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The joy of first asparagus, seasonal milk, Mothers' Day treats and other farm news

Posted 5/11/2018 11:22am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Hot off the grill, slender or fat, purple or green; biting into the first asparagus of the season is sublime.  Like so many seasonal foods, picked at their peak, there is no resemblance to the supermarket facsimiles who mimic them in appearance only.  Freshly picked, even better when you pick them yourself, brushed with a little olive oil and salt, softened on a hot grill for a matter of minutes—the secrets to maximum enjoyment are minimalist. 

There is something slightly strange about this stalky perennial vegetable that pokes it heads out of the ground each spring. It’s a textural and gustatory delight; the crunch, crunch, crunch upon entry into your mouth; the slightly sweet and slightly bitter flavors that explode on the palate as the stalk contents are revealed.  Right now, I can’t get enough. Soon, my asparagus gorging will turn to satiation. 

The lush pastures and the daily goat forays to the prairie are making their marks on the milk in the cheese vat. Already, we can see changes to the texture of the chevre and how the curd cuts for our Moonglo makes.  Each spring, we anticipate these changes. We try to explain them to those new to seasonal milk; it is not something imagined, it is real.  After many years of eyes on the surface of a vat of chevre or hands stirring delicate and fragile curds, we know what the goats are eating, even without witnessing their buried heads in the grass. 

TRY OUR NEW TEXT MESSAGING PROGRAM: In our efforts to seek out better ways to keep our patrons up to date on the latest farm happenings, special product promotions and farmers’ market offerings, we are pleased to announce a new text message program.  You won’t get unwanted text messages from Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. You simply send a text message to 30500 with one or more of the key words below, and we only send messages to those who want to receive them.  Think of this as a rewards program for our most loyal customers.

  • For general farm announcements, text GOAT to 30500
  • For special farmers’ market offers and promotions (Urbana’s Market at the Square patrons), text URBANA to 30500
  • For the latest news on farm to table meals, text TABLE to 30500
  • For CSA members, text CSA to 30500
  • For specials and events at the farm store, text FARMSTORE to 30500

We hope you’ll give it a try.  This past week, we gave away a free chevre at the Urbana Market at the Square (the lucky winner is picking up her chevre this weekend). This coming week, we’ll offer a free pint of gelato (to be redeemed at the Urbana Market on Saturday, May 19th).

BABIES AND BRUNCH: The final open house style brunch is tomorrow, Saturday, May 12th, 9:30-1:00.  Check out the menu and come see the babies before they get too big. We are setting up a special baby goat petting pen on the lawn instead of having folks walk through the kid barn; it will be a more intimate setting for humans and goat babies alike.   

Our Sunday Mothers’ Day Brunch is sold out, but you can still get lots of great gifts for the special mothers in your lives either at the Urbana Market (Saturday May 12th, 7-12) OR at the Farm Store (Saturday May 12th, 9:30-1:00).  Stay tuned for posting of our summer farm open hours.

Cheese and Gelato Offerings

We love our new spot at the Urbana Market at the Square. If you couldn’t find us last weekend, we are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm. This week, we have a similar selection of cheese and gelato for sale at the market and in our farm store (during “Babies and Breakfast” hours—Saturday, May 12th, 9:30-1:00).  Cheese is a WONDERFUL Mother’s Day Gift, so stock up on Saturday.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—the lemony flavor of spring chevre is a perfect foil for slightly bitter spring leafy green vegetables—try sautéing some fresh spinach, napini (flowering kale from Blue Moon Farm) or kale and finish with a drizzle of really good olive oil and a few dollops of our chevre. 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This youngish batch is moving into deliciousness.  Serve with local honey or one of the jams in our farm store. Try warming the round lightly in your oven and serve with a quick pickle of ramps or beets for an even more amazing flavor explosion in your mouth.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; the paste is firm in the center and gooey on the edges. Enjoy with a fruity balsamic reduction
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. The rounds are perfectly ripe with a slight gooeyness on the edges.  I am loving this cheese with spicy dry-cured salami.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.
  • Gelato: We have pints of gelato available this weekend for sale at the market and at the farm store—vanilla, chocolate, fresh and salted caramel swirl. We will also be scooping gelato during “Babies and Brunch.”
  • Goat milk yogurt from Green Meadows Farm: Our friend, Meryl Kauffman, in Arthur, IL raises mostly La Mancha goats (some of whom came from our herd). His goat milk products are delicious, and we're excited to carry his plain goat milk yogurt in quart size only. He has made a special batch for us that is simply goat milk and live cultures (no added thickeners). Come try some this weekend. I will bring some to market as well as have it available in our farm store.

Other Farm Products at the Farm Store

Jams and Honey: In the farm store only: We have a limited selection of jams from Autumn Berry Inspired, house-made jams and some beautiful bottles of fall honey from Two Million Blooms. These make great accompaniments to our cheeses as well as great Mother’s Day gifts.

David Bane of Bane Family Meats has farm-fresh eggs, chicken, beef, pork and lamb products

We also have a selection of Piemonte Sausages: several styles of pork sausage as well as our goat merguez

Cabrito Halves—If you’ve never tried goat meat, you should. It’s very mild and lean (lends itself to slow cooking techniques)

Locally-milled flour from the Mill at Janie’s Farm (Ashkum, IL)-did you know you can now get organic, locally milled, specialty grain flours? We are proud to be one of the first retail outlets for this amazing product. Make a pie or a quiche this weekend with this whole-grain flour. It’s amazing.

Prairie Fruits Farm Merch: While you’re at the farm, take home a memento—t-shirts, hooded sweat shirts, batik aprons, tea towels, onesies, note cards, cheese boards and goat milk soaps from Red Barn Farm. Need a last minute Mother’s Day gift? We’ve got you covered.

Special Cheese Dinner at Eataly—we’re teaming up the cheese and culinary folks at Eataly-Chicago to offer a very special, slow-food dinner featuring our cheese on Thursday, May 24th. The event will be part class-part meal.  Check out the details and SIGN UP NOW: https://www.eataly.com/us_en/classes-and-events/chicago/farm-to-fork-a-slow-food-dinner-featuring-prairie-fruits-farm-creamery-2018-05-24-4337

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is posted on our website and ticket sales are LIVE for the entire season.  Take a look at the dates and themes, and book your reservations NOW.  These tickets go fast, so don’t delay.   The menu for our first spring dinner featuring Caveny Farm Lamb will be posted this week.

Looking for a goat for a family milker? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We also have bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available and contact us if interested.   

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.