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Tales from the cheese vat

Updated: Mar 22

Farm News

After so many years of milking goats and making cheese, you would think that the routines and quotidian rituals of a seasonal farmstead creamery would loose their luster. Yes, the full-throttle onslaught of milk and what to do with it daily can be overwhelming. Yet, there are certain rituals that still bring me joy. Ladling chevre is one of them. Setting up the baskets and lining them with cheesecloth, ensuring that the ladle is close at hand, there is satisfaction in the mise en place. Spring milk chevre is especially beautiful, because the creamline is so thick and the thin cap of whey protects the smooth dense curd underneath. While little whey makes it challenging to prime the cheesecloths adequately with whey and cream, the plunge of the ladle into the top layer of curd tells the cheese maker what to expect for the rest of the ladle.

The dip of the ladle, the filling of curd, the laying of curd gently into baskets-this is the rhythmic dance of the cheese maker. Just like a foxtrot or a salsa, it takes time to learn how to add speed to the motions. It takes strength in the wrists and forearms to ladle a full scoop of curd into the basket, especially dense, spring-milk curd. The curd remaining in the bottom of the vat, is usually broken up and soupy with whey, not as beautiful as the smooth curd on top. Once the vat is empty and the cheese cloths folded over the curd mass in the baskets, the ladle is complete and the next ritual of washing begins.

A poem for all cheese makers by yours truly (leslie cooperband) in honor of National Poetry Day

"Wet hands, gloves"

wet hands, gloves struggle to make their way onto fingers

vinyl sticks, rips, try again

paper towels can't do justice to hot wet hands

blowing on hands, no help either

soapy gloves, many-hours dishwashing hands with holes in gloves

hot water chlorinated scarred fingers, insensitive to heat

persevering hands in holy gloves, stacks of cheese molds await the washing

Happenings at the Farm & Beyond

Come see us at the Champaign Urbana Indoor Farmers' Market this Saturday. We are there every Saturday through the end of April, 8 am to 12 noon. The outdoor market "Urbana's Market at the Square" starts Saturday May 4th!

NEWS FLASH: SPRING CHEVRE IS BACK!!! We're bringing the following:

  • Chevre frais: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper

  • Goat milk yogurt!!! First of the season-pints only. Buy your yogurt and then pop over to CIB's stand to grab some of there house-made granola!!

  • Jersey Milk Gournay: garlic & herb, everything bagel and spiced cranberry--very limited quantities-great cream cheese subsitute

  • Ukrainian Farmers' Cheese: think ricotta and cottage cheese having a baby

  • Angel Food-brie style: petite rounds

  • Little bloom on the prairie: camembert style bloomy rind--gooey deliciousness

We are also bringing some special accompaniments to go with the cheeses!

We have launched a new weekly CSA-style share with ultimate flexibility. Every week, you'll get cheese, bread and house-made accompaniments. We will have these for sale at the indoor famers' market, but please go ahead and sign up for shares. Pretty soon, you will only be able to get these shares if you pre-order. This Saturday's share includes:

  • cracked pepper chevre

  • CIB focaccia bread

  • house-made onion jam

We are also launching a new "Farm Club" subscription--join the club and get special perks!

Save the dates and book your reservations NOW: Babies & Brunch!! Easter Edition--Saturday March 30th! and then every Saturday and Sunday in April! Reservations are filling up quickly!

Goat Yoga-Pilates comes to the farm in May, featuring our adorable baby goats and certified Pilates instructor Lisa Staples of Living Legacy Pilates.

Farm to Table Dinners: Starting in May, Chef Garron Sanchez will be offering pre-fixe multi-course meals featuring locally grown foods, and our cheeses of course. He is still fleshing out the themes and menus, but you can now make reservations.

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The dip of the ladle, the filling of curd, the laying of curd gently into baskets-this is the rhythmic dance of the cheese maker. backrooms game

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