What To Do with Old Cheese

Enough with the somber navel gazing: let’s move on to far more entertaining topics! Today, I present a mélange of amuse bouche, focusing on one of my very favorite topics in the whole world—food. Unlike so many food aesthetes out there who adhere to a strict schedule of eating only at certain times and limiting themselves to a handful of fair trade, responsibly sourced nuts and a great deal of moral superiority, I align myself more with Pooh Bear, it’s always time for a little something.


You, no doubt, will be delighted to learn that when one googles “What to do with old cheese?” The first result sends you to the Homesteading Today website where I discovered one poor sap who purchased a block of dried out, old cheddar at a salvage store. Our dear Horatio Alger complained that he didn’t know how to bring this purchase back from the dead. Alas, the Homesteaders concluded that there was no possible resurrection. Of course, for me, the wonder came in why anyone ever would purchase cheese at a salvage store. Salvage stores are for used tires, abandoned vhs-es, leftover yarn, not foodstuffs that need to be served fresh.


As for what I did with my old cheese? Well, it wasn’t as much old as sad; so, I made Fromage Fort, although now that I have, I still don’t know what to do with it…


Speaking of old cheese and cooking from scraps, back in Santa Barbara, I heard a story about an arrogant old man–raised in a very different part of the world—who, as he passed his nemesis enjoying a meal in a local restaurant, looked at the food on her table and spat out, “Peasant food!” before stalking off. This story always makes me laugh. At the end of the day, aren’t we all eating “peasant food?” I mean, these are the recipes and nutrients that nourished our forbearers, providing them with sufficient sustenance to cross oceans, track down deer, and scold their relatives.


Those peasants had it right! When you think about it, I mean, who wants to eat foam? Or an egg that’s been slow cooked for three days? How ridiculous is that? Back in the ‘70s, a new wife of a second cousin was eagerly preparing Thanksgiving dinner that she planned to serve to a large group of newly acquired relatives. Carefully, she formulated her timetable and decided it would be wisest to put the turkey in early and cook it at a low temperature over night. For those of you not well acquainted with the mysteries of gastronomy, this plans spells DEATH or at least rampant food poisoning, which is exactly what happened. Poor dear, she never managed to live that down.


Years ago, a former housemate of mine unwittingly revealed the Secret Food Habits of her Irish-Catholic family. We three roommates were squished together in our Beacon Hill kitchen, congenially cobbling together a meal to share: one cooked the rice, one poured dressing on pre-washed lettuce, and one made the hamburgers. Only the roommate who made the hamburgers blithely prepared them the way they had always been served at home: disks no larger than a fifty cent piece. As she started to place them in the frying pan, we other two shouted out in horror and glee—what were those? Did she expect us to eat that? Was she hoarding the rest of the meat for herself? Twenty some years later, the story continues to be resurrected, and I pride myself on the fact that our friend now feeds her sons decent sized burgers.


Then there’s the story of an old woman, Miss Bessie, who I remember as being 1000 years old when I first met her at our summer place in Tennessee. Forever cloaked in black and dedicated to shooing away the children and dogs from entering Warren Chapel, Miss Bessie swore she had a sure-fire way to control her arthritis.  The secret was to consume nine, vodka soaked raisins each and everyday for lunch, which she did as faithfully as she guarded the Chapel’s entrance. Never mind the scotch and milk that accompanied same. Whenever her doctor finally caught on and suggested she might, perhaps, try a new diet, it was time to switch physicians. She lived to be over 100, by the way…


Next time you sit down to a meal, consider how much of it is “peasant food” and just how glad you are not to be eating foam. 


2 Responses to “What To Do with Old Cheese”

  1. helenga Says:

    I actually gave my Dad a recipe for gin-soaked raisins that’s supposed to cure arthritis. Guess that idea’s been around for a long time! I’ll have to check in and see how it works.

  2. Nannette Says:

    Appreciating the dedication you put into your blog and detailed information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Great read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your
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