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Cheese News

As you sail your cart up to Cheese Island you can be guaranteed to find one thing – inspiration. Suddenly you’ll be dreaming of cheese plates, a killer grilled cheese sandwich, a complimentary fine wine or just something that goes great on a cracker. We offer a wide variety of locally sourced favorites like Pure Luck and Wateroak and an ever-growing selection of alternative cheeses plus lots of lunchbox favorites. Cow, goat, sheep, nut, soy, raw… the list goes on and on. Don’t feel sad leaving Cheese Island, you’ll soon be sailing back.

Organic Month Vendor Spotlight: Organic Valley & Organic Prairie

What is your origin story? Who started the business and why?

It all started in 1988. We were a handful of Midwest family farmers fed up with the state of American agriculture. Family farms were going extinct. Our friends and neighbors were discarded by a bankrupt agricultural system, and we were told to “get big, or get out!” Industrial, chemical farming was the only existing option for survival; never mind its effects on our health, our animals, and our environment.

But we didn’t want to be industrial, chemical farmers, and we didn’t want to be at the mercy of corporate agriculture. We had to do something. So one farmer, George Siemon, put up posters calling us to band together, and we did. Family farmers filled the county courthouse (photo below) and we all agreed: there had to be a better way—a more sustainable way—to continue farming in a way that protects the land, animals, economy and people’s health. And that’s how our farmer-owned cooperative was born, with George as CEIEIO.

Before a year had passed, we started selling organic dairy, and people could tell the difference. Our local communities began choosing our premium, organic milk over other options, and we realized that we were certainly right about one thing—people wanted quality food.

Organic Prairie meats are produced by our independent cooperative of organic family farms. We are pioneers of the organic meat industry. We began producing our delicious meats—without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or pesticides—back in 1996. We insisted on third-party organic meat certification long before federal organic standards were established. We were the first in the industry to ban animal by-products from our cattle’s diet, and we played a vital role in shaping federal organic meat certification standards—the strictest in the industry.

What makes your products unique? Why should someone buy them?

When you spend your milk money on Organic Valley, we give you fresh food you can trust. It all comes from the family farms of our cooperative. With your support, we make real changes in the world one small step—and farm—at a time.

At Organic Valley, we like to keep things honest and simple. Like dairy produced with no added hormones, antibiotics or toxic pesticides. Produce grown the organic way, with none of the toxins or synthetic fertilizers. And cheese made by farmers and artisans who care about the environment, the animals and you—our customers.

Organic Prairie farmers are committed to providing your family with the healthiest, most wholesome meat, raised humanely in accordance with organic principles and practices—respecting the dignity and interdependence of human, animal, plant, soil and global life. We know that meat produced organically is the safest, best choice for our families, and we’re proud to make it available for yours to enjoy!

Why is organic better?

  • Organic farmers use sustainable methods of pest-control. Non-organic farms use toxic pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals are really harmful to wildlife and human health, contaminating our food, air, and water, and accumulating in our cells. Organic farming practices, however, strictly forbids the use of these chemicals—making bees happier and food more nutritious.
  • Research shows that organic foods are higher in antioxidants and other nutrients, like omega-3 and CLA essential fatty acids. And organic crops have been shown to contain significantly less concentrations of cadmium—a toxic metal on par with lead and mercury. Organic food really is better for you. And it tastes better too.
  • Synthetic hormones and antibiotics are frequently given to non-organic farm animals to change their reproductive cycles and speed up their growth. We believe cows are healthiest and happiest when they’re allowed to live without being pumped full of chemicals—it helps them produce the highest quality milk we pride ourselves on.
  • When non-organic farmers feed their animals antibiotics to keep them from getting sick, they kill many of the pathogens—but not all of them. The germs that survive go on to reproduce, leading to antibiotic-resistant infections that pose a real threat to animals and people alike. Instead of relying on antibiotics, our organic farmers use natural holistic measures to promote and maintain animal health—keeping everyone healthier in the process.
  • Genetically engineered crops are a relatively recent invention with potentially harmful impacts on the ecosystem and on human and animal health. We still don’t know a lot about them and organic standards forbid the use of genetically engineered seeds or animals—including clones.


What else would you like us to know?

  • We’re The Un-Corporation Our farmers own the company. Not the other way around. (That’s why they’re on the packaging!)
  • We’re a cooperative of more than 2,000 small family farms. Organic Valley isn’t a giant corporation. We’re a cooperative of farmers across the country who share the same commitment to growing food the right way. We’re not driven by profits; we’re driven by principles. To make sure we stayed true to our mission, we made our company a cooperative. That means 2,000+ small family farmers own the company, not a bunch of Wall Street suits. And our board is made up entirely of our farmers. One farm, one vote.
  • We used to be a bunch of idealists. And we still are today. We believe in the idea that, if consumers demand high-quality organic food, grown the right way, we could all change the way we treat our land, our animals and our bodies.
  • We’re proudly independent. And we’ll never sell. We’re a bunch of farmers. So, of course we take the long view. We never take short cuts for short-term profits. We’ve always done things our way. And we always will.

SOCIAL NETWORK
FaceBook  Number of Followers: 551k
Twitter Number of Followers:  80k
Instagram  Number of Followers:   41k

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Local Farmer of the Month: Buena Tierra Farm

Steve Kramer and Carey Burkett have been farming for 23 years. For 15 years they’ve been farming  100 acres of fertile, high-iron, red sandy loam near Fredonia, Texas about 107 miles west of Austin.

A jack-of-all-trades, Steve taught himself how to farm. He and Carey incorporate their Do-It-Yourself spirit and solid values into everything they do on their land. They take great pride in the quality of the produce they provide for the community and it shows.

  • In April Buena Tierra Farms will be bringing spring items such as
  • Lacinato and Green Curly Kale
  • Red and Green Leaf Lettuces
  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash
  • Bunched Basil

We are proud to share the fruits of their labor with Wheatsville shoppers. Buena Tierra Farm is our favorite example of what hard work, integrity, and honesty can do for the local food community. Wheatsville Produce Coordinator Elias Valerio appreciates that Buena Tierra will not ship unless the produce is superior quality.

Brand Manager, Raquel Dadomo, shares her favorite uses of Buena Tierra Basil:

I am a huge fan of basil in general, but the Buena Tierra Basil is really extraordinary. Fresh, local and organic, it is lovingly hand bunched and ready to make you and your favorite basil recipe extremely happy.

The classic combo of basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella is a personal favorite of mine. I love to make cute little appetizer stacks of tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella drizzled with a flavorful cold-pressed olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

If I'm wanting something more substantial, I'll go with a grilled caprese sandwich on a fabulous Wheatsville Bakehouse Baguette. I lightly chop the basil and add some fresh garlic, olive oil and sea salt then just layer in with tomato and mozzarella slices and into the grilling pan. Both of these quick recipes are super easy, super delicious and super snazzy.

Be sure to check out the Buena Tierra Basil next time you stop by for a visit. Lift the lid on the Buena Tierra basil container and unleash an avalanche of deep rich basil aroma. It is the best. You and your stomach will be glad you did

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Dos Lunas Cheese

Joaquin Avellan, CEO of Dos Lunas Cheese, graciously answered a few questions for us:

1. When and why did you decide to make cheese?

I just wanted to make something really good for my wife. And, I wanted it to be a gift from deep inside me, which meant from my homeland of Venezuela.

I am the chef in our home, and I put my heart on every plate. And, since my father had retired to a farm in the Andes and had started a dairy farm, I fell into cheesemaking during a long visit in 2011.

Back in Austin, I kept experimenting, putting more and more heart into more and more cheese. One day, my wife smiled and said she loved it (and me) but 80 gallons a week was too much for our kitchen and our refrigerator.

So, I pitched a tent at a farmer’s market and sold out the first day. Now, I put my heart onto every plate I can!

2. What kind of milk do you use?

The most pristine milk I could find in Central Texas, from Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenburg, Texas. Their small herd of Jerseys are all grass-fed and free roaming, and I can literally taste the earth and the seasons in every bucket, all year round.

Bob and Darlene Stryk are the best, wonderful and ethical farmers and such good souls. You can taste all that goodness in their milk, too.

3 What is your favorite cheese that you make?

Dos Lunas Clasico. It is based on my father's recipe from Venezuela. Trying to capture that particular queso fresco taste in a freshly aged cheese was the original inspiration for establishing Dos Lunas Artisan Cheeses. And besides, it melts so well and makes a mean quick quesadilla.

4. Are there new products in the works?

Oh yes! Every year we design new cheeses, and for the past year we have been developing cave aged cheeses with a rind. The prototypes have been very successful, and I can't wait to share them with the world as well.


5. What are your favorite things about Wheatsville Co-op?

Wheatsville, being a co-op, is quite literally about sharing, about coming together with the best we have. It’s about community, and about sharing true health in our community. That’s exactly what Dos Lunas aspires to be about as well.

And, Wheatsville didn’t just buy from us. They have engaged with us and helped us so much, with everything from how to improve our packaging to encouraging us to create more flavors.
We admire the generous sharing spirit of Wheatsville.

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Cooking Wings for Your Football Party

Click for Game Day Party Planner and Snack Ideas!

Wings Know How

Few things in life say football and party like chicken wings. Hot wings are a staple menu item in sports bars all over the US and deep frying or roasting are the most popular methods of cooking wings. Some BBQ joints offer smoked wings.

I think wings have been relegated to sports bars and wing shops for far too long—wings are amenable to many flavor profiles and cooking methods. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t braise them and let them crisp up in the pan! I don’t follow a recipe but boldly mix flavors and techniques to achieve wings that are specialized beyond the humble sports bar wings. Here are some ideas to fix wings your own way.

Rubbing and Marinating

The great thing about chicken wings is they can take more intense flavors. You can easily use rubs and marinades that are designed more for red meat and pork rather than poultry.

Rubs

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning  is what I use the most for a wing rub. It has great flavor, no MSG, and it is always in my kitchen. Also carried here at Wheatsville, The Paleo Powder is a no-gluten no-MSG product made here in Texas, and the Salt Lick makes a couple of rub options. Lemon Pepper is another great flavor.

Marinades

Like rubs, you can use just about anything for marinating wings. Try one of the Wheatsville Marinades like Teriyaki or Mojo. Howard Miller, S. Lamar Meat Dept. Supervisor, likes to mix ranch dressing or buttermilk with Yellowbird Sauce.

Sauce

I like to make a kitchen sink sort of sauce, but Sriracha is pretty much always an ingredient. Vinegar is always a good addition, along with some sort of fat. I usually use a mild oil like canola, but butter is the traditional way to go. I then add a little mustard and honey and start adding hot sauces like Yellowbird.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, there are plenty of excellent premade sauces. I really like the Stubb’s Wing Sauce. The Texas Texas Dang Good Sauce is an all around good sauce for anything and goes well with wings.

Bringing It All Together

If you are deep frying wings, use a rub, fry them, and then toss them in sauce,
but I usually roast them. I rub them and put them in the oven without sauce until they start to dry out, about 10 minutes, then I start basting them. I remove them from the oven and toss them in sauce several times during cooking. 
You can also dredge them in a flour and rub mixture and just let them be in the oven. The flour gives them a nice crust that is like fried chicken. The rub added to the flour kicks up the flavor.

I cook them for no less than 45 minutes at 375°– 400° F, but I open the oven four times to baste and my family likes a little carbon on their wings. If you leave the oven closed, use the lower temperature for a few less minutes.

Sometimes having loose suggestions rather than a set recipe is intimidating but wings can be a great way to stretch out and share some adventure with your family and friends—especially with beer and sports!

Howard’s Yellowbird Buffalo Wings

1 lb chicken wings, separated at joints, discard the tips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup ranch dressing
several squirts of Yellowbird Habanero Sauce
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

Mix the butter, ranch dressing, and Yellowbird sauce. Coat the wings and let the wings marinade in the mixture for a couple hours in the fridge in a large storage bag.

Preheat Oven to 425°F.

Coat wings with with seasoned flour (flour, salt,  black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder) and arrange a single layer of wings on a lightly greased baking sheet. Adorn each wing with a little melted butter.

Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 35-45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.

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Parmigiano -Reggiano: The King of Cheese

We’ll be cracking a wheel of  Parmigiano-Reggiano early on the morning of Sunday, January 25th and the fresh cheese will be our Super Awesome One Day Deal for that day!  Save $9/lb!

Parmigiano -Reggiano is widely considered “The King of Cheeses.” Its name is a protected designation of origin in Europe. Parmigiano-Reggiano is made in the areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena (also known for its fabulous Balsamic vinegar) Bologna and Emilia Romagna. Only cheeses made in these areas and made with specific ingredients and aging times can carry the name Reggiano-Parmigiano. Parmesan is the French adjective for the Parmigiano and is used in the U.S.A. as the name for various hard cheeses. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the real deal, top of the line, A#1 grating cheese! It really doesn’t get any better that this.

Parmigiano is made from raw cow’s milk. The cows must graze on the grass of the area and are fed hay as part of their diet. Their local grass gives the cheese its distinctive nutty flavor. The whole milk from the morning milking and the skimmed milk from the previous evening’s milking are mixed and the leftover cream from the skimmed milk is used to make mascarpone.

After the cheese is aged for 12 months, an inspector from the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects each wheel, using a small hammer. They will hit the cheese in various spots and listen to hear if there are fissures inside the cheese. No fancy electronic equipment necessary, in Italy they do things old school! All cheeses that pass the inspection are branded with the Consorzio’s seal. All cheeses that fail are stripped of all markings, a sad fate for a cheese that aspires to greatness. The cheese that passes the test is then left to age for another year. These master cheese makers are not playing around!

Parmigiano-Reggiano is lower in fat and sodium and higher in vitamins and minerals than most cheese. It contains 19 of 21 amino acids the body needs, and a 1 ounce serving provides as much as 30% of a person’s RDA for calcium. Parmigiano contains more protein than most meats and contains other essential vitamins and minerals such as, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper.

Parmigiano is traditionally used as a topping on pasta and soups,but in the areas of Modena and Parma, chunks are eaten with splashes of balsamic vinegar, nuts and wine. Parmigiano is also delicious eaten with honey, and don’t you dare throw away the rind! It is sublime when added to soups and broths. Just use it as you would a soup bone.

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Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

Italian Sausage has become a staple in the American kitchen. Many stores have their own flavor profile of this sausage but stick with a few basic spices and herbs to create that familiar taste. Fennel, oregano and garlic are some of the basic building blocks in most Italian Sausage. It gets called sweet, simply because there are no chili flakes in it to make it "hot". This sausage lends itself well to meatballs or meat sauces, whether they are slow simmered red sauces or something more light like a vinegarette, it always goes well with pasta and parmesan or mozzerella stuffed into manicotti.

Another excellent way to use this sausage is in the classic Southwestern dish, Stuffed Bell Peppers. Be sure to brown the sausage and put it in a halved pepper and cover with cheese. Roast them in the oven or put them on the grill until your cheese is nice and melted. You still want some structure to the red bells and a little sweet crunch adds some great texture so try not to over cook them. Blue Cheeses would would go nicely crumbled over the sausage. The Cheese department has the Maytag Blue, a spicier fancy blue cheese that would compliment the fennel and oregano notes of the sausage and the sweetness of the Red Bell Pepper. I'm just sayin' ...

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Farm Visit: Pure Luck!

On a recent visit to Pure Luck Farm we got to meet Amelia Sweethardt and the super awesome goats that are  behind the handmade, award-winning artisan goat cheese we all find impossible to resist! Shane, our Beer, Wine & Cheese Buyer, made this video so he could share his trip with you!

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