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Posted 10/18/2012 9:20pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

I’m long overdue for my annual ritual of naming the next generation of does--our doelings, young-of-the- year, future milkers--all terms apply.  My method involves selecting a theme (three years ago it was movie stars of the ‘30’s and ‘40’s; last year it was dearly departed matronly relatives), and then peering into the soul of each doeling and giving them a name I believe befits their personality.  This year’s theme is TV personalities from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. I’ve got names like Jeannie (as in “I dream of Jeannie”), Samantha (as in “Bewitched”), Elly May (as in “The Beverly Hillbillies and Marcia (as in the “Brady Bunch).  I confess that I had to do a bit of internet “research” to come up with 22 names. While I am a child of many of those TV shows, my memory and name recall aren’t that great. 

a former tiny tot

On the farm, we continue to ready the farm for winter as breeding continues and the milk supply slowly tapers off.  We’re pulling up dead squash vines, turning the compost pile and cleaning up the shop.  I have been pouring over bulb catalogues in the hope of giving our flower beds a complete makeover this fall.  The leaves are turning their brilliant hues of reds, yellows, oranges and browns.  It seems that the summer’s drought either stressed the trees to their colorful splendor or they somehow overcame the drought’s stress to put on a truly Technicolor show.  Unfortunately, the winds this week don’t leave the leaves much time to be admired on the trees. 

fall leaves

Farmers’ Market News

This Saturday, October 20th, we’re attending three farmers’ markets: Urbana, Springfield, and Green City Market. This will be our last outdoor market in Springfield. We’ve got plenty of cheese for you, so don’t let the fall temperatures slow you down:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses including Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Sheep and Ewe Bloom. Angel Food and Black Goat might be available at some of the markets in limited quantities.
  • Sheep Milk Feta—if you’re moving out of salad mode, I would recommend trying the feta on a pizza or finishing a hearty winter stew
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne

Our Urbana market goers can still get their hands on pints of gelato.  I know I am not deterred in my gelato consumption despite the cooler outside temperatures.  We’ve got a smorgasbord of flavors for you; sorbetto flavors are available in very limited quantities so come early to get the full selection:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Mint Stracciatella
  • Stracciatella
  • Hazelnut Crocante (brittle)
  • Lemon Verbena-Thyme
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Ginger
  • Rhubarb Sorbetto
  • Espresso Sorbetto
  • Concord Grape Sorbetto
  • Chocolate Sorbetto

Farmers' markets have lots of great food in the fall. Put on your coat and gloves and come out to shop. You won't regret it!

Posted 10/11/2012 9:37pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

Although we know that all things green must turn to brown in this part of the world, it always comes as a shock to me when we receive our first frost.  At some level, I knew it was coming, so we harvested almost half of our green tomatoes over the weekend. We awoke Monday morning to a thin veneer of white covering the ground. The tomato vines were shriveled and black; the squash leaves curled, heads hung low and black as well. 

shriveled tomato vines

The first frost always creates a moral dilemma in my mind. On the one hand, I am sad that I won’t have any more tomatoes to harvest. On the other hand, I am jumping for joy with glee that I won’t have any more tomatoes to process.  When pushed, I have to admit that I now have tomato fatigue. 

copious green tomatoes

Fall is the season of pumpkins and squashes. Chef Alisa and I headed down to the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur on Tuesday to pick up the squashes for our upcoming dinner celebrating cucurbits.  The Great Pumpkin Patch grows hundreds of varieties of squashes and pumpkins; it is truly a cucurbit lover’s dream place. This Saturday’s menu reflects the diversity of the family curcurbitae, showcasing squashes and pumpkins originating from every continent. 

squash party

October is also the month that our sheep milk supply dwindles.  Sheep lactate for only six to seven months; relatively short compared with the 9-10 month lactation of our goats.  We are making our final batches of sheep milk cheeses of the season with milk containing over 8% butterfat and close to 7% protein. Just to put things in perspective for those of you who aren’t milk geeks, our goats’ milk butterfat content ranges from 3.5% to close to 6% over the span of their lactation.  Milk this rich can make some wonderful cheeses, but it presents unique challenges for us cheese makers.  Seasonality is the spice of life.

Farmers' Market News

Speaking of milk and cheese and seasonality, our outdoor farmers’ market season is slowly winding down. We’re attending only ONE farmers’ market this Saturday: Urbana. We won’t be at the Green City Market this Saturday, but we will return for the final two outdoor markets on October 20th and October 27th. We’ll then move indoors to the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum on November 3rd and go to an every other Saturday attendance until the end of the fall season in December. Here’s what we’re bringing to the Urbana Farmers’ Market this Saturday:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Angel Food—yes, it’s back and it’s luscious as ever (limited quantities though)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Black Goat
  • Ewe Bloom
  • Black Sheep
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne

We’ve also got some of our beautiful amber farmstead honey to accompany those cheeses. The weather will be perfect for gelato as well:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Mint Stracciatella
  • Lemon Verbena-Thyme
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Ginger
  • Concord Grape Sorbetto
  • Espresso Sorbetto
  • Chocolate Sorbetto
  • Rhubarb Sorbetto

Farm Dinner News :Get Tickets to the Sold-Out Little Goat Brunch
We’ve got some exciting news about farm dinners. We’ve decided to support a very worthy organization here in Champaign Urbana-Crisis Nursery. Crisis Nursery creates an "Island of Safety" dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect by providing 24-hour emergency care for children and support to strengthen families in crisis. Last year, Crisis Nursery provided over 29,000 hours of crisis care to local children and conducted over 950 home visits. We’re donating two tickets to the October 28th “Little Goat Brunch” with guest chef, Stephanie Izard. They will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and all the proceeds will go to Crisis Nursery. These tickets will be sold to the highest bidder in an online auction. Bidding opens on Friday, October 12 at 8am and lasts for five days. Click here to bid. (Please note this link will not be active until bidding opens. An eBay account is required to place a valid bid.)

A Sunday Afternoon Little Goat Brunch on Sunday, October 28, from 1-5pm, features Chef Stephanie Izard, of Top Chef and Girl and the Goat fame. Guests can expect classic brunch dishes adorned with many of Prairie Fruits Farm cheeses. Come dine on the farm and experience the essence and pleasures of eating locally and sustainably, while supporting the Nursery!

Sunday Dinner Club Fish Fry Dinner rescheduled for Saturday October 20th

We had planned to host the chefs of Sunday Dinner Club on Saturday, September 1st for a Local Fish Fry, but Hurricane Isaac got in the way, and we had to postpone.  Several of our guests had to cancel, so we have seven extra seats available. You can purchase tickets starting tomorrow, October 12th at 10 AM from ShowClix.  Here’s the menu to tempt you:

Menu

  • Squash Soup with Fresh Chevre and Basil
  • Market Greens with Shaved Apples, Red Onion, and Buttermilk Biscuit with Chive Butter
  • Great Lakes Fish Fry! with Warm Bacon Potato Salad and Cavolo Nero Kale
  • S'mores

 

Posted 10/5/2012 8:01am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News: Love “stinks”

cool fall winds

A strong north wind ushered in a 30 degree drop in temperature last night, and, with it came a cold rain and that full fall feeling. Love is in the air on the farm, and it has a distinct odor of male goats eager to pass on their genes to the next generation. Their mating rituals are quite elaborate, and to spare you the gory details, let’s just say, for the bucks, there is a lot of “goat cologne” sprayed around. Our does are ready too.  Their tales are wagging in a frantic manner, as they vie for coveted spots close to the fence to draw the attentions and affections of their suitors. As the Burt Bacharach song goes: “the look of love is in your eyes, a look your smile can't disguise.”  Yes, even goats can smile.

 It is time once again for our annual fall ritual of breeding.  These past couple of weeks, I have been pouring over milk records, reviewing goat lineages and re-examining kid conformation to make my goat pairing selections.  The hat I wear this time of year is that of goat yente (aka the farm matchmaker).  Each buck will have his harem of does, based on our hopes and desires for the next generation. We’ve got Eddie, our tall, spotted and handsome Nubian buck, in the spot light. He provides stature, nice long necks and some splashy spots. Next in line are our two La Mancha bucks, Mocha and Rex. Mocha also gives length and leanness to his daughters; Rex gives us nice wide and well-attached udders.  We have three new bucklings from last year’s breeding to bring into the lineup as well. We’re particularly excited about the “Millie buck” (yet to be given his real name). He’s the buckling of one of our top Nubian does, Millie, and the success of artificial insemination. His sire comes out of a long line of “champions” who purport to produce copious quantities of milk.  He’ll be a busy boy for sure this fall. We might even have to give him a step ladder to get the job done with some of our does.

Farmers’ Market News and Cheese Events

October is American Cheese Month. It’s a time to celebrate the explosion of great artisan and farmstead American cheeses now on the market across the country. You can do your part by coming to the famers’ markets this weekend and throughout the month of October to patronize your favorite cheese makers.  The cooler weather might tempt you to stay in bed, but I always say that it’s worth getting up early, coming to the market and getting all of your week’s food wares, coming home, making a great breakfast with all those local foods and then taking a long nap! We will be attending three farmers’ markets this Saturday, October 6th: Urbana, Springfield and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Wes and Sarah will be in Urbana, Alison will be greeting our Springfield patrons, and I will be alongside Pat at the Green City Market. We’ve got some great fall cheeses for you:

  • Plenty of Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • An array of bloomy rind cheeses including Little Bloom on the Prairie (Angel Food is continuing to age and should be ready soon), Black Goat (limited quantities), Ewe Bloom AND Black Sheep—don’t forget this American Cheese Society’s blue ribbon winner.
  • Sheep milk feta
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • The last of this season’s Huckleberry Blue

We will have some of our mid- summer honey for sale as well—both 8 and 16 ounce glass jars as well as a few boxes of honey comb and comb + honey in the jar. 

For our Urbana shoppers, the expected cold temperatures should allow you to purchase several pints of gelato and get them home safely without them melting. We’ve got our usual flavors as well as some new ones:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Ginger
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Espresso
  • Mint Stracciatella—NEW FLAVOR, A FANCY MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP
  • Sorbettos: Espresso, Chocolate, Concord Grape and Rhubarb (yes, Brackett Farm still has Rhubarb!!)

For those of you in the Chicago suburbs, I will be coming to Standard Market in Westmont Illinois this Saturday afternoon to participate in their Artisan and Craft Food Festival. I will be there from 1:30 to 4PM along with some other great cheese makers, craft brewers and other food artisans. It should be a great time of sampling some great foods and meeting the people who make them.  Please come to see me there.

Posted 9/27/2012 9:44pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

This Saturday, we’re hosting our “100 Yard Dinner.” It’s a culmination of the fruits of our season’s labors-a true harvest feast.  It’s a meal designed to showcase what we can grow, harvest and transform into delicious dishes right here on our farm. We like to say that 90% of what our dinner guests will eat comes from within 100 yards of the dinner table.  This year, I admit, our garden is not the cornucopia of vegetables that it was last year.  Nonetheless, it is respectable.  We’ve got Rainbow chard, planted in May, but continued to thrive and survive during the height of the heat and drought. 

RAINBOW CHARD

We’ve got ripe tomatoes, potatoes and giant sweet potatoes, harvested at the end of the summer. 

CARA'S SWEET POTATOES

Our herb garden will feature prominently on the menu, from parsley to basil to lemon balm; we even grew hops that we’ll use for a soothing tea. 

HOPS

The featured “protein” of the menu will be our Freedom Ranger chickens.  We raised them from day-old chicks to sturdy pastured broilers in about 10 weeks.  

FREEDOM RANGERS

Our chef, Alisa, will be making a goat buttermilk marinade for the chicken that will be fried southern style.  Of course, we’ll have an egg course with a creamy sunchoke puree and some beautiful pea shoots we grew.

eggs

Let’s not forget cheese. We made a special “prairie blazing star banon” for the meal; a petite soft-ripened cheese wrapped in an Illinois wine-soaked sycamore leaf.   If you’re intrigued, you can see the full menu on our website.  It’s a testament to the bounty that can be grown right here in central Illinois, even in the face of drought, heat waves and pop up thunderstorms.

Farmers’ Markets

This weekend, we’re attending THREE farmers’ markets: Urbana, Chicago’s Green City Market on Saturday, September 29th and Chicago’s Logan Square Market on Sunday, September 30th. For those of you who patron the Logan Square market, this may be our last one for this season, so come on out to get your favorite cheeses. You can even stock up on chevre and freeze it for the winter if you like. We’ll have:

  • Lots of chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Mollisol Pecorino

For our Urbana shoppers, we’ve got gelato—even though the weather is cooler, you can still enjoy our gelato with a warm apple pie:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Rhubarb Swirl
  • Stracciatella
  • Anise Hssop
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Thai Basil
  • Concord Grape Sorbetto
  • NEW FLAVOR: CHOCOLATE SORBETTO
  • NEW FLAVOR: ESPRESSO SORBETTO
Posted 9/26/2012 3:27pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Dear CSA members:

We are going to have to adjust our pick up dates a bit here in October. Our original schedule was the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Since July had 5 weeks, we got off of this schedule. We are needing to get back onto a 2nd and 4th Tuesdays pickup schedule for October and November because the Bloomington pick up location moves indoors starting October 2nd TO THE VITESSE CYCLE SHOP IN NORMAL. THE NEW PICK UP TIME IS 6:30 TO 7:30PM TO ACCOMMODATE THE OWNERS OF THE BIKE SHOP.  The new location is:

Vitesse Cycle Shop in Normal

206 S. Linden Street, Normal, IL

(309) 454-1541 · vitessecycle.com

You should be able to get directions from their website. It is very close to the Amtrak Station in downtown Normal.  SO, we will NOT have Bread Cheese and Gelato CSA pick up next Tuesday, October 2nd. Our new pickup dates will be the following:

October 9th

October 23

October 30 (I know this is only one week after the 23rd, but we need to make sure you receive a total of 13 shares as was promised in the CSA share program for this year)

November 13th (the last pick up date)

Although these changes affect only the Bloomington CSA, we will also have these same dates for pickup at the Peoria location, just to keep things less confusing. As far as I know, the pick up time in Peoria at Marcella Teplitz' house will remain 5 to 6PM.  Please let me know if you have any questions about these changes. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause some of you, but we are working under the direction Henry's Farm CSA logistics. 

Thank you for your understanding.

leslie

Posted 9/20/2012 9:54pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

It’s in the air: that certain crisp smell, the clarity of light, the ease of breathing dryness.  Fall is here.  You can feel it.  You can sense it in the animals around the farm.  This week, a rash of hummingbirds appeared at the hummingbird feeder, all fighting for a spot to drink nectar. They seem to spend more time fighting each other than feeding.  There have been a few monarch butterflies hovering around the flowers, as they stock up on reserves to sustain them on their southbound journey.  I’ve also noticed that the praying mantises are abundant once more; it’s strange how I only see them as summer is waning and fall is waxing. 

New England Asters

The grain farmers have started harvesting corn this week.  The combines are rolling down the roads, but I don’t see the usual back and forth grain truck traffic associated with many trips needed to take the harvest to the grain elevator. There’s lots of talk on the commodity reports about checking for aflatoxin in corn this year-it’s a toxin associated with a black mold;  another insult to the injury of a poor corn harvest.  I’ve been watching the sharp-shinned hawks hover over the newly harvested corn fields on the prowl for rodents, now easy to spot in the skimpy corn stubble.

The goats sense fall is in the air too. The bucks are all too eager to watch the milkers parade into the milk parlor every evening, curling their lips to catch any scents that might indicate that the does are coming into heat.  Soon, they will be able to satiate their desires when breeding season begins. The milkers are ever more reluctant to rise from their slumber in the morning and waddle into the milking parlor.  It’s dark now at 5:30AM, so, really, who wants to get out bed?  We too are finding it ever more difficult to leave the comfort of the covers and rise to meet the days’ challenges.  The desire for hibernation grows stronger and stronger. I’m holding it back for the time being.

Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending three farmers’ markets this Saturday, September 22nd: Urbana, Springfield and Chicago’s Green City Market. For our Springfield patrons, we’re the featured farmer for the Springfield Slow Food Convivium this week, so if you’re a Slow Food member, please come out and see us this Saturday.  We’ve got some great cheese for you:

  • Fresh Chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper and a few heirloom tomato
  • Most of our bloomy rind cheeses including: Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Goat, Ewe Bloom, Black Sheep
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • Huckleberry Blue—we are now cutting into our last wheels so this cheese will be around for another week or two. It’s more aged, drier and more crumbly than earlier in the season—perfect for a salad or to crumble on a pizza (try caramelized onion, Huckleberry Blue and chevre on a pizza-yum!!)
  • Mollisol Pecorino Romano (these are the last few wedges of this sharp and flavorful grating cheese as well)

For our Urbana shoppers, don’t let fall deter you from stocking up on pints of our goat milk gelato and sorbetto. We’ve been tweaking the recipes for the Anise Hyssop and the Cardamom, resulting in a lot more flavor. If you like these exotic flavors, I encourage you to give them a try.

We’ve also got:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Rhubarb Swirl
  • Stracciatella (fancy chocolate ganache chip)
  • Thai Basil
  • Ginger
  • Concord Grape Sorbetto
  • Pear Sorbetto

Fall is a great time to shop the farmers' markets, so come out and support your local farmers!

Posted 9/17/2012 2:50pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello Bread, Cheese and Gelato CSA members:

It is time again for another allotment of bread, cheese and/or gelato. As most of you know by now, Pickup in Peoria is from 5 to 6PM at Marcella Teplitz' house. Pickup in Bloomington is at the Unitarian Church parking lot off Emerson Street from 6 to 7PM. Carissa Katic will be at the Bloomington location this week. She will bring extras of bread, cheese and gelato (to Bloomington only) so if you know of folks who would like to get some of these items, please let them know.  As always, if you can't pick up your share this week, please let us know who will be picking it up for you and provide a phone number for them.

Thank you for your patronage.

leslie & Carissa

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery and Katic Breads

Posted 9/13/2012 11:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm news

We baled our fourth cutting of alfalfa today. The fourth cutting is typically the most palatable as the stems are small and the leaves are plentiful.  Raising perfect hay is a difficult proposition in the now humid, early fall Midwest.  It's part art and part science to know when to cut it, know when to rake it and finally to know when to bale it.  The shorter days and cooler mornings of early September make lots of dew. The dew slows down the drying process; the upshot is that you need even more rain-free days in the fall to complete the process. In an ideal hay world, you would get a full four to five days to cut, rake, bale and load the hay into the barn.  This almost never happens, yet the forecast for the week showed no rain for about five days.  Wes and Ben cut the fields on Monday and let it dry for a day before raking it yesterday. This morning it was at the perfect moisture level for baling.  Since our old (it's a lemon let's face it) New Holland baler has been on the fritz for over a year, we have been hiring out the baling part of hay making, leaving us at the mercy of someone else with different priorities.  So, of course he called early this morning to tell us that he was a day behind in his other baling jobs and couldn't come out today as we had planned.  We knew we couldn't wait another day because a) rain was headed our way later today/tonight and b) the hay looked so perfect on the ground RIGHT now.  So, what to do? Our local implement dealer just happened to have a used baler for rent, so we were back in business by 11AM this morning. Wes was on the baler, while Ben and I picked up the bales from the field. I got to drive the truck with trailer in tow, as Ben walked down the rows and tossed the bales onto the trailer.  With the radio blaring old time jazz tunes (wouldn't you know, one of most favorite songs "there ain’t nobody here but us chickens" came on the radio!! How perfect is that?), I crept along the now clean field, stopping to let Ben rearrange the bales on the trailer. It's a true sense of satisfaction to watch the bales get stacked high on the trailer and then bring them back to the barn.  The intensity of green is so strong, you need sunglasses to look at this hay. It is alfalfa at its best. The ultimate test of perfection is watching the girls bury their heads in the hay feeder.  The normally rambunctious doelings who usually whine and complain even after you feed them their grain were silent. It was the silence of sheer food enjoyment.

doelings enjoying hay

Farmers’ Markets, Cheese and  Gelato

This weekend we’re attending three farmers’ markets: Urbana and Green City Market on Saturday and Logan Square on Sunday. The weather forecast is calling for blue skies and crisp cool fall weather, perfect for patronizing your favorite farmers’ market. We have a great line up of cheese for you, including:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and heirloom tomato
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Sheep (and maybe Black Goat) and Ewe Bloom
  • Sheep milk feta
  • Roxanne
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Mollisol Pecorino

Urbana market goers can enjoy some great gelato flavors this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Rhubarb Swirl
  • Stracciatella
  • Espresso
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Cardamom
  • Thai Basil
  • Rhubarb sorbetto
  • Concord grape sorbetto
  • Pear sorbetto
Posted 9/6/2012 7:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

This year's drought has made its permant and devastating mark on grain agriculture here in the heart of the Midwest. If you live in the belly of cash grain country like we do, you hear the daily "Commodity Report" commentators on Public Radio stations lamenting the recent rains as "too little too late." You see, grains like corn and soybeans have distinct life cycle events (pollination, grain fill are two big ones) that occur at fixed times, set by the crop's internal biological clock.  So, when pollination is in motion after so many days following germination, if soil moisture is lacking or air temperatures hover in the 100's, corn pollen from the tassels just has a real hard time fertilizing the ear, the female flowering part of the plant.  Even if you're lucky enough to get male and female corn flowers to come together, prolonged lack of rain means those ears won't fill with nice juicy corn kernels (the fertilized part of the female corn flower).  To add insult to injury, if these critical life cycle events happen during the height of a drought, and then you get some nice soaking rains like we have had over the past couple of weeks, the corn ear is done--no rain can make those kernels fill after a certain point in the corn plant's life cycle.

Contrast this scenario with a perennial crop like alfalfa.  Alfalfa's roots burrow deep into the soil, able scavengers of scarce soil moisture.  When moisture is lacking, the alfalfa hunkers down and goes into survival mode. When moisture is replenished, as is the case with the plentiful rains that Hurricane Isaac dropped on us last weekend (we received over 5 1/2 inches of the wet stuff), the alfalfa plants have a flexible biological clock. They are poised to take up that soil moisture and turn it into lush green growth. Notice the contrast of intense green alfalfa with the brown and withering corn in the background. 

alfalfa revival

This resiliant crop is well adapted to erratic changes in our weather. This means we will get a fourth cutting of alfalfa hay that will surpass the first three cuttings in both quantity AND quality.  Let's put our hands together for perennial crops--our goats will be enjoying this gorgeous hay next spring when their babies start dropping. Viva la resilience!

Farmers' Markets and Ewe Bloom Cheese

This Saturday, September 8th, we're attending three farmers' markets: Urbana, Springfield and Chicago's Green City Market.  As usual, we'll be bringing a wide assortment of our cheeses, but I want to give a special mention to one of our soft-ripened sheep milk cheeses, "Ewe Bloom." 

Ewe Bloom

Many of our customers who are new to the world of bloomy rind cheeses, might be intimidated by Ewe Bloom at first blush and first sniff. Its rind is colonized by a white mold that imparts an mushroomy and yeasty aroma. The outer edges of the cheese have a slight ooziness that many a bloomy rind cheese lover pine for.The body or paste of the cheese is slightly "sheepy"--BUT, not in a bad way. By sheepy, I mean, grassy and earthy with hints of lanolin.  The mouth feel and finish of this cheese is best described as buttery.  It is best to "temper" the cheese before you eat it; let it come to close to room temperature. I like to serve it on crusty bread like baguette. You can compliment the cheese's flavors with something sweet-tart like an apricot jam.  If you haven't tried Ewe Bloom yet this season, I encourage you to buy some and give it a chance.  It's a great cheese, once you get to know it. We will also have:

  • Plenty of fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and heirloom tomato (it's back after a short hiatus)
  • An assortment of other bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Goat and limited quantities of Krotovina. Krotovina is going on fall vacation, so you won't see it for awhile.
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Mollisol Pecorino Romano

Our Urbana shoppers can choose from an assortment of gelato flavors this Saturday, including:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Stracciatella
  • Thai Basil
  • Espresso
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom (new flavor!!)
  • Anise Hyssop (new flavor!!)
  • Pear Rosemary & Thyme Sorbetto
  • Rhubarb Sorbetto

In addition to the cheeses and gelato flavors on offer, we will also have more of our light and floral farmstead honey for sale in both 8 oz. and 16 oz. glass jars. The weather should be perfect for farmers' market shopping on Saturday, so come on out and stock up on all your local foods.

Posted 8/30/2012 10:25pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

The buzz around central Illinois these past couple of days isn't the drone of the cicadas or katydids.  It's all about the impending deluge of rain we're expecting this weekend as remnants of Hurricane (now "tropical storm") Isaac make their way northward along the Mississippi watershed.  It's hard to contemplate that two plus weeks ago we were begging for a few drops of the wet stuff.  Now, we are battening down the hatches, shoring up the walls along the goat barns so they don't flood, harvesting all the tomatoes before they are jostled from their vines and digging the potatoes that have been resting underground so they don't rot. Some forecasts are calling for upwards of 6 inches of rain over a 24-hour period. Some say the heaviest rain will fall just south of us, dropping "only" 2 to 4 inches here.  While we do need rain, we don't need this quantity over such a short period of time--pretty please??

We're hoping, at least, that the rains hold off for the farmers' markets on Saturday morning. We're attending both Urbana's Market at the Square and Green City Market that day.  We're also hoping the rains peter out by the time they get to Chicago, so you Sunday Farmers' Market shoppers at Logan Square can come out to get your weekly groceries of local foods including our cheeses. We haven't been to Logan Square for awhile, so we are especially eager to greet our customers there.  We're not going to let the weathermen deter us from setting up our tents and putting out our cheese wares. In fact, we've got a great line up of cheeses for you this weekend:

  • Plenty of fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper (still no heirloom tomato, but it will return)
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses-let us surprise you!
  • Sheep milk feta-perfect for a feta-watermelon salad
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • Huckleberry Blue (it's getting a bit sharper and more crumbly, but it is still delicious)
  • Mollisol Pecorino

Urbana market goers can stock up on pints of gelato this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Margot's Mint
  • Stracciatella
  • Lemon Verbena-Thyme
  • Espresso (it will wake you up!)
  • Hazelnut
  • Ginger

Sorbetto Flavors include:

  • Concord Grape
  • Watermelon
  • Pear-Rosemary-Thyme

Put on your raincoat, slip on your rubber boots, grab an umbrella and come to the markets this weekend to relish in the rain and the rainbow of local foods!