“Are you really sure that we are going?” P. asks as the three of us sit at the table for breakfast. The aroma of apples sautéeing in butter and sugar in the kitchen makes it feel even warmer and cozier than usual. And that despite the pouring rain we can hear against the large kitchen windows.
Lulu is happy. She is singing “Bonjour, tu vas bien, j’ai dix doigts et deux mains, deux yeux toujours fatigués, comme tous les matins!“. She loves that she can teach me this new song learnt from N., her new maternelle teacher. She is very fond of her. Sa voix de fillette est un délice à entendre, I cannot help but think as I listen to the song.
“On y va bientôt maman ?” (Are we going soon?) she asks when she sees me standing up.
I am surprised to find her so eager to go since we all feel short of sleep.
It’s a funny-kind-of good feeling, actually. That very one of a lazy Sunday morning after a night out spent with a jolly group of friends.
“I think we are going,” I tell her and P.
Our friends probably too, since none of them sends a text to tell us otherwise.
Looking at the rain, though, it’s hard to imagine that it’s a good idea to spend time outside to visit a goat farm.
The thing is that I’ve really wanted to visit goats for a while.
It happens organically. A friendly conversation with the young lady who sells goat cheese in my town’s farmer’s market leads to a question “Can we come and visit?” and a response “Sure, any time!”
None of her words are lost–each resonates in my head, quickly turning into a weekend plan.
“I know what we are doing dimanche, I tell P. as soon as I am able to talk to him on the phone. I don’t wait for his response.
“I’ll ask B. and N. and their friends if they want to come, I add. “The girls will have so much fun!””
It’s all I am thinking about until Sunday comes.
We are obviously lucky that day. As we get close to the farm, the heavy morning rain disappears.
Crystal Brook Farm is a small family owned goat farm tucked away in Sterling, just an hour-drive west of where we live. With its rolling hills and green open fields, it’s hard to imagine a more picturesque area than this one. I love the authenticity of the place right away.
With her husband Eric, Ann runs the goat cheese business and farm. She tells me they’ve been doing it for fifteen years now. “I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania“, she adds with a warm smile as she pets her old black dog who pushes himself against her legs.
“He keeps the coyotes away but mainly loves to be petted!”
Ann looks like a real farmer at heart, someone loving what she does.
We spend a few hours looking at the goats and chatting with Ann who kindly explains how they make cheese. They produce different varieties, all of which are sold locally at farmer’s markets, in retail stores and restaurants, and at the farm stand on the property.
I decide to buy a classic plain log because I’m interested in tasting the cheese in its most natural way .
The texture is light and crumbly; the taste of goat milk is subtle–it’s simply superb.
“Ready to go apple picking now?” I ask everyone as we are about to leave.
“Oh oui ! Youpi !” we hear Lulu, Lila, and Maissa joyfully exclaim in chorus.
We don’t say it but we feel just as they do.
It’s clearly one of those lazy Sundays à la campagne when nothing is about what time it is.
Very easy to get used to.
Lunch the next day is truly inspired by our Sunday outing.
With the goat cheese and apples we’ve picked–along with vegetables bought at the market, I make a soup and tartines. And after I pick up Lulu from school, she asks that we prepare our traditional weekly petits pots de crème au chocolat (Chocolate custards) together.
My little one has her priorities right.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 pounds 14 ounces (1 1/3 kg) red kuri squash
- 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced (like Cortland)
- 7 cups cold water (or light vegetable stock, homemade preferably)
- Fresh stems of coriander
- 3 large twigs of tarragon (makes about 3 tablespoons of leaves)
- 1 twig of thyme
- Sea salt and pepper
- Soft Fresh Goat cheese, to taste
- Sprouts, to serve
- In a large thick-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add the leek, shallot, and ground coriander. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the squash and apple. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the water and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
- Transfer the vegetables and broth to the bowl of a blender and purée finely (discard the thyme)–do this in a few steps because of the quantity.
- Check the seasoning again. Serve with crumbled goat cheese, red peppercorns, and sprouts.
- 8 slices of country bread of your choice
- 2 small chioggia beets
- 1 red apple Apple, cored and finely sliced
- 8 radishes, finely sliced
- Fleur de Sel
- Lemon Juice
- Olive oil, to drizzle
- Spread the goat cheese on top of the bread.
- Arrange the beets, apple, and radish slices.
- Drizzle with lemon juice.
- Season with pepper.
- To finish, top with sprouts.
- Drizzle with olive oil and add Fleur de sel.