Rachel and I are trying to eat healthier in the New Year (we'll see how long that lasts). It's so easy to go into hibernation mode and just eat, eat, eat and put on layers of fat like a bear in a winter's den. But this winter I am trying to resist that by running more and eating better. As part of our attempt at healthier menus, Rachel fixed a delicious kale and apple salad last night. This is a photo of our salad. We used Salemville's Applewood Smoked Blue Cheese and it really adds a nice punch to the salad. I'm trying to stick with recipes for this website that have a strong Amish connection and at first glance this supper didn't seem to fit the bill. Kale is not something widely found in Amish gardens. But then I saw that one of the ingredients was blue cheese. Yum. Whenever a recipe calls for blue cheese crumbles, we use Salemville brand (LOL, that sounded like a commercial but, no, we have no relationship with them at all, although in the interest of full disclosure, I think I will reach out to them to see if there is a way we can partner since I like their product so much). There are many food products that dress themselves up by incorporating the word "Amish" into their name even if their connection to the culture is tenuous. But Salemville Amish Blue Cheese? I've actually BEEN to the cheese factory, located in rural Wisconsin. So hard to believe that such a modest, non-descript cheese factory can churn out this outstanding cheese that finds its way into Kroger and numerous other grocery stores across the country. I think whenever you can go to a place and actually see the product being made it gives you a deeper connection and that is what happened for Rachel and I when we went to the Salemville plant.
Here is an excerpt from our book Amish Cooks Across America about my visit to Salemville:
Nowhere have the Amish found their dairy niche more than around the community of Cambria, where the Salemville Cheese Factory makes deliciously crafted cheese. The Salemville Cheese Co-op is the only entirely Old Order Amish–run cheese factory in the United States. The first hint that this place was different was the employee parking lot, which didn’t have any cars, just horse-drawn buggies. Adding to the factory’s “plain” presence was the small on-site retail store, which sells a variety of cheeses and was staffed solely by Amish workers.
Salemville’s cheese niche is narrow: The company makes only blue cheese and one variant, Gorgonzola cheese. It seems like there isn’t much middle ground when it comes to blue cheese: you either love it or you hate it. Many Amish in central Wisconsin have learned to love it. More than 60 Amish dairy farmers participate in the unique co-op that supplies the milk to the Salemville Cheese Company. Amish participating in the co-op hand-milk their cows twice a day and deliver the milk to the Salemville Cheese Company in 10-gallon containers.
It's a fascinating facility. I'll talk more about my visit there in an upcoming post!