One of the tentacles of the corona virus hydra of unintended consequences is a shortage of labor for our farm, especially in the creamery. Despite record unemployment, it has been hard to find reliable folks who want to work in a hot & wet environment. Through a series of connections in Chicago, “operation chef to cheeserie” was born. This week, we welcomed two young chefs from Acadia Restaurant.
Neither one a stranger to being on their feet for most of the day, they donned their hair nets and lab coats and traded their chef shoes for creamery boots. They grasped the concepts of production work with ease, falling into place at the chevre packing table and the dish sink. Their young faces exude curiosity and eagerness to understand the mysteries of cheese.
With some trepidation, they ladled their first vats of chevre and then graduated to a little bloom ladle. Today, they stood over the steaming wet ricotta curd, straining out the whey with cheese cloth, unfazed by the pools of whey collecting at their feet. You can tell they come from a kitchen of discipline; the way they move from one task to the next, the implicit understanding of order, of “mise en place.” Their extra sets of hands and their infectious joy of food have made the work fly by this week. We have enjoyed their company, and their spirit of genuine helpfulness gives me hope.
Urbana’s Market at the Square-Stock up with all the fixins’ for a great holiday weekend!
The forecast for Saturday is calling for a chance of showers, but we should all be used that by now. The offerings of our fellow farmers are growing—strawberries, asparagus, greens and much more. If you come early, you have the best chance to score a cornucopia of delicious ingredients to prepare a whole week’s worth of great meals, especially in celebration of Memorial Day and the official start of summer. Why not wow yourselves with a Prairie Fruits Farm cheese board-just ask us for ideas!
As you know, the market is open with some restrictions to ensure the safety of farmers and patrons alike. If you haven’t already reviewed the markets rules for operation under “COVID 19 restrictions, please check them out on the “Market at the Square” website. We will be taking your orders at one section of our stand and fulfilling them in another. We will have a Square card reader set up for you to swipe your card for payment. If you bring cash, we will give you change (and sanitize our hands between transactions).
Don’t forget: May is “American Cheese Month.” Help us keep the community of American Artisan and Farmstead Cheese Makers vibrant and thriving. Although we have one week left of May, let’s keep the momentum going by continuing to enjoy our cheeses and those from other American artisan and farmstead producers.
Here’s the line-up for this week:
Fresh Chevre $8/each
--herbs de Provence
--SEASONAL flavor—Pickled Ramp & Onion $9—sweet & sour pickled alliums added to our fresh chevre—the perfect foil for rustic bread or a bagel with a slice of smoked salmon.
Fresh Whole Goats’ Milk Ricotta: we are flush with milk these days, so we decided to add a ricotta make to our production line up this week. We make our ricotta in traditional Italian basket molds. Creamy and mild, it’s great with simple adornments (fresh berries, drizzle of honey OR olive oil with fresh herbs) or add to your favorite recipe. We’ll have a couple of recipe cards to hand out with your purchase at the farmers’ market.
Angel Food-our little “crottin” style bloomies—young with dense fudgy paste and notes of lemon and mushroom $9/each
Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert style cheese-still young, but ripening nicely with a hint of mushroom from the rind $11/each
Fleur du Prairie-bloomy rind cheese adorned with dried herbs and edible flowers Nice 'n ripe! $11/each
Goat Milk Feta—aged in whey brine, tangy with a creamy-crumbly texture $7 each
Pelota Roja—LAST CHANCE FOR AWHILE! raw milk, Manchego-style aged goat cheese with guajillo chile-olive oil rub on the rind—special cheese we make for Rick Bayless’ restaurants $7/wedge (limited availability)
If you don’t want to come to the market, no worries. You can order online by 10 AM Saturday for Farm Pick-Up between 1-4 pm.
Other Opportunities to Purchase Our Products
If you can’t make it to the Urbana Farmers’ Market or our Saturday Farm Pick Ups, you can order online for shipping. We ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week. There are also a growing number of retail establishments throughout central IL and the Chicagoland area. New to the list this week are Publican Quality Meats in Chicago and Carnival Foods in Oak Park. We’ve got some other exciting partnerships in development. Stay tuned for details soon.
As restaurants reopen in limited capacity, several are featuring our cheeses-shout outs to Vie Restaurant (Western Springs, IL) and Sunday Dinner Club (Chicago). We are especially excited to partner with Chef Stephanie Izard and her Girl & the Goat-ceries. She’s preparing a meal kit exclusively for our central Illinois customers (and featuring a cheese plate with our little bloom on the prairie no less!!). Not only that, she’s going to deliver the meal kits to our customers right here on the farm! How cool and wonderful is THAT!!??
Girl & the Goat-ceries (of Girl & the Goat and Chef Stephanie Izard) is headed to Prairie Fruits Farm for one time only! We heard you and we’re bringing a limited amount of our Goat Restaurant favorite dishes via these meal kits (cooking required) for pick up on Saturday 5/30 from 3:30-6pm! Menu includes delicious proteins to grill out or make on your stovetop, such as pork sausage satay, herb marinated shrimp, fun sides like a Gotham Greens grilled salad, house made pita and cookies from Little Goat Bakery! Best of all- this meal kit features a special Little Bloom on the Prairie cheese plate!
Every curated meal kit includes exclusive photo/video recipes by Stephanie Izard! To view the full menu and pre-order for pick up, click here.
Reopening the farm
As the state slowly relaxes the restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, we will be working on plans to re-open the farm to visitors. We are not sure what the timing will be, or what kinds of experiences we will be offering, but we should have some ideas by mid-June. In the meantime, you can still come out on Saturday afternoons to pick up pre-orders (and catch glimpses of the goats).