This week, we hosted a few hundred high school students from Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. They are all members of "Future Farmers of America" (FFA) on their way to their annual national convention in Indianapolis. These are mostly kids from rural communities with agriculture curricula. The program emphasizes leadership development and proficiency skills in a variety of agricultural arenas, from meat carcass judging to describing soil pits. They compete to be crowned the best in their subject area. Many, but not all, FFA kids come from farming backgrounds; fewer and fewer raise livestock. Of the groups that visited us this week, almost none (even those from Wisconsin!!) came from dairy farms! Their current agricultural demographics underscore the trend of fewer farms raising livestock in the Midwest. The paucity of future dairy farmers is alarming, especially since the median age of dairy farmers is creeping into the late '50's. While we enjoy watching the expressions on the faces of these rural kids and their ag teachers as they overcome their fears of trying goat milk and goat cheese for the first time, we secretly hope that maybe one or two might be sparked to take a shining to pasture-based goat dairying.
Farmers' Market Offerings and Farm Happenings
Don't forget that the Farmers' Market moves inside Lincoln Square Mall this Saturday November 4th! Hours are 8 am to 12 noon. The indoor market is located conveniently inside the south wing of Lincoln Square Mall. You can shop without a coat if you like! We have a wide assortment of seasonal chevre flavors this week, and we're offering our 3-chevre special-any three seasonal chevres for $25! Don't forget the yogurt, feta and young bloomies. Ukrainian Farmhouse cheese is back in the lineup too! Also, grab a grazing box to enjoy when you get home from the market. We will also have our farm-made seasoned pecans (using Voss Orchard Pecans) and our delicious apple chips (our farm's apples as well as those from Cary's Garden of Eatin'). You might even see some PFFC merch, especially as we approach the holiday season.
Need some cheesy menu ideas for simple eating? You can make a whipped feta and yogurt sauce with fresh herbs to drizzle over roasted sweet potato wedges. How about smoking or grilling a round of young little bloom or angel food and serving with a warm apple compote? How about a fall mixed-greens salad with chevre, chopped apple and toasted-candied pecans?
We'll be bringing the following cheeses to market:
Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society Gold Medal and 2023 Bronze Medal winner!
Fresh chevre with dried tomato (last chance)
Additional seasonal flavors: summer berry, dill-lemongrass-lemon zest, and NEW!! dried clementine-chile pepper
Angel Food: mixed milk mini brie or large format wheels--you choose--YOUNG
Little bloom on the prairie-mixed milk camembert-sytle bloomy rind- YOUNG
Ukrainian Farmhouse cheese-all cow milk fresh cheese, similar to a cross between cottage cheese and ricotta
Feta in whey brine: crumble on a summer salad! Use the whey brine to marinate chicken or lamb! Put it on a pizza! 2023 ACS Bronze Medal
Goat milk yogurt (pints and quarts)-all natural, no thickening agents-use it as the base of a marinade, a salad dressing or just eat it with fresh fruit
PFFC grazing boxes: include small portion sizes of at least two types of cheeses along with jams, spreads and fun "vehicles" on which to eat the cheese (bread, crackers, potato chips). Price varies based on components
Recipe of the week
This week's recipe is a simple chevre-based dip, perfect for weekend snacking
Whipped Goat Cheese & Fresh Herbs Dip
Recipe found on Brooklyn Supper Website
6 ounces plain chèvre, room temperature
4 - 6 tablespoons plain yogurt (PFFC is best)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for finishing
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for finishing
1/2 cup minced parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon minced tarragon or thyme leaves
2 tablespoon Castelvetrano olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, for serving
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chèvre, 4 tablespoons yogurt, lemon zest lemon juice, red pepper flakes, pepper, and sea salt. Blend until smooth. Taste, add sea salt and up to 2 tablespoons yogurt, as needed. Pulse in the parsley.
2. Spoon into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.
3. Allow dip to come to room temperature before serving.
4. To serve, spoon dip into a shallow bowl, swirl, and add minced herbs, chopped olives, an olive oil drizzle, black pepper, and flaky sea salt. Serve alongside the crackers, potato chips and sliced vegetables of your choice.
5. Dip can be made up to three days ahead. Allow dip to come to room temperature and add garnishes before serving.
If you want raw goat milk or gelato, you will need to come out to our farm store during open hours. PLEASE NOTE: Our raw milk supply is dwindling as the goats are getting bred and nearing the end of their seasonal lactations. As such, we will only have frozen goat milk available until it runs out. To ensure that you get your milk, we encourage you to order through our online store for farm pickup. PLEASE NOTE: Frozen milk has an estimated shelf life of one week once it's thawed. It will last for several months frozen.
Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery-Fresh Picks Cheese Board Collaboration
For those of you in the Chicagoland area who have been wondering where to find PFFC cheeses, look no further. Fresh Picks, a home delivery service featuring local and organic foods, carries a lovely assortment of our cheeses. You can order a la carte OR, even better, you can order a local cheese board featuring our cheeses, local charcuterie and accompaniments. You can even order wine to go with it!!
Goaty Halloween 2023 is in the rearview mirror and was a big success, despite the cold and drizzly weather
Farm Events in Fall and During the Holiday Season
It's the time of year when people tend to nest and get ready for the holidays. We at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery are HERE FOR YOU! We have several special events, classes and workshops planned for November and December. Follow the links to book reservations NOW as these will fill up fast! Here's what we have planned so far:
November 25th Goat Holiday Photo Booth (Goats in holiday attire for family photos, goat milk hot chocolate, Nieces Pieces brownie sundaes and more...details forthcoming-save the date)
December 10th-Goat Holiday Photo Booth, Take Two (in case you missed the first one in November)
Farm Open Hours
Fall is a gorgeous time to visit the farm, especially with the foliage in peak color. We are open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 5 pm. You can visit with the goats, taste our raw milk (and buy some to take home), shop our farm store for cheeses, accompaniments and unique gifts, enjoy a cheese board under our pavilion or grab a scoop of gelato.
We've have an amazing wine & cheese flight for fall, featuring a buttery Italian white (La Coccinelle) and a rich French red (Hermitage de Pic Saint Loup). Our beer flight has a fantastic sour weiss from Polyanna, an easy-drinking Belgian style ale and a German-style beer. Both flights feature cheeses from Jacobs & Brichford, in memory of Mathew Brichford, their founder/head cheese maker, who was at the forefront of some of the best pasture-based, raw-cow milk cheeses in the US (even internationally). He was a kindred spirit in the very small community of US pasture-based farmstead creameries, and his recent passing is a huge loss to the artisan cheese community overall.
Please note: on Saturdays, we offer "build your own" cheese boards and flights starting at 12:30 pm until closing. On Sundays, they are available from 11-5.
Our farm is great place to unwind, enjoy some great cheese and gelato and take in the natural surroundings that are so scarce in central Illinois. Our goat teenage girls are usually hanging around close to the barns and fences, waiting for your adoration. We have raw goat milk for sale (now sold as frozen milk) as well as a fantastic selection of cheese accompaniments (crackers, jams, sauces, pickles, wines, beers) as well as Joyful Wren pastured-poultry eggs, our goat milk soap (made for us exclusively by The Wright Soapery), tea towels and t-shirts. Come see the latest new offerings in the farm store. From Divina fruit spreads, to Great Lakes Potato Chips ((the cherry BBQ is the "bomb!") to Central Illinois Bakehouse crackers and a growing array of roasted and seasoned Voss orchard pecans, we have some of the best accompaniments you'll find in central Illinois. Ask for cold brew "affogato" or a root beer-gelato float!
Special shoutout to our new potter in residence Irene Woo (Pottery by Irene). She has made some special goat milk soap holders for us. Her true works of art are these leaf and flower platters, using leaves and flowers from OUR FARM! You much come check these beauties out!!
photo and post by Laura Trovillion
In general, we plan to offer hikes every Saturday at 11 am. If it is too hot or if it's raining, we will postpone until Sunday at 11AM. Not sure if it's happening? Just check in with our staff when you arrive on Saturdays. Join us this Saturday Nov. 4th. This might be the last hike of the season.
When hikes happen, join Wes or one of our rock star volunteers on a stroll along the eastern edge of our farm. It's a gorgeous part of the farm. The hike lasts for about 30-40 minutes and then we take you on a brief tour of the dairy. It ends with a scoop of gelato. $18/person includes the hike, a farm tour and a scoop of gelato at the end.
NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. HIKE STARTS PROMPTLY AT 11:00 am. SUITABLE FOR AGES 8 AND OLDER. WEAR STURDY SHOES FOR UNEVEN TERRAIN AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING/HATS FOR THE WEATHER. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO BRING A WATER BOTTLE AND SUNSCREEN TOO.
HOLIDAY GIFT BOXES FOR BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS
If you own or work in a business or a non-profit organization that has the custom of giving gifts to your favorite clients/customers/donors, consider a unique and delicious cheesy gift box from Prairie Fruits Farm! We have curated four gift boxes for all budgets. Since this page/collection is password protected, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to check out our offerings and place an order. The deadline for placing orders is November 6th, to give us ample time to get all components in stock to fulfill orders. For those of you who want to order holiday gift boxes for individual gift giving, have no fear! We will be posting those options on our website sometime in early November. Stay tuned.
Want to order for farm pick up during the weekend? Need some raw goat milk? Eggs from Joyful Wren? Cheese? Just order from our Online Store for Farm Pick-Up. It's super easy!! Not local? You can still support us! You can order from our online retail store. We ship nationwide Mondays through Wednesdays every week. You can choose from one of our gift collections or just mix and match a la carte. Retail Holiday Gift boxes landing in early to mid November!!