Our Cheese Adventure Ends at Heber Valley Artisan Cheese

To end our cheesy adventure, we decided to try our hand at cheese making, so we met up with Grant and Russel Kohler, owners of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese in Midway, UT. The milk for their cheese comes from their farm – Canyon View Farm – started by Grant’s grandfather in 1929, where they currently milk 120 Holstein cows.

Loved our oversized rubber boots!

Loved our oversized rubber boots!

We pulled up to the creamery just as the sun was rising, not quite early enough to milk the cows (that was done hours earlier) but early enough to put in a full day of cheesemaking. After suiting up, a process that entailed donning white coats, white rubber boots, and a stylish hairnet, we entered the creamery where Russel already had the milk measured and waiting for us in two large vats. We were making two different kinds of cheese. Specific bacteria was measured and added to the milk, a process that acidifies the milk as the bacteria eat lactose – milk’s natural sugar – and produce lactic acid. A bit later, rennet was added. The addition of rennet causes the milk proteins to curdle and allows the liquid to separate as whey – “curds and whey.”  The milk is heated to a specific temperature, pH is tested, and then the curds are cut and turned to allow the whey to drain. We tried some of the fresh curds – salt had yet to be added, but the curds were mild, fresh, and quite delicious.

The nutrient-rich whey is drained and saved where it is added back into cow’s feed. Whey from large cheese plants is often dried and made into whey protein powder for addition to nutrition bars and drink mixes.

The next step in the cheesemaking process depends on the type of cheese you are making. We were making cheddar and queso fresco, and the process was different for each.

The Queso Fresco Verde

Mixing the cheese

Breakking up the curd and mixing in the salt

Once the whey was drained, salt was added and mixed into the curd. Then we mixed in a special-recipe chile verde salsa from one of the Kohler’s employees. It tasted sabroso! Once everything was mixed, the curd was loaded into large metal rings lined with a cheesecloth and pressed for about 12 hours to remove any additional the whey and excess moisture. We didn’t get to stay till the cheese was finished, but after pressing it is ready to be packaged and sold.

The Cheddar

Cutting into stackable blocks

Cutting into stackable blocks

One the whey was drained and the salt was added to the cheddar batch, the curds were separated into two large sheets to set up and continue draining. After about 30 minutes, the sheets were divided and stacked to further press out the moisture. This “cheddaring” process continues as the blocks are stacked and flipped to remove the moisture. Once they are ready, they can either have a seasoning mixed in or just be loaded into the rings for pressing. They also flavor their cheese with dry rubs and sauces, which are added during packing, to flavor the cheese as it ages. This cheese needs to age before it is ready, so after being packaged, it was placed in a temperature-controlled cheese cave for aging. The longer a cheddar cheese ages, the sharper the end product.

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Just a few of the tasty cheese we sampled.

The Kohlers are always trying new flavors with their cheese. We had the opportunity to try about 20 different flavors, such as chile, lemon sage, cinnamon honey, orange marmalade, mustard herb, and vanilla bean. Some of their most unique flavors include Oreo, BBQ, 3-cheese spice rub, and peanut butter, yes peanut butter cheese, which is actually a “request only” menu item at the neighboring Homestead Resort.

Their innovative cheeses are tested by the public, at their monthly cheese tasting. It is only 7 dollars to try fun new flavors and give feedback on which ones you would like to see again. Check them out today!

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What To Do With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Thanksgiving is over and along with warm memories and tired families, you probably have a fridge full of turkey. If you don’t know what you are going to do with all that turkey, we’ve got you covered. These recipes are the perfect way to reuse that turkey and maybe even a little of the leftover sides as well.

For the traditional, we have a Thanksgiving Turkey Wrap. Grab the stuffing, sweet potatoes, turkey, and cranberry sauce for this tasty wrap. It can be served warm or cold and will allow you to enjoy all the flavors again.

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Thanksgiving Turkey Wrap (per person)

Ingredients
1 large flour tortilla (10-inch)
3 tablespoons cooked candied sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons cooked stuffing or dressing
1/4 cup cooked turkey, chopped, diced, sliced
1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
Cranberry sauce, optional

Directions: Spread tortilla with mashed sweet potatoes to within 1/2 inch from edge; place cooked stuffing or dressing down one side; arrange cooked turkey next to stuffing; sprinkle entire tortilla with shredded cheese. Starting on stuffing side, snugly roll tortilla up. If desired, warm in microwave until heated through. Serve with optional cranberry sauce.

* Remember, leftover turkey should be used within 3-4 days. Stuffing should be removed from the turkey and refrigerated separately.  Use stuffing or dressing and leftover gravy within 2 days.

 

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For the spicy, we have a Turkey Quesadilla. This fun twist doesn’t seem like thanksgiving leftovers, and will have your family begging for seconds.

Turkey Cheese Quesadillas

Ingredients:
2 flour tortillas (10-inch)
Melted butter (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup cooked turkey, shredded, diced, sliced, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2cup shredded cheddar cheese (extra for top if desired)
Salsa, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly brush one side of tortillas with butter. Place 1 tortilla, butter side down, on baking sheet; arrange turkey on tortilla; sprinkle with chopped cilantro; sprinkle with shredded cheese. Top with second tortilla, butter side up; press tortillas firmly together. Bake approximately 10 minutes or until heated through and edges begin to crisp. Turn Quesadilla over and continue to bake 5 minutes longer or until bottom tortilla is crisp. Sprinkle the top with extra cheese and leave in the oven until golden brown, if desired. Cut in quarters and serve with optional salsa.

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-Megan

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Why I’m Grateful for The Farm Life

By Rashel Clark- Utah State University Dietetics Student

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I am currently attending Utah State University and will graduate in May ready to begin my career as a Registered Dietitian. I began my life in agriculture, and I want to continue promoting nutrition and agriculture throughout my life. Growing up my family consisted of 2 parents, 5 brothers and sisters, 200-300 head of milking Holsteins, 4 dogs, 2 horses, and a handful of pigs and chickens. With fall in full swing it brings back holiday memories on the farm.

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Thanksgiving. That one word immediately brings saliva to my mouth and pictures of a table full of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables, and my personal favorite-sweet potatoes.

I remember sitting at the table when I was 10 years old waiting for each of my 40 aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and grandma to finish the long lasting tradition of stating one thing we are thankful for before we are allowed to dig in. One of my relatives said something that didn’t make sense to my young brain, “I am grateful for growing up and learning to work hard on our family farm.” I was flabbergasted at this statement. At this point being a farm kid just meant a lot of hard work, parties missed, sleepless nights, early mornings, sweat, sunburns, and frozen limbs. I never understood how you could be grateful to grow up on a farm- until I became a little older and wiser.

So for those who call the sound of trains and freeway traffic home here is a taste of life farmer style. It will hopefully help you understand why those of us born into agriculture seem to always find our way back. For those of you who can relate, I hope this brings back good memories!

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Why I am grateful for the farm life

1. I know three ways to cut twine without a knife.
2. When all the other kids were building tree houses I built straw forts.
3. When I see the acronym PTO I think of a tractor and not paid time off.
4. I prayed for rain instead of sunshine.
5. When my friends said look at the pretty flowers on the hill (dyers woad), I went into a panic as suppressed childhood memories of picking that flower ca
me flooding back.
6. The first time I drove, I was too short to reach the pedals so I had to stand.
7. Talking about manure and breeding aren’t unusual dinner conversations.
8. There is no such thing as “junk,” just items to store in piles because they will be useful later.
9. I thought I was pretty cool when I could move a sprinkler pipe on my own.
10. Sleeping in is considered 6am.

These are just 10 reasons why I am grateful for the agriculture life. What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

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Apple Pie Parfait

Today is National Parfait day, and to celebrate, I decided to whip up some Apple Pie Parfaits. These tasty little treats, are quick, easy, and perfect for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.

To start I made my basic granola. I use this granola a lot and my family and friends will eat it by the handfuls! You could also use your favoirte granola recipe or store bought if you prefer.

After the granola is cooled, just layer apple pie filling, vanilla yogurt, granola, and repeat until you dish is full. Super easy! To make this a little lighter, use fresh apples instead of pie filling and low-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt would also be a great options for boosting the protein. However you make it, this fall inspired parfait is sure to be a hit! 

Apple Pie Parfait

Basic Granola Ingredients (10 cups)

  • 8 c. oats
  • ½ c. wheat germ
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. butter
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients 1 small parfait:

  • 1/4 c. apple pie filling
  • 1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 c. granola

Method:

Heat oven to 350. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix oats, wheat germ, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Heat butter, honey, sugar, and vanilla to a boil. Let boil one minute and then pour over dry mixture. Mix until evenly coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes until granola is just golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Store leftovers (if there is any) in a sealed container.

Once granola is cooled, layer 2 tbsp. of apple pie filling on the bottom of you bowl or cup, layer 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt, then 2 tbsp. of granola, repeat and enjoy!

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-Megan

 

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3 Impressive Thanksgiving Sides

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? If you are in charge of the Thanksgiving meal, it can seem overwhelming. So many sides, desserts, drinks, appetizers, not to mention the Turkey. Whether you are making it all or just bringing a dish, these sensational Thanksgiving sides are easy, quick, yet impressive. With secret ingredients like cauliflower in the mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes smothered in butter, you will have the “health enthusiast” and the “go all outers” asking for seconds!

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Lets first start with the thanksgiving staple-mashed potatoes. For this recipe, we are adding cauliflower. We do this first to vary our veggies and second because cauliflower has less calories and carbohydrates than potatoes, plus is packed full of nutrients.

With just a little steaming/boiling, mixing and broiling you have a quick, impressive side dish. You can serve this in one large bowl or individual portions depending on preference (makes about 6-7 cups).

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Cheesy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower (about 2 lbs each)
  • 1/4 + cup milk (more or less for desired consistency)
  • 1-2 cups hot mashed potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Season to taste with snipped herbs: rosemary, chives, thyme, etc

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Break cauliflower into small florets and steam until tender.  Mash cooked cauliflower with milk as you would mash potatoes. Stir in 1-2 cups mashed potatoes (up to half potatoes half cauliflower) and half the cheese. Add additional milk for desired consistency; season to taste.  Scoop Cauliflower and potatoes into mounds in baking dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until hot throughout and cheese is golden brown. . (Alternate cooking method; cook cauliflower and potatoes together.)

 

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Our next side dish is the green beans. With all the heavy food at thanksgiving, it can be nice to just have some fresh veggies without the casserole. These green beans are light, and full of flavor! With sautéed mushrooms, a sprinkle of pine nuts and parmesan cheese, you won’t miss the heavy sauce. The other benefit is, it is all done on the stove and leaves you oven free for other dishes!

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Sautéed Green Beans and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 4 ounce portabella mushrooms
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove crushed garlic, more or less to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded

Method:

Snip the ends off the green beans, wash and set aside. Cut mushroom into cubes. In a large skillet sauté mushrooms in 1-tablespoon butter until lightly browned on edges. Place mushrooms in a bowl and set aside. Add green beans to skillet, add 1/4-cup water, cover and simmer 4-6 minutes. Remove lid from pan and cook until moisture evaporates. Add 1-2 teaspoons butter and garlic; stir fry until almost crisp tender (as needed, periodically cover with a lid to generate moisture). Add mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, continue to cook until beans are crisp tender. Place in serving bowl, squeeze approximately 1/2 lemon over beans, sprinkle with pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

 

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Our next side is pure indulgence. These baked sweet potatoes slices are covered in butter, sugar, and pecans. They take a little time in the oven, but overall are easy and turn out gorgeous. Serve a couple slices to each person, or have a big tray for the taking. It takes about 1 cookie sheet per sweet potato, to fit all the slices, so plan to cook more than one sheet at a time. Your guests are going to love this one!

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Crispy Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse chopped pecans
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper

 Method: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush potatoes with 2-tablespoons melted butter. Arrange slices on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake 15 minutes, turn slices; bake 15 minutes longer or until tender.  (May refrigerate at this point and finish later).  Mix together remaining 2-tablespoons butter with the brown sugar; brush over sweet potatoes. Lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper (to taste). Sprinkle with chopped nuts; bake 10 minutes longer or until glaze is crisp.

Bon Appétit

-Megan

 

Print Friendly-Cheesy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Printer Friendly-Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Printer Friendly-Sauteed Green Beans 

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Can Diabetics Have Dairy?

November is national diabetes month, and while diabetes education takes place around the country everyday, this is a great time for awareness and discussion around what this disease means for people who have it and their families. As a Registered Dietitian, I have the opportunity to meet with many people diagnosed with diabetes. They are often counting carbohydrates, and cautiously avoiding dairy foods. When I ask why dairy isn’t part of their diet, their response centers around sugar. They are concerned that dairy foods have at least 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Carbohydrate grams are precious for people with diabetes, and when aiming for just 30-45 grams per meal, they might opt for an extra portion of pasta and a diet soda instead of milk. Why this may seem like a sound practice, milk is an important part of the diet for individuals with or without Diabetes.

Father Son Milk Mustache

For those with diabetes, nutrient-rich food choices are essential, and dairy is a nutrient powerhouse containing protein, carbohydrate, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and B-vitamins. Protein, in particular, slows carbohydrate absorption and helps control blood sugar. Dairy foods have also been shown to improve insulin resistance. So while dairy does contain carbohydrates, the protein it contains naturally keeps those carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and spiking blood sugar. This is key for those with diabetes. Protein-rich foods also help keep us full longer (satiety), which has been shown to help with weight loss – another plus for those with diabetes. For diabetics who are overweight, losing just 7% of total body weight can dramatically improve symptoms associated with the disease.

For those without diabetes, eating a diet that includes dairy has been shown to decrease the risk of developing type two diabetes in a variety of populations. The reason behind this is still unknown, and researchers have hypothesized that it might be dairy’s glycemic index, calcium content, or the synergy of its components. While we may not know the exact metabolic mechanism, dairy consumption continues to be associated with decreased-risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Research Summaries

Take Home Message

  • Dairy foods help optimize health and reduce disease risk.
  • Without dairy, it can be difficult to stay within a calorie budget and get enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients, so keep it in your diet!
  • Health professionals encourage 3 servings of dairy a day for those with and without diabetes.
  • Enjoy this delicious food group and all its benefits for a lifetime of health.

-Megan

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Gossners Food: Next Stop on Our Cheesy Adventure

Gossner

What started out as a little Swiss cheese making plant in 1966, has turned into an industry-leading family business that is one of the country’s largest Swiss cheese manufacturers. Gossner Foods offers several varieties of Swiss cheese, ranging from a mild Baby Swiss to the full-bodied flavor of their European- Style Old World Swiss. They also produce shelf-stable milk in a variety of flavors, small batches of specialty ice cream, butter, and whipping cream.

350 dairy farm families operate the 190 dairy farms in Utah and Idaho that service Gossner Foods’ two plants (Logan, UT and Burley, ID). Owner and CEO, Dolores Wheeler, has always operated on the “handshake” principle. She doesn’t have contracts with her farmers but believes in mutual trust and respect, feeling that if the relationship is good it will grow and prosper, if not, then the farmer is under no binding obligation. The philosophy has worked well, and the company has a wonderful reputation among the local farming community.

Touring their large, state-of-the-art plant was a great experience and different from our recent cheesy adventures. Because they are a leading Swiss cheese producer, everything was done on a larger scale than our precious tours. Large mixing vats and custom-made equipment are essential to the company’s quality operation.

Making each variety of cheese is a unique process that follows time-proven recipes with specialized equipment and specific aging protocols. Because of this, many large cheese manufacturers specialize in a single variety. Gossner specializes in Swiss and Muenster, a fresher, soft cheese.

The Process of Making Swiss & UHT Milk

After our tour we had the chance to try many of their products at their onsite store. In addition to their Swiss, they offer many other cheese varieties and economy end cuts of cheese at a great price. They also offer homemade ice cream (available only at their Logan store), fresh butter and handmade cheese spreads. At the store you can stock up on shelf-stable milk in a variety of flavors (Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, Rootbeer, Cookies & Cream, Orange Cream, Banana, Mango) and fresh cheese curds – made every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you happen to stop by during the holidays, you can pick up a quart of seasonal Holiday Nog – a favorite that sells out quickly!

The Store:

1051 North 1000 West, Logan, UT  84321 | 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday

Make sure to check out this premium dairy producer!

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