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Posted 11/30/2015 6:45pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Many of you have had the pleasure of dining at the farm, be it breakfast, dinner or private events.  Back in 2007, in the warm, humid air of the cheeserie make room, our now Executive Chef, Alisa DeMarco and I “cooked” up the idea of a farm kitchen to prepare hyper-local, farm-to –table meals. We felt that the great local food in our midst was too well-kept of a secret.  

In the late summer of 2008, we launched our “Dinners on the Farm,” and the culinary magic has wafted out of our kitchen ever since.  So, it is with a bittersweet heart that I announce the departure of our chef Alisa and our sous-chef (and events coordinator) Sarah Hess at the end of this year.  They are both moving on to pursue new chapters in their lives, and we at the farm are working on the next iteration of the “Kitchen at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery.”  Our last farm dinner of the season, “Holiday” is this coming Saturday, December 5th.  Believe it or not, we still have a few seats open.  If you want to join us in celebrating our farm chefs, I encourage you to check it out. It will be a gustatory night to remember.

Farm Holiday Gifts

If you’re looking for unique ways to share your goat love, we have several options.  We’ve created an online “store” on our website for you to purchase our “Chippy the Goat” tea towels, t-shirts and goat milk soaps. We also have gift cards to offer through Credibles.  You can use your credibles "as cash" at the farmers' market or at the farm.  If you’re looking for a special experience, why not send someone to our DIY Cheese Board building class on Thursday, the 17th of December. We’ll be adding other gifts to this list as the holiday season progresses, so stay posted.  


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 11/24/2015 9:37am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

The weekend’s snow is sublimating; the water vapors rise into the sunny morning air, creating a slight fog.  As folks get ready to get on the road for holiday travels and fret over how to cook their turkeys, the farm exudes a sense of calm.  We’ll be working on “projects” for sure (there are always projects to be done—we will be trenching a vole “moat” around our garden, so that the burgeoning rodent population can’t wreak too much havoc on plantings over winter), but the holiday week forces us to stick to the basic daily chores of milking, feeding critters and making some cheese. 

The road construction project that has disrupted our lives for almost one year is finally finished.  Yes, folks: Lincoln Avenue is NOW OPEN to through traffic (they haven’t removed all the detour signs, but the road barricades are gone). 

open road

We’re “celebrating” by opening the farm during this holiday week. We are open every day except Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, from 10 AM to 5 PM.  We’ll even be open this coming Saturday, November 28th from 9-12.  We know that the wintery weather last Saturday may have deterred some of you from holiday farmers’ market shopping, so come out to the farm this week to get your cheese, crackers, jams (everything you need for a holiday cheese board), gelato, sausages (to feed those who will be sick of turkey after the big day) and more.  We’re even running a special on our farm-house crackers (many of our customers have confessed their addiction to these crackers)—buy one bag, get another one free!!  If you can’t make it to the farm, I will be attending the Urbana Holiday Market on Saturday the 28th from 8 AM to 1PM.  Hope to see you here or see you there. 

Happy Thanksgiving


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 11/20/2015 9:39am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

There’s an inherent trade-off between gestation and lactation.  In cold biological terms, it all comes down to limited resource allocation.  A pregnant goat at the end of her lactation puts her “resources” (nourishment, life sustaining building blocks) into making new babies, rather than maintaining milk for some kids that were born months and months ago. 

So, when the vets came out this week to ultrasound our does’ bellies to check for babies, we had few surprises.  I was struck with the speed with which most pregnancies were confirmed this year.  Within a few seconds of lubricating the sweet spot where the udder connects to the body, we could see the telltale signs of budding life—placentomes (where the fetus anchors to the placenta) and a few actual baby heads poking in and out of the amniotic fluid.  All but a few goats were confirmed pregnant.   As usual, the humans expressed much greater excitement over the news than the expectant mothers.

The news is bittersweet.  Milk production has been plummeting over the past several weeks, and our cheese makes have become smaller and less frequent. But, our chevre is so rich right now; it’s almost the consistency of crème fraiche.  We and the goats are taking on the “MO” of late lactation—lingering longer in bed in the morning (for the goats, it’s all we can do to coax them onto the milk stand; even the enticement of grain isn’t that strong), scurrying to get inside and build a fire as the sun goes down. 

Holiday Markets and Holiday Farm Hours

We are attending THREE (yes, we’re crazy) farmers’ markets this Saturday: Urbana’s Holiday Market, Bloomington’s Thanksgiving Market and Chicago’s Green City Market (inside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum).  Yes, the forecast is calling for SNOW!!! Please don’t let the weather deter your holiday food shopping.  We farmers have a GREAT selection of locally raised, delicious products to offer you. For our part, we’re bringing lots of CHEESE:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Feta aged in whey brine: this cheese is PERFECT for crumbling on your roasted beets or root-veggie casseroles
  • Angel Food: perfectly ripe bloomy rind ready to greet your holiday guests
  • Goldenrod: our gooey full-flavored washed rind—new batch is gooey on the edges and will make a great appetizer warmed with tart jam or vegetable crudité.
  • Moonglo:  try shaving this raw milk beauty on your mashed potatoes—your guests will be overwhelmed
  • Huckleberry Blue: blue cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, salad greens-what more can I say?

We have farm-house crackers and jams to accompany these cheeses too—one stop shopping for an all-local cheese platter. 

Gelato: You will need this to top your pies (only Urbana and Bloomington markets will be offering limited flavors of gelato, sorry Chicago):

  • Chocolate
  • Holiday Spice—perfect for pumpkin or apple pie
  • Cardamom
  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Sugar Plum Sorbetto

Don’t forget to grab a few bags of salted goats’ milk caramels, special bourbon goats’ milk caramels, goat milk soaps or a “chippy the goat” tea towel as house-warming gifts for your holiday feast hosts. 

Farm Hours during the Holiday Season and Internet Sales

The farm will be open on Friday (10AM to 5 PM) after Thanksgiving, the 27th.  I will also be attending the Urbana Holiday Market on Saturday the 28th (Farm will probably be open that day too—10AM to 4PM).  In the spirit of celebrating the true meaning of Thanksgiving (giving thanks for the bountiful harvests of the season), I won’t be bombarding you will “black Friday” emails. If you’d like to come out to the farm with your families or visiting friends, we will be around. 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATRONAGE

 

If you’re not local and you want to get your hands on some PFF&C products, you can now purchase our T-shirts, tea towels and goat milk soaps on our website.


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 11/16/2015 6:03pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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We're entering the season of celebrating the harvest, and we at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery have a lot of "fruits of our labors" to offer you.  We kick off the season with our Pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Open House this WEDNESDAY, November 18th from 4-6 PM (road detour is still in effect, so please follow detour directions to get to the farm). 

We'll have cheese, gelato, crackers, caramels, jams, pickles and Chef Alisa's famous chevre-cheese cake by the slice.

Stewart's Artisan Breads will be here, along with Caveny Farm (pre-ordered Heritage Turkeys only) and Laurence the Knife Dude to sharpen your carving knives.  We'll also have sausages by Piemonte Sausage Co.

Oregon v. France Happy Hour at Prairie Fruits Farm. Friday, November 20th (4-7 PM), come out to the farm for a truly "Happy Hour."  Todd Fusco of Art Mart will be teaming up with Chef Alisa to taste wines and enjoy some finger foods. The theme is Oregon v. Burgundy. Todd will be pouring a selection of fantastic Pinots from Elk Cove and two excellent Burgundy producers, Taupenot-Merme and Jaeger-Defaix.  He will also be pouring the extremely rare 2011 Elk Cove La Boehme Brut Rosé. Plus, in a shameless plug (Todd's quote) , he will be celebrating his 29th birthday….again. So look forward to some surprises.

Tickets are $25 a person and can be purchased at Art Mart; or by phone at 217 344 7979Wine and food menu below.

Appetizer Menu

Spiced pecans

Gingered pork meatballs with lemongrass

Chicken liver mousse crostini with chili jam

Leek and Feta flatbread with fennel and herbs

 Mushroom Arancini

Roasted Red Kuri squash soup shooters

 Wines

2011 Elk Cove La Boheme Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine $59.99

2014 Elk Cove Pinot Gris $19.99

2012 Elk Cove Clay Court Pinot Noir $49.99

2012 Elk Cove La Boheme Pinot Noir $49.99

2012 Domaine Jaeger-Defaix Rully Clos du Chapitre 1er $34.99

2009 Taupenot-Merme Gevrey Chambertin Bel-Air 1er $89.99

Saturday, November 21st: Three Holiday Farmers' Markets: Urbana, Bloomington and Chicago's Green City Market. I'll be sending out details for these markets later this week.

 


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 11/12/2015 6:36pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News (really off the farm)

This week we travelled west to celebrate my father-in-law’s 90th birthday.  The Jarrell clan moved west from the Arkansas hills to the Oregon hills during the Great Depression.  They're made of tough stock; hard scrabble survivors and resourceful people.  My father-in-law, Burl, walks their little farm on the hill daily, outpacing folks a fraction of his age, conversing while traversing the slopes without a noticeable change in breath. 

With the birthday celebrations behind us, we decided to visit a goat dairy that had moved just up the road from the Jarrell farm, Fraga Farm.  It's always great to meet fellow farmstead goat dairy folks.  I’ve always found them gracious and open to sharing “war” stories and tastes of cheese.  We sat around their dining room table, talking goat health, cheese aging and market customers, in between bites of bread, jam and cheese. 

guinea hog and goats 

We knew we weren’t in “Kansas” anymore (aka Midwest) when they talked about their customers’ zealous conversations about goat auras. They milk mostly Alpines, we milk Nubians and La Manchas. They milk year-round (seems to be easier to do in Oregon than the cold climes of the Midwest) while we milk seasonally. We make similar repertoires of cheeses-chevre, bloomies, raw milk tommes, and we struggle with the same challenges of cheese aging conditions and ensuring our cheeses are clean and safe. We both have friendly farm critters who greet visitors—theirs are banty hens and guinea hogs, ours are canine (Blue) and caprine (Athena—the little white Nigerian Dwarf “escape goat.”). With the Oregonian fall fog bearing down on us, we departed Fraga Farm, cheeses gifts in hand, hazelnut orchard on the other side of the dirt road.   

pasture tree in mist

Farmers’ Markets and Holiday Markets

This Saturday, November 14th, we move inside Lincoln Square Mall for Urbana’s Holiday Market at the Square. The market hours are 8AM to 1PM and our booth is located on the south end of the market (next to Art Mart).

Next week, we are hosting a pre-Thanksgiving Holiday “Open House” on Wednesday, November 18th from 4-6 PM. We’ll have cheese, bread (Stewart’s Artisan Breads), gelato, knife sharpening and Caveny Farm turkey pick up. Details forthcoming early next week.  Saturday, the 21st, we’ll be attending THREE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY MARKETS: Urbana, Bloomington and Chicago’s Green City Market.

For this weekend, we have the following cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food—crottin style
  • “Peaches ‘N Dreams”—a special 10th anniversary cheese ---lactic curd bloomy rind discs with a peach jam filling (this cheese is a creation of my cheese makers, Lynn and Dani, make as a complete surprise)
  • Feta in whey brine
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue  

For gelato, we’ll have:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Holiday Spice 
  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Cardamom
  • Sugar Plum Sorbetto
  • Pumpkin  

We will also have salted goat-milk caramels and farm-house crackers.  Stay tuned for details about all the holiday food offerings. In addition to markets, we will be taking orders for holiday cheese platters. 

 


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 11/5/2015 10:21pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

After a cold rainy farmers’ market last Saturday, the clouds parted and the strength of the sun reached my aching bones.  The warmth and green growth that displaced the cold feels more like spring than fall. If it weren’t for the crimson, harvest gold and burnt orange ‘70’s-kitchen colors of the leaves that are falling on this newly green grass, I’d swear we were back in April.  The clematis and quince even have flowers, and I spied several bees on some dill blossoms in the herb garden.  While I relish the warmth of these early November days, the receding daylight tells me that something’s not quite right with this weather.  Tonight’s gentle rain will usher in the cold anew, and the fall will take its rightful place again. 

November is the month that our doelings walk over the threshold to adulthood.  We have been busy these past few days finalizing breeding plans and setting up pens for the new nuptials.  I know they are ready biologically, because several of them have been cycling into heat over the past couple of weeks.  The intellectual side of my brain accepts this reality of nature; the emotional side of my brain struggles with letting go of my “babies.” You’d think I would get used to this transition after so many years.  It’s still pulls me in two directions.

Farmers’ Market News

This Saturday, November 7th is the last outdoor market of the season for the Urbana Market at the Square.  We will be there with layered clothing and lots of great cheese, gelato and other goodies.  We WON’T be at the first Indoor Green City Market until November 21st.  So, come on down to Urbana this weekend.  For cheese, we have:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat milk Feta in whey brine
  • Angel Food—this late lactation batch is nice and creamy
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—the last of the season
  • Black Goat—also the last of the season
  • Goldenrod—it’s so gooey and delicious, you should eat it with a spoon.  In fact, it makes a great fondue. We’ll have recipe cards for a simple fondue
  • Moonglo—the nuttiness is very prominent in this batch
  • Huckleberry Blue—perfect with fall pears

For gelato:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate-Hazelnut
  • Pumpkin
  • Strawberry Cheese Cake
  • Holiday Spice
  • Sugar Plum Sorbetto

Don’t forget about farm- house crackers (oat-chevre and chive flatbread) and goat milk caramels.  Our chef, Alisa, has been very busy in the kitchen this week making jams for the holiday markets.  We’ll be hosting a pre-Thanksgiving “Open House” on Wednesday, November 18th and we’ll be attending three farmers’ markets on Saturday the 21st of November (Urbana, Bloomington and Green City Market).  Stay tuned for details about these markets.   


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 10/30/2015 8:37am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

The imminent shift from daylight savings to standard time has me pondering the plunge into darker days.  Our ancient ancestors crafted myths and mythological figures to cope with the dark, and, amazingly, goats feature prominently in many of these myths.  Amalthea, a lovely doe, was the wet nurse for Zeus.  In fact, many of the Greek gods were nourished by goat milk.  Pan, half human-half goat, personified the god of all things wild and natural (and decadent); even the Romans evoked goat iconography in their mythologies.  The Vikings were not to be left out.  Thor’s chariot was pulled by two goats in Norse mythology: Tanngrisnir (Old Norse "teeth-barer, snarler") and Tanngnjóstr (Old Norse "teeth grinder"). 

How fitting that this year’s theme for our yearling does is “goddesses.”  We gave equal opportunity to goddesses from all ancient cultures: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Nordic, Celtic and Hindu.  We named the lovely little Chicory doe “Aphrodite,” the Greek goddess of love and fertility. She was made irresistible to the opposite sex by her beautiful “girdle” (in our doeling’s case, it’s her gorgeous spots).  Then there’s “Athena.” We gave this name to the little white Nigerian Dwarf doeling out of Zaya—the one who is always escaping from the pens to greet our visitors.  Athena means ‘sharp’ and ‘mind of god.” Athena had “great intellectual ability to see the true nature of the situation”—how fitting is that?? We have Freya (Nordic goddess of love, beauty, war, wealth and magic), Lakshmi (Hindu goddess of abundance) and Nike (goddess of speed—we gave this name to one of the does who is impossible to catch).  These newly named, strong and powerful doelings will soon join the ranks of the milking herd.  Maybe their strong ties to the ancient goddesses will ease the darkness and cold of winter. 

Athena

"Athena"--mind of god; taking a moment to groom herself

Farmers’ Markets-Some Outdoor Markets ending this weekend

Stock up on some not-so-scary cheese at Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market. This Saturday is the last outdoor market for Green City, and we won’t be returning to the indoor market (at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum) until November 21st.   We have one more outdoor market in Urbana (November 7th) and then we move inside Lincoln Square Mall for the “Holiday Market” season (starts November 14th). 

The cheese offerings:

  • Fresh chevre-- plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—oh so creamy and rich this time of year
  • Feta aged in whey brine--tangy and crumbly—perfect for topping a pizza or hearty stew Angel Food—these little crottin-style bloomies are nice and ripe—get a few to enjoy at your adult Halloween parties
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—the last of our camembert style goat rounds for the season-get ‘em while they last—they’re simply delicious right now
  • Black Goat—its rind is appropriately “scary” for the holiday, but once you cut it open and pop a slice in your mouth, you’ll be comforted
  • Goldenrod—hard cider-washed rind cheese; if any of our cheeses embodies Hallow’s eve, it’s this orange-rinded gooey cheese.  It’s quite ripe and gooey and would be perfect as the base for a cheese fondue (again, thinking about those adult Halloween holiday parties)
  • Moonglo—semi-hard, raw milk tomme—it’s the perfect balance of fruity and nutty
  • Huckleberry Blue—our raw milk blue; try crumbling it on some roasted winter squash—you’ll be blown away

Gelato-Yes it’s cold outside, but who doesn’t love to curl up by the fire with a bowl of ice cream?

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel
  • Holiday Spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice)
  • Cardamom
  • Pistachio
  • Sugar Plum (spiced Plum sorbetto)

Farm Happenings

Farm to Table: Don’t forget to check out the menu for our upcoming Beer Dinner with Guest Chef Nathan Sears (Das Radler, Chicago) and Blind Pig Brewery, Saturday November 7th.

We still have a few seats left. Farm Classes: We still have openings for our Cheese Styles, Tasting and PairingsClass this coming Thursday, November 5th, 6-8:30 PM. 

If you want to become erudite in all things cheese, this class is for you!  We’re partnering with The Land Connection and Traderspoint Creamery (IN) to offer a “Dairy Start-up” Workshop on Sunday, November 15th, 1:00-5:00 PM.  The workshop will be held at our farm and you’ll learn all the basics about animal husbandry, milking, parlor design, regulations and value added products. If you’re thinking about getting into dairy (even on a very small scale), you should come.  Need some enticement? Check out this little video: https://thelandconnection.org/tlc-store/smalldairy

 


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 10/22/2015 10:28pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Our goat herd is certified “Animal Welfare Approved” and has been for over seven years.  Most of our customers have no idea what this means.  In short, it’s a third-party certification program that holds our farm to strict standards of pasture-based production and humane treatment of our animals. Many in the business of sustainable agriculture consider it the “gold standard” of livestock production.  In my conversations with our customers, I find a lot of confusion about farms that are certified.  Most folks seem to know something about “certified organic,” but few have barely heard of programs such as “Certified Humane” or “Naturally Grown” or “Animal Welfare Approved.”  Moreover, there are lots and lots of labels out there that lack clear definition and at times are meant to deceive the consumer.

As farmers and former educators, we can’t resist the opportunity to set the record straight about labels and claims that farms make to earn your business.   The Animal Welfare Institute has a great guide to food labels, certification programs and what the claims mean: https://awionline.org/content/consumers-guide-food-labels-and-animal-welfare

We chose Animal Welfare Approved or AWA certification because of its rigor and its adherence to pasture-based livestock production practices. AWA’s standards are designed to let each livestock species exhibit the true essence of their nature. For example, we must have climbing structures for all goats of all ages, because goats love to climb. 

Our AWA auditor arrived this morning to conduct his annual inspection of our farm and to review our management plans.  It’s an intense half-day process. AWA sends a new auditor each year, likely to maintain completely impartiality between the auditor and the audited. Over the years, we have questioned the humaneness behind some of the standards, and we have conducted our own research to make sure we can defend our arguments.  This is the first year that we have been audited during breeding season, making continuous access to pasture (one of their “no negotiation” requirements) a challenge for some of our breeding groups.  After much discussion, we will be modifying our pens so that all groups can have their time for pasture “recess.” 

Farmers’ Markets We’ll be attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market. There’s a chance of rain (which we really need), but just put on your galoshes and grab your umbrella and head to the last outdoor markets of the season.  We are still pretty flush with cheese:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Feta aged in whey brine
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy rind cheese
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-these camembert-style cheeses won’t be around too much longer, so get them while they last
  • Black Goat-ash-ripened, slightly funky, but delicious
  • Goldenrod-our newest cheese, a washed rind pungent beauty, try it with sliced apples
  • Moonglo-raw milk tomme; creamy, fruity, perfect with pears
  • Huckleberry Blue-raw milk blue, great with sautéed fall greens and toasted nuts

We have gelato too:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Pumpkin (made with local “Triple Treat” pumpkins from The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur IL)
  • Strawberry Cheesecake (made with dried local strawberries and our fresh chevre)
  • Cardamom
  • Salted Caramel
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Plum Sorbetto

We will also be bringing our salted goat milk caramels and farm house crackers as well as our goat milk soaps—we have a few new types including “lemon crazy,” “Thyme for roses” and “prairie lavender.”

Farm Happenings We have two remaining farm dinners with seats still available.  Guest Chef Nathan Sears of The Radler, Chicago will be teaming up with brew meister, Bill Morgan, of local Blind Pig Brewery fame, to craft a modern German meal to remember (November 7th). The menu is now posted on our website as well as the link to ticket sales.

While our Cheese Making class is sold out, we still have places open for our two evening workshops—Sensory evaluation of cheese (October 29th) and Cheese Accompaniments (November 5th).  You’ll learn a bit about cheese styles, how to describe what you’re tasting and how to pair cheese to enhance the flavors. Bring a friend or two; it will be lots of fun.

We’re also teaming up with Traderspoint Creamery and The Land Connection to offer a half-day workshop on starting your own farmstead dairy (November 15th).  Stay tuned for more details or visit The Land Connection’s website.    

 


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 10/15/2015 8:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

As I review the breeding notes pages we keep in our milking parlor, I’m amazed at the speed with which some of our bucks are “getting the job done.” Mocha, the elder statesman La Mancha (he’s five years old, but that’s old for a breeding buck), is all business. If the notes are accurate, he has already bred the 12 does in his group.  We had been concerned about his health and overall fitness for breeding over the summer, but we indulged him with lots of grain, and hoped he’d get in the mood when his girls surrounded him.  Nate and Harry, our two Nubian bucks, like to serenade their ladies. I always know when one of their does comes into heat when the goat songs bellow forth from the doe barn. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a little too much singing and not enough action.  For some reason, their melodies remind me of the mating songs of Humpback whales. 

The cooler crisp fall weather has put us in a mood to get ready for winter. The lack of rain has forced us to irrigate our cover crop and winter wheat plot so it germinates.  We’re cleaning up barns, washing windows and putting up new doors so we can keep our goats warm and dry when the snow flies.  The call for killing frost tomorrow night means curtains for the tomato crop.  We pulled up the remaining vines and picked all the remaining tomatoes, green and all.  This is always a bittersweet time for me—savoring the last of the summer sweet fruit, but secretly glad we won’t have to pick them anymore.

In the cheeserie, the decline in milk production means fewer batches of cheese.  It also means we’ve started planning for the final farmers’ markets of the fall season.  This year, we decided to make a washed rind cheese for the fall and the holidays.  For those unfamiliar with cheese terminology, a washed rind cheese is bathed regularly in a culture-brine wash to create a sticky (and stinky) rind, usually yellow to orange in color, (very fitting for fall) with a dense, melty interior.   Aficionados of washed rind cheeses look past the aromas of “stinky feet” because their taste buds are rewarded with an explosion of buttery cheese-ness.  We decided to wash the rinds of our cheese with a Michigan cider (hard apple cider) to infuse the a little bit of autumn into the rind.  We’re calling this cheese “Goldenrod” in honor of the prolific fall blooms surrounding our farm and the golden color of the rind.  We hope you’ll try some at the markets this Saturday.

Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market this Saturday. We have:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Feta in whey brine
  • Angel Food—crottin style—perfectly ripe for eating this week
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: camembert style; tasting nicely despite its youth
  • Black Goat—this batch of ash-ripened robiola style cheese is a dense and fudgy
  • Moonglo: raw milk tomme
  • Huckleberry Blue: raw milk blue
  • Magia Negra: these are the last wedges for a while so get some now
  • Goldenrod: our NEW washed rind cheese

Gelato flavors include:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Pumpkin
  • Local Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Fresh Mint
  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Plum Sorbetto
We will also have salted goat milk caramels, house-made crackers and goat milk soaps for sale too. 

Farm Happenings: Our cheese making class is sold out, but there are still tickets available for our two other cheese classes (sensory evaluation and pairings).  We also have tickets available for the last two farm dinners of the season—November 7th and December 5th. 


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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 10/8/2015 11:17pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

This Saturday, we celebrate the culmination of the 2015 growing season with our “100 Yard Dinner on the Farm.”  When we began to offer farm dinners in 2008, our primary motivation was to showcase the diverse and delicious foods grown in our “backyard” (central Illinois).  At that time, we, as fellow farmers and food lovers, knew how amazing the vegetables, fruits, meats and eggs were from our neighboring farms, but we felt this great food was a too well-kept secret.  At some point in our brainstorming, we decided to challenge ourselves by crafting a five-course meal with ALL (well, everything except salt, pepper, olive oil, sugar and some spices) the ingredients grown on our farm exclusively.  The “100 Yard Dinner” was born. 

While we acknowledge that our farm’s inherent diversity makes it relatively easy to craft a five-course meal with homegrown ingredients (not everyone has their own dairy, makes their own cheese or has their own orchard and vegetable garden or their own flock of laying hens), we have come to realize that it takes a lot of planning (and good luck) to ensure we have enough diversity and quantity to feed 50 people. Dairy products are a given throughout the menu, from milk to yogurt to cheese.  

The vegetable planning begins in winter when we order seeds for the garden.  Tomatoes are a must have, but not just any tomatoes—we usually get at least a dozen varieties of heirlooms and hybrids representing a mix of processing and fresh eating tomatoes.  Potatoes have been another staple as well as onions and garlic.  In some years past, we’ve had the full gamut of vegetables from beans to cucumbers, squashes, sweet potatoes and greens.  In more recent years, we’ve streamlined our garden to the basic staple vegetables and some fall greens.  On a much smaller scale, we fret about the same things that all vegetable producers fret over: too much rain, too little rain, planting time, varmint (voles, rabbits) damage, weed pressure, insect pests, plant diseases… the list is long.  Since the garden is not our main enterprise, we struggle with justifying labor to get the garden established, maintained and harvested.  We’re also uneasy about timing the plantings of our fall vegetables to be ready for harvest in early October (this remains our Achilles heel). 

The fruit offerings have been a great source of anxiety as well.  Each winter, we hold our breath when the forecast calls from temperatures dipping close to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the temperature at which flower buds freeze and no flowers emerge to produce fruits.  If we dodge the winter temperature bullet, then there’s the worrying about spring freezes, insect damage and plant diseases (fire blight and pears for example).   Organic tree fruit production the Midwest is roller coaster ride of the Coney Island persuasion. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the choice of animal protein for the meal.  For the first few years, we stuck exclusively to poultry, believing they would be “easier” to raise than other meat animals.  Our trials and tribulations with guinea fowl, freedom ranger chickens, Muscovy ducks and Bronze turkeys are the stuff of legends. Each year, we started with grandiose ideas about how to raise them in moveable pens, serving multiple objectives of controlling insect pests in the orchard, eating flies, fertilizing the soil, etc.  From predators to fly away jail birds (the guineas remain the prize winners for escape rates), poultry raising has its own set of challenges.

We tried our hands at whey-fed pork a couple of years ago (I won’t go into the details here), and we went back to guinea fowl this year.  The turkey tractor that we built last year was repurposed for the guineas this year. I ordered the day-old keets (baby guineas) through Rural King (who knew!!), and they arrived four weeks later than promised (Fourth of July instead of early June).  We set them out in the turkey tractor in the “savannah” in front of our house.  There were lots of weeds for them to graze, and the shade from the trees reduced the heat stress tremendously.  Blue, our dog, along with a giant fish-catching net, proved essential in herding and catching escapees.  They grew remarkably fast, and we collected them in the early morning hours on Tuesday to take to the “processor” in Arthur. Their final weight was not as big as we had achieved in previous years (three weeks makes a big difference in their growth rate), but they are respectable.  Saturday, we will sit down with our guests to a homegrown feast. The farm’s cheese makers and herd manager will join us.  As I reflect on the season and its challenges, I still believe that the rewards outweigh them. 

guineas

Farmers’ Market News

We’ll be attending the Urbana “Market at the Square” only this weekend.  We WON’T be attending Chicago’s Green City Market (but we’ll return on Saturday the 17th).  We have some delicious bloomy rind cheeses for you this weekend—all perfectly ripe for eating:

  • Angel Food
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Black Goat (if you’ve been waiting for a gooey batch, your ship has come in this week)
  • We also have chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh Ricotta-special fall batch—limited supply; come early if you want some
  • Feta in brine and olive oil—very limited quantities of both
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Magia Negra—last pieces of the first batch

We still have lots of gelato by the pint for your enjoyment:

  • Fresh mint
  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin
  • Local Ginger
  • Salted Caramel
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Pistachio
  • Plum Sorbetto

We also have farmhouse crackers and salted goat milk caramels too. Our fruit will be at the market as well (in aisle 3—north end)—apples, cider and some baked goods. 

Saturday, October 10th, is our final “Apple Daze” of the season. Come out to the farm from 1-4PM to pick apples, enjoy some cider and pick up some baked goods, cheese, gelato and more.  It should be a glorious fall day, so come on out. 

Sunday, October 11th, is the screening of the documentary film “A Farmers’ Road” about Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. It will be shown at the Art Theater in downtown Champaign—2:30-5:00 pm. Wine and cheese reception will follow the screening along with a Q&A with the director and the “cast.”  Check out the details on our Facebook Event Page. 

Don’t forget to check out our schedule of fall cheese classes. Fall is for learning and we promise you’ll become your household’s cheese expert after taking one or more of our classes. 


Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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.