March Farm News

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Reminders & Announcements: 
  • The final winter share distribution is this Thursday, March 5th from 2 to 7 pm at the farm in Grayslake (560 North Harris Road). Please call 847-548-4030with questions. 
  • The Spring Season starts the week of May 4th. Your exact pickup day will depend on where you pick up your shares.
  • There are number of food and farm-related events happening this month. Scroll down for a list.   
  • Thanks to everyone for the great feedback you gave in our recent member survey. You can help spread the word about our farm by distributing CSA information cards wherever people gather in your neighborhood--churches, coffee shops, health clubs, etc. Email Jen and she'll be glad to send you some. Thanks!


This Month's Dairy Share:

  • Maple Butter from Nordic Creamery
  • Assorted Fruit Yogurts from Sugar River Dairy
  • Big Ed's Cheese from Saxon Homestead Creamery
  • Parmesan Cheese from Nordic Creamery

This Month's Meat Share:

  • Bacon
  • Ground Beef
  • Steaks
  • Stir Fry Beef
  • Ground Pork or Ground Lamb

Farm Photo Journal
March 2015

The lamb in this month's meat share is from our farm in Brodhead. The pork and beef are from Riemer Family Farm. The Riemer farm is a 15-minute drive from ours, and we often find ourselves over there for one reason or another--picking up chicken feed, borrowing their livestock trailer, lending tools, dropping our kids off to play or just stopping by to talk about the weather. Recently we were standing outside taking a look at some work they're doing on their barn when this curious steer wandered over and practically begged to have his picture taken.

The Riemer family raises most of the pork for our meat share deliveries, but this year we are raising a handful of Berkshire hogs at our farm too. The hogs are chomping at the bit (to use the wrong agricultural metaphor) to get outside. We are careful to keep their pen clean and bedded down with lots of warm, dry straw, but it's been a long couple of months in the barn, and they are no doubt as anxious for warmer weather as we are.

Our sheep are a little less reluctant than the hogs to get out and enjoy the snow. Here they are walking single file out to the hay feeder one evening last week.

Several days later we were delighted to discover a newborn lamb standing out with the flock. The birth of the first lamb of the season is always cause for great celebration around here. It signals an end to the long winter and the beginning of a whole series of exciting spring activities.

One of those exciting activities got underway at the Grayslake farm this week. On Mondaywe fired up the greenhouse heaters and started filling trays with potting soil and seeds. Jeff, Donna and Tyler will spend the rest of the week planting leeks, onions, lettuce, swiss chard, fennel, bok choy and parsley. It's official--the 2015 season is underway!


In the Farm Kitchen
This month's dairy share includes a cheese called Big Ed's from Saxon Homestead Creamery. Saxon Homestead  is a pasture-based dairy farm owned and operated for five generations by members of the Klessig and Heimerl families.

The farm consists of 850 acres of permanent pasture land and an additional 200 acres of forage and corn silage cropland. There are about 450 Holstein-Jersey crossbred cows and their young stock in the dairy herd. Only the milk from this herd of dairy cattle is used to make Saxon’s cheeses.

Big Ed's has a smooth texture and a unique taste that combines the flavors of gouda and french alpine cheese.

Big Ed's Cheese Souffle
(from the Washington Post, April 2010)

6 large egg whites, at room temperature 
Pinch cream of tartar
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, preferably white
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup finely grated Big Ed's cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixer bowl. Place the egg yolks in a smaller bowl. Use about a tablespoon of the butter to grease the inside of a 6-cup soufflé dish, then sprinkle the Parmesan inside, tilting the dish so all sides are evenly coated. Refrigerate while you make the béchamel sauce (a chilled dish seems to keep the butter in suspension better during baking).
 
Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, without letting it brown. Slowly whisk in the warm milk; the mixture will thicken immediately. Keep stirring; once it starts to bubble at the edges, cook for 3 to 4 minutes to form a thick béchamel sauce. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper; mix well, then remove from the heat.
 
Beat a little of the bechamel into the egg yolks to temper them so they will be less likely to scramble. Then whisk the yolk mixture back into the rest of the béchamel. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until just stiff but still shiny and moist-looking. 
 
Sprinkle the chives over the bechamel. Use a flexible spatula to quickly stir a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the béchamel; this will lighten the sauce and make it easier to fold in the remaining egg whites.
 
Scoop the remaining beaten egg whites onto the top of the sauce base. Use the edge of the spatula to fold them in as follows: Cut down into the whites, drag the spatula along the bottom of the bowl toward you and bring the sauce mixture over the top of the whites. Give the bowl a quarter-turn and sprinkle some of the grated Big Eds cheese on top. Continue to fold the whites and the cheese into the sauce base until all of the whites, cheese and sauce are just combined, without deflating the egg whites.
 
Transfer the mixture to the chilled souffle dish, gently smoothing the top. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the souffle is puffed and golden brown. Do not open the oven door for at least the first 20 minutes of baking so the souffle can set. Serve immediately. To maintain as much of the puff as possible when serving, plunge an upright serving spoon and fork straight down into the center of the soufflé to pull the crust apart and scoop out a portion.

Upcoming Events
March 4th
Free screening of the award-winning documentary, Symphony of the Soil. The screening takes place at 7 p.m. at the Byron Colby Barn (1561 Jones Point Road, Grayslake). More info at http://libertyprairie.org/calendar/symphony-soil/

March 7th
Peg Sheaffer from Sandhill Family Farms will take part in a panel discussion at the Evanston Ecology Center (2024 McCormick Blvd) from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The topic will be 'Demystifying Gardening Buzzwords'. There will be a seed swap and give-away starting at3:00. Information and registration at http://www.edibleevanston.org.

March 19th-21st
The Good Food Festival and Conference will take place at UIC Forum (725 W Roosevelt) in Chicago. There will be workshops, local food tastings, tours and more. Peg and Jen will be attending. Come by our booth and say hello! Information and registration at http://www.goodfoodfestivals.com/.

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  • Margaret Sheaffer