No, I'm not referring to the Bush administration (though the shoe fits). I had my first complete failure at cheesemaking on Sunday. It's entirely my own fault, as I tried to get clever and do an experiment. There are a variety of plant extracts that can be used as rennet to coagulate the cheese. One of these is stinging nettle, which is just coming up outside right now. I thought that I'd make an infusion of stinging nettle leaves and use it to rennet the cheese. I did not try to find instructions or look it up on the internet. After all, how hard could it be? After getting not even a hint of coagulation, I did go to the internet and found very little in terms of specifics. Several of the methods called for steeping the nettle leaves in boiling water. This is a bad sign, rennets usually work through an enzyme action. You can also coagulate cheese through the actions of acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice), but this is generally not used to make hard cheese. Boiling water should destroy enzymes, so I suspect that the coagulation that you can get with this method just comes from the formic acid that nettles contain (it's the chemical source of the sting that the plants can give you). Formic acid is also produced by ants, whence the name. I wonder if anyone has ever tried ant cheese? At any rate, I don't plan on trying the experiment again. There is a bit more information about using thistle flowers as rennet, and this does appear to involve enzyme action. I may give that a try later in the summer.