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Decibel                                        by Juliane Essig
                 The Briard Helper

                         Part 3

In addition (just to keep things interesting) I had brought my
Jersey cow Ruby back home, and was busy milking her and con-
verting the excess dairy bounty into deliciousness. In the course
of time I learned how to make butter, sour cream, mozzarella,
cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, and feta, along with several
aged and even moldy cheeses (Parmesan, Montagio, Port Salut,
Tomme de Savoie, Robiola, and Camembert [brag, brag, brag]),
and Decibel was always on hand as my lovely assistant, inspec-
tor, or sampler.
Funny thing - making cheese is interesting, exacting, and, well,
a bit scary. I mean there comes a point when you are looking
at some lumpy moldy thing formerly known as spoiled milk
and have to eat it or declare it a loss. Decibel’s nose is a reliable
indicator of edibility: When it rises to the counter level, then the
cheese is edible. If she is not in the kitchen, toss it out.

Although she started as a chow dog, Decibel has discriminating    I know the conventional wisdom decrees that dogs are lactose
tastes. She samples new foods with the concentration and with     intolerant – but mine were never thus afflicted. Every morning
the air of culinary sophistication of a seasoned sommelier. Only  and evening I would head to the barn to milk, accompanied by
when it is expensive, imported, or difficult to make will she     very good dogs, who waited in the upper level of the barn for
swallow an offering in a single gulp and ask for seconds. No      their allotment.
matter how quietly I move to skim the milk (ladle the cream into
a separate container for making butter, ice cream, or whipped                                                                                      23
cream), Decibel will show up exactly at the right time and
with a sigh flop down on my feet to remind me that she is the
designated ladle licker.

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