Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oregon creamery follows ancient tradition, delivering creamy cheeses

Contented cows, here near Jacksonville, are a must for good cheese!

Blue cheese and red wine -- say ahhh!


Oregon's Rogue Creamery cheese has won many awards, dating to 1933.

THE CHEESE makers were hard at work, delivering some of the best blue cheese we've ever sampled to a small tasting table.
We were at the famous Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon.  This pastoral part of southern Oregon boasts blossoming fruit trees, great grazing land and contented cows who share their milk with cheese lovers worldwide.
Pretty cheddar wheels await packaging and enjoyment! 
The Creamery is known by everyone who's lived in Oregon for any amount of time. It has the feel of a family run place and Rogue Creamery proudly draws from the beauty and flavors of Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, from which it takes its name.
THE CREAMERY is a smoothly run, successful business, creating gourmet, hand-crafted blue cheese, cheddar and TouVelle.  The company uses certified, sustainable whole milk to make prize-winning. internationally acclaimed blue cheese.
We took a drive from nearby Ashland, Oregon, where we were seeing plays.  Our visit to the creamery got us thinking about cheese and how it was "invented."

YOU'VE HEARD the story of the shepherd boy who left his milk in a cave as he hurried to escape a winter storm. When he returned the following spring, the milk in his sheep-skin flask had turned to   creamy, delicious cheese!
No one knows for sure just when or where cheese making originated. The practice is related to the history of the domestication of milk-producing animals (particularly sheep) which began a mere 10,000 years ago.  The stories of the origins of cheese are as varied and rich as an array of the softest bries.
Early Egyptians
enjoyed cheese.
Cheese making calls for sterile conditions.
ALTHOUGH SHROUDED in mystery, cheese dates to the time of the Roman Empire. Cheese making became widespread throughout Europe and the Middle East as those traveling Romans spread cheese techniques across their vast empire. Cheese is mentioned in ancient Greek mythology, and on our recent trip to Egypt, we saw Egyptian tomb murals featuring cheese makers, dating back 4,000 years.
IN CHINA, yellowish chunks of the world's oldest "cheese" were discovered on the bodies of mummies buried in the Taklamakan Desert. The 3,800-year old mummies were buried with jewelry and food, as was the custom. The funereal edibles included dairy treats to enjoy in the afterlife. Scientists have deduced that the Chinese cheese was easy to make, nutritious and easily digestible.
Cold Cheese Storage in Switzerland
A Chinese mummy was found with
cheese bits, above, and the Romans
brought cheese to their vast empire. 
SOME OF OUR favorite cheeses today, though, -- cheddar, parmesan and gouda -- are the new kids on the cheese block, appearing only in the last 500 years or so.
What makes good cheese? Early American cheese makers looked for fine grazing land for their cattle, places with mild climates and green grass year-round.  Thus, Oregon is a natural and several of its famous valleys feature delicious cheeses -- Tillamook has been a favorite of my Oregon family  for years, along with Rogue Creamery's offerings!
SINCE THE  early 1700s, New England Puritans have been farming and making cheese. Paintings show Puritan women as artisans of cheese making, as they had been in their homeland of East Anglia in England.
From the early 19th Century, cheese making in America was connected to farming. On farms along the East Coast, it was the role of farm wives to make cheese and carry on the tradition.

Mild winters and early springs mean good grazing for cows.

Rogue Creamery, a star in Oregon.

BEFORE THE industrialization of the cheese industry, milk on the farm had to be consumed quickly or processed in some way just to help preserve it. Early settlers used the cream which floats to the top, to make butter, leaving the rest of the milk. Credit goes to the women, who did much of that work -- hauling milk, churning butter and processing of the cheese -- pioneers enormously responsible for the evolution of cheese making in America.

Cheese makers keep a meticulous shop at Rogue Creamery in Central Point. Locals and tourists love visiting.

Curds and whey!

IF THE shepherd boy story is true -- that cheese was discovered accidentally from storing milk in containers made from the stomachs of animals -- the enzyme rennin comes into play. Rennin is found in stomach lining and causes milk to separate into little Miss Muffet's curds and whey. The curds at Rogue Creamery are delicious, and a popular seller!
Cookie pauses to meditate outside Jerusalem's
 Western Wall. Three major world religions inhabit the city.

COMING UP:  Easter is just around the corner, and we're taking readers with us to Jerusalem.  In this magnificent, historic and cohesive city, three major world religions exist mostly peacefully. Tell us where you'd like us to take you next! Remember to explore, learn and live.  Please share our blog with friends:

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