Agricultural historians say cheese developed as a way to store and preserve milk, but we’ve come a long way, baby. My wife and I, both cheese lovers, loved our two years in Vermont; as the home of Vermont cheddars and American artisanal cheeses galore, it is cheese heaven. The Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery (www.vermontcreamery.com) specializes in cheeses in the French style. A new cookbook by Allison Hooper, co-founder of the creamery with Bob Reese, provides an accessible means to use artisanal cheese in your kitchen. Even better, In a Cheesemaker’s Kitchen (Countryman Press, $19.95) offers a basic introduction to cheeses, including which kinds pair up best with particular foods and wines, which makes experimentation a tad less risky. And, while many of the recipes (from top chefs) take more skill than I’ve got, there are some darn good ones (like the Winter Crème Fraîche Baked Potato Soup) that even a novice can manage.