Despite what the weatherman says, our plants and our goats say "IT IS SPRING HERE at Prairie Fruits Farm."
Millie, one of the first Nubian does born here, just delivered triplets. The first kid to come out was breach, so I had to assist her, but once the first little bugger was out, she delivered two more gigantic kids--a beautiful doeling and a nearly 9 lb. buckling. Mother and triplets are doing fine.
Come see them and all of the other new arrivals this Saturday (that's tomorrow!) April 11th from 9AM to 12 noon.
We will be offering tasting and sales of our cheeses as well as products from several other local producers including Blue Moon Farm, Tomahnous Farm, Stewart's Artisan Breads and Pastries and Seven Sisters Farm.
We will have our fresh chevre, Ewe Bloom, Moonglo and Huckleberry's Blue.
Blue Moon Farm will have spinach, kale, arugula and mixed spring greens.
Tomahnous Farm will be bringing pastured eggs, shitake mushrooms, organic whole wheat flour, swiss chard and fresh herbs.
Stewart's Artisan Breads will have his usual assortment of hearty and rustic breads, bagels, granola and granola bars (these are highly addictive, so buyer beware!). Special for Easter: potato dinner rolls.
Seven Sisters Farm will have their gorgeous hand-spun yarn for sale as well.
We will also be offering fresh and local farm breakfast including:
- Alisa DeMarco's Italian "Easter Pie" with Prairie Fruits Farm Eggs (our newest feathered girls have started laying cute little pullet eggs) and ricotta cheese and Blue Moon Farm Spinach
- Tomahnous Farm egg and Stewart's Bagel sandwich with Prairie Fruits Farm Chevre
- Prairie Fruits Farm Peach Streusel Coffee Cake
- Blue Moon Farm Green Mountain Potato Hash Browns
- Triple S Farms bacon and sausage
- Fair trade coffee, spiced hot chocolate featuring Prairie Fruits Farm Goat Milk and mint tea.
We have been overwhelmed and overjoyed with the response to our open house and farm breakfasts. We appreciate everyone's patience as we learn how to get food out to you in a timely manner. This week, we'll be making substantial improvements in traffic flow so that you don't have to wait too long to shop or to receive your breakfast. We will have a separate line just to take and deliver breakfast orders. Stewart Pequinot and Lisa Haynes will be here to help sell their products, and Leslie will focus on sampling and selling Prairie Fruits Farm Cheese.
The weather forecast sounds very promising, so we hope you will come out to marvel at the goats, do a little local food shopping and enjoy a farm fresh breakfast.
As always, thank you for your patronage.
Greetings from Prairie Fruits Farm
Spring is forcing its way upon us, in spite of roller coaster temperatures and last Sunday’s surprise snow. Flaming red early tulips have opened as have the daffodils. At last, the ravishingly hungry bees have something to forage on. Our alfalfa field is beginning to green up and the fruit tree buds are swollen with the hope of future fruits. We now have 24 does freshened (delivered their babies and started producing milk) which means that at last we have enough goat milk to start making goat cheese.
We made our first batch of fresh chevre this week, and it is as rich and creamy as I remember early lactation milk chevre tasting. We will have fresh chevre for sale this Saturday as well as our sheep milk equivalent: “mouton frais.” The repertoire of cheeses is beginning to build with the addition of “Ewe Bloom”, a soft-ripened sheep milk cheese, Huckleberry’s Blue (our goat milk blue) and Moonglo (that wonderfully pungent washed rind goat tomme). We will have all of these cheeses for sampling and for purchase.
Last Sunday, we ventured north to Fairbury to participate in Spence Farm’s annual “ramp dig.” Every year, they invite chefs from Chicago and Champaign-Urbana to come dig ramps (wild leeks native to their woodland) and then donate the ramps to The Land Connection’s Ramp Fest—a fundraiser for this wonderful non-profit organization (www.thelandconnection.org). We went to help dig ramps and partake of the fantastic local food meal prepared by the chefs and fellow ramp diggers. The snow covered trees and woodland floor did not deter the ramps from pushing their heads towards the sky. Among about 30 diggers, we harvested several hundred pounds. We were able to take some of those ramps back to our farm and wash them so that we could offer them to our farm customers this Saturday. As far as we know, we are the only retail outlet for Spence Farm’s ramps in Champaign Urbana. We will continue to offer them to you from now until the season ends (probably the end of April).
In addition to our cheese and Spence Farm Ramps,
Tomahnous Farm will be bringing a very limited amount of shiitake mushrooms, fresh herbs (lovage, chives, mint, oregano), organic swiss chard, organic whole wheat pastry & bread flours, pastured chicken eggs.
Blue Moon Farm will have organic kale, spinach, and some mixed greens that have arugula, tatsoi, kale, mizuna and red mustard in it.
Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Pastries will be bringing: Sourdough breads: Craisin/pecan, Potato, Cinnamon Swirl, Rye, Honey Wheat, Olive/Rosemary, Whole Wheat Multigrain, Raisin w/ Cinnamon Swirl, Walnut/Fig, and Tomato; Bagels: Plain, Sesame, Poppy Seed, Cinnamon/Raisin, Honey wheat, Salt, and Egg; Bagel Bites: Plain, Blueberry, Craisin; Biscotti, Granola and Granola Bars.
Seven Sisters Farm will continue to offer their beautiful, hand-spun natural yarn for sale.
AND YES, we will be offering our down on the farm breakfast again featuring all local foods:
- Triple S Farms Ham and Tomahnous Farm Eggs on a Goat Buttermilk Biscuit with Blue Moon Farm Hash Browns
- Spence Farm Ramps, Prairie Fruits Farm Chevre and Sundried Tomato Quiche
- Jarrell Family Dried Plum and Walnut Coffee Cake
- Prairie Fruits Farm Peach Lassi (a sweet-tart yogurt beverage)
- Fair Trade Coffee and Mint Tea will also be available
For those of you who came out last Saturday to our first attempt at serving breakfast to order, we thank you for your patience as we scrambled to get the orders out. We were truly overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to the farm on such a cold blustery March day. We learned a lot from this experience, and I am happy to report that we will be much better organized for this Saturday’s breakfast sales, and guarantee that you won’t have to wait very long (or at all) to be served. Bring on the crowds!! The weather is supposed to be gorgeous.
As always, there are baby goats to adore and pregnant does to console.
We look forward to seeing you here on Saturday, April 4th from 9AM to 12 noon.
Again, for those of you who haven’t been here before, you can find directions to the farm on our website under “Interact” tab.
Chicago residents who won’t be able to come down to the farm this Saturday; no worries. We will be attending the Green City Market in the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum on Saturday, April 4th from 8AM to 1PM. We will be bringing our fresh chevre (plain, herbed and cracked pepper), mouton frais, Ewe Bloom, Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue. We look forward to seeing our Chicago customers. As always, thanks for your patronage.
Finally, reservations for our Dinners on the Farm are filling up fast, so if there's one that caught your fancy, I recommend you go ahead and make your reservation now. If you encounter any problems, don't hesitate to email me and I can try to help.
I am not one to flood people with email messages, but given the number of questions I have already received about the farm breakfasts during our Saturday farm sales, I feel the need to make some clarifications:
1) No reservations are required for the farm breakfasts. We will have a blackboard with each week's items. You place your order when you arrive and we'll make it up for you--fresh, hot and delicious.
2) Breakfast will be served from 9AM to 12 noon--same hours as the farm open house, on-farm sales.
3) Although we will have a couple of tables set up for you to sit down and eat, this is NOT a fancy, sit-down affair. We will be serving on compostable plates using compostable cutlery. We expect people to either eat on the "hoof" or sit down for a bit either inside or outside the barn, weather depending. We expect you to clean up after yourselves when done eating--dispose of your compostable plates, etc in the designated areas as well as dispose of the other, non-compostable waste in another designated area.
That's it. Just simple, fresh delicious food made to order with ingredients that we will be selling at the farm for you to purchase. Hopefully the breakfasts will inspire your own local culinary creations.
This just in: Prairie Fruits Farm will be offering farm breakfasts during our season of on farm sales (now until the end of April).
Starting this Saturday, March 28th, we'll be cooking up some of the finest local food breakfasts you can probably find in Central Illinois.
The tentative menu for this week includes:
- Mouton frais (sheep milk cheese) and spring greens frittata
- Tomahnous Farm fried egg and Blue Moon Farm spinach sandwich
- Yogurt parfait with Stewart's Artisan Breads granola, Prairie Fruits Farm fruits and honey
On another note, some of you who ventured out to the farm last week probably noticed some incredibly beautiful natural yarn for sale. Well, the spinner is Cathe Capel, owner of Seven Sisters Farm in Sidney, IL. The farm is located on a historic farmstead in eastern Champaign County, and they raise heritage-breed sheep. Cathe produces handmade yarns in natural colors from select Leicester Longwool, Shetland, Merino, and Border Leicester fleeces. Processed wool is also available. Cathe will be bringing a lot more skeins of this beautiful wool for sale this coming Saturday. If you're a knitter or a lover of fine wool, come by and check it out!
photo courtesy of Lisa Bralts-Kelly (thank you Lisa!!)
Once again, we will be hosting an open-house on farm sale this Saturday, March 28th from 9AM to 12 noon. We have some newborn kids for you to see as well as the "older" (two weeks) ones who will entertain you and warm your hearts with their gravity defying antics.
Cheese sales will include the mouton frais (our fresh sheep's milk cheese) and Moonglo (our raw milk goat tomme with a washed rind) along with some other goodies.
Jon Cherniss of Blue Moon Farm will be bringing more of his delicious organic spinach and kale--some welcome greens for the beginning of spring. Get them while they last!
Lisa Haynes from Tomahnous Farm will be bringing "lots of eggs, very limited shiitake, chives, garlic chives, oregano, lovage, mint, whole wheat flours (pastry and bread), and a couple bunches of chard (but really only a couple)." Her eggs are from truly pastured birds fed organic grains.
Stewart Pequinot from Stewarts Artisan Breads and Pastries will be bringing some of his hearty breads and legitimate bages, including Craisin/Pecan loaves, Potato loaves. Cinnamon Swirl loaves, Rye w.fennel loaves, Honey Wheat loaves,Olive/Rosemar Loaves Raisin/Cinn loaves, Walnut/fig loaves. Challah, Biscotti, Granola, Granola Bars, various bagels and bagel bites.
For those unfamiliar with the farm, you can find directions on the website. Looking foward to seeing you out here on the farm!
Kidding season has begun. Twelve out of about 60 does have had their babies and what a cute crop of kids we have. I never tire of seeing them take their first leaps into the air after only two days out of the womb.
With kids come milk and with milk comes the first fresh cheeses of the season.
We are pleased to offer our first on farm sale and open house starting THIS Saturday, March 21st (spring equinox for those of you who follow the seasonal calendar) from 9AM to 12 noon.
We will be hosting farm sales-open house every Saturday from now until the first farmers' market in Urbana (May 2nd), so check the website for details about what offerings we will have each weekend.
In addition to our selection of cheeses, we will be offering you a few surprises in celebration of spring.
We will also have the following items from other neighboring farmers and artisan producers:
Farm fresh eggs from Tomahnous Farm
Certified organic spinach and kale from Blue Moon Farm
Artisan breads and bagels from Stewarts Artisan Breads and Pastries.
Come see the kids perform their antics. You may even be lucky enough to witness a doe giving birth.
For directions to the farm, check out our website.
Also, finally, I know many of you have been waiting with baited breath for the dates of the 2009 Dinners on the Farm. At last, they are now posted on the website under "Dinners on the Farm" "Buy Dinners." You can make reservations directly on the website. Let me know if you have any questions. I recommend you reserve soon as last year's dinners sold out within three weeks of posting on our website.
Hello cheese fans:
We received our first batch of sheep milk from our Amish sheep dairy this week, and we thought "what better way to say 'It's Spring', than some fresh cheese." So, we made a sheep "chevre"--a fresh sheep milk cheese very similar in texture to our goat chevre, but a bit more tangy. We will have it for sale this weekend at the Green City Market in Chicago and at a couple of stores in Urbana-Champaign: Common Ground Food Cooperative in Lincoln Square Village and World Harvest on University Avenue. It comes in the same containers as our regular chevre and we are offering plain or with Herbes de Provence.
We also have Moonglo, our raw milk, washed rind tomme-style goat cheese, aged about 4 months. It's as pungent and delicious as ever.
Other news: We have begun the kid watch and are expecting our first does to deliver this weekend. Even though this is our fifth year of kidding, we still have tremendous excitement and anticipation.
Stay tuned for notices about on farm cheese sales and the Dinners on the Farm.
All the best.
Leslie Cooperband & Wes Jarrell
The weather outside is indeed frightful--glassy ice coats our trees and our driveway, but inside our house you'll find a warm fire, hot mulled local cider, cheese for tasting and purchasing and a special holiday treat--goat milk chocolate truffles.
We hope you will brave the weather tomorrow and come out for a visit to the farm. You can even visit with the goats and the chickens all snug and warm inside their barn. They are especially puffy right now.
We look forward to seeing you. Directions to the farm are on the website.
It seems like we plunged into the depths of winter abruptly this year. Thankfully, the frigid temperatures, snow and ice haven't slowed down our goats too much. They are still producing respectable amounts of milk. Nonetheless, now is the time to dry them off and let them lounge around the barn all winter getting nice and plump for their spring "deliveries."
Because of their milk bounty this late fall and early winter, we still have lots of cheese to bring to our last farmers' markets of the season. Now is the time to really stock up on the fresh chevre because we will be making our last batch next week, and the fresh stuff won't be available again (unless you freeze it) until mid to late March next year.
We also have lots of Little Bloom on the Prairie. It will be on sale this week--$2 off the marked price. Impress your friends and relatives over the holidays by wrapping the Little Bloom in puff pastry and baking it like a "brie en croute." Or just decorate it with chopped nuts and dried fruits and warm it in the oven. Either way, they will think they have been transported to France.
We still have a few pieces of our whole milk ricotta available as well. You'll need to use it up in the next few days, so to help you out, I have asked Paul Virant and Nathan Sears of Vie Restaurant to share their recipe for goat milk ricotta "gnudi."
Here it is:
Vie Restaurant Recipe for Prairie Fruits Farm Goat Milk Ricotta Gnudi
“Gnudi” are little ricotta –semolina flour dumplings. The Italian name literally means “naked” and it refers to the dumplings as “naked raviolis.” Here is the simple recipe provided by Paul Virant and Nathan Sears inspired by the gnudi served at the "Spotted Pig" Restaurant in NYC.
1. Smooth out the ricotta in a blender or mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper until it tastes properly seasoned.
2. On a tray or baking sheet pan, pour about a half inch layer of semolina to cover the whole tray. Place the cheese in a piping bag and pipe long logs, or tubes, of the cheese onto the semolina about the thickness of a quarter.
3. Using scissors cut the cheese into small even sizes and roll into balls with your hands.
4. Place the balls on another sheet pan with more semolina on the bottom of the pan. When all the balls are formed, bury them in semolina and leave in the fridge for two days.
5. As they sit in the frig, the liquid in the ricotta will hydrate the semolina creating a "pasta skin" that will be soft and delicate. 6. Cook in gently boiling salted water until they float; approximately 1 minute or less.
Paul and Nathan have tried this with our ricotta, so they know it works, “you just need a lot of semolina.” When finished, store extra semolina in the fridge or freezer.
Another simple but delicious dish you can make for friends and family over the holidays.
The weather may be frightful, but we hope you can come visit us at the last farmers' markets. We will be at the Urbana Market at the Suare (inside the mall) and the Green City Market (inside the big top tent at the Notebart Nature Museum) from 8AM to 1PM.
Our milk and cheese production season is winding down, but we still have lots of cheese and delicious farmstead products like our honey, preserves and canned organic vegetables. Please come visit us at the last farmers' markets of the season and adorn your holiday tables with Illinois Farmstead cheese:
- URBANA'S HOLIDAY MARKET AT THE SQUARE IN LINCOLN SQUARE VILLAGE (SATURDAYS FROM 8-1 UNTIL DECEMBER 20TH)
- CHICAGO'S GREEN CITY MARKET AT THE PEGGY NOTEBART NATURE MUSEUM (SATURDAYS FROM 8-1 UNTIL DECEMBER 20TH)
- CHICAGO'S 61ST MARKET IN HYDE PARK NEIGHBORHOOD (SATURDAY DECEMBER 13TH IS THE LAST MARKET)
For the week of December 13th we will feature the following:
- fresh, whole milk (goats' milk) ricotta--the last of the season
- "Uva Ewe"--an "experimental" washed rind sheep milk cheese. The wash includes concord grape marc (fermented juice); aged three months
- herbal Angel Food--dried lavender buds, sage and parsely atop the ever gooey angel food.
In addition, we have our regulars like fresh chevre (stock up and buy several containers as you can freeze this cheese without incurring any change in texture or flavor), Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food, Krotovina and Moonglo.
All of the cheeses are especially rich and creamy right now due to the richness (high butterfat and protein) of the late lactation milk.