By Lassa Skinner
Springtime means renewal. Sunlight strengthens and lengthens, vegetation responds with robust new growth, and the natural course of life restarts its captivating cycle. This season of vitality is especially apparent in goat's milk cheeses, which show off the densest, richest milk of the year, full of nutrients for the newborn kids. The same abundance is true, of course, for other milking animals, but as inspiration for a spring cheese board, nothing compares to fresh goat's milk cheeses. Versatile and varied, they are made in a myriad of shapes and sizes with an assortment of coatings, rinds, and wrappings including ash, leaves, herbs, and flowers.
This classic dish is to Bavarians what mac-n’-cheese is to Americans. To make the little dumpling-like spaetzle, a soft dough of flour, egg, and milk is forced through the holes of a spaetzle-maker into a pot of salted boiling water and cooked until tender. (You can use a flat grater with large holes as a substitute for the spaetzle-maker, but this is more time consuming and can be messy.) The spaetzle is then drained and layered with bergkäse (Alpine cheese) and onions and baked briefly in a casserole. If you can’t find imported bergkäse, substitute Gruyere.
As spring's fresh cheeses arrive,
some wine lovers see red
When my editor at culture asked if I could match a red wine to spring's fresh cheeses, I answered, "Sure," although I was not sure at all I could find said red wine. After all, Sauvignon Blanc is the classic pairing; who needs anything else?
Be a spring-cleaning machine with help from the ultimate sidekick: an old-fashioned lambswool duster. These debrisswiping superstars have been favored for centuries thanks to their naturally lanolin-laced fibers that generate static electricity and effectively snatch up dust and dirt.
Though imprinted with a silhouette of the proverbial black sheep, these handcrafted wooden Shaker-style boxes are nothing but nice. Sold with or without the award-winning cheeses and yogurt from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Upstate New York, which sports the black sheep as its logo, the oval box is a sturdy container that stores souvenirs, covers cheeses, or conveys gifts.
For the past few decades, Charlene Martin has scoped out the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, and has been pleasantly surprised on each visit—not with the encyclopedic catalog of dairy displays, but upon discovering that her handcrafted livestock jewelry stands alone among exhibitors. “They’re unusual,” she concedes of her swirled, abstract sheep pins, a favorite design among both farmers and fashionistas. “There are never two that are exactly alike; we cast them one by one.” This one is made from sterling silver rope and smooth wire by Martin herself, who also creates bracelets, money clips, and belt buckles, many painstakingly engraved by her husband, Jim.
Hailing from Hancock Shaker Village, the historic museum in the rolling Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, is worsted merino wool yarn of heavenly proportions. Washed, dried, and spun by hand, the fibers from the property’s resident sheep will bring peace to knitters and artists alike. ’Tis a gift to be simple, indeed.
When German artist Jessika Cardinahl sat down amid a herd of sheep in a pasture on Mallorca one vacation morning years ago, she was surprised to find herself welcomed by the local beasts. “There was no distraction, it was so peaceful,” she recalls. Cardinahl, a painter, sculptor, and fiber artist, became deeply inspired by the sheep’s gentle nature and graceful shape. This inspiration is revealed in her work in various mediums, including bronze sculpture; silk and mohair tapestries handwoven in Nepal; large-scale oil canvases; and graphic, candy-colored digital prints. “[Sheep are] all about community, giving, love, compassion,” she muses. “And to us, as humans, a vital part of our history. They mean only good things.”
The preferred playthings among Waldorf schools possess the same qualities as tasteful home decoration: simple design, natural materials, and careful craftsmanship. These miniature creatures are born of Ostheimer Wooden Toys, the beloved German company established in 1939 as an educational resource. But one doesn’t need a tot in tow to enjoy their charms. Each is painstakingly coated with subtly colored, eco-friendly stain before getting a buffing of walnut oil for a satiny luster. Cue the “awwws.”
One doesn’t need a reminder that times are tougher than ever, but it is worth repeating that being an agent of goodwill has never been easier. Do a good deed for an impoverished family (and your conscience): sponsor a healthy sheep (or a heifer, goat, or water buffalo, for that matter) like this one through Heifer International. As the global champion of anti-hunger advocacy, the nonprofit organization coordinates this unique empowerment program, which allows struggling foreign communities to reap the myriad benefits (wool for clothing, meat for food, trade for commerce) inherent to these resilient animals.