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Yes, she canned, farmers' market offerings and farm happenings

Posted 9/7/2017 6:18pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm news

The early morning air is crisp and dry. There’s a slight bite when you open the door, forcing you to grab a sweatshirt before you venture outside.  The sky light has a piercing quality; there must be something about the sun’s angle this time of year. Through the vibrant greenery colored globes of ripening fruits hang on the vines.  It’s fall and the time of overabundance has arrived.  The excitement of eating the first fresh ripe veggies has waned, and it’s time to preserve the harvest bounty. 

Sarah, our gelato maker, changed culinary hats this week. The gelato freezer fell silent, the canning jars were sterilized and the canning pot was filled with water to boil. We perused our respective preservation cook-books and came up with a plan to go pickle crazy.  Bush-bean picking got you down? How about some dilly beans?  Carrots pushing their shoulders above the soil line? Pickle ‘em! Tired of grilling eggplant? Make a pickled eggplant relish. Cabbage heads taking up too much space in your fridge? Make some kraut.  The acrid smell of hot vinegar wafted throughout the farm kitchen, and the lovely pop of well-sealed jars interrupted light conversation and kitchen music. 

In honor of canning season and in celebration of all those women (and men) slaving over a hot stove so they can enjoy a little bit of summer later on, I am sharing a poem I wrote a few years ago to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Now approaching 93, she still cans, just not as much.

Edith’s hands, she cans
Hands deep-lined, sun-dappled hands pierce red-brown dirt,
heritage of long-dead volcanoes.
Curved fingers dig deep, pull gnarly carrots,
double joints come in handy sometimes.
Hands snip bursting grape clusters,
fingers twist and pluck peaches from their drooping branches.
Jars aligned on the counter, water boiling on the stove top warmly await the harvest bounty.
Production time is here!
Hands peeling, fingers coring…
More sugar?
No sugar?
Hands pack peeled fruit into jars
maybe one more peach half… get it in there!
Jars, fruit-laden, lowered into boiling water
Strong, confident hands lift canning ring-full of jars onto counter,
tea towels await to soften the shock.
Hands rest on hips, waiting for the sign…..
Pop! Pop! Pop!
Lids are sealing
summer is trapped.
Cold hands loosen over hot coals of the wood stove, pry open a jar of peaches.
Summer escapes into the cold and damp,
reminds those hands how good that dead ripe peach tasted, dripping down her chin.  

Farmers’ Market Offerings:

We’ll be attending the Urbana Market at the Square this Saturday, September 9th. The crisp fall weather will be perfect for shopping. Don’t let the cool weather fool you; there are still tons of great summer and early fall produce at the market, and cheese goes well with so many veggies and fruits. The lovely little Juliet tomatoes are finally ripening, and the food dryer has been busy.  This means our first batch of dried tomato chevre will make its seasonal debut this weekend (better get to the market early if you want some):

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper, dried tomato  
  • Raw-milk Feta: Packed in whey brine for flavor and preservation, this tangy cheese is perfect for a watermelon salad. Want to “fancy” it up? Try cutting into cubes and marinating in extra virgin olive oil with some fresh herbs. 
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste, mushroomy rind-VERY LIMITED availability
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert; perfect served with local honey
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; try our ACS award winning cheese
  • 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 raw-milk tomme-style cheese, aged for about 4 months.  Semi-firm texture, fruity and sharp flavor notes.  Ask for a taste and you’ll be smitten.

NO YOGURT or CRACKERS THIS WEEK. Crackers are on a semi-permanent hiatus as our cracker maker is busy with several other enterprises.

Gelato: take home a few pints this week (try our “three pint special: buy 3, get $3 off the total price!  We have a nice selection of “flavors of summer” mixed with comforting fall flavors:

  • Watermelon-Mint Sorbetto
  • Red Currant
  • Thai Basil (limited)
  • Matcha green tea (limited)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Stracciatella
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Espresso

Farm Happenings

Farm Open Hours:  Please note that we shortened our open hours for the month of September. These are subject to change if we find that people are just not able to come out. We know that fall is a busy time, with kids back in school and work demands beckoning. If you need a little break from the hustle and bustle, come out to the farm.  It can be a very tranquil place in the early fall. There are still lots of things growing, and the goats love visitors any time of the year. The Real Stand is open for business, offering cheese, gelato, meats, eggs and other farm products. 

Fridays, 1-6 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. The detour is in effect until November.

Delight Flower Farm Retreat on the Farm The talented women who own Delight Flower Farm are hosting an all-day retreat on the farm, Saturday October 7th.  Events will include: yoga, a plant walk, a farm tour, flower arranging, an herbalism class, an introduction to Ayurveda, campfire rituals, and plenty of time to take in the healing properties of nature.  Local-farm-sourced and professionally prepared meals are included. Here's the link: http://delightflowerfarm.com/natural-medicine-a-farmstead-retreat/ They have drastically reduced the price of this event to sweeten the pot.  You’ll be in great hands.  

Farm Dinners  

We received the menu for the “Celebration of Squash” farm dinner from our guest chef Nicole Pederson (Found Kitchen). She has crafted a menu that truly captures the delicious diversity of the family Cucurbitaceae.  There are still a few tickets left for this event. With guest farmer Mac Condill of the Great Pumpkin regaling guests with squash tales, you won’t want to miss it.   

Menu Celebration of Squash Dinner  
First Course: Roasted Squash and Tomato Soup
Second Course Squash Mezze: Thinly sliced squash spread with walnut/pepper paste Squash borani, pff goat yogurt, saffron water- with Squash blossom paratha Braised Goat, PFF Feta Cheese and squash  
Third Course: “Cider can” Guinea Fowl with Grilled Squash and Squash bbq sauce Simple mashed squash with butter and warm spices Squash Slaw
Fourth Course: Selection of Prairie Fruits Farm Cheese with Squash moraba (preserves with cardamon and rosewater- persian),Squash membrillo, Squash Seed Cracker
Dessert: Squash cake, apple cider icing, crab apple butter, goat's milk gelato  

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.