Good News for Cheese Addicts!

You are officially legit.

Cheese is scientifically proven to be like a drug! I’m not even kidding. Yes, some of us have a loving relationship with our cheese, but we have research to prove there is more to it!

Gouda

Researchers have known since the 1980’s that cheese contains small traces of morphine, the same drug given as a painkiller in hospitals. No, it is not put there by evil people hoping to get you hooked on cheese. It is found to be produced naturally by both human and animal mothers! These little bits of morphine help the baby (calves or humans) to form a bond with the mother, and in turn get all the nutrients they need to grow.

Feta

Scientists have also found cheese to contain concentrated levels of protein casein. When digested, the casein breaks down into casomorphins which produces opiate effects!

Cheese-Piles

Now, both these factors are very small and don’t really do much due to the morphine being neutralized by your body before it hits your blood stream. It’s the same reason poppy seeds don’t make you “happy”. Now when you refer to someone as a “Cheese Addict”, know you can back it up and start a fun conversation to boot!

The difference between Cheddar and Gouda

We get this question all the time in the shop and it can be hard to explain if you are unprepared for it. Both are delicious, both come in various flavors (in our shop anyway), and (if we really want to be thrown for a loop) these cheeses are made from the same ingredients.

Gouda-Curd
At this point in the process, both Gouda and Cheddar look pretty much the same, though the curd is a different texture.

The differences begin with the amount of those ingredients and lead into the process in which these cheeses are made. The process begins the same, but soon veers in different directions.

Gouda (a much softer curd) is corralled, stuffed into forms by hand, and then sits under a press for a few hours. Cheddar presses the whey out of itself by being stacked, turned, and stacked again. This is known as the “cheddaring process”. The Cheddar is then cut into small pieces known as Squeakers!

Cutting-Curd
Cheddar slabs being cut into Squeakers!

Squeaky-Cheese

After the curd is pressed into wheels, the Gouda is aged for a minimum of 6 weeks to give it flavor and a smooth texture.

Gouda-Wheel
A form being filled with soft Gouda curds (this is our Jalapeno flavor) before being pressed into a wheel like the ones pictured below.

Gouda-Wheel-Finsihed

As finished products, these two cheeses have similar textures but differ a bit in flavor. Gouda is know for being creamy, full-flavored, nutty, and almost sweet. Cheddar is more mellow in character, but maintains a rich and creamy flavor. OR, if all of this is completely boggling your mind, swing on by the shop and we will cut you fresh samples so you can taste for yourself!

Cheddar-Slices

 

Shades of Cheddar

Did you know Appel Farms began making white cheddar before it was cool? That’s right, before white cheddar became the new hit of the cheese case, we had it. Back in the old days yellow cheese was considered to have more butter fat, therefore it was more valuable. When cheese makers discovered they could gain a profit by having yellow cheese, they began to add dyes to give it that sought after shade. The color was a good marketing scheme, but that was all.

cheddarbuffet

 

Early on when we began making cheddar, we added the color to give it the traditional yellow/orange shade everyone is used to. About a year into cheddar making however, Uncle John asked “Why?”. Even though the annatto (derived from the seed of the  achiote tree) is completely natural and didn’t take away from the integrity of the flavor, it didn’t improve it either. So, like the cheese making rebels we are, out it went!

cheddar-snack

 

 

Currently the marketing trend has reversed, and white cheddar is the “in” thing. Just remember next time you’re looking over the cheese case trying to decide between cheddar shades. The only difference is a single ingredient, and that ingredient has no effect on the flavor of the cheese! Cheese is always good!

cheddarslider

 

 

How snow affects our cheese room.

There are benefits to living only a 30 second walk away from work. You get to go home for lunch break, no gas money is spent, and if you sleep through your alarm your boss will come bang on your door to get you out of bed!

eugenio

There are also benefits to the workplace, such as always having someone on hand in case an employee can’t get into work. Such is the case when we wake to find the wind howling and the snow floating down to create barricades across the roads in our fair county. My Alaskan friends will laugh at the small amount of snow it takes to shut people into their homes, but for the most part we prefer people stay warm and safe than try drift busting in order to get to work.

cheeseroominsnow
This is a snow drift in front of our plant. we didn’t have power in the lunch room so we ran an extension cord from the plant (which was powered by a generator) to keep things from freezing!

It’s always an adventure trying to get the day’s work finished in this type of situation. Tasks that don’t have to be done immediately are put off for another day, but cheese often takes multiple days to make. We can’t just stop in the middle of it! The way our buildings are laid out at the moment means we push carts of packaged product into a walk in cooler a short ways away. Completely fine 99% of the time, but when the weather decides to get sassy on us, we have to really salt the ramp down and take a run at it! Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to make it up and we would have to try again! Did I mention it’s freezing outside?

Sometimes (if they live close enough) Uncle John takes the tractor down the deserted roads, digs the driveways out, and brings the employees to work. However, if we can avoid that and work without them we do.

snowplough

It’s an all hands on deck moment in the cheese room, and since most of the family lives within walking distance it’s a family affair. Luckily most of the family has worked in the cheese room at one point or another, so we are able to make quick work of the tasks at hand. Even though it’s freezing outside and there are obstacles to overcome, it’s honestly really fun to pull the whole family into the same task! Always an adventure when the Appel family is around 😉

On a related note, if you are wondering if we are open, please check our Facebook and website! We make sure to post something in case we can’t get anyone here and have to close for the day due to safety reasons.

The most blessed people on Earth!

While reading through Beppe’s book in preparation for this month of Christmas stories, certain little bits stood out to me. Small pieces of beautiful wisdom learned from a life full of joy and faith. In one of these little nuggets of wisdom she talks about how we all learn differently, but if we follow the Lord we will be the “most blessed people on earth”.

“Of course, learning goes on. How much we learn depends on how teachable we are. Do we learn from our life experiences, sometimes called the “school of hard knocks”? Do we learn from the teachings laid out for us in the scripture and accept it? If so, then we are the most blessed people here on earth and an eternal life will be our destiny. Because of the love in my heart which flows out to my family from the oldest to the youngest, it now flows too for the ones yet to come. My daily prayer for all is to be safe in the arms of Jesus, now and always.”

-Audrey Appel

All these Christmas stories remind me of our family’s roots and history. Yes we are blonde, Dutch farmers who make cheese and love every second of it. But first and foremost we are children of the Lord. The other things are fun, meaningful, and make for great blogs, but without our Savior we would have none of it. The very essence of our family, every good thing that ever comes from our work, the real reason we believe in taking care of our land/animals and why we must produce top quality products. It can all be boiled down to one Christ child. He who left His heavenly throne to become one of us so the ultimate price could be paid for our deadly sins. That’s what Christmas is all about!

Snow Verse

 

Christmas at the Appel’s

Christmas at the Appel household is always a special time. Laughter and hugs abound as we try to fit five families into one living room, but before we bow our heads to pray (and then eat!) we have a tradition. We read from a passage in the Bible, and listen to a few stories about the incredible workings of the Lord in our family. This quote is from the book Beppe put together, a precious thought to remember during this season.

“Who can describe the love, joy, and feeling of fulfillment that comes with a first born? Our Lord came in to the world that way. Such a humble beginning on earth for the Prince of Peace. It is a great mystery, and it changed the world. How can we ever be thankful enough for His unchanging love and mercy for us, His children?”

-Audrey Appel

Then, after our devotions, we sing!

 

Not going to lie, we have a pretty solid chorus of clear, strong voices complete with various harmonies. However, what stands out even more is the passion behind these voices. Voices reflecting lives broken, but pulled together again by the grace of God. Whole families who have had their trials, but are together for this day, because we are celebrating the birth of our Savior, and no squabble tops that. Hearts open in praise, because they can’t, and won’t, be held back.

I know Pake is singing his heart out in heaven, joining his rich baritone voice with his brothers and sisters in continuous praise to our Lord. But I also like to think maybe he takes a little break to peer into our living room full of family, and listen. The lessons he taught along with Beppe, continue to be taught by their sons and daughters, and someday will hopefully be taught by their grandchildren. A legacy of unchanging love and mercy never to be forgotten, and a Lord who deserves our highest praise.

Chris, Tyler, Shelby

Merry Christmas everyone! May you find your song, whatever it may be, and sing your heart out this Christmas season. Thank you for reading along 🙂

 

Stories from Beppe: Christmas Treats

Christmas time brings about some of the most delicious treats, reserved specifically for the holidays. The fall kicks off with Pumpkin flavored everything while the holiday season ushers in a festive selection of eggnog, candy canes, and star shaped cookies. We joyfully plunge into decor and gifting with anticipation of the big day, while trying to keep our calm weaving through the madness that is the mall.

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These classic sugar cookies are sold in our baked goods case! Can you guess our secret ingredient?

Let me, or rather Beppe, take you back to a simpler time. At the young age of 7, Beppe’s first Christmas away from home was spent with some local relatives. She has fond memories of her first Christmas tree and the treats that made the day special.

During Christmas vacation, I went to stay with some relatives about 8 miles away from where we lived. My uncle and aunt had one son and one daughter, both much older than I. Never in all the times I spent with them through the years did I ever feel unwelcome. It was in their home I saw a Christmas tree for the first time. The little tree was just a small artificial one, but oh, the wonder of it! I helped my cousin decorate it with glittering balls, real candles, and a little angel on the top!

In the Netherlands, we celebrated First Christmas Day and Second Christmas Day. First Christmas Day, (the 25th of December) was like any other Sunday except the pastor preached from the book of Luke or on the prophesies of Jesus’ birth. On Second Christmas Day, (the 26th) we attended church again, but this time the choir sang. Then in the afternoon service, the Sunday school children recited some Bible verses and we each got a cup of hot chocolate. We as Sunday school children also received a book and an orange. I too, got an orange. When we arrived home, my aunt cut a little hole in the top of the orange into which she put a little sugar. I could spoon the delicious juice into my mouth, what a treat!

Do you have a favorite treat? Some little thing to transport you back to a simpler time? For Beppe, it is a little orange with a spoon full of sugar. For me, it’s a pretty tin can filled with flavored (and somewhat stale) popcorn. This was the traditional Christmas tree decorating snack in our farmhouse. Even in my new home, I can’t help but grab a tin while holiday shopping! I hope you find that simple pleasure this Christmas season, and I hope even more you find the time to enjoy it!

Marshmallows

 

 

Stories from Beppe: The first Nor’Easter

Around our county, we periodically have these snowstorms which are combined with a bitter wind strong enough to blow a child over. This wind is infamously known as a “Nor’easter”, named for the direction it comes from. Now obviously this is not the story of the first North East wind of all time. Rather, it is the story of the first legendary storm my grandparents, Jack and Audrey Appel, experienced on our farm! As told by the matriarch of our family, our Beppe!

Ice Sliding Long 94-95
This time of year always “encouraged” the grownups to find creative ways to entertain us!

“We had moved to Whatcom County in the year 1967. Once in a while we would hear people mention the northeaster, but we had no clue really what they were talking about. Our first winter was a mild one, but the next winter (of ’68) made a lasting impression.

One week after the Christmas vacation, the wind started to blow and didn’t stop for two weeks. Jack worked long, long days to keep the farm and dairy cows going in such freezing conditions. Our driveway was so full of snow it was impossible for even the snow plow to get through. The milk truck could drive across the neighbor’s field, so we were grateful the milk would not have to be dumped. The hired help couldn’t come because the snow had drifted across the roads, making them impassable. A neighbor from across the road showed up to help out, were we ever grateful to him!

We were ill prepared and everything froze. The generator didn’t work right away, and by the time it did it was too late. The worst of it was the cows couldn’t drink. After the milking Jack would herd them to the creek where a small stream still trickled. A few of the cows, to our great horror, walked up to the iced over pond instead. The ice cracked as the cows skittered around, but  it held.

Our children were cooped up the house, and there were two children living next door with their mother, so of course they had to come over to play! Because it was too cold upstairs, we brought the mattresses down on which they could sleep. The boys built forts with them during the day and had a great time.

A few times the boys and girls (7 total, all under the age of 10) got into each other’s hair, even though I had separated them in different parts of the house. One of the doors had a mirror on it and the kids slammed the door so hard it shattered into a thousand pieces. That’s when I broke down. However, the struggles were soon forgotten when the wind stopped after two weeks of howling in our snowed filled world. After the children went back to school, all the broken water pipes were fixed and our life returned to normal.

In the meantime, Jack had lost ten pounds and now we too could talk about the northeaster from experience.”

-Audrey Appel

Stories from Beppe: The Little Smeerlap

With Thanksgiving come and gone, it is now officially Christmas season! The brisk weather ushers in a time where we may blast carols without being chided, wear obnoxiously bright green and red everything, and throw glitter around like no one’s business. The hustle and bustle of this time of year may be the source of a little stress for some, but deep down we love preparing for and spending this special day celebrating our Lord’s birth with our family and friends. For the month of December, I will be sharing stories close to our family’s heart, stories told to us by our Beppe. These have been the cause of much laughter at our family gatherings but also a source of wisdom, lessons to be learned, and fond memories. Please, grab a cup of coffee, some delicious, flaky banket, and come into our home! You may feel a little cozy squeezed between Aunt Elaine’s laughter, Uncle Gerald’s soft spoken stories, and who knows how many grand kids at your feet. We welcome you!

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We sell these as a fundraiser for a local school!

 

Growing up, we would often spend time with our Pake and Beppe while dad was working and mom ran errands. There have been tales of the grand children being stuck there because a “Nor’easter” blew in and stranded us there for the night. Eventually someone would plow a tractor down the road to pick us up, but we were always more than happy to stay with them until then! Here is a story told by Beppe of one winter when she and Pake took seven grandchildren for a whole week. The Richard in this story is my younger brother, whom has always been a little rascal… still is sometimes!
Katherine

“I often had them sit around the table, playing with play dough. One time, little Richard (this would be Richard Jr., my younger brother) who was four years old, got tired of it and started to throw play dough balls. Pake felt he had to put a stop to that immediately. He said “Quit that, you little smeerlap.” Richard responded promptly, “you’re a little smeerlap yourself.” Smeerlap, translated freely, means “dirty rascal”. It was so funny and Pake loved it, but I told him “Don’t tell Rich and Ann tonight!” When they got tired of the play dough I would send them down to the basement to play. One time, when they went down I heard excited screaming. The basement was flooded! They had already taken their socks off and were ready to wade in the water! So, upstairs again we go!”

Audrey Appel

I can’t imagine trying to entertain all of us, but I do remember playing with play dough quite often! I specifically remember making birds, complete with a nest and little eggs! We also made snakes, but I don’t like those as well 😉

richard
Look at his little angel face!

10 blessings we are thankful for!

The last year has had no lack of trials and tribulations, but we would be ungrateful if we didn’t shout from the rooftop our thankfulness for the abundance of blessings in our lives! So without further ado, 10 blessings we are thankful for!

  1. Cheese! How can you not be thankful for cheese?? Come on now. gouda-048
  2. Our new store. This is our second thanksgiving in our new store, and while it has been a process (to say the least) we are nailing things down and coming into our own!Cheese SHop
  3. Coffee! With the early wake up calls, I personally am very thankful for the ability to create whatever type of caffeinated brew I feel like every morning. It’s the little things that make me happy. Thankful Coffee
  4. Our wonderful customers. To the morning coffee guys, the squeaky cheese regulars, and our farm loving families, you’re simply the best. You make our days fly by with your smiles and stories, and we thank you.  Daddy Daughter date - Copy
  5. You! Thank you for taking the time to read our stories! It is a great encouragement when we see your comments about how you enjoy them!
  6. Our employees. I’m a little biased because I know our crew pretty well, but we really do have a fantastic group! Thank you for putting up with your manager’s craziness (ahem, Ruth), I don’t know how you do it sometimes!

    Crew Selfie
    This isn’t everyone, but honestly taking a four person selfie is already pushing my skills to the limit!
  7. The farming community. In a time where farming is under appreciated, you all just keep on trucking. Thank you for your support of our family, your day to day work putting food on this nation’s table, and your never ending stewardship of the land.  Rain 8.31.15-169
  8. Our family. Working so closely with your entire family is a tall order. By God’s grace we are still intact and the business continues to flourish in spite of our flaws…and yes, we still love each other!
  9. Our roots. Every family and their history plays an important part in shaping those people. We are especially grateful for the legacy of faith, grace, and redemption the heads of our family exemplify every day of their lives.
    youngboys
    The three Appel Boys! Gerald is the oldest on the left, then John and Rich to the right.

    appelfamily
    Appel Family Photo!
  10. Our Creator. Because without Him none of the aforementioned blessings would have existed. To Him belongs all the glory.

    Verse
    When the original plant was built, this sign was made to grace the south wall. It’s there to this day!