The approach of the holidays is the calm before the storm. The workload is streamlined to the bare essentials of goat milking and cheese making, orders are fulfilled and deliveries made early, the staff takes time off to be with their families and my mind drifts to turkey preparations and recipes for the sides. As I listen to the weather calamities from parts west, I am secretly happy for our gloomy overcast skies and the gusty bursts of wind whipping currents of dead leaves across the driveway. The more extreme the conditions, the easier it is to justify staying inside to cook or dare i say, just do nothing??
With the end of the milking and cheese making season in our sights, I take time to reflect on the season to give thanks. We are thankful for our wonderful staff; their energy and enthusiasm sustain us through the rigors of the daily routines of running a dairy farm and farmstead creamery. We are thankful for our beautiful goats, who give us delicious milk twice daily without protesting too much. We are thankful for our patrons, who support us at the farmers’ market and in our farm store, and who partake in the local foods feasts our guest chefs prepare. We are thankful for our wholesale customers, near and far, who offer our cheeses in their stores and restaurants. We are thankful for our land, whose nurtured fertility and ample water produce food and forage that nourish us all, human and goat alike. We are thankful for serendipity and fate, both of whom brought us to this little slice of prairie paradise nearly 17 years ago, and who dared us to follow our dreams.
Farm Store Holiday Offerings
We will NOT be attending the Urbana “Market In the Square” on Saturday, November 30th, but fear not, you will be able to get all your cheese needs and more in our farm store this weekend. We have special “holiday” open hours on Saturday (12-4 pm) and our regular hours on Sunday (1-4 pm). We will return to the indoor market on Saturday December 7th (8 am to 12 noon).
During our Saturday Open House, guests can:
-Visit with the goats. We’ll be dressing up a couple of our most friendly yearlings in holiday attire to greet guests. You can take selfies with the holiday goats ($5 suggested donation to cover staffing) or just get some lovin’ from all those goats who never get enough attention!
-Enjoy some local food “snacks”—we’ll have a couple of soups and some scones for sale as well as beverages (wines, beers, non-alcoholic beverages)
-If you’re like me (and enjoy ice cream any time of year), you can get a scoop of gelato or an “affogato” (espresso with a scoop of gelato)
-Savor a cheese board—select your cheese & charcuterie, and we’ll put it all together with accompaniments and a warm baguette.
-Peruse our farm store for unique holiday gifts, edible and otherwise (t-shirts, tea towels, note cards, self-care products and more)
Cheese Offerings this Weekend
Fresh chevre: plain, herbes de Provence, cracked pepper-our chevre is so rich and creamy right now; it’s perfect to slather on some crusty bread or dollop on a casserole or cream up your soups or stews. Serve as an appetizer with crudité or some of our new “Potter’s” Crackers or Crisps.
Seasonal chevre: dried spiced cranberries (with cinnamon, nutmeg & clove)—try it on a winter salad or on some sautéed spinach or kale. Want to be fancy? Try using this special chevre in a warmed stuffed date recipe.
Cow-Goat Eclipse Our first mixed milk (jersey cow milk from Kilgus Farmstead and our goat milk) bloomy—we’re calling it “Cow-Goat Eclipse” This bloomy has the same crinkly (and yeasty) white mold as our black goat and fleur du prairie). We’ve done a few variations with this cheese—some with ash (squares) and some without ash with or without edible flowers and dried herbs from our herb garden. Perfectly ripe and ready to enjoy!
Midnight Cow-Goat Eclipse: made in squares (and then cut into triangles) with a thin veneer of charcoal ash, this version of “eclipse” has a lovely yeasty-bread dough flavor with hints of butter. It’s quite ripe and we’ll be running a special this weekend. By a whole square, take a $1 off!
Grab one of our farm-kitchen made jams, pickles or relishes, add some local salami (Piemonte Sausage Co. cured meats or Underground Meats, finish with some toasted pecans from Voss Pecan Orchard and you have all the key ingredients for a gorgeous CHEESE BOARD for holiday entertaining or a simple week-night meal!
If you want to enjoy a cheese board at the farm, we’re streamlining our “build your own cheeseboard.” You still get to pick out the cheeses and cured meats that you would like, but our staff will compose the board for you with a warmed demi-baguette (and/or crackers) and three sweet & savory accompaniments (think jam, pickles, nuts, relish and artisanal mustard).
Give the gift of local cheese & charcuterie:
Cheese & Salami Gift Boxes featuring artisan charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co., our chevre and house-made pickled green cherry tomatoes. NOW just $79.95 feeds 10-15 guests (individual components would cost over $100).
NEW in the farm store: Potter’s Crackers—Artisanal crackers baked in Madison WI featuring local grains and other ingredients. I am SOOO excited to bring these crackers to central Illinois! I used to buy them at the Green City Market in Chicago, and I always thought they were the perfect vehicle for our cheeses.
Featured Local Meats Goat, Lamb and Heritage Whey-Fed Pork (Red Waddle Hogs) products from D&M Farms, Breese IL We are so excited to be offering these exceptional meat products from the farm of one of our new milkers-Megan Huelsman. She and her dad raise goats, sheep and hogs in southern IL; pasture raised goats and sheep and red waddle hogs fed whey from a nearby farmstead cow creamery.
Bane Family Meats: Dr. David Bane raises poultry, beef, lamb and hogs on his diverse, pasture-based farm in Sidney IL. We carry his chicken (“freedom ranger” breed—superior to conventional breeds of meat chickens) and beef and sometimes his eggs.
Piemonte Sausage Co: Claude and Susan Cole produce delicious fresh (frozen) sausages using locally sourced pork. We carry a nice selection of their sausages in our freezer case. We also have their dry-cured salamis (they go SOO well with our cheeses!).
In addition to our holiday open house this Saturday, November 30th (Small Business Saturday-Holiday Farm Open House), we will be doing a grand tasting event “Holiday Farm Tasting” on Sunday December 8th featuring many of the wines/beers, cheeses, salamis, jams, pickles and more in our farm store. Check out our Facebook events pages for more details.