Cheese-making classes offered
There are always fun and interesting classes to take though New Richmond Community Education, but every now and again something unique pops up. This year, Karen King's "Introduction to Home Cheese Making" is one of the curious additions to the Community Ed catalog.
King is teaching two classes on four different dates in New Richmond. "Introduction to Home Cheese Making," which is scheduled for Feb. 18 or March 24, will include opportunities to stretch Mozzarella and make fresh cheese curds. A more advanced class, "More Home Cheese Making Techniques," scheduled for May 4-5, will explore additional techniques and hard-pressed cheese, mascarpone and low-fat cream cheese.
Pasteurized, store-bought milk is used in the six-hour class. Participants pay about $35 and go home with some cheese and a packet stuffed with information and recipes.
King said no experience is necessary to register for her introductory class.
"It could simply be someone who just wants to know how cheese is made," she said.
A variety of students usually register, she said. From those who want to learn more about making their own food, to those who want to take the class simply because it has to do with food, to dairy producers who are curious about what happens to their milk after it's dropped at a factory - everyone is welcome, she said.
King started making her own cheese about four years ago after buying a Jersey-beef heifer named Buttercup.
Originally purchased as a way to raise their own calves for beef, Buttercup became a milk producer for the family and King began making cheese as well.
"I had a lot of horrible cheeses and a cow that hated me when I first started out," she said with a laugh.
King said her first week of milking Buttercup left her bruised from hip to ankle.
Described by others as a bulldog, King said some bruises and a few bad cheeses weren't going to get in her way.
"I won't let go of something until I figure it out," she said.
Now, four years later, about 80 percent of the food the Kings consume is grown on their hobby farm and they credit Buttercup for that.
Along with Buttercup, the Kings also raise one calf and one to two foster calves, three butcher pigs and chickens - all of which are fed milk and whey produced by Buttercup.
"She feeds almost everyone here - including the family," King said of Buttercup. "She's the centerpiece of our farm."
King started teaching her skill in 2010 when she rented space in the Boyceville Community Center. Eventually she started teaching through Boyceville Community Education and, as the interest has increased, she expanded her classes to New Richmond.
"In America there's this horrible disconnect with food and where it comes from," she said. "It's really exciting to see that coming back. We have a lot of fun in class. We laugh a lot and we learn a lot from each other."
To register for any of King's classes, contact New Richmond Community Ed at 715-243-7421 or register online at http://www.newrichmond.k12.wi.us/main/district/community.cfm.