Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Cheese Maker#12 - Jim Cooper

Jim Cooper makes cheese, sings opera, and writes food reviews in his "retirement!"

If there was any doubt in your mind about whether the most interesting people in the world make their own cheese, Jim Cooper is your answer.

He has his PhD in chemistry and he began learning to cook in graduate school.  He says, "There is a lot of similarity between carrying out chemical reactions in the lab and cooking in the kitchen, so I took to it naturally."

He has written 15 technical books in computer science, and hundreds of articles.  He also has 10 patents.

Of course, that isn't enough talent for one person, so he sings opera!  He has been performing with the Troupers Light Opera in Connecticut for the last 10 years.  (At left, he is singing in The Yeomen of the Guard.)

The Troupers Light Opera has been specializing in Gilbert and Sullivan operas for 65 years, but next spring, they will be deviating slightly to perform Strauss's The Bat (Die Fledermaus).

Jim sings in the shows, both chorus and leads, and he built their web site.  Last year, he also took over building their sets.  He is now the treasurer and technical director of this opera company.

In the picture below of The Gondoliers, that is Jim performing with his arms folded across his chest.  He also helped to build the set.

After he retired from his day job, Jim began writing food articles for the Fairfield County Food Examiner and the Nantucket Restaurant Examiner.  So far, he has written 325 articles, nearly one per day, since he began writing a year ago!

We first noticed Jim's writing when he published an article about Making Mozzarella with our 30 Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit.  He followed that with an article about Making Ricotta.  He's planning to move on soon to other cheeses in our book (Home Cheese Making).

His pictures are supurb!  (He uses a Nikon D80 for those of you who know cameras).  Jim says they stand out because he takes them himself and food photography is yet another of his hobbies.  Here are some examples he sent us:

Stretching Mozzarella
  Fiddlehead Ferns
Seafood Paella
Sugar crystal from bottom of maple sugar bottle
Berries with sabayon cream

Jim's food articles are simple and easy to read.  Here's an example:

Fresh tomatoes filled with ricotta:

This is the time of year when tomatoes are plentiful, and if you are like many, you have a lot of them to use in your cooking. If you grew plum tomatoes for sauce, and have made all the sauce you need, you may find them still haunting you. You can see them on the vine in the slide show below.

One simple recipe for a salad or hors d'oeuvre is ricotta-stuffed tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are ideal for this, since they are easy to pick up and handle as snacks as well as making nice salad components. To make the tomatoes shown in the picture above, wash 4 plum tomatoes and split them lengthwise.

Then spoon out a little of the seeds in the middle and fill with fresh ricotta. Add some chives and parsley for color and a little salt and pepper, and you have a quick salad or snack!

To check out Jim's other articles, go to

1 comment:

TJ said...

My hubby has a Ph.D. in chemistry, too! Chemists tend to be involved in lots of creative hobbies. We have found that music is one of the most common ones! And I've never met a cheesemaker that didn't have other creative and interesting hobbies. What a great article!