Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Farm to Table Camp Gets Off to a Dairy Good Start on Tuesday

Farm to Table Camp started Tuesday, and things got off to a "dairy" good time. First, we visited the Culpeper Cheese Company on Davis Street. Proprietor Jeffery Mitchell was excited to see us and put together a great program on how cheese is made and what the differences are in cheeses. Well, he gave us an overview anyway -- there's so much to know about cheese!!! 

Here he helps campers understand the process of acidification and how water is squeezed out. 

Mitchell and his staff put together a professional tasting session for our campers with four cheeses, ranging from soft to very hard. Opinions varied as the youth described their favorite sample. Some liked the soft goat cheese, some chose Brie, others liked the Fontina, and many liked the Parmesan Reggiano. We laughed that real Parmesan is not what comes from the green can!

CCC's cheese monger was super helpful as she taught us about many of the cheeses in their case. We sampled a couple of other products, and the super sharp cheddar that had aged for five years definitely gave us that squeaky feeling in the back of our mouth. We purchased a smoked Chipotle gouda and Appalachian Cheddar, a cheese that is made in Galax, VA.

Finally, we passed around this wheel of cheese in an attempt to guess how much it weighed. It ended up being just over 27 pounds, which means 270 gallons of milk (that's the daily production of 34 cows!). Yes, we made the campers do math while still on their summer vacation.

Next, we visited the ladies of J-TEAM Dairy to see how milk is harvested. Their Holstein beauties were just headed into the parlor for their second milking of the day. Yuta, our 4-H LABO exchange from Japan, got a chance to visit with the cows. 

4-H member and farm employee Marlaina Johnson (right) explains how the cows are prepped for milking, how the units are attached, and how the milk is harvested. It was a great connection piece after seeing the products that can be made from milk.

Then we returned to the Extension office to make lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches, of course! We had muenster, cheddar, provolone, American (made with real milk!), Brie, and the two cheeses we bought at the cheese shop. Plus, youth could add apples, tomatoes, or ham to their sandwiches. There were choices of breads, and there were three cooking appliances from which to choose: panini press (shown), waffle iron, or electric skillet. Only real butter, not margarine, was used in the making of theses sandwiches!

After lunch, longtime 4-H volunteer Mrs. Vibeke Ober joined us to teach the art of making her Danish family's secret recipe for cheese straws. As is the case with most excellent cooks, Mrs. Ober's written recipe and her actual steps were not quite the same! :)

Here she instructs two campers on how to mix the dough by hand. (See the samples on the left?!?)

Then it was time for everyone to roll the dough into logs and cut them in order to bake. Learning by DOING was our mantra all day! Believe it or not, there wasn't too much of a flour mess on the floor!

We closed out the day by teaching knife skills and allowing youth to cut up vegetables for Wednesday's pasta salad. We recommend standing to chop, but these puppies were t-i-r-e-d!

Carrots, cucumbers, celery, green onions and tomatoes all present different challenges when chopping.

Finally, it was time to wash our materials and clean up before heading home. 

Stay tuned for more Farm to Table adventures.