To say that we like our dairy products here in the Kitchen is a bit of an understatement. With almost a year of blog recipes under (or over?) my belt, I took a look back and found that all but a handful called for some sort of dairy product(s). It seems Julia Child, most chefs everywhere and I are all in agreement: everything tastes better with butter (or cream or cheese).
That said, I saw no conflict of interest whatsoever when the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council invited me up to the Finger Lakes region of New York to learn about modern dairy farming and (of course!) taste a few products.
So this past Friday, my friend Amy and I set out for Canandaigua, NY– about a 5-hour drive from where we live. With the alternative weekend plans being 5 hours standing around on a soccer field, this was an easy decision. (Did I mention the product tasting?)
The fall leaf color was mostly past prime (with a few exceptions like the red shocker above), but it was still a nice time of year to visit this picturesque region.
On Saturday, a small group of bloggers and their guests were treated to a hayride and comprehensive tour of Noblehurst Farms – a seventh-generation, family-owned dairy operation.
We learned about sileage (chopped and lightly fermented hay and corn stalks) and dairy cow diets, and then watched the cows go on a10-minute milking merry-go-round (which they seemed to enjoy, by the way).
At the end of the tour we met this hours-old calf with its mother. The intimacy of this moment actually choked me up a little! I know I’m a city-slicker sap, but surely other mothers out there can relate? Maybe I was just missing my two calves at home, who were by now just finishing with their Halloween soccer tournaments.
After a wine and cheese-filled evening, we hit the road for home on Sunday. Along the way we made stops for coffee, antiquing, and fresh-off-the-farm produce: cabbages, cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli (green pointy tips) and butternut squash.
Immediately I had visions of a gooey, nutty cauliflower gratin – loaded with cream and gruyère cheese and cooked until bubbly and golden brown. (Would I have had the same thought had I not spent the previous day on a dairy farm? Very likely. I start dreaming of gratins and casseroles the minute the temperatures start to drop.)
I’m planning to make the cauliflower gratin tonight, so I’ll post the recipe soon. In the meantime, how about a Giveaway?? (Yes – my first!) Simply leave a reply to this post (in the box below), telling other readers and me about your favorite thing to cook with cheese; with that you’ll be entered to win this dairy-lover’s dream bag of goodies. Included in the bovine bounty: an insulated lunch box, an apron and oven mitt, a bottle stopper, a set of cheese or butter spreaders, a Taste of New York cookbook, and a sturdy wooden cheese board. One winner will be selected at random on Sunday, October 28, 2012 (6 p.m. EST) Good luck! (One entry per person, please; I know these cow spreaders are cute, but we need to give everyone a fair chance.) (Also, U.S. mailing addresses only.)
If I’ve got you craving creamy cheesiness and you need some ideas for dinner or dessert tonight, here are links to 10 of my favorite dairy-inclusive recipes from previous posts:
- Baked Butternut Squash Rigatoni
- Corn & Leek Chowder with Cheesy Drop Biscuits
- Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Baked Campanelli with Mushrooms
- Tomato Fennel Soup with Gruyère Dippers
- Chicken Pot Pie
- French Toast with Butter/Brown Sugar Sauce
- Almond Toffee
- Chocolate Pudding
- Chocolate Toffee Chip Cookies