It’s In My Blood

My great-grandfather, Hans Jacob Untersee, arrived in The United States from Bern, Switzerland on June 8, 1922.  Upon his arrival, he made his way to northern Illinois  to find work so that he could send for his wife and children, who still remained in Switzerland.  It was in northern Illinois that he established himself as a successful cheese maker, and was able to save enough money so that his family could join him in America.

Ever since my youth, I have been drawn to all aspects of my heritage.  I love connecting to my ancestors, whether it is admiring old photographs, thinking of my grandfather while in my garden, or cooking family heirloom recipes.

About three years ago I stumbled upon Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and I must admit that that read greatly impacted my life.  Her discussion of food as a connection to our ancestry drew me in like I never thought possible.  It was while reading this book that I began to think of my Great Grandpa Untersee.  He was a cheese maker by trade, why couldn’t I become a hobby cheese maker?

I used Barbra Kingsolver’s references in the back of her piece, and found Ricki Carroll’s website.  I never looked back.

Yesterday we decided it had been far too long since we had made cheese, so we ventured to our local, natural grocer where we are able to purchase milk from a local source.  We then busted out our New English Cheesemaking Supply Company cheese kit and got to work.

Here we are making a batch of ricotta cheese:

And here we are making mozzarella:

Hopefully Great Grandpa Untersee was looking down on us yesterday and smiling.

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6 Responses to It’s In My Blood

  1. Jacki says:

    Did you make the cheese with whole milk? I found out that a pizza maker I know uses some whole milk mozzarella combined with part-skim mozzarella to make the best pizza ever. I have since been buying a hunk of whole milk mozzarella. You guys made that look easy but I bet that was because….it’s in your blood!!

  2. Elaina (Gile) Yenchek says:

    Jaime,

    I am currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am really enjoying it and rethinking how we do things around here! My dad grew up on a dairy farm, so cheese-making is in my blood too! We are hoping to order the supplies and try making our own Mozzarella soon. The book, together with your blog, have really been inspiring this spring! Thank you for taking the time to do this! Also–any plans in the near future to raise chickens?

    Elaina

    • I’m so glad you enjoy the blog Elaina! I’m so, so happy that it can be of help…that was my hope in doing this! Good luck with the cheese too. It is so much fun…you will definitely enjoy it! And yes, we are looking into the possibility of raising chickens 🙂 Are you looking into that as well?
      Have a wonderful weekend!
      ~Jaime

      • Elaina (Gile) Yenchek says:

        Once we are settled and have a house of our own, we’re definitely going to look into it. My only condition is that we have to be able to outsource the “harvesting” part! 🙂

  3. Jonie says:

    Jaime,

    I am sure all your grandparents and great-grandparents are looking down on you with such joy and great pride of all the things you and Tyler are achieving and teaching your two lovely girls!

    My cup runneth over…
    Love,
    Mom

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