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Insect wows and woes, black goat in the spotlight, farm happenings and market news

Posted 8/3/2017 10:41pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

At this time last Thursday, I was in full nocturnal exploration bliss.  Our little band of budding entomologists meandered from “hot spot” to “hot spot,” black light flashlights in hand, in search of the creatures of the night.  Guided by our entomologist experts, we poked around flower heads, tree bark and just let the night sounds take us where they may. We were rewarded with strange & shiny bark beetles, lots and lots of spiders snaring unsuspecting night fliers, Conehead katydids with menacing mandibles (they really do like the Saturday night live characters), baby praying mantids and honey bees sleeping in a curled up sunflower.  Our night foray ended a bit too early for the really showy moths (apparently sphynx moths don’t come out until after 10:30 pm and the beautiful Luna moths come on the scene at 2 AM!!), but the early dark of night was a thrill for young and old alike. 

By day, I have been on the war path against the reviled cucumber beetle.  They may look attractive with their bright yellow bodies and striking black spots, but their dirty little feet carry fungal wilts that kill the vines of all cucurbits;—that means summer and fall squashes as well as cucumbers.  Last evening, at dusk, I mixed up some “Surround,” a wettable clay powder, to spray on the leaves and stems of our squashes. The white clay coats the plants vital parts, and makes an unpalatable barrier for the cucumber beetles.  This organic approach to beetle eating works well, but it washes off with heavy rains.  As I shut up the barns in advance of the severe thunderstorm bearing down on our region tonight, my mind wandered to my white-washed squash plants. I’ll have to break out the sprayer again tomorrow after the rains. 

This past weekend, we received the news (via tweet, of course) from the American Cheese Society’s Annual Cheese Competition that our “black goat” had taken third price in the category “Farmstead Cheeses, All milks, cheeses aged less than 60 days.”  This little ash-coated bloomy rind has a bit of cheese funk (in a good way), and we’re pretty pleased that it won the hearts of the cheese judges in a very broad and competitive class.  We’re so proud of our cheese makers, Lynn and Dani, for their tireless attempts to perfect this challenging cheese.  We have lots of this winner to share with you at the farm and at the farmers’ markets. 

Farmers’ Market News We’re attending one market this Saturday, August 5th:  Urbana’s Market at the Square.  It should be another beautiful day for taking in the glorious produce bounty of the season.  We’re running a special on a very gooey batch of black goat (we made lots of it in preparation for the American Cheese Society competition, and it’s ripening very fast): buy one, get one free.  Get yourself a nice crusty baguette or rustic bread, slather on your favorite tart jam and then dip, dip, dip into the delicious gooeyness of the black goat—easy meal or appetizer.    

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Raw-milk Feta: Packed in whey brine for flavor and preservation, this cheese is perfect for a summer “Greek” salad.
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste, mushroomy rind
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; ON SALE THIS WEEK!!
  • Lena: a special bloomy rind cheese available at the Urbana market only (we made this for our CSA members); If Little Bloom and Black Goat had a baby, this would be their “love child”—ashed with a mushroomy rind-beautiful and delicious.  We still have a few of these left from last week-first come-first served!
  • Magia Negra: our nod to a Manchego style cheese, sharp nutty notes with hints of tart berries. Rind is rubbed with an olive oil-black currant & aronia berry paste
  • Moonglo: Our spring batches have a lighter, fruitier flavor profile than our rich & decadent fall batches.  The flavor is grassy and slightly tart. In addition to the picture perfect wedges, we are selling some discounted wedges that have some rind imperfections.  These are strictly cosmetic cracks that occurred when we had some temperature fluctuations in our aging room this spring.
  • Huckleberry Blue: We’re into the last wheels of our raw-goats’-milk blue. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—once it’s gone, you won’t see it again until next spring.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: our plain, whole-milk yogurt is simple and delicious.  It makes the perfect local “breakfast of champions” with local honey and fresh berries. 

Sorry, no crackers again this week.

Gelato is a must this time of year and we’ve got some great flavors this week:

  • Nectarine Sorbetto (made with Milleur Orchard fresh nectarines)
  • Lemon Crème (made with juice and zest of Meyer lemons)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Pineapple Sage with Fresh Pineapple
  • Chevre with Sea Salted Dark Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Mexican Coffee (cinnamon and a hint of cayenne)

Farm Happenings Farm Summer Hours:  Our week-day AND weekend hours are a great way to visit the farm when there aren’t lots of people here.  Take in the tranquility of the landscape and enjoy a scoop of gelato in the shade. Shop the Real Stand Farm store for cheese, meats, eggs, and gelato. 

We have Babb Farms, sweet corn! It’s tender and sweet, and it’s grown just up the road from our farm. NEW in the store: local honey by “Two Million Blooms.” It’s spring honey, so the color is a light golden. It’s really delicate and floral.  We also have Autumn Berry Jam—this tart jam will go splendidly with our black goat cheese.  U-pick peaches are still on hold as we wait for the next varieties to ripen.

Open hours are:

  • Wednesdays, 3-6 PM
  • Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM

Don't forget to follow directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue.

Family Friendly Happy Hour on the FarmFriday August 4th 5-7 PM.  Guest farmer Caveny Farm serving up lamb sliders and a side salad.  We will also welcome Riggs Brewery to the farm. They’ll be giving tastes and selling pints of their hefeweizen beer, brewed with 20% farm-ground barley!  You’ll be serenaded by the sounds of “The Sweedler Brothers,” a local trio who play jazzy-gypsy music (a la D’Jango Rheinhart).  Of course, we will have cheese, charcuterie, pickle plates and baguettes for “make-your-own” snacks, as well as Sarah’s addictive truffle-salt & yeast popcorn.  We’ll also be running a special with gooey black goat, baguette or tortilla crisp and a smear of autumn berry jam.  Finish the night with a scoop of gelato or a root beer float.  You can even come out and do some shopping-cheese, gelato, veggies grown at the farm by Deux Chevaux Farm (our incubator veggie growers). 

Farm Dinners

Due to low sign up of both seatings of our Cubano Brunch on Sunday, August 13th we are combining them into a single seating at 11 AM. This change will be take place by noon tomorrow. We will still have a few seats left for sale once that change is made, so if you’ve been thinking about attending, please do visit the website tomorrow afternoon.

The Summer Vegetarian Dinner (August 19th)  with guest chef Dan Compton, Vie Restaurant, Western Springs IL also has a few seats still available.  The menu is divine and the Big Thorn Farm beer pairings are perfect:

chevre-stuffed marinated peppers
moonglow cheese straws, smoked apple butter, summer squash escabeche
angel food and roasted cabbage empanadas, tomatillo salsa
citra sour  
heirloom tomatoes, wood-grilled corn, hawaiian bread, aioli, tarragon oil, hot peppers, black goat
farm pale with citra hops  
grilled summer vegetables cacio e pepe: beans, squashes, eggplant, tropea onions, kale, broccoli, magia negra, brown rice cake
farm red ale  
tart cherry clafouti, fresh blueberries, lemon verbena sour cream

After August, we have plenty of seats still available for our “Celebration of Squash” feast with guest chef Nicole Pederson of Found Restaurant, Evanston, IL and guest farmer, Mac Condill of the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur. We also have tickets to our “Pop-up pizza night” in October with Sunday Dinner Club chefs (two seatings). All other dinners are sold out.   

Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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.