Category Archives: taste and health

The Melt Down: Grilled Cheese Event Goes Bigger Than Ever

It’s a dream come true for fans of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s bigger and better than ever in 2020.

There’s a popular month-long event called “The Melt Down,” where sales of signature grilled cheese sandwiches throughout February support YCAP regional food bank efforts to fight hunger. This year’s “Deluxe Edition” includes 68 participating restaurants and businesses in Yamhill County and 13 sponsors. The restaurants are in a friendly competition for the title of the “Biggest Cheese.”

Each restaurant has their own unique take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich, many with clever names to match. Some examples include: Diet Starts Tomorrow, The Triple Texan, Play with your Food, Ooey Gooey Tomato Grilled Cheesy and Check Yo Self Before You Raclette Yo Self. While there are options for the strict grilled cheese purists, some other ingredients include peanut butter, jalapeños, pineapple, pesto, potatoes, marinara, brisket, avocado and quince chutney.

But how to decide with so many options to choose from? Easy. There’s a passport with details on the sandwiches available at each stop, including their address and business hours. Those who show their passports get stamps or signatures to make them eligible to win prizes donated by 40 area businesses.

Local restaurants in the community are also winners since the event generates increased business thanks to The Melt Down. “It is hard to believe that a small idea just a few years ago has grown into such a successful fundraiser and has provided a much needed economic boost to so many businesses here in Yamhill County,” said YCAP Development Specialist Diane Longaker.

In 2019, more than 6,280 sandwiches were sold, raising approximately $20,000. That equals more than 65,000 meals for the people served by YCAP and its food bank. Oregon dairy farmers and processors including Tillamook and Organic Valley are supporting The Melt Down: Deluxe Edition with hopes for record-setting results. You can help by ordering a grilled cheese from participating restaurants through February 29.

RELATED LINKS:

The 2020 Melt Down: Deluxe Edition

YCAP Regional Food Bank

Nine Reasons to Enjoy Real Milk in Your Handcrafted Coffee Drink

These days, there are a lot of choices when it comes to ordering barista-crafted beverages, and it isn’t just about flavored syrups. Most of that latte, mocha or cappuccino you enjoy is comprised of milk (or alternatives), and at $4 to $6 a cup it’s an investment that you want to get right.

As individuals, we certainly have our own choices, and there are plenty of reasons to proudly order real milk in your favorite coffee beverage. Here are nine of them:

1. Enjoy a Perfect Pairing

Many baristas prefer to use real milk for specialty coffee drinks. It has the right taste, creamy texture, and foams consistently when steamed because of its richness in protein.

2. Get Real

Milk has one of the cleanest labels around. What you see is what you get, so you know exactly what you’re drinking when you order real milk.

3. Consider the Footprint

About 90% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are from transportation, power generation, industry, commercial and residential. Yet U.S. dairy’s impact is estimated at just two percent, and dairy farmers just keep improving their practices.

4. Buy Local

On average, real milk travels less than 100 miles from cow to coffee shop.

5. Choose Sustainability

Dairy farmers are sustainable by nature. Their cows can eat food that humans can’t or don’t want to eat and upcycle it into milk. Farmers recycle water, use manure as natural fertilizer, regenerate their lands and some even generate renewable natural gas and electricity.

6. Boost Your Economy

The dairy industry provides jobs and pays for services that support families in our rural communities. Dairy processing jobs also pay higher on average than others in the food processing sector, and those wages are spent locally.

7. Drink Nutrients

Nutrient-dense milk is often called nature’s perfect beverage. It is packed with nine essential nutrients and is an especially good source of protein and calcium.

8. Support Cow Care

Dairy cows are well cared for. Farmers know that when they treat their cows well, the cows perform better. In addition to a nutritious diet and healthcare, many enjoy back scratchers, waterbeds, and climate-controlled shelters.

9. Save Money

Real milk is affordable and a great value.

Dairy farmers work 365 days a year (366 days in 2020) to bring milk and dairy products to your local coffee shops, grocery stores and kitchen tables. They take great pride in caring for their employees, animals and natural resources. So the next time you order a triple “mochalatteccino” or whatever your go-to order is, make sure you ask for real milk, and raise a toast to your local dairy farmers!

Wow Your Holiday Guests with These Cheese and Chocolate Pairings

This holiday season, we recommend you introduce your friends and family to a new power couple: cheese and chocolate. That’s right, two individual favorites combine to give you an unexpectedly compatible taste that is sure to impress at your next holiday party. If you’re in a hurry, skip to the bottom for suggestions on pairings.

But, why pair cheese and chocolate together?

You have heard the saying that opposites attract, but in this case it’s the similarities in cheese and chocolate that make them pair well together.

1. Both are indulgent.

Typically cheese or chocolate are among the top snacks Americans will reach for when they want some decadence. Pair them together and you get a luxury hors d’oeuvre perfect for special occasions.

2. Both flavor profiles can be sweet.

Typically, cheese is considered to be a savory treat, and chocolate a sweet snack. However, depending on your cheese type, it can have a sweeter aftertaste and the darker the chocolate the more savory the taste.

3. Both chocolate and cheese are fermented.

Most people understand the cheese making process of fermenting milk, but did you realize the cacao bean must first be fermented in order to make chocolate? The fermentation process makes cheese and chocolate a winning combination much like our traditional preference to pair cheese and wine.

4. Both cheese and chocolate can contribute to your health.

Cheese has the nutritious benefits of protein, calcium, and phosphorus, along with vitamins A and B12. And although chocolate isn’t always known for its nutritional benefits, the main ingredient in chocolate, cacao, is abundant in the antioxidant flavonoids and theobromine.  Now, we aren’t suggesting that cheese and chocolate can replace your greens at dinner, but we are saying the combination can be part of an overall healthy diet.

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Make the most of your tasting experience.

Turns out there is an art and science to pairing foods, however, there are no rules when it comes to pairing cheese with chocolate; it’s a matter of personal preference, so feel free to experiment! And, if you are wanting to pair like the professionals, here are a few tips:

1. Smell both the chocolate and cheese before tasting.

Did you ever wonder why sommeliers smell the wine before tasting? It’s because aroma and taste combine to create a flavor profile through the nose and mouth that is interpreted to the brain for a more thorough tasting experience. When you smell your chocolate and cheese combination, it will give you a more complete flavor.

2. Resist the urge to chew the chocolate.

We recommend tasting the chocolate first, and make sure to release the flavors slowly by pressing a small piece to the roof of your mouth and running your tongue along the bottom of it, allowing it to melt. This will help you appreciate the texture of the chocolate, along with the specifics of flavor. With many chocolates, the flavor will change as it melts in your mouth. Once you have enjoyed the taste of chocolate on its own, add a small bite of cheese and notice the flavor change again.

Setting up your tasting

You can try any number of combinations to determine your favorite flavors and textures, but here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Choose high quality cheeses and chocolates.

Although it may be tempting to reach for your leftover Halloween candy and your regular cheddar for a pairing, we recommend thinking outside of the box. Consider buying your cheese from a cheese counter, or a local creamery. For the chocolate, look for chocolates made with high quality cacao and fewer ingredients. You may be surprised to find quality, local chocolates with a simple search.

2. Bring the chocolate and cheese to room temperature.

Once you have selected your cheeses and chocolates, cut them into bite sized pieces and let them sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. This will help you appreciate their aromas and taste.

3. Offer a palate cleanser.

Be sure to offer crackers or fruit in between pairings to give your guests’ taste buds a rest.

4. Organize your pairings.

Order the pairings from mild in flavor to bold in intensity.  This will help you guide the tasting and prevent taste buds from being overwhelmed.

Now you’re the expert.

That’s it! You are well on your way to becoming a cheese and chocolate connoisseur at your next holiday party. However, if you are need of some inspired combinations, here are some our favorites to get you started.

monterey jack_chili chocolate

Monterey Jack with Milk Chocolate

Both the milk chocolate and the Monterey Jack will bring out the other’s soft and creamy texture to create a classic and delicious pairing.

vintage xsharp white_dark chocolate raspberry

Vintage Extra Sharp with Dark Chocolate Raspberry

This specialty aged cheeses are known for robust flavor, creamy and buttery with a bite, so it pairs with the tartness of the Dark Chocolate Raspberry. The brightness of the raspberry balances the slight bitterness of a vintage white.

smoked black pepper_sea salt chocolate

Smoked Black Pepper with Sea Salt

This paring is a tribute to the classic salt and pepper pairing. Did you know salt is the only rock that we eat? And, the enduring popularity of black pepper may owe itself to one picky eater, French King Louis XIV who preferred only salt and pepper, to the extent that he banned all other seasonings.

cape mears _salted almond

English cheddar with Salted Almond Dark Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond

English cheddars tend to be a slightly sweet and creamy cheddar. See what chocolate pairing your friends prefer! Whether they go with more sweet or savory, the almonds will add texture and bring out a nutty flavor to the cheese.

hot habanero jack with milk chocolate

Hot Habanero Jack with Milk Chocolate

And end your tasting with a paring where opposites attract. Milk chocolate is chosen to pair with a habanero in this Monterey Jack cheese to cool the spice on your tongue, while still bringing out the creamy texture in both the chocolate and the cheese creating a classily delicious pairing.

When it comes to pairing chocolate and cheese, it is all about personal preferences. Doing some “research” with family and friends can bring some fun and tasty pairings to your next holiday get together.

RELATED LINKS:

Cheese and Chocolate Pairings | Cabot Creamery

Tasting Chocolate | Ghirardelli

How to Pair Flavors, According to Science |Tasting Table

Cheese Pairing with Chocolate: a Winning Combination | The Wisconsin Cheeseman

How to Pair Chocolate with Cheese | wikiHow

Milk to the Rescue: Addressing an Ongoing Need

It’s a staple of American households and often tops the grocery list, but for many low-income families, having milk in the refrigerator can be a rarity. According to the Great American Milk Drive, people served by food banks receive less than one gallon per person per year on average. In Oregon, that statistic is changing.

Thanks to an influx of milk provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Oregon Food Bank network has been distributing nutritious skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk every week to local families and individuals. So far, this has totaled nearly 160,000 gallons.

While it is great news, this did pose some challenges due to perishability, refrigeration capacity and logistics. In what they described as ‘a flurry of activity,’ Oregon Food Bank staff welcomed the distribution challenge and overcame stumbling blocks in coordination with Oregon’s 20 regional food banks to get the product in and out to communities as quickly as possible.

“This is a highly valuable and needed product across our region, and we’ve gotten really strong support from our partners in adjusting systems and processes that allow us to accept incredibly high volumes of milk,” said Gretchen Miller, Sourcing and Operations Strategist for Oregon Food Bank. “It’s more than we ever have in the past. What we’re happiest about is that we’re able to get fresh, high quality milk into the food insecure communities we serve.”

This milk provides a temporary supply to meet ongoing demand, and there are still long term needs to be addressed when it comes to fighting hunger in Oregon. You can help make a difference by contributing to the Oregon Food Bank and/or the Great American Milk Drive.

Nine Easy Ways to Hack Your Pizza

On National Pizza Day, and all of the other 364 days of the year, people across this country settle for sad slices of pizza that were once frozen solid like a manhole cover, lacking toppings or damaged in delivery. They often look nothing like the picture above and sometimes taste like cardboard. Let’s face it, not all pizzas are created equal.

We’re here to help with nine easy ways you can upgrade an uninspired, pathetic pie by hacking your pizza:

accessory-1238759_960_720.jpg1. Cheese It Up

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 you’ll probably want to top it off with some Parmesan.

pizza-346985_960_720-e1549687918746.jpg2. Veg Out

So you ordered a basic cheese or one topping pizza? Add pre-cooked vegetables for extra flavor and extra nutrition. Beyond popular favorites like garlic, peppers, onions, olives and mushrooms, have you tried zucchini, corn, cauliflower, kale, quinoa, squash, broccoli or spinach? And don’t forget about fruits! Besides pineapple, some use peaches, pears, apples, bananas and fig.

pesto-1776673_960_720-e1549688039525.jpg3. Take a Dip

Dips aren’t just for chips. Sometimes the easiest way to jazz up a bland slice isn’t in the slice itself. Some swear by ranch dressing, but depending on the flavor of the slice you can also go with marinara, garlic and herb, pesto, BBQ, buffalo or hummus. Some even dip their pizza in milk. We’re not making this up … it’s a thing.

pepper-662550_960_720-e1549688142535.jpg4. Spice It Up

This one isn’t for everyone, but 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 (everybody has their favorites), and if that’s not enough, you can add peppers ranging from hot to ‘you might need to sign a waiver’ before you eat it.

food-3309419_960_7205. Cook Like A Pro

Promote your small time pizza to the big leagues by cooking it on a pizza stone. You can make your own with a few bucks at a home improvement store. Look for untreated, unglazed terra cotta or quarry tiles. They’ll distribute the heat more evenly in your oven or barbeque. Yes you read that right, you can cook a pizza on a barbeque.

olive-oil-salad-dressing-cooking-olive-e1549688593916.jpg6. Rub the Crust

Coat the crust with olive oil before you stick the pizza in the oven. You can also use melted butter, garlic powder, crushed garlic, oregano, and some grated parmesan cheese. This simple step can add a seasoned and flavorful boost to any premade pizza.

american-1238676_960_720-e1549688710591.jpg7. Walk on the Wild Side

We’re not just talking about sprinkling some bacon bits on top, not that there’s anything wrong with that. 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 hardboiled eggs, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, spaghetti and ramen noodles.

watercress-600072_960_720-e1549688802350.jpg8. Change It Up

There are a lot of ways to cook pizza that don’t even look like pizza. For example, put a pizza upside down on another pizza with cheese in the middle and you have a grilled cheese pizza/calzone impersonator. 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.

pan-544679_960_7209. Win Round Two

There’s an art to reheating slices. Using an oven, preheat to 375 and put it on a hot baking tray, cookie sheet or foil for 10 minutes. Or put it in a skillet, covered on medium heat with a few drops of water in the pan, and cook for at least five minutes. Then there’s the microwave – just place a cup of water next to the pizza when you cook it.

Hopefully one or more of these pizza hacks will help you elevate your next pizza 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. It’s pretty easy with enough time and the right ingredients. Bon appétit!

 

RELATED LINK:

Fighting Hunger, One Grilled Cheese Sandwich at a Time

There are plenty of reasons to love February. Sure, there’s Valentine’s Day and Oregon’s birthday for becoming a state, but have you heard of the month-long effort to fight hunger known as “The Melt Down?” If you like grilled cheese sandwiches, you’ll love what you’re about to read.

During the entire month of February, 20 restaurants in Amity, Carlton, Dayton, Dundee, McMinnville and Newberg are selling their own special grilled cheese sandwiches in a friendly competition for the title of the “Biggest Cheese.” Everyone ends up a winner though, since all grilled cheese sandwiches sold during the month of February raise funds for the Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP) regional food bank. This year’s goal is $20,000.

As part of the Oregon Food Bank network, YCAP provides food to 17 emergency food pantries strategically located throughout Yamhill County. These pantries provide a variety of fresh and shelf-stable groceries to low-income families and individuals. YCAP also provides food to six meal sites in the county.

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From a prior year, this is just one of many tasty examples from The Melt Down.

In the spirit of friendly competition, The Melt Down chefs are using some serious creativity with their culinary creations, including special cheeses, sauces, breads and other tasty surprises. As the Yamhill Valley News-Register reported, “These are not your father’s grilled cheese sandwiches.” Many local cheeses and dairy ingredients are featured on the menus.

Through the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, Oregon dairy farmers and processors are supporting The Melt Down in 2019 alongside ongoing nutrition and food security initiatives. There are also plans to involve Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassadors, local dairy farmers and Undeniably Dairy materials in related events and communications.

There’s a passport available for those adventurous souls who seek to experience all 20 offerings throughout the course of the month. But just remember, there are only 28 days in February, and if you want to try them all, the clock is ticking … good luck!

RELATED LINKS:

The Melt Down 2019 Restaurants and Sandwiches

YCAP Regional Food Bank

The Melt Down on Facebook

meltdownlist

Feeding the Need: How the Oregon Dairy Community Fights Hunger

September marks the end of summer, a transition to fall and the start of a new school year. One could say that this month represents a time for change. So, it is fitting that September is Hunger Action Month – a month where individuals and organizations across the country come together to make a positive change for hungry people and families in our communities.

According to the Oregon Hunger Task Force, one out of every eight Oregonians struggle with hunger, including 20 percent of all children. Oregon currently ranks as the 12th hungriest state in the nation. In 2004, Oregon was ranked as the hungriest state. While there is still a long way to go, Oregon is making significant progress thanks in part to the generous donations of dairy foods that have helped nourish hungry families. Here are just a few examples:

  • Just under 2 million pounds of dairy products were donated to the Oregon Food Bank last year.
  • In 2018, the Tillamook County Creamery Association earned a national Outstanding Community Impact Award. It’s donations to the Oregon Food Bank included funds, food, a delivery truck, and funding for research aimed to end hunger.
  • Also in 2018, an Oregon farm and a dairy plant donated 100,000 pounds of shelf-stable milk powder to Oregon Food Bank. This was equal to 1.1 million gallons of milk.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, Lochmead Farms donated 20,000 gallons of milk to their local pantry, Food for Lane County.
  • Beginning in 2008, Threemile Canyon Farms donates 8,000 pounds of beef every month to help hungry Oregonians through the Farmers Ending Hunger program. The donations have provided nearly 1 million pounds of much needed protein to the Oregon Food Bank network and organizations like Blanchet House.

There are more examples, but many go untold simply because helping others is “just the right thing to do.” Dairy farmers and processing companies in Oregon have a deep, often multi-generational commitment to the communities where they farm, work and live. During Hunger Action Month, we celebrate their year round work to fight hunger and thank the Oregon dairy community for their generosity.

On average, people served by food banks receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. You can help address this unmet need by contributing to the Great American Milk Drive or join the 10-Gallon Challenge today.

by Tyler Chase, Oregon Health & Science University Dietetic Intern

Nutrition Leader Honored as Health and wellness Champion

A red plate set at the supper table is a time honored tradition among American families to recognize someone who deserved special praise.

4 years ago, OSU’s Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventative Health amplified that tradition to start the Moore Family Center Founder’s Red Plate Award. An award designed to recognize professionals who work to help individuals and communities live healthier through good nutrition.

This year’s Red Plate Award was given to Anne Goetze RDN, LD, FAND, OSU alumni and Sr. Director of Nutrition Affairs for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC). But she humbly deflects the praise. “I have worked for dairy farm families for many years and am grateful for their commitment to healthy communities. They tend their land, animals and natural resources just as they tend their families, with love and an eye for the future.”

Anne has been committed to Oregon dairy farmers through ODNC for 28 years, educating the public about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. “We absolutely believe dairy products are an irreplaceable part of a healthy diet,” Anne says, “and we’re working to educate Oregonians about how they’re part of a sustainable food system.”

Anne’s work through ODNC influences the nutrition field through farm to table messaging. “It’s the choices people make that impact whether or not we’re going to have farms [in the future].”

An article written by Hanna Knowles, OSU’s assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, says, “Anne’s influence within the nutrition field is wide-ranging. She strives to be a relevant and strategic resource for dairy processors by helping them interpret consumer research, apply new nutrition policies and develop product innovations. She provides current and future dietitians with continuing education and is a conduit for health and nutrition education in Oregon.”

“I learned from the very best, from birth to today,” says Anne, “and I am very grateful to work for Oregon’s dairy farmers.”

It was a unanimous decision to honor Anne with the Red Plate award. Endowed Director of the Moore Family Center, Emily Ho said, “Anne leads with heart, dedication and infectious enthusiasm, which has activated countless others to join the cause of improved health in Oregon.”

What’s the Scoop?

July is National Ice Cream Month and dairy farmers, in partnership with the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC), celebrated by delivering “random acts of ice cream” to deserving members of the community during the first-ever “Scoop it Forward Week” July 15-22.

“Ice cream is one of those things that just makes everything better, and we saw this as a simple way to bring positivity and joy to people’s lives in surprising and unexpected ways,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Random acts of kindness can be contagious, and our call to action is simply for people to spread the good and pay it forward.”

ODNC delivered locally processed ice cream treats to many places including, the Tigard Police Department, the Salem Fire Department, a playground and a skate park.

Cloud Cap Farms, a dairy in Clackamas County, also celebrated by treating the first 100 customers at Baskin-Robbins in Sandy Oregon, to a free cone. “When you buy dairy products, you are supporting my family and our business. Scoop it Forward is our way of saying thank you.”

Louie Kazemier, owner of Rickreall Dairy near Salem, also joined in the fun by delivering 250 ice cream sandwiches to Camp Attitude near Sweet Home, Oregon. Camp Attitude serves children who have special needs and their families. “It was a fun evening,” said Kazemier.

And Central Oregon’s Eberhard’s Dairy Products “scooped it forward” by handing out 36 gallons of free ice cream in Bend and Redmond. “We wanted to participate because we loved the message behind Scoop it Forward. We always say without our community we would not be where we are today so it felt good to give back to the community that has given us so much!” said Emily Eberhard.

ODNC hopes other people will continue to pass it on. “This is one small gesture that can make a really big difference,” said Thomas.

 

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“Scoop It Forward” Promotes Random Acts of Ice Cream

1 Scoop logoJuly is National Ice Cream Month, and it includes a celebration of appreciation called “Scoop It Forward.” Supported by Oregon’s dairy farmers and processors, the week-long campaign, from July 15 to 22, encourages people to show appreciation for one another through random acts of ice cream.

“Ice cream is one of those things that just makes everything better, and we saw this as a simple way to bring positivity and joy to people’s lives in surprising and unexpected ways,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Random acts of kindness can be contagious, and our call to action is simply for people to spread the good and pay it forward.”

Leading up to this week, there have already been surprise ice cream deliveries to a playground, a skate park, a police station and Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. And that’s just the beginning. Each person who receives ice cream is encouraged to recognize at least two others with a special delivery of their own.

Suggestions include recognizing family, friends, neighbors, a favorite teacher, local police or fire departments or even complete strangers. Photos and video from these moments will be shared on social media using the hashtag #ScoopItForward. Those who aren’t able to give ice cream are encouraged to send ice cream emojis with a message of appreciation. Organizers hope the positivity will spread far and wide.

“This is such a simple gesture that anybody can do,” said Thomas. “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream, and that’s pretty close”

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