By DAWN BLISS
JEWELL - Kevin and Ranae Dietzel already appreciated a good cheese before they started their own Lost Lake Farm brand last year. Now, though, they have developed a true eye for detail when it comes to the artisan cheeses they produce in the new cheesery on their dairy farm in Hamilton County.
Ranae Dietzel pauses in the doorway of their cheesery on their farm new Jewell with packages of cheese made by her husband, Kevin Dietzel.
"I try to take really good notes of everything," said cheesemaker Kevin Dietzel. "So, if something goes wrong I can fix it and if something goes surprisingly right I can replicate it."
He makes all the cheese by hand, a labor intensive process that generally takes 22 hours per batch.
Ingrid's Pride, the farm's first custom cheese, is named after one of the couple's first milk cows. It's an Italian-style cheese similar to a Provolone. It is a formaggi a pasta filata, a family of cheese in which the curds are stretched under hot water and folded over on themselves to create a ball rather than being joined together in a cheese press. The ball is then placed in a brine bath before being hung and allowed to age. Ingrid's Pride is aged for at least four weeks.
"It is great in a grilled cheese sandwich," said Ranae Dietzel.
And the fresh mozzarella, also hand-stretched and made on the farm, has prompted them to do more made-from-scratch pizzas for the family, she said. A naturally mild cheese, the mozzarella stretches for miles when melted on pizzas and sandwiches.
Cheese curds are another favorite at the farm, Ranae Dietzel said. They offer plain curds as well as dill and garlic flavored, Italian flavored, chipotle seasoned and French seasoned.
Cheese curds can be eaten in a variety of ways, she said. People can simply snack on them straight out of the bag, or using a toaster oven or broiler setting in a conventional oven, melt them on bread. People can also add some spinach, tomato or meat between the curds and the bread before melting.
Another quick dish is macaroni and curds, made simply by throwing some curds in right after draining the noodles then letting the curds soften up. Curds add quick protein to any salad, as well as being easily added to casseroles where they won't liquefy like shredded cheese or turn rubbery like chunks of cheese.
The family's favorite dish though is the Lost Lake Cheeseburger, Ranae Dietzel said. It's made of grass-fed beef combined with chopped bacon. A chunk of mozzarella cheese goes in the middle of each patty then it's topped with a slice of Ingrid's Pride.
"It's a little extreme," she said, "but, oh, so good."
Lost Lake cheese can be found at Anderson's Meat and Grocery in Jewell, as well as Hy-Vee in Webster City. It is also sold at Hy-Vee and Wheatsfield Cooperative in Ames. The" That Iowa Girl" store in Clarion recently added Lost Lake Cheese to its offerings, as well.
Cheese curds from the farm can be asked for at the counter at All Good in Radcliffe and curds can also be found at Alluvial Brewing Company in Ames. Further, the Kaffe Geita in Story City offers a panini on its menu that features the farm's cheese curds.
The Dietzel's cheese is also available through Farm to Folk, a program in Ames where people can order farmers' products online then pick up their orders once a week. Additionally, Remnant Hills Farm also offers Lost Lake cheese along with pasture-raised meat and eggs in a buying club in Ames and Beaverdale. In Des Moines, the cheese is available through the Iowa Food Cooperative.
Lost Lake Cheeseburger
1 lb grass-fed beef
1 lb whey-fed bacon (diced)
2 Remnant Hills Farm eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 mozzarella ball cut in 6-8 chunks
Ingrid's Pride cheese, sliced
Mix beef, bacon, eggs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Form into 6-8 patties with mozzarella in the middle. Cook on skillet over medium heat until done. Add Ingrid's Pride on top after flipping the burger the first time. Some of the mozzarella will ooze out and crisp around the bottom of the burger.