Homemade Cheese 101 — Urban Cheesecraft

September 14th, 2009
Want to make these at home?

Want to make these at home?

The first cheese I ever made was in high school. It was a quick and simple paneer for a buttermilk chickpea curry that was not at all a quick and simple curry. The paneer turned out great and I was amazed at how easy it was — store bought milk, a little bit of lemon juice, some cheesecloth and a little weight and patience. Turns out 36-year-old Portlander Claudia Lucero started her trail of cheese discovery exactly the same way. She was working at an Indian restaurant in high school when she decided to try her hand at paneer — her first homemade cheese.

Toward the end of writing my book I found out about Claudia and her company Urban Cheesecraft founded in 2008. I’d contacted the good folks at Mirador Community Store and co-owner Steve Hanrahan told me that they’d added something new to the large DIY cooking side of the shop — a cheesemaking section. The bulk of the new section is Urban Cheesecraft kits that look a little something like this…

Most kits cost less than $30.

Most kits cost less than $30.

Each kit makes up to 10 batches of cheese and includes items such as instructional booklets, cheesecloth, citric acid, dairy thermometers, vegetable rennet and cheese salt. You can find Urban Cheesecraft kits in town at the Urban Farm Store, Alberta Coop, Food Front, New Seasons, Foster & Dobbs, Mirador Community Store, Montavilla Farmers Market and other locations and you can also purchase them online.

If you like the idea of making your own cheese but would rather take a class than self school sign up for one of Claudia’s cheesemaking classes or demonstrations. Check out the website for more information about both.

Urban Cheesecraft
www.urbancheesecraft.wordpress.com

Portland’s Urban Farm Store

August 1st, 2011

Spring chick at Urban Farm Store.

Sometimes stories get cut and sometimes just portions of stories go RIP. A major national story about Portland food that I worked on last year left out Southeast Belmont Street’s Urban Farm Store so I thought I’d finally post something about this sweet little open-since-2009 shop owned by husband-and-wife-duo Hannah and Robert Litt.

Urban Farm Store has a lot going for it. On my last visit I purchase a bale of straw, pantry moth traps and compostable dog waste bags. Yes, it’s a diverse shop where you’ll find everything from animal feed and beekeeping supplies to edible plants for the garden and DIY food and brewing supplies. (And if you don’t have a copy of my book they carry it. Wink, wink.) Anyway, maybe you’ve been and maybe you haven’t — either way here are some photos that sum up this urban homestead shop…

All sorts of bulk feed, fertilizers and mulch to choose from at Urban Farm Store...

This is the largest supply of Urban Cheesecraft kits I've seen in town...

A lot of gardening and DIY books in the front.

Get some tasty local honey!

Urban Farm Store owners Hannah and Robert Litt with their shop kitties.


Urban Farm Store
2100 SE Belmont St.
Portland, Oregon 97214
www.urbanfarmstore.com
503.234.7733

Portland Fermentation Festival 2016 Redux

March 20th, 2017

Perennial festival favorite — Choi’s Kimchi. Co-owner Matt Choi on the right and family and business friend Moah Son on the left. Matt’s mom Chong — co-owner of Choi’s Kimchi stopped by for a minute but she’d been up the night before until 4am making kimchi so she was a littttttle tired and headed home. Matt was on last year’s and this year’s Panel of Fermentation Experts.

Well, we did it again — another wild, stinky and super fun Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust! This year’s Seventh Annual fest was chock-full of tasty funky fermented foods, smarty-pants exhibitors and attendees, an excellent Panel of Fermentation Experts, all sorts of fun DIY demo’s, rooftop good vibes thanks to DJ Jimbo (check out his festival playlists here and here) and Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and much much more. Thank you all for coming out for it and joining the stink!

We put the Portland Fermentation Festival together every year with a shoestring budget + heaps of volunteered hours (thank you sooooo much to all of our kick-ass volunteers!) and as always we’re so grateful that Ecotrust puts up with us year after year. Thank you again Ecotrust! We love you.

We had some great coverage this year including this segment on KGW News with Cassidy Quinn. We’ve posted most of the other coverage on social media. If you’d like to keep up with local fermenty goings-on please check out Facebook and Twitter pages.

Below are a whole bunch of photos from this year’s Stinkfest! If you have some great ones too please post them to the Facebook page or Twitter them with the hashtag #pdxfermentfest.

Thank you, thank you, thank you and see you all again next year we hope! Stay stinky! Oh, and please let me know if I attributed anything incorrectly. Thanks!

Pre-fest KGW News coverage thanks to Cassidy Quinn. She, Nat and Claudia tried Nat’s chicha on camera AND Nat chewed and spit up some of the corn mash that this traditional Peruvian corn drink is made of. You read that correctly — they essentially drank Nat’s spit! (I did too and it was actually pretty good — light, sweet and slightly roasty smoky) Nat always brings something wildly experimental to the fest every year and we love him so much for it.

We kicked off this year’s fest with a super inspiring and informative Panel of Fermentation Experts with left to right: Tara Whitsitt (Fermentation on Wheels), David Barber (Picklopolis), Matt Choi (Choi’s Kimchi), Nat West (Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider) and Claudia Lucero (Urban Cheesecraft).

A little bit closer. Such a great panel! We ended it on each of their best pieces of advice for the beginning fermenter. The general gist: just do it. You don’t need fancy equipment or lots of know-how, this is a born of mistakes primitive way of preserving food. Tap into that and have fun. Kick your intimidation to the curb.

Once the panel concluded the doors opened for the first of the night’s two tastings and madness ensued. A fun, yummy, wild ferments madness.

Portland Fermentation Festival co-organizers left to right: David Barber, me, George Winborn. We love you!

Nat West serving up his Peruvian chewed/spit fermented corn drink. Nat always makes really unusual experimental ferments just for the fest. Last year he sampled his Mongolian milk wine and the year before that he brought his fermented LEG OF LAMB cider! Wacky and awesome.

Connie and Brian Shaw of Hood River’s Oregon Brineworks always bring the most delicious spread of their ferments. This year was no different. You can find their ferments all over Portland (at New Seasons, Green Zebra, Peoples Food Coop ++) — they’re soooo yummy!

Owner Sash Sunday of Olympia’s OlyKraut serving up all different kraut samples (also available in Portland markets) AND pouring shots of spicy spectacular pickle brine. YUM!! Next level ingredient for rad Bloody Marys.

George Tsesoukas of Soma Kombucha (based in St. Johns) pouring up tart and tasty kombucha samples. So many different tasty flavors.

Out on the mezzanine we had three demo’s throughout the night. Austin Durant of the Fermenters Club (he came up all the way from San Diego!) did this fun and inspiring DIY kimchi and gochujang making demo.

Right across the mezzanine at the same time Claudia Lucero led a fermented nut cheese demo. I definitely am going to try my hand at these now. So yummy, tart, smooth and creamy. She’s currently working on a book all about dairy-free cheeses! Her excellent One-Hour Cheese cookbook came out in 2014.

Festival veteran Heidi Nestler, owner of Pickled Things, sampled her sticky tasty natto at this year’s fest and…

Heidi also led a demo on pickled Japanese vegetables — — nukazuke, misozuke and kojizuke. I really wish I could have gone to that one.

While Heidi did her demo festival volunteer superstar Marty handed out natto samples at her table. Jimbo got to try natto for the first time! He loved it.

I’m bummed I didn’t get any photos of the lovely ticketing ladies in the atrium this year but I did get this one with three of them. Left to right: Michelle, Stacy and Loly. All dear friends.

Lion Heart Kombucha! I asked one little boy at the fest this year what his favorite festival sample was and he said, “ALL the kombucha!” Love it.

Tim Root’s incredible festival poster this year! We’re so lucky that he continues to do our poster year after year. So creeeeeepy awesome.

Colin Franger of Blue Bus Cultured Foods in Bingen, Washington. Colin has been coming to the fest for years sampling his yummy ferments and you can find a lot of them in Portland at New Seasons, Whole Foods, various co-ops and other markets. That’s his green bean kimchi — got more than one sample 😉

Careen Stoll — another festival veteran — brought her gorgeous handmade crocks and mortars and pestles again this year. Check out her goods online http://www.fire-keeper.org/

While Claudia Lucero did her demo folks sampled her awesome fermented nut cheeses.

Jon Westdahl and Julie sampling all different Squirrel & Crow tasty tempehs, misos and one of my favorite festival tastes this year — cultured vegan butter. So good.

A little closer…

Festival co-organizer David Barber of Picklopolis sampling his always delicious sour dills. One of my favorite pickles on the planet.

My good friend and super talented animation artist Stephen Bodin put this cool image together for us to announce the festival a few months ago. Love it so much.

First time fest exhibitors Sue and Wendy of NW Ferments (they sell all sorts of fermentation starter cultures) sampling their tasty kombucha.

Rooftop good vibes (and tunes) were provided by DJ Jimbo and Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider. Crazily enough we were rain-free yet another year. The Fermentation Fest is always on a beautiful night. Really pretty view on the Ecotrust roof.

Grant from Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider poured cider on the rooftop all night long. Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider’s is my very, very, very favorite hard cider maker.

Matthew of Eva’s Herbucha (one of Portland’s first commercial kombucha makers) poured yummy kombucha from their tap to thirsty festival goers.

I always end these posts with a photo of festival co-organizer George Winborn (in the background) in the jetpack vacuum cleaner but this year David got the honor 😉

Thank you to every last one of you who came out and were a part of making this year’s SEVENTH annual Portland Fermentation Festival so special. Love, love, love you!

Portland Fermentation Festival 2015 Redux

November 9th, 2015
The Dapper Foodists -- Portland Fermentation Fest co-organizers George Winborn, me and David Barber right before the Panel of Fermentation Experts.

The Dapper Foodists — Portland Fermentation Fest co-organizers George Winborn, Liz Crain and David Barber right before this year’s panel of fermentation experts that kicked the festival off.

I was out a town for a week right after this year’s Portland Fermentation Festival so I apologize for the delay in putting this post together. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who came out a couple weeks ago and made the SIXTH annual Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust a huge stinky success!

This year we had all sorts of new tasty treats including our first international neighbor to the north exhibitor. Todd Graham of HandTaste Ferments came all the way from Vancouver B.C. to take part in the fest, we also welcomed our first New York Times covered guest — panel of fermentation experts participant Tara Whitsitt of Fermentation on Wheels and we had our first festival playlist curated by my favorite fellow — D.J. Jimbo!

We put the Portland Fermentation Festival together every year with a shoestring budget + heaps of volunteered hours (thank you sooooo much to all of our kick-ass volunteers!) and as always we’re so grateful that Ecotrust puts up with us year after year. Thank you again Ecotrust! We love you.

We had some great coverage this year including this spot on KGW News Live at 7 segment with Cassidy Quinn. We’ve posted most of the other coverage on social media. If you’d like to keep up with local fermenty goings-on please check out our website, Facebook and Twitter.

Below are a whole bunch of photos from this year’s Stinkfest! If you have some great ones too please post them to the Facebook page or Twitter them with the hashtag #pdxfermentfest.

Thank you, thank you, thank you and see you all again next year we hope! Stay stinky! Oh, and please let me know if I attributed anything incorrectly. Thanks!

We had to switch the initial Portland Fermentation Fest date when we found out that Neil Young was coming to town that very night. My good friend Steve Bodin made me this image for that press release. Let's just pretend Neil came to the festival and rocked out on an electric pickle.

We had to switch the initial Portland Fermentation Fest date this year when we found out that Neil Young was coming to town that very night. My good friend Stephen Bodin made me this image for the resulting date change press release. Let’s just pretend Neil came to this year’s Portland Fermentation Festival and rocked out on a guitar pickle.

Festival cuties working the door at Ecotrust. My good friends left to right Wendy Wilson, Loly Leblanc, Kelli Brandt and Jimbo Sandberg.

Festival cuties working the door at Ecotrust. My good friends left to right Wendy Wilson, Loly Leblanc, Kelli Brandt and boyfriend Jimbo Sandberg.

Before the fest I got some pics of exhibitors including festival royalty Nat West and Sarah West of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider.

Before the fest I got some pics of exhibitors including festival royalty Nat West and Sarah West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider.

Aaaaand festival royalty Matt Choi of Choi's Kimchi.

Aaaaand festival royalty Matt Choi of Choi’s Kimchi.

We're so lucky that super talented Portland artist Tim Root makes the festival poster every year. Love, love, love this year's poster!

We’re so lucky that super talented Portland artist Tim Root makes us a poster every year for the festival. Love, love, love this year’s poster!

We kicked off the festival again this year with an hour-long panel of fermentation experts.

We kicked off the festival again this year with an hour-long panel of fermentation experts.

Festival co-organizer George Winborn was the moderator and on the panel left to right was Tara Whitsitt, Matt Choi, Nat West, David Barber and Tressa Yellig. AKA all of the fermentation smarty pants.

Festival co-organizer George Winborn moderated and on the panel left to right was Tara Whitsitt, Matt Choi, Nat West, David Barber and Tressa Yellig. AKA all of the fermentation smarty pants.

After the panel we stacked the chairs and in came the crowd of hungry folks for the first tasting. Eat or be eaten!!

After the panel we stacked the chairs and in came the crowd of hungry folks for the first tasting. Eat or be eaten!!

Cuties Connie and Brian Shaw from Hood River's Oregon Brineworks brought an incredible spread just as they did last year.

Cuties Connie and Brian Shaw from Hood River’s Oregon Brineworks brought an incredible spread just as they did last year.

Including their garlic dills, beet kvass, ginger gold kvass, fermented hot sauce, fermented ketchup and more. So good!

Including their garlic dills, beet kvass, ginger gold kvass, fermented hot sauce, fermented ketchup and more. So good!

Cassidy Quinn of KGW News came and interviewed us at the beginning of the first tasting and she tried some of David's Picklopolis black pepper fennel kraut. She loved it of course.

Cassidy Quinn of KGW News came and interviewed as at the beginning of the first tasting and she tried some of David’s Picklopolis fennel kraut. She loved it of course.

Emily Squadra's spicy Mexican kimchi and Korean kimchi were both spicy full-flavored hits.

Emily Squadra’s spicy Mexican kimchi and Korean kimchi were both tasty, full-flavored hits.

The loveliest Allison Jones of Portland Monthly checking in on the media list and my good friends Koko Wadeson, Jess Bull and Loly Leblanc rocking their door/ticketing shift.

The loveliest Allison Jones of Portland Monthly checking in on the media list and my good friends Koko Wadeson, Jess Bull and Loly Leblanc rocking their door/ticketing shift.

Todd Graham of HandTaste Ferments in Vancouver B.C. handing out samples of the awesome chickpea tempeh that he demo'd on the mezzanine.

Todd Graham of HandTaste Ferments in Vancouver B.C. handing out samples of the awesome chickpea tempeh that he demo’d on the mezzanine.

Jenny Hogan of NuCulture Foods with her crazy tasty and creamy cashew spreads. A lot of markets in town carry them. Try them -- so good!

Jenny Hogan of NuCulture Foods with her crazy tasty and creamy cashew spreads. A lot of markets in town carry them. Try them — so good!

Festival alum and sweetheart Claudia Lucero, proprietor of DIY Cheese Kits by Urban Cheesecraft and author of  One-Hour Cheese doing her labneh cheese demo. Really popular demo.

Festival alum and sweetheart Claudia Lucero, proprietor of DIY Cheese Kits by Urban Cheesecraft and author of One-Hour Cheese doing her labneh cheese demo. Really popular demo.

Olive Evelyn Bailey of Lion Heart Kombucha serving up all kinds of delicious fruity kombuchas. I tried the raspberry and it was deeeeelicious!

Olive Evelyn Bailey of Lion Heart Kombucha serving up all kinds of delicious fruity kombuchas. I tried the raspberry and it was deeeeelicious!

Tabor Bread baker and baking teacher Sarah Black with gratis sourdough cultures and yummy YUMMY natural starter whole grain rye bread.

Tabor Bread baker and baking teacher Sarah Black with gratis sourdough cultures and yummy YUMMY natural starter whole grain rye bread.

My friend Kelli Brandt in the foreground trying Colin Franger in the background's Blue Bus Cultured Foods super tasty Shakedown Beet and Kraut-chi.

My friend Kelli Brandt in the foreground trying Colin Franger in the background’s Blue Bus Cultured Foods yummy Shakedown Beet and Kraut-chi.

And then the second tasting commenced! My friends womaning the door left to right -- Stacy Goodwin, Loly Leblanc, Michelle Gilmore and Michele Knaus.

And then the second tasting commenced! My friends womaning the door left to right — Stacy Goodwin, Loly Leblanc, Michelle Gilmore and Michele Knaus.

The rooftop in full swing with tunes by D.J. Jimbo, cider from Reverend Nat's Hard Cider and sandwiches from Bingo Sandwiches. Beautiful night. Beautiful city.

The rooftop in full swing with tunes by D.J. Jimbo, cider from Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and sandwiches from Bingo Sandwiches. Beautiful night. Beautiful city.

Me and my fine fellow D.J. Jimbo.

Me and my fine fellow D.J. Jimbo who put together this year's rooftop festival playlist.

Another rooftop festival cutie -- my good friend Jess Bull.

Another rooftop festival cutie — my good friend Jess Bull.

Crock maker Jon Westdahl on the right, Dario Barone of Sacred Summit and Julie of Squirrel and Crow.

Crock maker Jon Westdahl on the right, Dario Barone of Sacred Summit and Julie of Squirrel and Crow — all having no fun at all.

Yummmmm!

Yummmmm!

Lovely Sasha Sunday and her crew with all kinds of OlyKraut tastiness including Smoke & Kale, Cumin Jalapeno and Sea Vegetable krauts.

Lovely Sasha Sunday and her crew with all kinds of OlyKraut tastiness including Smoke & Kale, Cumin Jalapeno and Sea Vegetable krauts.

Another festival royalty -- Queen Heidi Nestler of Heidi Nestler Cooking Classes doing her always well attended natto demo on the mezzanine.

Another festival royalty — Queen Heidi Nestler of Heidi Nestler Cooking Classes doing her always well attended natto demo on the mezzanine.

The super sweet duo from Eva's Herbucha in the eye of the storm.

The super sweet duo from Eva’s Herbucha in the eye of the storm.

My good friend Loly Leblanc made a bunch of friends of the festival these awesome fuzzzzzzzy pickles to wear this year!

My good friend Loly Leblanc made a bunch of friends of the festival these awesome fuzzzzzzzy pickles to wear this year!

Beautiful Careen Stoll of Careen Stoll Ceramics with her beautiful handmade crocks.

Careen Stoll of Careen Stoll Ceramics with her beautiful handmade crocks.

Nat West of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider sadly packing up his milk wine. Every year Nat pushes the fermentation boundaries and brings something wacky that you can only try at the festival. Last year he brought LAMB cider. This year MILK wine. Weird and wonderful.

Nat West sadly packing up his milk wine. Every year Nat pushes the fermentation boundaries and brings something truly wacky (and often frightening) that you can only try at the festival. Last year he brought LAMB cider. This year MILK wine. Weird and wonderful.

Closing time with my lovely ladies -- Loly Leblanc, Kelli Brandt, me and Michelle Gilmore. Most fun!

Closing time with my lovely ladies — Loly Leblanc, Kelli Brandt, me and Michelle Gilmore. Most fun!

Every great Portland Fermentation Festival concludes with George donning his jet pack. All stinky things must come to an end.

Every great Portland Fermentation Festival concludes with George donning his jet pack. All stinky things must come to an end.

Thank you to every last one of you who came out and were a part of this year’s sixth annual Portland Fermentation Festival. We love you!

Signed Copies of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland

November 14th, 2011

I'll write sweet nothings and send you some books.


Food Lover’s Guide to Portland
Custom message with signature?




Even though my book is available from all sorts of great sellers including Powell’s Books, New Seasons Market, Elephants Delicatessen, In Good Taste, Elliott Bay Book Company, Mirador Community Store, Alma Chocolate, Kenny & Zuke’s, House Spirits and Reading Frenzy I get more requests than usual around the holidays for signed copies. To remedy the situation I’ve added this magic little PayPal button above for folks who want signed copies of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland. You don’t need a PayPal account to buy books this way but you do need a credit card.

I think my book is a nice gift on its own (yes, a little biased) but I think it’s even better with a tasty treat or two from one of the many food and drink folks featured in it. I’m going to post 100 local pairings for the book between now and the end of December on Twitter if you’re into that sort of thing. For now, Food Lover’s Guide to Portland pairs nicely with…

Pickled herring and house-cured salame from Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen
A bottle of Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir or Pear-in-the-bottle brandy from Clear Creek Distillery
A Spella Caffe gift certificate
An Urban Cheesecraft DIY cheesemaking kit
Another local food book or two from Powell’s
Farmstead cheeses and charcuterie from Cheese Bar
Smoked seafood from Newman’s Fish Company in City Market
Custom Kinder eggs or chardons from Pix Patisserie

Shipping

I’m taking care of the shipping on continental U.S. orders via media mail and there are discounts for multiple book orders. Media mail takes a few days to a week but you can also spring for priority mail for a bit more $. If you want even quicker shipping, more than three books, books to multiple addresses, or a chicken in a zebra costume please just drop me a line and we’ll figure it out.

From my shelf to yours...