Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Horseradish Cheddar Dip

Running out uses for your cheddar cheese?? Here is a recipe I just came up with over the weekend.

Horseradish Cheddar Dip

1lb Grassfields Organic Cheddar crumbled (room temp)
1/2t garlic powder
1t worchestershire sauce
2-8 dashes of Tabasco (depends on your spice tolerance)
prepared horseradish (use as much or little as you want*)
2T milk
1. Combine all ingredients in electric mixer
2. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Add more milk if it seems very stiff.
3. Cover and refrigerate overnigh
4. Serve with bagel chips, crackers, pita chips or pretzels

*Note: I love horseradish and used 3/4 of a small jar. It had just enough flavor to satisfy my horseradish craving.
Cheese Maker Evan

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Party Ideas

The season has come where you may find yourself with a house full of guests and nothing to eat before the big meal. Well, we have a solution for that. A holiday cheese platter with various meats and cheese is the perfect answer. When it comes to cheese trays there are 1000's of options and it can be quite frustrating picking the right one. Let us at Grassfields Cheese lend you a hand. We offer everything you need to make professional tasting cheese boards. One little trick I learned was to pick the cheese you enjoy eating and generally others will like it as well. Here are a few ideas for meat and cheese plates to keep the crowd happy until your special meal is ready.

The Better Cheddar Board:
Grassfields Organic Lamont Cheddar
Grassfields Organic Fait Gras
Grassfields Organic Reserved Cheddar
Grassfields Summer Sausage
Apple Slices (try sweet and tart apples)
Baby Pickles
Little Rooster Crackers

Flavor?? We Added It:
Grassfields Organic Leyden
Grasfields Organic Chili
Grassfields Organic Cherry Christmas
Grassfields Organic Onion & Garlic
Grassfields Kippered Beef (just like jerky, but way better!)
Little Rooster Crackers

Gotta Love That Funk
Grassfields Organic Apolocheese
Grassfields Organic Polkton Corners
Grassfields Organic Aged Edam
Keweenaw Kitchens Peach Apricot Jam
Little Rooster Crackers
Big Prairie Michigan Honey (got more local? use that!)
Dried Fruits (cranberries, apricots, blueberries...)

Cheese Maker Evan

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Invitation to Play

     We don't have many staff meetings here at Grassfields.  Two or three of us might get our heads together over one issue or another but not everyone.  Yesterday was different.  Luke introduced the idea of food pairings.  He spread on the desk crackers, strawberry jam, peach-apricot jam, prosciutto, salami, apple slices, Gouda, Lamont Cheddar, and Fait Gras.
    "This is all about flavor pairings," Luke said, "What do you think goes together?  What goes well with each cheese?"  Cheese Maker Evan, our trained chef, said that this was subjective and to experiment.
    Luke, Evan, Vicky, Necia, and I started to play.  It was interesting to see what each person thought went together.  For me, who has the sophisticated palate of a toddler, this was beyond my comfort zone.  I'm a huge supporter of divided plates and no foods touching.  I started off safe with a cracker, prosciutto , and Gouda.  I watched as others tried crackers, jam, and cheese.  Someone tried an apple slice, salami, and Lamont Cheddar.  I found that I really liked peach jam on a cracker with prosciutto and Gouda.  Somehow the news that we were feasting spread around the farm and soon Sue, Chaeli, and Esther joined us.  Everyone had something different that they liked and wanted everyone else to try.  
     Food pairings are exploring flavors.  So what's your favorite Grassfields Cheese and what do you pair it with?

Angela~The Cheese Shop Mafia

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Epic Salt Solution

A key ingredient in most cheese is salt. Not only does it enhance flavors but it also helps to dry and form the rind on the exterior of the wheel. Our Gouda, Polkton Corners, and flavored cheeses all go for a 70 hour swim in our brine tank. Our brine tank has a capacity of 500 gallons. We only fill it with about 450. The other component is the salt. We use non-iodized table salt to make our brine.We keep our brine tank between 15%-18% salt solution. Which means the 450 gallons of water has 612lbs of salt dissolved in it. That seems like a lot, and it is, but only a small percent makes it into the cheese. To maintain the brine all we do is add salt and water as needed. In the two and a half years I have been making cheese we have never changed the brine water or salt. The power of salt still amazes me.

Cheese Maker Evan

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Visit to Grassfields Creamery in Western Michigan

     In September, 2014 I had the privilege to visit and tour Grassfields Farmstead Creamery in Coopersville, Michigan. With a quick phone call the day before, I happened to get lucky during my two week visit to Western Michigan and score an opportunity to learn from the pros how they make their most delicious cheeses.
     Evan Velthouse is the cheese maker and creates the various dutch artisan cheeses right on site. A long wall separates the dairy operation (run by Jesse Meerman) from the artisan cheese factory with Evan in command of all things cheese. Grassfields is a dutch family business which began five generations earlier. The oldest son, Luke Meerman, in charge of the business side and wife Vicky works in the shop while managing five children.
     I arrived just as Evan was cutting the cheese using large wire screens which require some heft to cut evenly through the vat of 450 gallons of fresh cow milk, now on its way to becoming cheddar. To fill the vat requires around 1 ½ days of milking from the 50 cows on the dairy. All I can say to my bovine friends is thank you for your contribution!
    Once cut, it was a labor of love to see the slow evolution of transformation separating curds from
whey. It’s rather like watching grass grow; a slow, nurturing process that Evan does with finesse. If it sounds boring, it’s anything but. You would have to take a tour yourself to realize there’s magic in the mixture and Evan, a trained culinary chef, knows exactly how to manage the milky creation to ensure a tangy, creamy, delectable cheddar worthy of high praise.
    We talked about how he came to be the cheese maker at Grassfields and shared a little of what Jesse taught him when he took over the reins. Jesse had been the cheese maker for ten years prior to Evan. Once inside the creamery, there’s a door that leads to the cheese cave. What a treat to see the 2014 Christmas specialty. Lying comfortably in a brine bath were wheels of sage and cherry cheese aging in a beautiful eclectic mixture. The brine itself is not changed out I’m told as all the goodies from earlier batches fall to the bottom of the vat and continue to impart their unique flavors to the next batch of cheeses. Moreover, some cheese makers will vie to purchase wooden planks to store and age the wheels from other creameries for the same purpose – the wood acts as a flavor conduit in the same manner as a chardonnay wine aged in an oak barrel will take on subtle toasted oak-y flavors in the wine.
    This is a small operation. Fifty cows. Family run. Few employees; yet their hearts are big and they are eager to share whatever knowledge they have acquired without thought of return. Why? Because it’s the way things are supposed to be. It’s what we’ve sometimes forgotten about as we rush home after a busy hectic day and pop a microwave dinner in front of the tv. It’s the tiny strings that bind us together as we learn from each other; just as I now share with you what I’ve learned from my visit…but I have a surprise for you! In my exuberance I purchased a wide assortment of the Grassfields cheeses while at the creamery. I bought with reckless abandon as if I would never get the chance to taste these fine cheeses again. I did this because I live two days drive away and even though there’s mail order, I wanted it all now. The cheese I could buy there was more than retail, it was memories too.
    I've been home a month now and once a week I play pinochle with a few local ladies. We share a bottle of wine and some tasty snacks mid-way through the cards and chat like the old friends we are.
I've slowly been sharing the Edam, Gouda, Herb-ed Cheese and Lamont Cheddar with them since my return from Grassfields Cheese. I’ve been keeping a beautiful large cut of creamy Fait Gras in the fridge and have looked at it every day since my return. Tonight it spoke to me from the fridge. It said if I give it 30 minutes, it will surprise and delight my evening meal. Here’s what it said…

Fait Gras Fettuccine 
(adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s 2004 recipe from Television Food Network)
1 pound fettuccine
6 Tbsp butter
1 shallot minced
1C heavy cream
1C Grassfields Fait Gras Cheese, shredded
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
fresh minced parsley to taste or chiffonade basil for garnish

Cook fettuccine according to directions in salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander reserving ¼ C of pasta cooking liquid.While the pasta cooks, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil. Cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add half the Grassfields Fait Gras Cheese to the sauce. If it gets too thick, thin it with the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to the pot it was cooking in and add the sauce. Toss to combine thoroughly. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top so that it begins to melt on the fettuccine. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil if desired. Serve immediately.

With gratitude & thankfulness to my new friends at Grassfields. Thank you for your kindness.

Audrey J Brown
Sheridan, Wyoming
October 16, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ultimate Grassfields Cheese Sauce

Finally a cheese sauce recipe that is easy to make and will make everything taste awesome. This sauce is excellent for homemade mac-n-cheese, cheesy potatoes and even makes a wonderful dipping sauce.

Grassfields Cheese Sauce

1 oz        Butter or oil
1 oz        All Purpose Flour
2 cups    Milk
1 lb        Cheese (any style, I use Lamont Cheddar)
salt & pepper

1. Shred cheese and set aside
2. Heat oil in medium sauce pan over medium heat
3. Add flour and whisk to make a roux
4. Cook on medium heat for 5 min stirring frequently
5. Add 1/2 of the milk stirring constantly
6. Once blended add remainder of milk stirring constantly
7. Continue to heat until milk thickens stirring frequently
8. Remove from heat and whisk in shredded cheese in small batches
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy

Give it a try and let us know what you use this sauce for. We are always interested to see how people use our cheeses.

Happy Cooking!!!
Cheese Maker Evan

Monday, October 20, 2014


Here's the Animal Welfare Approved press release about us!

--Chicagoans can now buy high-welfare, pasture-raised cheese at over 20
stores and restaurants across the city, including Bin 36 and Eataly--

 CHICAGO, IL (October 15, 2014)--Chicago restaurant-goers, shoppers, and cheese-lovers alike can now purchase delicious, locally-produced cheese from Grassfields Cheese made using milk from cows raised outdoors on pasture according to the highest welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada. 

Now available at more than 20 stores and restaurants across Chicago--including Eataly, Bin 36, Longman & Eagle, West Town Bakery, Bangers & Lace, and the Dill Pickle Food Co-op--Grassfields' nine varieties of cheese are made and aged on the 250-acre dairy farm, near Coopersville, MI, using raw organic milk from dairy cows raised outdoors on pasture and fed an entirely grass and forage-based diet-resulting in delicious, flavorful cheeses.

Luke Meerman is the fifth generation to manage AWA-certified Grassfields Cheese, which has been owned by his family since 1882. Meerman is proud to offer cheeses that stand out--not only for their flavor, but for their certified organic and AWA production practices. "I love being able to tell my customers 'I'm the farmer', to taste the cheese alongside them, and then let my certifications help fill in the story of our farm and the origin of the cheese in a meaningful way," he says. "It's a powerful thing."

Matt Reilly, Manager of Salumi and Formaggi at Eataly, says "Understanding what we eat is the only way to develop healthy relationship with our food. As a cheese monger, my goal is to know and build a direct trust relationship with both the producer and my customers. Responsible farming makes this easy and pleasurable. Grassfields Cheese has a long tradition of understanding their animals and cares for them in a loving way. This translates into great products that I am happy to encourage my customers to bring home to their families."  

Antonio RamÍrez, Cheese Director at award-winning Bin 36, says Grassfields' cheeses are "unique and unexpected" and that his customers agree: "Luke Meerman is not running a typical business. He and his family are truly part of the terroir," says RamÍrez. "Grass feeding produces added flavors and sweetness, makes the flavor more interesting, and keeps animals happy and healthy. Happy cows make happy cheese, and we get the happiest cheese from Grassfields."

For a full list of stores carrying Grassfields Cheese visit www.grassfieldscheese.com. For retail inquires, contact Luke Meerman on (616) 997-8251 or email grassfieldscheese@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

One of our customers posted this to our Facebook page.  Thank you so much Stephanie Thomas for sharing.

Lamont Cheddar & Polkton Corners Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

Stephanie says:
"Oh dear! I'm not exactly a recipe kind of girl but ... I used locally raised beef sizzler steak thinly sliced, onions from my neighbor, mushrooms from a nameless grocery store (I really need a local source for these), sautéed in butter from Grassfields (yummy), seasoning (I used a splash of New Holland Brewery beer, garlic, Worcestershire, pepper - I forgot one thing I think, lol! Use what you like) slapped it on some homemade bread. For the cheese sauce, I started with a roux and added 1/2 package Lamont & 1/2 package Polkton. It melted into beautiful swirling CHEESY sea of deliciousness. My only regret is not making a double batch of sauce for Mac & cheese today. Next time I'll know better!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saturday was one of those days.  I got to spend it with people I love.  I got to get away from the farm and tell people about our cheese.  It was a great day.

Bright and early Saturday morning, Heidi, Necia, Evan, and I loaded up and headed to Chicago.  Heidi demoed cheese at both Standard Market locations.  Evan, Necia, and I demoed our cheeses at Eataly.  In store demos are a great way to get in touch with our customers.  I have so much fun explaining our  selling points; grass-fed, raw milk, organic, farmstead, and Animal Welfare Approved.  I always learn something as I listen to Evan talk about the flavor profiles of each cheese and about what makes each cheese unique.

My favorite moment was when 2 siblings sampled the cheeses, a boy of about 13 and his sister who had to be around 10 years old.  They grabbed their grandparents who they were shopping with and dragged them to the cheese counter to buy our cheese.  That was great feedback!

Unfortunately, we are limited by time and distance when it comes to in store demos.  We do try to do as many as possible.  Even Luke, Vicky, and family got away from the farm for the weekend.  Luke and his daughter, Esther, demoed cheese at 2 Ann Arbor area Kroger stores and Vicky was at Greenfield Village selling our cheeses at the Farmer's Market.  It was a great weekend for Grassfields Cheese and we all had a wonderful time.

Angela~The Cheese Shop Mafia

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tis the season... In 60 days.

Monday was a very special day in the cheese making room. We were blessed to have a group of culinary students from the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education join us. To add to the excitement we were going to be making our seasonal fall cheese; Cherry Christmas. The idea behind Cherry Christmas was to use flavors that remind us of the fall and winter holidays. When I think Thanksgiving thoughts of sage stuffing and cranberry sauce fill my head. Unfortunately cranberries, sage and Gouda do not pair well but cherries compliment the flavors perfectly. We were also able to keep with the holiday theme by using red cherries and green sage to give the appearance of a festive Christmas wheel. After a grueling 60 day aging process this sweet, salty and savory treat will be ready just in time for your holiday meals. On November 22nd come to the store and see just how cherry your Christmas can be.

Cheese Maker Evan

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FDA Does Not Prohibit Wood Shelves

Recently there has been much hoopla over the FDA's stance on the use of wooden shelving for the aging of cheeses.  Many of our customers have asked how this is effecting us since we only use oak shelving. The FDA was concerned that you can not completely clean a wood shelf of bacteria and mold that are essential to the aging of cheese.  I've attached an article that has just been published by the Michigan Farm News in which the FDA clearly states that they do not prohibit wooden shelves after all.  I just want to thank you all for your support of us in this matter.

~Angela~The Cheese Shop Mafia

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Today I got to experience one of my favorite aspects of my job.  I got to play tour guide.  I love to tell people about our farm, our family, and our cheeses.  

The tour starts with watching Evan performing his magic.  Today Evan made Edam with Dill.  I explained the steps it takes for the milk to become cheese.  We watched as Evan stirs the milk and as he drains the whey.  We were able to watch him hoop the curds and place the weights on the molds.

After the cheese shop portion of the tour we headed out for the wagon ride.  Luke drove our group out to the pastures where the dairy herd is.  He answered questions about the herd; their diet, behavior, and health.  I love this peaceful time.  If everyone is quiet the only sound is the ripping of grass and chewing.  The lovely ladies of the herd are not shy and some are even brave and curious enough to approach the wagon.  Our cows are very photogenic.  Luke's sharp eyes spotted two small black ears above the grass.  There nestled down was a few day old calf.  He skipped away when Luke came near.

Back at the cheese shop we ended with sampling cheese.  Young Edam and Aged Edam.  It's fun to explore what the aging process does to taste and texture.  I answered any last questions and the group graciously agreed to pose for a picture.  

~Angela, The Cheese Shop Mafia


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Say Cheese!!

Welcome everybody to the new Cheesy Bites blog. We will be posting on the new blog site frequently to keep our customers up to date on anything new in the shop. In the future we also hope to include our favorite cheese recipes, cheese making tips, photos, and pretty much anything else cheese related.
The day has finally arrived; we are proud to introduce some new cheeses. After 365 long days we now have our award winning Reserve Cheddar AND Sharp Edam. With the extended aging period the cheese has had time to develop amazing flavor and characteristics. They feature a more sharp and complex flavor, along with a much drier texture. Please stop in and see the full effects of aging cheese for a whole year.