Get to know our 18 Reasons’ Instructors: First up, Louella Hill

We want to introduce you to the great chefs and artisan producers who teach classes at 18 Reasons, so we’ll be sharing interviews with them periodically. First up: Louella Hill, the SF Milkmaid, who teaches cheese making classes. Join her Sunday, August 26th for the second of her Big Wheels series, during which you’ll make cheddar cheese! And stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Shakirah Simley, who will be teaching preserving in September.

Name: The San Francisco Milk Maid, Louella Hill

Occupation: Cheese Maker / Cheese Teacher

Hometown: Bisbee, Arizona

What is a dish that you make for a regular Wednesday dinner? 

Simple chicken tacos with just-made sour cream, sliced jalapenos, raw onion & salsa.

Do you want to share the recipe?

Louella’s Salsa

In skillet, dry toast 1 tsp cumin powder with 2 tsp chili powder for ~ 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Next, into a blender add 5 large skinned, gutted tomatoes, those just-toasted spices, juice of two limes, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cloves garlic. If the tomatoes aren’t flavorful, add 1 tablespoon honey or sugar or orange juice concentrate. Blend for 1 minute. Next, add another 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and another 2 prepped tomatoes and 1/2 cup corn. Blend for the tiniest amount of time possible (~3-5 seconds). This will give the salsa texture. Pour into glass container and store in fridge. Use within 1 week.

When you were a kid what was your favorite thing to eat?

I loved fruit as a kid. I grew up where apricot and pomegranates grew wild on the hillside. My mom called me ‘The Fruit Bat’.

Who do you admire most in the cooking world (this does not have to be anyone famous. Could be a friend, member of family etc.)? Why?

I admire my godmother, Helen Suby. She grew up in an Orthodox section of Brooklyn, learned the secret of spice while living in Sri Lanka, then became Queen of the Campfire Taco in my hometown on the Mexican border. Her humble kitchen feels like the center of town to me.

What’s your favorite part of working with 18 Reasons?

I love teaching people to make cheese who are really, really interested- not just passing the time. That’s exactly the kind of people I find at 18 Reasons. One of my cheese students from last year’s 18 Reasons classes became an official recipe tester for an upcoming cheese making book I’m working on (due out Fall 2014).

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring cook what would it be?

Remember that everything- even oil, even flour, even beans- get old. Keep a sparsely stocked fridge and shop often.

Where do you like to take friends visiting from out of town?

I bring visitors up to Sonoma to visit my milk cow friends.

What is your favorite park in San Francisco?

I have a 3 year old so it’s impossible NOT to love the Mission’s Dolores Park.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

The joke in my house is “And what’s in this mason jar, Hon?” I’ve filled our refrigerator with dozens of jars of culturing, fermenting dairy projects. It isn’t easy to find ‘just a splash of milk’.

Thanks Louella! Now check out her upcoming Cheddar cheese workshop with us!

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