My sister came for a visit recently and told me that her friend, Lois, had just won more accolades for her amazing goat cheese. After talking about Lois and reminiscing about my visit to her goat farm, I was shocked to realize that I had never written about it. After all, it was probably my number one food highlight of 2007!
Last Thanksgiving, when we traveled to see my family in Iowa, my sister had arranged for us to go to Reichert’s Dairy Air Farm, run by her friend Lois. It was amazing to see her small goat cheese operation first hand. It was clear that is a true labor of love. (That is Lois in the left who can barely be seen in the photo as she is being smothered by her loving goats).
There is no vacation from milking goats. They need it twice a day during part of the year and if you are sick… too bad, the milk must come out. The goats are like Lois’ children, each with their own personality and habits. If you want to smile, click here, and meet her brood! You will see Doris and her airplane ears and learn how her twin sister, Dorothy, turns her nose up at high quality grain mix.
Because Reichert’s Dairy Air is a small, local farm, you will likely not get a chance to taste her amazing cheeses. (The cranberry pecan chevre is to die for!) But if you happen to be in Des Moines, be sure to keep your eye out at the Farmer’s Market or specialty stores.
There is a new appreciation for sustainable farm and local eating. Lois is truly making it happen with an enormous amount of hard work and even more love.
A goat cheese recipe from my sister’s friend, Holli – Knoxville, Iowa:
Goat Cheese Puff
6 cups milk
12 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 ½ tsp. salt
2 TBsp. olive oil
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 ½ cups thinly sliced leeks
8 egg yolks, lightly beaten, plus 12 egg whites
4 cups finely chopped Swiss chard
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 4 qt. sauteuse pan or a deep baking dish works.
In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer, whisk in cornmeal and 2 tsp. salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 – 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool 30 minutes.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm oil. Add leeks and chard and ½ tsp. salt; cook stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add to cornmeal mixture, Stir in chives, cheeses, cayenne, and yolks.
Using a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat whites until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold 1/3 of whites into cornmeal mixture until smooth, then fold in remaining whites. Pour into prepared pan; bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees; bake puff until golden, 40 -45 minutes more. Serves 8 – 10