We first got to know Cateland White when she sent us a few of her cheese making tips (below). That led to an interview and we now feel as if we have known her for years! Cateland is an amazing writer, so we are hoping she will be sharing more with us about her life and times in future articles.
Tips from Cateland
I have been enthusiastically using your recipes, kits and supplies for several years, making mozz, ricotta, kefir, yogurt and cream cheese on a daily to weekly basis. I don’t know what it is about Las Vegas, but food prep here is harder than anywhere else in the world I’ve cooked. I’ve long suspected there must be a Secret Atomic Cooking Method I’ve yet to discover! Whatever it is, no two batches of anything, including my mozzarella, ever turn out the same ‘whey’ twice but no matter the results, I’ve found ‘wheys’ to make my mozz useful every time and thought I’d share some with you.
If my curds are insecure and anti-social, I drain them in cheesecloth and pretend they’re ricotta. I salt and add a blend of Italian spices. This gets spread onto rustic bread slices, topped with sliced tomatoes and turned into grilled panini delights! Or, I add a bit of jam, which turns a bagel very blissful. Both, I keep in plastic containers in the fridge if they aren’t snarfed up immediately by Bugsy.
If my curds are beautiful but refuse to stretch and shine, I use my rolling pin to flatten them out on plastic wrap into an oblong sheet, at which point I either layer them with slices of tomato and fresh basil, roll them up jelly roll-style to then slice and serve drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar: “Caprese Ala Cateland,” or I roll them out a little thicker, slice into finger shapes, bread and pan fry. These are a big hit with my kidlet.
And then there are the over-heated, over-worked curmudgeons that my husband, Art, says Goodyear could retread tires with! Did you know that these will successfully grill?!?
I’m so glad to see the growing number of younger people returning to the old ways. Having taught and raised a few kids, ‘if at first you don’t succeed’ is a pretty valuable life lesson. I thought perhaps finding a little success in the inevitable failures might keep them trying.
Oh my gosh! So honored to be in the Moos-Letter!! I just turned my (very sour after only 6 hours) cream cheese into Sweetie Pie Strawberry Cream Cheese and Perfectly Peachy Cream Cheese by adding just canned jam! Our fresh baked bagels needed style!
I was always called a ‘fantastic cook’ until we moved to Vegas. You thought I was joking about those Atomic Secrets, didn’t you…? I’ve even gotten fabulous ricotta from mozzarella whey which isn’t supposed to be possible, right?
My foray into cheese-making began a really long, long time ago. The precamembert era…
My kid brother and I spent most of our early years with my grandparents on their retirement farm in North Texas. They raised Black Angus cattle, chickens, goats, sheep and ‘retired’ horses that were safe enough for a couple of rambunctious kids to ride their 40 acre range. There wasn’t any part of the operation that we didn’t have a part in. I developed mad skills in sustainability long before it became a buzzword.
I was probably around 20 when I first bought meat in a grocery store. I looked and looked for steaks but saw nothing I recognized. In frustration, I finally approached the butcher for help. He pointed down to some plastic wrapped packages right in front of me.
“What?” I exclaimed in horror. “You can see daylight through those!”
My grandfather’s garden was the local wonder; he’d grow Big Boy tomatoes that you needed both hands to hold. The sheer variety was staggering! Every single meal was a feast of homegrown goodness, prepared by ‘Maw’, a child of former slaves who’d lived with my grandparents since before I was born. She was the undisputed kitchen queen who made sure we all ate like kings.
Maw taught me to cook, bake, churn butter and “put up”, as she called canning, everything from pickles to paw-paw jelly. With fresh milk, she made the most wonderfully soft, creamy, white cheese in a big cheesecloth-lined crock. It wasn’t until recently that I realized she was using homemade rennet. Wow and ewww! Not a snowball’s chance in Vegas that I am ever going to duplicate that! Being in the driest city, in the driest desert in North America, everything comes in from somewhere else. My rennet comes from…? Three guesses and the first two don’t count. Until they decide to build a Green Acres Casino, I’ve got to work with what’s available at my local supermarket: Mountain Dairy milk, which is trucked in from somewhere up in Utah. Surprisingly, it is the least expensive milk in the store.
It’s so much harder to find real, honest to goodness food anywhere anymore. Cooking from scratch, making cheeses and breads and canning – for me it is a labor of love and a trip down memory lane. I want Bugsy to know what things tasted like when I was a kid, how healthy and how good it was. I want to pass down all the life knowledge that was passed down to me so that she has a sense of true independence. They may call me ‘cranky so and so’ now, but if things ever go south here in Sin City? My neighbors will worship the Granny Goddess and her supreme survival skills.
I always heard old folks – before I became one – say: “oh, things were better back in the day”. But you know what? I love my iPad and my bread machine and my vacuum sealer. Chromecasting a recipe video to a screen in my kitchen is the coolest thing since sliced bread! Technology is great but we do need to go back to a more natural way of eating or we might not be around long enough to enjoy it. You know something’s rotten in Denmark when an old Texas gal serves up Meatless Monday six days a week.
Obesity is an epidemic, right alongside diabetes and heart disease; kids are reaching full on puberty at 8 and 10 years old putting them at twice the risk for these same health problems. I hear about all the hormones and antibiotics being given to cows, pigs and chickens, about genetically altered everything but I have no idea what or how much of it ends up in the food. When you suddenly find yourself having to explain the birds and the bees to a kid who still believes in Santa Claus, you can’t help but wonder what’s going on.
They asked me if I had any tips to pass on.
After giving it some thought, I think the best I have to offer are the ones I grew up on and still see the wisdom in today. They don’t call them ‘old sayings’ for nothing, right?
So here goes:
“When life hands you lemons, (or stubborn curds) you make lemonade.” (or a yummy spread)
“Patience is a virtue.” (Good cooks and good moms know this by heart)
“To thine ownself be true.” (No matter what your neighbors think…)
And last but certainly not least:
“When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” (Just be sure and pay attention in class!!) Your whole life should be a joyous journey of learning and discovery. A great big amazing world is out there just waiting for you.