Hillacres Pride Puddle Duck Creek
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Oh, Hillacres Pride—I could kiss you right now.
Grid Magazine named Hillacres Pride Puddle Duck Creek its Cheese of the Month, and no wonder—it’s really, really good. This pasteurized cheese is made from milk that comes from free range cows, and it has a nice, bloomy rind. The inside is reminiscent of a tangy Brie—when allowed to get to room temperature, it becomes gooey and, dare I say, a little smelly.
Smelly cheese is usually yummy cheese, and the Puddle Duck Creek is no exception. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I devoured an entire round of it in a single day. I purchased the cheese directly from Hillacres at their booth at Headhouse Square, but you can also find it at the Collingswood, NJ farmer’s market. I’ve also seen Hillacres Farm cheese available at the Fair Food Farmstand.
A little about Hillacres Pride:
Hillacres Pride in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, consists of about 100 cows and heifers, managed by Tom and Mandy Arrowsmith. The cows of Hillacres are their first love and pride is taken in providing excellent care. Cows pasture on a variety of grasses through out the warm months. Tom and Mandy started Hillacres Pride as a way to sustain the family farm and raise their 4 children as farm kids.
Two quick Milkalicious photos
Monday, June 29, 2009
Here is some raw milk we picked up at Willow Creek Orchards. I’m afraid I don’t remember which farm it comes from, but I know that M turned it into fabulous yogurt. Willow Creek’s dairy case is not huge, so it should be easy to find.
If you look closely, you can see the yellow cream start halfway up the bottle. When I was a girl, we would visit my grandparents in England, and Pip (my grandfather) would let me pour off the cream from the bottled milk that was delivered every day. That would go in a separate pitcher, and then in the evening, I would be sent out to the netted “room” in the garden to pick raspberries. We would eat them for dessert, the red raspberries making pink streaks in the thick cream.
As you can see from this picture, they had a variety of other great products at Willow Creek, including the best raisins I’ve ever eaten (and the first that actually made me think of grapes!), a couple of good red sauces, parmesan, and peanut butter. All local, local, local!
A rainbow of eggs
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Natural Meadows Farm isn’t a new vendor in the Philadelphia area - they are a regular fixture at the Haddonfield Farmers Market and the market at Headhouse Square. I’m excited to say that the Fair Food Farmstand is now carrying eggs from Natural Meadows: I was there when the first delivery came in yesterday. And not just any eggs: gorgeous dozens of mixed heritage breed eggs!
Mark Skinner, the farmer from Natural Meadows, was kind enough to answer my stupid questions about his beautiful eggs. I noticed that the label says that the eggs are “uncandled” and I had no idea what that meant. Apparently, candling is a necessity if you’re planning on hatching chickens from eggs - eggs that are unfertilized should not be left in an incubator (candling allows you to sort of see inside the egg shell to figure out if there is a chick growing). In terms of selling eggs for consumption, eggs are sometimes candled to remove eggs that have a blood spot in them. Consumers are so far removed from farm life and normal chicken stuff that seeing a blood spot would likely freak them out. However, eggs with a blood spots can be eaten without risk of something bad happening: they’re perfectly good eggs. The presence of a blood spot does not indicate contamination. Rather, blood spots are usually caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface when it’s being formed or something like that. In commercial mass egg production, candled eggs that have small blood spots are sold as “B grade”, although I have never seen anything other than grade A eggs for sale in the grocery store. Good to know!
Skinner was kind enough to provide a diagram for which eggs came from what kind of chicken, which I find endlessly fascinating and feeds my compulsion to keep chickens of my own. Here is the list:
Blue or Green eggs - Ameraucana
Dark brown eggs - Welsummer and Maran
Brown eggs - Speckled Sussex, Wyandotte, Turken
White eggs - Silver Spangled Hamburg, Blue Andalusian, Ancona
Coincidentally, the Turken chicken might be the ugliest chicken I’ve ever seen. They are sort of the equivalent of the hairless cat. Yikes!
Natural Meadows produces eggs from heritage breed chickens, Tamworth heritage pork, grassfed beef, and specialty cheese. You can also find their eggs at Bella Vista Natural Foods on the Italian Market.
Cherry Grove Farm Brie
Saturday, January 31, 2009
When people ask me what my favorite locally made/grown products are, I usually start mumbling about cheese. The varieties made from local milk vary widely in quality, from mediocre to pretty darn good. Last year I heard that at least one local cheesemaker was developing a brie made from local milk, so I was hoping it would come down on the side of pretty darn good. While I was not expecting the kind of stinky, dead feet good that comes from Brie de Meaux, evenly mildly good would be exciting!
Fair Food Farmstand got their first order of Buttercup Brie from Cherry Grove Farm this week. I’m pleased to report that it was better than mildly good - it’s nice and buttery! It was gooey right out of the cooler, but I wanted to see how the texture and flavor would change when the cheese got to room temperature. Apparently, my house doesn’t get warm enough for that in January! Instead of getting melty, it just sort congealed. Thwarted!
It’s a fairly rich cheese. I will still try to get the cheese up to room temp, and I’d also like to try to bake it…you know, just to see what the cheese does. I am clearly very excited to see some locally made brie!
Birchrun Hills Fat Cat
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I never met a cheese from Birchrun Hills that I didn’t like, so it’s no surprise that I really like Fat Cat. It’s not new, but it’s new-ish. Fat Cat is basically Birchrun’s blue cheese base without the addition of mold. The natural rind cheese is made from raw cow’s milk, aged 65 days. As you can see, it’s pretty holey - Sarah, the manager at Fair Food Farmstand, tells me that this has something to do with cow farts. No, really. Gassy cows make holey cheese, apparently. Who knew?
The cheese improves dramatically the longer you let it sit at room temperature - it gets a little creamier. It’s a fantastic snacking cheese.
Calkins Creamery: Udderly Hot
Monday, August 25, 2008
Calkins Creamery is one of my favorite cheese makers in the area. I just like the taste of their cheese, regardless of what they add into it. I think it must be the milk - their cows are happy cows.
For the Summer, Calkins introduced a new cheese called Udderly Hot. It’s their Havarti mixed with locally grown chiles. I am totally in love with this cheese. After a few slices, I thought “OK, this is good, but it could be a little hotter.” Later this weekend, I sat down and ate a little more. Now I think maybe hotter would be overwhelming. It’s so good.
And it makes a spectacular grilled cheese with carmelized onions.
I’ve always bought it from the Fair Food Farmstand, but I understand that it’s now available at many Whole Food markets in the area.
Good things come in small packages
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I can’t resist anything new or new to me. When the Fair Food Farmstand sent out their weekly email saying they had Natural Acres “Pee Wee” pullet eggs, I had to have them. Had to. And at 75 cents per dozen, who wouldn’t want to give them a try? I figured they’d be really tiny, but they were only a little smaller than regular eggs.
From the email….
These tiny vibrant eggs are laid by “pullets” (chickens less than a year old). As hens begin to mature into their egg laying capacity, they lay what some consider their most flavorful eggs. With the industrialized food trend toward jumbo eggs, these miniature treats are hard to find, but worth the effort and incredibly economical.
So were the eggs more flavorful than regular Natural Acres eggs? I couldn’t say with any real expertise. But they were most certainly just as yummy, and the yolks were nice and orange! I used them to make an all local breakfast on Sunday morning - eggs cooked in homemade butter, mixed with a little bit of spinach and red bunching onions from the CSA share.
Stake not included
Sunday, June 08, 2008
The other day Naomi emailed me after a trip to the Fair Food Farmstand. While she was picking up the Telford Tomme she recently reviewed, she noticed the farmstand was carrying another Calkins Creamery cheese. She thought it would be right up my alley: a cheese called Vampire Slayer..
I’m so predictable!
Oh sure, anyone who names a cheese after Buffy is automatically OK with me, but the cheese is delicious! Vampire Slayer is a raw milk cheddar style with the addition of garlic, onion, and a paprika-ginger blend. I’ve been eating it with crackers for the last few days, but I also grated some into a salad last night - it grates very nicely. I highly recommend giving it a try.
Hendrick’s Dairy Telford Tomme
Friday, June 06, 2008
When I was at the Fair Food Farmstand last week, I asked the staffpeople for cheese recommendations, and they agreed on Hendrick’s Dairy’s Telford Tomme. I have to agree with them—this is, hands down, my favorite local cheese so far. It reminds me of a Gruyère, but it’s a bit nuttier. It’s a little too crumbly for slicing with a cheese plane, but only just, and it melted nicely.
Cheese review: Patches of Star Diary Queso Blanc
Friday, May 16, 2008
Last weekend at the Headhouse Square market, I could not resist picking up a package of this Tomato Basil Queso Blanc. I’ve never heard of Patches of Star Dairy before. As it turns out, Patches of Star Dairy has been around for quite some time - and now they produce thousands of gallons of organic raw goat milk every year. The dairy only produces queso blanc, a cheese that is essentially fresh curds.
I make fromage blanc at home, but I’ve never had it made from goat milk. The Patches of Star cheese is delicious - it’s nice and crumbly with a great taste. It would make a stellar cheese to crumble over a salad.
Cowtipper cheese from Calkins Creamery
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Recently, the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market started carrying cheese from Calkins Creamery. Calkins Creamery is in Honesdale, which is a bit outside the 100 mile radius that many of us use to count as ‘local’. That said, I’m not considering this a cheat - it’s a farm worth supporting. The Bryant family has been farming in Wayne County for 125 years. The current Bryant farming family spent some time in California learning about artisan cheese before returning, and now produce cheese using hormone-free raw milk from their pampered herd of Holstein cows.
You know what they say: happy cows make happy cheese. Or something like that. It’s no joke. I picked up a piece of the Cowtipper cheese the other day and can’t say enough good things about it.
Cowtipper is Calkins’ version of a Gouda-style cheese. It’s soaked in Nevada Pale Ale for 48 hours, encased in wax, and then aged for sixty days or more. I’m pretty sure I must have looked really silly eating the cheese - before eating each slice I felt compelled to take a good long whiff. Because of the beer the cheese smells amazing. And it tastes good, too. It definitely has a Gouda-esque way about it.
I’m not as crazy about Calkins’ 4 Dog Dill, a Havarti-style cheese flavored with dill. The cheese is tasty and all, but I really never got any of the dill flavor.
There are many more Calkins Creamery cheeses to be tried, and they all look really interesting. But the Cowtipper is my early favorite!
smoked cheddar with hot peppers
Sunday, March 23, 2008
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty picky about cheddars. This cheddar, which I picked up at the Highland Orchards stand at the Fitler Square market on Saturday, is definitely not the super-sharp cheddar that is my favorite, but it’s very tasty. The combination of smoky flavor and hot-pepper sharpness is quite a good alternative to standard cheddar.
Ode to Buttermilk
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I tend to think of the seasons affecting my diet strictly in terms of what local foods are available, but, really, the relationship is more subtle than that. The seasons also prompt me to want to certain foods: a crisp fall morning makes me reach for a commensurately crisp, tart apple; the first warm days of spring have me looking for baby lettuces and asparagus; an oppressive summer day is alleviated by an heirloom tomato salad. In the winter, I crave pureed and mashed root vegetable, meat stews, and freshly baked bread. About fifteen minutes after slipping the dough into the oven, I can start to smell the baking, which soon permeates our small home. Suddenly, gas-heated, forced air doesn’t seem so stale, and cold, dry hands will be soon be warmed by a steaming chunk - who can wait to slice?
Being a limited baker (both in skill and interest), I set out to improve my skill and deepen my reserve. Thankfully, each of the three recipes I attempted was a success - not always a gaurantee when it comes to baking. More importantly, in my third year of Farm to City’s Winter Harvest, I have finally discovered buttermilk. I suppose I eschewed it in the past because I perceived it as having limited use and spoiling quickly. Thankfully, I was wrong.
In the first, instance, I made English muffins, straight out of the The Bread Bakers Apprentice. (An indispensable guide that has made me a much better baker than I was.) Here, the buttermilk’s acidity melded with the salt and sugar of the dough, tasting like something between a savory muffin and a bread. The second was buttermilk biscuits from the King Arthur Flour website, a perfect accompaniment to poached eggs and cottage bacon from Meadow Run Farm and sautéed spinach from Winter Harvest. Here, the buttermilk was the defining ingredient: it’s creamy sharpness the most important factor. The third was scones from the Metropolitan Bakery Cookbook, using half white flour and half spelt flour from the Fair Food Farmstand and butter and maple sugar also from Winter Harvest. Although much sweeter than the previous uses, the buttermilk was equally fantastic.
With Spring rapidly approaching, I may be losing the urge to bake such breads, but next November, I suspect the cold weather will prompt me again.
Hendricks Farm Cheddar Bleu
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Fair Food Farmstand recently started to carry another cheese from Hendricks Farm and Dairy - the Cheddar Blue. It’s basically their Pub Cheddar with the introduction of bleu cheese inoculant. I like Hendricks’ Pub Cheddar quite a bit, but I’m not 100% on board with the Cheddar Blue. The taste is very nice - it’s a smooth bleu taste, rather than a super tangy taste. Unfortunately, the texture suffers.
The Pub Cheddar is crumbly, but the Cheddar Bleu is so crumbly that it has limited uses. It could certainly be used as a topping for all sorts of things, but it shatters into such small pieces when cut that it couldn’t really be used on, let’s say, a cheese plate.
Still, the Cheddar Bleu is tasty!
Otterbein Acres Cheddar
Thursday, January 31, 2008
All of a sudden, there seems to be a wild influx of locally made cheddar type cheeses. I’m not complaining, mind you. The latest comes from Otterbein Acres, an Amish farm out near Shippensburg. The family run farm raises grass-fed lambs, cows, and chickens and make a couple of cheeses, one of which I’ve tried is their Ewe’s Dream (a romano-type of cheese).
The cheddar is a raw cow milk variety that is aged approximately two months. I believe that it is bandage-wrapped, although I could be wrong.
You won’t mistake Otterbein Acres cheddar for real English cheddar; however, I do think it has a better cheddar taste and texture than the other locally grown versions. Hendricks Farm Pub Cheddar, Pennsylvania Noble (well, it’s cheddar-style), and the raw milk cheddar from Green Meadow Farm - they’re all good in their own way. I go through that Green Meadow Farm raw milk cheddar like crazy (it’s more of a cooking cheese). But I do think of the Otterbein Acres cheddar as more of a snacking type cheese.
Last night the people who run the Fair Food Farmstand organized a talk for the farmstand volunteers by Seth Kalkstein, the head cheese specialist at Di Bruno Bros. He did talk about the various cheddars that we sell and how they relate to true cheddars, and we even learned a little about how cheddars are made. As an interesting side note, several of the volunteers noted that the Otterbein Acres cheddar is much yellower than some of our other available local cheddars. Seth let us know that this due to what the cows are eating and often relates to the season in which the cows are milked.
Thanks to Sarah and Ruth for organizing the talk, and to Seth for his passion for cheese and willingness to share!