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Farewell to Moonglo, Firefly light show, Goat Happy Hour Recap, Farmers' Market Offerings and More

Posted 6/27/2019 10:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Farewell to Moonglo, a noble cheese This week, we cut and wrapped the last wheels of Moonglo, from a batch made late last summer.  For a number of reasons, we have decided not to make more Moonglo for a while.  This lovely orange orb, inspired by its alpine cousins, the tomme or toma, has been a fixture in our cheese repertoire for over 12 years.  Not too long after I started making cheese, I wanted to make a raw milk cheese; one that would capture the essence of our farm. I wanted to make a raw milk cheese that would reflect the seasonality of our milk and the native milk microbes that our goats’ rumens had cultivated.  I wanted to tie in our orchard with the dairy, so I decided to make a rind wash with a tea made from the leaves of the Moonglow pear in our orchard. 

Moonglo has had many iterations over the years, partly due to my complete ignorance about how best to make a semi-hard, raw-milk cheese from goat’s milk with a supple paste and a complex flavor. As I honed my craft and sought advice from others to guide the cheese make’s progression, I came to appreciate the role of the aging environment and the importance of micro-climate on rind development and cheese flavor evolution. I came to lament our geography and our inability to build a proper cheese cave (i.e. underground) because of our farm’s flat topography and shallow depth to groundwater (it is wet prairie, after all). 

Despite the cheese’s ups and downs over the seasons and years, we learned that the best milk for Moonglo is fall (richness of fats and protein), that rind washing is an art and that small variations in aging room temperature, humidity and air movement have dramatic effects on the rind.   Moonglo has been like a mythic goddess of cheese for me, elusive in her perfection, temperamental and fickle. Yet when she decides to reveal her best self to you, the reward is sublime. 

Fire fly light show The excesses of rain and the rampant growth of vegetation have made this a year for fire flies.  Seemingly out of nowhere, there has been a population explosion of these luminescent wonders, each species staking out his/her vertical position on the nightly silhouettes of grasses and tree limbs.  The light show begins at dusk with the species that seem to hang low to the ground. As the skies darken, the species that flash a top tall grasses begin to fly and flash on descent.  If I’m lucky to awaken in the middle of the night, I can see them outside my bedroom window, a frenzy of several species flashing and flickering in manic quest to find a mate.  They are my nightly summer fireworks.  I feel no need for the razzle-dazzle of human pyrotechnics. 

Goat Walk Happy Hour Recap Tonight, we hosted our first public goat walk-happy hour. Over 30 guests escorted the milking does from the doe barn after the evening milking out into the prairie. We had set up our portable bar where the pasture meets the prairie and put out straw bales for our guests to sit on.  As the goats fanned out into the prairie, with the guests behind them, they were surprised to find bales of straw. We bed their barn with straw, and they love to rub themselves along the unopened bales like a back scratcher.  Several climbed on the bales and broke them open (and then proceeded to lie in the straw bedding like they do inside the barn). 

The guests were impressed with their openness and friendly demeanor combined with their brash “I own this place” attitude.  The “girls” moved into the prairie to dine on grasses and forbs, while several scaled the cottonwood trees to nibble on the tender leaves.  After getting their drinks, several of the guests led them toward the riparian zone; others (the fortunate guests who were allowed to sit on the straw bales), sipped on their wine or beer while the goats stood still for petting and brushing.

The highlights of the evening were the persistent goats who insisted on partaking of the offerings at the bar. Several kept trying to grab bags of popcorn and nuts; while Sabrina (our milkers’ favorite doe) took a sip of someone’s glass of wine. As the evening progressed and the sun started to fade in the western sky, the goats knew it was getting time to head back to the barn. Their insistence on grabbing snacks intensified, and we decided to open the gate back up to the pasture. With no encouragement, they formed a line and strode back in, following the guests back to the barn. 

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings

It will be hot over the next few days, but don’t let that slow you down from your weekly local food forays or farm visits.  Come early to the market and bring a cooler to keep your cheese and gelato in tip top condition. Once again, we have a great repertoire of cheeses this week:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat Milk Feta in Whey Brine: our goat milk feta is firm and tangy. Bathed in a whey-salt brine for at least one month, the texture is what I call “creamy-crumbly.” It is still a bit young but has a nice balanced “feta” flavor. Check out this simple “Roasted Feta with Honey” recipe from NY Times Cooking.
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge. This batch is mature, with lots of mushroomy notes. Slice over a salad of fresh local greens or lightly bread it and bake it for a fancy cheese plate.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. We have a few ripe rounds, but most of the offerings will be quite young (firm, tangy, perfect for slicing)
  • Black Goat: our funky ash-dusted bloomy rind with a crinkly white-mold rind. This batch is perfectly ripe, bordering on gooey. Enjoy with a local salami.
  • Moonglo-LAST CHANCE--Enjoy a wedge of this complex, raw-milk beauty. Each wheel is washed with a cultured brine made with pear-leaf tea. It’s great with local charcuterie or try some shaved over a salad of greens and roasted broccoli.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt-our very own goat milk yogurt—just milk and live cultures—no thickeners or sweeteners added. It’s great mixed with fresh berries, nuts and a drizzle of local honey or maple syrup (it’s my breakfast staple every morning)

Grab a pint of gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—Buy 3, get $1/pint off): Here's the line-up:

  • Vanilla 
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Fresh Strawberry (from Cary’s Garden of Eatin’)
  • Peaches & Cream (also from Cary’s Garden)
  • Honey-Lavender (lavender from Illinois Willows)

How about topping off some gelato with our house-made cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce)?  We made a special version with chocolate this time. We’ll be bringing some jars to sell at the market on Saturday, and they’ll be available in our farm store too.

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm and weekends, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

NOTE: We will NOT be open Thursday, July 4th, but will resume normal hours on Friday, July 5th.

This Friday, June 28th, we’ve got a few special treats for you to enjoy with a glass of wine or beer:

  • PFFC popcorn (seasoned with nutritional yeast and truffle salt)
  • Voss Pecan Orchard pecans
  • Mini-baguette sandwiches-choose from veggie & chevre, salami or filletto
  • OR just build your own cheese board

You can visit with the goats (kids and adults alike), stroll through the orchard, and check out our herb and vegetable garden (growing like crazy and starting to bear fruit too).  If you’re ambitious, you can walk along the path toward the creek.

You can also enjoy a scoop of gelato OR cheese board with a glass of wine/beer or a black currant spritzer. 

Need a little caffeine? We can make you a special espresso drink. We can even put a scoop of gelato for an “affogato.  Check out the local products and “merch” in our farm store:  

-NEW maple syrup from “Sticky Peets”-southern OH maple syrup that oh so good!

-local honey from Two Million Blooms

-eggs, meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats (Sidney)

-soaps from Red Barn Farm (including loofa soaps and liquid soap)

-Pancake mixes from Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains-think pancakes with jam and chevre!

-Autumn Berry Jam-regular and jalapeno-we are restocked; these jams make excellent accompaniments to our cheeses

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-BACK by popular demand: Our “Three Chippys” tea towel. Chippy the goat is the farm’s logo, and she appears as chef, farmer and sommelier on this organic cotton flour sack tea towel AND our “Damn Kids” tea towel

-NEW: Chippy the Chef Denim Aprons-soft, durable with three pockets for the most discerning chef in your family

NEW stock of PFFC T-shirts—new colors, styles—check them out! New children’s t-shirts with the “damn kids” image on the front—quite adorable

-Charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.  (pancetta, pork loin filleto and capocollo) as well as their frozen sausages (need to be cooked)

-locally milled flours from Janie’s Mill AND MORE!

Other Farm Happenings   

Tickets to one of our farm dinners are a hot commodityCheck out themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), and make some reservations. There are several this summer that still have plenty of tickets available.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire will be offering his "Behind the Scenes" tours this weekend: June 29th/30th at 2 and 3 pm each day

For the tours, guests will gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start the tour. Michael will give a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband.  He will then guide guests around the farm and creamery where they will learn about raising goats, how the farm functions day-to-day, as well as how the creamery transforms our goat milk into delicious cheese and gelato.

The tour will end with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store.  This weekend’s tasting will feature our chevre, first-of-the-season feta and perfectly ripe black goat.

Tours are conducted rain or shine, and last approximately 45-minutes. Please be prepared to walk around the farm; comfortable closed-toed shoes are advised. No reservations are required. Cost is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under. Glasses of wine or beer can be added to the tasting for a tour price of $6.    

Copyright 2019. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2019. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.