The dryer buzzer was going off. The dog was whining at the door to be let out, the phone was ringing and I was lying in a horizontal position on the bed with my stomach sucked in and my breath held trying to get my jeans zipper zipped.

The doorbell rang.  That did it I would not realistically fit into those jeans so I flung them off and grabbed my good old elastic waistband sweat pants ran down the stairs to open the door.

No one was there — only a flyer wrapped around the doorknob for pizza.

“PIZZA!” I hollered as I slammed the door after the dog darted out.  I murmured, under my breath as I found myself standing in front of the fridge looking at my favorite food in the whole wide world: CHEESE!  After chocolate there is only one thing better-melted cheese.

Here are a few facts cheese lovers need to know.

Cheese concentrates a lot of food value into a small package. It contains most of the nutrients of milk, though in different amounts.  Nutrients include protein, riboflavin and calcium.  The protein in cheese is of the same high quality as the protein in meat, fish and eggs.

Cheese keeps best in the refrigerator.  How long it will keep depends on the kind of cheese and its wrapper.  Soft cheese-such as cottage cheese and Neufchatel are highly perishable. 

Hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Swiss keep much longer than soft cheese if protected from drying out. 

Leave the cheese in its original wrapper, if possible.  Cover cut surfaces tightly with waxed paper, foil or plastic to protect the surface from drying out, or store the cheese in a tightly covered container.

Any surface mold that develops on hard natural cheese should be trimmed off entirely. However, in mold-ripened cheese such as Roquefort, mold is an integral part of the cheese and can be eaten.  If mold penetrates the interior of cheeses that are not ripened by molds such as Cheddar and Swiss cut away the moldy portions or discard the cheese.  Freezing is not recommended for most cheese because they become crumbly and mealy when frozen.

Successful cheese cookery depends on brief heating at a low temperature. High temperatures and long cooking make cheese tough and stringy and cause the fat to separate out.  Also, some of the flavor is lost.

Cheese blends more readily with other ingredients and melts more if you shred or dice it first — one-half pound of cheese yields about 2 cups of shredded cheese.

Soft, well-aged Cheddar melts and blends with other ingredients more readily then less-ripened cheese and less Cheddar is needed because it has a more pronounced flavor. Process cheese also melts and blends readily but has a much milder flavor.

Melt cheese in the top of a double boiler over simmering water or add it to a hot mixture.  When making the cheese sauce, stir shredded cheese into the completed white sauce and heat only enough to melt the cheese.  When making a cheese omelet, add the shredded cheese after the omelet is cooked-just before folding.

Cheese can be melted under the broiler too.  Open-faced cheese sandwiches can be made this way. Place the sandwich so the cheese is 4 or 5 inches from the heat. Broil just until the cheese begins to melt.

Casserole dishes containing cheese should be baked at low to moderate temperature. To prevent cheese toppings from toughening or hardening during baking.  Cover them with crumbs or add the cheese just a few minutes before removing the food from the oven.

ROQUEFORT: Sharp, peppery, piquant flavor. Semisoft, pasty, sometimes crumbly texture. White interior streaked with blue-green veins of mold

STILTON: Similar to Roquefort yet milder with an open, flaxy texture and a creamy-white interior streaked with the same blue-green veins of mold as Roquefort yet it has a wrinkle, melon-like rind.

NEUFCHATEL: (New-sha-tel) Mild texture similar to cream cheese but lower in fat.

GOUDA: Mellow, nutlike, often slightly acid flavor semifort to firm. Smooth texture often containing small holes. Creamy-yellow or medium yellow-orange interior.  Usually has red wax coating and shaped like a flattened ball.

GRUYERE: (Grew-Yare) Nutlike salty flavor similar to Swiss but sharper firm smooth with small holes or eyes, light yellow.

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