two months but when I came home it took me as many to feel here again.
That feeling that I was somehow inchoate or blurred about the edges when I had what I felt was a firmish grip on my “self ” before I left, puzzled and unnerved me. I’ve had the same feeling upon returning home after long trips several times, though not on my most recent returns.
I do have the whisper of that feeling though about the exact direction I want to take with this little piece of me on the internet. For months now, I’ve been gestating a whirl wind of ideas and still, nothing concrete has emerged. My life looks so different now from when I started this blog (I finally changed the About page!)
I think part of it is getting used to the fact that so many of you are in a different hemisphere – reading stories about pumpkins and cinnamon and cosying up in jumpers (I am now, and probably forever, a sufferer of the affliction known as F.O.M.O; The Fear of Missing Out) makes me wonder how relevant it would be for you to hear about strawberries and sun, while another reminds me how much I enjoyed reading Southern hemisphere blogs when I was holed up inside in an Austrian December.
One of my main concerns is the name; Sasasunakku is difficult for English speakers to spell and therefore find but what to replace it with?
Another is exactly how to successfully marry the writing part of this blog, which I love, and the potential business part. Remember how I said I was indecisive? …That.
So, while I dither on in the hope that that either a) I will get one of those gut feeling things people are always talking about but that I don’t seem to ever be able to access or b) I will receive an epiphany I shall leave you with more cheese, this time mozzarella which topped a pizza with a delightfully shattery crust.
What did you get up to in your holidays m’dears?
All the good photos on this post are by my dear friend Sam, while the wonky ones are mine, all mine.
The only problem with making cheese is getting some of the more esoteric ingredients. In New Zealand, Mad Millie’s sell stuff like rennet tablets and cultures but I’m not sure where you can get that stuff elsewhere – let us know in the comments if you do.
4 litres (8 pints) whole milk
2 ml calcium chloride
2 teaspoons citric acid diluted in 60 ml cooled boiled water (important so the chlorine doesn’t damage the rennet I think)
1/2 tablet of rennet diluted in 60 ml cooled boiled water
2 tablespoons table salt
Put the milk in a large pot and add the calcium chloride.
Heat the milk to 13 degrees celsius (55 fahrenheit) and add the citric acid.
Heat the milk to 32 degrees celsius (90 fahrenheit), stirring constantly to ensure the milk doesn’t stick on the bottom. Turn off the heat and add the rennet.
Put the lid on and allow to set for half an hour or until it cuts like silken tofu when sliced into.
Using a long knife, cut the curd into 2 cm (1 inch) cubes by slicing first lengthways, then widthways and finally horizontally (don’t worry if it’s sort of on an angle).
Heat the curds and whey to 42 degrees celsius (107 fahrenheit).
Line a sieve or colander with the cheesecloth and place in the sink or a bowl to catch the liquid unless you don’t mind it dripping all over the bench and drain for 5 minutes.
You can use the whey left in the pot for smoothies, to make ricotta or to water the garden (when cooled!) if you like, or discard.
Meanwhile, wash out the pot and bring 2 litres (4 pints) of water to a heat that you can stand to put your hand in for about 5 seconds and dissolve the salt into water in a large bowl, and add plenty of ice.
Put the gloves on.
When the curds are drained, take a handful and put it into the hot water for a few seconds until it comes together.
Stretch it out as far as you can between your hands, then fold over.
Repeat a few times, heating between each stretch.
When it looks satiny and stretches 15 or so cm (6 inches) without breaking (it depends on how much curd you are using), form into a ball by pushing the cheese over your thumb with the cupped fingers of your other hand.
Finally, heat again and smooth out any lumps and drop into the iced water.
When you use the cheese, tear it rather than cut it so it will better absorb the flavours around it.