Musical Cheese

This story has aged well in my archives, like a good, sharp cheddar (or perhaps flat?).

Last September, Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler and a team of researchers from the Bern University of Arts placed nine 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese in individual wooden crates in Wampfler’s cheese cellar. Then, for the next six months each cheese was exposed to an endless, 24-hour loop of one song using a mini-transducer, which directed the sound waves directly into the cheese wheels.

So, what kind of music does cheese enjoy?

The “classical” cheese mellowed to the sounds of Mozart’s The Magic FluteThe “rock” cheese listened to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” An ambient cheese listened to Yello’s “Monolith,” the hip-hop cheese was exposed to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz (We’ve Got)” and the techno fromage raved to Vril’s “UV.” A control cheese aged in silence, while three other wheels were exposed to simple high, medium and low frequency tones.

Well, that’s not a huge range of choices, plus six months of the same song, over and over? It’s enough to curdle the blood in my musical ear, that’s for sure.

Ah, you say – cheese doesn’t have ears! True. This issue was resolved by applying music directly to cheese:

The wheels were stored in wooden crates and played 24 consecutive hours of either classical, hip-hop, techno, ambient, or rock and roll. Rather than speakers, the researchers attached small transmitters to the wheels to relay the sound waves directly into the cheese.

Bern University of the Arts

I have my doubts, of course, but until I have my own dairy farm and cheese making equipment to attempt a reproduction of this experimental method, it sounds pretty good to me.

In anticipation of the annual celebration of, among other things, cheese, here’s an indirectly thematic song:

Tummy Thursday: Tamales

I promised a more in depth thread on the tamales we had for New Year’s Eve. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while, since they a re one of my favourite Latin American street food, and just in time I found an online shop specialised in Mexican food where I could get the most unusual (for Western Europeans) ingredient: dried corn husks. I also go some quality corn flour and frijoles negros (which are from Canada…) so I could also make refritos (fried mushed beans).

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I chose a recipe with chicken filling, so I started by cooking the chicken. Well, actually it was the second step if you count soaking the corn husks. I thought it was daring from the people who wrote the recipe to tell folks to cook the chicken in liquid and later mention chicken stock but not to mention that of course you just made the world’s best chicken stock. Once I had that it was time to cream the butter for the batter. The original recipe called for lard, but the local Aldi doesn’t stock any lard any I won’t set food into the megamarkets before/during the holidays. You are supposed to add some of the stock and I swear this was the first time I made chicken buttercream. I then added the flour, more stock, salt and seasoning and let it rest for a while. The batter is quite fluffy at this point.

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I used the resting time to prepare the filling. I deboned my chicken and minced it a little. I then prepared salsa with onions, garlic, tomatoes and seasoning and added the chicken. The filling needs to be well flavoured or it will be lost in the batter.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Yes, I’m a messy cook, why do you ask?

Then it’s time for preparing the tamales. You use your soaked corn husks and spread some batter onto them. You add a spoonful of filling, close the batter around it and then wrap the corn husk like it’s a burrito.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

You then put them into a pot with a steamer and steam. The recipe calls for two hours, but my pot and steamer don’t actually fit one another so I cannot close them properly. The test run was therefore a bit soggy and for the New Year’s Eve dinner I probably steamed them for 4-5 hours. Looks like another piece of kitchen equipment that I need to upgrade.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

They were yummy with that particular flavour of actual corn flour and so savoury that the dog begged for the leftovers.

Gingerbreads of 2019 – Part 5

Even more Easter Eggs. The last batch from Easter, next will be Christmas.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

Gingerbreads of 2019 – Part 4

More details of the gingerbread eggs from yesterday – the backsides.

The eggshells are baked on a special form. Before we had that, we baked them on impromptu shapes made from alluminium foil with the help of a spoon. but the results were mixed.

 

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full

Gingerbreads of 2019 – Part 3

And now for some gingerbread Easter eggs.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Gingerbreads of 2019 – Part 2

Moar Easter-themed gingerbread.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Gingerbreads of 2019 – Part 1

I have realized that I did not post any of my mother’s gingerbread creations last year. At easter I simply forgot, and on Christmas, I did not use PC at all. So I am going to rectify it over the next few weeks, a few pictures at a time.

Let us start with those from easter.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Sweet Dreams: A Tummy Sunday

At our house we divided the Christmas days up between the families. In Germany “the big day” is Christmas Eve. That’s when the kids get their presents and the tree is lit (at least back in the days when you still used real candles) and the first years as a family we tried to do right by everybody. Back then my grandparents were still alive and I wanted to spend time with them, but “of course” you couldn’t say “we’ll visit Giliell’s family on Christmas Eve but not you”. The result was lots of unhappiness. My in laws would make very sad eyes at us for leaving early* and my family would complain about us being late. The kids would get so many presents in a short amount of time that they ended up exhausted and crying and unhappy. And then of course they wanted to negotiate about the two other days (in Germany you have two Christmas Days) as well…

At some point we decided to tell them all to gently fuck themselves and set down some rules and if you are ever in such a situation, especially with young kids. On Christmas Eve NOBODY leaves the house or enters the house. We spend the evening together, just the four of us. We have hot stone/raclette for dinner, which is really quick and easy to prepare and then the kids get their presents (and us as well).

The 25th is the day when Mr’s family meets. Out of the 5 siblings 3 of them take turns to host the whole party, although we have taken over from my  in laws since they’ re not getting younger and we have more space (and it is less exhausting and more rewarding to do it myself than to listen to my mum in law’s complaints. Sorry if I’m sounding uncharitable towards her. I really love her, there’s just some areas where she’s as exhausting as a toddler). Since that family is already in charge of cooking for about 20 people, the guests bring cake and dessert, which is actually the point of this post.

The 26th we visit my parents and since it’s the time of miracles, for the last few years my sister’s husband has been showing up as well.

But back to dessert. I made a Pavlova. I’ve been wanting to make one since forever and thought that this was the perfect occasion:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Uhm, sorry for the crap image. I’ll do better. But the Pavlova was amazing: I sprinkled roasted pine nuts on the meringue before baking and prepared butter caramel baked apples with raisins and spices a few days in advance. On the 25th I prepared pomegranate seeds only transported the dry meringue “cakes” as well as the fruit and unwhipped cream to my uncle and aunt in law’s place where I whipped the cream and assembled everything there. I even added edible gold leaves.

I looked like a Christmas Dessert is supposed to look: lavish and opulent. It tasted like heaven. The sharpness of the Pomegranate balanced the sweetness of the meringue and the whipped cream was just right. If you’re ever asked to bring a spectacular dessert i can only recommend a Pavlova as you can adapt it to the occasion and don’t need to worry about transporting a fully assembled cake.

 

*My mum in law is one of those people whose only way to get what she wants is by making others feel bad. Sad comments along the lines of “I would really love if somebody …., but nobody cares enough…”

Making Marmelade

Avalus has been making jams and jellies and he’s sent us some photos from the project.

This late summer I set about using the old orchards and hedges around my home. To make marmelades and gelée, to be exact. Here are some things I found while picking fruit

Tasty blackberries! Oddly enough, in German these are called Brombeeren which translates literally to bromine berrys. But the name does not have anything to do with bromine, it goes back to the old high german word brāmberi which means thorny bush and is the root for the word english bramble.

Brombeeren ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Then there was this beautiful golden beetle, enjoying the sun and an apple at the same time. It did not mind me picking up fallen apples around it.

golden beetle ©Avalus, all rights reserved

golden beetle 2 ©Avalus, all rights reserved

This hedgehog on the other hand did very much mind my company.

Igel ©Avalus, all rights reserved

In the end, I made many glasses of yummi sweet stuff with different flavours. Testers favourites were apple-coffee and apple-meade*, apple-cinnamon was deemed too Christmassy for September. Pestering every one I knew for empty glasses really paid off here as I gave most of these full glasses to friends.

gelly good time ©Avalus, all rights reserved

 

*I made meade two years ago and still have some left. Pretty strong taste and not too sweet, but I drink only very little.

Thanks for sharing, Avalus.

Tummy Thursday: You gotta celebrate them all!

As promised: cake. Or at least pictures of cake. The kids get to ask for a special cake each year, a chimaera born of my love to bake and the working mun’s eternal bad conscience. As a result, my cakes are legendary, at least among people under 15.

This year the little one asked for a Pokemon party and so she go a Pokeball cake.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

It’s a tad egg shaped. I underestimated the volume of the metal bowls I used as baking tins and as a result I was short on cake and since I didn’t weigh the batter, one was bigger than the other. To fill in the middle I baked another cake and cut out circles. As things weren’t 100% even, the bottom is a bit larger than the top, though I must say that on the inside the two cakes together really worked out well:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Chocolate and vanilla cake with Italian meringue chocolate buttercream.

And, what’s inside a Pokeball?

Pokemon!

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I had ordered small Pokemon toys and hid them inside the Pokeball to the surprise and amazement of the kids.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Some of the cut off cake tops were turned into Pokeball cake pops

And to have something a bit lighter:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Powder Puffs. With lemon curd buttercream. You may notice a few repeating themes: the leftover lemon curd got combined with some of the Italian meringue that I didn’t need for the cake.

I actually had to bake them twice because the first time i fucked up the sponge, which is why you should never laugh at people failing at baking shows.

Tummy Thursday: Happy Halloween

It probably still is Thursday somewhere.

For the last few years we have been celebrating Halloween with our friends and yesterday we went to my BFFs city where the local shop owners and the city and the different clubs and associations organised a Halloween event where the shops would give out candy. The town centre was packed and it was a lovely evening, followed by lots of spooky food.

©Giliell, all rights reserved A haunted “Haus”. Probably to scare English teachers.

 

©Giliell, all rights reserved The little one, dressed up as Wonder Woman

©Giliell, all rights reserved #1, dressed up as Harley Quinn.

While I could simply buy a generic Wonder Woman costume for the Little One, #1’s was more complicated. She#s too tall for the kids versions and the adult versions rely more on the DC movies than the animated Super Hero Girls show she likes to watch. While we found a nice pair of red and blue leggings, we agreed that a jacket with “property of Joker” on the back was highly inappropriate. “I’m no fucking property of anyone!” Mum to the rescue, I ordered two hoodies with a ziper, cut them in half and sewed them together again. Well, I still have to do the second one…

Same money, 1 hour of time, two jackets she can actually wear outside of costume events as well. And I’m damn proud of her. You know she’s on the spectrum and one of her great difficulties is interacting with strangers. She often preferred no ice cream to telling a stranger what she wants, but yesterday she went around all evening and asked for candy. It’s those things that make you proud.

Now for the food:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

From left to right we have:

©Giliell, all rights reserved Pumpkin bread skulls

©Giliell, all rights reserved A cemetery: Pizza dip with bread tombstones

©Giliell, all rights reserved Mozzarella and olive eyes. Or as we say in German: Zahnstocher im Au’ brennt wie’n Sau (a toothpick in the eye hurts as fuck, just with a rhyme)

©Giliell, all rights reserved Bloody pumpkin and tomato soup

©Giliell, all rights reserved Spider meatballs

I made the dessert, because I’ve been baking non stop anyway…

©Giliell, all rights reserved Pumpkin almond cake with blood orange buttercream and dark chocolate ganache.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved Halloween petit fours with strawberry jam and pumpkin spice lemon curd.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

So, I hope you all had a reasonably happy Halloween (thinking of you, voyager). Now I’m baking for the little one’s birthday party tomorrow.

Tummy Thursday: I’m Bored

And boredom leads to cake.

For the Pokémon Go Community Day last Saturday I made a black forest style cake. See if you can guess the theme of the decoration:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

And then I decided to try Petit Fours for the first time, practising the flavours for Halloween (but not the design):

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Thin sponge with strawberry jam and pumpkin pie lemon curd (though it could use some additional lemon juice and a tad less cloves). Home made fondant glaze and teeny tiny fondant horn and ears.