Coffee with Karen is a daily occurrence on the farm for us. Karen is a 6 year old Jersey cow who came to our farm about 4 years ago and instantly became a favorite. If you follow us on any of our social media account you've definitely seen her. Maybe it's her lovable personality or her crazy quirks, but she's hard not to notice!
Most mornings when she's done milking she hangs out in the parlor before making her way back to the barn for breakfast. Sometimes she wants a few head scratches or she hangs out with her favorite dog, Shelia (they have a special bond). Either way we're happy to spend a few extra minutes with her while we drink our coffee and she chews her cud.
A tall stack of these alongside your Pumpkin Spice Latte are the perfect start to any fall weekend.
What screams fall more than pumpkin? This pancake recipe is the perfect addition to your autumn line-up and will make your house smell perfectly pumpkiny. It’s a great fall breakfast, lunch or dinner (because breakfast for dinner is everyone’s favorite). My kids were over the moon about having pancakes for lunch!
I love making pancakes from scratch, such a simple recipe and one that you can definitely taste a difference. Plus, I get to use my favorite WW Homestead Dairy milk and butter.
These pancakes start out like any great pancake, but with the addition of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices. This mouthwatering combination will leave you grateful that pancakes cook quickly and are ready to eat in no time.
Leftovers make a great snack for the kids to grab after they finish carving pumpkins or you can make extra to throw in the freezer for an even quicker weekday breakfast. These pancakes are perfect with your regular old maple syrup and just like pumpkin pie, they taste better with lots of whipped cream. Jazz them up with chocolate chips (maybe a cute Jack-O-Lantern face?) or chopped pecans!
Feel free to substitute the spices with pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice to make this recipe even simpler.
Today’s dairy shelves are filled with so many options, sometimes it’s hard to know where to even start. Rather than throw in the towel and grab whatever is closest, read on for some differences between conventional milk and our non-homogenized options.
What are the Differences Between Homogenized and Non-Homogenized Milk?
When milk is left in its natural state, a layer of cream floats to the top and settles. It creates a beautiful layer of pure cream. Milk that has been homogenized has gone through a process that forces the milk fat globules to break into smaller pieces, this keeps them suspended throughout the milk and prevents the natural separation from occurring.
Why did the Dairy Industry Switch to Homogenized Milk?
You might be wondering why the dairy industry would choose to homogenize milk and change it from its perfect natural state. Milk is not homogenized to alter its taste, but it does give it a smoother looking texture and a more uniform product. Even though you notice these changes visually, our customers actually find that our non-homogenized skim milk tastes smoother and richer then homogenized skim milk.
Milk is homogenized as a convenience to consumers. Since the milk fat stays uniformly suspended there is no need to shake or redistribute the milk before drinking. But we all know that just because something is a little more convenient does not make it better. Sometimes the more natural a product is, the better it is for us! A little shake and the cream in your milk will re-suspend and you can pour the perfect glass of milk.
Benefits of Milk
Minimally processed milk preserves its health benefits. There are no studies to show that non-homogenized milk is easier to digest. Anecdotally, our customers tell us that they previously thought they were lactose intolerant, but able to drink our milk with no issues!
Milk is one of the most perfect sources of protein. One cup contains 8 grams of complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. Dairy products provide more calcium, protein, magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus per calorie than any other typical food found in the adult diet! If you’re not a fan of a cold glass of milk, try it in a smoothie, oatmeal or adding it to all the delicious fall soups you’re making this time of year.
Milk has been proven to help athletes repair muscle damage. Drinking milk after a tough workout can decrease muscle damage, promote repair, increase strength and even help decrease muscle soreness! It is a great alternative to processed protein drinks that are made for post-workout recovery. Drinking milk also provides the perfect supplement for bone support. Studies have shown that the combination of calcium, phosphorus, K2 and other vitamins in milk help with bone growth and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Another Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we are introducing you to a familiar face at WW Homestead Dairy. If you’ve been in our retail store over the last year or ordered product from us, chances are you may have seen this lady around. Anna, is the youngest of Tom Weighner’s four daughters and has been working on the farm and at our processing plant since high school.
At WW Homestead Dairy she focuses on helping with ice cream, wholesale ordering and packing orders. Most recently, she has started helping full time on the farm, where her focus is on cow care. She is responsible for weekly milking and helps with field work during our busy harvest season.
A normal day for Anna starts with a 5AM wake-up call and milking the cows. After that, she helps finish up morning calf chores, feeding cows or cleaning barns. She helps Steph with any cows or calf that need treatment or special attention and all the other tasks that keep everything flowing smoothly on the farms. In the afternoons you can find her helping with fieldwork or checking calves.
On Wednesdays she is head ice cream boss (in her words). She started off helping Angela with ice cream production and has slowly taken over the lead role of ice cream production. Some of her favorite creations this year include; The Blonde Bombshell (our newest ice cream flavor), Cowpie, and Sweet Maple Bourbon ice cream. You can find all of these at our retail store. Anna also helps pack orders for delivery on days when we need extra help and can step in to help with office work when necessary.
Anna’s side-gig is raising hogs! Along with her husband, Cullen, she raises Hampshire, Duroc & Chester White. They sell them as feeders or finished hogs directly to customers. They also have some pork processed and USDA certified. When available, you can purchase this meat at our WW Homestead Dairy retail store and the Iowa Food Hub. If you have questions about availability you can look her up at Silver Creek Farmstead on Facebook or Instagram.
In her spare Anna likes to ride her horse, Rhonda, hang out with family, camp, and sleep. Her favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is heavy whipping cream that she uses for baking or adding to her morning (or afternoon) coffee. Stay tuned later this week for one of her favorite recipes!
Cheese and cheese curds are the perfect easy snack for kids and adults. Read on for some of our favorite, simple ways to enjoy WW Homestead Dairy cheese!
1) The easiest and the simplest, grab a bag of your favorite cheese curds and start snacking. If you need to make snacks for the whole week, split them up into small snack bags or containers. This way you won't eat the whole bag in one sitting and kids love having a special bag or container to eat their snacks out of. You can also grab some of your favorite jam, mustard, honey or dipping sauce. Dip those curds! You might never want to eat them another way.
Another Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to Tanner Walleser. Tanner is the oldest of Tom Walleser son’s and helps run all the day to day operations at Walleser Farms. He has been farming since he could crawl (maybe even earlier than that) and only took a short break to head to Iowa State University to get a degree in Business. Tanner spends most of his time on the farm milking, feeding cows and doing fieldwork.
Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to another one of WW Homestead Dairy's farmers. Stephanie is one of Tom Weighner’s four daughters. She started working at Weighner Brothers Farms in junior high and has been around ever since.
Steph’s main focus on the farm is herd health, calf health and keeping her four wild ones out of trouble.
Usually, she lets Marshall handle the morning milking while she gets the kids up and ready to go for the day. They do school in the house and then everyone heads outside to do the rest of morning chores. If any cows or calves are sick, she treats them or calls her veterinarian (also her sister) to take care of them.
Steph also handles all of the breeding on the farm. She uses a GEA monitoring system to keep track of each cow’s activity level. Every cow gets to wears a special necklace with an activity tracker. When a cow comes into heat it triggers an alert on the computer which tells her they are ready to breed. She pulls up the cow’s page and checks their activity level to confirm (or heads to the barn to watch them for a bit). Currently, she is using a ProCross breeding program, along with aAa mating system. The ProCross system uses Montbeliarde, Holstein and the Swedish Red dairy breeds. aAa looks at the cows and takes their weaknesses and strengths into account, then matches them with compatible bulls. You could say she’s a little bit of a cow matchmaker.
In the afternoons Steph milks the cows, feeds calves and checks everyone over to make sure they don’t need any special attention. All the milk she feeds the calves comes from the cow herd. She milks a cow into a pail, pasteurizes it to kill any bad bacteria and then feeds it to the calves.
In her spare time she likes to plan new adventures, like driving 16 hours to pick up a rare breed of sheep or designing her new strawberry patch (berries coming your way in 2021.) Marshall and her plant sweet corn every spring to sell it in August. She also enjoys morel mushroom hunting, Gator rides and boating on the Mississippi. Steph’s favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is strawberry sundaes from the ice cream parlor or coffee from the coffee barn.
WW Homestead Dairy is made up of two family farms, Weighner Brothers Farms and Walleser Farms. Tom Weighner, Paul Weighner and Tom Walleser are the owners of WW Homestead Dairy. In 2011 they decided to switch gears and begin processing the milk from their farms into a value-added product to sell directly to customers. Their hope was that this would allow the next generation to continue to do what they love and farm. Over the next couple months we will introduce you to our farmers, families and the cheesemakers at WW Homestead Dairy.
On this Fresh Curd Friday, we want you to meet one of our dairy farmers. You’ve probably seen Marshall pop up on our social media account from time to time, although he’s not a big fan of getting in front of the camera he will usually let us snap a picture or two. Marshall started his farming career in junior high and has been involved in agriculture ever since. He and his wife, Stephanie (one of Tom Weighner’s daughters), with the help of their four kiddos, and Shelia the Border Collie, run most of the day to day operations at Weighner Brothers Farm.
Marshall is up bright and early, 4:30AM, almost every day to milk the cows. (Don’t worry, Steph does give him a morning and weekend off every once and awhile.) After milking, he mixes feed for the cows and then spends the rest of the day on whatever needs to get done. During the winter months that means equipment maintenance, cutting firewood, bedding animals, checking water’s, and pushing snow. Spring, summer and fall you’ll find him fixing equipment and doing fieldwork.
On days when Steph needs extra help in the afternoons, Marshall helps finish up afternoon milking, scrape barns and feed cows. In the evenings he heads out to say goodnight to all the cows, checks for new calves and pushes up feed so the girls can have a midnight snack.
All fun and no play makes for a grouchy farmer, so when he can, he sneaks away to enjoy a little fishing, boat rides on the Mississippi, Gator rides on the farm or working on his old tractors. His favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is Homestead Vanilla ice cream, covered maple syrup from the trees he taps in the spring!
Cheddar Cheese. Probably one of the most well known and popular cheese types in the world. Cheddar cheese has a slightly nutty flavor and a semi-hard texture. The longer cheddar cheese ages the "sharper" it tastes. For some mild cheddar is perfect and others prefer the sharpiest they can get (that would be me)!
Many varieties of cheddar that are produced have added food coloring to make the cheese color more consistent, but cheddar cheese is naturally off-white. So all those pretty orange/yellow blocks of cheddar cheese you see... food coloring! We skip this step and let the pretty off-white color of the natural cheddar shine.
So, how do we get from cow's milk to those delicious cheese slices on your crackers. Well let's find out!
As with all cheese you need the raw ingredients to start. Milk comes in from our farms and is delivered three or four days a week. The only other ingredients used are rennet, enzymes and salt!
After the milk arrives to our creamery it is pasteurized. Our pasteurizer is high-temp, short-time or HTST. Our milk is heated up to 162F for 15 seconds. HTST pasteurization is great because it kills all the potentially bad bacteria that could make you sick in the milk, but it doesn't heat it high enough to denature proteins of change the structure of the milk. This means there is minimal, if any, change to the flavor of the milk and keeps it as close natural as possible.
After pasteurization milk is pumped into our cheese curd vats, enzymes and rennet are added, and the milk is cooked until a curd forms. The cheese is then cut with large knives and the whey is drained from the vats. The cheese forms a large mat of cheddar that is cut into smaller chunks. These chunks are stacked and flipped multiple times (this is known as cheddaring). The acidity of the whey draining off is tested. This test tells us when to flip and when to stop the cheddaring process.
When the cheese is done it is time to mill and salt. Salting the cheese enhances the flavor, pulls moisture out and also can help regulate microbial growth. The curds are stirred in the cheese vat to make sure they are coated evenly with the salt and then the fun of pressing cheese begins!
Cheese curds that are going to be turned into cheddar are weighed out to ensure the correct amount is packed into the cheese forms. The forms are lined with cheese cloth and filled with cheese curds. Usually, we fill the molds up, squeeze the curd down and then pack the last five pounds in by hand.
The cheese cloth is folded over the curd and the lid goes on! Cheese forms get placed on the cheese press and squeezed down. The pressure from the cheese press removes excess whey and causes the curds to knit back together into a large block of cheese.
After the blocks have been pressed they are removed from the forms, placed into bags and vacuum sealed shut. Then our 40 pound blocks of cheese are placed on the shelf to age. Cheddar ages anywhere from 30 days to 8 years. The oldest aged cheddar that we have is 2 plus years old!
Looking to learn more about our cheese and want to check out our processing plant? Come visit and set up a tour! You can find all our cheeses (and more) on our retail store shelves and specialty shops around the tri-state area. If you can't make it in, shop online and have our block cheddar and cheese curds delivered straight to your front door.