J has decided to make cheese. Cheese! I ask you? It’s only because he picked up 8 pints of on date milk in Morrisons for 10p. I give up
Does your other half, the love your life, your soulmate, the person to whom you have committed yourself for the rest of your life.... do strange things?
We're not rich, but there again we are very lucky enough not to struggle. We can therefore afford to buy things that we like regularly. Like cheese.
Why then, you might reasonably ask, would we want to make cheese? More specifically why would J want to make cheese?
Cheese! I ask you?
The main reason was that, on way back from his clinic, he passed our local Morrisons at half past seven one evening. Allowing J in Morrisons at this time of night is always a bad idea. It's when they sell off everything that's on date that day, for ridiculously low prices.
Which is why he bought eight pints of milk for 10p. And why he decided to make cheese. At 10pm one evening!
Here's the story, with pictorial evidence. I warn you, the ending is neither pretty nor happy!
I had my doubts from day one. If J's cheese making was going to be anything like his attempt at cider making using the windfall apples from our tree, then we would have smelly, manky looking bowls hanging around for at least two years!
Rather worryingly I discovered that J was getting his cheese recipe from www.21stcenturyselfreliance.com. Concerned he was turning into a Doomsday Prepper I decided to keep a close eye on what was happening.
After a bit of boiling and mixing various stuff in he proudly waved the grey, smelly concoction that emerged at me.
"Eew, it smells like old socks!" I said. "Dettol soaked old socks!"
J was unimpressed. "You're making mock of me," he said, hurt.
"No, no," I reassured him. "I'm chronicling your progress," I said taking another picture.
I wish there was a way to capture the smell permeating the kitchen at that point. It was indescribably awful.
After a bit more manipulation the grey stinky stuff was scooped into some muslin, from whence two bottles full of what looked like warm wee were squeezed.
"Are you sure it should look like that?" I asked innocently.
J was getting a bit stroppy by this point. I felt I was offering supportive, yet moderately comic narrative. He felt differently "Stop taking the p*ss!" He said grumpily.
Another of J's foibles is that he never throws any packaging away, if he thinks he can use it again. We would be prime candidates for one of those, 'Nightmare Horders Next Door' programmes, were it not for the fact that I secretly go through the kitchen throwing out old soup cartons, biscuit boxes and squash bottles when he is out.
Consequently, J finds two plastic soup containers and begins to poke holes frantically in the bottom of one of them with a screwdriver. By this point he has an almost maniacal expression on his face, making me think he has discovered the tweets I have been sending through the earlier part of this process and is now preparing to water board me.
But no! Apparently, this is part of the process.
Placing the muslin cheese containing bag in the pot with holes poked in it, J begins to press down on it with the other pot. It squelches and smells even worse. I'm left thinking, this can't possibly go on much longer, it's headed towards midnight and I want to go to bed. However, I'm torn between being intrigued and terrified at what might yet transpire.
Sadly, at this point, J decides to look at Twitter and read all of the tweets I've been sending chronicling the evening's cheese making exploits. He stops talking to me. Which is very unusual, because when he's unhappy with me he normally talks to me. A LOT.
Gentle persuasion gets him to explain what is happening next.
Apparently the cheese needs to be 'pressed overnight'. Except he hasn't put anything heavy on the top pot. "Shouldn't you sit on it?" I ask, I think, helpfully.
J stops talking to me again.
I decide bed is the better option. Covering the children with extra blankets as I go as a consequence of most of the windows being open and it being January.
The following morning I had almost forgotten the cheese making. Until I entered the kitchen and was hit by the smell.
One up-side to the cheese making is that I have never seen our children move through the kitchen so quickly. They are breakfasted at record speed, no prevarication about what they want to eat, they grab the nearest piece of toast and glass of juice. Eat and drink and leave within 10 minutes.
I manfully try to engage J in a conversation about the next cheese making steps. "So, what do we do next?" I ask. Notice how I kindly used the word 'we' there, trying to be inclusive. I point at the grey cheese.
"We leave it for three days," J replies.
My facade slips. "Three days? Three days! I'm not having that thing hanging around here for three days!"
J looked crestfallen. "Anyway," he says, "at least we have the whey to give to the dog."
"Sorry?" I'm becoming more incredulous by the minute.
"Whey is really good for dogs, they really like it. I'll give him some now."
I think the dog's expression in the photo to the right tells you all you need to know about his reaction.
Anyway, having made what appeared to be a pot of builder's putty, J left that morning for three days on a jolly, sorry, conference. Leaving me in charge of the cheese.
Later that morning our lovely cleaning lady arrives.
"Shall I chuck the putty?" She asks as she moves at her normally briskly efficient pace through out kitchen.
"It's not putty, it's cheese," I explain apologetically.
"Cheese? That colour? Really?" She sounds sceptical.
"J made it last night," I'm not taking the blame for this.
Our cleaning lady shrugs. "Enough said," she says. J clearly has form in her book.
Seeing my tweets upon his return from the conference, J decides to let the cheese 'mature' in a secret location. "I'm fed up of you taking the mickey out of my cheese," he says defensively. "And NO MORE PHOTOS. No cheese publicity. Understand?" There's menace in his voice.
I mumble agreement.
My fingers are crossed behind my back as I say that by the way.
As a consequence, when J is next out, the children and I undertake a cheese hunt. Finding it isn't too hard, we let our sense of smell guide us.
Apparently it's 'maturing in oil'. The three of us are horrified to varying degrees.
From the look of the green and black bits on it, J's plan to stick it in oil to stop it going mouldy has failed miserably.
Next sight of the cheese is about three weeks later when we are preparing to go on holiday. Dislodged from its hiding place by the need to access suitcases, it's now sitting, wrapped in brown paper, on a radiator in the bathroom.
"Why is the cheese on the radiator?" I ask J innocently.
He prickles immediately. "It's drying out," he says.
Of course, sitting on the radiator it's warming up. Which means it's smelling. Which is very bad! Bleugh!
Sitting by the pool on holiday the following week I ask J what he did with the cheese.
"Oh God, I left it on the radiator!" He says.
"House sitter will be happy!" I say. J snarls at me and puts his iPod earphones back in.
Returning from holiday we search the house for the cheese. It's missing. I sensibly conclude the house sitter has chucked it. J's less sure. "She wouldn't have done that!"
So concerned is he, J rings the house sitter. He returns from the phone call, triumphant.
So badly had it been smelling she had put it on the bathroom windowsill. So, the cheese, still emitting it's hideous smell, is returned to the bathroom radiator. This time encased in an old sock. Appropriately as that's what it smells like.
"It stinks!" I say, wrinkling my nose.
J concedes it does. "It smells a bit like cheese crossed with Necrotizing Fasciitis," he says. Then he pauses, "Oh, you'll want to tweet that won't you, just say 'gangrene'."
"How long does it have to stay there?"
"It needs to mature for another six months," J says proudly.
"I'm glad we have separate bathrooms," is the most polite reply I can manage.
"Don't you take a photo!" J barks as he leaves the conversation.
Jump forward to the present day, some four weeks later.
Reminded by a Twitter follower I asked J last night what had happened to the cheese. He jumped up, "Oh GOD! I forgot all about it!" He disappears to the downstairs bathroom.
He returns, his bottom lip trembling. "Gone mouldy!" He says. "I'm going to put it in the bin, you are NOT to photograph it!"
I feel quite sorry for him really and want to comfort him in his distress.
Not before I've sneaked out to get this shot though!
RIP J's cheese!