By now, everyone has heard the tragic news. There may well be a Velveeta shortage.
Kraft Foods has announced that a “higher demand” and a “combination of factors” has led to problems.
This is a big deal, because the Super Bowl is Feb. 2 – next weekend! And, as CNN breathlessly reported this month, Velveeta is a “popular base for dips” and the warning strikes just as “Super Bowl party preparations get under way.”
There’s no word about a panicked run on Velveeta in Lennoxville, but you have been warned (and a week early, to boot). Care for your Velveeta until the first kick-off, after which shipments are expected to return to normal. After all, we want our chips properly dipped in what CNN calls our “favorite cheese-like product.”
Cheese – real cheese — has always been a staple. And of course Quebec, and the Eastern Townships, produce lots of real cheese (the Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, Compton’s Fromagerie La Station, Farnham’s Fromagerie des Cantons, and Windsor’s Fromagerie E L’Etoile…). Indeed, cheese is a hot potato: Premier Pauline Marois has refused to okay a Canada-Europe free-trade agreement until the federal government promises specifics on protecting cheese producers from the European juggernaut, a stand Marois sees as a political winner. On the other hand, Canada’s complex supply management rules mean a Montreal company like Saputo cannot profitably sell its own cheese to Asian and Australian markets; instead of expanding production, and jobs, here in Quebec for the export market, the company must instead buy factories in foreign countries.
But cheese is also one of those things you can make yourself. Hundreds of years ago, it was whipped up when milk was on the cusp of going bad, notes the book Two Hundred Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes: From Cheddar And Brie To Butter And Yogurt, by Debra Amrein-Boyes (2009, filed in the Lennoxville Library’s non-fiction section at 637.3). And it was even used in Medieval Europe to pay church taxes.
Even just leaving a glass of milk out on the counter can start it up – milk will curdle into liquid (whey) and solid (curds). (This won’t work with store-bought milk, which will simply go rancid because all the good stuff’s been filtered out.)
The book is a look at how our cheese is made, and even offers recipes for the cheese once it’s matured (though you could also just buy cheese from the corner grocery and have a go at the recipes). Try Chevre Cheesecake or Bluecheese Flan — with five eggs, crème fraiche and cognac. Yum.
If you do want to try making your own, you’ll need to buy bacteria and arrange for a spot in your cellar, or a small, dedicated fridge. Much of the rest of the equipment can be jury-rigged from what you’ve already likely got about the house. But regardless of talent, foodies will find this a fun browse.
Who else loves cheese? Cats, of course, although milk is quite bad for adult cats (kittens need mother’s milk, of course — but even then, cow’s milk is a no-no).
Still, it’s awfully hard to say no to an insistent critter. Certainly journalist and small-town charmer Jim Qwilleran might occasionally pass on a treat to his two Siamese in The Cat Who Said Cheese (by Lilian Jackson Braun, 1996, in Adult Fiction).
Cheese is a strong supporting character in this witty mystery novel, one in a very popular series of Braun kitty cozies, as Qwilleran prepares for The Great Food Expo, taste-tests new restaurant foods, hosts a cheese tasting, visits a goat cheese maker and solves a murder.
Many cats make cameo appearances.
So, is your little one a cheese fan? Your little human, we mean. Start them off on Toot And Puddle: The Great Cheese Chase (by Hollie Hobbie, 2008, filed under a blue dot for suggested ages 3 to 6).Two piggies fly off to Paris, buy berets, and seek out the city’s Chateau du Fromage.
This is a travelogue with a tasty ending.
Over in the yellow dot section (ages 6 to 9), the delightful Geronimo Stilton, editor at the Rodent Gazette, has a bad day that just keeps getting badder. In Paws Off, Cheddarface (this self-penned memoir is number six in the series), Geronimo discovers that he has a double, who’s getting him into a lot of trouble. Whatever can Geronimo do?
For something even scarier, read Say Cheese And Die – Again (1996, in horror-meister RL Stein’s Goosebumps series, yellow dot). This cheese is a photographic demand, generally leading to a smile. But in Say Cheese, young Greg gets an F when his English teacher doesn’t believe his “true story”, in which a camera takes horrifying portraits of the future.
It’s a cursed camera. And Greg needs to get it back to prove his story, or he’ll flunk his class. Yikes!
Tired of all this cheese? How about substituting in something merely cheese-y? Test out a collection of 13 very, very short stories, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales For Our Life And Times (by James Finn Garner, 1994, a New Arrival soon to be shelved at 818.54). Here are retellings of Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, and that old stand-by, The Frog Prince: “Once there was a young princess who, when she grew tired of beating her head against the male power structure at her castle, would relax by walking into the woods and sitting beside a small pond…
“One day, while she was visiting the utopia that her queendom could become if womyn were in positions of power, she dropped the ball, which rolled into the pond.” This is followed by a discussion about “physical attraction between the species.”
If this makes you laugh, you want this book. Note that there are bad guys in this tome: Sensitive realtors might want to give it a pass. But a wedge of stilton might make you feel even better.
– Eleanor Brown, January 24, 2014