(Mother comes rushing in not sure how she missed this thread all this time
Okay, Vinegar Cheese. I guess I thought I'd explained it better in Illinois Story but I see I didn't. So here's the very easy way to do it...
Put a gallon (half this or double this or whatever)in a pan on the stove over medium heat. I've made this with bought milk and with fresh whole or skimmed milk and it all works fairly well, some just a bit softer than others. Goat's milk is often a very soft cheese made this way. Heat the milk, stirring often, until it just starts to get a few bubbles around the edge of the pan. Don't let it boil. (185 degrees on a thermometer works too) Remove from the heat. Slowly drizzle about 1/4 cup of vinegar into the milk in a slow steady stream (any kind of vinegar though I prefer apple cider)as you are stirring the milk. As you stir you should see the milk thicken and get slimy looking even before it starts to separate into globs as you stir. If it hasn't 'turned' shortly after you add the last of the vinegar add just a bit more vinegar. Continue to stir until the globs (curds) are floating in a yellowish/clear liquid (whey). When ready, set the curds and whey, pan and all, into a sink of cold water to cool. Try not to get water in the whey.
Stir often as the liquid cools to keep the curd from clumping together. (if it does, don't worry, you can break it up a bit later) add cold water to the sink as needed around the pan. When the curds and whey are cool drain the curd from the whey by using a cheese cloth in a colander. If you do not have a colander,just use a big bowl with the cloth (old diaper, slightly porous material, anything that will drain the curd) clothes-pinned to edges to keep it from going into the bowl. When the whey and curd are in the bowl, just gather the corners of the cloth together and hang the whole thing over the bowl to drain. I've done this setting the bowl on the counter and hanging the cloth from a door handle above. Save the whey for other uses. It's good in baked goods, to cook noodles or vegetables in, our dogs and cats love it, and it makes a good facial wash too.
Let the curd drain for several hours (for a softer cheese), maybe squeezing the bag a bit to get a bit more whey out, and then scrape the cheese curds into a bowl. Sometimes the whole thing will come right out of the cloth, sometimes you might have to scrape a bit. If you want a harder cheese, just devise a way to hang the bag of curds in the refrigerator overnight or several days and more whey will drain out. Mixing it with salt first will help the whey drain.
To use the softer product, I like to put herbs and a bit of salt into the cheese and mix it all together making a soft, cottage-cheese like spread for crackers or bread or if you add some type of mayo or salad dressing it makes a good dip. I will often do the same thing for the harder cheese, adding herbs and salt and letting it drip for a couple of days. If it's cool in the house you don't have to put it in the refrig to drip but I usually do. This cheese is a bit like a soft cheese ball and left long enough will even slice.
Now, that said, you can also improvise a sort of cheese 'press' for this and other cheese by using a big can (like a large coffee can) poked full of nail holes both sides and bottom from the inside of the can so it's not rough against the cheese. Line this 'form' with cheesecloth and put in your curds. Cover the top with another cloth and figure out an insert (a follower) to just fit inside the top of the can on the cheese. A round of wood works or sometimes you can find a plate, a tin lid or even the lid you originally cut from the can. On the top of that place a canning jar full of water to act as a weight to press the cheese. Again, salt added to the crumbled curd before placing it in the 'form' will help the whey drain away better and give the cheese a bit of taste. Let set 24 hours (doesn't need to be refrigerated either)and then take the cheese out carefully and rewrap it and put it into the form again, upside down. Press it for another 24 hours, this time using a book or something balanced on the top of the jar of water to add more weight. This should give you a fairly hard cheese but not like a regular cheese made with rennet and etc would give you.
Personally, I love the vinegar cheese just fresh with salt and a bit of cream and maybe herbs mixed in and eaten like cottage cheese or as a spread. YUM. Faster than it sounds and so good.
Okay, Skimming cream. I've used various means to do so and even goats milk will eventually give you a bit of very pale white cream on the top. However, you cannot get cream to rise on homogenized milk as from the store, only raw or pasturized milk. I have used a big ice tea maker jar and let it set overnight or a day and just taken the skim milk off the bottom leaving the cream in the jar. You can see the line where the cream starts and the skim milk ends. I have also used big gallon pickle jars or something similar and just let it set before using a small ladle to skim the cream from the top. You can set the milk in a shallow pan and skim it with a 'skimmer' if you have one but they are not always easy to find. A skimmer is a very shallow wide scoop with small holes in it to allow the lighter skim milk to go through. I have one but I prefer just using a ladle.
Lets see, did I forget anything? Probably but I'll try to pay attention to this thread and answer other questions. We will be leaving on a month long trip next week though and I will only intermittantly be getting online as we travel so be patient please.
Good luck with the cheese.