Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Michael Bronk's "Folly"

He makes his own cheese his own way and it's good!

We love to see folks take the basic principles of cheese making and improvise their our recipes. Why not?

If a recipe they have come up with works with their milk and suits their own creative style, we applaud.

Michael Bronk, a retired paramedic wrote to us a couple of months ago about a cheese he has been making.  (It took him awhile to get us some pictures because he does volunteer work with the Red Cross and there were some snowstorm emergencies happening in his area.)  Here's his letter:


My name is Michael Bronk. I exist way out in NW Washington state, about an hour and a half NW of Seattle, in the middle of nowhere. My wife and I co-exist with huge trees, mountains, skeeters, bambi, bears, cougars, bobcats, mountain lions and I am sure there's a bigfoot out here somewhere, too.

For years I have been making "cheese" with very little education. For Christmas I received the book "HOME CHEESE MAKING" and would like Ricki to know it goes everywhere with me as I can't seem to put it down.

As I said, I have been making "A CHEESE," and I am unsure what it is I have been making. Can you help me?

What I have been doing is as follows:
I put 1 Tbs of plain yogurt in 1 gal of whole store bought milk and let it sit at room temp for a few hours.
 I heat the milk to 55 degrees, add 1 1/2 tsp of diluted citric acid powder and stir until lumps develop.
At 88 degrees, I add 1/4 tablet of rennet (purchased from New England Cheese Making Supply Co).
I let the milk set until I get a clean break then heat milk to 100-106F.
I drain the whey and hang overnight in from the shower head (spare bathroom).
Having made a mold and a press from scratch, I line the mold with muslin and press lightly, adding more pressure throughout the day until bed time when I add as much pressure as possible.

Next day I unmold and air dry 2-3 days, then wax it and store in the fridge for 30 days.

What am I making?

Michael Bronk


We forwarded Michael's letter to our technical advisor, Jim Wallace, and he said Michael's cheese is non-traditional (in other words, it doesn't have a name).  He made a few points about the cheese-

1.   The yogurt culture does better at higher temperatures, so it may not be doing much of it's job at room temperature.

2.   It is somewhat redundant to ripen the milk with yogurt culture and then add citric acid to it, as well.

Questions for Michael:

How did you start making your own cheese?

I searched the internet for cheese making recipes and was very confused because the instructions were vague.

Over the years I modified all I gathered and came up with this "cheese" which I alter to try to create something that resembles cheese.

At times I would purchase an Artisian cheese and "rob" the mold from that cheese and incorporate that mold into mine. I have innoculated a blue mold cheese into my formula and actually duplicated blue cheese.

What is your final product comparable to (in taste and texture)?

Taste and texture depend on the process and aging I try to do. I started using a press I made with a threaded rod and 2 metal plates on each end of a plastic pipe. The cheese would be squeezed as I turned the wing nuts. Unfortunately the end product had a hole in the center from the threaded rod.

I would wrap the cheese in a clean bandana and store in the fridge, turning daily as I changed bandanas. Sometimes I would seal the cheese with wax and age for 6-8 mos. The end product was a creamy Brie-like cheese.

With some of my pressed cheese, I would add a TBS of parmesan cheese and wrap it, leaving it in the fridge to semi dry out. The texture, taste and aroma was like a parmesan. I would also add citric acid to some batches, hang the curd to dry overnight, slice into cubes and float them in a brine solution for 2 weeks. The end result was a Feta type cheese.

There are times my wife wants to make lasagna, so I go to work. I eventually take my curds, drain for a few hours and place them into a container to be used just like riccota. A family recipe for a cheese torte requires dry bakers cheese which is not available here. So I make my riccota type cheese for this and everyone raves after tasting it. I tried making mozzarella and was successful one time out of 3 attempts. I was stationed in Italy for 4 years and the cheese !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Singing and Cheese Making Internship in Vermont

This is a unique opportunity!

If you love to sing and you're interested in learning how to make cheese, here's an interesting way to combine the two.

Josh Karp and Maria Schumann are living the "back-to-basics" way at Cate Hill Orchard, a small farm (100 acres) in scenic upstate Vermont, near Sterling College.  (They do not consider themselves isolated because there is a general store 5 miles away!)  The nearest big city is Hardwick (population 3000).

They make and sell their own organic apple cider vinegar, elderberry-hone apple cider vinegar, infused vinegars, apples, bear far salve and lamb (seasonal).

Recently, we heard from them about an upcoming program they are planning:

Singing and Cheese Making Internship

Cate Hill Orchard is offering our first ever Sing and Farm Internship this spring, from May 28- June 19th 2012.

We-Josh Karp and Maria Schumann, the owners of Cate Hill Orchard-met each other through our love of singing, and in particular, our love of songs from the country of Georgia. But since we started farming we scarcely have time to sing anymore, and as our farm has expanded we're finding we need help to get our spring farm work done. So, we are inviting  6-10 people to join us for three weeks of singing and farming.

Many traditional folk songs are agricultural-songs to ask for rain or sun; harvest and planting songs; milking and plowing songs-and we think singing traditional songs in an agricultural setting will bring a whole new level of appreciation for and joy in both the music and the work.

We'll mostly sing ancient 3 part songs from the country of Georgia, and will also sing some rounds, Shape Note hymns, and folk songs from Russia and England.

We are a small diverse farm, inspired by permaculture. We grow apples and other fruits and berries in our 5 acre orchard; raise Icelandic sheep for meat, milk, and fiber; and keep honeybees. We are working towards a low input, perennial based agriculture, modeled after nature's complexity, and where all enterprises are multi-purposed and connected.

Interns will help us with all aspects of farming and homesteading, including haying, wood stacking, sheep shearing, gardening, apple tree mulching, and beekeeping. We'll be milking 4-5 sheep (for homestead use only) and will use the milk to make our own yogurt, kefir, fresh chevre-style cheese, feta, and a manchego style hard cheese.  Maria worked for 2 summers as a cheesemaker at Bonnieview Sheep Dairy in Albany, VT (4 miles down the road), and is excited to do cheesemaking on a much smaller scale.

Participants will live with us and our 2 kids in our farmhouse in shared bedrooms, or may tent on our land. No experience with farming or singing is required:  just a good ear, a love of music and a willingness to get dirty and work!

Josh Karp and Maria Schumann
Cate Hill Orchard
697 Shadow Lake Road
Craftsbury Common, Vermont
(802) 586-2059

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parmesan with Gavin Webber

Great articles and videos make his website a cheese maker's dream.

Maybe I favor Gavin's work a little too much - I've already featured his Wensleydale and Caerphilly in previous articles.

But, the truth is I can't say enough about the contribution he is making to home cheese making.  It's all based on his extensive experience, and it's all free!

Gavin lives in Australia, so he presents his measurements in the metric system.  That can be discouraging, but it's really very easy to convert his numbers to our Imperial system by using an online converter like  It's well worth the few minutes it takes.

For this article, I asked Gavin to give us an update from the "Land Down Under:"

In July 2011, I had so many cheese recipes, cheese making tips and video tutorials on my main blog “The Greening of Gavin,” that I decided to spawn a new cheese blog that captures all of my cheese making efforts.  It is called Little Green Cheese, and features over 17 different types of cheese so far.  Kind of a one stop shop of cheese making ‘how to’ so to speak.

My cheese making goal this year is to attempt to post a new video tutorial every month now that our hot summer is starting to calm down here in Australia.  The weather is turning cooler and now just right for cheese making.  On my to do list is a drunken goat cheese, Haloumi, Colby, and another attempt at repeating a serendipitous discovery that I called Farmhouse Pepper Blue!

However, my all time favorite cheese is Parmesan, or properly known as Parmigiano Reggiano. I try and make about 1kg (2.2lbs) every few months to keep up with supply at home.  It takes a long time to mature (I leave it for 12 months minimum), but it tastes divine!  

By Gavin Webber at Little Green Cheese

This well known Italian cheese is one of my favorites and I have made it about 8 times, with each wheel being a success.  In fact, I try and make one about every 3 months to keep up with the constant supply necessary for our appetite for this strong, flavorsome cheese.

Parmesan is really called Parmigiano Reggiano, named after the two regions in Italy where it is made.  It is one of the worlds most famous grating cheeses.  Normal sized wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano weigh about 46 kg each (101 lb), but this recipe is modified to make about 1 kg (2.2 lb) of this delicious cheese.  It certainly beats the crappy, smelly, powered cheese you can buy in those green containers!  Everyone in my family gives it a massive two thumbs up, and we eat it shaved or grated on many types of pasta dishes.

I have made a video tutorial for this cheese in two parts, so to get a feel for how I made it, sit back, relax and enjoy the show.  (Note:  I have converted all Gavin's measurements from the metric system to ours in the copy below, so you should be able to follow along with him in these videos.)

Part 1

Part 2



    Brine solution (1 litre (1 qt) water plus 2 tablespoons non-iodized salt, boiled for 5 minutes)
    4 litres (1 gallon) full cream milk, at least 3.4% fat
    4 litres (1 gallon) lite or semi skimmed milk, no more than 1.4% fat.
    1 quarter teaspoon direct set thermophilic starter culture
    1 quarter teaspoon lipase powder, mixed with 20 ml (4 tsp) of unclorinated water
    2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) rennet mixed with 60 ml (1/4 cup) unclorinated water
    2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) calcium chloride mixed with 60 ml (1/4 cup) unclorinated water

As usual I set up all the utensils and ingredients before I begin, then I sterilize everything in water in the 8 litre pot (2 gallon) for 15 minutes.  People are often surprised to discover that it is made with low fat milk (no more than 2.5% fat), because it has such an intense flavor.

Once sterilized, I put the big pot on a small saucepan of water to act as a double boiler.

Add the milk and alternate a litre of each type to so that it mixes well, and then bring the temperature up to 35C (95F).  Once at temperature, add the thermophilic culture and mix well.  Cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Add the calcium chloride and mix well.  Then add the lipase mixture and stir for a minute.  Keeping the mixture at 35C (95F), add the rennet mix and stir for at least 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Cover and allow to set for 45 minutes.

When you get a clean break, cut the curd by using a balloon whisk.  Push the whisk all the way to the bottom of the pot and lift back out.  Do this all the way around all over the surface for 3 times.  This will ensure that you have cut the majority of the curd to about 4 mm (1/8 in).  Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir at 35C (95F) for 10 minutes.

Increase the temperature to 42C (108F) over half an hour and hold this temperature for 15 minutes continuously stirring with the whisk to prevent matting.  You will notice that the curd will start to shrink into smaller grain sized pieces. 

Increase the temperature to 52C (126F) over half an hour stirring regularly.  When the temperature has been reached you should notice that the curd will have a very small grain size and that it will be dry to touch and squeaky when you chew them to test for doneness.  Let the curds rest for 5 minutes off the heat.

Drain the curds and whey into a cheese cloth lined colander.  Be careful as the whey is quite hot.  Gather up the cheese cloth and form a ball of curd big enough to fit into your 900 gm (2lb) mold.  Cover one of the corners of the curd with the cheese cloth and top with the follower then press at 2.5kg (5 1/2 lb) for 15 minutes.

Remove the cheese from the press, and slowly unwrap the cloth.  Turn the cheese over, rewrap it in the cloth, and press at 5kg (11 lb) for 30 minutes.  Repeat this procedure, press at 7.5 kg (16 1/2 lb) for 2 hours.  Repeat again, pressing at 10kg (22 lb) for 12 hours.

Remove the cheese from the mold and unwrap.  Immerse the cheese in the brine solution.  I use a 2 litre (1/2 gallon) ice cream container, add the cheese first then pour over the brine.  The brine should be at room temperature and not hot or the cheese will begin to break up and absorb too much salt.

Leave it at room temperature (21C) (70F) for 24 hours, and flip the cheese occasionally.

Take the cheese out of the brine solution and pat it dry with paper towel.  Here is your chance to smooth the cheese with your hands if there are any rough bits.  Then place on a sushi mat and put it into the cheese cave at 13C (55F)/80% humidity for 10 months.  Turn the cheese daily for the first week, then weekly after that.  Remove any mould that forms on the exterior with some left over brine and a bit of cheese cloth.  This also helps to harden the cheese as it ages.

I usually wax this cheese at about the three month mark, because otherwise, even if rubbed with olive oil the wheel is just too small to hold the required amount of moisture and it will dry out.  The first wheel of Parmesan made in May 2009 turned out very well and had that sharp flavor that Grana cheeses are well known for.

The trademark texture and flavor of this cheese is obtained though the lengthy maturation process which results in a cheese with a hard, gritty texture.  I guarantee that this cheese is well worth the wait.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fromage Blanc from Soul Flower Farm

As a cheese maker, Maya Blow is getting off to a great start!

Maya and her family have created their own little slice of heaven called Soul Flower Farm.  This is the introduction at their inspirational website:

We are a small urban farm located in the East Bay Area of California, striving to incorporate biodynamic farming methods and permaculture design to be self sustaining. Raising goats, chickens, ducks, bees, and boys, homeschooling, sustainable building, and practicing holistic medicine keeps us busy.

I was looking for an article about making Fromage Blanc and I found Maya's.  I asked her how she became a cheese maker:

I got started making cheese several months ago when my husband and I added two lactating does to our herd of goats.  We had a lot of extra milk to play around with.  The first cheese I made was paneer, then fromage blanc and chevre.  I recently took a wonderful cheese making class and learned to make feta, St. Maure, and Camembert.  It is becoming a wonderful hobby.

Goat Cheese and Whey Bread
By Maya Blow at Soul Flower Farm 

Cheese making is a whole world of it's own as I am beginning to discover.  I've been making cheese weekly with our goat's milk.  Two out of the four of us in our home are enjoying it.  I suppose there are many ways you can use fresh goat cheese but the only way it has been consumed at our house thus far is spread on freshly baked bread, lightly toasted with olive oil.  It almost makes your taste buds explode.

I have mainly been making chevre and fromage blanc, although I did try mozzarella, which did not turn out aesthetically pleasing but tasted good and melted successfully on our pizza.  We are very interested in trying the harder, aged cheeses in the near future.   A great resource for supplies, recipes, etc. is New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.

If you want to try a soft, fresh cheese yourself, it is pretty easy.  There are basically only four steps involved.

Start with at least a gallon of unhomogenized milk of any kind (cow, goat, sheep, yak, whatever you have)...

1)  In a large non-aluminum pot, heat your milk to between 86-92 degrees.  You don't even really have to use a thermometer - if you don't have one, just heat the milk until warm but not so hot it burns your finger (in the old days this was called blood warm).

2)  Either add your packet of culture for the cheese you want to make (fromage blanc, chevre, etc.) or add 1/2 cup of white vinegar per gallon of milk.  Stir for about a minute or two, cover and set in a warm place overnight or for half of the day.

3)  Uncover the pot and you should see that the curds and whey have separated.  Strain the curds into a cheese cloth (I always use a cloth napkin or a piece of clean cotton fabric).  Catch and save the whey to use later.  Hang your cheese to drain in a clean place for another day or so depending on how hard/dry you want your cheese to be.

4)  Unwrap the cheese and turn it into a large bowl.  Add cheese salt or sea salt to taste and whatever herbs you prefer, our favorite is with lots of dill.  Mix well with a fork and refrigerate, eat right away, or label and give to friends as a homemade holiday treat.

As for the by product, I have been very satisfied using the whey we have left over after hanging the cheese.  I usually get quite a lot from each batch and have been either mixing it into the chicken feed or using it to make bread.  The chicken's egg production goes up significantly when they are fed whey and the bread comes out moist, as well as with a higher protein content.

Both of these jars of whey are from the same batch of cheese.
The milkier jar is from the first 12 hours of straining, the clearish jar is the second 12 hours.

I finally found a great bread recipe using 100% whole wheat flour.  I know lots of you out there are going gluten free so this is obviously not for you, but for those of us that like to grind our own wheat berries into flour or are just adverse to using white flour, this bread comes out surprisingly moist and light.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison)

The sponge                                                                   The bread
2 1/4 c whey, warmed                                                    1/3 c olive oil
1 tbls. active dry yeast                                                    2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c unsulfured molasses                                               3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c gluten flour
2 c whole wheat flour

Stir warm whey, yeast, molasses, gluten flour, and 2 c. whole wheat flour until smooth.  Scrape down sides of the bowl, cover, set aside in warm place for an hour until foamy and double in volume.

You can buy yeast in bulk and store in the refrigerator.

Gently stir down sponge, add oil, salt, and one cup of the flour and beat until smooth.  Add the remaining flour in one cup increments until you have a shaggy, heavy dough.  Turn out onto floured counter and knead in flour, a few tbls at a time, until dough is smooth but still a little tacky.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn it to coat the top, cover and set in warm place until doubled, about 1.5 hours.  Punch dough down, divide into two loaves, shape and place into greased bread pans, cover again and set aside until dough has risen to edge of pan, about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake in center of oven until browned, 45-50 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Louise Dutton in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Louise with a couple of her Camemberts.
(The "73" has special meaning to her (see the end of this article)

She knows food!

Louise Dutton has been making everything she eats from "scratch" for over 30 years.  She says, "I'm just an old hippy at heart and I like to know exactly what is in my food."  Well, we do too, of course, but Louise actually makes it happen!

Recently, she started her own non-gluten bakery called Weezie's Gluten Free Kitchen.  For now, she is only licensed to sell in her local area, but soon, hopefully, she will be able to extend that to internet sales and we can all order from her.  (According to Dr. Oz, 99% of the folks who are gluten intolerant don't know it and he recommends we all go gluten free for 2 weeks to see if we notice a difference in our health.)  We'll hear more about this from Louise later in this article, but for now, our priority is cheese, glorious cheese, of course.

How did you get started making cheese?

I first made cheese in the early 90's because I wanted to see if I could actually do it.  Now I make cheese as a delicious hobby. My husband wanted to start making his own cured meats but we found the wine fridge was more practical for cheese.

I started making Mozzarella about 25 years ago. I would go to the Italian market and buy these chunks of buffalo curd, soak it in hot water and keep stretching it until I got mozzarella. It was a hoot! Then I started making my own feta about 10 years ago. Lovely stuff, feta!

Then, last year, my husband wanted me to start making Camembert and Parmesan so I looked into it, bought the supplies, bought some books and we were off! Now I make Camembert, Blue cheese (I call it "Weezie's Blue") and Cambozola cheese. Making cheese is like doing science experiments…that you can EAT! I get quite obsessive and sometimes just can't stop myself from making more and more!

What are you making now?

I've been experimenting with different brands of milk and different types, different mixtures like double cream and triple cream - different starters and combinations as well.  Some turn out wonderful and some ... not so wonderful.

Raw milk is REALLY expensive ($15 a gallon!) and it's illegal here!  (You can only buy it as "pet food" in Florida and they are constantly raiding the places that sell it.  I wish I had my own cow but I don't think my neighbors would appreciate that.)

So, I stay with the pasteurized local organic milk.  It isn't quite as expensive and I know where it's coming from.  One of my colleagues actually works on the "government milk council" (whatever that means) so anytime I have a question about milk, I just call her.

I love making cheese. It's like science projects every week!  The first time I made the cheese with raw milk, I got terrible slip skin until I learned you have to let it dry an extra day in the open air. It's still fantastic, taste wise, just not the perfection I try to achieve.

Here are a few pictures of Louise's Camembert and Cambozola:

Is this milk gorgeous or what? It really is golden!
This is 2 gallons of raw milk.  I used MM100 + P.Candidum + G. Candidum + B. Linens.  I added them all together but only because I wanted to do the whole batch at once. If I had done them separately, I would not have added B. Linens to the Cambozola batch. We'll see how it comes out!
Clean break
Curds & Whey
These have been salted and are now drying. Tomorrow, they'll be put in containers and into "The Cave." (Back 2 are Cambozala front 2 are Camembert.)  I filled my 2 Camembert molds first, then drained the rest of the curds in a draining bag before putting it into molds. I filled them half way, then sprinkled on the Roqueforti bacteria and topped off with the rest of the curds. I also salt the blue cheese more heavily than the Camembert. When the white bloom begins, I'll pierce holes in them.
I line a container with a paper towel and a small rack
Put the cheese on the rack
Isn't it lovely!?
It's a wrap.
And here's the blue
The bottom part of the fridge is where I put the containers of cheese while they are getting their "bloom" on.  Once wrapped they move to the top of the case where it's a bit cooler.  When cheese is one week away from being fully ripe, it moves to my main refrigerator to slow it down a bit more.  I can only fit 4 new wheels a week in the bottom of the cave.

Just a few of Louise's gluten free baked goodies
On discovering she was gluten intolerant 2 years ago:

It's been QUITE a challenge but it's getting easier. When I was vegetarian, I was the gluten "Queen!" I made gluten "ribs," gluten "beef" stews. Folks just went gaga over it. I taught people how to make and flavor it. Believe me, I was the master of gluten.

Plus, I was French trained (in the school of hard knocks) for baking breads, pastries etc. I really, really miss bread. This time of year I am usually baking loaves of French bread as the temperature is perfect for it, 76F.  I miss pizza most of all. I keep trying to make it gluten free, tried several of the commercial varieties, but they all fall very short. Basically what they need is GLUTEN!

I've lost at least 20 lbs in the last two years but I think it's mostly from not eating for fear of getting sick.  As long as I don't eat even a micron of gluten, I'm fine.

You wouldn't believe how much stuff has gluten in it! Even lip balm! I blame Monsanto and DOW Chemical for f'ing up our food supply and I'm MAD!  It's not enough to eat well.   You must know where the seed supply came from that produced that food or fed that cow, pig or chicken.

Gluton is in EVERYTHING! The worst part is no pizza, pasta, sandwiches, French bread, cookies, cake etc... It's devastating.  Thank goodness I know how to bake and I did also work in a vegetarian restaurant as a baker for a couple years, so I knew about alternative flours - somewhat.

When I first determined it was the gluten making me sick, I went online to find support asking "What do I do? I miss bread and the stuff in the stores is horrible!" They said to me "Oh, you'll get USED to it"! Some support huh? Well, when life hands ME lemons, I make Lemoncello!!

Right now, I am baking out of my own kitchen. I fall under a new law called the "Cottage Foods Act" and I'm not subject to food regulations so I don't need a special license, etc.  However, I cannot sell over the Internet. I can only sell within my county. So people in the Broward county area can call or email me their order and I either deliver it directly to them or they come pick it up. And I sell at Farmer's Markets. As long as I am selling directly to the consumer, I'm safe.

I'm working on getting the proper certifications and licenses so I can rent a commercial kitchen and then I can sell over the net as well as wholesale locally. It's a growth process. Right now, I don't want to get any busier. So far this morning I've made 9 loaves of French bread, a dozen English muffins, 2 loaves of regular bread and some pizza crusts.

More about Louise:

We always say that cheese makers are the most interesting people in the world and Louise is no exception.  She has degrees in photography and in computer science.  She gardens and her main hobby is restoring motorcycles!

We've been doing hydroponic gardening for 12 years here. This year we're trying vertical hydroponics. I've got 4 different varieties of tomatoes in this mess - zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, various herbs, cucumbers, lettuce and chard.
In here we have eggplants, chard, carrots, beets, cabbage onions and herbs. We keep a cage over it because the iguanas like to help themselves. I hate iguanas! Last years winter seemed to kill most of them but there are still a few around.
We have several earth boxes we use around the house. We grow tomatoes and onions in them. You can see my compost bin in this photo. Everything we grow is organic and free of pesticides including our banana "forest" and our fruit trees. Our growing season is the opposite of the north. It's far too hot in the summer to grow anything. I have gotten tomatoes as late as July.
Here's a project I just picked up the other night. It's a 1968 Ducati 350.  Hopefully in a couple of months, it will look like the next picture.
Here's me in my "hello kitty" welding outfit I got last Christmas.
Here's one I did recently, a 1968 Ducati 250 Monza.
My husband and I on my two 1966 Honda Dreams (Barbie and Cherri) riding on the Barber Race Track in Alabama. He collects Nortons and Triumphs. I think we have close to 30 bikes between the two of us. We call it our retirement fund.
Here I am with good friend Georgia Bird from Forbes magazine. We were on our way to a "party" in a helicopter....well you didn't expect us to DRIVE to the other side of the island, did you???  That was a Forbes helicopter. I used to work in the mega yacht industry, up till last year. We were at a yacht show in Nassau, Bahamas and had to get to the other side of the island for a jet show or something. Mr Forbes let us take the helicopter over. Georgia does a lot of work for them and she invites me to tag along if I'm around. She writes books as well. She just released a novel about the ghosts of Savannah, which is where she lives.  If I had money, I would learn to fly those!

The number 73:

Well, since you ASKED....

Seventy-three is the 21st prime number. It is also a permutable prime with thirty-seven.

73 is a star number.( Think Chinese checkers board.)

73 is the largest minimal Primitive root in the first 100000 primes. In other words, if p is one of the first 100000 primes, then at least one of the primes 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, ..., 73 is a primitive root modulo p.

The mirror of 73, the 21st prime number, 37, is the 12th prime number.
The number 21 includes factors 7 and 3 and it is a palindrome in binary (10101).

Seventy-three in binary, 1001001, is a palindrome. In addition, of the 7 binary digits representing 73, there are 3 ones.

Also, 37+12=49 (seven squared) and 73+21=94=47*2, 47+2 also being equal to seven squared.

Additionally, both 73 and its mirror, 37, are "sexy" primes twice over, as 31, 43, 67 and 79 are all prime numbers. "(sexy" is Latin for divisible by 6)

Every positive integer can be written as the sum of 73 or fewer sixth powers (see Waring's problem).

In base 5, the smallest prime with a composite sum of digits is 73.

73 is the smallest factor of the first composite generalized Fermat number in base 10 (104+1 = 10,001 = 73*137)

73 is the length of the Arecibo message, sent to space in search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

It just happens to be my favorite number!