Tag Archives: cheese

Going Rogue: Oregon Cheese Makes a Big Statement

Type the words “American cheese” into an online search engine, and the images that pop up typically appear more utilitarian than artisanal or gourmet. Perhaps that’s one reason why it came as a shock to some around the globe that an American cheese defied convention and brought home the title of “best in the world” at the 2019 World Cheese Awards for the first time in history. It was a statement win.

Based in Southern Oregon, Rogue Creamery proved what many Oregonians and cheese aficionados already knew – Oregon creameries make some truly extraordinary cheese. At the awards held in Bergamo, Italy, Rogue River Blue beat out more than 3,800 cheeses from 42 countries. After a photo finish with an Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, Oregon officially became home to the World Champion.

According to Rogue, the winning cheese embodies their signature terroir with flavors of sweet pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears:

“Rogue River Blue is an organic, cave-aged blue cheese that is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that are soaked in pear spirits. It is made exclusively with milk from Rogue Creamery’s certified organic dairy farm in Grants Pass, where the cows graze on pastures bordering the Rogue River. A seasonal product, Rogue River Blue is only made for a few months each year beginning on the autumnal equinox, when cooler temperatures bring renewed growth to the pastures and our cow’s milk becomes richer and higher in butterfat.”

Since the big announcement on October 18, people have been taking note. From Martha Stewart to renowned authors, international journalists, chefs, foodies and even fellow cheesemakers – all have been singing Rogue’s praises, as stores are quickly selling out. Many Oregonians are expressing pride in the recognition, including U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who had some fun with this Tweet:

In addition to Rogue’s top honors, TMK Creamery of Canby brought home a Silver Medal for their Garlic Dill Cheddar Curds, and Tillamook earned a Bronze Medal for their one-year aged White Cheddar. These award-winners and many more creameries are listed on the Oregon Cheese Guild’s Oregon Cheese and Food Trail. While nobody knows where the best cheese in the world will come from in 2020, there are plenty of worthy candidates that make a case for a repeat performance from Oregon.

Of course, great tasting cheese starts with high-quality milk, and Oregon is consistently ranked toward the top in the nation. Oregon’s 124,000 cows and 200 dairy farm families produce roughly 2.6 billion pounds of milk annually (more than 302 million gallons). Oregonians love their milk so much, it is literally the official beverage of the State of Oregon.

Oregon’s dairy industry is a vital economic engine for communities statewide, with an estimated impact of $2.7 billion. Dairy is Oregon’s fourth largest commodity by farm revenue after only cattle, greenhouse and nursery products, and hay. Further, dairy farms create a ripple effect in both the agricultural economy and the economic well-being of rural communities, supporting 12,222 jobs.


RELATED LINKS:

Rogue River Blue Wins World’s BEST cheese!
Oregon Cheese Guild, October 18

USA cheese named ‘Best in the World’
USDEC, October 21

For the first time ever, a US cheese is named best in the world
CNN Travel, November 1

The World’s Best Cheese? It’s Blue and Comes From Oregon
The New York Times, November 1

American cheese named world’s best for first time, here’s how much it costs
Fox Business, November 2

France in shock over Oregon cheese winning ‘Best in the World’ honor
Statesman Journal, November 4

Want to taste the Oregon-made, recently named ‘Best Cheese in the World’? Better hurry.
Statesman Journal, November 6 

This may be the moment American cheese, true American cheese, has been waiting for
Washington Post, November 6

What Will the School Lunch of the Future Look Like?

Quinoa, kale, Brussels sprouts, tamales, green smoothies. These are all foods you might find in a trendy restaurant … or on a lunch tray in your local school cafeteria.

School lunches are fast overcoming their stereotypical reputation as bland and uninspired through some creativity and innovation by school nutrition professionals. On this National School Lunch Week, let’s take a look toward the future.

If you’ve ever tried to concentrate on something when you’re really hungry, you’ll understand that students don’t perform at their best without a nutritious lunch, which they won’t eat unless it tastes good. Schools are committed to providing great food in their cafeterias, and it can be challenging to be innovative when there are so many considerations, including:

• Making it tasty for a wide range of food preferences
• Making it easy to eat in a short period of time
• Cost and budgetary concerns
• Regulations and nutrition standards
• Allergies and dietary restrictions
• Sourcing and availability
• Food safety, storage and logistics
• Limiting food waste

Schools and school districts may operate differently, yet they share the common goal of providing meals their students actually want and will eat. These meals fuel students with the needed nutrients to grow and think. Improving menus can take some creativity, and that’s why culinary training events have proven so popular over the past nine years in Oregon.

Jessica Visinsky, a Registered Dietitian and trained chef, travels the state to teach child nutrition professionals about new recipes, knife skills, menu requirements and strategies to promote healthy eating. The trainings are sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs, and are offered at no cost to the schools.

As a result, school nutrition professionals are preparing more scratch recipes, often from the Oregon State University Food Hero program. Check out Food Hero for recipes that can be made at home and with kids. Students have responded positively. Many also explore farm to school opportunities to include seasonal fruits, vegetables and other local foods year-round.

The school lunch of the future will likely include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Some are taking a serious look at plant-based diets and some are looking at local, sustainably sourced center-of-the-plate proteins such as seafood and beef. These are all complemented well by the nutrition provided in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Restrictions will continue for sodium, sugar and unhealthy fat, driven by science and recommendations from USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

You don’t have to gaze into a crystal ball to see the future of school lunches is looking bright. On this National School Lunch Week, we salute all of those who work so hard to put nutritious and delicious foods on our students’ trays. Thank you!

 

Home recipes of photos shown above … and more.

RELATED LINKS

Girl Scouts Earn Dairy Patch at TMK Creamery

Photos by Joy Foster

For the second year in a row, Girl Scouts from Oregon and SW Washington gathered for a day of fun and education as they earned their dairy patch. And for many of the Girl Scouts, this was the first time they had ever visited a farm or seen a cow up close.

The Oregon Dairy Patch curriculum was designed by the Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington, Tillamook County Creamery Association, and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. With a focus on hands-on learning, it encourages Girl Scouts to visit a dairy farm, discover how milk is transformed into dairy products, explore dairy nutrition, and learn about careers in the dairy industry.

On September 29, TMK Dairy and Creamery invited the Girl Scouts to earn the dairy patch at a special “Dairy Day” event. Through four different station experiences on their farm, 100 eager Girl Scouts and their families had the opportunity to learn about dairy products from start to finish.

TMK Creamery is a small family farm that began 30 years ago when the owner Todd Koch purchased his first Holstein cow. “It all started with a 4-H project that went too far,” he says. In 1997, the milking herd had grown, so the Koch family built TMK Dairy, and in 2018 they opened a creamery where Koch’s sister Shauna and brother-in-law Bert Garza began making farmstead cheeses.

The Koch family is passionate about agriculture education and have designed their farm and creamery accordingly. Interested parties can schedule tours of the farm, or visit on Saturdays when the farm and creamery is open to the public.

For the Dairy Day event, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, in partnership with Oregon Aglink, Oregon State University Extension, Oregon Dairy Women and TMK designed the stations to follow the Girl Scouts Dairy Patch Curriculum.

At the first station, TMK’s herdsman Marc Koch taught the Girl Scouts about the milking process. They watched a cow be milked, and even had the opportunity to milk a cow by hand. At this station they also had the opportunity to see calves and learn that they are fed with bottles, their bedding is clean and dry, and their pens are spacious and warm.

Station two, led by OSU Extension representative Jenifer Cruickshank, was all about how farmers care for their cows though nutrition, bedding, barns and pasture. They discussed the difference in dairy breeds and even had the opportunity to pet TMK’s “cowlebrities.”

At station three, Shauna Garza from TMK explained how milk from their cows gets made into delicious cheese. The Girl Scouts were able to look into the creamery through the windows of TMK’s boutique tasting room, where they learned about the importance of keeping the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities clean. Then, Mallory Phelan from Aglink and Tillamook County’s Dairy Princess Ambassador, Araya Wilks, led the group in a fun game designed to demonstrate the many career opportunities in agriculture.

The Girl Scouts were able to finish their patch requirements at the last station, led by the Klamath County Dairy Princess Ambassador, Jaime Evers, as she talked about the importance of dairy in a well-balanced diet, and then the Girl Scouts were able to “taste test” delicious cheese that was made right there on the farm.

“The Oregon Dairy Patch program is a great opportunity for girls to discover the local food chain. It encourages them to be curious about where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it from the farm to the factory to their table,” said Lisa Gilham-Luginbill, Program Manager for Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington. “We hope they’ll learn something new along the way, and perhaps discover an interest or future career in the process.”

RELATED LINKS:

Oregon Dairy Patch curriculum

Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington

New Girl Scouts Dairy Patch Unveiled at Oregon Dairy Day Event

Who’s Who: Careers in Food

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.

examplemorningthunder

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

New Girl Scouts Dairy Patch Unveiled at Oregon Dairy Day Event

What do you get when you combine a fun and informative creamery tour with dairy farmers and princesses, and top it off with delicious cheese samples and ice cream? At the special Oregon Dairy Day event at Tillamook Creamery on October 20, you got 200 very excited Girl Scouts and family members. They were there to be among the first-ever to earn the new “Oregon Dairy” patch.

Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, in partnership with the Tillamook County Creamery Association and Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, designed this new patch program to educate girls about STEM concepts, farms and food production, and the Oregon dairy industry.

The patch program encourages Girl Scouts to learn through five hands-on steps: visit a dairy farm, discover how milk is transformed into dairy products, explore dairy nutrition, and learn about careers in the industry, from dairy farmer to food scientist to food marketer. The program concludes with a taste test.

Volunteers from the Tillamook staff, along with the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors, hosted interactive stations at the Tillamook Creamery Farm Experience Center to help the Girl Scouts earn their patch.

The first station featured a visit with local dairy farmers, Taryn Martin and Logan Lancaster. They were available to answer any questions the Girl Scouts had regarding milking, cow care and farm practices. “I really enjoyed the event,” said Taryn Martin. “When I was finished for the day, I had met parents and Girl Scouts from all over Oregon and Washington and was impressed at how far some of them had traveled for the experience and education. It was so much fun to answer questions from both the parents and the scouts!”

Girl Scouts also visited a station focused on nutrition and balanced diets. Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador First Alternate Megan Sprute explained how and why milk is a good source of calcium, nutrients, and vitamins.

To learn about different careers in the industry, the Girl Scouts conducted food science experiments, creating their very own yogurt flavor, complete with a variety of toppings (including edible glitter sprinkles)! They were also able to visit with a veterinarian to learn about cow care and a scientist to learn how to use a microscope to look for bacteria. The dairy scientist explained that all bad bacteria is kept out of milk.

The Girl Scouts finished their patch requirements by taking a tour of the Tillamook Creamery, where they watched the milk turn into cheese and the employees prepare packages for shipment. And of course, they were able to taste test samples of delicious Tillamook cheese and ice cream.

“The Oregon Dairy Patch program is a great opportunity for girls to discover the local food chain. It encourages them to be curious about where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it from the farm to the factory to their table,” said Lisa Gilham-Luginbill, Program Manager for Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington. “We hope they’ll learn something new along the way, and perhaps discover an interest or future career in the process.”

RELATED LINKS:
Girl Scouts Oregon Dairy Patch curriculum
Tillamook Creamery
Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington
Kids Corner
Careers Page

Back-To-School Tasty Snack

Bring friends together with this cheesy dip.

Serves 5

healthy-recipeSide dish recipe

 

 

Dietitian’s Tip: A fun way to get calcium, protein and whole grains.

 

INGREDIENTS
2.5 oz. cream cheese
6.5 oz. cheese, cheddar, yellow, reduced fat, shredded
1/3 cup yogurt, low-fat, plain
2 Tablespoons milk, 1% low-fat
20 crackers, whole grain, low-salt

 

INSTRUCTIONS
Place cream cheese and cheddar cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Add yogurt and milk. Puree again until smooth.

Transfer dip to a serving bowl.

Serve with whole grain crackers.

Refrigerate leftovers.

 

NUTRITIONAL FACTS

Calories: 216, Total Fat: 12.40 g, Saturated Fat: 6.75 g, Cholesterol: 30.64 mg, Sodium: 360.65 mg, Calcium: 378.88 mg, Protein: 13.57 g, Carbohydrates: 13.43 g, Dietary Fiber: 1.68 g

USDA International Agricultural Trade Officers Tour Oregon Agriculture

On the 21st of August, individuals from all over the world, including Asia, Europe and South America stopped in Tillamook to tour a dairy and the Tillamook Creamery.

It was just one stop on a tour of Oregon’s diverse agriculture as twenty-one locally employed staff supporting the USDA’s Agricultural Trade Offices at American embassies and consulates traveled the Oregon coast.

Their first stop on this week-long tour of American export opportunities was in Washington DC for tours, trainings, and meetings with the USDA. On Saturday they flew from Washington DC to Oregon. And Sunday, they began exploring everything Oregon grown, from pears to blueberries, barley and hazelnuts, to seafood and dairy.

“Dairy is such an important part of Oregon agriculture, and it’s such a longstanding tradition for this state,” said David Lane, Agricultural Development and Marketing Manager for ODA. “It’s important that we connect the world to Oregon’s dairy industry. So to get this group onto a dairy and into a creamery helps create that connection.”

At Oldenkamp Farms, tour guests were able to see robotic milking and automated feeding in action. The Lely feeding system is one of only four of its kind currently in the U.S., affectionately named by the Oldenkamp Family after Dr. Seuss’ “Thing 1 and Thing 2”.

After a visit with the cows and farm family that produce some of the milk for Tillamook cheese, the group of internationals continued on to the Tillamook Creamery Visitor’s Center for a self-guided tour and lunch. “This is the best cheese I have ever tasted,” said Annie Qiao, Marketing Specialist for the Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai. Annie explained that current trends in Shanghai for exports are focused on American foods for ingredients in Chinese meals.

“For those companies that are interested and ready [to export], the world is open for American products. And the world is really open for Oregon products” said Lane.

Stacy Foster from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council helped to organize the dairy portion of their tour. “It was a privilege to meet so many people from around the world that were not just passionate about American products, but specifically the products we offer here in Oregon. I hope we made a lasting impression.”

Pear Quesadillas

Food Hero has a wealth of easy to make, nutritious recipes to liven up your summer days. Here is an easy summer lunch idea for the kids … or yourself.

Serves 4

dash-recipehealthy-recipeentree-recipe

 

 

Dietitian’s Tip: This recipe is a great addition to a healthy diet serving up dairy protein, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Come up with your own combination using different fruits and vegetables.

 

INGREDIENTS

4 medium whole wheat tortillas
1 cup grated cheese (try cheddar, jack, or pepper jack)
1 cup pear slices (fresh or canned/drained)
½ cup finely chopped green or red peppers
2 tablespoons minced onion (green, red, or yellow)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Lay two tortillas on two plates.

Divide the cheese between the two tortillas.

Divide the pears, peppers, and onion between the two tortillas.

Top with remaining two tortillas.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium (300 degrees in an electric skillet). Place one quesadilla in pan. Cook 2-4 minutes, or until bottom of quesadilla begins to look a little brown.

With large spatula, gently turn the quesadilla over and cook the other side until a little brown, 2-4 minutes.

Gently slide quesadilla onto a plate. Cook the second quesadilla.

Cut each cooked quesadilla into 4 pieces and serve.

 

NUTRITIONAL FACTS

Per serving: 250 calories, 8 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 11 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 400 mg sodium

Recipe courtesy of Food Hero

Western States Introducing Dairy to SE Asia

Cheese and ice cream … what better way to further introduce U.S. western dairy foods to Southeast Asia, the world’s fourth largest economy?

During the week prior to the start of May World Trade Month, four western states – Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Arizona – collaborated to present cheese, ice cream, butter and milk powder ingredients to some 80,000 attendees of the Food and Hotel Asia show in Singapore.

As part of the U.S. Dairy Export Council’s (USDEC) trade show booth, coordinated by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, western dairy processors presented a sampling of the quality and excellence of U.S. dairy foods available to this growing market.

Several cheese varieties from the group were on display and sampled during USDEC’s Tuesday evening cheese sampling reception. Throughout the trade show, several potential buyers inquired about products, and sampled both cheese and ice cream.

Participation in this show follows other recent inbound and outbound trade missions coordinated by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council to build new markets for exports of regional dairy products.

 

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