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Cheesy Adventure: Gold Creek Farms

Next stop on my Cheesy Adventure…Gold Creek Farms

by Megan Ostler, MS RD – Dairy Council of Utah/Nevada

Just 45 minutes from bustling Salt Lake City, UT, Gold Creek Ranch is a quiet, enchanting place tucked in amongst the tree-lined roads of the small town of Kamas.

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Winding my way to the farm, I passed a small herd of Brown Swiss Cows – the lifeblood of dairy’s hand-crafted artisan cheeses. All of Gold Creek’s cheeses are produced from this small herd of cows, and they are also sourcing a lot of the ingredients for their specialty cheeses right on the farm by raising pigs and growing herbs.  The small farm is committed to sustainable practices and self sufficiency – leftovers from local restaurants and distillery grain provide feed for the animals, and whey (a byproduct of cheese making) is a nutrient-rich source of food for their pigs.

Cold Creek Farm Cows

I slowly passed the barn, smiling at the curiosity of the cows that came to greet me and then went inside the main barn where the magic happens. The sitting room was cozy with a wonderful smell of fresh cheese and cedar wood. I immediately noticed the wall full of awards and the windows looking in on the demonstration kitchen.

Gold Creek Barn
Gold Creek LobbyI was sitting there taking it all in when Fernando came to greet me. Fernando is Gold Creek’s head cheese maker and has been with the farm since 2010. He told me a little about how he got started with cheese. Working as a gourmet chef, Fernando first met owners, Alan and Debbie Gold as their caterer. They quickly hit it off and Fernando was hired to be a full time cheese maker. Like most of the Utah’s local cheese makers, Fernando sought the council of Utah State University’s cheese making classes. With his background as a chef and some basic cheese making skills, Fernando had the foundation he needed to begin crafting and creating unique, award winning cheeses.

One of the farm’s most acclaimed cheeses is a smoked cheddar, and he credits the inspiration for this cheese to his wife, Ashley, whose secret smoking method launched this cheese to greatness. In 2012, their smoked cheddar won “Best in Class” and their smoked parmesan was “Second in Class” at the World Championship Cheese Competition. It has now become their signature cheese and trade secret.

Gold Creek Farms

Fernando then took me on a tour of the facility. As we walked along and he explained his process, his passion shined through. He explained that each batch of cheese is crafted by hand without special equipment. The milk from their cows changes with the seasons, so each batch is a little different. He said he makes cheese like he cooks and compared it to homemade cooking versus commercial cooking with set recipes and checkpoints.

Gold Creek Cheese-Aging

Fernando’s first batch of cheese, pictured in the left corner, continues to get better with age.

After touring, I was able to taste. It was incredible and I quickly understood the wall of awards. I don’t normally like smoked foods, but the smoked cheddar and parmesan had the perfect amount and the cheese flavor was still prominent. I also tried some of the fun flavors like the drunken cheddar, cumin seed, and bacon chive. I asked what Fernando’s favorite was and he said it changed but it was currently their blue cheese, a recent addition to their repertoire, and it was exceptional. After eating more cheese then the dietitian in me would like to admit, I packed up my things and set off down the winding roads, past the herbs, the pigs, and the cows, excited to share this local treasure.

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Take a virtual visit to Gold Creek Farms where you can shop online and taste for yourself.

Stay tuned for more Cheesy Adventures as our profiles of Utah cheese makers continues…

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Throw Back Thursday #LoveOfPlay

In honor of Throw Back Thursday #TBT and the Love of Play campaign, our staff wanted to show our love of play from when we were kids. Although we may not be playing the same way, we still love to get out and play.

Ashley

From a very young age, I was extremely competitive.  I even told my recreation soccer coach that she was a really nice lady, but she didn’t know anything about soccer. I was about seven. Competitive, tackless, and cute; your standard triple threat.

 Ashley-Love of Play

Jen

All growing up, I used to play in every sport possible and loved to compete against the boys! Baseball was one of the many sports that kept me active.

JH Love of Play

 

Becky

This was a4th of July parade, that’s me sitting on the float (about 5 yrs old). I was supposed to be Statue of Liberty pulled by Uncle Sam, my brother. We loved to play parade and would dress up and march up and down the street for each other (and anyone else who would watch us). If we did not have spectators we would take turns being the crowd and would cheer as the parade passed.

Becky Love of Play

 

Tim

Here is my favorite pic of me as a kid “playing.” I mostly liked to do anything outdoors. I never wanted to be inside, always had to be out exploring what nature had to offer. My favorite thing to do as a child was horseback riding, which led to my passion for horses and rodeos today.

Tim Love of Play

 

Debbie

When I was 3 years old, I moved with my family to Iran…….yes, the country. We lived in a beautiful home in Isfahan, which is about an hours’ drive from Tehran, with maids and a cook and gardners, etc.  We even had a swimming pool and a few cows on our compound – life was good.  However, since we children usually only had each other to play with, we sometimes got creative and played dress up.  Costumes were unheard of – everyone used old clothes from their parents or thrift shops to creatively put together a “look”.  As you can see, our mother helped with the make-up part of our costumes and we were pretty proud of our accomplishments!

Deb Love of Play

That’s me in the middle

 

Kristi

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I did have a horse! Crafted by my father, “Woody” was my first birthday present.  I enjoyed many a “giddy-ups” and though I have long outgrown my little wooden rocking horse, he is reliving his youth (as am I) through my one-year-old son.

 

Kristi Love of Play

Aiden 2014————————- Kristi 1980

 

 

Megan

 

I have always loved the outdoors. As a child I could be found climbing trees, play sports on the grass, swimming at the pool, or helping my mother garden. I used to dress up and pretend to be a garden princess watering my flowers. Now that I am grown up, I climb mountains instead of trees and still love to be outdoors. I can often be found gardening, without the hat and tutu.

Meg Love of Play

 

The Love of Play campaign was developed by The National Dairy Council (NDC), NFL, and Quaker to help encourage kids to eat well and play hard. Don’t forgot to show your #LoveOfPlay from September 9- October 17. For more information check out the FUTP60 website. 

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Cheesy Adventure: Aggie Creamery

Our Aggie Spoils

Our Cheesy Adventures continued with a stop at the Aggie Creamery on the gorgeous Utah State Campus, where we met with Don McMahon and Steve Shelton. The creamery, known for incredible ice cream, is also a small scale cheese making facility, focused mostly on teaching. Undergraduates can learn food science and processing and graduate students can utilize the facility for research. They also feature community classes for those interested in making cheese. They offer 2 classes a year 1 basic and 1 advanced. The basic goes over how to make cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack. The advanced class goes into different flavors and techniques. These classes are where many of our local cheese artisans cheddared their first batch of cheese. In fact Beehive Cheese, Gold Creek Farms, Rockhill Cheese, and Heber Valley Artisan Cheese learned here and are now making award-winning cheese.

After learning about the history, we went on a tour of the facility, which featured their machines for pasteurizing and homogenizing milk, making cheese (non- homogenized), and making ice cream (homogenized milk)

Aggie Cheese MachinesAggie Ice Cream Machines

Then of course we ate yummy cheese and ice cream. Along with their yummy cheese curds we also tried the following:

  • Old Ephraim Smokey Swiss : A processed cheese made from swiss cheese with a mild smokey hint along with great swiss flavor.
  • Big Blue Cheese Spread: A creamy spreadable cheese made with cream and Blue cheese. It was delicious on crackers.
  • Old Juniper Cheese: Aged for more than a year for a sharp mature cheese with a rich flavor. Great for sharp cheese lovers.
  • Crimson Trail Cheese: A processed cheddar cheese flavored with jalepeños. This cheese has some serious kick and would be wonderful on nachos.
  • White Pine: A vintage white cheddar cheese aged for 2 years. One of our favorites.

Aggie CheeseIf you have never tried their cheese, be sure to pick up a block with your next ice cream purchase. Aggie cheese is especially popular around the holidays and makes delicious gifts. Tours are also open to the public. Check out their website for more information and see where the magic happens first hand.

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#LoveOfPlay

The National Dairy Council (NDC), NFL, and Quaker have teamed up to help encourage kids to eat well and play hard. The Love of Play campaign encourages kids and the adults who care about them to get up and get active for 60 minutes of play a day. From September 9- October 17, students and adults can get active and win prizes such as a day of play with Colts queaterback Andrew Luck or daily chances to win $50 NFL Gift Cards.

This campaign is part of Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60), the nation’s largest in- school wellness program. Are you a FUTP60 member? If not join today and help make positive changes in your school. Already a member? Get the whole school involved by implementing a Physical Activity Play and logging it on your Fuel Up to Play Dashboard to earn up to 7,500 points.

This campaign is all about sharing. If you are 13 years of older, share how you are playing with #LoveOfPlay or have a parent/adult share for you. Your whole family can show how they play and enter to win. To learn more visit the FUTP60 website.  Get involved and help keep kids moving for a healthier generation.

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Kristi and Megan’s Cheesey Adventures Part 1: Beehive Cheese

Cheese…. It is a single word that promises such flavor, joy, and versatility. We here at the dairy council of Utah and Nevada, love cheese and are spoiled with great local cheese. We wanted to highlight our cheese-makers, share their story, and of course enjoy loads of cheese. So we decided to go on a cheesy adventure.

Beehive Cheese

1410824_10151941993779264_1459205569_oOur first stop was Beehive Cheese, which features hand-rubbed, artisan cheese. We met with owners Pat Ford and Tim Welsh and learned their story. Tim and Pat decided that they wanted to open a local artisan cheese location in Northern Utah. After some training from the Western Dairy Center at Utah State University, they opened their doors on September 5th 2005, and quickly began winning awards for their unique cheeses. Tim and Pat are brothers-in-law and their kids work alongside their dads’ and cousins in this family owned operation.

After introductions, Pat showed us their cheese-making process. It all starts with the milk. The milk used at Beehive cheese comes from Clint and Tara Wade’s Dairy. It is a 4th generation family dairy just 10 miles northwest of Beehive Cheese. They provide high quality milk by ensuring a caring environment for their herd of Jersey and Holstein cows. Wade’s Dairy provides milk with a somatic cell count (indicative of cow health) 7 times lower than required, evidence that the milk is high quality and the cows are healthy and stress-free. This high quality milk is that starting point for Beehives award winning cheese.

Beehive gets 3 truck loads of milk each week. Each truck load fills a 4300lb vat and makes about 3 batches of cheese each day. It takes about 10lbs of milk to make 1lb of cheese, so they go through this milk quickly. Each batch of cheese takes about 6 hours, so with three batches a day, this makes for long days.

Pat explained that cheese making is “the intersection of science and art.” There are 4 basic components of cheese making

  1. Moisture
  2. Salt
  3. Fat
  4. pH

These components are interrelated, sensitive, and lead to great variability in the cheese making process. For example, the speed of the aging depends on fat and bacteria, which can change with each batch of milk. You can adjust bacteria activity with salt, pH and temperature, but it has to be just right. There is a narrow window for cutting the curd, if you cut it too late, the moisture will be to high. Though there are lots of scientific facts, the process of making cheese is as much art as it is science – cheese makers begin to have a sense of when the cheese is ready to move to its next phase – based on the components above, it’s not always the same.

After explaining how they make their base cheese, Promontory, Pat showed us the smoker, aging room, and packaging room. Depending on the type of cheese, it is aged for 3-6 months so they were working on Christmas cheese.

The Process: pasteurization, adding bacteria, making cheese curds, aging, and packaging.

The Process: pasteurization, adding bacteria, making cheese curds, aging, and packaging.

Then we got to learn about their different cheeses, born from creative ideas and experiments.

Base Cheese: Promontory, a white cheddar

Most popular: Barely Buzzed, promontory hand rubbed in coffee grounds (33% of sales). “You put cream in your coffee, why not coffee in your cream.” They had extra coffee around the shop so they decided to try it one day. It quickly won awards and launched their business.

No Gos: Maraschino cherries and chocolate chips

Pats favorite: Aggiano (as long as they get it just right), a salty, aged, hard cheese reminiscent of Parmesan

As we said our goodbyes, Pat sent us home with a bag full of this amazing cheese to try. Although taking them home and binging was a temptation, we decided to share the cheesey goodness with the rest of out staff.

Promontory Curds:

  • Salty and really wonderful
  • Great texure
  • Good subtle flavor

Barely Buzzed

  • Rich, smokey flavor
  • Smooth and delicious
  • Rich and delicious
  • Fun and original
  • Many of the staff’s favorites

Rosemary

  • Love it!
  • Nice light flavor
  • Not my favorite, but good

Teahive

  • Mild
  • Sweet tea flavor
  • Tastes like Earl Grey
  • If you don’t’ like tea, probably won’t like this

Seahive

  • Subtle and salty
  • Yummy, salty
  • Sweet and satly, would be great for cooking
  • Very sweet

Big John’s Cajun

  • Has got a kick
  • Some said too spicy
  • Nice flavor
  • Great spicy kick
  • Would be amazing for mac and cheese!

BeeChive

  • Good!
  • Love that you can really taste the chive
  • Great for cooking
  • Light onion flavor
  • Oniony like a cheese ball

Different ones spoke to different people, but overall census rate them as wonderful. It is clear why this amazing cheese has won so many awards! Check out beehive cheese for yourself you won’t regret it! I am eating the leftovers right now and my taste buds are in heaven!

award-winners

https://www.beehivecheese.com/

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Breakfast Benefits

Breakfast IdeasChildren are heading back to school and parents are getting ready with carts full of books, paper, pens, and backpacks. These supplies are important for you child’s success is school, but just as important is breakfast. Breakfast, like these supplies aids in academic success.

Research has shown that consuming a nutrient rich breakfast is associated with higher nutrient intake, improved cognition, and academic performance. Studies have found that breakfast eaters consume more vitamins A and C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, and iron. While it is possible to get all the nutrition you need without breakfast it is less likely.

According to expert Ronald E. Kleinman M.D.

“If you compare children who eat breakfast in school to those who don’t, they are better behaved, do better in some subjects like math, and are absent and tardy less often”

Components of a Nutritious Breakfast

Nutritious breakfasts have 3 main components:

  1. Protein
  2. Fiber
  3. Vitamins/minerals

Protein – foods such as dairy products and eggs and fiber – containing foods, like whole grains, fruits and veggies are important for keeping bellys full until lunch. It can be difficult to focus with a grumbling stomach. Protein also helps with building strong bodies and keeps them running smoothly. Fiber not only keeps us full, it also aids in digestion and disease prevention. Vitamins and minerals are essential for many body processes and help with overall nutrition.

How to Do it

We have established that breakfast is important, but that doesn’t make it easy to accomplish in the morning rush. Below are ideas of how to work breakfast into your schedule.

1. Prep Before: Many breakfast can be prepped the night before.

2. On the Go: Try breakfasts that can be eaten in the go such as:Breakfast Smoothies

3. Eating out

  • You could also grab breakfast on the way. Look for the same components as mentioned above such as yogurt, milk, fruit, and whole grains when eating out. Many restaurants are bumping up their menu to include healthy breakfast options including McDonalds. To highlight these changes, McDonald is offering free breakfast on September 3rd from 6-9 am for kids 15 years and under. Try their new fruit and maple oatmeal, breakfast parfait, egg white delight, or another breakfast sandwich with a Gogurt and/or milk.

4. School Breakfast

  • Eating at school can be a great option. Many schools are starting to incorporate breakfast before school and in the classroom. Learn more about the benefits of breakfast at school. Encourage your child’s school to adopt healthy eating practices such as school breakfast through Fuel Up To Play 60

Start the school year off right by building better breakfast habits. This year make sure that breakfast is a morning priority. Check out our Big Bang Breakfast Pinterst page for more delicious ideas!

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End June Dairy Month with a SQUEAK!

The Secret Behind Squeaky Cheese

sharing a post from our sister site “Our Earth, Our Products, Our Passion“.

Cheese curds, often called “squeaky cheese,” are a popular snack, not only for the taste, but also for the small mouse like squeak sounds when you take a bite. So what makes squeaky cheese squeak? To find out we asked two local cheese experts, Dave Larsen with Gossner Foods in Logan, UT and Pat Ford with Beehive Cheese Co. in Ogden, UT. They gladly shared the secret.

Gossner Foods Cheese Curd

Gossner Foods Cheese Curd

The squeak in squeaky cheese is produced by it’s cheddaring process and freshness.  These tasty little curds are not a byproduct, but rather the first product of cheese making. The traditional cheddaring process starts with letting the milk ripen, which allows bacteria to convert lactose, the natural sugar found in milk, into lactic acid. This lowers the pH and causes the milk to curdle. The addition of rennet, an enzyme used in cheese making, also aids in this curdling process. As the milk curdles, it sets. After setting, the mixture is cooked and the liquid whey is drained. You are now left with curds which are cut into strips and turned over and over to remove the moisture. This process is called “cheddaring the cheese.” Lastly salt is added to keep the pH from dropping further and improve the flavor. The result: yummy cheese curds. When the curds are less than 36 hours old the protein in the cheese is not yet broken down by the bacteria in the added cultures. This gives the cheese a more rubbery texture and causes that fun squeak.

Beehive Cheese Curds

Beehive Cheese Curds

Curd can be eaten as is or pressed into a mold and allowed to age. As the curds age they loose their squeak and turn into the blocks of cheese typically purchased at the store.

Other fun facts:

  • The orange color (see photo of Gossner cheese curd above) is due to a vegetable based food dye, they would otherwise be white.
  • Cheese curds taste so yummy in part because of the extra salt on the outside.
  • Because they don’t have to age, cheese curds allow quick revenue for cheese makers to purchase new milk, while their other cheeses age.

Tips from Dave and Pat:

  • Cheese curds are great fried, melted over fries, or are great fresh for snacking, or picnics.
  • To bring some of the squeakiness back, pop a couple curds in a microwave for just a few seconds.

You can purchase Gossner cheese curds at their store in Logan, UT and find Beehive Cheese Curd at their storefront in Ogden and at grocery stores across the state.

We hope Dairy Month has been good to you. Take it out with a SQUEAK!

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