Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 9/19/2011 8:02pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
I completely forgot to mention the veggies and jams we'll have for sale tomorrow in addition to the cheese and gelato:
Tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and flavor profiles
Swiss Chard bunches
Kale bunches
peach butter (maybe some honey too)
Hopefully, this is even GREATER reason to come out to the farm tomorrow.
Sorry for multiple emails.
Posted 9/19/2011 7:08pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Yes, it sort of feels like fall out there, but summer is trying to suck us back in with these balmy humid winds.  Tomorrow should be a great day for an afternoon foray to our farm--come on out between 3-6PM in the afternoon. Remember, this the second to last on open-house, farm-sale of the year, so take advantage of the opportunity while you can.  We'll have plenty of cheese for you (chevre, Little Bloom on the Prairie, maybe some Angel Food, some Moonglo and a little bit of Roxanne).  Wes is at the gelato batch freezer helm this week (Stewart's on vacation) and he promises we'll have some mighty flavorful gelato flavors in both single serving and pint sizes:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Margot's Mint
  • Blueberry AND Blueberry-Lemon Verbena Sorbetto (two versions of blueberry-the last of the season!!)
  • Concord Grape Sorbetto
Flatland Food Foundry's First "Moveable Kitchen" Kickoff Event: Tomato Canning Workshop at Prairie Fruits Farm PLEASE SIGN UP AT THE COMMON GROUND FOOD COOP!
So far, we have had only a few people sign up for our tomato canning workshop this coming Thursday, September 22nd. There are three time slots: 10-12, 12-2 and 2-4.  We can accommodate 4 people per time slot. The cost is $15 per person and includes jars for canning, instruction and a handout on how to properly can acid foods like tomatoes, recipes for tomato sauce(and some sauce to take home) and overall great time with our chef, Alisa DeMarco.  The deadline for signup is Wednesday, September 21st at 12 NOON, so don't delay if you want to come.  To sign up, you must go to the Common Ground Cooperative and ask one of the folks at the checkout for the signup sheet for the Flatlander Food Foundry's Tomato Canning Workshop.
Posted 9/15/2011 5:41pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Farm News
Yesterday's cold front that brought us some much needed rain ushered in some cold air. It's the kind of abrupt weather change that sets the does' minds toward breeding and the bucks' scent in full airborne dispersion.  Eddie, one of our Nubian breeding bucks, realized that the hotwire fence wasn't very hot, so he escaped from his pasture six times this morning to get closer to the does. Thankfully, Wes found the breaks in the electricalfencing system, and now the wire gives a good strong jolt when touched. We control the breeding time very carefully here, to ensure that most of our does kid in March and April.  The winter break works out very well for both goat and human around here.

We decided to cut our southernmost hayfield on Monday for the final cutting of the season.  Despite the drought, the alfalfa had grown nicely and was very leafy and tender (perfect hay for next year's freshening time--that is when the goats have their babies and "freshen" with new milk). Although we REALLY needed the rains yesterday, we were secretly hoping it would have waited until Friday so that we could have baled this gorgeous alfalfa. Mother Nature didn't totally cooperate, but Wes is raking it as I write, so we are hoping it will still be loaded with lots of protein and nutrients when we bale it on Saturday. 
Market News
Thanks to the folks who ventured out to the farm on Tuesday.  We had a really nice showing of people. We have only TWO MORE Tuesday afternoon sales left for the season, so if you have been holding off coming out here, now is the time.  We'll continue to have our cheeses and gelato for sale as well as produce out of our garden. We should have some heirloom tomatoes and maybe some fall greens (chard, kale) for next Tuesday.  Details to follow in my Monday newsletter.
Regarding our farmers' market season, we've still got plenty of cheese, gelato and sometimes honey that we're bringing to the markets.  This Saturday, September 17th, we're attending THREE markets--Urbana, Bloomington and Chicago's Green City Market. YES, that is true-two Saturday's in a row for Green City Market.  This means we won't be back at Green City until October 1st, so stock up on our cheeses this weekend.  For our Bloomington Market goers, I will at the market this Saturday, because a) it's been awhile and I miss our Bloomington patrons and b) I would like to talk with our customers about the possibility of doing a once per month Buying Club-CSG (that's Community Supported Goat--like a CSA but with cheese only) for next year.  We have a solid and loyal customer base in Bloomington (THANK YOU), but it hasn't been enough business to sustain us as a biweekly attendee at the Bloomington Farmers' Market. SO, I'll have a sign up sheet at the market on Saturday to gauge patron's interest in a buying club-CSG for next season.  I look forward to seeing folks in Bloomington and to answering any questions you might have about this buying club concept.
What are we taking to the markets this Saturday?
  • Lots of luscious chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper and heirloom tomato (our supply of Juliette tomatoes will be drawing to a close soon, so stock up on this wonderful cheese-tomato concoction)
  • Last of the sheep milk feta--this is it for the season
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie--our rich goat's milk camembert
  • Angel Food (limited supply, probably available at Urbana only)
  • Moonglo--our raw goat milk tomme--tasting very buttery from the May milk (early pasture)
  • Roxanne-our supply of this smooth, semi-hard raw sheep milk brebis is dwindling as well
  • Mollisol Pecorino-our hard, grating style Pecorino Romano made with last year's summer sheep milk
For our Urbana Market Goers, we got lots of smooth and creamy gelato for you--both in pints and single servings:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Sicilian Pistacchio
  • Margot's Mint
  • Honey-Ginger Chevre
  • Coffee
  • White Peach-Lemon & Orange Thyme Gelato
  • Blueberry Lemon Verbena Sorbetto
  • White Peach Sorbetto (very limited quantity)
The forecast calls for temperatures in the 70's--definitely still respectable for enjoying gelato.  We look forward to seeing you at the Markets!
Posted 9/12/2011 3:20pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greetings.  Many folks consider September as a time when the abundance of locally-grown foods diminishes. This is FAR from true. While Blue Moon Farm won't be making it out to our farm through the rest of this month, we will be offering some of our vegtables and herbs from our garden during our Tuesday afternoon Farm Sale. PLEASE NOTE OUR CHANGE IN HOURS; 3-6PM ONLY!!!
We'll have some of our prolific "Juliette" tomatoes for sale as well as limited quantities of fresh herb bunches and a lovely little cucumber called "Mexican sour Gherkin." It's a little round ball with white spots--the taste is a bit tart--great for pickling OR simply eating fresh in a salad. The texture is nice and crunchy. We'll also have some okra for sale. For those of you afraid of the slime factor inherent with okra, here's a simple way to prepare them that results in NO slime:
1. cut okra pods crosswise into 1/4 thick pieces.
2. Mince a couple of cloves of garlic and saute them for a minute in a hot saute pan with some olive oil.
3. Add the okra slices and stir to cook.  Sprinkle some salt as the okra cooks for about 5 minutes.
4. Sprinkle some corn meal to coat the okra pieces and continue sauteeing until golden brown. Add more salt to taste.
5. Squeeze lemon juice over the golden brown cornmeal-coated okra pieces (probably the juice of half a lemon is sufficient for a pint or quart box of okra). 
6. Eat and be amazed.
Of course, we'll still be offering a nice selection of our cheeses (chevre, Little Bloom, Angel Food, Red Dawn and Moonglo most likely--maybe some feta) as well as gelato. You can get scoops of gelato hand dipped from our very chic Italian dipping cabinet ($3 per scoop) and pints ($9). We'll have:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Sicilian Pistacchio
  • Margot's Mint
  • Honey Ginger Chevre
  • White Peach-Lemon-Orange Thyme
  • Blueberry Lemon Verbena Sorbetto
  • White Peach Sorbetto
We might have a few dozen eggs for sale as well as some of Chef Alisa's small-batch fruit preserves.  The goats are still up for visitors (even the bucks who are in full breeding scent), and you can peruse the garden and marvel at Rachel's handiwork.  The weather is supposed to be gorgeous so, COME ON OUT!
Posted 9/8/2011 9:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
The gentle rain that is falling tonight is causing all those pasture seeds to swell and hopefully germinate. We've been waiting for this rain for some time, and it's a relief to watch it soak into the bone dry compacted ground. Even though we had our first "sunset" wine tasting at the farm tonight (we really wanted to hold the event outside so guests could sip some great wines, eat an array of local food small bites and watch the sun set over the senescing corn field), we were happy to set up inside the barn.  Our guests didn't seem to mind.
Farmers' Market News
This Saturday, September 10th, we're attending THREE farmers' markets: Urbana, Oak Park and Green City Market. Sadly, our supply of sheep milk has ended for the season so there will be no more Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep until next year. However, we've got some other great cheeses for you:
  • Plenty of fresh chevre-plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper and heirloom tomato
  • Sheep Milk Feta--get it while our limited supply lasts
  • Angel Food
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Krotovina
  • Red Dawn
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • Mollisol Pecorino Romano
For our Urbana Market goers, we got a very nice mix of milk and water based gelati for you to buy (both pints and single servings this Saturday):
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Blackberry Cream
  • Thai Basil-Lemon Zest
  • Nectarine
  • Concord Grape
  • Plum
On Farm Sales and Other News
We will be continuing our Tuesday afternoon on farm sales through the end of September. However, Blue Moon Farm will not be coming anymore. Since the daylight is ending sooner, we will be shortening our hours from 3-6PM ONLY.  We'll continue to have our cheeses, gelato, honey, preserves and select veggies and herbs from our garden.  On the Tuesday before the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) September 26th, Stewart Pequinot (our gelato maker, but he's also a baker extraordinaire) will be offering his round Challah for sale (with or without golden raisins--specially made for the holiday). 
I also want to alert folks to a special event we'll be offering at the farm on Thursday September 22nd.  The Flatlander Food Foundry, a newly formed organization in Champaign Urbana (born out of the Flatlander Fund), that aims to "
Bring People Together Around Food" is launching a series of worshops this fall on food preservation. We will be hosting a tomato canning workshop as the first of these workshops on Thursday September 22nd. Our chef, Alisa DeMarco, will teach you how to properly can tomatoes and how to make her delicious primavera sauce.  The cost of the workshop is $15 per person and includes three canning jars, recipes and a handout on proper canning techniques.  Participants will bring their own tomatoes (4-5lbs) and an apron to wear during the workshop. We will have three 2-hour sessions (10AM to 12noon, 12-2 and 2-4PM) with a total of four participants per 2-hour session. You can sign up at the Common Ground Food Coop in Urbana. SPACE IS LIMITED TO ONLY 4 PARTICIPANTS PER SESSION, SO DON'T DELAY IN SIGNING UP. 
Here are some of the other activities that the Flatlander Food Foundry (FFF) is hosting:
Thursday, Sept. 15, 5:30-7pm; at Corkscrew’s Buvons Wine Bar
Meet the FFF board, meet other volunteers passionate about FFF mission, and find out more about the year ahead.
Thursday, Sept. 22, sessions at 10am, noon, and 2pm; at the Prairie Fruits Farm kitchen
Learn to can your own tomatoes with chef Alisa DeMarco. Stop by the Common Ground Food Co-op for details and to sign up.
October (date TBD)
Learn about the culinary science of fermentation by making sauerkraut to enjoy with locally-made sausages—just in time for Oktoberfest.
November (date TBD): We’re planning a class focused on preparing & canning goodies that will make perfect holiday gifts from local ingredients. Stay tuned!

Posted 9/5/2011 4:19pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Geraldine and Dora
Geraldine and Dora beckon you to our farm tomorrow (Tuesday, September 6th) afternoon from 3-7PM.  We've moved the kids outside (FINALLY), and, with the cooler weather, they are as frisky as ever. Come watch them run wind sprints, kick their hind legs in the air and nibble on Canada thistle nubs.  Come out for some great goat and sheep milk cheeses--our sheep milk cheese supply is dwindling as our Amish sheep dairy farmer has stopped milking his ewes for the season, and we are no longer receiving sheep milk for cheese making--SO, get 'em while supplies last.  Come out for some gelato and sorbetto. This week's flavors include:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Blackberry Cream
  • Thai Basil-Lemon Thyme
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Concord Grape Sorbetto
  • Plum Sorbetto
We'll have all flavors available as both single servings (from our very chic Italian gelato dipping cabinet) and pints to take home. 
Blue Moon Farm will be here from 3-6PM with salad mix, basil, tomatoes, multi-colored peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, kale, chard, potatoes and onions.

Posted 9/1/2011 9:52pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
The air temperature as I write is a balmy 80+ degrees. We've returned to July despite other environmental cues telling us fall is approaching. The Monarch butterflies are drifting into our farm these days seeking nectar for refueling on their long journey south.  The hummingbirds  dive bomb each other for a chance to sip red sugar water out of our feeder.  The fall crops have been planted in our garden--kale, chard, carrots--and it all Rachel can do to keep the carrots from croaking (we are still watering even at this late hour-got to go out and shut off the sprinkler before bedtime).  What better way to spend one of the hottest days in September than canning tomatoes.  Today, I put up 12 jars of beautiful Juliettes, Yellow Icicle and other meaty fleshed tomatoes to enjoy when I will be pining for at least 50 degree temperatures. 
We billed this Saturday's farm dinner as "End of the Summer Barbeque." Summer is determined to hold on tight through Saturday, however.  It's OK though, because our menu featuring Triple S Farms' apple-fed pork fits right into a heat-wave kind of afternoon. 
Another signal for us that fall is approaching is the annual naming of the doelings we have decided to keep as future milkers. Each year, I choose a theme and then name them. Last year's theme was jazz singers and gem stones. This year's theme is old dead relatives--reaching back into both the Jarrell-Sanow and Cooperband-Levine pantheon of strong women figures.  When you come out to the farm on Tuesday afternoons for our open house-on farm sales, you can say hello to Dora, Geraldine, Elmira, Ethel, Birdie, Louraine and Adele (among others). 
This Saturday, September 3rd, we're attending TWO farmers' markets: Urbana and Bloomington.  We hope to entice you out to shop in the heat with some fantastic cheeses.
  • We have plenty of cool and creamy chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked peppercorn and heirloom tomato.
  • We also have sheep milk feta--think Greek salad with all those wonderful tomatoes and cucumbers that are still abundant at the farmers' markets
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-our slightly gooey goat milk camembert
  • Ewe Bloom--just barely a blush of bloom on this delicate grassy sheep milk cheese
  • Krotovina-our pyramid of half sheep milk-half goat milk separated by a layer of ash
  • Black Sheep-the ash-coated cousin of Ewe Bloom
  • Moonglo--made in spring, it's got wonderful notes of tang and spring pasture (that is when we actually had some rain and some pasture growing)
  • Roxanne--our raw sheep milk brebis with notes of butter and grass
  • Mollisol Pecorino--(limited amounts this week)-made LAST summer, this hard, raw sheep milk grating style cheese is excellent shaved over pasta or even a cool salad.
For Urbana's Market Goers, the secret password to Gelato and Sorbetto this Saturday is "WHITE PEACH." We got it as a water-based sorbetto as well as in a milk-based gelato infused with essence of rose thyme.  We also have:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Sicilian Pistacchio
  • Dunkelberg Plum
  • Blackberry Cream
  • Honey Ginger Ricotta
  • Thai Basil-Lemon Zest
In addition to our pints, you'll now be able to purchase single servings of a couple of these flavors-white peach sorbetto and white peach-rose thyme gelato- (we finally found a nice small container with a lid to sell at the farmers' market).  Of course, you can get plenty of single servings straight out of our Italian dipping cabinet if you come out to the farm on Tuesday afternoons from 3-7PM (through September only so come out while you can). More details about our upcoming Tuesday afternoon sale on Monday. Enjoy the fruits of our labors on this Labor Day Weekend!
Posted 8/29/2011 7:10pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
zinnia tomato bouquet
There are many reasons to come out to our farm tomorrow (Tuesday, August 30th) afternoon from 3 to 7PM.  First of all, the weather is expected to be gorgeous. Second of all, the goats are expecting to see you. Third of all, we have some fantastic food to sell you. 

We're having a sale on our sheep's milk ricotta tomorrow. Many of you have been asking if we make a mozzarello to make a caprese salad with all those ripe rich tomatoes and aromatic basil.  Who needs mozzarella when you can have this same wonderful salad with our firm and slightly sweet ricotta? You can buy the tomatoes and basil from Blue Moon Farm (who will be here from 3 to 6PM only), the ricotta from us and you're set. Drizzle a little aged balsamic vinegar on top for the perfect effect.
We also have lots of chevre--plain, heirloom tomato and maybe some herbs de Provence, a few bloomy rinded cheeses, some pecorino (to shave on another tomato salad you'll probably be making this week) and maybe even some Roxanne (our raw sheep milk brebis). 
Our white peaches have started to ripen (this heavenly fragrant variety called "belle of georgia") so Stewart has been busy making a white peach sorbetto. We'll also have:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Sicilian Pistacchio
  • Blackberry Cream
  • Thai Basil-Lemon Zest
  • Honey Ginger Ricotta
  • Plum (made with a purple plum variety called "dunkelberg")
  • and... an experimental White Peach-Rose Thyme
If all goes well, we'll be serving our single servings out of our NEW Italian gelato dipping cabinet. You won't need to go to Italy anymore!!
Blue Moon Farm will have
Salad mix, Tomatoes, multi-colored Peppers, Hot peppers, Eggplant, Kale, Chard, Potatoes, and Onions.
We may also have some farm-fresh eggs and a few jars of our honey for sale as well.
Clearly, Prairie Fruits Farm will be THE place to be tomorrow afternoon. Will you be here??

Posted 8/25/2011 10:16pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
The skies finally opened up on Tuesday afternoon to let loose amost one inch of rain.  After nearly a month of drought, it was beginning to look like a dust bowl around here.  We had tilled up several of our pasture paddocks in anticipation of planting our fall season pasture plants, and just the slightest wind set the soil aloft. This rain was just enough to moisten the seed bed and get those seeds to germinate.  Of course, yesterday's 90++ degree temperatures reminded us that summer is not quite over yet. 
Today was a day of vaccination for the goats. We had the vet school come out and spray a vaccine into the nostrils of nearly ninety goats (20 kids and 60 adult does and our bucks) to protect them against the organisms that cause pneumonia.  Almost everyone was very cooperative; only two of our petite La Manchas sized up the situation as something undesirable, and they had to be chased around half the pasture to get their nasal spray. 

The tomatoes are still plentiful around here. Our chef, Alisa, has been busy in the kitchen making pickles of many kinds, jams to beat the band and her wonderfully seasoned tomato sauce. Another indication that summer is still around--canning jars cover the counter tops where ever there is open space.
This Saturday, August 27th, we're attending THREE farmers' markets: Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park.  We've got some fantastically fresh sheep milk ricotta for you (get it while it lasts as our sheep milk supply is dwindling). We also have:
  • Fresh Chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper and heirloom tomato
  • Angel Food brie
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Ewe Bloom
  • Black Sheep--it's beautifully gooey right now
  • Krotovina
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
Urbana market goers can enjoy a number of gelato flavors this week:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Thai-Basil-Lemon Zest (a new flavor fresh out of our herb garden)
  • Blackberry Cream (made with our rich purple organic blackberries)
  • Plum (limited supply)
  • Watermelon
  • Nectarine
There may be another flavor or two showing up--depends on Stewart's ambitions and inclinations.

Posted 8/22/2011 2:16pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Tomorrow's on-farm sales from 3-7PM promise plenty of cheese (chevre, black sheep and Roxanne for sure, expect other surprises) and gelato. Hazelnut gelato is back in the lineup as well as Vanilla, Chocolate, Blackberry, Thai Basil (experimental), Watermelon, Cantaloupe Melon, Plum and Nectarine.  As always, we'll be offering both single servings as well as pints to take home. We'll also have some our delicate farmstead honey and maybe some goodies out of our garden.
Blue Moon Farm will be here from 3-6PM with
Salad Mix, Peppers, Eggplant, Cilantro, Parsley, Kale, Chard, Onions, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Tomatoes.

Reminder: I'll be at the Corkscrew Wine Emporium on Vine Street in Urbana from 6-8PM THIS THURSDAY, August 25th tasting four cheeses with four wines. Even though my email from last week stated (incorrectly) that tickets were $15 at the door, they are ONLY $10 at the door!! What a bargain!  You don't have to purchase tickets in advance either--just show up, and we'll have plenty of cheese and wine for you to taste.

UPDATES: New dinner dates and reservations: Many of you were confused about how to access the reservations portio of our website to select seats for the five new dinners I posted last week.  Here's a step by step of how to view the full dinner descriptions and make reservations:
1) go to our website:
2) go the heading "Dinners on the Farm"
3) click on the subheading "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations." There you will see descriptions of each of the dinners. You need to click on "more details"  for each dinner to see the full description and to purchase seats.  You need to use Paypal to pay for your seats (that means you will need to set up an account with Paypal if you don't have one set up already).

A couple of the dinners that I had posted as "SOLD OUT" were not sold out, in fact. I have reposted the available seats for those dinners. It is VERY important that you only click on "add to cart" ONLY if you are ready to checkout and pay for your seats. If you add a seat(s) to your cart and you don't check out, it confuses our e-commerce system.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.  We are thrilled that so many people want to come to our dinners, and we are trying to improve our system so that it is easy to make reservations.