News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 8/26/2016 10:14am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

 Farm News

Our freedom ranger chickens were literally, “flying the coop” over these past couple of weeks, as Wes scrambled to build them a portable outdoor shelter.  Until yesterday, they had been housed in the “newborn pen” (that’s really designed for newborn goat kids, but actually works beautifully for little chicks too-heat lamps overhead, confined space with fine-mesh walls); ample space for fluffy little chicks. 

As they grew, their down fell out and their adult plumage started to fill in, with the occasional bald patches so typical of teenage chickens. The disparity in size among members of the flock became more pronounced too—males with combs towering over demur hens.  They began to test out the durability of their new feathers and flight muscles; they would fly over the fencing (plastic child gates) and hang out underneath the rabbit cage—lots of rabbit manure and associated insects to dine on. Most times, they would just fly themselves back into their enclosure, especially when it was time to refill their grain and water.  Alas, it was time to move to greener pastures.

poultry in orchard

 

The orchard seemed like the perfect location for poultry grazing: lush grass understory, ample shade from the peach trees and protection from predators (well, that part is man-made).  The selection of the orchard was not solely for the benefit of the chickens, however. With peach season over, and most of the rotted peaches removed from the orchard floor, the endemic peach pests had laid their eggs in the soil for larvae to hatch and infect anew the next peach crop.  What better way to break this cycle than to enlist some bug-lovers to eat the enemy. It’s a widely known secret that poultry LOVE bugs; I believe they love bugs more than they love grain. This morning, when Wes went out to liberate them from their nightly enclosure, one of the birds immediately snagged a grub. A hot chase ensued to steal the grub from the victor’s beak. 

These freedom ranger birds are designed for grazing and foraging, with sturdy legs and a properly sized breast for their body. As they overcome their fears of the open space, their instincts kick in, and they pluck at blades of grass and scratch for the coveted prize of larvae. Mission accomplished.

Market News

We are back to a three-market Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Urbana’s Sweet Corn Festival will be happening Saturday afternoon, but don’t let that deter you from getting to the market in the morning to get your shopping done. Also, the “Bloomington Criterium Bike Race” will be happening in Bloomington on Saturday (starts at 10 AM)-another reason to get to the market early to get the best parking and farm-fresh pickings.  The market organizers indicate limited street parking and recommend parking in the two parking garages just off the market area (Lincoln Garage at Front St. or Market St. Garage just south of Washington Street).

For all locations, there’s a chance of showers tomorrow morning, but don’t let a few raindrops hinder your shopping. Here’s the lineup of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper (butterfat is on the rise, so chevre is starting to take on that fall creamy texture and mouthfeel)
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe—crumbled feta, watermelon cubes, fresh mint and a splash of sherry or rice wine vinegar.
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese.  Our friends at Sunday-Dinner-Club used the Angel Food in a summer salad last weekend at our farm dinner—sliced Angel Food atop a bed of greens, heirloom tomatoes, crunchy spicy chickpeas (you could use nuts or pumpkin seeds), tossed with a light vinaigrette.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie:  It’s really delicious right now.
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind, it’s aging very nicely.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: In honor of this weekend’s Sweet Corn Festival—grill yourself some corn and make Mexican Elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and mayo and paprika)
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt: plain and simple—milk and live cultures; nothing more. As our milk supply dwindles, we won’t be making yogurt every week, so stock up.

We will have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at all three markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

Gelato (not all flavors going to all locations):

  • Blueberry-Lemon Verbena
  • Fresh Mint Black
  • Currant-Apple Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Bourbon Peach Sorbetto
  • Thai Basil
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Sweet Corn (very limited)
  • Peaches & Cream (very limited)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (very limited)

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Now that school is back in session, we will be shifting to “fall hours” for the store. We’re open today (Friday, August 26th from 11-6 and Saturday-Sunday, 1-4 pm). Starting next week, The Real Stand will be open Friday-Sunday, 1-4 pm only.  We still have some great produce-tomatoes and Blue Moon Farm collard greens this weekend, and we have our first of the season Goat Merguez from Piemonte Sausage (made from local goat, not ours).  Stay tuned for information about apple cider sales and maybe even some cider doughnuts! Of course, we also have other meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.   Come visit with the goats, check out the chickens in the orchard and enjoy a scoop of gelato. You can also take your picture through our new Delight Flower Farm "goats behaving badly" mural cut-out:

goat mural cut out

Matsuri: Join us on the grounds of Japan House and the University Arboretum for their second annual Japanese festival, Matsuri (Sunday, August 28th 2-7 PM). There will be Japanese food and drink, powerful drum performances by Ho Etsu Taiko, Tsugaru-shamisen performer Michiyoshi Sato, martial arts demos, fashion shows, yukata and cosplay dressing, bubblesand Pokemon face painting, Shiatsu massage, tea ceremonies, Ikebana and Bonsai demonstrations and displays and more! Rain or shine. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be serving cups of special Japanese flavors of gelato, including matcha (green tea), toasted black sesame and shiso-plum sorbetto.

CUFarmersCan’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around.  We are continuing this service through the end of September, so we encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Customers love the ease of ordering and the convenient pick up location.

Farm Dinners: After this weekend’s Southern Soul BBQ dinner, we have three dates remaining for the season: Spanish Tapas in September (dinner and brunch actually), The 100 Yard Dinner in October (also dinner and brunch),and Fall Feast with Chef Ed Sura (formerly with Perennial Virant, now with NoMi Restaurant in Chicago). So, if you’ve been saving up for a really memorable meal, go to our website, check out the menus and book your reservations NOW.

Cooking Classes come to the farm: We hosted the first of three cooking classes with chef Alisa DeMarco last evening. It was a full house in our hot and steamy kitchen, but all had a great time and learned some simple but delicious recipes. There are still spaces for the pickling and canning class next Thursday, September 1st.  Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, here’s the link to class descriptions and registration information. 

CU Artisan Cup: Sunday, October 23rd, 6-8 PM. A friendly competition among Central IL chefs to celebrate the bounty of local foods and raise funds for The Land Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to land, consumers to sustainable farmers and farmer training. It’s going to be a very special evening, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be there at the “cheese table.”  Check out the details for the event. Tickets are on sale now. They can currently be found at https://thelandconnection.org/tlc-store/artisancupfork.


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 8/18/2016 9:54pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

After a while, the persistent heat has a hypnotic effect on you.  You begin to get used to being sweaty all the time. The normally insufferable heat in our farm kitchen begins to seem tolerable when the fans are blowing.  Breathing in the stagnant, moisture-laden air becomes second nature.

okra

We finally got some much-needed rain, over two inches in one day. Within 36 hours, there was little trace of it, except for the exponential growth of the tomato vines, exploding cherry tomatoes, okra pods as long as your arm and towering ornamental amaranth.  Yes, the weeds in the herb garden are out of control again. At some point, you begin to lose the zeal of vigilance for keeping them from taking over.  Your tolerance for entropy escalates.

The goats seem less bothered by the heat and humidity as well.  In the past, they would be lining up in front of the barn fans to cool off. Now, I see them foray into the pasture several times during the day, even in the heat of the afternoon. The heat is deceiving. We are easily lulled into believing that summer is endless; the superficial environmental cues corroborate the deception.  The milk in the cheese vat tells another story. The stirrings of subtle changes in butterfat have begun, emblematic of the slow march toward late lactation. There’s a little less whey on top of the chevre; the cream layer is more distinct, the feel of the curd is heavier.  The moon is waning, and so is the month of August. The milk’s cues remind us that summer is finite.

Awesome prairie skies

I know that the Midwest is often dismissed as place devoid of natural beauty.  We have no mountains or oceans, our coastal friends and family remind us constantly.  I concede we lack those geographical features, but we make up for their absence, and we even surpass their splendor with our dramatic open skies.  I contend that the shifting light and cloud formations of our prairie skies are unrivaled. The intensity of our sun rises and sun sets are unmatched.  The summer storms only add to the drama and jaw-dropping beauty.  Does this mean I’ve become a Midwesterner??

sunset glory

sunset

Market News

We are attending only two markets on Saturday, August 20th-Urbana and Bloomington Reminder to our regular Green City Market customers-WE WILL NOT BE ATTENDING THE ABBREVIATED MARKET ON SATURDAY AUGUST 20TH BECAUSE OF THE AIR AND WATER SHOW.  Here’s the lineup of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Prairie Dropseed—These little chevre rounds with a lovely white rind are aging nicely—try one sliced on a salad or just slice on our crackers and top with a drizzle of honey. There are only a few left and they’re all headed to the Urbana Market
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe—crumbled feta, watermelon cubes, fresh mint and a splash of sherry or rice wine vinegar.
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese. Try slicing it into rounds, dredging it a light crust (egg wash, herbed panko breadcrumbs) and pan frying it. Serve over a salad of fresh greens with some of those succulent ripe tomatoes so plentiful at the markets.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: Getting close to perfection in age.
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind, simply delicious right now.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: if you’re inspired to make Mexican elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and butter and paprika), grab yourself a wedge of our raw-milk grating-style cheese. It’s perfect with sweet corn.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt. Plain and simple—milk and live cultures; nothing more.

We will have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at both markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

Gelato-local flavors are exploding right now:

  • Blueberry-Lemon Verbena
  • Fresh Mint
  • Sweet Corn
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut (very limited)

Meet the Cheese Maker at Whole Foods-Kingsbury St., Lincoln Park, Chicago: Want to get the inside scoop on how we make our cheeses at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery? I’ll be headed to Chicago tomorrow (Friday, August 19th) to hang out with the cheese mongers of Whole Foods. From 4-6 PM, we’ll talk cheese, goats, Animal Welfare Approved and taste some of our summer’s finest selections. It’ll be geeky in a good way—come on over to their store if you’re in Chicago. 

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Our store is open with regular hours—Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4. Our u-pick season for peaches has come to an abrupt end (believe me, we are as disappointed as you are). Stay tuned for information about apple and pear cider sales and maybe even some cider doughnuts! Of course, we also have meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.  Our cherry and full-size tomatoes are coming in fast and furious, so we have them available for purchase too.  Come visit with the goats, and enjoy a scoop of gelato.

CUFarmers:  Can’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around. 

Farm Dinners in August and beyond: Last chance for you last minute procrastinators to scoop up some seats to this weekend’s Indian Vegetarian Dinner and Brunch series.  If you haven’t seen the menu, check it out. We also have a few seats left for our summer southern BBQ with the chef from Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.  The menu is also posted on our website. We’ll be featuring a whole hog raised by Triple S Farms.  If you can’t make these dates in August, no worries—we still have seats for our dinners in September and October. 

Cooking Classes come to the farm! We are VERY excited to welcome back our former chef, Alisa DeMarco. Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, she will hold three cooking classes in late August through mid -September.  Here’s the link to class descriptions and registration information.  The first class on what to do with all those tomatoes is next week-August 25th.

CU Artisan Cup: A friendly competition among Central IL chefs to celebrate the bounty of local foods and raise funds for The Land Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to land, consumers to sustainable farmers and farmer training. It’s going to be a very special evening, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be there at the “cheese table.”  Check out the details for the event. Tickets are on sale now. They can currently be found at https://thelandconnection.org/tlc-store/artisancupfork and this link will be available via www.artisancup.com  


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 8/15/2016 5:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Hi folks:

I'll be brief. Our farm store "The Real Stand" will be open for regular hours this week and weekend (Wed.-Friday, 11-6 and Sat/Sun 1-4).  We have the last of our neighbor's sweet corn (it's really tender and delicious!) and our very own tomatoes. While we don't have any more U-Pick Peaches, we're hoping to get some local peaches for you to purchase.

We're making a special flavor of gelato this week with fresh Michigan blueberries--Lemon Verbena-Blueberry Swirl.  Of course, there'll be plenty of cheese, yogurt and pints of gelato for you to taste and buy. We also have Bane Family Meats pastured meats and poultry, as well as amazing artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage.

On Wednesday, from 4-6 PM, Laurence the Knife Dude, will be here to sharpen knives while you shop. AND... VISIT CHAMPAIGN COUNTY WILL BE LIVE STREAMING FROM THE FARM during our CSA pick up! THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY FOR 15 SECONDS OF FAME.

Lastly, don't forget to place your orders for veggies, cheese, gelato, yogurt, meats, chicken and eggs through CUFARMERS.COM.  Ordering closes at 10 PM tonight. Pick up is at 1901 S. First Street in the U of I Research Park Parking lot.  

 


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 8/11/2016 11:28pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

This week, farmers’ markets across the nation will celebrate “National Farmers’ Market Week.”  At first glance, I construed this to be yet another gimmick to cajole folks to come out and shop the farmers’ markets. The powers that make such proclamations chose the date well; we are approaching the apex of diversity of fruits, vegetables and all the other foods of summer’s bounty.  As I reflected more deeply on the concept of a week dedicated to celebrating farmers’ markets, I circled around a topic of frequent conversation among my fellow farmers whose livelihoods have depended on farmers’ market sales for many years: the gradual erosion of our regular customer base.  At one time not too long ago, we could all assume that if we had great products and showed up at the market, we’d sell out, go home happy and gear up for the next week’s market. 

Gradually, we have come to realize that this assumption is no longer valid.  In the glory days, we would be barely set up by 7AM and be besieged by a steady stream of customers until almost closing time.  Committed market shoppers would not be deterred by a little heat or a brief rain shower. Now, I sometimes feel I could roll bowling balls down the aisles between vendor stalls (and I bowl really badly) and not hit too many people until about 9:30 am.  What does this mean?  Why is this happening?  Folks like us who spend their time thinking about local foods and how people access them have their theories: local foods are more readily available in retail grocery stores; people’s lives are busier with more distractions; markets are an ‘event,’ not a place to by your weekly groceries; people are eating more prepared foods and buying less “raw product;” the list goes on.  

Before I became the person on the selling side of the farmer’s market table, I considered shopping at the farmers’ market a sacred ritual. This was my week’s pilgrimage to procure our family’s staples. I relished at finding a new farmer with some weird new vegetable or fruit or a cheese maker with a dazzling fresh cheese.  I got to the market early to avoid the crowds; I made frequent trips to my car to unload the local food loot.

Now that I am a person on the other side of the table, I relish interacting with my customers; my “regulars” who know what they want, but love to try the new creations we bring to the market.  I rise to the challenge from the folks who proclaim they “hate” goat cheese and who, after reluctantly tasting our fresh chevre, proceed to buy a container.  Of course, I want everyone to feel as dedicated as I do to shopping at farmers’ markets and supporting the farmers who grow the food they buy every week. I want them to wear a well-earned badge of self-righteousness from intimately knowing where their food comes from. Naively, I want to believe that our powers of persuasion, with our emphasis on quality and integrity will win the day.  “Know your food, know your farmer;” this is no mere slogan, it’s a way of life.

Market News

In the true spirit of celebrating National Farmers’ Market week, we’re spreading the love around central Illinois and Chicago. We will be attending three markets on Saturday-Urbana, Bloomington and Green City Market (Lincoln Park in Chicago).  For our Chicago Green City Market goers—HEADS UP-WE WILL NOT BE ATTENDING THE ABBREVIATED MARKET ON SATURDAY AUGUST 20TH BECAUSE OF THE AIR AND WATER SHOW.  So, you might want to stock up this Saturday.  Here’s the lineup of cheeses this week:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper
  • SUMMER SPECIAL: Prairie Dropseed—we have a few left that we’ll be bringing to the markets. Come early if you want one. 
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe—crumbled feta, watermelon cubes, fresh mint and a splash of sherry or rice wine vinegar.
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin style cheese. Try slicing it into rounds, dredging it a light crust (egg wash, herbed panko breadcrumbs) and pan frying it. Serve over a salad of fresh greens with some of those succulent ripe tomatoes so plentiful at the markets.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This week’s batch is a bit young, so if you like it gooey, let it ripen in your frig for another week.
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind, this young batch is heading in a very good direction.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: if you’re inspired to make Mexican elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and butter and paprika), grab yourself a wedge of our raw-milk grating-style cheese. It’s perfect with sweet corn.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt. Plain and simple—milk and live cultures, nothing more.

We will be bringing more of our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics). Herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre will be featured this week. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

Gelato-we have some great seasonal flavors this week:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Our store is open with regular hours—Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4. This is the last weekend for local sweet corn (from our neighbor up the road). We have a few bags of peaches from Perry Orchard (near Philo), because our own peaches are suffering from this crazy hot and humid weather.  Of course, we also have meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.  Our cherry tomatoes are coming in fast and furious, so we have them available for purchase too.  Come cool off from the heat, visit with the goats, and enjoy a scoop of gelato in the shade.

CUFarmers:  Can’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around. 

Farm Dinners in August: There are still some seats open for our Indian Vegetarian Dinner and Brunch series next Saturday-Sunday August 20th-21st.  We are making a special Indian cheese for the dinner—a goat “paneer.”  I’m pretty excited about it, along with the rest of the menu. We also have a few seats left for our summer southern BBQ with the chef from Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.  The menu is now posted on our website, and boy does it sound delicious! We’ll be featuring a whole hog raised by Triple S Farms. 

Cooking Classes come to the farm! A number of readers noticed I had inserted a broken link to the sign up page for the farm cooking classes. So, let's try it again. We are VERY excited to welcome back our former chef, Alisa DeMarco. Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, she will hold three cooking classes in late August through mid -September.  Here’s the correct link to class descriptions and registration information.  


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 8/11/2016 2:25pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

For those of you who tried to connect to the link for on farm cooking classes from my newsletter last week, and encountered a broken link, my apologies. Here is the correct link to the site: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/farmers-market-fresh-cooking-classes-at-prairie-fruits-farm-creamery-tickets-26953038263

Posted 8/5/2016 8:31am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

 Farm News

Art imitating life, science-fiction stories ripped from the headlines; oftentimes, the real story is juicier than the concocted.  This week, we turned our attention back to the garden that is now a jungle.  The neglected tomato vines were so thick, it was hard to tease apart one plant from another.  It was tempting to grab a machete and hack a path back to neat and tidy rows; we opted to use our hands to tackle the job.  As we began our work of weeding and stringing, we noticed the tell-tale signs of caterpillar damage—leaves eaten at the tips, lots and lots of dark green frasse everywhere.  The culprits were hanging just below their latest meal, long, plump and juicy. The infamous tomato hornworm, aka, the larval stage of a beautiful sphynx moth, was having a feast at our tomatoes’ expense. 

hornworm catepillars

I confess that I think the caterpillar is beautiful; garishly lime-green with false white eye spots (their defense against predators) and a little spiky tail emblematic of all sphynx moths.  Although this particular species is considered a pest, I have a special fondness for sphynx moths. They seem to represent a cross-over from insect to bird, hummingbirds in particular. 

The pest has a natural enemy. This “enemy” is not intimated by those big false eyes. A tiny parasitic wasp lays its eggs in the caterpillar, the eggs hatch and start eating the caterpillar from the inside out. Eventually, the parasites reprogram the tiny brain of the caterpillar, commanding it to hang itself on a branch and then die so that the adult wasps can hatch out of it and fly away to seek out their next victims.  Sound like your favorite B Movie Sci Fi flick? Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Alien?  It’s all very real, ghoulishly cool and wonderful way to keep a crop pest in check. 

parasitic wasp

Market News

The proverbial bounty of summer has come to the markets—tomatoes, sweet corn, stone fruits, melons—all, the perfect foil for our cheeses. We will be attending three markets on Saturday-Urbana, Bloomington and Green City Market (Lincoln Park in Chicago), and the Tuesday afternoon market in Champaign (run by The Land Connection).  Here’s the lineup of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper
  • SUMMER SPECIAL: Prairie Dropseed—we brought this little aged chevre bloomy back for a summer treat—who wouldn’t want to devour a little puffy white ball of cheese that looks like a snow ball in this heat-the paste is firm and fudgy, the rind has lovely mushroom notes. I recommend making a caponata (eggplant and tomato relish) and serving it on toasts with this cheese.
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe
  • Angel Food—little bloomy, perfect for adorning slices of fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and slivered basil
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: one of our favorite Chicago chefs likes to throw this on the grill (very briefly) to get a slight char and then serves it with a crudité of fresh veggies
  • Black Goat: don’t let the funky rind deter you from enjoying this cheese-folks at the American Cheese Society were going crazy over our ash-ripened bloomy
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: if you’re inspired to make Mexican elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and butter and paprika), grab yourself a wedge of our raw-milk grating-style cheese. It’s perfect with sweet corn

Some of our market goers may have noticed that our crackers are back on the market tables (Urbana and Green City Market). We have retooled our cracker recipes using all local grains (mostly from Severson Farm aka Quality Organics)-wheat, oats, blue and yellow corn meal.  We will be making these on a regular basis—herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre-so check them out and let us know what you think. Of course, we think that they are the perfect vehicle to enjoy our cheeses.

Gelato: Our gelato maker is back from vacation (boy, did we miss her), so we’ve got some great summer flavors for you (note: not all flavors are going to all three markets):

  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Peach Crisp
  • Blueberry Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Our store is open with regular hours—Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4. We still have some fantastic local sweet corn (from our neighbor up the road), meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.  We have started harvesting our cherry tomatoes, so we have them available for purchase.  Our peach crop is in hiatus right now (no U-Pick for another week or two), but we might be bringing in another local farmer’s peaches. They aren’t organic, but we taste tested them, and they are very sweet and juicy. 

CUFarmers: Can’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around. 

Farm Dinners in August: Believe it or not, we still have some seats open to the two dinners and one brunch this month. Our only ALL VEGETARIAN dinner-brunch is August 20th-21st. The menu, crafted by our friends at Sunday Dinner Club, is Indian-Inspired—spicy foods for hot times. My mouth waters when I re-read the menus. You should check them out, be smitten and click on the reservations button. We also have a few seats left for our summer southern BBQ with the chef from Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.  We’ll be featuring a whole hog raised by Triple S Farms. 

Cooking Classes come to the farm! We are VERY excited to welcome back our former chef, Alisa DeMarco. Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, she will hold three cooking classes in late August through mid -September.  Here’s the link to class descriptions and registration information.   


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 7/27/2016 11:02am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

 Farm News

This week, we cheese makers converge on Des Moines, Iowa to commune with other cheese makers and cheese mongers from across North America.  The American Cheese Society, the organization that represents artisan and specialty cheese folk holds their annual meeting in the height of summer.  The meeting is a love fest of cheese—seminars on the science of cheese making, tastings with beer, wine, honey, a competition with over 1200 cheese entries and the cherry on top—“The Festival of Cheese.” 

It’s a challenging time of year to leave the farm and the cheeserie with a skeleton crew. Our little creamery runs pretty lean and mean; Dani and Lynn, our two main cheese makers, crank out the overwhelming majority of the cheese that leaves our farm.  While I try to attend this conference when it returns to the Midwest every few years, they have never been.  It’s important to connect with your “people” from time to time. It’s important to have a community with whom you can talk “shop.” It’s too easy to let the frenzied pace of cheese making at the height of our season keep us from leaving the farm.  Cheese knowledge beckons us; we’ll make do for a few days (that’s code for me running the show for a couple of days!!).

Farm Store and U-Pick Peaches

Our farm store “The Real Stand” still has some fresh, tender sweet corn for sale, along with our regular offerings of cheese, gelato, meats, sausages, etc.  Regular hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11-6 and Sat/Sun; 1-4 PM. Knife Sharpening will be happening on Wednesday afternoons from 4-6 PM. If it doesn’t rain on Thursday, we’ll have U-Pick Peaches from 4-7 PM. 

CU Farmers: Check out our offerings on Champaign-Urbana’s first and only multi-farm local food buying club.  Ordering opens on Friday mornings at 8 AM and closes the following Monday at 10 pm. Pick up is on Wednesdays from 4-6 at the University of IL Research Park-Caterpillar Building parking lot-1902 S. 1st Street. It’s a very civilized way to shop for local food with integrity. 

Farmers Markets We’re attending three markets this Saturday, July 30th: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Green City Market and Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market. We’ve got:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine-tangy, crumbly and delicious
  • Angel Food: firm, brie-style (really, it’s more like a crottin)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert-style cheese
  • Black Goat: this batch has little bit of wild blue on the rind, but it’s super delicious and slightly gooey
  • Moonglo: our raw-milk tomme, think sharp like a cheddar (but fruity) and supple like a gouda
  • Magia Negra: this raw milk grating style cheese is like a marriage between Manchego and Swiss (lots of lovely nutty notes)
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: Our yogurt is a bit thin this time of year when the goat milk solids are low, but it is so wonderful paired with all the fresh berries in season right now-make a smoothy, go the savory route and use it to make a cool cucumber raita (Indian sauce)

Need Gelato? Here’s the lineup of flavors available by the pint:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut (limited)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Thai Basil
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Red Currant

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 7/21/2016 6:46pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

The phrase “working up a sweat” has dignity.  On the farm, we usually break a sweat in daily chores; sprinting to get the grain into all the feeders, so that the kids don’t mob one feeder at a time.  Tossing flakes of hay into feeders, hauling buckets full of dirty then clean water, coaxing reluctant milkers into the milking parlor; these kinds of physical work merit sweat.  Dripping with sweat while standing on a hot blacktop parking lot waiting for customers to show up; this seemingly static activity does not earn you sweat in my book. 

The record combination of heat and humidity that engulfs most of the Midwest this week makes walking to the end of the driveway to get the paper or the mail a cause for sweat. This is not sweat earned by honest labor; it is survival sweat. When a typically hot kitchen filled with peaches and boiling pots of water for processing and rising dough and hot ovens for cracker making is cooler than the outside air, you appreciate the extreme nature of the heat wave.  Your body’s barometer for heat detection and your mind’s perceptions of hot and cool places become confused.  Standing over a warm vat of cheese curd in an air-conditioned creamery becomes a luxury. 

With a bare minimum of energy expenditure, you’re forced to change your clothes at least twice a day, and that’s not even to go into town.  We humans perspire; our goats, chickens and dogs pant. You play mind games to survive; you tell yourself it’s finite; you just keep on moving slowly, wiping your brow. 

Pickin’ Peaches                    

Our orchard is beautiful.  The pink-yellow-red peaches dangling against a backdrop of chartreuse green leaves is stunning. We have started picking peaches-we pick them, you can pick them.  The two varieties that are ripe right now-Reliance and Red Haven are my favorites.  If you want to come out to the farm for u-pick, please come either Monday or Thursday, 3-7 pm.  We will also be picking peaches to sell in our farm store and at the Urbana Farmers’ Market. 

The Real Stand: We have peaches, sweet corn, cheese, gelato (by the scoop and by the pint), Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausage and beautiful yarn from Seven Sisters Farm.  Hours are: Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4 PM. 

CU Farmers:  If you don’t want to brave the heat on Saturday to attend the farmers’ market in Urbana, check out our offerings on Champaign-Urbana’s first and only multi-farm local food buying club.  Ordering opens on Friday mornings at 8 AM and closes the following Monday at 10 pm. Pick up is on Wednesdays from 4-6 at the University of IL Research Park-Caterpillar Building parking lot-1902 S. 1st Street. It’s a very civilized way to shop for local food with integrity. 

Farmers Markets We’re attending three markets this Saturday, July 23rd: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Green City Market and Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market. It will still be hot, so come prepared—bring a cooler with ice packs so you can take home cheese and gelato.  Looking for some cool cheese?

We’ve got:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine-this is THE cheese for a cool watermelon-feta salad Angel Food: firm, brie-style (really, it’s more like a crottin)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert-style cheese
  • Black Goat: this batch has little bit of wild blue on the rind, but it’s super delicious and slightly gooey
  • Moonglo: our raw-milk tomme,  think sharp like a cheddar (but fruity) and supple like a gouda
  • Magia Negra: this raw milk grating style cheese is like a marriage between Manchego and Swiss (lots of lovely nutty notes)
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: Our yogurt is a bit thin this time of year when the goat milk solids are low, but it is so wonderful paired with all the fresh berries in season right now-make a smoothy, go the savory route and use it to make a cool cucumber raita (Indian sauce)

Our gelato stocks are a little thin right now as our gelato maker is on vacation. Beat the heat and come early to grab a pint or two of:

  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Raspberry Swirl
  • Red Currant
  • Stracciatella
August, September and October Farm to Table Meals are not to be missed. Check out the menus and make your reservations. They're booking up fast.  


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 7/14/2016 9:50pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

The anticipation is over. The aroma of peach-ness permeates the orchard. The lime green color of ripening fruit has faded to yellow with a blush of red.  Yes, there are a few blemishes: a little bit of sooty fly speck (bacterial disease) here, the ooze of oriental fruit moth larvae there. These cosmetic imperfections don’t deter me.  The slight indentation on the skin-when-pressed, signals that the fruit is ripe and rewarding inside. I take a bite. Juice drips down the chin; check. The explosion of floral notes and sweetness envelopes the mouth; check.  The afterglow of peach nirvana wafts into the nose and tells the brain that summer is peaking.  Peaches and goats; they’re why we’re here, after all. 

first peach

Market Happenings

Our Farm Store, “The Real Stand” continues to expand its repertoire of local products. We received our first ears of sweet corn from a neighboring sesquicentennial farm: sweet and tender, it’s is SOO fresh, you barely need to cook it to enjoy it (seriously, I ate some raw and it was DELICIOUS!).  We are expecting some jams and fruit leathers from Autumn Berry Inspired this weekend too.  We will be selling some peaches at the farm store tomorrow (Friday, 11-6) and bringing some to the Urbana Market at the Square on Saturday. The Farm Store is open Saturday-Sunday 1-4 PM THIS WEEKEND BECAUSE WE HAVE A FARM DINNER (SATURDAY) AND BRUNCH (SUNDAY).  PLEASE NOTE THE TIME CHANGE.

farm store is open

CU Farmers: Online ordering starts Friday at 8AM and closes the following Monday at 10 PM.  Pick up is Wednesday, the 20th from 4-6 PM in the Caterpillar Bldg. Parking Lot (1901 S. First Street, Champaign) if the weather is good; if it’s raining, we’ll set up inside the lobby of the Caterpillar Building. Blue Moon Farm has some GREAT summer veggies, we have cheese, gelato and yogurt and Bane Family Meats has eggs, chicken and meats. 

Saturday Farmers’ Markets: We’re doing three (yes, we’re crazy) markets: Downtown Bloomington, Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Here’s what we’re bringing for cheese:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta: This is the last batch for the season, so if you love it, come get it early
  • Goat milk Feta: Our raw—milk feta is aged for at least 60 days in a complex whey brine. This gives the firm and crumbly cheeses a distinct tangy flavor.  Give it a try.
  • Angel Food: Our firm “brie” like bloomy is made in the style of a crottin (for those who know French cheeses). It’s perfect for a summer picnic or an evening snack on your patio or deck.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: perfectly gooey exterior, firm paste in the center-the quintessential bloomy rind
  • Black Goat: The latest batch is super yummy-slightly gooey edge and not super funky yet
  • Moonglo:  Our raw milk tomme is semi-firm, which means you can slice it, melt it or shave it.  Sharp and slightly fruity, it’s delicious
  • Magia Negra: Our raw milk Manchego-style grating cheese eliminates the need for you to buy expensive parmesano Reggiano or a romano-type cheese to make your pesto.
  • Plain Goat Milk Yogurt: as always, just milk and live cultures—plain and simple (and delicious)

You will NEED gelato this weekend:

  • Raspberry Swirl (made with raspberries from Avery Farm)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Strawberry (very limited)
  • Red Currant (made with currants from the Savannah Institute)
  • Stracciatella (fancy chocolate ganache chip)
  • Spiced Butter Pecan (very limited)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (several customers have marveled at the true nectarine taste-it’s like biting into frozen nectarines)

Farm Dinners: Reservations are starting to fill up for the remainder of our “Dinners on the Farm” Series with both Sunday Dinner Club and Paul Virant and Friends. I know many of you think that all the dinners are sold out, but I’m here to tell you they are NOT.  Visit our web page, peruse the menus and dinner descriptions and book your reservations NOW.  Yes, they may seem pricey, but they’re more than just a meal; they’re an experience you will remember long after your digestive system has absorbed all the nutrients.  


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 7/11/2016 10:04am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

For those of you who live in or near Champaign-Urbana, we've got some great opportunities coming up early this week for local foods. 
First, CUFarmers.com: our multi-farmer online buying club. Ordering ends at 10PM tonight, so go to the website TODAY to order veggies (Blue Moon Farm), cheese & gelato (Prairie Fruits Farm) and meats, poultry and eggs (Bane Family Meats). Also note that our pick up location in the Research Park has changed to the Catepillar parking lot-Caterpillar building parking lot (1901 South 1st Street) Wednesdays from 4-6pm.

Second: The Land Connection's Downtown Champaign Farmers' Market-Tuesday, 4-7PM. We will be there with a great selection of cheese, yogurt and gelato.

Third: Our Farm Store "The Real Stand."  We will be open this week, Wednesday through Friday 11-6. Weekend hours are changing: SATURDAY-SUNDAY 1-4. We're bringing in fresh-from-the-field SWEET CORN from a neighboring farm called "Sweet Pickins" The farmers' grand-daughter will be here on Wednesday from 11-2 PM to meet our customers and sell you some sweet corn. Come out and meet her.  We also have our regular dairy products, gelato by the scoop, meats, poultry and eggs from Bane Family Meats, yarn from Seven Sisters Farm and sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co.  

SEE, lots of ways to get the best food in central IL!

 


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.