Have much to catch up on, but sleep is most likely more important. I didn't want to foget this so I have to at least get it down before bed:
Out with my most favorite girl tonight and stopped by her place to exchange presents. Spoke with her Culinary-Code Writing-Kickboxing-Husband-Extraordinare (from now on to be known as CCWKHE...or something. That isn't much smaller, really now that I actually typed out all the letters.) about how to properly heat up milk at a glacially slow pace to make cheese.
"I don't know. Just try it. You'll have to experiment to figure it out. "
That, ladies and gentleman, from the person I think of as the Mega Expert in All Culinary Delights. This is the response that I've been waiting and agonizing over for since I thought of asking him MONTHS ago, but have either not seen him or felt too dorky asking. I have climbed the mountain to the Zen Master who I was absolutely sure was going to give me the answer to Cheesemaking Nirvana and instead he just hit me over the head with a piece of wood.
Ladies and gentlemen, it took everything I had in me not to tell a nice man in his own home that he totally sucked for giving me such a lame and obvious answer.
Quite frankly, I needed to be hit over the head with a piece of wood. I've let my habit "needing to do everything perfectly right and without error the first time ever" keep me from actually trying to make a hard cheese. I've been terrified of babying some congealed milk for 6 months only to find out that what I did absolutely sucked. It's felt like such a long time that failure or goofing up doesn't seem like an option.
This isn't a new thing for me at all. Not with cooking--where I've been renouned as someone who will slam pots and pans around and get pissy and starve myself if something doesn't work out right that I've spent time on. Not with pretty much anything in my whole life. It's a constant struggle to allow myself to fail and not be perfect and have to actually LEARN how to do something instead of it being intuitive. Not because I'm a supergenius, I just tend to not do things that I am not fairly certain that I will be immediately competent upon first attempt.
When he said it, I immediately realized I've been ridiculous and dragging my feet for months. I've been too afraid to do it wrong instead of learning how to do it right by making mistakes and learning how to really get a feel of my stove and the milk. I've wasted months worrying over something that I could actually have down by now. Screwing it all up is part of the process and something I need to welcome. I always want the science of what I'm doing, but there is an art and I need to start embracing the mess that it is. Art is not tidy and does not follow rules. I need to learn to feel (and taste and generally just SENSE) instead of think.
So, for you Zen-Culinary-Kickboxing-CodeWriting-Super-Dad-Husband Person--I'm going to start cooking up some milk tomorrow. That'll show you*.
*What it will show you, I don't know, but I'm still kinda pissed off that you gave me such sage advice instead of what I wanted to hear so I'm just going to do it and show you. Or something. Just know that you'll be shown, by God. You'll really be shown.