I rarely buy milk, but I had a serious craving for it a few weeks ago. So serious, in fact, that I went to the convenience store and paid an exorbitant amount for one gallon of whole milk. Well, a few glasses over two days were enough to satiate the craving. And there was still almost half a gallon of milk left. A few glugs in my coffee and tea; a sip to wash down vitamins now and then…the rest of the jug wasn’t disappearing too fast. The expiration date came and went. I had read enough times that “dairy and eggs remain good for as much as a week past sell-by dates,” so I kept the milk and continued to use it up sparingly.

A few days ago I opened the jug and took a rather large gulp of it, and noticed two things:

1. The milk was MUCH thicker than it should have been—it would’ve been nice on scones.
2. The milk tasted like drinking liquid Muenster—it would’ve been nice on scones.

I realized that the milk had finally and irrevocably gone off. I was quite disappointed at this at first; after all, I had paid quite a bit for the stuff, and I could no longer drink it. But then I realized that the taste was not at all unpleasant. Its flavor was much like that of a nice, nutty, sweet cheese. I decided to see how much farther towards cheese I could make it go. I sterilized the bowl of my rice-cooker and poured the milk in, closed the lid, turned it on to “Keep Warm” and went to bed.

In the morning, I opened the rice-cooker to find that the milk had turned into a disc of resilient white matter floating in clear liquid; a single huge curd in a bowl of whey. I poured off the whey as carefully as I could, and then mixed in several pinches of salt. I put the curd into a clean tea towel, and squeezed out quite a bit more whey. Then I lined with cheesecloth a plastic container in which I had punched several holes, put the curd into that, wrapped the cheesecloth around, and weighed it down with a coffee can. I went to classes.

When I came back, I unwrapped the curd and found that it was now a firm little wheel of something that looked and smelled very much like cheese—good cheese. I wrapped it loosely in another tea towel and put it on a plate in the cupboard to get firmer and cheesier—I wanted it to have a bit of a rind.

Today I bought a little tube of Carr’s crackers and came back excitedly to my room, where I sliced the little cheese wheel up into exactly enough small slices for every cracker and made a meal of the thing. It may have technically qualified as cheese; it may not have in the least. But it was very tasty, I’m still alive, and as I’ve not yet been inspired to throw away the jug from the milk, I may make it again. I’ll just start with fresh milk, pour it into the tainted container, and wait for it to turn to foul, spoiled deliciousness.

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