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Taking the farm on the road, the leap of desire, market offerings and farm events

Posted 9/27/2018 10:36pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Sometimes you have to bring the farm to the people if the people can’t get to the farm.  The farm’s most frequent traveler-ambassador is our cheese.  This week, I traveled north twice with my cultured (get it??) ambassador, first to Naperville and later to downtown Chicago. On Monday evening, I partnered with the talented cheese and wine staff of Standard Market-Naperville to co-host a wine and cheese pairing.

The cheese monger crafted a show stopping board with chevre, little bloom, black goat and Moonglo and a range of accompaniments. The wine guy selected two whites and two reds from all over the globe (from Alsace to Washington State) to pair with each of the four cheeses. The group of 20 was lively and engaged. The pairings were spot on.  I love opening people’s minds to new flavors and textures and blowing out their expectations about what goat cheeses should taste like. 

cheese board

Wednesday, I was back in the truck headed north on I-57, this time loaded with coolers for Chicago cheese deliveries and a fall “Illinois Makers” festival in downtown Chicago—where Michigan Avenue meets the Chicago River. When we arrived, the folks from the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur had already erected their tower of cucurbits (that’s the scientific name of the family of pumpkins, squashes and gourds) in the middle of the city plaza.  As we set up our booth, we watched the city people and tourists cluster around the squash tower, positioning themselves for photos, drawn to the beauty of nature like moths to a flame. 

The plaza ebbed and flowed with office workers in their city finest, strolling by the market tents, intrigued by the juxtaposition of farm fare with the towering eclectic sky scrapers.  Tourists of many nationalities wandered up the stairs from the river, no doubt fresh from their boat tour. Again, the festival provided the means to employ cheese as a vehicle to engage people in conversations about central Illinois, farming, goats, seasonal milk and back to cheese.  Who knew that cheese could change people’s expectations, force them to think outside their routine. 

While we were closing up shop at the festival, I got a frantic call from the gentleman (his name is Abad) taking care of our bucks this year. In Spanish (he is from Puebla Mexico), he excitedly reported that he had found one of the does in the buck pen. He had no idea how she got there, and it was clear she was in heat and had been mounted by one of our bucks. Trying to remain calm, toting coolers and other market paraphernalia toward the truck, I told him to bring her back to the parlor so she could get milked. 

This evening, after chores, Abad recounted the full story of this tale of caprine desire.  When he got to the buck pen to feed them yesterday evening, he found the doe, Sabrina, on the outside of the buck pen, standing next to water trough. When she saw Abad, she knew she had been “busted,” and starting heading back through the orchard toward the barn. All of a sudden, she turned around, put the proverbial “petal to the metal” and launched into a full gallop back toward the buck pen. Abad stood in amazement as Sabrina vaulted herself gracefully over the top of the fencing and landed squarely in front of the object of her desire—Nate, our stately Nubian buck.  Within seconds, Nate mounted her. Within minutes the other bucks in the pen were fighting for her attentions.  The saying that a fence that can hold water is the only fence that can hold in a goat is apt, unless she’s a doe in heat, driven to seek out the scratch to sooth her itch. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  This week’s text club special encourages you to stock up on cheese while the selection is good. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings The forecast is cool and sunny weather-perfect for market shopping. We have a great new line up of cheeses as well as gelato flavors for you, so come out and support your local farmers this Saturday. This is the time of year when summer produce is still abundant and fall crops are starting to make their appearances. The cooler weather is conducive to cooking, so come to the market and get inspired.  

If you can’t make it to the market, our farm store is open Friday evening, 4-7 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm. Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper-late summer/early fall milk is making some rich chevre-stock up and throw some in your freezer for winter.
  • Fresh chevre with dried tomatoes! It’s back and it’s delicious as ever. We grow the mini-Roma tomatoes called Juliette, dry them chop them up and then blend them into our fresh chevre.  This is my favorite flavor of chevre.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Tomatoes are still plentiful and delicious. With the cooler weather, why not roast some tomatoes with crumbled feta and fresh chopped herbs?  VERY LIMITED THIS WEEK, AND THEN ON A BRIEF HIATUS FROM THE MARKET FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is young but loaded with flavor; buttery, milky and slightly mushroomy. Enjoy simply on a slice of crusty bread with local honey or jam. This week’s “perfect pairing” is little bloom with our house-made pear butter.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy rind cheese with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is young and firm.  It has a wonderful yeasty aroma and a tart lemony paste.
  • Moonglo:  Our first spring milk batches of this raw milk tomme (sort of like a Gouda, but not really) are making their debut at the market and in the farm store. The spring milk produces a lighter, tangy paste with hints of pineapple. The texture of the cheese is a bit more firm than fall milk batches. Melts well, or just slice and enjoy with your favorite salami.
  • Lunar Eclipse: Earlier this spring, when milk was plentiful, we experimented with a cheese make that attempted to hybridize our “Magia Negra” (a Manchego-style cheese with a black currant rub on the rind) with our Moonglo.  Lunar Eclipse is the same size as our Moonglo wheels, but has a very different paste texture and flavor profile. The paste is slightly dry and crumbly, making it suited to both slicing and grating. The flavor has hints of tannins from the black currant rub.  It looks like the dark side of the moon, but the flavor will put you over the moon (we hope). 

lunar eclipse

  • Green Peppercorn-Barley Wine Moonglo: another spring-milk experiment. Just before the curds had set in the vat, we add cracked green peppercorns and a touch of a local barley wine.  The cheese wheels have been aging for nearly five months, and the verdict is complex deliciousness.  The green peppercorns give a hint of pepperiness, the barley wine provides a bit of sweetness; the combination is sure to delight.

Gelato: We still have a great selection of both gelato and sorbetto flavors this week, although some flavors are quite limited. Pints only at the market ($10 each or 3 for $27); scoops at the farm during open hours. Market pint flavors include:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans, Carlyle IL)-limited availability
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)-limited availability
  • Honey-Vanilla-Chevre (made with local  honey)—limited availability
  • Tart Cherry Amaretto-Stracciatella (it’s a mouthful –local cherries marinated in amaretto liquor with a chocolate ganache ribbon throughout)—premium flavor costs $12/pint
  • Sicilian Pistachio (premium flavor—pure Italian pistachio paste) $12/pint
  • Pear Amaretto Sorbetto (made with our Seckel pears)
  • Pear Frangelico Sorbetto
  • Ginger White Peach Sorbetto

If haven’t figured out yet where we are at the market this year: Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm. The outdoor market goes until the end of October this year, then, we will be moving inside Lincoln Square Mall starting November 3rd. The market DOES NOT end once it moves inside; it’s just a change of venue.

Farm Store Fall Hours

We have new hours for the fall:  Fridays, 4-7 pm and Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. Now that the weather is cooler, the farm is a great place to visit and to shop.  On Fridays, come out after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired, our own house-made jams or pickled veggies, grab some Central IL Bake-house or Bread Co. baguette bread and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Enjoy the changes of the season. Visit with the goats-they will be in breeding pens in a few weeks. They always love to be petted, and they might try to trick you into feeding them some hay.  Walk through the orchard, or even take stroll down to our restored prairie. The farm has amazing natural beauty.

Shop in our farm store “The Real Stand.” In addition to our cheese and gelato, we’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co. (Bernie’s Classic Sweet, Cantalupo and Chicken Apple are back in stock as well as bulk chorizo sausage), jams and pickled veggies by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more.


PFFC goat meat—we have one pound packages of stew meat, goat loin or rib chops (4 to a package) and leg shanks (2 to a package). We also have shoulder roasts (approx. 4-5 lb. packages). Pasture raised, very lean and mild, try the meat that most of the rest of the world enjoys regularly. 

Apples from Red Crib Acres (formerly Wolfe Orchard) in Monticello-we have three new varieties this weekend: Mutsu (large, crisp and tart), Jonagold (perfectly sweet-tart) and Smokehouse (a crisp, yellow fleshed apple that tastes like cider). $2.75/pound. 

Two Million Blooms Honey: we’ll have 1 lb. squeeze bottles and 1 lb. fancy bottles for sale this weekend.  Can’t wait to have their honey back in the store.

Farm Dinners: Fall season is upon us, and most of the remaining farm dinners have sold out already.  I encourage you to book your tickets now for the two remaining dates (Oct. 6th and December 8th). The beer dinner on Saturday, October 6th will now feature Bane Family Meats pastured pork and beers from Triptych Brewery.  Guest Chef, Mark Hartstein (currently cooking at bacaro, and was one of the co-founders of Watson’s Shack & Rail) and his partner, Leslie Bettridge (GM at Farrens) have crafted a gorgeous and creative menu to go with the wonderful and varied beers of Triptych Brewery, so check it out and grab your tickets before they’re sold out!

Sunday, October 21st Cider Dayz at the Farm-mark your calendars for our second annual fall apple cider festival. From 1-4 pm, you’ll be able to press your own cider, enjoy a cider-gelato float, grab some fresh apples (and maybe even meet the farm who grew them) and savor some cider-inspired pastries.  Details to come but put this one on your calendars.

Saturday, November 3rd Meet the Cheese Maker at Eataly Chicago, 12:30-1:30 pm. We’ll be headed up to Chicago to do a special cheese tasting and wine pairing.  Sign up here: https://www.eataly.com/us_en/classes-and-events/chicago/cheese-tasting-with-local-producer-prairie-fruits-farm-creamery-2018-11-03-5033 

Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. 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.