Sunday, March 23, 2008

Enter The Ultimate Cranberry Recipe Contest

(NAPSI)-Cooking with cranberries is even more delicious when there's a $25,000 cash prize. All you have to do to participate in the Ocean Spray Ultimate Cranberry Recipe Contest is submit your own cranberry infused recipe using Ocean Spray products.

The contest is open to everyone. For details, official entry guidelines and a look at the 2007 finalist recipes for inspiration, visit (for home cooks) and www.oceanspray (for foodservice professionals).

The website also offers a free downloadable or paper copy of the Ocean Spray "12 Months of Cranberry" booklet so you can enjoy this traditional American fruit year-round.

Recipes must be original, use Ocean Spray products and can be entered in a variety of categories ranging from beverages to baked goods. Recipes will be judged on creativity, ease of preparation, taste, appearance and appeal.
Each finalist recipe will be featured on

Here is a recipe from one of last year's contest winners:

Winner in the Chef Category
Cranberry Mojito
By Jeff Leidy of Centerplate in San Diego, CA
4 brown sugar cubes
10 mint leaves
? ounce Ocean Spray® Craisins® Sweetened Dried Cranberries
Juice of 1 lime
6 ounces Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail
2 cups cubed ice
1 lime wedge, garnish
1 sugar cane swizzle stick, garnish
1 mint sprig, garnish

Place sugar cubes, mint leaves, lime juice and sweetened dried cranberries in large tumbler. Crush and combine ingredients in glass using a muddling stick or spoon, until sweetened dried cranberries and mint are minced and sugar is dissolved. Add cranberry juice and ice. Mix well.
Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with lime wedge, swizzle stick and mint sprig. Makes 1 serving.

The versatility and uniquely tart flavor of the fruit is the secret behind this Cranberry Mojito.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cranergy Energy Juice Drink

Ocean Spray has a new drink on the market, Cranergy Energy Juice Drink. I saw a display at my local Kroger and thought I'd give it a try.

There are two flavors, Cranberry Lift and Raspberry Cranberry Lift. I picked up the raspberry flavor.

First the good. It has green tea extract, B vitamins, cranberry and raspberry juices from concentrate, plus grape juice also from concentrate. It's sweetened with Splenda, thus, per the label, "50% fewer calories and less sugar". You'll get 100% of your vitamin C requirements and about half of a multitude of B vitamins if you drink one cup (8 fl oz).

Filtered water is the top ingredient, grape, then cranberry, then raspberry follow in that order. It is 20% fruit juice.

The cost was $3.99 for a 46 fl oz bottle at Kroger. Prices probably vary somewhat.

I wouldn't have noticed it if it had been on the juice aisle as it is in a standard juice bottle. That's not necessarily a problem as this isn't a true "energy" drink like Red Bull or Monster or Rock Star tout themselves to be. There is no caffeine or any of those other rev-you-up additives like you'll find in the aforementioned drinks. It's a natural energy drink. I like that. I might suggest that they consider trying a handy smaller size container like the other traditional energy drinks - they might sell more if it's easy to grab and travel.

I haven't adjusted to the taste yet. It's somewhat tart, which I suppose I should expect with a cranberry drink. Green tea has its own distinctive strong flavor, too. I think I'd like it a bit better if it had more raspberry and a bit more sweetness.

Turns out the calorie and sugar claim is as compared to a traditional energy drink (like the Monster, Red Bull, etc.). I allow myself one energy drink a day, Monster being my favorite. I drink the no-cal, no-carb version so if I switch to Cranergy I'll be getting more calories and less caffeine. I am fine with moving from caffeine to natural energy. I'm not so sure about the extra calories.*

I've only tried one bottle. I still haven't decided whether I'm going to buy a second bottle. I like the idea but I am not sold on the taste. Hmmm.... maybe I'll mix it with a Monster and see what that's like! I bet that will be really good. The best and worst of both worlds.

Bottom line: Worth a try. Priced a bit high.

*I've been reading studies that show drinking and eating products made with artificial sweeteners can result in weight gains! More on that as I continue reading and researching.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Flavor of Georgia rounds out second year with a beefy winner

Will Harris’s cowboy hat stands out in a room full of bareheaded people. His grass-fed beef stands out, too. The judges took a few juicy bites of his rib eye recipe and awarded him overall winner of the second annual Flavor of Georgia food products contest.

“I just had a very lucky day,” Harris said. “There were no losers in that room. I have immense respect for any entrepreneur who takes the risk to produce food to market outside of the industrial complex.”

At an award ceremony swirling with colors, contestants and flavors at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta on March 18, Harris, who hales from Bluffton, Ga., talked about what makes his beef tasty and his cows happy.

“Our grass-fed beef is certified humane by Humane Farm Animal Care,” he said. “It’s an artesian product, in that it’s produced the way beef was produced before the industrialization of the American beef business.”

Since 1866, the Harris family has raised cattle on their farm, White Oak Pastures. They are building a processing plant on the farm, which recently received its organic certification.
“It’s the largest certified organic farm in Georgia,” he said. “We take no shortcuts.”

“Will is the perfect example of a food entrepreneur that has taken a food niche and grown it, providing economic opportunity and development in the state of Georgia in the process,” said John McKissick, director of the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

The Flavor of Georgia contest showcases food products made in Georgia. This year, the contest drew 150 entries as diverse as organic sweet tea, a sweet pepper dressing, glazed peanuts and a sloppy Joe sauce alternative.

“We had a very good variety, a lot of new, innovative products and a lot of good entrepreneurs behind them,” McKissick said.

“Finalists used the event to network and come up with some creative ideas for future products,” said Sharon Kane, a UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences food business specialist and director of the contest. “Participation throughout the state was excellent this year.”

Harris took grand prize and first place in the meat category. Laura Darnall of Savannah won in the candy category with Candy Clay Dough, a multicolored moldable taste treat.

In the natural or organic category, Eleanor Rhangos of Savannah won for the Savannah Bee Company 100% Pure Artisanal Sourwood Honeycomb. In jams, jellies and sauces, Jan and Joel Coffee of Savannah claimed top honors with Dr. Pete’s Praline Mustard Glaze.

Top honors in barbecue and hot sauces went to Sue Sullivan of Atlanta for Hot Squeeze, a sweet gourmet kick in the taste buds. In the wine category, Mary Ann Hardeman of Clayton repeated her last year’s victory with a different vintage -- Persimmon Creek Vineyards Seyval Blanc.

In snack foods, James and Bertha Carter of Alma delivered a crunchy winner with Rockingham Fried Pecans. And in the dairy category, Ricky Sparkman and Kelvin Spurlock milked top honors with their fresh butter and milkshake-thick chocolate milk.

James Dault of Canton won the miscellaneous category with his Sweetwater Growers Infused Roasted Garlic Basil Oil.

For more information on the annual contest, go to the Flavor of Georgia Web site

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is it me or is it peanut butter?

Is it me or is it peanut butter? Have my taste buds changed so much over the years that peanut butter tastes nothing like peanuts or have they changed the way they make peanut butter? I grew up with Skippy and Peter Pan. My memory tells me that they used to taste less like chemicals and more like peanuts?

I don't eat it very often, but when I want peanut butter, I WANT peanut butter! I love nothing more than to take a tablespoon of peanut butter, mix a bit of honey in it and eat it. No bread, no jelly, just one tablespoon with honey. Protein with something for the sweet tooth. I have at times mixed some chocolate into the mix.

Add a dollop of peanut butter to a fruit smoothie and it's perfect.

I don't do it often as there's a lot of fat and calories in it. I can get my protein in less fattening ways.

I guess I'm going to have to try the natural peanut butters again. Back when I used to buy all natural it was a pain to stir the oil back into the jar. Messy, time consuming in these days of eat on the run, and generally just a pain. I saw a brand on the shelf the other day that said it was all natural but it wouldn't separate. I don't see how they can do that without some kind of additive. I'm going to take a closer look next time I'm at the store.

Am I the only one who thinks peanut butter just tastes weird anymore? I'm disappointed every time I try it. I've read that as you get older your taste buds die off or get less sensitive so those tastes you remember are still there, but they are lost to you forever. How sad. Supposedly that's why we crave sweets and salt as we get older. They still tingle the taste buds.

I wonder if there's anything that can be done to re-generate taste buds? Guess that's another subject for another day. Right now I simply want to know what has happened to my peanut butter.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Great way to get your veggies!

OK, I just saw that one of my fellow writers had added some content on here and it tweaked my conscious. Here's my contribution for the day (or should I say month??????).

This has become my favorite meal lately. It's simple, nutritious, pretty good for me and it helps me to reach that unobtainable goal of the number of daily veggies I'm supposed to be eating. I think we're now up to five to nine veggies and fruits each day aren't we? Is that because so much of our food has the goodness removed from it these days?

I don't eat near enough vegetables, mostly because everything else is so much more fun to eat.

I found these Birds Eye Steam & Serve vegetable packs at Kroger recently. They have four or five varieties of vegetables that are excellent. They come in this ready-made to toss in the microwave container that you just pull out of the freezer, nuke and eat. I have two favorite's, the "Beans with a Twist" and "Asian Vegetables with Roasted Cashews". I toss in some cranberries with the Asian veggies after I've steamed them part way. I nuke a pack of the Minute Ready to Serve Brown Rice to mix with the Beans with a Twist. I dump the rice in, mix it up and voila, I have a meal.

I guess if you feel like you need some meat you could serve them up with chicken or fish on the side. I leave off the meat and eat the entire container instead! It's supposed to be 2 - 3 servings, so I'm getting a really filling meal with minimal to no guilt (depending on which one I choose to eat, the one with butter works out to be about 330 calories without the rice. Adding the rice adds 170 calories. I usually sprinkle a bit of the non-gritty fiber stuff on anything that has fat in it just to mitigate some of the fat guilt.

The downside to the Birds Eye packs is the cost. They run around $3 each, which doesn't sound like a lot until you realize you can get a huge pack of green beans or broccoli for half that price. However, for me the convenience and taste are worth the price. Looking at it another way, if I stopped at a fast food restaurant for lunch it would cost me at least twice that amount, I'd be eating at least three or four times the calories and be getting a fraction of the nutritional benefits.

If I could figure out some way to recycle the black plastic containers the food comes in, I'd feel so virtuous I might have to eat two varieties on some days!

Hey, here's a kicker --- I just did a search on the Birds Eye Steam & Serve and discovered that they've been around since at least 2006. Gee, I thought this was something new I'd discovered. Oh well, they're still good. I just wish our local Wal-Mart carried them (although I've found that surprisingly, Kroger is often much cheaper than Wal-Mart).

That's it for me for the day. Hopefully I'll do better but I think I've said that before.

The Village Cafe is at it again...

I've said it before and you'll hear it again: The Village Cafe is my favorite southside Atlanta restaurant. They have an outstanding menu, a fantastic staff and the food is always so great I wish I could eat there every night. Yes, I could easily eat there every night and never get bored as there is a LOT of variety on the menu.

What got me started so early this morning on The Village? Just opened my email and had a notice about their upcoming Easter buffet. They have a special menu for the day and it is truly spectacular!

Let me tempt you...

Fresh Spring Mix Green Salad
Shrimp and Crabmeat Salad
Chicken Waldorf Salad
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Domestic & Imported Cheese Board

Pineapple Glazed Ham
Carved Roast Beef au jus
Chicken Marsala
Baked Tilapia - Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

Mousseline Potatoes
Steamed Vegetable Medley
Wild Rice

A Variety of Village Café Specialties

Coffee, Tea, and Soda

11:30 AM TO 3:30 PM

ADULTS $22.95
CHILDREN (5-10 YEARS) $9.95

Now if the food isn't enough to make you want to visit, let me tell you one more thing that I think makes it worth giving it a try if you haven't: the staff, management and owner.

The service is always impeccable.

In these days of get 'em in and get 'em out, cut back on service, restaurants (and retail) it is SO refreshing to eat at a place where the service is above the norm and where you can get to know the people who own and work at the restaurant. It drives me nuts at some restaurants when I see the manager doing his or her obligatory stop at the table to see if everyone is OK. Not because it's necessarily a bad idea, but because it's obvious they're just checking a box on a sheet. It's not real. Not so at The Village. Yes, you'll see the owner or manager stopping at tables, but it's a friendly visit and they genuinely want to get to know you and make sure you're having a great experience. They know "the signs", too, that show you're having a private dinner and don't want to be interrupted.

I was at the restaurant the other night for a Board meeting. We met in the private dining area in the back. There were around 15 - 20 of us ordering, yakking, meeting, breaking out into groups and we had one server. You would have thought we had ten. Wanda was great. All around the table I heard people make comments about how wonderful the food was... some hadn't been in a while (Peachtree City folks who don't make the trek to Fayetteville very often), some had never been at all and couldn't believe they'd overlooked it. I heard snippets of conversations off and on all night about how much they were enjoying the food. Do you know how rare it is to have that many people in one room for a group dinner and not have someone unhappy - or at least unimpressed - about something?

Have I mentioned the quality entertainment they have on the weekends? No? You do realize I could wax eloquent for hours and hours on this restaurant! The Easter Buffet is a small sampling of the variety on the menu. Go. Try. Enjoy.

I'll close out with the note from owner, Tom Shaver, that came with my email:

Easter comes early this year - Sunday, March 23. Please join us for our spectacular Easter Buffet, offered from 11:30AM to 3:30PM. We will have an extensive selection of great items - and we promise you won't go home hungry!

Please call us at 770-460-9449 to make reservations for this special day. Just think: no cooking, no clean-up - just sit back and enjoy our wonderful spread!

We look forward to seeing you!

The Village Cafe'
175 Banks Station Shopping Center
Fayetteville, Georgia
Sunday, March 23
11:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Please call for reservations

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dangerous Imports - Foreign foods causing foodborne illnesses

By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia

In 2004, for the first time ever, the United States imported more food than it exported. If this trend continues, a University of Georgia expert predicts cases of foodborne illness will rise in the U.S.

“The occurrence and size of foodborne outbreaks in the U.S. will likely increase dramatically as more of our food is imported,” said Michael Doyle, director of the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga. “The differential keeps growing and growing.”

The U.S. food supply overall is safe, but more than 70 million cases of foodborne illness are reported each year, Doyle said. Fresh vegetables are becoming a major vehicle for the transmission of foodborne pathogens, especially E. coli.

“Outbreaks associated with fresh produce will likely continue as we consume more fresh produce,” Doyle said.

Sliced vegetables are easily contaminated, he said, because microbes on the vegetables’ surfaces can attach to the wounds created by slicing.

“Treatments for fresh-cut produce, such as chlorine, are not fully effective for killing harmful bacteria,” Doyle said. “Neither producers nor consumers have an effective treatment available for produce.”

Poor refrigeration in homes and at some grocery stores also contributes to contamination, along with ineffective cleaning and disinfecting.

Imported vegetables are often contaminated due to unsafe farming practices, like using untreated human and animal waste to irrigate crops, he said. “Many developing countries don’t have the same hygiene and sanitary standards for producing and processing foods like we have in the U.S.”

Most food exports into the U.S. come from Canada and Mexico, he said. But Brazil and China are becoming major agriculture producers and exporters.

A large percentage of nuts, garlic, cucumbers and tomatoes are imported into the U.S. from India, China and Mexico. “India is a primary provider of tree nuts,” Doyle said. “If you eat cashews, they probably came from India.”

The increase of imported foods has overwhelmed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, he said. Its inspectors are only able to visually check one percent of shipments.

There are also issues surrounding the safety of imported fish. Some 480 million pounds of salmon and 1.1 billion pounds of shrimp are imported annually.

Most imported seafood is farm-raised. Many foreign fish producers use excessive levels of antibiotics, including many that are not allowed for fish in the U.S. They also use fecal waste that is contaminated with harmful microorganisms, Doyle said.

“Safety standards for imported foods must be changed,” he said. “If they aren’t, we are likely to see even more foodborne illness outbreaks in this country.”
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream celebrates their ‘HOT’ addition

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream on Jodeco Road in McDonough, GA is the leading expert on creating an experience. These experiences range from their Friends Helping Friends events, to celebrate and bring hope for kids battling Childhood Cancer, to their famous P.J. Day where free ice cream is given if you visit in your pajamas (March 1, 2008).

Each visit to Bruster’s is already a grand experience in fun and the most delightful ice cream. The addition of Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs will complete the perfect dining out experience. Co-branding with Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs will also provide Bruster’s Real Ice Cream the opportunity to host many more events and open their doors to cater many different types of occasions. They are planning on offering Hot Dog eating contests, just as the famous Nathan’s on Coney Island, and expand their party options on their lot on Jodeco Road as well.

The Nathan’s menu will include Nathan’s famous hot dogs with all the toppings, their hot and delicious crinkle cut fries, fresh chicken tenders made with all white meat, and hot dog nuggets. Nathan’s famous lemonade and fresh brewed tea will also be added. Combined with an already outrageous ice cream line up, it is the recipe for success!

Support grows for stronger regulation of imports

The White House has voiced support for extending federal oversight of food safety beyond the nation’s borders to the points of origination for imports, addressing what many experts regard as the top current risk to the U.S. food supply.

In a letter to two lawmakers, Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt said the law empowering the Food and Drug Administration to safeguard the nation’s foods, drugs and cosmetics has “not kept up to date” with “global marketing realities.” He suggested that the legislation should be amended to provide the agency with “explicit extraterritorial jurisdiction” over sources of food products that are imported into the United States.

However, Leavitt did not say how Washington would guarantee recognition of the FDA’s expanded jurisdiction by foreign governments, some of which have flatly refused to grant U.S. officials access to plants or regulators. Food-safety specialists often cite the irony that China refused to let FDA officials check out a factory that was believed to be the source of a wide-scale pet-food poisoning last year, but reporters from The New York Times were able to get into the warehouse and pinpoint the source.

Nor did Leavitt address the issue of funding for the FDA. Many experts have warned that the agency lacks sufficient funds to fulfill its current obligations. Expanding the administration’s scope would presumably further tax the HHS agency’s current level of resources.

The letter was disclosed Friday by Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee. It was a reply to a letter sent in December by two committee members who pressed Leavitt to consider an expansion of the FDA’s jurisdiction beyond the United States.

“Leavitt’s agreement with this idea now broadens the support to Health and Human Services and the president’s top adviser on import safety,” said a statement from the Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The December letter was co-written by Reps. Joe Barton of Texas and John Shimkus of Illinois, the ranking Republican on the committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
At present, imports in effect become subject to the regulation of the FDA — or in some instances, the U.S. Department of Agriculture — at the point of entry into the United States.

- From "Nation's Restaurant News"