Showing posts with label Lazy Lady Farm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lazy Lady Farm. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vermont Cheese for Breakfast

I know it's been a while since I last posted. Things in Chicago are getting a bit stressful. We're coming upon the holiday season which means that I'm working more and sleeping less. On top of that, I'm trying to find a job and apartment in Vermont so that when I move in the new year I don't have to live on the air mattress at my folks' house.

Last week I was back in Vermont supposedly checking out the job and apartment scene. On Tuesday however I was being a lazy gal, sitting on the porch watching Netflix streaming video and tempering my cheese for breakfast.

First up is from Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, Vermont (although on their packaging it says they're in Leicester.) Blue Ledge Farm is a small family farm making farmstead seasonal cheese for ten months of the year. According to their website they have around 75 milking goats who produce enough milk to make approximately 11,000 pounds of cheese. I know that sounds like a lot of cheese, but it's really not. Let's compare Blue Ledge to another artisan farmstead goat cheese producer and let's use really round numbers.

Let's say that you have 1000 goats on your farm. Each of those goats produces 1 gallon of milk a day. It takes about 10 gallons of milk to make 1 # of cheese. That farm could potentially make 100 pounds of cheese a day. Blue Ledge on the other hand, with their small herd would make less than 10 pounds of cheese a day. Of course there are variations to consider such as what kind of cheese the cheesemaker is creating that day, the composition of the milk they're using (butterfat is soooooo important*) and how long the cheese is going to be aged but that just gives you a rough number to look at.

Enough with the math, back to the cheese.

Crottina is a young bloomy rind cheese aged for less than 30 days (that means it's pasteurized) that looks similar in shape to Constant Bliss or a slightly bigger (than I'm used to seeing) Crottin. The outside is super fluffy and white like chalk. It smells a bit like mushrooms before washing, and a bit like watercress. The interior of the cheese has a very soft and creamy appearance and tastes goaty, vegetable-y, with just a wee kick of salt and a nice mushroomitude that makes me quite happy. Fantastic farm and delicious cheese.

They also do a lot of flavored fresh chevre. One of my absolute favorites is the maple chevre. What do you do with maple goat cheese? You can make stuffed french toast, pancakes, crepes, flan, cheesecake, swirl it into a brownie, napoleon, salad, stuffed in a chicken breast, or pork loin. I mean...there's so much you can do with that little package of tastiness. Next time I get some I'll make a tasty recipe and share it with you. Promise.

No trip to Vermont would be complete without me getting a tasty treat from Lazy Lady Farm. Today's treat is called Sweet Emotion and is a mix of goat milk and cream from a nearby cow dairy. This cheese has a very stong mold aroma to the rind. The paste itself is very different. It has a slightly sour tang like sour cream, has a mild goaty flavor and tastes the way a bell pepper smells when you cut it. Interesting, very mild and another unique offering from Laini and her goats.

Me, sitting on my brother's porch on a rather overcast day. Just eating cheese.

*Milk that has a higher butterfat content means that you can make more cheese, with the same amount of milk. Again, it depends on what style of cheese you're going to make, but butterfat is a very good thing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vermont Trip Epilogue

I realized there were a few things I didn't mention about my Vermont trip.

This picture was taken on the way back from Lazy Lady farm. It was a beautiful day to for a road trip. Also a beautiful day to avoid border patrol. My brother has a car that is not completely legal. Westfield is close enough to Canada that there is border patrol with check points up and down the roads. In order to not be pulled over and have the car impounded miles and miles away from anyone we knew we took the "hopefully not crawling with border-patrol" route back to Montpelier.

When I move back to VT one of the first things I'm going to do is get Thors' car legalized.

The most important thing about this trip to Vermont is that we had a macaroni and cheese contest at my folks' house. Pa, my brother Thor* and I went in a macaroni and cheese throwdown of epic porportions. Since I have access to a lot of fancy cheesy goodness, the number one rule was that I was not allowed to bring any cheese from Chicago, or to have it shipped either.

Pa was the heavy favorite. The man makes a fantastic mac n' cheese. For my birhday dinner I usually ask for macaroni and cheese. When I go back east to visit I ask for macaroni and cheese. I was sure that he would win. My brother is just getting into making mac n' cheese and according to his friends had been practicing some different recipes out.

In the end, just like in Highlander there could only be one winner. That winner was me. It was awesome. I believe this is going to be a new tradition that's going to get bigger and bigger within the family. I hope to wipe the floor with each and every challenger!

Thanks go out to my brother for spending hours upon hours in the car driving me hither and yon.

Special Thanks also to Arnaldo** for letting me use your shower, this would've been a funkier trip without your help.

*Thor is not that name of my brother, just a super cool code name that would be way funnier to you if you knew my brother.
**Arnaldo isn't his real name either, I just love coming up with code names. It's super fun!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lazy Lady Farm

I have been having a lot of trouble writing this post about Laini, her farm and her general awesomeness. The problem is that I've wanted to meet her for so long and visit her farm that I wrote a few early drafts with my "celebrity goggles" on. Kind of what happened when I met Allison Hooper at ACS last year.

Laini's Lazy Lady Farm of 40 milkers is certified organic and is off the grid. The kids have a nice little wooded area where they can romp and play and get all the nutrients that help to keep their immune systems happy. Her power is all solar and wind generated. Does any of this make the cheese taste better, or is it something else altogether?

Laini started out as a shepherd in the early days, selling lambs for meat and doing a rug business using sheep's' wool for felting. Shearing a sheep ran between $3-6 each and unfortunately the price of processing a lamb became very expensive as well. When Laini started out it was about $8 per lamb, more recently the price is $70+ per lamb.With such high prices Laini would have to charge a ridiculously high price in order to make any type of profit or even just recoup the expenses paid out to raise the lamb, or she could choose to set her price too low and go out of business all together.

Neither one sounded good so she switched to goats. Lazy Lady Farm started with 1 Nubian goat and a few sheep, but she soon got rid of raising sheep, and made the change to the heartier Alpine goat which has a shorter gestation period and a larger milk yield.

Laini's farm is settled on one of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of Vermont. She has two cows and is also uses cow's milk from a nearby neighbor who supplies milk to Organic Valley as well.

Being off the grid doesn't slow down work on the farm although it does make doing chores a bit more taxing physically. When we got there they were adding a door to the new cave that's being built 15 feet underground. Having an underground cave helps maintain the temperature and humidity and generates a natural airflow. In the winter time the cave is at about 40 degrees and 55 in the summer. Having that constant temperature is crucial when aging cheeses. Not all cheeses want to be aged at 55 degrees though. Luckily, Laini has a number of cheeses that are available on a seasonal rotation.

Happy little boy goat with a fantastic beard. Hipster boys around the country should hang their heads in shame when they gaze upon his goaty greatness.

Hello ladies! Lazy Lady employees enjoying a shady spot on the farm

When Laini first started making cheese she did so using four 5 gallon pots and that tiny stove. Each batch of cheese was started at a slightly different time and she would have all of the batches going at once. Things have improved. In 2003 she got a loan from the Vermont Community Loan Fund which enabled Lazy Lady Farm to build a bigger cheese plant (originally cheese was made in the kitchen) and there's room now for a bigger kettle (50 gallon) to make the cheesemaking process more efficient.

Laini talks about her goaty pursuits and cheesemaking endeavors.

Laini's cheeses have won numerous awards, she has kicked butt at ACS conferences, and is one of the most respected cheesemakers I know. She, like many others in the industry learned her craft by spending time abroad.

One of the things I enjoyed most when talking with Laini was her business sense. As a society we are in love with the romanticism of farming and making artisan products. The reality is that this is ridiculously hard work, and not every farmer is going to succeed and make a tidy profit. Laini is the only cheesemaker I've visited who talked about the financial aspects of the job. Sure, goats are adorable, but the bottom line is a farmer needs to make money in order to sustain their land, animals, and lifestyle. Being poor is not romantic. You have to have a good head for business to be a successful cheesemaker.

One of the biggest challenges in a cheesemakers' world is getting paid. If the retailer or distributor doesn't pay, they are jeopardizing Lainis' ability to stay in business. There are a lot of cheesemakers who will continue working with someone who isn't timely in their payments, but Laini isn't one of them. She pulls no punches and isn't afraid to name names of people who have tried to take advantage of her.

It is her blend of breeding and cheesemaking talent, creativity, passion, environmental concerns, no bullshit taken or given approach and practicality that makes Lazy Lady Farm and the woman behind it truly remarkable.

Laini runs a goat breeding program. If you're interested in acquiring a goat or two please check out her website here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vermont Cheese 4 little cheeses

There were four little cheeses. The dark green is a little button from Lazy Lady Farm. Underneath that is the Four Corners Caerphilly from Cobb Hill Cheese. On the bottom left is Dorset from Consider Bardwell Farm. Closing out our game of four square is Organic Champlain Triple from Champlain Valley Creamery.

The cheese on the left is the Dorset from Consider Bardwell Farm it's a washed rind, buttery, creamy, sweetly grassy, stinky lovely cheese. Congrats go to CBF for their third place win for their cheese Rupert. Luxuriously smooth mouth feel. On the right of the above photo we have the Four Corners Caerphilly from Cobb Hill Cheese. They make one of my favorite cheeses ever, Ascutney Mountain. They do a very good job of honoring the Welsh cheese Caerphilly. It's crumbly, salty, assertive and tangy on the tongue, leaving the tip of your tongue just a bit numb. I like putting it into a grilled cheese with a more mellow companion like Asiago Fresco or instead of a button of goat cheese, shave some of this onto your salad. For this wedge, my friends and I added a wee bit of honey. Delish!

I bought this at one of the co-ops in town and it was listed as a cow/goat blend button from Lazy Lady Farm. Anytime I see something from Lazy Lady Farm I am inclined to buy it, Laini makes such good cheese. This cheese was a bit hard to eat however. The cheese, or the leaves had been soaked in either too much alcohol, or the cheese had been aging in the leaves too long. There was a sensation of eating an alcoholic dairy product, but not much on the cheese itself.

It's like a little flower of cheese. Very similar in looks to the French Banon but about half the size. That cheese is a raw goat cheese that is aged for a few weeks, then dipped in fruit brandy and wrapped in chestnut leaves. I would imagine this little button cheese would be very good in something like a salad, or flan, but on it's own I didn't think it was very well balanced. That being said, the next time I'm in VT, or NYC I'm still going to buy Lazy Lady cheese. She is always coming up with new cheeses, tweaking recipes and forever finding inspiration. I love trying out her new additions.

Last one up, was the most surprising for me.
Organic Champlain Triple from Champlain Valley Creamery was sooooo good. You all know that I'm not a big triple fan, but this was different. I mentioned to a friend that it was like having a rockit compound butter on top of mushrooms. Rich and creamy with a slight peppery bitterness and an earthy quality to it, for a brief moment in time I forgot about my prejudice against the triples and found happiness in this cheese.
That's it for Vermont for now. I finished my entry for the Oregon cuisinternship contest, but haven't decided if I'm going to post the video. The words have not been invented yet to describe the supreme dorkiness that is me on a video tape.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Booty from NYC part 4- the final chapter

I had no idea how much time I was going to have to spend eating these 9 cheeses. Day in and day out. Tasting them bit by bit, until I have nothing left but mac n' cheese fodder. Most of the cheese I got were great (Forsterkaase just didn't impress me) and most of the people I got to talk with were awesome (yes, I'm talking about you Saxelby). With this last post I realize how much fun I've had collecting my cheeses, tasting them, and then letting you guys in on the goods. I've got to take more cheese trips.

Ok, on with the show. Next up on the hit parade is Kunik. This cheese was a melt in your mouth, spreadable, salty, buttery delight. This was the first cheese to be devoured. Kunik is a triple creme cow/goat blend cheese from Nettle Meadow Farm in upstate NY. Usually I'm not a 3x creme gal. I find them to be salty, and a bit like eating a stick of butter. There are however exceptions, and this is one of them. It's the goat in it. The goat gives this cheese depth, and tang, and tastioscity.

Next up is Square. Yes, I know it's in a triangle. My brother pointed that out to me. I had to pinch him for being a turd. This cheese is from Twig Farm in Vermont. Yes, another Vermont cheese. I'm biased. I know. I don't care. Vermont rules! This is a raw goat's milk cheese that I imagine is inspired by Drap. This cheese is shaped with cheese cloth, and has an indentation from the knot of the cloth. This cheese might also be inspired by Garoxxta, but it's yummier. The rind on this cheese is out of control. They call it rustic. I agree. I found it to be a bit mineraly, like wet rocks. I like that. The nutty, tangy, surprisingly creamy paste was absolutely delicious!

The only problem I had was with the rind a few days later. The rind got a distinctive Mr. Clean/ammonia odor. If you have a cheese that has developed this odor, do not throw it away-yet. Unwrap it and let it sit out on the counter and let it think about what it wants to do. A half an hour should do it, the smell should dissipate. Most of the time it's gotten that smell because it's been wrapped up too long, or tightly, or because it's just being a cranky bitchy little cheese. In this case, the rind never lost that smell. I cut around it, and ended up shaving the paste onto salad. Tasty, and a good way to save cheese. I just hate throwing out cheese. Even if it smells like Mr. Clean.

The last cheese on our journey is the Barick. Saxelby spoke about this cheese back in 2007:

"Barick Obama:
(Lazy Lady Farm, Westfield VT)
Laini Fondiller has got to have one of the busiest brains in the cheese biz. Not only is she relentless about inventing new cheeses (I think her average is about one a week) she isn't shy about giving them some pretty hilarious names. Barick is a little paving stone shaped cheese of buttery, creamy, earthy cows' milk cheese with a beautiful washed rind kissed by patches of purplish and yellow mold."

Laini is a bit of a cheeky monkey when it comes to naming her cheeses. Have you tried the Tomme de lay? Lazy Lady Farm is one of those names I always trust. I hardly ever get to eat it anymore since I'm way out here in Chicago, but I always get some of her stuff when I'm back east. It's always pounced upon, and I rarely share. This cheese is a double creme washed rind cheese. It is buttery, beefy, a bit fruity, and made me wished that I drank more so I could have a beer with it. Perhaps an IPA or something else hoppish.

For those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter! Happy Passover! If you don't celebrate, Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

He's the big cheese

I promise that this will be the only political post I make. In January. 2009. So, I don't want this to be a political thing because I know that not everyone believes the way I do. So, Laini Fondiller of Lazy Lady Farm (the maker of trillium, one of my favoritest cheeses) is a clever woman and that's all I'm going to say.