News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 9/10/2013 9:35pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


Greetings:

We've got summer weather but fall fruit to pick, so we're hosting another open house-on-farm sale and u-pick TOMORROW--WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11TH--FROM 4:00 TO 6:30PM.  

We will have cheese (chevre, feta, bloomies, sheep milk blue, Moonglo and Eldon) and gelato (pints only) for sale as well as loads and loads of scrumptious heirloom tomatoes. You can cool off with bottle of authentic soda by Homer Soda company too.  Need some tempting on the gelato front?

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Mint
  • Hazelnut
  • Cucumber Lime Mint (this will cool you down)
  • Butter Pecan
  • Pumpkin Pie (like I said, it should be fall)
  • Pineapple Sage (it's an herb infusion that has hints of pineapple and beautiful herbal notes)
  • Espresso

Stewart (Artisan Breads) will have a few loaves of bread on hand to sell as well.  We'll be offering u-pick of Moonglo Pears and a couple of apple varieties.  Come on out! It's cooler out here in the country for sure.  


Eastern Illinois Fundraiser with Master Chef Rick Bayless: Ticket sales are picking up, so if you've been considering this donation, I would recommend moving on it before they're gone.  Childhood hunger is real and widespread right in our own backyard, so plesae consider making this generous donation to this very worthy cause.  You'll get an unforgettable meal and meet one of America's most inspirational chefs as a bonus!  Click on this link to make your purchase. 


Tickets to our fall "Fork in the Road Tasting Trail" are now on sale as well. This tour, scheduled for Sunday, September 22nd (12-5PM), starts at our farm, goes on to KD Ranch-Sugar Shack Antiques in Oakwood (bison, long-horn cattle, elk) and ends at Sleepy Creek Vineyard with a full tasting of ALL of their wines (accompanied by a cheese and cured meats platter); all for the VERY reasonable price of $35 per ticket.  Less than half the places remain, so don't delay.  

Posted 9/9/2013 10:59am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


Dear CSA members:


Fall is upon us, although we wouldn't know it from this week's weather forecast.  We have another pickup scheduled for this week:


Tuesday, September 10th: Normal, Bloomington, Peoria

Wednesday, September 11th: Springfield (AM), Prairie Fruits Farm (PM: 4:00 to 6:30-we'll have an open house and u-pick that evening as well)

Friday, September 13th: Naperville

If you are not able to pick up your share, please have someone pick it up for you. Please let me know who that person is along with their phone number, in case I need to reach them. Please remind them to pick up your shares for you so you don't miss out.  

The remaining pick up weeks for our CSA are as follows:

  • September 23rd
  • October 7th
  • October 21nd
  • November 4th
  • November 18th

This will make a total of 14 pick ups for the season.  PLEASE MARK THESE WEEKS (AND YOUR RESPECTIVE PICK UP DAYS) ON YOUR CALENDARS SO YOU DON'T FORGET AND DON'T MISS OUT.  Our Bloomington CSA pick up will be moving to the Vitesse Bike shop probably for the months of October and November  (and the pick up time might change), so stay alert for the notice about that change.  

The deadline for extra seats for our CSA is this coming Sunday, September 15th (this is for members who have ALREADY PURCHASED ONE SEAT FOR THE DINNER). We will then open it up for others to add additional seats. If you've been waiting to get another seat, please don't delay--either bring a check to the CSA pickups in Normal or Bloomington this week or send it in the mail. 

As always, we appreciate your support and we welcome any feedback on the CSA.

Thank you.


leslie & Carissa


Posted 9/5/2013 9:42pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

I know that the summer is on the outs when I have sold the last of the doe kids of the season.  For me, the process of selling doelings isn’t a one-way street. I like to know something about the people who are buying them—kind of like interviewing foster parents. We had two buyers come this week; one has bought does from us in the past, and I know he treats them like princesses and queens.  The other person travelled all the way from Carbondale to buy a couple of doelings and a breeding buck as a present for his wife. This was “good sign number one.” Then, when he mentioned she was finally coming home from a two month stint in the hospital (she contracted a rare illness from a tick bite), that was an extra good sign.  Then, as we talked further, he mentioned that he had milked dairy cows in the past, raised fresh water prawns and currently owns Belted Galloway cattle; the deal was sealed.  It is important to me that our does go to good homes and will be cared for as we would care for them.  We’re down to our 14 replacement does, and so the process begins to select names for them. 

tomato mania

Tomato anxiety is in full swing.  We spent last weekend freezing, canning and drying, and by Sunday night, our hearth (this has become the tomato holding pen in our house) was bare. Alas, they just keep coming. Flats and flats of three-pound heirlooms, plump romas and even the elusive Juliets arrive daily.  I have come to the conclusion that, despite the work and mess, canning is my favorite means of preserving tomatoes.  There’s something deeply satisfying about the entire process: cleaning and sterilizing the jars and lids, setting up a pot of boiling water and an ice bath to remove the skins, squishing the peeled tomatoes into the jars and packing them down until the juice runs out the top; cleaning the rim of the jars and placing the lid and band on top, setting the jars in the metal jar holding and then lowering them into the canning pot brimming with boiling water.  The cooking time for tomatoes is 45 minutes; then comes the tricky part of hoisting the jar holder out of the boiling water and placing it on a tea towel on the counter.  I usually leave that part to Wes.  Once the jars are out of boiling water, I listen for the classic lid pop—this is the sound that all the prior work has gone well-the jars are sealed, summers’ bounty is preserved. 


canned tomatoes

Farmers’ Market News, Next Week Farm Open House and U-Pick

This Saturday, we’re attending one farmers’ market: Urbana’s Market at the Square. We’ll be bringing some of those gorgeous tomatoes to sell along with a few peaches, apples and pears—yes, the Moonglo pears are finally ready to be picked.  Of course, there’ll be cheese to accompany all that great fruit:

  • Fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Black Goat and Black Sheep
  • Sheep milk feta—this one is MADE for tomatoes
  • Moonglo—try it with the Moonglo pears! It will make the pears proud
  • Roxanne—I think this will pair well with apples
  • Eldon—our sheep milk blue is delicious with apples as well

It’s still plenty hot for gelato eating, and our herb garden has been the inspiration for many of the flavors this week:

  • Honey Lavender
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Fresh Mint
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto
  • White Peach Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut)—a classic Italian flavor
  • Stracciatella

Due to the abundance of tree fruit ripening in our orchard, we will be hosting on farm sales and u-pick fruit next Wednesday afternoon, September 11th (4 to 6:30PM). We will have cheese and gelato for sale and some of our own veggies, but the other guest farmers likely won’t be here.  Stay tuned for details early next week.

Posted 8/29/2013 9:44pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

In the poultry business, she was known as a survivor.  Blanche, Bianca, “Whitey”, she went by different names depending on the circumstances.  Sadly, this week, our beloved white Americana hen, Blanche, succumbed to an unknown fatal blow.  We found her flattened next to one of the hay feeders inside the doe barn.  We’re not sure exactly how old she was, but we estimate between seven and eight years of age—this is ancient for a chicken. 

She had a remarkable life for a chicken. We took Blanche in from our friends at Blue Moon Farm several years ago. She was the sole survivor of a raccoon raid on their chicken coop.  Having witnessed the massacre, and probably suffering from survivor’s guilt, she initially kept to herself, avoiding contact with our other laying hens and not letting us get close to her.  She definitely was not one to roost in the chicken pen at night, preferring the company of the goats over her own kind. Over time, she relaxed somewhat and started laying her beautiful blue-green eggs—the classic pastel color of the Americana breed.  I would characterize her as a chicken with attitude; she was very sure of herself and knew how to get what she wanted. Although she grew accustomed to us and seemed fond of the goats, she never was one to submit to being picked up or petted (unlike many of our other hens who would crouch in submission as soon as we approached them).  I wanted to pet her, but I respected her. 


blanche on her perch above Eddie our buck

When predators struck the chicken coop at our farm and we started losing hens one by one each night, Blanche took to the air to escape the fate of her feathered compatriots.  Each night at roosting time, she would fly up onto one of the ceiling fans suspended at least 20 feet off the ground.  We marveled at her agility and her unflappable instincts for self-preservation.  When we finally caught the predators (a family of raccoons), she somehow sensed that the threat had subsided, and resumed her normal evening perch on top of the gate inside the doe barn.

 Her last survival came from the jaws of our dog, Blue.  Not too long after his arrival on our farm this winter, he mistakenly got the idea that he could kill chickens.  One early spring afternoon, I found Blanche lying in the orchard. She was alive but wounded. We brought her inside, cleaned up her wound and nursed her back to health. From death’s door to beak pecking for freedom from her cage, slowly she regained her chicken traits and feisty attitude.  When she was well enough, we put her in the chicken coop with her fellow hens. Several days later, she started laying eggs again. After another week, she was done socializing with her own kind and had escaped back to the goat barn.  Thankfully, Blue learned to repress his taste for chicken, and Blanche’s survival instincts prevailed. 

We will remember her fondly –a true icon of poultry.

Farmers’ Markets

This Saturday, August 31st, we’re attending two farmers’ markets: Urbana and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Given our long hiatus from Green City, we’ll be bringing lots of cheese for our Chicago patrons to enjoy.  We’ll have:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Sheep milk feta: this cheese is so delicious with summer tomatoes
  • Bloomy rind cheeses including Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Sheep, Black Goat
  • Roxanne—firm, buttery sheep milk cheese
  • Moonglo—firm, raw goat milk tomme-tangy but nutty
  • Last of the fall milk Huckleberry Blue (you won’t see more of this cheese until next year)
  • Eldon-our sheep milk blue-spicy but not overpowering

Need to get some relief from this late summer heat? How about taking home some pints of gelato (be sure to bring a cooler to the market so it doesn’t melt on your way home):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Espresso
  • Stracciatella
  • Ginger
  • Sweet Corn
  • “Hot” Chocolate (that’s spicy heat from hot pepper—it’s warm but it will cool you off)
  • Pure peach sorbetto
  • White peach sorbetto

For our Chicago patrons, we’ll have a subset of these flavors representing local flavors as well as a few others (Lemon Verbena for example). 

A few other things:

U-pick and on-farm sales: Although our summer open house has come to an end for the season, we’ll still be offering opportunities to come out and pick peaches, apples and pears this fall. Stay tuned for details about dates and times.  

Fundraiser dinners: If you have been debating about whether or not to purchase seats for one of the two fundraiser dinners at our farm this fall (WILL Independent Media hog roast on September 15th and Eastern Illinois Food Bank dinner with Master Chef Rick Bayless on October 6th), I encourage you to reconsider. Although the cost for these dinners is steep, the majority of the ticket price is a charitable donation to organizations doing valuable work in our community.  If you’re able, we know that the causes are very worthy. Details about the dinners are found on our website under 2013 Dinner Season.  

Fork in the Road fall tasting trail tour: In case you missed it, we're doing a fall tasting trail on Sunday, September 22nd: Prairie Fruits Farm to KD Ranch (bison, long-horn cattle) to Sleepy Creek Vineyards. It's grape harvest and wine making time at the Vineyard--should be loads of fun and good eats. Tickets are now on sale on our ShowClix site. 



Posted 8/27/2013 10:29pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


Summer has arrived late and with a vengeance, but we don't let a little heat wave slow us down.  Tomorrow (August 28th) is our LAST summer open house of the season, so we're staying open a bit later than normal. Hours will be 4 to 6:30PM.  We'll keep you cool with cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre
  • Feta
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses
  • Firm aged goat and sheep milk cheeses

We've also got boat loads of heirloom tomatoes, hot padron peppers and maybe a few cool cucumbers fresh out of our garden for you to buy as well.  

Want to pick some organic fruit? We'll have both peaches and apples for u-pick and maybe a few blackberries too.  Apples and peaches are $1.50/lb for u-pick.  We'll probably have some already picked for you to purchase as well.  

Don' forget to stay hydrated with some old time Homer Soda Company sodas--only $2 a bottle.

Gelato will be available by the pint and by the scoop(*):

  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Fresh Mint
  • Stacciatella*
  • Cajeta (goat milk caramel) swirl
  • Sweet corn*
  • Ginger
  • Espresso*
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Nectarine Sorbetto*

Stewart's Artisan Breads will be here with his usual selection of breads, bagels, cookies and granola. He'll also be bringing round challah with and without raisins and honey cakes (also with and without raisins) for the upcoming jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.  

Tomahnous Farm will have an assortment of vegetables along with their gorgeous flowers--all certified ORGANIC!

Lucky Duck Farm will be bringing chicken and duck eggs along with ham steaks

Laurence Mate, aka the Knife Dude, is back from vacation and will be here to sharpen your knives while you shop, pick fruit or just visit with the goats.  

Fall Tour and Tasting Tickets NOW ON SALE:

If you missed our summer "Fork in the Road" tasting trail tour, you've got another chance. We're offering a fall tasting tour on Sunday, September 22nd from 12 Noon to 5PM.  You'll start at our farm, go on to KD Ranch-Sugarshack Antiques in Oakwood and end at Sleepy Creek Vineyard with a full wine, cheese and cured meats tasting. It's all for the very reasonable price of $35 per person. For more details and to make reservations, go to "Tasting Trail" on our website.  Tickets are on sale right now.  

Posted 8/26/2013 6:38pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello CSA members:

This week is week 2 of the back-to-back CSA pick up schedule. After this ,we'll resume our every other week pickup schedule through the week before Thanksgiving.  Here is the schedule for pickups this week. FOR OUR SPRINGFIELD CSA MEMBERS, PLEASE NOTE THAT PICK UP WILL OCCUR ON SATURDAY AT THE SPRINGFIELD FARMERS' MARKET (KATIC BREAD STAND), AUGUST 31ST NOT WEDNESDAY--THIS WEEK ONLY!

  • Peoria, (Marcella Teplitz' house) Tuesday, August 27th,  5 to 6PM
  • Normal (1st Presbyterian Church): Tuesday, August 27th, from 4:30 to 5:30PM
  • Bloomington (Unitarian Church): Tuesday, August 27th from 6 to 7PM
  • Springfield (Downtown Springfield Farmers' Market at Katic Bread farm stand): Friday, August 31st 8AM to 11AM
  • Prairie Fruits Farm: Wednesday, August 28st,  4 to 6PM
  • Naperville Tennis Club:Friday, August 30th,  3:30 to 5:30PM

If you are not able to pick up your shares, please have a friend or family member pick them up for you.  If that is the case, please let me know and send me their name, phone number and email address.  

Just a reminder for those of you who signed up for the CSA farm dinner and want to purchase an additional seat, please send me (Leslie) a check for $45 to reserve the extra seat. The date for the dinner is Sunday October 13th from 3 to 6PM.  The deadline for purchasing an additional seat is September 15th, so don't delay if you would like one. After this date, I will be taking reservations from those who expressed interest in purchasing more than two seats.

Thank you. 

leslie & Carissa




Posted 8/22/2013 8:29pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

In this business of dairy goat farming and cheese making, we can’t do it all ourselves. We hire folks to help milk the goats, make the cheese, tend the orchard and garden and make our scrumptious local food meals.  Some of our staff stay for only one year, others have been with us for several years.  These past three seasons, we have been fortunate to have Nat and Alison at the helm of making cheese for us.  They came to us from the big shoulder city of Chicago where they had been mongering cheese. They took quickly to the craft of making cheese and with beautiful results.  Not only did they make fantastic cheeses, they immersed themselves in all facets of our farm, from feeding baby goats to milking their mothers to helping prepare and serve our farm meals.  They even convinced us to buy our six piglets to eat our cheese whey! Their hard work and dedication left their mark on Prairie Fruits Farm. This past week, we bid a fond farewell to them as they move to Kansas to start their own farm.  We’re passing the proverbial “caprine” torch to the next generation of farmstead cheese makers by sending them off with a foundation doeling (named Apple-she’s a Cecilia daughter—one of our top milkers) and a breeding buck (he’s called Bobby—a real looker out of Claudette and Eddie).  We wish them well in their new adventure-venture.  They have all the right ingredients for success. We’ll keep folks updated on their progress, so you can look for their cheeses when they hit the market place in a few years.


Nat and Alison with their goats

Farmers’ Markets, On Farm Sales

This Saturday, August 24th, we are at one market only: Urbana’s Market at the Square. We’ll be back at Chicago’s Green City Market next Saturday, August 31st, well stocked with cheese to satisfy those pent up desires for fresh chevre, gooey bloomy rinds and raw milk beauties.  For our Urbana market goers, we’ll be bringing:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Sheep and Ewe Bloom
  • Firm, aged cheeses including Moonglo, Roxanne, Huckleberry Blue and Eldon (sheep milk blue)

Our vegetable garden has been so prolific that we’re bringing some heirloom tomatoes padron hot peppers and maybe a few beans for you to enjoy with your cheeses.  We’ll probably also be bringing some of our juicy organic peaches.

Craving Gelato? We’ve got:

  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint
  • Espresso
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Stracciatella
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Thai Basil
  • Ginger Ricotta
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Peach Sorbetto

With August coming to a close and school back in session, this coming Wednesday, August 28th, will probably be our last summer Farm Open House. If you haven’t made it out yet, or if you want to make the summer last just a little bit longer, come out to the farm on Wednesday from 4-6PM. I’ll let you all know what goodies to expect in my Tuesday email update.  As a sneak preview though, Stewart’s Artisan Breads will be making some special round Challah with and without raisins for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). He’s also been perfecting a honey cake that is celestial.  Fortunately, I have been the guinea pig for his honey cake trials, so I can speak with authority about how delicious they are.

Posted 8/20/2013 2:41pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


Tomorrow's Farm Open House should be feeling more like summer, so we hope you'll find time to come out from 4 to 6PM.  The peaches are still plentiful for picking, so we'll be offering u- pick peaches.

perfect peaches
 Pears and apples are not quite ready yet, and the blackberries need another few days of hot weather to ripen (so NO BLACKBERRIES for picking tomorrow).

 Of course, we'll have cheese, gelato, goat milk soap and t-shirts for sale. We might also offer some of our gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and Padron hot peppers for sale too.  

For cheese, expect:

  • Fresh chevre
  • Sheep milk feta
  • A few different bloomy rind cheeses (Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Sheep and maybe some Angel Food)
  • Aged cheeses including Moonglo, Roxanne, Huckleberry Blue and Eldon (our sheep milk blue cheese)

Gelato flavors(asterisk indicates both pints and scoops available):

  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Stracciatella*
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Thai Basil
  • Espresso*
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Ginger Ricotta

Our farmer friends will be here as well:

Tomahnous Farm with summer veggies and flowers--their flowers are spectacular AND all organic.

Lucky Duck Farm with chicken and duck eggs and ham steaks (no yarn available)

Stewart's Artisan Breads will have bagels, breads, cookies and granola. 

Laurence Mate, the knife dude, will return next Wednesday for all of your knife sharpening needs.  
We plan to be open next Wednesday for u pick and on farm sales, so if you haven't made it out yet this summer, it would be great to see you. We will let folks know about open house schedules for the fall, since we should have plenty of apples for picking.  Stay tuned for more details. 




Posted 8/19/2013 8:45pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

We feel compelled to give back to the community that gives so much to us.  We are pleased to announce two fundraiser dinners that we'll be hosting at our farm this fall.

dinner table set

September 15th--A SUNDAY AFTERNOON.  Whey-fed hog roast fundraiser for WILL Public Media.  We have one of the most vibrant public media stations in the midwest, and what better way to show your suport of independent media AND local foods than to come out for this fundraiser dinner.  We’ll be hosting WILL Radio TV Online for a traditional hog roast on the farm.

If you have aspirations to be a movie star, your ship has come in for this dinner. WILL is filming a farm-to-table documentary and will be gathering footage of this dinner for the documentary – you just might see yourself when the documentary is released in December! Tickets are on sale NOW, and there are still a few seats available for this event. To get more details and make reservations:  http://will.illinois.edu/farmtotable


October 6th--ANOTHER SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Fundraiser for Eastern Illinois Food Bank with Guest Chef Rick Bayless

We are thrilled and honored to host a farm dinner fundraiser for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank on Sunday, October 6th.  Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill-Topolobamba and XOXO will be our guest chef for the day, and what a day it will be! He'll start the afternoon at 2PM with an exclusive cooking demonstration and cookbook signing, followed by a multi-course local-food, Mexican-inspired dinner at 4PM.  We believe deeply in the important work that the Eastern Illinois Food Bank does to provide food for the hungry in our region. We're especially excited about the Eastern Illinois Foodbank's newest venture called "Healthy Futures."  This program will tackle the insidious and unfortunately widespread issue of childhood hunger, particularly in the rural parts of our region.  The program will emphasize access to fresh produce, much of it grown right here in our region.  

The tickets will go on sale on our Show Clix website on August 23rd at 8AM. Tickets for the 25-person cooking demonstration will be $250 per person and tickets to the dinner (65 person capacity) will be $500 per person.   The ticket price includes accompanying wines with the meal. $150/ticket from the cooking demonstration and $350/ticket from the dinner will be tax deductible.

 



Posted 8/19/2013 8:12pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello CSA members:

It is time again for another allotment of bread, cheese and gelato. Here is the schedule for pickups this week:

  • Peoria, Tuesday, August 20th: Marcella Teplitz house from 5 to 6PM
  • Normal (1st Presbyterian Church): Tuesday, August 20th, from 4:30 to 5:30PM
  • Bloomington (Unitarian Church): Tuesday, August 20th from 6 to 7PM
  • Wednesday, August 21st: Springfield (Farmers' Market at Katic Bread farm stand): 8AM to 11AM
  • Wednesday, August 21st, Prairie Fruits Farm: 4 to 6PM
  • Friday, August 23rd, Naperville Tennis Club: 3:30 to 5:30PM


If you are not able to pick up your shares, please have a friend or family member pick them up for you.  If that is the case, please let me know and send me their name, phone number and email address.  

Just a reminder for those of you who signed up for the CSA farm dinner and want to purchase an additional seat, please send me (Leslie) a check for $45 to reserve the extra seat. The date for the dinner is Sunday October 13th from 3 to 6PM.  The deadline for purchasing an additional seat is September 15th, so don't delay if you would like one.

Also, this is a reminder that we have another pickup the week of August 27th. This additional date ensures you receive your 14 pickups for this CSA.  Please put this date on your calendar.

Thank you. 

leslie & Carissa