Thanksgiving is holiday of rituals and traditions; folks who have long ago left behind eating foods that wiggle or come from a can make exceptions for this one day. Over my nearly 15 years as a cheese maker, I have come to embrace my own set of rituals. I am alone in the creamery; I listen only to music or “The Splendid Table’s Turkey Confidential.” My music selections harken back to my teenage years, when my favorite Boston radio station would play “Alice’s Restaurant,” by Arlo Guthrey, in its entirety while the thanksgiving feast preparations were underway. Through the modern miracle of radio streaming, I can tune into my current favorite east-coast radio station (WXPN), where they carry on this tradition of playing “Alice’s Restaurant” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
I ladle the morning chevre slowly and carefully; I marvel at the thickness of the curd and how heavy it feels, even though I have experienced this late lactation curd so many times. As the baskets are filled and the vat is scraped to get every last drop of curd, I find myself singing along to the music of my youth. I take a little extra time to clean the vat and the utensils, hoping they play another song of nostalgia. The tug of the turkey prep is calling me out of the creamery, but the peacefulness of the hot wet make-room compels me to stay a bit longer.
Wes is outside chopping wood for our wood stove. He feeds the goats their noon-time ‘snack,’ and plans to milk them later that afternoon, a little earlier than normal so we can enjoy our little thanksgiving feast. We are “alone” on the farm, a rarity these days; just us and a whole bunch of pregnant goats, our dog Blue and our cats. Our holiday feast has come to symbolize our connectedness to fellow farmers—turkey from Bane Family Meats, veggies from Blue Moon Farm, Sola Gratia Farm and Meyer Farm, mushrooms from Flyway farm and fruits from Cary’s Garden. Yes, the chores take no pause for holidays, but they are woven into our way of celebrating the season.
Milk on the wane
As much as I would like to have the goats keep producing milk just a little bit longer, their bodies have put their attentions elsewhere (in growing those little embryos which will turn into goat kids next spring). The time has come to dry them off for the season and to stop making cheese. This is time of mixed feelings: happiness for the rest that we and they will enjoy; sadness for breaking the daily rituals of milking and cheese making. I look forward to sleeping in, guilt free.
This Saturday, December 7th, we return to the Urbana’s Market IN the Square. We will be there from 8 am-12 noon (even though the market runs until 1 pm). We’ve made a couple of special chevre flavors (cranberry-spice and pickled-spiced ramp), and we’ll have some nice ‘n ripe bloomies too. We will be bringing a selection of pickled veggies, jams and PFFC “merch” as well as our cheese & salami gift boxes (featuring charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.). Here is the line-up of cheeses:
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.
Dried spiced cranberries (with cinnamon, nutmeg & clove and little bit of lemon zest)—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. LIMITED AVAILABILITY.
NEW: Pickled-Spiced Ramp Chevre—this is a “spring meets winter” spin—ramps (wild leeks foraged this past spring) pickled with assorted spices (cinnamon stick, clove, star anise, bay leaf and more) are chopped and blended into the fresh chevre—this has so many flavors going on, it’s hard to describe. Ask for a taste. Its the perfect ready-made dip for holiday guests.
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 or without edible flowers and dried herbs from our herb garden. Super ripe and gooey but very delicious! We have made one more batch that we will release for the last two weekends of market sales in December (14th, 21st).
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 but serve it with warm crusty bread and little jam or honey and your guests will clamor for more!
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).
Can’t make it to the market on Saturday? Fear not-our farm store “The Real Stand” is open Saturday 1 to 4 pm. We are participating in Chambana Moms “Ho-Ho Holiday” Shop Local Event both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. During open hours, you can:
Visit with the goats
Enjoy some local food “snacks”—we’ll have some warming foods and beverages for sale)If you’re like me (and you 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. We’ve streamlined our “build your own cheeseboard.” You still get to pick out the cheeses and cured meats, 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) for a small fee.
Peruse our farm store for unique holiday gifts, edible and otherwise (local meats, flour, honey, maple syrup, jams, t-shirts, tea towels, note cards, self-care products and more).
NEW in the farm store: Delight Flower Farm self-care products! We are super excited to carry these locally made salves, tinctures, salts and more.
Farm Happenings: Sunday December 8th “Holiday Tasting Event”
Are you curious about wine/beer and cheese pairings? Are you hosting a holiday event and need some advice on charcuterie? Are you looking for something fun to do with a friend or family that involves education, drinks, food and fun?
Then come to the Real Stand Farm Store this Sunday for our Holiday Tasting Event during open hours anytime from 12-4pm!
For $10, guests will receive 2-2oz samples of wine and/or beer, 3 cheese tastings, and 2 condiments along with some bread and crackers. Our staff will guide guests through making the best selection according to their tastes from a cultivated selection of items. Then they are encouraged to try different combinations to find their perfect pairing!
Guests are encouraged to stay and enjoy another glass of wine, beer, or hot beverage, to shop from a wonderful selection of gifts and food items, or to create a delicious cheeseboard to snack on. And don't forget to take pictures with the dress-up goats!
Tickets will be sold inside the store, no reservations required.
Our holiday goats will be roaming in the kid barn, available for photos too.