Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Cheese Maker#10 - Tara Tarbet

Tara Tarbet from Highland, Utah

"When I got married 30 years ago, I couldn't do a thing! Well.... I could make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that was about it. Lots and lots of stuff to learn and do while we're alive! I just take one step at a time and figure it out as it comes!" 
Well Tara Tarbet has certainly figured out how to do a whole lot of stuff!  She has a wonderful blog (Welcome Home Farm) which she says "isn't as good as The Barefoot Kitchen Witch's -she is wonderful!."   

(Note:  Jayne-if you are reading this, I hope you realize how much your blog is appreciated!)

This is Tara's impressive blog profile:
We live in a wonderful town surrounded by people who have no idea there is a hobby farm so close by! Our youngest son, Vet2Be, wants to be a veterinarian, so we have a farm that includes: dairy goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, sheep, a llama, and a huarizo (llama alpaca cross).
We homeschool Vet2Be so he has time to spend with the animals and get all his schoolwork done. We also have a son (Son1) who is fluent in Spanish and currently works for Hubby, two married daughters (Teacher, and RN) and one daughter who is studying BioChemistry (Prion) at a state university. I also love to play and teach guitar. And I'm learning banjo and piano! I lead a bluegrass band of about 9 teenagers ages 12-16.
Are you as impressed as we are?  The amazing thing is that she found the time to write to us with her tip for heating milk on the stove (September Moosletter). 
You sound like a busy person.
How do you find the time to make cheese?

Hmmm... How do I find the time to make cheese? Very carefully! I usually make soft cheeses like chevre, feta, and mozzarella, because they take less babysitting. It helps that I don't watch TV, either. There are so many more enjoyable things to do than sit in front of the 'tube'.
Once in a while we will rent a movie, but our 'down time' is usually spent on hobbies instead.  I'm a guitar instructor in 'real life', which takes alot of my time. I usually have between 15 and 20 students, and we also have a little student bluegrass band. I'm the choir director at church, too. Often the house doesn't get cleaned as often as it should, and the weeding doesn't get done often enough, either! I steal bits and pieces of time throughout the week to do the things that I like to do, like making cheese. Life goes in cycles, in the winter I don't make much cheese because we don't have as much milk. Instead I spend more time quilting, spinning, knitting, and arranging music for my students.

How did you get started making cheese?

I am a cheesemaker out of desperation. My son, who wants to be a large animal vet, has 4 milking dairy goats. That's a lot of milk every day! We had to do something with all of it!
What are you making?

Well, tonight I am taking some Farmhouse cheddar out of the mold and letting it dry for a few days before I put it in the FoodSaver vacuum sealer (I'm not very good with wax and the FoodSaver has been a wonderful alternative for me!) I use a home made (defiantly not hand crafted) cheese press. But it works pretty well for now until I can get something with more eye-appeal.
I started a batch of Feta this morning. It is done draining and I am ready to slice it up this evening. I read an old(1970's-ish) Solait Cheesemaking pamphlet that said to use yogurt as a starter for Feta. Instead of the mesophilic starter in Home Cheesemaking I used some homemade goat milk yogurt, then I follow the other directions in the book.

The first time I did that the feta turned out crumbly, like the store bought feta and it had a wonderful flavor. I'm hoping it does the same thing this time. Whenever I use the recipe in Home Cheesemaking I end up with cubed feta, which has a nice flavor, but I really like the crumbled stuff on salad. I love to just munch on the cubed feta, though. It has great flavor and I love the bite sized pieces.

I love the chevre starter you sell! It is wonderful and I've given a few people your website (after sharing 1 of the 5 packets of chevre starter with them). They have started buying it from you, too. Our family loves adding herbs to it! We use basil, garlic, and onion along with the salt. And we love making Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles using the chevre, too! Melt in your mouth delicious! It is a favorite of many friends, too.

We also love to make yogurt. We eat about a gallon a week between the three of us at home right now. 

I also have 1/2 gallon of milk on the counter to see if it will clabber. Someone asked me about clabbered milk and I did some reading on the internet to find out what it was. It is similar to buttermilk, but it is made with raw milk and no starter. That's one of the experiments I'm working on this week. Apparently every farmhouse kitchen had a 'clabber jar' on the counter. One woman on Basic Cheesemaking (a yahoo group) said that she freezes her drained clabbered milk and makes a 'killer cheesecake' out of it in the winter. I'm waiting for the recipe because that sounds wonderful to me!  (Note:  Tara made clabbered milk after she sent this in, and it's all on her blog.)

I was reading today that Provolone is close to mozzarella, so next week I'll be trying both of those. I still have 4 gallons of milk in the fridge, but my son has two goat shows this week so I'm not sure I will have time. So all the milk that is in the fridge will probably go to the neighbor's calves or to our chickens. Since we have 4 goats in milk right now, there isn't likely to be a shortage of milk for a while and I don't mind feeding it to the calves or the chickens.
Although I am a cheesemaker out of desperation (lots of milk!) I also enjoy it and am learning so much!
How old is your son and how did he end up with 4 dairy goats?
He is 15 and he bought his first dairy goat when he was in 5th grade. Last week I asked him why he wanted goats in the first place. He said he didn't know, but that he's always wanted goats. He ended up with four because you can't have just one, they get lonely. Since we have room, and he wanted to breed, the herd grew a little from the first year. Right now we are milking 4, but one of them belongs to a friend and is here for breeding. 
He also has 1 buck (for breeding), a wether (neutered male) that keeps the buck company, 2 doelings born this spring (that will be bred in October), a llama, a huarizo (half llama/half alpaca), 2 ewe lambs that he bottle raised this spring, 2 bunnies (bunnies are pets, rabbits are....dinner), a dozen ducks, a flock of chickens, and a barn cat. He has either bought each animal or been given them by people who had animals that needed a new home and knew that Matt would do a good job taking care of them. Some kids buy video games, some kids buy candy and treats, Matt buys animals.

Did he show at the fair this year?

Yes, we enjoyed the fair. Well.... Matt doesn't really like to show goats, but since he wants to be a large animal veterinarian, he does things like 4H and FFA to show that he really does want to go into that. He volunteers at a local animal hospital, but most of the veterinarians are small animal clinics around here. The vet schools will look at all the things he's done, so he needs to show large animal experience through other things.

We think Matt is well on his way to being a vet!  He can probably start taking on clients anytime now.  Thank you, Tara.

1 comment:

Julie Renee Holland said...

I was lucky enough to meet Tara a few years ago. I have to say that she is very generous with her time and her information. Tara and her family do a great job with their farm and they are considered a local resource among the DIY families in this area.