Fresh

Nostalgia

heirloom-tomatoes-istoc39e1_6-16-14When I was a child I wouldn’t eat tomatoes. My mom would snack on cartons of cherry tomatoes while we rode in the car, eating them until the acid made her mouth hurt. Oh, not me. Ketchup? On a hot dog, maybe…Sauce? Okay, once in awhile – but never touching my buttered spaghetti. And raw tomatoes…nope, never.

I don’t recall exactly when I changed my mind about tomatoes, but it was a slow, gradual shift. It started with a slice on a sandwich, then salsa fresca. Then I learned about heirlooms…and fried green tomatoes…and tomato jam, and chutney and, and, and…Finally, three years ago I ate my weight in fresh garden tomatoes, quartered and sprinkled with salt, drizzled with emerald green Italian olive oil – a friendly gift from a garden that kept on giving.

If Adult Me could go back and have a sit-down with Child Me, one of the pieces of wisdom I would offer is about the vast sweet deliciousness of a perfectly ripe tomato. The satisfaction of the taut skin of a cherry tomato bursting between your teeth. The warm earthy scent that wafts from tomatoes clinging to the vine in the hot summer sun. I would ask that little girl to close her eyes and inhale the scent, take a little bite and give it just the tiniest chance. I would sit in anticipation while she scrunched up her face and moved the fruit around in her mouth, trying to decide whether she liked this new thing, or she didn’t. But even if Child Me turned up her nose, I could still be satisfied that at some point in her life, she did change her mind. And Adult Me is enjoying every bite.

Extend your tomato season: join us at Jammin’ Crepes on September 16, for a class all about preserving the tomato. Tickets available here.

Know Where Your [Pet] Food Comes From!

Many people seek out Cherry Grove Farm because they understand the importance of being connected to their food source. Wouldn’t it be amazing to also extend that right to your four-footed friends at home? Now you can! At Cherry Grove, we are now offering local and grass-fed dog food alternatives for $3.99/lb:

 

  • Beef Tongue
  • Beef Liver
  • Mixed Bones
  • Beef Heart

 

When we send an animal to the butcher, we get just about everything back, which includes things most people do not find palatable. Although you might not imagine yourself eating beef heart, your dog would actually love it! Think about it—wolves in the wild don’t have access to can openers.

 

Benefits

There are many benefits pets can gain from a raw diet: a shinier coat, cleaner teeth, better skin, and smaller stool. Amanda, one of our newest employees, successfully switched her finicky cat, Flip, to a raw diet when he was 12 years old. He was overweight, had a scraggly coat, and was generally a grump. Although Flip’s crankiness never subsided, his weight balanced out, he had less dry skin, and his fur became sleek and glossy. He is still thriving on a raw diet 4 years later! Amanda also transitioned her two younger cats and her 3-year-old golden retriever to the diet, and they thank her twice daily for it.

 

 

How-To

We absolutely recommend consulting your veterinarian for specific recommendations regarding the diet of your particular furry friend. All animals are different, and their diets must meet their individual nutritional needs. We are not trained veterinarians here at Cherry Grove, but we can offer you some basic guidelines to get started.

Whether you plan on starting your pet on a complete or partial raw diet, the change must take place slowly over time. Not all pets (particularly cats) immediately take to new food, so try to gauge the transition based on how your pet reacts. Additionally, pets with digestive issues may need a slower transition.

 

 

Your pet’s stool is a great barometer for how he or she is handling the dietary change. At first, their stool will be a little soft and loose, but it will eventually be become smaller, firmer, and less smelly. Here is one way you can approach the transition:

 

Days 1-3: Feed a mixture of 25% raw food and 75% current food at each meal.

Days 4-7: Feed raw food in the morning and current food in the evening.

Thereafter: Feed raw food for both meals only after your pet fully accepts the new food and their stool is smaller, harder, and less odorous. If your pet’s stool is still soft or loose at this point, take the transition more slowly.

 

Once the transition is complete, pets should be consuming approximately 2.5% of their total body weight per day. For example, a 50-pound dog should get 1.25 pounds of food per day (or a little over 0.6 pounds per feeding). This percentage is based on maintaining weight, and can be increased to 3% for underweight animals or decreased to 2% if weight loss is necessary.

 

We recommend storing your raw dog food in the freezer and thawing on an as-needed basis. It is also a good idea to rotate proteins and to switch between organ and muscle meat. Dogs need variety just like people!

 

Canned pet food is specifically formulated to include all necessary nutrients. When switching to a raw diet, it is important to retain that nutritional balance. A wholesome raw diet includes muscle and organ meat, bones, raw eggs, ground eggshells (for calcium), veggies, fruits, and even dairy.

 

 

*Caution*

There is always a risk of bacterial infection from improperly handling raw meat. Always be sure to wash hands often and disinfect counter tops, utensils, and food dishes. Although this risk is present with a raw diet, it has also proven to be a huge problem in commercially processed pet foods. Careful and informed handling greatly reduces the risk of infection in a raw diet, and it puts the pet owner in control instead of a manufacturing facility.

Resources

There are countless resources with more specific information about raw diets for pets. Here are a few that we recommend, so you can decide for yourself what is best for your pet:

 

 

It may seem like a lot of research and work, but after the initial transition it becomes second nature. Our furry friends give us so much love, they deserve the extra effort! We hope that we will greatly improve the health of your pets by offering local and grass-fed alternatives at Cherry Grove Farm!

 

Photo Credit: Stephanie Spock

A Sweet Sale!

Our Whey-fed Sweet Italian Sausage (loose and links) will be on sale in our Farm Store for only $6.99/lb! The sale will run from July 17th through August 18th. Grab some when you come by for a grilled cheese with Chef Carmine, or when you stop by to pick up some of the delicious grass-fed beef we just got in from the butcher.

 

 

Not sure what to do with our Sweet Italian Sausage? Here is a fun suggestion from Sam our Cheesemaker:

 

Sausage Pretzel Bites

 

1½ cups warm (110 to 115°F) water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

22 oz. all-purpose flour (approximately 4 ½ cups)

2 oz. unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Pretzel salt

1 lb CGF Sweet Italian Sausage

¼ to ½ lb. of your favorite CGF Cheese cut into 1 x 1 x ½ inch cubes

 

Combine water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until dough is smooth and pulls away from sides of the bowl (approximately 4 to 5 minutes). Remove dough from the bowl, clean bowl, and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and sit it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, thaw and sauté whole linked Sweet Italian Sausage in pan for 6 to 8 minutes, turning when needed until brown. Remove from pan and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Slice into ¾ inch pieces (6 to 8 slices per link) and save for filling.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper, lightly brush with vegetable oil, and set aside.

Take pretzel dough and pinch off a piece the size of a ping pong ball, flatten with hands until it is ¼-inch thick. Next, place a piece of sausage and a slice of cheese in the middle of the flattened dough, then wrap dough over the top using a dab of water to seal contents inside. Repeat until all sausage is used.

Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. Place the pretzel bites in boiling water, 6 to 8 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove from the water using a large slotted spoon. Return bites to the half-sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel bite with beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle pretzel salt over top. Bake until dark golden-brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving, possibly alongside the sweet and spicy 3 Monkeys Mustard.

 

Ode To Curds

 

It’s that time of year again, yes its spring, but better then that…It’s Time For Peak Season Grass-Fed Milk to Turn into Our Squeaky Curds!!

I know this is all very exciting, but the questions lie ahead.

What Are Curds? Why Do They Squeak? And What Do I Do With Curds? This blog post should help us all rest easy at night knowing that the squeaky cheese in our fridge might be our first steps into at home cheesemaking and also a healthy way to snack, or a new warm fun meal.

 

Curds & Whey

Ode To Curds:

While working here at Cherry Grove Farm I have learned a boat load about cheese and my favorite part is sharing the knowledge I learn here from our Farm Manager/Herdsman Kelly Harding (30+ Years Of Dairy Exp.) and Samuel Kennedy Our Head Cheesemaker (CIA Graduate + 4 Years Of Making/Studying Cheese) to all of you (our wonderful fans & customers).

What Are Curds?

I like to refer to them as a fresh snacking cheese still squeaky if snacked on the first five days after being made and then after the fifth day I personally like to melt them down on pizza, in omelets, or even paying tribute to the Canadian dish Poutine.

 

Cut Curds

These cut curds are ready to be molded into cheese wheels.

The More Technical answer would be that they are the first steps in cheese making.

Once the morning milk pumps into our make room Sam begins to slowly pasteurize the milk and starts on his way of creating and following a Cheddar recipe. The milk starts to break down into two important parts (curds & whey), and this is where things get fresh! Instead of taking the curds and pressing them into cheese molds and aging these potential wheels of Cheddar, Sam instead takes the fresh curds and mills them by hand (slicing of the curd slabs into snackable pieces). Once they are all at the perfect snacking size Sam salts the curds and releases them to our customers. Voilà! A  fresh snacking cheese for all to enjoy!

Why Do They Squeak?

This is a great question to ask! My response is a bit simple. I always tell people it’s because there is still air trapped in between the curds (that’s the curds within the curds, kind of confusing) and after four or five days the air is gone and they lose their squeak (or air).

I turned to the experts in cheese writing and pulled this from Culture Magazine (winter 11):

“Curds squeak because the long protein network that forms during the process rubs against your teeth when you chew. As cheese ages, the protein breaks into shorter forms, which makes them taste good, but they lose that distinctive and oddly appealing sound.” – Article written by: Gianalis Caldwell

What Do I Do With Curds?

I snack on them until they hit day five or six and then after that I start melting/cooking with the curds like I would Mozzarella. Even better then that I use what I teach in our Mozzarella Making Class and melt them down, bind them, and then stretch them to make a fresh sweeter flavored mozzarella at home.

Come visit our farm store or one of our farmers market stands to taste them and see what different seasoned flavor curds Sam has come up with this time (they change by each batch he makes). Show your kids that cheese can be a healthy fun snack and then take them home and create a fun dish that every Canadian loves, Poutine (see our recipe below)!

Local Poutine (Made at home, enjoyed by all!)

Ingredients:

5 Medium local potatoes (found at a farmers market or home garden)

Olive oil (for pan frying)

2 Cups of our fresh Cheese Curds (found right here at Cherry Grove Farm)

1 (10 oz.) Jar of chicken, beef, or vegetarian gravy (for the best recipe make a simple brown gravy from scratch!)

Salt & Pepper (to your taste)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash & cut your fresh and local farmer’s market potatoes (or maybe they came from your own garden), into fries.

Bake your lightly oiled and seasoned potato fries in the oven for about 20 minutes (you can skip the frying step and just bake your fries till crisp, typically 45 minutes, turning frequently)

In a large deep set skillet heat up your (frying) olive oil to a nice medium temperature ( 300 – 325 degrees).

Place your lightly baked fries in your skillet to fry your fries to perfection (a golden brown, about 3-5 minutes).

Take your Cherry Grove Farm Cheese Curds out of the fridge and set them aside to reach room temperature.

Place your homemade fries out on a brown paper bag or paper towel to help absorb any extra oil.

In a small sauce pan start creating from scratch your favorite thanksgiving gravy (or any type of yummy gravy) – This is where you can heat up a jar of gravy at a low to medium temperature.

Cut some of the larger curds down into 1 inch cubes.

Lay your homemade fries out on a platter and top with fresh Cherry Grove Farm Cheese Curds.

Top your fries and curds with your hot gravy and serve immediately (and enjoy this fun dish with friends and family).

If you want extra melted curds place your newly created Poutine on an oven safe plate and broil for 2 minutes (be careful the plate will be hot!)

This Is Just A Few Reasons Why We Love Our Curds Plus A Recipe To Stir Your Culinary Creativity!

 

One Last Warm Grilled Cheese

… Before The Winter Sets In.

Bring your friends & family over to Cherry Grove Farm this Saturday from 11-3 PM for a fun farmstead Lawrenceville Lunch with Chef Carmine.

 The cows are all in pastures around the picnic area so you can sit and enjoy your warm lunch with both of our dairy herds surrounding you and your family (sounds like a great family photo).

Come by to experience a local farmstead lunch!

Drop in our farm store to pick up coupons for the grilled cheeses, Italian sausage sandwich, and homemade tomato soup!

We Hope To See You All on Saturday!


1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
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