Fall Frost, Late Lactation Sheep Milk AND Farm Dinner 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.
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.
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.
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
We’ve also got some of our beautiful amber farmstead honey to accompany those cheeses. The weather will be perfect for gelato as well:
- Mint Stracciatella
- Lemon Verbena-Thyme
- Anise Hyssop
- 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:
- 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