I was in the mood to bake bread this week, so I decided to attempt an improved, locavore grilled cheese sandwich. The Appel Farms Cheese Shoppe immediately came to mind. I remembered their Sweet Red Pepper Gouda, a perfect central flavor. If I sliced the cheese onto homemade bread, added a generous amount of fresh basil leaves, put it onto the grill to melt into gooey perfection…well, my goal was clear. I headed out the door, turning toward Ferndale on Northwest Road, on a quest for the ingredients.
At the Cheese Shoppe, I paused to enjoy the peaceful farm ambiance and the colorful flowers outside, then made a quick tour of the tasting bins to make sure the Red Pepper flavor was the one I wanted. (It was). I also found some fresh “squeaky cheese” on special. Squeaky cheese is fresh cheddar curds before they are shaped. When you chew them, their slightly rubbery texture sometimes squeaks against your teeth. Try the Garlic Dill flavor–delicious!
Cheese in hand, I headed south toward home, and next saw the Small’s Gardens sign. I turned in and saw a greenhouse, so knew they would have some early vegetables.
Vivian greeted me warmly when I stepped inside their store building. Tables to the left had potatoes, cabbage, and a few other items. Tables straight ahead had broccoli, kohlrabi, and some beautiful lettuces and other greens. What struck me was how vibrant the vegetables on the back tables looked, compared to those on the left. I was pretty sure the back tables were the fresh cut items and the others must be from somewhere else, on hand for customers’ convenience. Vivian confirmed it, and we went on to talk about how the farm season was shaping up this year. She said a lot of the heat-loving vegetables were growing slower than usual this year (green beans, for example). Peas were expected to ripen soon. I bought some of beautiful, dark green broccoli, cut shortly before I arrived, and also got some crispy kohlrabi to slice and eat raw with dip. Vivian invited me to come back later this summer to see their potato harvesting equipment, which originally belonged to her husband’s great grandfather. I told her I’d take her up on that offer!
Next stop a little farther south was Boxx Berry Farm. I immediately noticed the flats and quart baskets of their luscious strawberries, some of the first of the season! I decided these would make a scrumptious dessert for my meal.
I purchased some Boxx pickles for a nice contrast with my grilled cheese. The Boxx store carries many other products, including their berry jams, syrups, and jellies. A flyer by the checkout lists dates when their berries and vegetables will likely be ripe.
Boxx has a Strawberry Festival going on this weekend with free hot dogs and strawberry sundaes, magic shows, and more! It’s also raising funds for a 6-year-old Ferndale girl who needs a kidney transplant. Check out the schedule on their web site or just go on out to the farm for some fun.
I headed for home, delighted with my enjoyable morning adventure, and with ingredients in hand for a delicious meal (and more)!
Note: Many farm stores don’t accept credit cards, so be sure to take cash with you.
Here’s the menu:
- Grilled Cheese With Basil Sandwich
- Steamed Broccoli (from Small’s Gardens, Ferndale)
- Fresh Strawberries