Cheese has always been a special connector between my dad and I. We both love our strong, aged cheeses and enjoy trying new varieties and flavours. Sometimes we fancy ourself "cheese critics" and it's so much fun. So, you can imagine when I became lactose intolerant during my pregnancy, how difficult that was for me. I cut out all other dairy, but would still indulge in a bit of cheese once and while, to my own demise (and my poor husbands :P). Even though I seem to tolerate it once again, we hardly consume any dairy products at all anymore, except for our cheese, and that, occasionally.
Which brings me to today's feature with great excitement. Because not only does it involve consuming delicious cheese, it involves MAKING your own cheese! Yes, you read that correctly. Now we can all be cheese connoisseurs. Oh happy day!
Today's feature is Make Cheese! Owner, operator and genius behind the many cheese kits is Ella Kinloch, from Calgary, Ab.
I met Ella at the Millarville Farmers Market outside of Calgary. I saw the word "cheese" and of course, could not resist wandering over to see what her booth was all about. It was within a matter of seconds that I realized that I wasn't looking at sacks filled with cheese, but sacks filled with all the tools and ingredients (minus milk) needed to make my very own cheese! I was ecstatic! It also didn't take me long to see that Ella is one of the most sweet, kind-hearted women you will ever meet. She was so enthusiastic about her kits and about cheese, which got me even more excited, if that was even possible. Ella is down to earth, super friendly, extremely generous and she knows her stuff when it comes to cheese.
The idea of cheese kits intrigued me, and I have a feta one here at home that Hayden and I are going to make, hopefully this week! I will then update you on how it went, with pictures! :D I'm so excited to try my hand at making some cheese. I have enough supplies for 100lbs of feta! If it goes well, look out family! Guess what you're getting for Christmas :D
I was definitely curious about Ella and her story and how it was that she began her business "Make Cheese". Ella recalls "I started out blindly. I wanted to start my own online business and the only way I could muster up the courage, was to start small. I had good reason for playing it safe, because the last time I tried a business, my world turned upside down."
"After falling in love, and leaving my teaching job, I pursued a cheesemaking internship in New Jersey. My partner and I at the time, were going to start a farm, and I wanted to make cheese. I set out to do the cheesemaking internship and I learned many things about cheese, and most unexpectedly, I learned lessons from humbling experiences on the farm –things like getting whipped in the face a few times from cow tails caked in "special mud" or being a tour guide on the farm for posh New Yorkers who wanted to see the country."
Ella felt she needed to be grounded and felt her business plan, to make cheese commercially viable, needed some realism added to it.
"I had to learn that although cheese can be a successful business for many, it takes knowing about nature, animals and science to really be an artisan. After returning from the cheese making internship, everything turned upside down. My relationship ended and I was stuck with a box full of books on cheese and no motivation to pursue being a cheesemaker anymore."
Ella put the idea aside and began marketing at an engineering company. "I didn’t want to talk about cheese for a few years, until a friend of mine encouraged me to see what happened if I sold cheese kits online."
That’s when Ella started Make Cheese Inc to see if she could sell a couple kits a month. In a matter of months the kits were selling like crazy (which I'm not surprised as they are ingenious!). To Ella, it felt like overnight success.
"I will never forget falling asleep and hearing my phone beep several times during the night. I woke up the next day to see paypal orders flashing on my phone! I started to cry because it was so real – people wanted my cheese kits. I was offering a part of me to help others. My ‘small’ business turned into a assembly line of late-night kit making and recruiting friends and family to help me get through the Christmas season."
Some of Ella's biggest highlights to date are: Being featured on her favourite website: www.springwise.com. Meeting home cheesemakers as she teaches her Cheese Nights (courses on mozzarella in people’s homes. Click here for details about how you can book a Cheese Night with your friends), and being featured in McLean’s magazine.
Ella reminisces on "how my heart melts at how supportive my friends and family have been with my new pursuits. I love them dearly." As is true for all of us, we are more apt to succeed in our endeavours with the support of those we love most. Thank you, Ella's family and friends, for enabling her to create these fantastic kits that we all get to enjoy!
To date, Ella sells the following kits: Cream Cheese, Kefir, Mascarpone, Mozzarella, Brie, Chevre (goat cheese), Feta, Poutine and a soon to be released Gouda kit! Once you try one, you'll want to try them all! It'll make a great Christmas gift for the cheese lover you know, whether you give them the kit, or lovingly make them the cheese yourself :)
For more information on Ella, Make Cheese, kits, hosting a cheese night, etc, please visit her website at
If you have any further questions or would like to contact Ella directly, please email her at
Ok, now the part you've been waiting for! The Growing Green special incentive! You won't want to miss out on this one! Trust me :D
Here's what Ella says to do: "Hey readers, thanks for reading this article! I would love to welcome you into cheesemaking -if you visit my facebook page and like my page, then leave a message on my wall regarding where you read the article (Growing Green blog), I will send you free cream cheese ingredients to make your own batch of cream cheese. Complete these steps and email me your address and I will send you your prize in the mail!" I told you she was generous!
Deadline to complete is before December 1st 2012.
Umm….yes please! So don't hesitate to head over to Ella's facebook page.
Next week's feature hint: sewers delight