Cave to Co-op: Crawford Cheese

raw milk
natural rind
Twig Farm, West Cornell, VT

Twig Farm is owned by Michael Lee and Emily Sunderman and has been in business since 2005. The twenty-acre farm is located in West Cornwall, Vermont, about 10 miles south of Middlebury. Michael manages the herd of around 50 goats and makes and ages the cheese. Emily manages the business and marketing for Twig Farm and works as an analyst for a publishing company and teaches Suzuki Violin.

Michael makes all Twig Farm cheese by hand using traditional techniques and equipment for small-scale artisan cheese production. The cheeses age in a cellar with a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Prior to making Twig Farm cheese, Michael worked as an apprentice at Peaked Mountain Farm in Townsend, Vermont, and before that was a cheese manager at South End Formaggio in Boston, Massachusetts.

Crawford is a natural rind semi-soft cheese aged for about 75 days, usually weighing about 2 pounds, made from raw cow’s milk from Scapeland Farm in Whiting. It has a squarish round irregular shape, is roughly 7″ in diameter, 3″ tall. Crawford has a rich, sweet, milky flavor, with a hint of tanginess along with grassy and earthy tones.

This reflects the primarily grass diet the Brown Swiss and Holstein cows are fed on. It has a firm crust and dense yet pliable paste.


Polenta w/Crawford, Chard and Mushrooms

Serves 6

  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 T salt
  • 1½ cups of polenta
  • 2 bunches chard, stems removed
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 lb. assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 oz. Crawford cheese, crumbled
  • freshly ground pepper and salt

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water and 1 ½ tsp. of the salt to a boil. Add the polenta in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chard leaves, folding them to fit, and the rosemary sprig. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chard ribs are easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain well, then chop coarsely and squeeze dry. Set aside. In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Reserve the juices in the pan. When the polenta is ready, stir in the remaining 3 Tbs. butter, ¾ cup of the cheese, and 1 tsp. each of the salt and pepper. Cook until the butter and cheese have melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Set the fry pan with the reserved juices over medium-high heat. Warm the juices, then add the chard and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until hot and well coated with the juices. Season with the remaining ½ tsp. salt and ½  tsp. pepper.

Spoon the polenta into a large serving bowl, top with the chard and mushrooms, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup cheese. Serve immediately.


Pasta w/Spinach and Crawford Cheese

Serves 4-6

  • 2 T unsalted  butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 8 oz. crème fraîche
  • 1 T whole grain mustard
  • 6 oz. Crawford cheese, diced
  • 8 oz. baby spinach, washed
  • 8 oil packed sundried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Melt the butter with the oil in a large sauté pan, add the leeks and a splash of water. Cover and cook lover a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Cook the penne according to the package instructions.

While the pasts is cooking, add the sun dried tomatoes, if using, then the crème fraîche and mustard to the leeks. Add ¾ of the cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Stir gently until the cheese is melted. Take off the heat. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the water. Add the pasta to the sauce, and then add the spinach and stir. Add enough of the pasta water to allow the sauce to coat the pasta. Add the remaining cheese and serve.


Lamb w/Olives, Tomato and Crawford

Serves 4

  • 4 lamb steaks, pounded slightly to be flatter
  • 2 t oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 6 oz. white wine
  • 14 oz. peeled tomatoes (canned are fine)
  • 3 oz. pitted black olives
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • bunch of fresh parsley
  • 4 oz. Crawford cheese, crumbled

Mix the oregano, garlic, lemon zest and oil. Rub into the lamb steaks let them marinate for at least 20 minutes. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and brown the steaks for 2 minutes on each side, then add the white wine. Simmer for a few minutes until reduced nu half. Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking them slightly with the back of a spoon. Add the olives and the tomato paste and cook for 10-15 minutes until the lamb is cooked. Remove the lamb, set aside on a serving plate and keep warm. Bubble to reduce the sauce until slightly thickened.

Tip the sauce over the lamb, sprinkle with the parsley and the cheese. Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provision International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers.  The NFCA is a network of more than 20 food co-ops in our region — including yours — that are working together to advance their vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise.  For more information, please visit