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Is that…… a Permanent Marker?!?

Creamery on a blustery day May 16So what started out as a tiny innocent idea of creating a middle school style morning announcement report as a way to start each of our busy summer mornings has somehow found a way of transmogrifying itself into something, well, quite different. All are the first take, one chance to get it right kind of filming. Here’s the first one, where, I seem to have forgotten to 1) – introduce what exactly I’ll be up to all summer and 2) – say the name of our business fully. Yeesh – what a momentous start. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbpAzZy49MM

You can follow the daily zaniness either directly on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTX0IJ2cCfGbTC_m4Iy9lw                                    or on our FB page                                                                            https://www.facebook.com/Flathead-Lake-Cheese-87330205347/                                          if only to get your laugh for the day.

**Please note the author thought she had posted this last May….May!!  Good grief, where does the time go (and who is in charge of this website!!)

***Please also note the the above antics will continue with the start of the new Farmer’s Market summer season in May. We (that would be the Queen’s We) are taking a much needed hiatus from the limelight during the Missoula Valley Winter Market Season. Well, I can’t vouch that there will be NONE till then so best keep a lookout!  Cheers

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Farmer’s Markets Season 2016

Thru 5May12 012 Hard to believe we’ll be starting our 5th season of Farmer’s Markets in a scant two weeks. This shot is from our very first market, complete with nearly no identification (or really much of an idea of what we were getting ourselves into.) We had been official for a month and a half and only had curds and feta to sell that first season as our wheels ripened down in the vault. I Thru 5May12 010love the expectation shown in the photo of myself, Joe and our friend Daniel at the Polson market….”will this work out or be an absolute bust?!?” Happy to report it worked out.

With a market under our belts, felt a little under control the following day at the Artisan Market held at the lovely Cottage on Main.

Through 12May12 023Soon our big yellow tent became well known. Phone fotos 1939

We had a few weeks of just the two markets a week before the big test – the market in Whitefish began. Towards the end of that first season, the Kalispell Farmer’s Market was added to the mix.

What a first six months Flathead Lake Cheese had!

 

 

Along the way, signage has become better and our display is a touch more attractive.IMG_5375     Phone fotos 492Phone fotos 917

 

 

 

Sadly, The Cottage closed but that opened us up to the markets in Kalispell and Missoula on Saturday mornings.

 

 

You never know who or what you’ll come across at the Market. From old friends with cheese awardsIMG_6306 (Stinky Cheeseman award for our fabulous Feta)IMG_6308 IMG_3329

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to new ones

 

 

to really large headed folks.

 

Here’s to a spectacular summer. We’re continuing our 4 market week. You’ll be able to find us under the big yellow cheese flag IMG_5379at the:

Polson Farmer’s Market on Fridays from 9-1, on 3rd and Main starting on the 6th of May.

Kalispell Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9-12:30 at the college, South lot starting on the 7th of May.

Missoula’s Original Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 8-12:30 at the north end of Higgins at the XXXX’s also starting on the 7th.

Whitefish Farmer’s Market on Tuesday evenings from 5-7:30 at the north end of Central Ave starting on the 31st of May.

IMG_6041Through 12May12 025

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The Big Shredventure

One of the joys of our cheese is the lack of processing chemicals. It can also be a hindrance as the cheeses continue to ripen and loose moisture. While still fabulously tasty, they become a touch unruly in the cut into a wedge department. For these few cheeses we had, an alternate delivery was needed. Thru 2May13 004Enter, the home cheese shredder which, if you’re just doing a cup at any given time, works wonderfully BUT several wheels at time causes their quick demise. I think we went through two or was it three. At any rate, the quest for a commercial grade shredder was on and we thought we had hit pay dirt!

Joe found a dealer with just what we needed and, more importantly, in our price range! He gave it to Joe to take back to Creamery and test run before we purchased it. It was  perfect except for the gigantic size of the grate. It was perfect except it’s no longer made and parts aren’t available. Or even made. Drat! Many phone calls back and forth are made with the dealer to confirm this and to set up a meeting to return his property.

Back to the shop we go in the hopes that another miracle could be unearthed in his warehouse. Nope. Nothing. But wait, there is this slicer thing he just go in. It could work. Ditto DeanDuct tape removed from the ‘cord fix’ in back, Dito Dean looked a little more promising. With his merchandise manual in hand, we find grating wheels of different sizes can be ordered but it would be costly AND take several days. Joe suggested while we wait, could we plug it in and hear how it sounds? After many embarrassing attempts at different outlets (looking for one that “works”), the machine is brought in to the showroom where it was confirmed to be dead. By this time the shop owner is completely done with us. Joe innocently asks how much he’d take for the machine as it stands. “Just take it. Go” We promise to return with cheese. “No, don’t come back”. Our welcome worn away, we left with a mess of metal and a challenge.

Always up to repair, Joe set off to replace faulty fixes and broken parts, recreating it’s poor damaged feet and even finding the grate wheels at a far more reasonable price. Before I knew it, it was time to test out our latest member of the team. In mere seconds, the job was done! Shred test Shred magic Shred completeWell, as long as we have cheeses that need grating, we’ll be offering it and it looks like we’ll have plenty. In the Doorstop, Wisp o’ Smoke and Galiki this spring. We tried a new polymer coating that just isn’t what we’re used to and have a few batches that aged far faster than we’d planned but that’s another story.

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Alternative Energy Resource Organization (AERO) Meet-up

EditedWhat better way to spend a Tuesday late afternoon than with friends, alternative energy and beer? We’ll be on hand to chat about what we’ve learned about the solar thermal system that we installed onto our Creamery roof some six years ago and the joys of grant writing. Yup, you can get help with your installation!

It’s amazing how much the 140 Mazdon tubes adorning the copper FLC labels and logo 025 have become as much a part of our identity as our cheese. We’ve been contacted by folks from all over the country about how effective a system could be this close to Canada and I believe we may still be the smallest project to be awarded REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) grant funding.

We had an extra tube that came to us damaged that we used for a close up view. Sadly, it didn’t like the new “safe” storage location I found for it about a year back so there went that prop! All six feet of it. Dang!

Creamery May2So if you’re looking for a communal gathering this Tuesday, the 22nd, come on down to the 44 Bar and Outwest Grill north of St Ig on Hwy 93 in the Mission Valley. Take in the view, possibly even spy some courting hawks, meet some new folks, try some local beer, have a nosh and learn about your solar options.  See you there.

 

Here are some links –                                                                                                                              AERO – http://www.aeromt.org/

Funding opportunities include:                                  REAP http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-business-development-grants/mt                                                                                                                                                   and 1603 Program: Payments for Specified Energy Property in Lieu of Tax Credits https://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/recovery/Pages/1603.aspx

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Wonderful Weekend hosted by Montana Farmer’s Union

Had the opportunity to do a cheese making demonstration this past weekend at the annual Montana Farmer’s Union Women’s Conference. In fact, we kicked off the event, magically turning Kalispell Kreamery whole milk into curds, while the participants Kalispell Kreamerygathered for what turned out to be a motivating yet relaxing two days.

The IMG_0105Key Note Speaker, Kriss Marion, spoke of the creation of the Soil Sisters and how one tiny spark turned into a snowflake of opportunities for those in her surrounding area of Wisconsin and how that model can easily work for any one with a need and the drive to see their ideas grow.

It gave me thoughts on how to work to bring the diverse population of the Mission Valley together to share concepts, suggestions, recommendations and formulate a stronger sense of community among those who share this magnificent part of the planet. I’m not sure if and or when I’m going to get to this project and IMG_0104be able to plant that first seed but it’s there; where it will niggle my sub-conscience, quietly growing from an spark into a full blown idea. Or, it could die. (and, since no one reads these few and far between blogs, I’ll not be held to perform!) and I’ll wonder, in my old age, why I never acted.

Ah well, the nature of inspirations. IMG_0117While it may not grow, the concept of how it was created does and I feel my brain rewiring how I should approach challenges. So perhaps you’ll never get that handwritten letter on homemade paper inviting you to a Cultural Cookie Exchange, but the concept will be part of how I present and share going forward.

IMG_0116Like Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s creation, once it’s out, there’s no going back!

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Annual Summer Open House

This weekend marks the 239th anniversary of our country’s Independence and what better way to celebrate than to come tour a little Creamery at the Polson Bay end of Flathead Lake?Polson fireworks After a fabulous day of parades, BBQ’s and fireworks, a natural progression is a desire to see how solar power can pasteurize milk and turn it into fabulous cheeses.

No, really.

That’s what we’ll be doing on Sunday, the 5th, from 10-4. Joe is already reviewing his notes and getting ready to thrill folks with the amazing story of cheese making and solar energy. I’m always secretly hoping someone comes up with a question he’s not answered yet before.Vault shot  From there, it’s down into the vault to see the cheeses up close. There’s something about seeing several hundred cheeses all hanging out together breathing and ripening up into something tasty. Once back upstairs, it’s time for sampling. We’ll have the full complement of cheeses. Four kinds of curds – natural, cold smoked, garlic and wasabi, our aged cheeses – Doorstop (natural), Wisp o’ Smoke, Hoppin’ Mad and Galiki (our new roasted garlic nib). We’ll also have the latest in our repertoire, Doc Arnold’s Notzarella.

A few surprises we’ll have at the Open House….. Smoked Notzarella and, still in the Vault and yet to be checked for readiness, our white truffle Gouda. They are currently 6 months old so may not be ready. We only made 20 wheels so it will available only at the Creamery. Once it’s ready, that is! Finger’s crossed that it’s sooner rather than later!! Right now would be perfect.

What every you do this Independence Celebratory weekend (still pushing for a visit if you’re in the area…), may it be joyful, safe and full of wonderful memories!

Cheers, Wendi and Joe

PS – fireworks photo, found on our Chamber of Commerce site, courtesy of one of the many spectacular photographers who reside in our tiny town!

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Notzarella……Gouda for what ails you!

Notz-Square-Label-Med As with everywhere, it’s summertime here in our little Northwest corner of the world where outdoor dining is one of our favorite activities. Our latest cheese, Notzarella (our version of that Italian staple with the similar name) is ready just in time to capture all the delights of al fresco cooking.  We are fortunate enough to have two friends with outdoor pizza ovens and don’t we all delight in testing out the Notz!

It does everything you want a mozzarella to do but with a higher butterfat content, it’s just that much more luxurious on a pizza but let’s not just go for the obvious, with all the marvelously fresh produce you can find at your local Farmer’s Market, why not chunk it up and add it to your salads, stir frys or top your baked kale chips. Kale Nachos, if you will. Or how about stuffed mini peppers. Pop them in a hot oven till they just begin to soften and you’ve got a spectacular hors d’oeurve that is easy to make, easy to take and just as easy to feast upon. Even more decadent? Add a little jalapeno jelly to the tops. Talk about a show stopper. They’ll be the first plate emptied at any gathering. Thanks to Daniel P. for that yummy addition to our summer get togethers!

However you use your cheese, let us know, we’d love to add your recipe to our repertoire of tasty ways to enjoy our tasty cheeses.

So happy summer and happy eating from your Polson cheese makers!

Joe and Wendi

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The BIG 100

This Spring, we hit a big milestone for our little Creamery by the bay – our 100th batch of cheese!    While it doesn’t sound like much, when there are only two of you and a make day starts at 0500 and doesn’t end for 12-15 hours, it’s pretty dang cool!

Using what we’ve learned during those 100 makes, we’ve been able to streamline the process (always best if a new pump or piece of stainless is needed) and now down on the 12 hour day side. Just to qualify, that’s from milk collection to completion of clean up. That would be why I always smile when customers ask how many times a day we make cheese.

We’ve also started something a little different.

Starting with a make that happened on our youngest daughter’s birthday, each batch now has a special name attached.

Some are sentimental, like Nelly’s birthdayNelly Cheese or MOZ, MOZ cheesewhen my brother helped out with a make.

The BIG 100, Batch 100!which also happens to be a new cheese we’ll be introducing this summer, and the following batch 101,Dbl Ereaux were our first double make week of the year that also had the great fortune of a dear friend’s assistance, offering to be stirboy, cheesehand, etc. and, truly the only reason we were able to achieve the double make week success! Thank you, Jeeeem!

Now, as I flip the cheeses down in the vault, I have a little extra remembrance attached to each of these new batches – especially the latest arrival of last week, a tribute to a delightfully wonderful person in our life. Happy Birthday, Auntie Boo – how we wish we were able to be with you to celebrate!Boo90

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Local lore in film form

When we’re not cheezing, we often find adventures to keep us somewhat out of trouble. One of the latest was entered into our local Cinemafest http://www.flicpolson.com/ and won a special award from the Judges. Take a gander and you’ll see many a local Polson establishment. If you’re not from around here, think of them as destinations you’ll strangely know when find yourself our way.

Just like when we were kids, most of the best times are when you have to make them up yourselves!

The Raving is the tale of a desperately hungry fellow and his quest to quench his desire for that which is said to be finger licking. His hopes are dashed repeatedly but being a resourceful gent, he moves onward to his next disappointment with aplomb only to discover, well, I’m giving the ending away!!

Shot in a single morning, the sky becomes the star once you’ve laughed yourself out watching Mike and listening to Joe. It’s worth watching several times to see all the nuances a tiny film can have. Ansel Adams would have lived here in Polson had he seen this flic!

If you look closely, you can see our fearless writer, editor, photographer, idea man in the window of several shots mid film.

To date, I believe my favorite response has been from Mrs Lozar’s second grade class that wondered why he didn’t just eat his hat – it’s made of cheese?!? Side Note: Not Flathead Lake Cheese cheese, mind you, just plain ol’ Green Bay Packer’s cheese.

Yup, we’re hooked on having fun and have quite a few more ideas on the table. Now we just have to get those props together.

Say, has anyone seen my minor’s hat?

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Winter Holiday Open Houses

Thru 16Jan13 013It’s almost time for our two annual Winter Open Houses. The first is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the 29th, from 10-4 and a perfect place to bring family and friends for a full tour and tastings of our cheeses. You can also check out our gift box ideas (and start checking off some of those on your gift list!) so don’t forget your address book. The second follows two weeks later on Saturday, the 13th of December. We are thankful to have had such a wonderful year but it has left the vault a little empty on the aged cheeses so best to order sooner than later.

Thru 16Jan13 009

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Upcoming Events

  • August 24, 2017 10:00 AMto 5pm Creamery Open
  • August 25, 2017 9:00 AMto 1pm Polson Farmer's Market
  • August 28, 2017 10:00 AMto 5pm Creamery Open
  • August 30, 2017 10:00 AMto 5pm Creamery Open
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