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: