Calgon…Take me Away

Ever think that it would be nice to go to France,Hungary, Egypt, Spain, Russia, Ukraine? I do but work and finances don’t allow me to take in all i want to see and do, But someday. In the meantime, one can experience some of the foods. We are so lucky to live in this country Canada, that exposes without prejudice the cultures and foods of all the places i hope someday to visit. We have multiculturalism in our restaurants, our festivities, our schools, and at Smoky Valley we try and expose some of the cheeses.
Our mainstay and what we inherited from the purchase of the farm was the FRENCH cheeses. Valencay, St Maure and BRIE from goat milk. Now the terroir is different of course here in Canada, and obviously in Alberta. We cannot create the exact flavours one would get from the cheese shops in FRANCE. Our cheese might not be the “REAL”cheese form FRANCE but it is the REAL CANADIAN cheese from NE Alberta. But one can pair our cheeses with a FRENCH WINE or a “REAL Alberta Wine and experience some of the pleasures one would experience if one were really there. Have a get together or girls night out and have a THEME PARTY.
Last month we made a WELSH CHEESE called CAERPHILLY which we call “REDWATER”to give the famous cheese the method of Wales , the flavour of NE Alberta Terroir and an Alberta “name. Last week we brought out MONTASIO, an ITALIAN Cheese. Again the process but the ALBERTA terroir and our own names. One cheese the SZENDIMOON, has a rind development of ALBERTA HONEY and BC Lavender. Very creamy cheese. The name may not be an Albertan name but is very special to Alex’s and my heart. Alex’s mother passed away from Cancer and my mother is very fragile. Alex’s mom was a caterer and she loved Lavender and Honey. Her maiden name was SZENDI. Last year we took my mom to a LAVENDER Farm in Sydney BC. As Alex pushed my moms wheelchair into the field of lavender she asked to be left there just for a little while as she enjoyed the scents and the view. She said if she died today this is what she wanted to remember. Then she proceeded to almost buy out the local store on my VISA of Lavender everything. But it was priceless! As a kid my parents raised BEES. I grew up on honey. We did not even have sugar in the house. Childhood friends were so surprised when they would come over and see us using honey on our oatmeal, coffee, meats, cookies, baking, carrots, everything. My moms maiden name is MOON. Hence the cheese.
We have another version of the MONTASIO we call EL TORRO. That cheeses rind is developed using oil and chipolte spices as a rub. Same cheese but different rind. It was interesting with the launch how some people could detect the totally different taste, yet same cheese. Amazing how the rind can change the flavour of the cheese.
We have more coming out of the cheese room that I will write about in the next few weeks as we bring them to market. It was at the market last Saturday that spurred me to name this Calgon, take me away! A customer came up and tasted the cheeses and then asked if we make this cheese some call MONTREAL Cottage Cheese. I gave the customer my email and he made some connections and got me the recipe. Apparently this cheese is RUSSIAN, but has also been produced in MONTREAL. It is a cottage cheese made from buttermilk. I assured him that i would make the effort to make this cheese for him. It is an interesting cheese, and i reiterate, I am so lucky to be surrounded by multiculturalism and to use my craft to experience my little world of cheese. I think it turned out beautiful and I hope our customer feels the same. We will know Saturday. We liked it so much we had some for supper and have made extra to sell at the market.
This week at market we have a little something with COCONUT. Hmm, City104 MArket City Hall Edmonton 10-3pm.
We have the next #Cheesepalooza cheesemaking workshop coming up Feb 17th. There we will introduce out new cheese called RACLETTE. We named it ALLOETTE. This cheese is unique for its melting abilities and creates the REAL CHEESE for a european event. We will have a RACLETTE LUNCH that day. Sign up for the workshop , taste the European Raclette Lunch and take some cheese home with you to have your own themed european event at home. NOW LET’S MAKE CHEESE!

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Smoky Valley GREEN CHEESE!. Over the last year or so since we bought the facility and farm I have wondered over environmental impact. Then i watched the “Story of Stuff” and the “Clean Bin Project” . I wondered How could … Continue reading

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Valencay/St Maure Where it ALL Began!

Oct 05th, Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fest Cheesemaking.Alex and I went for a DRIVE…and checked out this little farm of 10 acres with a cheese making facility. We both had jobs that were quite secure at an aboriginal charter school near Stony Plain. We decided to take the plunge and by Oct 21st we had left our jobs and moved into a 3 bedroom mobile home with a cheese facility from a five bedroom home with triple garage on a lake. We got the bed set up and a few boxes and we were in the cheeseroom cleaning and making cheese by 7pm that nite. I think it took us almost three weeks just to set up table chairs dishes and basics.

One might think that the hard cheese wheels are a lot of work. That the pressing of the curd, brining the wheel, flipping and washing and closely monitoring the development of the rind and then wait. Wait for minimum 2 months as the rule of pasteurization. We can sell raw milk cheeses as long as they are ripened for 2 months. After that time the bacteria that is evident SOMETIMES in raw milk is either by a) pasteurization or b) 2 months ripening, been destroyed.

Fresh cheeses, Valencay St Maure and Brie have a 90 day shelf life BECAUSE we pasteurize and its the rule. But let me tell you the work and the patience that is required to make this cheese is phenomenal. First pasteurization 6 hours, cultures, 6 hours, time to curd 16 hours, time to mold. 2 hours, times to clean up 6 hours, time to dry 3-4 DAYS. Then ash and wait. Wait, Wait, sometimes 10-14 days to get the most beautiful bloomy white rind. Then sell. And as each day goes by that you don’t sell you are loosing your 90 days. The cheese gets smaller and smaller each day for 90 days. Then throw in the garbage or find some pigs or the barn cats sometimes. We have the most finicky barn cats. They live on MICE and fine french cheese. Beautiful cheese, lots of work.

Sustainable farming is difficult to start… we survived the first year strictly on the income from the farmers market but it was unsustainable so we now have off farm income. I work full time and Alex works 3 months on and 3 months off in the agricultural industry. Neither of us have every farmed or been involved in agriculture so our learning curve has been huge. Before this year we could not tell you what wheat or rye or oats looks like. The only thing we know is Canola cause its yellow in the field. Our jobs have given us an insight into the cycle of farming, the diseases the farmer faces in the field and many of the trials and tribulations. Millions of dollars in expenses, to provide food for our families around the world. ALWAYS THANK A FARMER. Sure the grain farmer can go to some warm climate in the winter , but you know the stress they are under during their season is great, and if nature is mean they do not get to go either. when they are in that warm climate believe me they are carrying a debt load to sustain us in the “bread basket ingredients” for next year. The livestock farmer has to go out twice a day EVERYDAY for feeding , and milking. The feedlot has all of the BIRTHING responsibilities RAIN or Shine.
It was a dream for ALEX and I to do the sustainable farm. The lifestyle seems attractive. Our goal is to reach the sustainable farm without off farm income but that is going to take some time. Off Farm income or not our favorite day of the week is going to the farmers market. We will make cheese and go to FARMERS MARKETS until we are six feet under. Hope to see you there! Remember we have the #cheesepalooza Cheesemaking Workshops at the farm. Next one is Feb Long weekend on the Sunday FEB 17th, 2013. We will be introducing a new cheese and some new product combos we will be including in our line-up. Cheese Chatter Boxes, What are those you ask. See us in FEB, Let’s Make Cheese!

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Tis the Season

Tis the Season.

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Tis the Season

Both Alex and I work off farm as well as make cheese, go to markets, have cheesepalooza workshops and try out new recipes and ideas we see on the web. I can’t imagine if we had children to look after and feed and nurture. We nurture 1 cat named Pockets, 1 Dog named JAVA and 2 barn cats Mia and Boots. We basically nurture cheese. Maybe it is our age. We have 3 children between us and 1 grandchild. Our children are 2 girls 26 years old, one mine one his and a son 28, and I have a grandaughter 8. Rarely ever do we see any of the girls , but my son every once in a while. They grow up and move away, and life goes on. Thankful for social media or we would barely ever converse. Especially skype, gotta love it. Now if we could have smellavision and tasteavision they could taste and smell the cheeses as we produce them.
Alex works three months on and three months off for the same company I do , for our off farm income. I work full time. During his 3 months off our plan is to stock up on the hard RAW milk cheeses so this spring and summer we will have a large variety of cheese for our customers to enjoy. As well we are trying to hold back some cheese for long term maturation. With the expansion into Cow milk as well as Goat milk, our lineup of products will be ever evolving. Especially since the partnership with #cheesepalooza and the workshops. We have the workshops on long weekends. Next one will be the family day long weekend. There are some special events with #cheesepalooza and Fruit Rescue coming up that we are very excited about so please stay tuned as we can announce some of the funstuff coming about.
Launching this month will be a cheese called Montasio. We have 2 varieties of this hard cheese. One the rind is developed with Honey and Lavender and is called SZENDI-MOON. The other Montasio the rind has been infused with many spices and chipolte. This one we call EL TORRO. Another cheese coming up will be our NEW BRIE, with coconut cream infusion. Our Caerphilly called REDWATER came out in December but we have that version and another version called CALLINGWOOD launching in January as well. The REDWATER has the rind developed using ARN whereby the Callingwood does not. This is a RAW MILK Cheddar. Towards the end of January our Goat Mountain Tomme RAW MILK Cheese will be ready whereby we also will have a smoked version. Our Pyranees will be smoked as well as a new line of BLUE CHEESE will be smoked and non smoked. Pretty exciting. Hopefully many of our customers new and repeaters will stop by our table at CITY104Market and try and buy our new lineup.

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annetteInteresting week.  After doing my first post my thought was well that’s not so hard.  I could do this daily or weekly but I commend those that stick with it.  Blogging takes dedication…maybe I do have adult ADD. My son has coached me many times that I need to do more blogging and even bought me a book about Social Media for Seniors.  LOL, I know I am old but Senior? Got to love him. Anyway at least here goes number 2.  Last week my #cheesepalooza friends and I had another workshop.  Two attendees were from a St. Albert Farmers Market.  The girl had decided this one day to visit the market on a whim and there was this cheese booth offering workshops to come out to the farm and engage in cheesemaking as a stepping stone to artisan cheesemaking at home.  I was handing out little chits of information on the project and the event.  She came up and started screaming in delight that she now knew what she was getting her father for his 50th Birthday.  She never tried any of the cheese or anything just took the little chit.  A couple of weeks later there she was in an email asking for more info~ collected the fee and sent her a gift certificate for her father and “build it they will come~” …she and her father did.  What a great addition to the #cheesepalooza project.  Very enthusiastic and engaging in the process.  For that session we made more Caerphilly but also finished dressing the rinds on our Montasio.  We did half the wheels in a chipolte rub and half in the honey rub that is in the book.  Did not have straight fennel and honey but had a mix with lavender fennel.  She got very excited about the lavender so away we went with it.  The rind turned out very shiny and pretty.  We have had to wash the cheese once, but we will be doing a second application here in the next day or so.

On Friday the health inspector did his visit to the facility and again we passed with flying colors.  Koodos to Alex.  With me working full-time during the week, I depend on him for the upkeep.  We did about 5 days of cheesemaking so cheeses were in various stages of development, needless to say after work duties can be challenging.  We have many hard wheels on the go but also now 270 fresh goat cheese pieces to attend to.  The goat Brie, (Annette) has come out beautiful again.  We are back to using a supplier out of Lacombe.  The milk upon arrival was beautiful.  The first thing I did after loading in the vat was the cream test.  🙂  I love to take the fresh cream off the top and go into the house and make a fresh pot of coffee and froth the cream to make a fresh latte.  Besides the other tests we do that is the MOST IMPORTANT for ME!  it was great.  Needless to say this leads to awesome chevre, st maure, valencay and annette. We also perform other tests on the milk and are very fortunate to have the equipment to do that in house. Just like any commercial plant we must test our milk for hormones, antibiotics, ecoli steph, and other things.  The milk that comes thru our door and out again is farm fresh and artisan but also very clean and pure.  Koodos to the farmers that do that work for us and put their heart and soul into the raising and caring of the milking herds.

We have a few wholesale accounts that are waiting patiently for the cheese.  One order we got which is a new market for us is RED DEER.  Most of the goat cheese that Alex is attending to right now (Thank god for Alex)is heading to Big Bend Market, next week.

There are a couple of other new outlets that are going to take our cheese, and will post about those later when they are headed out.  We are also looking at supplying a new smoothie bar with our goat yogurt.

We went to market today in SMOKY LAKE.  First time going there.  Kind of a practice run for us again since we have not been to market since the fall.  Met great people and launched our REDWATER Caerphilly.  Big hit, which we thought it would be.  Met some awesome artisan foodies.  I always enjoy tasting some of the other products out there as well.  I LOVE  the Farmers Market…once I get there.  Packing up is always the hard part.    The Redwater went really nice with an apple rosemary jelly that a lady had and we were next to birds and bees wine.  Ryan from Birds and Bees who knows our cheese immediately thought the REDWATER would go with the Apple Wine he has, so the sales started a three-way.  We have some cheeseplatters that we need to make up this week so we got to trade for some apple rosemary jelly to add to our platters.

Picked up a couple of other treats.  One is from Sharon Johnson.  She sells farm fresh cow cream in Bonnyville and manages the TUESDAY Market.  It was great to see her again, since I have not been back to the Bonnyville Market since last winter.  Some exciting things in the works with #cheesepalooza, involving a guest coming to facilitate and give some expertise with making cheese.  Cannot say much right now as details are still in the works.  But believe me if you love cheese you wont want to miss the announcement.

Christmas time we will be making ASIAGO Cheese.  Smoky Valley “We’ve Got Your Goat”Cheese and now Cow cheese as well.  Dont know how to incorporate both in our byline.  Inspector thought call our cheese COAT Cheese for both Cow and Goat.  I thought BOGO for Bovine and Goat?  Any suggestions?

Coming to Edmonton Dec 15th and 22nd @CITY104.  Come out and try our new lineup and our old standby cheeses.  Talk to us about #cheesepalooza workshops.  Let’s Make Cheese!

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