From Cheese Curds to Cheesecake, Hats off to Hansen Dairy in Hudson

In support of June Dairy Month, today’s blog post will feature an Iowa family whose entrepreneurial spirit allows seven families to be supported by a 150 milk cows.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of touring Hansen’s Dairy Farm near Hudson, Iowa, as part of the Ag-Urban Leadership Initiative. I’ve shared some photos below, so you can take your own “virtual tour” of their operation.  (Note the calf with a perfect heart-shape on her forehead… How could you help but love her?  There’s also a photo of Hansen’s milk truck and even a wallaby!) The Hansen logo (at right) is of a wallaby with a Holstein calf in her pouch. The Hansen’s have several New Zealand wallabies that help attract people to the farm.

The Ag-Urban Leadership Initiative, sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association, fosters collaboration between ag and urban leaders to provide sustainable solutions for the state and her communities.  A large part of the program involves educational tours and discussions with Iowa business owners such as Jay and Jeanne Hansen.

The Hansen farm has been in the family since Jay’s ancestors emigrated from Germany in 1861, and J&J’s dairy herd originated in 1953.  When all four of their sons desired to return to home and farm, the family needed to find a way to produce more revenue without a large expansion.  After extensive research, they decided to process their own milk.  A creamery was constructed in November 2002, and in February 2004, their first gallon of non-homogenized whole milk was produced.

Today the Hansens run a farm-fresh milk route and have expanded their product offering to include:  whole milk, 1% milk, Skim milk, Chocolate 1% milk, butter, heavy cream, cheese curds, hard ice cream, soft-serve ice cream, ice cream pies, ice cream cakes, egg nog (seasonal) and ground beef.

Hansen’s Dairy Outlet in Cedar Falls sells butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, European-style yogurt, cheese baskets plus Holstein beef, cheese curds and soft serve ice cream.  The family also operates Moo Roo retail store in Waterloo. The name combines their cows with their logo.  (Wallabies, or miniature kangaroos, came to live on their farm after son Blake Hansen traveled to New Zealand.)

“Farm Fresh Dairy” has become a point of differentiation for the Hansen family. Their mission is “to deliver the best quality farm-fresh dairy products from our family to yours.”

Those of us who operate family-owned businesses can certainly appreciate the time, energy and passion that goes into producing products that we’re proud put our name on.  In honor of the Hansens – and all of the Midwest’s hardworking dairy families – I’m posting one of my favorite cheesecake recipes today.

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Mini Cherry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. vanilla wafer crumbs (or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 egg

Topping:

  • 1 pound pitted, canned or frozen tart red cherries
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • Red food coloring (optional)NOTE:  I’ve simplified the topping by merely replacing it with canned cherry pie filling.

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine crumbs and butter.
  2. Press gently into the bottom of 12 paper-lined muffin cups.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, sugar and egg; beat until smooth. Spoon into crusts.
  4. Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes until set.  Cool completely.
  5. Drain cherries, reserving ½ cup juice in a saucepan; discard remaining juice.
  6. To guide, add cherries, sugar and cornstarch and food coloring.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; boil for 1 minute.
  7. Cool; spoon over cheesecake.
  8. Chill for at least 2 hours.

NOTE:  I’ve used the mini muffin tins and adjusted the baking time to 6-9 minutes.


Yield:  12 servings.
Picture from AllRecipes.com