Monthly Archives: February 2021

Fighting Hunger with a Celebration of Grilled Cheese

During the month of February, grilled cheese lovers have rejoiced with the return of The Melt Down in Yamhill County. This month-long event features 30 unique, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from 30 different restaurants and food carts. Best of all, $2 from every sandwich supports a regional network of 17 emergency food pantries, known as YCAP.

You can look through the menu of delectable options, or enjoy this handpicked selection: 

  • Grilled Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich – Made with house made mac and cheese with tomato soup mixed in
  • Double Dog Dare Ya – Layers of pepper jack, pickled jalapeños, cranberry, bacon and cream cheese
  • PB & JK – With smoked pork belly, burrata and fig jam
  • It’s Chive O’Clock Somewhere – Cotswold and swiss, topped with jalapeño jam, caramelized leek, shallot spread and chive-infused butter… bacon optional!
  • Sour Cheddar Chow – Scrambled eggs with ham, cheddar cheese, and spinach in a homemade sourdough waffle 
  • Slayer Melt – A melted selection of cheeses, stout braised onions, peppadew peppers, with sweet and tangy smoked beef brisket

If you want to try these delicious variations on the classic grilled cheese- don’t delay! While some of the sandwiches remain available after February 28, most are limited-time creations available solely during The Melt Down this month.

In support of YCAP, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council is among the sponsors of this growing, dairy-positive, annual community event supporting a good cause. It’s a natural partnership since most of the sandwiches use Oregon-made cheeses and butter. In past years, Oregon dairy producers, processors, and Dairy Princess Ambassadors have been featured as part of the event. 

This year, Yamhill County Dairy Princess Ambassador Libby, created her own DIY grilled cheese to help support The Melt Down:

Accolades and appreciation for the event keep pouring in. “I can’t even believe how incredibly successful The Melt Down was this year … thank you so much for all of the incredible support you guys provide,” said Diane Longaker, organizer of The Melt Down in 2020.

Loredana Wilkerson posted, “Finally got to eat the #tmd2021 offering at Conservatory Bar tonight… so very glad indeed. “It’s Chive O’Clock Somewhere” is indeed special. Everything about it was well-balanced IMHO. Everything.”

Ted Tracey also had glowing praise for the event, “Went to 3 places on Saturday for #TMD2021! The first was from #GrainStation and it is now at the top of my list for grilled cheeses this year! The cheeses were fantastic and the caramelized onions were a deliciously sweet addition alongside the au jous!”

In February 2020, participating restaurants sold 13,532 grilled cheese sandwiches, more than double from the year before, making it a win-win for local restaurants in the community. Each year, the event generates increased business, and the food pantries receive much-needed financial support to meet ever-growing demand in their communities. You can even add a third win, since the participants in this event get to enjoy gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Bon appetit!

Related Links:

The Melt Down website

The Melt Down Facebook page

Yamhill Community Action Partnership

When the Power Goes Out

With power outages happening throughout Northwest Oregon, people may be tempted to store their dairy products outside to keep them cold and fresh. Please don’t! When perishable dairy items (like milk, yogurt and ice cream) are left outside, they can become unsafe to eat.

Please follow these tips to store and enjoy your dairy products safely:

If in doubt, throw it out. If a dairy product has been unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours, it can become contaminated by harmful bacteria. Be safe and throw it out.

Do not store your food outside, even if it’s freezing. The USDA says that outside temperatures are inconsistent, causing chilled food to enter the “danger zone” of warmer than 40°F, allowing harmful bacteria to grow.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).

Eat shelf-stable pantry goods. Shelf-stable milk comes in special containers and does not need to be refrigerated before consumption. You can also use powdered milk as an alternative. Please use safe, potable water when mixing and drinking.

Once power returns, check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer. With the exception of some hard cheeses, when a dairy product has been left in the unit above 40°F for two hours or more, toss it. Also, keep in mind that it will take several hours for your refrigerator or freezer to create a safe temperature for storing food. To keep the cooling process active, fill it with cool, not warm or hot, food.

Here are more resources on keeping your dairy foods safe:

Oregon Department of Agriculture / Temperature Requirements for Foods

FoodSafety.gov / Winter Weather Food Safety

USDA / Refrigeration and Food Safety

Oregon State University Extension Service / Food Safety Resources

Working through the weather

When sleet or snow approaches, farmers make sure the herd has a clean and dry place to rest. Thanks to their thick skin, hair and natural insulation, cows actually prefer temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees. As long as they’re well fed and have dry bedding, cows don’t mind the cold and will stay warm and comfortable outside or in their barns. Calves are given extra straw bedding and calf jackets to keep them warm and cozy in their hutches.

Farmers also increase the amount of their feed along with the vitamins and minerals. This supplements the extra energy that cows are expending in keeping their body temperatures up. Farmers make sure that food is available 24/7 to make sure they are well-fed.

Wind chill has the same effect on cows that it does on people. Creating wind breaks with hay bales or earthen berms helps to protect their herds from harsh winds during the winter. Wooded areas also provide shelter from the wind. Farmers also monitor the temperature inside their barns and close the sides if needed.

In Oregon, where winters are usually mild, cows typically stay comfortable year-round. When a cold snap appears, farmers and animal care teams are ready to spring into action to take care of their herds.

In 2018, when temperatures hovered around zero and high winds created large drifts of snow, the animal care team at Threemile Canyon Farms worked hard, aided by the warmth of winter hats from ODNC, to take care of the 30,000+ milking cows on their farm.

Tillamook County dairy farmer, Derrick Josi, spoke about a number of ways that farmers prepare their cows for cold weather.

At Poland Dairy, the family worked around the clock when winter weather descended on their farm in 2018.  As snow fell thick on their farm, two calves were born. Dairy farmer Deanna Poland remarked on facing challenges during this time, “…it’s what we love and it’s our passion- in good times and bad times!”

Oregon farmers care about their animals, and they know that paying special attention to their cows, whether it’s snowy or sunny, helps them to create a healthy herd.

RELATED LINKS:

HEALTHY ANIMALS, HEALTHY MILK: THE COWS COME FIRST

ON THE FARM

IN THE LOOP ON SUSTAINABILITY: THREEMILE CANYON FARMS

Hack Your Pizza With These Quick Tips

On #NationalPizzaDay, take your pizza to the next level with these quick hacks that are sure to spice up your pie, no matter if it comes from a box or straight from your own oven!

Stay Cheesy

Sure, you can always add more cheese to take it to the next level, but you might be surprised how trying different types of cheese can improve an otherwise boring pizza. While some scientists claim that mozzarella and cheddar are the best mix, there’s also provolone, Gouda, Colby, Edam, Asiago, Gruyère, Emmental, bleu, ricotta, burrata – and, of course, Parmesan.  And don’t forget to try local cheeses from your local creamery!  Check out Oregon Cheese Guild to find a cheesemaker near you.

Vegging Out

You can feel good about kicking back and binge watching your favorite show when you add seriously delicious veggies to your pie. Beyond popular favorites like garlic, peppers, onions, olives and mushrooms- have you tried zucchini, corn, cauliflower, kale, quinoa, squash, broccoli or spinach? 

Pizza for Breakfast

There’s a reason that pizza is the breakfast of champions for college students.  Complement your pie with a tasty egg for added protein that will give you a boost at your next class or zoom meeting.

Take a Dip

They say that the secret’s in the sauce. Rev up your pie by drizzling ranch dressing, pesto, BBQ, buffalo or hummus on top.

Some even dip their pizza in milk!  We’re not making this up … it’s a thing.

Spice Is Nice

For those who like their pizza hot and spicy, you don’t have to settle for that packet of dried red peppers. There’s Tabasco, Sriracha, Cholula – and if that’s not enough, you can add peppers ranging from hot to “where’s-the-milk?!”

Crispy Crusts

Promote your small time pizza to the big leagues by cooking it on a pizza stone or in your air fryer – you’ll never go back!  Cooking tools like these give you an incredibly crisp crust while melting the cheese perfectly.  Brushing a thin layer of olive oil on a cast-iron skillet will also give you a crispy crust in no time.  Don’t forget to rub the crust with olive oil or melted butter before baking. You can also mix garlic powder, onion powder, crushed garlic, oregano, or some grated parmesan cheese into the dough to add a seasoned and flavorful boost to any pre-made pizza.

Rock and Roll Your Dough

Play with your food and switch up the shape of your pizza dough to make crescents, pinwheels, rolls, dippers and puffs.  

You can also ditch the dough completely and use French or artisanal bread. Or use wonton wrappers to create the perfect package for your cheese and toppings!

Just Desserts

Don’t forget about the sweet stuff!  Break away from  pineapple and make a dessert pizza with fruits like peaches, pears, apples, bananas and figs.  Drizzle chocolate or caramel sauce on top for a sweet treat.

Walk on the Wild Side

Want to try something really different? Try adding some new combos like peaches and prosciutto, blackberries and basil, even shrimp and lobster. There’s plenty of inspiration online … alongside pizzas with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, spaghetti and ramen noodles!

Win Round Two

Don’t let leftovers hold you back from pie-in-the-sky creativity. Put a pizza upside down on another pizza with cheese in the middle and – Voila! Pizza grilled cheese! Or go a stack higher for pizza lasagna. Roll a mozzarella stick inside slices or cut strips of ‘pizza fries.’ Kids like slices cooked on a stick like a Popsicle or heated in a waffle iron.

When reheating slices, the oven is your friend. Preheat to 375 degrees and put it on a hot baking tray, cookie sheet or foil for 10 minutes. When using the microwave – just place a cup of water next to the pizza when you cook it to keep the crust from getting rubbery.

Hopefully these pizza hacks will help you elevate your next pie from disappointing to delectable. If you’re still not impressed, try getting the ingredients to make your own pizza the next time you’re at the grocery store and try your hand at making something from scratch. Grazie!

RELATED LINKS:

NINE EASY WAYS TO HACK YOUR PIZZA

DOMINO’S AND DAIRY: A PARTNERSHIP POWERED BY PIZZA

6 WAYS CHEESE CAN HELP YOUR BODY

Healthy Animals, Healthy Milk: The Cows Come First

The following story was written by ODNC Dietetic Intern Katlyn Wolf.

Dairy farming is a 24/7 job where cow care comes first. A dairy farmer’s top priority is the well-being of their animals, and they know that healthy cows produce healthy milk. Just like you and me, dairy cows perform best when they’re comfortable, able to socialize, and adequately nourished. Taking a virtual tour of Rickreall Dairy with farmer Louie, I learned how cow care, cow comfort and cow nutrition translate into nutritious milk.

Creature Comforts

Cow barns are designed with comfort in mind.  Cows spend an average of 12-14 hours per day lying down, whether they are on pasture or in a barn.  Bedding in the barn must offer good support and be appropriate for the temperature. As herd animals, cows prefer to live with other cows. Believe it or not, socialization helps cows develop stronger muscles and contributes to improved immunity. This can increase milk production and quality. 

Temperature control is important for cow comfort and health. Unlike humans, cows do not have many active sweat glands. Cows reduce body temperature through their breath, which is a lot of work! Farmers keep their cows cool with fans and sprinkler or mister systems. When it’s cold, barns can be temporarily closed to hold heat, bedding is changed frequently to remain clean and dry, and cow jackets may be used – functional and fashionable!

Mealtime in the “Calf”eteria 

Diet is important because it can affect the quantity and quality of the milk produced. Cows always have access to nutritious feed. It’s usually a combination of grasses, grains, and other ingredients that provide them with the right balance of nutrients. Farmers work with cow nutritionists to make sure their cows have a balanced diet that is appropriate for their age. Louie’s nutritionist visits the farm every two weeks to make sure the cows’ diets are just right and the cows are healthy.

The Parlor

Cows are often milked in buildings commonly known as the “milking parlor.” Typically, the parlor is very calm, quiet, and efficient, because cow comfort is just as important here.  Cows are milked for a short time each day, between 5 and 10 minutes, two or three times a day.  Employees escort the cows into milking stalls, then clean, dry and disinfect the cow’s udder before attaching a mechanical milking machine. Milking machines are more sanitary, more comfortable for the animal, and allow for more accurate output recording. They automatically detach when milk flow slows and the udder is empty. While cows are away from the barn for milking their barns are cleaned, like room service!

Milk is ‘udderly’ full of benefits!

As a Graduate student studying nutrition and diet, I know healthy dietary patterns include a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-dense foods recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans because they provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components. I enjoy dairy for its flavor and healthfulness. After virtually touring Rickreall Dairy with farmer Louie and learning about how animals are cared for to produce healthy milk, I’ve found that milk is even more tasty! 

Katlyn Wolf is currently a Master’s student in the Dietetic Nutrition Program at Oregon State University. She recently worked as a Dietetic Intern for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council in 2021.

Additional Resources:

VIRTUAL TOURS BRING DAIRY FARMS TO THE CLASSROOM

FARMING WITH INNOVATION AND HEART EARNS NATIONAL AWARD FOR RICKREALL DAIRY

DAIRY ENLIGHTENING: EDUCATIONAL LEADERS TOUR CLOUD CAP FARMS

GET CONNECTED WITH DAIRY EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES ONLINE

FUNNY QUESTIONS, SERIOUS IMPACTS ON DAIRY TOURS

In the Loop on Sustainability: Threemile Canyon Farms

What’s the secret to winning the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award? For Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, Oregon, it’s putting sustainability and its animals first.

The Closed Loop System: Recycling dairy waste to create energy

“We’re major recyclers,” said former General Manager Marty Myers, explaining how their dairy fits into operations at the farm. “Whatever we create, we utilize.”

Manure provided by the 30,000 milking cows at the dairy is an essential part of the farm’s closed loop system. By recycling the waste and water from it’s dairy into essential nutrients for crops, the farm has grown from 200 acres of organic farming in 2002 to over 15,000 acres in 2020.

Animal Care: Caring for cows comes first

Animal care is a top priority for all Oregon dairy farmers. In fact, most Oregon dairies offer their farm for voluntary inspections that are science-based and cow-focused to be sure they are providing the best care possible.

At Threemile Canyon Farms, Dr. Mike Paros, an independent animal advocate and veterinarian, also helps provide third-party oversight at the farm. “My main focus is taking the perspective of the animal and do whatever I can to provide the best care for them,” said Paros.

Water Use: Recycling water throughout the farm

Using water in a sustainable way is another way this farm makes a commitment to the environment. “Water is everything. Without water, there is no farm,” says Greg Harris, Director of Agronomy.  By recycling waste water as part of it’s closed loop farming system and using technology to monitor it’s water usage closely, Threemile Canyon Farms helps to preserve the land and aquifers around it. 

Click here for more information on Threemile Canyon Farms and other US Dairy Sustainability Award winners.

Related articles:

OREGON’S THREEMILE CANYON FARMS WINS NATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY AWARD

DIVERSE COMMUNITY OF DAIRIES THRIVES ON COLLABORATION

GENERATIONS DEEP: OREGON SUPPORTS DAIRY DIVERSITY