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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

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March 2008

March 30, 2008

The Yogurt Project: Fage Total with Honey

This is my third yogurt trial so far...if you've read either of the first two, you can skip right down to the "taste test" portion. If not, I've reprinted my intro below:

What's the deal with little cups of yogurt? Just a few years ago, fermented-dairy eaters had a choice between Dannon and Columbo. Remember Columbo? I didn't...I had to ask my coworker to help me come up with the name of "that other major yogurt company when we were growing up."

Now, I see customers standing dumbstruck before the yogurt shelf, not knowing whether to reach for full-fat sheeps' milk, low-fat cows' milk or even a soy.  So, I figure, it's time for a massive yogurt taste test. You ready?

If I were a purist I would taste only plain yogurt, but this is my game, and I don't wanna. So I'm going to do the best I can comparing different brands by eating their most enticing flavors.

Fage Total: All-Natural Greek Strained Yogurt with Honey

Packaging: First of all, I hate the name. The container tells me it's pronounced "Fa-yeh," but in my head I pronounce it "fahj," which makes me think of high school biology...remember bacteriophages? Maybe I'd take more favorably to the name if I knew what it meant?
    And then there's the object itself. To me, the packaging shouts "hey, I'm mass produced!" Maybe it's because the container is an unusual shape: There's one cup for the yogurt and a second, smaller container for the honey. I would have been cool with the honey in the same compartment in an effort to save plastic.
    And the fact that they call the yogurt "Total" reminds me of names such as "Special K" and "All-Bran:" I think they're all trying too hard to sound healthy. But the image of a honeycomb and one of those wooden dippers is evocative and pleasant.

Nutrition Info: 5.3 oz. serving (does that include the honey? Although the serving size is smaller than the two other products I've sampled, the container feels heavier. Maybe it's all that extra plastic?) 250 calories. 18% fat (DV). 0% fiber (DV). 28 g. sugar. 8 g. protein. 10% calcium (DV). 10% vitamin A (DV).

Live Cultures:  L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus

: White and creamy. The package advised me not to stir, so I didn't at first. Later, while eating, I did stir it. Nothing bad happened. The amber honey looks just like...honey.

Aroma: Slightly sour but pleasant and dairy-licious. The honey is very fragrant and sweet smelling. No I can't tell what flowers it comes from.

The creamy layer on top is denser and fattier feeling than the lighter stuff beneath, but both have a nice, clean mouthfeel that doesn't linger too long after you swallow. Some yogurts can really coat your tongue. The honey is thick and sensual.

Taste: Very, very pleasant. The yogurt is rich and barely sour. And when it's mixed with the honey, it's even better. This tastes almost as good, if not as good, as the Liberté.

Notes: There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's, and there's probably no wrong way to eat this yogurt, but there are several possible methods. 1) Dip each spoonful of yogurt in the honey. I don't like this method because the pristine honey gets white swirls in it. Perhaps I'm strange? 2) Spoon out the entire honey cup onto the top of the yogurt, and dig in. 3) Same as #2, but blend the honey in. 4) Drizzle the honey onto the yogurt a little bit at a time. In any case, though, there was too much honey for the amount of yogurt. I know Americans like things sweet, but this much sweetener is kind of ludicrous. And I have a feeling that people won't save up the dribs and drabs for other uses, so I'm guessing that a lot of it goes to waste. Or maybe people just eat super-sweet yogurt.

March 27, 2008

The Yogurt Project: Liberté Méditerranée Yogourt, Plum & Walnut

This is the second post in my yogurt project. If you missed the first one, I've quoted my writeup about how it works below:

What's the deal with little cups of yogurt? Just a few years ago, fermented-dairy eaters had a choice between Dannon and Columbo. Remember Columbo? I didn't...I had to ask my coworker to help me come up with the name of "that other major yogurt company when we were growing up."

Now, I see customers standing dumbstruck before the yogurt shelf, not knowing whether to reach for full-fat sheeps' milk, low-fat cows' milk or even a soy.  So,  I figure, it's time for a massive yogurt taste test.  You ready?

If I were a purist I would taste only plain yogurt, but this is my game, and I don't wanna. So I'm going to do the best I can comparing different brands by eating their most enticing flavors.

Liberté Méditerranée Yogourt: Plum & Walnut

Packaging: The packaging for this product is fine. Writing on the white, plastic cup is in purple, black and blue, and there's a very simple drawing of plums and walnuts with a blue swirl above it. It doesn't get me excited, but it doesn't turn me off, either.
     It's labeled free of rGBH. The product is made in Canada with milk from the St. Albans Creamery Cooperative in Vermont.

Nutrition Info: 6 oz. serving. 250 calories. 22% fat. 0% fiber. 24 g. sugars. 6 g. protein. 20% calcium, 20% vitamin A, 4% vitamin C.

Live Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Bulgaricus

Appearance: White and thick, the consistency of really dense whipped cream. The plums and walnuts are on the bottom. When mixed into the yogurt, the whole turns a very pale purple with bits of walnut strewn throughout.

Aroma: This product has a nice, sweet, milky aroma with just a hint of sourness. When the fruit is mixed in, it smells like plums, too.

Mouthfeel: Thick, but not too thick, and very pleasant. The fruit mixture alone has the consistency of applesauce with nut bits mixed in. Those who don't like chunks in their food may be turned off by the walnuts.

Taste: Completely delightful. The yogurt itself is slightly sweet and tastes like cream, with the smallest hint of sourness on the finish. The fruit and walnut combo is intensely plummy. The walnuts add textural interest --  if you like that kind of thing. -- but not much flavor. Overall, I can't imagine many things I'd rather eat.

Notes: Some may balk at the calorie content or the amount of fat in this product: Don't. Please. Fat and fiber help make you feel full. When I eat low-fat yogurt with no added fiber (yes, some yogurts are "enhanced" with a fibrous ingredient called inulin, which is often extracted from chicory plants), I want to eat again in about 10 minutes. The Liberté. on the other hand, actually fills you up.  Sorry for being a  Liberté proselytizer, but this is the first yogurt that I've ever loved.

Visit the Liberté website, here. 

March 26, 2008

The Yogurt Project: Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr, Pomegranate and Passion Fruit

What's the deal with little cups of yogurt? Just a few years ago, fermented-dairy eaters had a choice between Dannon and Columbo. Remember Columbo? I didn't...I had to ask my coworker to help me come up with the name of "that other major yogurt company when we were growing up."

Now, I see customers standing dumbstruck before the yogurt shelf, not knowing whether to reach for full-fat sheeps' milk, low-fat cows' milk or even a soy facsimile.  So,  I figure, it's time for a massive yogurt taste test.  You ready?

If I were a purist I would taste only plain yogurt, but this is my game, and I don't wanna. So I'm going to do the best I can comparing different brands by eating their most enticing flavors.

siggi's Icelandic style skyr: Pomegranate and Passion Fruit

Packaging: Very nice. The flimsy, white plastic container is covered with a striking, recyclable cardboard wrapper, which has a white background and black type in a simple font. There's also a rustic line drawing of the fruits that flavor the product. On the side, there's an unusually long list of what's not in the yogurt, including rBGH, preservatives and corn syrup. Plus, it boasts, the milk is from grass-fed cows. It's made in New York State, so it doesn't have to travel too far.
    This is probably the most dramatic yogurt label I've seen, and I was pretty amused while examining it. A note from Siggi reads: "...we absolutely don't use any artificial sweeteners like aspartame; I shudder at the mere thought."

Nutrition Info: 6 oz. serving. 120 calories. 0% fat. 0% fiber. 11 g. sugars. 16 g. protein. 20% calcium

Live Cultures: B. lactis, L. Acidophilus, L. Delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus, L. Delbrueckii subsp. Lactis, S. Thermopholis

Appearance: Thick and "creamy" looking, white. No whey off.

Aroma: Sour enough to make one's nose tingle a tiny bit. Barely there fruit.

Mouthfeel: Thick without having a fatty mouthfeel (I like the fatty mouthfeel). The texture is strange to someone used to fatty, whole-milk yogurt.

Taste: First note is a bitterness that strikes me as unusual in yogurt, followed by a puckery sourness and then, finally, a hint of sweetness. The fruit flavors are not readily apparant, here. I wouldn't have guessed passionfruit or pomegranate in a million years. There's no "jam" on the bottom of the container, although I kept stirring, just in case. I didn't find it pleasant, but it wasn't particularly unpleasant, either. Not something I would eat for the pleasure of it, but possibly would because it's good for me. Maybe.

Notes: The non-fat yogurt is unusual because it's made from milk that has had all of the fat -- and much of the water -- removed. This gives it a remarkably thick texture for a non-fat product, and I thought the process was worthy of mention.

Visit siggi's website here.

March 19, 2008

Sweet, Almond-Scented Lies

4b486970 Last week, a co-worker forwarded me an email that contained photos of tiny, naked babies supposedly modeled out of marzipan.

If you're not familiar with marzipan, you should get acquainted quickly: The delicious stuff is a combo of sugar and ground almonds -- and sometimes egg whites -- and is malleable enough to be formed into cool shapes. Plus, the word is fun to say: maarrrzipaan.

The small amount of text in the email notes that the artist, who isn't named, is very talented, and asks: "Who could take a bite?"

Yep: The idea of eating small, perfectly formed babies is rather disturbing, so why would somebody mold infants out of a sweet treat? I imagined a cutting edge artist making a bold statement about how America's consumption-oriented culture is selling out its children.

Or not...The delicate pink babes shown in the email aren't actually made out of ground up nuts. They are, in fact, sculpted from polymer clay by artist Camille Allen.  Allen's website assures visitors "If you've seen the "The Smell of Rain" or "Marzipan Babies" ( Or "Sugar Babies") email, you have probably seen some images taken from this website. However those pictures are really of sculptures created out of clay by Camille Allen." The page further notes: "They are not real, premature babies." Phew.

So my question is: Why on earth would anybody want to perpetrate an email hoax of this type? What possible purpose does it serve to tell people that these miniatures are made from marzipan when they're really made from clay. Or was it all just an honest mistake?

*The photo is from Camille Allen's website

March 17, 2008

St. Paddy's Day Song Parody

If you didn't already know, I'm a pretty big geek. I love obscure trivia, etymology, Latin, fantasy and science fiction novels, role playing games, collecting quirky cookbooks, and strange, slow moving foreign films. Or does all that make me a nerd? I'm not certain.

In any case, I also really love parody. Weird Al makes me laugh, and occasionally I'm moved to try my hand at creating new lyrics for popular songs. I've been waiting for a really long time to post this St. Patrick's Day version that I wrote last year...

You Cooked Me All Night Long

An AC/DC song from the point of view of a corned beef*

She's a cuisine machine
She keeps her kitchen clean
She makes the best damn meals that I've ever seen

She has shiny knives
and she's taking lives
Freakin' me out, when she minces up chives

She unwraps me bare
I take a gasp of air
She brings me to a simmer like she just doesn't care

Now the cabbage is shakin'
The 'taters are quakin'
My flesh is achin'
And the soda bread's bakin'

And you,
cooked me all, night long
Yeah you,
cooked me all, night long

Working double time
on the production line
She gives the pepper a grind
Blends up some mustard and thyme

Creates a horseradish sauce
to augment the main course
She'll make a meal out of me, and come back for more

Had to cool me down
And then she passed me round
I was placed in a ring
With veg and other things

Now the salt is flakin'
Guests' thirsts they're slakin'
Everybody's partakin'
Corned beef's as tasty as steak

And you,
Cooked me all night long
Yeah you,
Cooked me all night long

* Please note that the Irish don't actually eat much of corned beef, it's actually an Irish-American tradition. In Ireland, it's more common to eat bacon or other pork products along with cabbage and potatoes.

March 13, 2008

This Week's Farm Share: 3/12/08

Here's what I got from Pete's Greens this week:

~ Green Cabbage
~ Sweet Storage Carrots
~ Mixed Yellow Potatoes
~ Rutabaga
~ Copra Onions
~ Champlain Orchards Squash Puree
~ Champlain Orchards Empire Apples
~ Vermont Milk Company Cheddar Cheese
~ Pete's Eggs
~ Anadama Bread.

March 12, 2008

Bad Blogger!

Umm, you may have noticed my sudden disappearance of late, and instead of hoping that you haven't, I figured I'd come clean and tell you what's been keeping me from blogging: the 2008 edition of the 7 Nights Guide to Restaurants and Bars, and exercise.


How is our dining guide preventing me from blogging? Well, it's not, really. It's just that part of my job is to make sure we have correct information for the 680+ restaurants that are listed in the guide, and right now, this means making an awful lot of phone calls. (We did send a mailing to each restaurant trying to get them to take the DIY approach, but 426 of 'em didn't send it back!)

Exercise. Getting paid to eat for a living is awesome, until you step on a scale, that is. Since I work all the time and don't have extra cash kicking around for funtastic classes or gym memberships, I finally realized that I had to get my butt in gear without spending any money or leaving my house. How? By using the resources I already have, which in this case consist of a steep staircase. So far I'm doing my new "running up and down the stairs routine" three mornings a week, and it's a doozy. When that part gets easier, I'm going to start carrying partially filled gallon jugs, too. (Got any clever home workout tips? Please let me know!) The bonus is that my cat  thinks this is a really cool game.

Problem is, I do my a.m. workout during the same stretch of time that I used to spend reading the news, checking my email and generally coming up with cool stuff to blog about.

Once the dining guide project starts winding down in a few weeks, I'm convinced I'll be able to manage both exercising and blogging. Until then, I'll probably be kind of inconsistent.

March 06, 2008

All Hail Kale!

Eatmorekaledesign Kale doesn't have the sweet, earthiness of chard or the melt-in-your mouth quality of baby spinach: It's vegetal, strong and chewy. Which means that the green stuff can be an acquired taste.

Years after I'd professed a love for oft-maligned Brussels sprouts and lima beans, I failed to feel any affection for kale, whether Red Russian, Lacinato or otherwise.

Only since I got my first farm share and was forced to cook the veggie more regularly did I develop any positive feeling about the ultra-healthy leaves. It will never be my favorite vegetable, or even in my top 10, but I can manage to enjoy it.

On Wednesday we ran a story about Bo Muller-Moore, the dude who makes the famous, green "Eat More Kale" bumper stickers, t-shirts, and even baby onesies.
With it, we printed two recipes. Here are a few more...

Kale, Potato, Bean, and Linguiça Soup

Adapted from One Potato, Two Potato by Roy Finamore and Molly Stevens

A version of the Portuguese caldo verde is earthy and gutsy and bright with the colors of tomatoes, kidney beans, and kale. It makes a big batch, so serve it to a crowd. But it also keeps very well; like a stew, it might even be better the next day.

Serves 8 to 10

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound linguiça or chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped coarse (about 4 very generous cups)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, or 1 3/4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped ripe tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can kidney or pinto beans, or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for serving (optional)

Heat the oil and linguiça in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the sausage renders some of its fat and begin to shrink, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
    Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until the pieces are limp and the edges are starting to turn golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for a few minutes more, until it’s fragrant. Add 1 cup of cold water, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and 7 more cups of cold water. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover partway, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the kale, and continue to simmer until the kale and potatoes are tender but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes.
    Add the tomatoes, beans and the sausage, and continue to simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve in wide soup bowls. The soup will really sing if you drizzle each bowl with a thread of fruity olive oil.
    If you are serving this on the second day, make sure you have plenty of broth. Add water to thin the soup and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Polenta & Greens

from Heather at Pete's Greens

2 bunches cooking greens, such as kale, collards, chard, spinach
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Dash red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
2 carrots, halved and sliced (optional)
Italian seasoning herbs (optional)
Sliced shitake mushrooms (optional)
1 c grated cheese, provolone, cheddar, fontina, even feta, as you like

Wash and chop the greens. Sauté onion, garlic, and carrots and/or mushrooms in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper & red pepper and Italian herbs. Cook until browning and fragrant. Gradually add the greens, stir frying until all are incorporated and just wilted.

1 c polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3 c water
1 tsp salt

Boil water & whisk in polenta & salt. Turn down very low, watch out for sputters. Cook until thick, stirring often.
Brush a baking dish with olive oil. Pour in about 2/3 of polenta, spoon in the greens, top with remaining polenta & cheese. Take a butter knife and swirl through the top layers a bit. Bake @ 350 until bubbly and slightly browned, about 30 minutes.

A couple notes on this recipe. It is easily doubled, which makes a generous 10 x 14 Pyrex baking dish. The polenta is easier to work with if it is poured right away when it thickens. If you wait it will set up into a more solid form. Prep the vegetables and have all ingredients ready before you cook the polenta, so it will be ready at the right time, as the greens take just a few minutes.

Crispy Kale
From Nancy at Pete's Greens

Everyone loves this preparation, from kids to adults. In a nice dish, it's even fancy enough to set out at a cocktail party buffet.

1 - 2 bunches of kale (any sort will do) washed and spun dry
1 - 2 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Remove kale ribs and chop into bite size pieces. Wash kale and spin dry. On a large cookie sheet or sheet pan toss kale with oil and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Place in oven and toast kale for 25-45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until kale is crispy. How long kale will take to dehydrate depends on both the variety of the kale as well as how dry it is when it goes into the oven. Serve as an appetizer or side dish

Go eat some kale!!

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