Holiday Family Traditions

milk and cookiesBy Diane Ruyack

What a special time of the year to have family traditions.  Obviously, putting up the Christmas tree, either  chop one down or drag it out of storage and put it up is one of those traditions.  Have hot chocolate and cookies to go with decorating.  Giving an ornament to each child every year (mark them with name and date) is fun and a great starter for their future family Christmases.  Some people then have a slumber party under the tree with even Dad participating!  Cookie and baking days are so special!  Teaching children how to cook is a blessing and letting them be creative in decorating with frosting, sprinkles, etc is also great fun.  But eating them with a big cold glass of milk is best of all!

Checking out the Christmas lights and going to the top of the City County building in Indy is a highlight for our family. Another family tradition is an advent calendar where everyone takes a turn to open one of the tiny little doors to see what is inside. This helps young children learn about waiting.  Having a special menu after Christmas eve service is a way to keep cultural foods handed down from one generation to the next.  Many people have special soups, pasta dishes, and/or desserts.  Reading the Christmas story before bedtime is a terrific way to remember the reason for the season. Start Christmas off with homemade rolls, pancakes shaped as snowmen, brunch casseroles that can be made beforehand and baked Christmas morning.  Try waffles with ice cream and  if you haven’t tried peppermint ice cream, you haven’t lived!

Making your own gifts such as homemade cookies, candy in a basket or festive plate or cards is another terrific way to be creative and stay on budget. There are all kinds of traditions that make Christmas  the most special of holidays!

Ingredient Substitutions

Hot CocoaBy Diane Ruyack

If you don’t have a particular ingredient for a recipe — or you don’t want to buy it, or you run out while you’re cooking — here are some swaps you can make with ingredients at hand.  For sour cream or mayonnaise use fat-free, plain Greek yogurt. It is just as thick and creamy with less fat and double the protein.  Idea: Mix a scoop of Greek yogurt with salsa for a dip. Equal amounts of yogurt can be used instead of sour cream.  For butter, half is replaced with half as much yogurt. (1 cup of butter would become ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of yogurt.)  For shortening or oil, replace half the oil with three-quarters the amount of yogurt. (For example, instead of 1 cup of oil, use 1/2 cup of oil and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of yogurt.)

Swap out the oil in baked goods with the same proportion of applesauce,  strained prunes (use baby food, if you want to save a step), mashed banana, pumpkin puree.  You may want to reduce the sugar a little since fruits are sweet.

If you are out of eggs for baking, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water or for  2 eggs substitute 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute.

Regular whole wheat flour can be strong in flavor and texture, but there are two kinds of whole wheat flour that are closer replacements for all-purpose flour. When a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, you can substitute white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour for 25 – 50 percent of the amount. Both of these swaps work great for many baked goods, but may present too much flavor for the most delicate items like angel food cake.

Another simple substitution for 1 ounce of chocolate is 3 tablespoons cocoa. Making frothy hot cocoa is easy just use 1 c. milk, 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp cocoa powder cook on low until desired temperature! Whisk until frothy.  Bottoms up!

Tomorrow is Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

Time TravelBy Mary Nicholson

If you could time travel, which way would you go – forward or backward?  This year, I’ve felt like I’ve been traveling forward much faster than usual.  It was a big and busy year, both with work and family.  We started the year being involved with Fuel Up to Play 60 at the NFL Experience during the Super Bowl festivities.  We also helped to host a national Fuel Up to Play 60 forum soon after that.  Then toss in two college graduations, a first-ever family reunion, a conference in Denver, the Year of Dairy Cows at the State Fair, and a daughter’s wedding.  My Mom always said the older you get, the faster time goes, and I certainly see what she meant!  So, I think, in an attempt to put on the brakes, I’ll opt for traveling backward.

I’m not sure how far back I would travel, but I don’t think I’d care to go back before certain discoveries were made.  For instance, I’m not too fond of pain, so I wouldn’t want to go back before buffered aspirin was available around 1853.  Then, even smart people, like surgeons, were unaware that (a) germs existed and (b) that they could cause diseases. Imagine being present when it was discovered that washing your hands would have a huge impact on death rates! Food safety is also a plus in my book, so I wouldn’t want to travel back before Louis Pasteur patented the process to make milk safe!  Originally discovered during the 1860’s in response to problems in the wine industry, the pasteurization of dairy products didn’t get started until the mid-to-late 1880’s.  So it doesn’t look like I’m going to be travelling too far back!

I think I could deal with a day during the 1920’s, probably in Chicago.  I think I’d want to be in a big city to capture all that I could in 24 hours.  Buildings that are now landmarks, such as Shedd Aquarium, would just be getting underway.  But dining and shopping in the city would still be quite an experience.  I was always fond of the flapper dresses when I was little.  I wonder if a klutzy dame could learn to do the Charleston in 24 hours?

Nutrition in Disguise

 By Mary Nicholson

It’s here!  Time for the Big Pumpkin!  Is your pumpkin patch sincere?  Just in case this doesn’t make any sense, you might tune in to “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (8:00 pm ET on ABC).  Making its debut in 1966, this special features the Peanuts gang getting ready to celebrate Halloween. Linus is sure this time the Great Pumpkin will rise from his pumpkin patch, while Charlie Brown and the rest of the crew go trick or treating.

If you’ve been down the dairy aisle at your local grocery store during the last couple of weeks, you may have seen some of the Peanuts gang showing off their own chocolate milk mustaches.  You know, of course, that chocolate milk is the official drink of Halloween, don’t you?  Just as  trick-or-treaters venture out in disguise, chocolate milk is nutrition in disguise!  Who knew 9 essential nutrients could taste so good?

Chocolate milk has all the goodness of white milk.  Oh sure, we all know milk has calcium for strong bones and teeth, but what are those other eight nutrients?  Milk is fortified with Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium; you might say they are a dynamic duo, a powerful pair, a terrific twosome, and so on.  The protein in milk is high quality, and it help build and repair muscles.  You’ll need strong muscles to carry all that trick-or-treat loot!  There’s also Vitamin A, important for vision and skin, not to mention keeping your immune system strong.  Vitamin B12 serves as an oxygen transporter, and riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps convert food into energy.  That’s very important when exercising those muscles! Continue reading

The best use of a quarter

By Michelle Plummer

The drought is profoundly affecting American agriculture and dairy farmers are some of the hardest hit. Dairy farmers appreciate Americans understanding their situation, and recognize these are tough time s for everyone.  Consumers can show their support for dairy farmers by continuing to enjoy and purchase nutritious, and great tasting dairy products.

Dairy farmers don’t control the price of milk at the store and a higher cost at retail doesn’t mean farmers make more money, on average farmers receive 30% of the retail cost.  Thinking about all the farmers do every day to make sure they deliver a perfect product, that isn’t much money!  An 8-ounce glass of milk costs about a quarter and provides so much benefit.

At the American Dairy Association we have a slogan and it seems to never go out of style that Dairy is always in season!  Today I want to share three of my very favorite dairy recipes that are good for you and your wallet!  Just in time for the Fall Season.

Maple and Fruit Oatmeal

½ cup oats                                                                           1 cup milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup                                          ½ banana sliced

In microwave safe bowl combine oats and milk.  Place in microwave for 2 minutes on high; stir halfway through cooking time.  Remove from microwave and top with maple syrup and sliced bananas.  Delicious!  Additional toppers: Peanut butter and fruit, nuts, spices, wheat germ (the sky’s the limit, be creative!)

Creamy Mac and Cheese

2 tablespoons butter                                                      2 tablespoons onion

2 tablespoons flour                                                         2 cups milk

8 ounces of macaroni                                                     2 dashes each Worcestershire, tabasco, cayenne pepper

2 cups assorted cheese, cubed                                  1 cup cooked chicken

½ cup peas and carrots

Cook macaroni in boiling water until tender; drain.  Meanwhile, in pan the macaroni was cooked in add butter, and onion.  Sauté for 3 minutes, add flour and stir for 3 minutes.  Add milk and whisk until smooth and add the Worcestershire, tabasco, cayenne and cheese.  Cook until smooth.  Add macaroni and chicken and combine.  Lastly add peas and carrots.  Here is the decision — bake or stove top?  At our house I like stove top and others like the crunchy edges—either way if you bake it place contents in the pan to a prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until you see the crunchy edges.  You can also add spinach or red peppers or salsa…. just open the fridge and get a bit wild! 

Ole’ Quesadillas!

4- 7” flour tortillas                                                            16 ounce package of onion pepper medley

1 tablespoon taco seasoning                                       1 cup grated cheese, assorted mild and sharp

Salsa                                                                                      avocado slices

In large skillet place frozen onion pepper mixture and add taco seasoning plus ¼ cup water.  Cook until tender about 5 minutes and mixture is dry.  On griddle place the tortillas add ¼ of the pepper mixture to each and top with ¼ of cheese on half of the tortilla.  Flip the top over the mixture and griddle until golden then flip to second side and griddle until golden.  Remove from griddle and place on platters. Serve with salsa, taco sauce, sour cream or plain yogurt and avocado.  Using a pizza cutter cut each quesadilla into fourths and serve with a green salad topped with salsa!  OLE!

Droughts May Affect More Than You Think

By Sarah Wagler, Wagler Dairy Farm, Morgantown

Remember that kid’s song, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day…”? Boy, we sure weren’t singing that nursery rhyme this year! Instead, we were praying every day for rain!

Hi! My name is Sarah Wagler, and my husband and his family dairy farm in Brown County. Every day, we work hard to help our cows produce wholesome, nutritious, delicious milk!

This summer required harder work because of the drought. This year started out beautiful and our crops were growing great and were a wonderful shade of green. Then it stopped raining.

Personally, the drought gave me a little vacation from mowing the grass, but that is probably the only perk! When I looked out our front door, my flowers were brown, our grass was brown, the crops lost their wonderful shade of green and weren’t growing and our ponds were getting lower and lower. Just like your flowers and vegetables were probably not doing as well this summer, more than the looks of our crops were hurt too.

The drought drastically affected the nutritional value and yield of our crops. Simply, our crops didn’t make as much and what they did make is not as nutritious. So what does this mean? It means we are going to have to feed more to achieve the same value.

Many homes and livestock producers in Brown County water themselves and their animals out of ponds or off of springs. No rain equals no pond or spring water, which means no water for the animals. That is one horrible equation!

What made it even worse for us was that our lactating cows—the cows we milk three times a day—drink a lot of water, about a bath tub full every day! It makes sense when you think that milk is over 85% water. So what did we do? We moved water, we moved water, and we moved water! For our lactating cows, we pumped water from one pond to the actual pond we utilize for water. For our younger animals out on pasture, we would truck water to troughs—big holding containers that are low enough for the cows to drink from.

Going along with the lack of rain, the extreme heat also decreases the amount of milk our cows give every day. Boy, it is scary to think how many things are linked to the weather. I guess the vacation from mowing was the only perk. All we can do now is pray for better weather next year!

Celebrate National Cookie Month with Milk!

By Michelle Plummer

In the midst of all the Fall Festival goodies of pumpkins, caramel apples and kettle corn we can’t nor should we forget the glorious COOKIE!  The reason for National Cookie Month is to help you learn, enjoy and enhance your cookie knowledge… and you thought a cookie is a cookie.

Since it is National Cookie Month, I decided to take a small office poll of coworkers’ favorite cookie…well no one agreed one the same cookie.  I guess we will just enjoy a variety of cookies from date cookies to peanut butter with the closes agreeing point being chocolate chips for this month!

Chocolate chips is the number one addition to in cookies- Americans love the Toll House or Chocolate Chip cookie- soft, crunchy, warm or frozen- we have an obsession! The next cookie contender is the Oreo!

Travel down a grocery aisle, walk through the mall or on a chilly day take a deep whiff of the neighborhood and someone is bound to be shopping, baking or buying cookies!  Those golden little cakes are just right for fingers to grasp, the perfect diameter for dunking in a glass!  Yes, a glass of ice cold milk! It is really hard to enjoy a cookie (your favorite) and not grab for a glass and reach in the fridge!  Whether you are a dunker or a dipper; a sipper or a guzzler, milk is the perfect companion for cookies.  Go ahead… get your favorite cookie, grab a glass of milk and enjoy a great snack while you are providing your body with a powerhouse of nutrition.  Cookie month is 31 days long… that would be 31 reasons to enjoy an extra glass of milk daily!