I am a painter (see Self Portrait of an Artists Painting a Silverstreak below) and painting instructor living on Whidbey Island in Washington State, teaching retirees at the local Senior Center how to paint and find worthwhile pursuits in their retirement.
Painting dog portraits is my bread and butter, but my love is painting old trucks, labeled “bad paint job” but the title is “The Indiana and the Studebaker.”
I also wrote a cookbook in 1995 titled An Artist’s Palate. I love to cook and bake having been taught starting at the young age of six. My experience in making milk products is pretty much limited to making ricotta which we like to eat warm drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon or in homemade ravioli, yogurt by the quart each week, and crème fraiche, which is great spread on homemade croissants. I have a large wood cookstove with a warming oven which is perfect for warming the yogurt and crème fraiche.
It also makes great slow cooked meals and soups. It runs constantly all winter long and is our primary heat source for the cold, wet days we experience here in Puget Sound.
I learned to cook from scratch as a kid and have continued to do so throughout my life. We make our own sausages, bake bread, jams and jellies, mincemeat, pickles (fermented), beer and wine, grow a monstrous vegetable garden with lots of extras for the food bank, have our own eggs and meat from our chickens. My WordPress blog has some cooking, some travel, and weather observations. There is a great bread recipe that is good with cheese. – a French bread with a gelatinized crumb (translucent), great crust, and lots of holes which took me years to perfect.
I have made the cheese straws two different ways in the photo at top. One is the traditional straw, twisted, but the other is coins. I rolled a very fat “snake” and then pressed in chopped hazelnuts before baking. These are my favorite. I used St. Agur blue cheese from France for the cheese. These are even better with a little spread on them too. Very similar to a savory shortbread, you can eat them just plain as well. The flavor of the cheese develops a bit more after twenty-four hours, but who can wait that long to eat them?
Gorgonzola Cheese Straws
1/2 cup gorgonzola, stilton, Roquefort or other cheese (I have even used cheddar)
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter
salt to taste
2 tablespoons cold milk
Place cheese, flour, butter and a pinch of salt in the bowl of your mixer. Combine until crumbly. Add the milk and stop mixing as soon as it begins to come together.
Pour out onto a lightly floured board and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Roll the dough into long snakes the thickness of a pencil and cut into 4″ pieces. Place them on a greased and floured baking sheet. You can also make the snake an inch in diameter and cut off “coins” and put them on the baking sheet for coin-shaped appetizers.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake for approximately five minutes. The straws should be golden. They are great hot or cold.
Makes about 20. The recipe is easily doubled. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if you don’t eat them all at once!).