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🧀The Farmgirl Monthly🧀
May: The Traditional Art of Crafting Cheese
FEATURED FARM CRAFT
Nature Hills Farm
What do you enjoy most about the “making of cheese” process?

I love taking milk and turning it into something so delicious and sustainable. Cheese can literally last for years! The older the cheese, the better it tastes. I love going to the cheese cave and pulling out a wheel of cheese to take into the farmhouse to eat. I also love teaching others how to make cheese.
FARM CRAFTS
Urban Cheesecraft
Urban Cheesecraft is a Latina woman-owned business based in Portland, Oregon. Claudia Lucero is the founder and cheesemaker.

Claudia was raised with fresh Mexican cheeses. Nothing made her happier than visiting the cheese counter for a soft, fresh cheese and then the tortilleria for a steamy corn tortilla while out grocery shopping with her grandma. That first simple taco assembled right there on the street was comfort food bliss. Claudia was lucky to be allowed in the kitchen to cook along with her mom and grandmother from an early age, so she absorbed the value and reward of cooking traditional foods from scratch. The extended family gathered on Sundays and that food made with so much love and care was devoured by several generations. As she followed this appreciation of good food into adulthood, she came upon cheesemaking and dove in deep. Amazed by her new powers she set out to teach others.  

Since 2009 Claudia and Urban Cheesecraft have been on a mission to enable anyone to make delicious cheeses with confidence and ease right in their own kitchen. We offer a wide variety of DIY cheese kits for both traditional and dairy free cheeses.

Our kits are made in the U.S. with the help of another woman-owned, family run business, and we only source high quality, all natural, non-GMO ingredients. Our aim is to make it easy and accessible to get started and to continue with confidence. There’s a low investment in time and cost but high reward in self-sufficiency and quality. 

With our kits, you can enjoy a variety of different fresh cheeses made in your own kitchen in less than an hour. Urban Cheesecraft kits include the ingredients and tools you need to make each cheese along with easy-to-follow instructions. You just add your choice of milk for traditional cheeses or choose nuts, seeds, veggies, and white beans to make delicious dairy-free cheeses. No guesswork, just fun and wholesome deliciousness.

The Art of Cheese
I raise Nubian dairy goats at Briar Gate Farm in Longmont, Colorado where I also teach cheesemaking classes through my school, The Art of Cheese. The goats definitely inspired my interest and passion in making cheese, but my classes cover all types of cheeses made with all kinds of milk.

Before the pandemic, my cheesemaking school focused on in-person, hands-on experiences in our farm classroom as well as at cheesemaking retreats in exotic locations. Like so many businesses, though, we had to do a huge pivot once travel and in-person events were curtailed and now we offer over 30 different virtual classes to students all over the world (and the list keeps growing) via Zoom and YouTube.

I am also a writer, coach, mentor, and speaker and I love to share my passion with others. I write for Countryside Network’s Goat Journal and I recently completed my fourth book - Tiny Goat, Big Cheese. It’s part memoir and part cheesemaking cookbook, with a lot of inspiration and heartwarming animal stories thrown in for good measure.


Pennyroyal Farm
Pennyroyal Farm's flagship cheese is Boont Corners, an often semi-hard cheese, made from raw goat and sheep mil with a natural rind, that is made in small batches of three-pound wheels. The flavor that develops as the cheese matures, from a milky, sometimes grassy two-month, to a sharp vintage, on through to the sweet and nutty reserve. This makes Boont Corners a favorite because of the versatility of how it can be paired with their estate wines and how good it tastes when cooked all by itself. The wheels of Boont Corners made during the flush of milk production in the late spring and early summer benefits from months of aging. This sees them released through late winter when their fresh and surface-ripened cheeses go on hiatus due to the goats and sheep being on maternity leave. It ensures continuity of cheese availability despite the season nature of their farming practices.


Pennyroyal Farm is a goat and sheep dairy, creamery, and vineyard located at the entrance to Anderson Valley. Our estate wines and handmade cheeses are produced entirely from what we grow on our regenerative farm; maximizing the symbiotic relationships of diversified crops and animal husbandry while utilizing a mix of traditional and modern techniques. Our tasting room is open Monday-Sunday and seasonally we host brunch and dinner events with menus highlighting the uniqueness of our farmstead.

Sweet Grass Dairy
Sweet Grass Dairy is a second generation, family-owned creamery based in Thomasville, Georgia. We produce handmade artisan cheese from cow’s milk. Our cows are raised barn free, grazing on fresh grass year-round. Co-owner Jessica Little grew up helping her parents manage the 350-acre dairy farm that continues to provide our milk today. Together, Jessica and her husband Jeremy have stayed loyal to the values our creamery was founded on 20 years ago: take exceptional care of the grass and the cows, and then produce cheese that lets the flavors and quality of the milk shine through. Sweet Grass Dairy produces a variety of aged, soft-ripened, and fresh cow’s milk cheeses all developed to showcase this quality. We are known for our award-winning, double cream Green Hill and semi-soft Thomasville Tomme cheeses. Our Pimento spread, our unique twist on a Southern classic, has also garnered a cult following. They are as delicious on a burger or in grilled cheese as they are on a sophisticated charcuterie board. We believe that the flavors of our cheese can make any meal special and memorable.

FARM TRADITIONS
What Cheese To Make Today?

Seven years ago, new to owning a milk cow, I learned to make cheese. I started cheesemaking with the intention of making every cheese I possibly could. The problem with this was, I was a mom to young children, a homesteader, I held an off farm job; My life was busy and full. It takes time to figure out how to make one cheese, it takes a lot more time to figure out how to make 200, and even if you set out to make dozens of different types of cheese, it doesn’t mean that you will actually be able to age them from cheese pot to table. Part of learning to make cheese is, inevitably, tossing some cheeses in the compost.

I learned the hard way, that if I was going to succeed at cheesemaking, at learning how to fit cheesemaking into my lifestyle, I was going to need to come up with an action plan. A plan built on the foundation of making cheeses that my family actually wanted to eat, learning how to make and age them well, and through all of this, learning how to fit them into my lifestyle. Traditionally homestead cheesemakers, cheesemakers with the primary goal of milking an animal and putting cheese on their families tables, did not make 200 cheeses, they made only a few types of cheeses that they knew how to age well, and that they knew, with some certainty, that they could feed to their families 6 months down the road. I adopted this philosophy, and it has worked well for me.


The Family Milk Cow—Queen of the Homestead
The nourishment a family milk cow provides though gallons of fresh raw milk is what we expect to read about when we see an article with a title like this one.

But, let me begin by talking about all the ways a family milk cow connects us in a more intimate way to nature and creation. The family milk cow requires you to be present twice a day in a way few other animals do.

You’ll be required to be part of more sunrises and sunsets than ever before in your life. You become more intimate with creation by experiencing everyday the the passing of time and in this way you experience the intimacy of the gradual change of seasons. You'll notice when that pesky sparrow starts dragging bits of straw to the eves of the barn, you'll sing a song of praise on that first morning where you’re able to milk by slanted sunlight instead of lamp light.

You’ll notice the change in the birds songs as they begin preparing for migration, you'll notice the subtle change in your cows coat as the days cool and shorten.


by Ruth Ann Zimmerman

Making Traditional Cheese In Ireland
We are dairy cow farmers, in Ireland and have been making cheese traditionally on our family farm for over 40 years. We live in an area which is at the heart of milk production in Ireland, on the edge of a region known as The Golden Vale. There is not a tradition of farmstead cheesemaking in our area, typically farmers will be members of a dairy co-operative selling their milk to a central processing location where it will be processed in large volumes into butter and cheese. This is very efficient for both the processor and the farmer allowing both to focus their attentions, but on the downside that precious sense of connection from field to fork is broken. The farmer on the one hand doesn’t understand the long journey it takes to transform milk to an aged hard cheese, and likewise the cheesemaker is far removed from understanding how weather, feed, calving patterns impact on style of milk. Making cheese on the farmstead is an amazingly rewarding experience, if at times very frustrating. We challenge you to make cheese for a lactation season and trust gain a new sense of connection with your farm and respect for the final product… beautiful cheese.


By: Sarah Furno Maitre Fromager and Owner of Cashel Blue Irish Farmhouse Cheese

How We Became Cheesemakers
How in the world did you ever become a cheese maker?? Well let me tell you, it did not start out as a life long dream. But I did always want goats! And once you have milk goats, well, what are you going to do with all that milk....you start researching how to make cheese :) Making cheese at home is one of the most satisfying crafts you can learn, whether you make your cheese from milk you harvested from your own animals or purchase milk. ( First word of caution, you cannot use milk that has been “ultra pasteurized”). Getting started does not require a lot of special equipment or ingredients, it can be as simple as milk, lemon juice and cheese cloth. Making cheese with rennet (or vegetable enzymes) is like magic that, even after all these years, never ceases to amaze me. So you get hooked on making more difficult cheeses. And then you start winning blue ribbons at the county fair for your handcrafted goat cheese, and then you start dreaming of more cheese...

That is the short version of how Jollity Farm started over 30 years ago, when Charley got his first goats. He wanted to be able to share his craft with his local community, but you must be licensed to sell cheese. It was a long process, but eventually he opened his licensed goat dairy & creamery in 2011. MaryLisa got her first goats in 2006. We met when Charley offered a donation of cheese for the goat show raffle that MaryLisa was overseeing, And she said “OH you are a REAL cheese maker!!” Our farms merged when we got married in 2017 (yes, there were goats in attendance at the wedding, but that is another story)

We operate Jollity Farm together, making both cheese and skin care products. What makes Jollity Farm Cheese so special? It is not just artisan, it is truly a Farmstead cheese. Farmstead cheese is produced from the milk collected on the same farm where the cheese is produced. Unlike artisan cheese, which may also include milk purchased and transported from off-farm sources, farmstead cheese makers use only milk from animals they raise. As a result, the cheeses produced often have unique flavors owing to the farm's local terroir.

From Ewe To You
Our family property ‘Towri’ is located in South East Queensland Australia. Towri, meaning ‘family gathering in aboriginal, roughly 300 acres Towri is home to 350 Awassi milking sheep, 5 alpacas, 2 donkeys, some loud chooks (chickens), 2 very energetic Jack Russell’s, 7 retired Polocrosse horses, and last but not least our most important asset….our faithful sheep dog ‘Abby’.

For those who haven’t heard of the Awassi breed, let me fill you in. Originating in Israel, also known as the fat tale sheep, the Awassi is a quiet natured, tall framed, droopy eared sheep.

Imported into Australia in 1998 to help improve the sheep milking industry, giving approximately 1 gallon per ewe per milking. Towri leaves the lambs on their mothers and only separates at night for an early morning milking, resulting in happy ewes, happy lambs.


Enjoy!

Happy Cheese Making

Written by Carolyn Davidson

(Company Director and Head Cheese Maker)

FARMHOUSE KITCHEN RECIPES
You can find this recipe in The FarmMade Cookbook coming out July 20, 2021 (pre-order now!!). A time capsule of food, craft, and tradition, The FarmMade Cookbook shares seventy-five multi-generational recipes from farms all over the country. Hailing from New England, the Deep South, the Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest, each authentic farm-made recipe represents its region’s unique farming culture. Recipes are paired with each farm’s unique story of resilience and connection with the land, resulting in a tangible agrarian gift to us all.
Chèvre with Marinated Peaches and Heirloom Tomatoes
Through faith, our family moved from California to open the only Arkansas goat dairy and cow creamery. We began building White River Creamery and growing our herd in 2011. We now have over 100 ADGA registered Nigerian Dwarf goats on fifteen acres of pasture in Elkins, Arkansas. We make a variety of cheeses: chèvre, fromage blanc, feta, ricotta, Caillou Noir, halloumi, cheddar, and our southern favorite pimento cheese. We love being able to use fresh produce in this quick, no-bake appetizer.

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Cook Time 45 minutes
  • Total Time 1 hour
  • Servings 4-6

Ingredients
  • 1 heirloom tomato, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 peaches, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Thinly sliced basil, to taste Finely chopped chives, to taste
FARM EXTRAS
Summertime Cheeseboard
Summer is almost here!! And what better way to celebrate than creating a gorgeous cheeseboard for your friends and family. Isabel here from Isacheeseboard, and I'm going to walk you through making a summer board! My favorite thing about cheeseboards is making them your own! Choose what you like, try different flavor combos, add in something fun and colorful to make the board authentically yours. There are 5 main ingredients for a cheeseboard; cheese, meat, fruits & veggies, crunch, and the sweet & salties. I'll walk through some of my choices for each of these and to see how I arrange them.

  1. Cheese - There are so many options for cheeses and possibilities to fill your board are endless. When choosing cheeses for a board, you can think in themes - maybe you do 3 goat cheeses, or 1 goat, 1 cow, 1 sheep's milk cheese. Normally, I like to grab 2 hard cheeses and 1 soft one. Some hard cheese crowd pleasers include Manchego, Drunken Goat, or a Gouda. Fun soft cheese choices are Brie, Humboldt Fog, or a Port Salud. 
  2. Meat - I love a thinly sliced prosciutto or a spicy salami. Fold those onto the plate making sure they're not lying flat. Try out your local deli counter to get some freshly sliced meats, or the pre packaged options are also great.
  3. Fruits & Veggies - I love using fresh berries, peaches, or melon on my boards but any fresh fruit will be delicious in the summer. If you want to use some tomatoes on your board, then pair that with a fresh Mozzarella or a Burrata. I mean, let's be real, there's nothing like tomato season!! 
  4. Crunch - The crunch is there as a vessel to eat your cheeses, or as a palate cleanser between bites. Normally I throw some crackers on my board as they're the closest resemblance to a spoon, but crunch could be whatever you have on hand like pretzels or toasted baguette or even breadsticks. If you have a funky cheese, I'd use a more mellow crunch so you can really taste the cheese with each bite. 
  5. The Sweet & Salties - If you check out my cheeseboards on Instagram, you'll see that on every board I fill all the nooks and crannies. The Sweet & Salties are exactly what they sound like; nuts, dried fruits, honey and jam, and my ultimate favorite Sweet & Salty - chocolate covered pretzels!! Here is where you can really get creative in adding in small details to elevate your board to the next level. The Sweet & Salties pair well with so many types of cheeses, your guests will discover so many flavor profiles they may not have tried before. For example, pairing blue cheese and chocolate is *chefs kiss*.

Be sure to follow @Isacheeseboard for more tips and tricks. I'm also offering virtual classes for you and your friends or teammates to learn how to make a cheeseboard with me. Thanks so much for reading along, can't wait to see your summer boards!! 

BEST Grilled Cheese!!
Here’s my secret….you make the best grilled cheese using mayo.

First, I switched from buttering my bread to using mayo. It sounds weird, I know, but it works.

If you’ve ever just slaughtered an innocent slice of white bread as you tried to spread cold butter, then you get it. Your sandwich dreams are basically torn, right before your eyes.

Mayo spreads like a dream. No waiting for it to soften and no gaps in coverage. This will get you even toasting, which is what we’re going for.

My best grilled cheese includes not one, but two types of melty cheese. There aren’t fancy-smanchy cheeses, either. These are cheeses you can find at any grocery store – sliced cheddar and a colby jack cheese.

My name is Deanne Frieders with This Farm Girl Cooks! I LOVE sharing recipes and ideas with busy home cooks. My focus is on simple, delicious meals your family will actually eat!

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