Bob has shared a lot of good information with us in the last few months. First, he sent us his mother-in-law’s recipe for Creole Cream Cheese (a Louisiana specialty) and then, he sent us an essay, About Cooking Curds. (He used to work as an electrical engineer, so he understands the principles of thermodynamics.) He is retired now, so, of course, he is busier than ever, with several interesting hobbies:
1. Making Cheese
When we first started this interview, Bob was making a petit brie according to the recipe in Home Cheese Making found on pages 160-161.
Previously, he had made Creole cream cheese, blue cheese, queso blanco & paneer. (He took a 1/2 lb. of the blue cheese to a party once and the hostess admonished him that he couldn’t possibly leave with the remains such as they were.)
Bob told us:
I got interested in cheese making when my mother-in-law was still with us. She regularly made cCreole cream cheese. After her passing, as we cleaned out her home making it ready for occupancy (Hurricane Katrina caused her sister to lose her home) I came upon her home-made cheese molds. I kept them and started doing likewise. This past Christmas, my grandchildren each gave me one of your cheese making kits, including the book.
I imagine that, since my mother-in-law was a child of the depression—well, teenager of the depression, that it was common practice then. Milk spoiled regularly. What can you do with sour milk? Make biscuits; make Creole cream cheese. No need for the buttermilk, as in the published recipe. If you wait long enough, there is no need for rennet as the milk will coagulate on it’s own. I even remember my own grandmother having an ice box, not a refrigerator.
Bob just recently built his own cheese press, following the directions in a YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDyd6Q-Is3w). For him, the principal feature of the press is that it can be easily disassembled for storage and reassembled in short order. He made it completely from scraps of wood in his workshop.
He also has a small wine cooler with an external thermostat controller.
And, a (very handy) sink strainer which he purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Bob created a cabinet making shop in his garage and he has been making furniture in it.
3. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
Bob has been working as a CASA for 8 years (for further info-http://www.casaforchildren.org). He told us that he has to walk a tightrope due to the privacy laws, but he did describe 2 of his cases:
The first was an infant girl who suffered “shaken baby syndrome.” In order to advocate for her, I visited her and played with her in her daycare center. This is also where two therapists visited her. I participated in as well as observed her therapy sessions. I also attended several of her pediatric care sessions. All of this was to learn what I could recommend as in her “best interest.” Through my observations, I saw that she didn’t crawl because, when she was placed on the floor on her stomach, she was extremely agitated. As we rolled around the floor & I placed her on my stomach, she was completely relaxed when looking at the floor. I concluded that, close-up, the floor was out of focus to her which disoriented her. This was verified by the pediatric OD & guided them in treating her. My court recommendations were concerning her parents. They divorced. I recommended custody to the mother and continued involvement in the baby’s life by her father. This might seem a little strange that I wouldn’t recommend “cutting him off” but he was a member of the National Guard with superior medical benefits which the child needed. The court followed my recommendation.
Another case involved a pre-teen boy who was in the custody of his father after the parents divorced. The boy was being raised in the belief that his mother was dead. When his father was arrested for DUI with the boy in the car, the boy was taken into foster care. The ensuing police investigation resulted in locating the mother who had hired private investigators to locate her son to no avail. It turned out that the required psychiatric evaluation required by the state in such circumstances revealed severe disorders in both parents. The father fought tooth & nail to regain custody of his son and the son was a handful in foster care. After 3 years of court wrangling, the boy saw the problems his parents had, the mother agreed that she was unfit to raise her son and the father eventually moved out of state abandoning the child, who by then was 14. At age 15, he was adopted by his single foster mother which I had recommended. My CASA work is the most rewarding thing I have ever done outside of my own family.
4. Celebrating Mardi Gras
That’s why he’s dressed like a hot dog!
5. His cat, Pumpkin