“Fake Cheese”

Squeeze Cheese

In our family, the words “processed” and “cheese” paired together will result in a wrinkled nose and furrowed eyebrows. The thought of taking perfectly good cheese, melting it down, and adding more things like whey, emulsifiers, milk, salts, preservatives, and food coloring is something we would never consider. It’s just wrong. Processed cheese is often called “fake cheese” in our house, though a few of us may have some hidden in the back of the refrigerator… *cough* kraft singles *cough*.

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Much of the literature on processed cheese has been hidden away in the past, either protected by patents since expired, or held as trade secrets. Modern cheese making has taken a renewed interest in this type of cheese because of the customization opportunities. Its versatility has made processed cheese one of the most popular varieties in the world. Processed cheese can be packaged into everything from a block, to a slice, to a can! I mean, you can spray cheddar out of a can. Who doesn’t want to draw little smiley faces with cheese??

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Technically, this type of cheese cannot be sold as “cheese”, it has it be called a “cheese food”. The FDA bases how a cheese product is labeled on their milk fat, moisture content, and their cheese content. Cheese content is measured by these three categories.

Pasteurized process cheese – contains 100% cheese
Pasteurized process cheese food – contains at least 51% cheese.
Pasteurized process cheese product – contains less than 51% cheeseSqueeze Cheese (40 of 89)

If you are interested in making your own processed cheese (this way you know exactly what goes into it), click HERE for Aunt Ruth’s recipe and directions! She also had some pretty cute kids over to play with the stuff so you can see what kind of fun you can have with your family!

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Basically what she did is mix milk, cheese, and gelatin creating a simple and much more wholesome version of this versatile cheese! Fun fact! While this Aunt Ruth’s version used only 3 ingredients, the ingredient list for a Kraft single looks more like this…

  • Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes)
  • Whey
  • Water
  • Protein concentrate
  • Milk
  • Sodium citrate
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Milkfat
  • Gelatin
  • Salt
  • Sodium phosphate
  • Lactic acid as a preservative
  • Annatto and paprika extract (color)
  • Enzymes
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Cheese culture
  • Vitamin D3

Squeeze Cheese (30 of 89)

We like Aunt Ruth’s version better 😉

Do you Dahi?

Well do you?

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Dahi (the Hindi word for yogurt) is a thick, creamy, yogurt traditionally made in India. However, we also produce it here! Yogurt days are considered “fun days” back in the plant. It’s a process that takes up a couple tanks, so usually we only produce yogurt making it a relatively light day. For the most part we just fill containers and buckets with a thick milky substance, chat, and try to make sure the cup filling machine (that thing has a personality all its own!) behaves itself.

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After the containers are filled they are then transferred to a warm room where the yogurt begins to set up. This is how we achieve that thick substance. There are no gelatins or preservatives in this type of yogurt, it’s just milk and a yogurt culture. They sit in the warm room for the afternoon, then are transferred to the cooler where they await to be packed up and shipped out.

When describing our yogurt to a customer, I typically compare it to a Greek yogurt. It’s got the thick, creamy goodness that could hold a spoon straight up! It’s also made with a milk powder, so there are more milk sugars, making it naturally sweeter than typical plain yogurt. However, if you are looking to use it in cooking it is very different. Greek style yogurts are made with additional additives (gelatin’s) to make it stiffer, and these break down when cooked causing problems with whatever you are making. Our Dahi style yogurt has nothing extra added to it, so it is wonderful to bake/cook with! Check back Thursday for a new yogurt recipe, but until then you can always try a dollop over some fresh fruit!

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5 reasons for Diabetics to love cheese!

For Diabetics, it’s typically not a great idea to cover everything in cheese (but hey, no judging if you do it anyway) due to the calories and saturated fat levels, but when paired with a well-rounded diet, a little cheese course can be an excellent thing! Here’s why!

  1. The protein in cheese can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates eaten at the same meal or snack and therefore help balance your blood-sugar levels and improve mood as well. Paneer
  2. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cheese eaters reported a 12% lower risk of diabetes than those who refused the goodness of cheese.
  3. Cheese has a low glycemic index, therefore if you pair it with a high GI item, it will balance to form a combo that would only moderately affect your blood sugar levels. For example, eating a piece of bread paired with cheeses would have a lower GI than the bread alone. cheddarandbread
  4. Replacing calories from carbs with calories from cheese is a great way to help achieve a more balanced blood sugar level. A good example of this would be using less pasta noodles in a baked pasta dish and instead adding a low-fat ricotta.
  5. Stronger tasting cheeses (something with an age or a flavor like our Sweet Red Pepper Gouda) will be easier to use as a replacement, because they have a fuller flavor. So you wouldn’t need as much Sharp Cheddar for example, as you would a milder version. cheddarbuffer2

Say Cheese!

Did you know cheese is good for your teeth? It’s true! Research published in the General Dentistry Journal shows 12-15 year-olds who ate cheddar cheese had lower acid levels in their mouths than even those who ate sugar free yogurt or had a glass of milk! This is because cheese has cariostatic properties. Meaning it acts to prevent (or delay) tooth decay.

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Eating a small amount of cheese after each meal neutralizes the acid left behind by the food you have just eaten. Sodas and sugary foods are more acidic, so a little cheesy snack after these types of treats is even more effective.

Cheese (the harder the better) is also considered a “saliva maker”. Saliva is your body’s best natural defense against tooth decay because it contains traces of calcium and phosphate. Combined with the natural calcium in cheese, this increases the concentration of these minerals in your dental plaque, hardening your tooth enamel!

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I know you don’t need another reason to enjoy your cheese…but it’s nice to know your “guilty pleasure” doesn’t have to be quite so guilty 😉

What makes Quark special?

First of all, the name is pretty special don’t you think? The first time someone hears the name always gets a pretty good facial expression. Quark is mostly compared to cream cheese or sour cream, and makes a great substitute for either. This soft white cheese can also be compared to/substituted for ricotta and mascarpone. There are certain things to do when using Quark as a substitute, but overall it can be a great tasting, high protein, low fat alternative!

Quark is a German cheese classified as “fresh acid-set”. What that means, is the milk is heated, a coagulant (like an acid) is added, and it sets up overnight before it is packaged. I would describe the flavor most like a sour cream, but with a stronger, tangier aftertaste.

Cream-Cheese

Cream cheese is made in a similar process as Quark in that it’s heated and a coagulant is added. Mascarpone is also made similarly, but it’s basically one step away from butter. SO rich! It’s richness is perfect in desserts such as tiramisu!

mascarpone

Sour cream however, is made by fermenting (heating) cream or milk, and adding a specific bacteria (in place of an acid) to thicken.

sourcream

Ricotta is a little more fun because it’s a “whey cheese”. The whey is the byproduct of other cheeses such as Mozzarella. Ricotta is made by heating whey to a high temperature and adding an acid to create curd! It has a little more of a grainy, almost fluffy texture when eaten plain, but for the most part it’s a cooking cheese. The plain, very mild flavor blends well when baked into things like a cheesy lasagna!

 

ricotta

Each of these cheeses have their own unique flavors and textures, but all are great! Check in on Thursday to see exactly how to use Quark as a substitute for any of these cheeses!

Christmas at the Appel’s

Christmas at the Appel household is always a special time. Laughter and hugs abound as we try to fit five families into one living room, but before we bow our heads to pray (and then eat!) we have a tradition. We read from a passage in the Bible, and listen to a few stories about the incredible workings of the Lord in our family. This quote is from the book Beppe put together, a precious thought to remember during this season.

“Who can describe the love, joy, and feeling of fulfillment that comes with a first born? Our Lord came in to the world that way. Such a humble beginning on earth for the Prince of Peace. It is a great mystery, and it changed the world. How can we ever be thankful enough for His unchanging love and mercy for us, His children?”

-Audrey Appel

Then, after our devotions, we sing!

 

Not going to lie, we have a pretty solid chorus of clear, strong voices complete with various harmonies. However, what stands out even more is the passion behind these voices. Voices reflecting lives broken, but pulled together again by the grace of God. Whole families who have had their trials, but are together for this day, because we are celebrating the birth of our Savior, and no squabble tops that. Hearts open in praise, because they can’t, and won’t, be held back.

I know Pake is singing his heart out in heaven, joining his rich baritone voice with his brothers and sisters in continuous praise to our Lord. But I also like to think maybe he takes a little break to peer into our living room full of family, and listen. The lessons he taught along with Beppe, continue to be taught by their sons and daughters, and someday will hopefully be taught by their grandchildren. A legacy of unchanging love and mercy never to be forgotten, and a Lord who deserves our highest praise.

Chris, Tyler, Shelby

Merry Christmas everyone! May you find your song, whatever it may be, and sing your heart out this Christmas season. Thank you for reading along 🙂

 

Stories from Beppe: Christmas Treats

Christmas time brings about some of the most delicious treats, reserved specifically for the holidays. The fall kicks off with Pumpkin flavored everything while the holiday season ushers in a festive selection of eggnog, candy canes, and star shaped cookies. We joyfully plunge into decor and gifting with anticipation of the big day, while trying to keep our calm weaving through the madness that is the mall.

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These classic sugar cookies are sold in our baked goods case! Can you guess our secret ingredient?

Let me, or rather Beppe, take you back to a simpler time. At the young age of 7, Beppe’s first Christmas away from home was spent with some local relatives. She has fond memories of her first Christmas tree and the treats that made the day special.

During Christmas vacation, I went to stay with some relatives about 8 miles away from where we lived. My uncle and aunt had one son and one daughter, both much older than I. Never in all the times I spent with them through the years did I ever feel unwelcome. It was in their home I saw a Christmas tree for the first time. The little tree was just a small artificial one, but oh, the wonder of it! I helped my cousin decorate it with glittering balls, real candles, and a little angel on the top!

In the Netherlands, we celebrated First Christmas Day and Second Christmas Day. First Christmas Day, (the 25th of December) was like any other Sunday except the pastor preached from the book of Luke or on the prophesies of Jesus’ birth. On Second Christmas Day, (the 26th) we attended church again, but this time the choir sang. Then in the afternoon service, the Sunday school children recited some Bible verses and we each got a cup of hot chocolate. We as Sunday school children also received a book and an orange. I too, got an orange. When we arrived home, my aunt cut a little hole in the top of the orange into which she put a little sugar. I could spoon the delicious juice into my mouth, what a treat!

Do you have a favorite treat? Some little thing to transport you back to a simpler time? For Beppe, it is a little orange with a spoon full of sugar. For me, it’s a pretty tin can filled with flavored (and somewhat stale) popcorn. This was the traditional Christmas tree decorating snack in our farmhouse. Even in my new home, I can’t help but grab a tin while holiday shopping! I hope you find that simple pleasure this Christmas season, and I hope even more you find the time to enjoy it!

Marshmallows

 

 

Stories from Beppe: The first Nor’Easter

Around our county, we periodically have these snowstorms which are combined with a bitter wind strong enough to blow a child over. This wind is infamously known as a “Nor’easter”, named for the direction it comes from. Now obviously this is not the story of the first North East wind of all time. Rather, it is the story of the first legendary storm my grandparents, Jack and Audrey Appel, experienced on our farm! As told by the matriarch of our family, our Beppe!

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This time of year always “encouraged” the grownups to find creative ways to entertain us!

“We had moved to Whatcom County in the year 1967. Once in a while we would hear people mention the northeaster, but we had no clue really what they were talking about. Our first winter was a mild one, but the next winter (of ’68) made a lasting impression.

One week after the Christmas vacation, the wind started to blow and didn’t stop for two weeks. Jack worked long, long days to keep the farm and dairy cows going in such freezing conditions. Our driveway was so full of snow it was impossible for even the snow plow to get through. The milk truck could drive across the neighbor’s field, so we were grateful the milk would not have to be dumped. The hired help couldn’t come because the snow had drifted across the roads, making them impassable. A neighbor from across the road showed up to help out, were we ever grateful to him!

We were ill prepared and everything froze. The generator didn’t work right away, and by the time it did it was too late. The worst of it was the cows couldn’t drink. After the milking Jack would herd them to the creek where a small stream still trickled. A few of the cows, to our great horror, walked up to the iced over pond instead. The ice cracked as the cows skittered around, but  it held.

Our children were cooped up the house, and there were two children living next door with their mother, so of course they had to come over to play! Because it was too cold upstairs, we brought the mattresses down on which they could sleep. The boys built forts with them during the day and had a great time.

A few times the boys and girls (7 total, all under the age of 10) got into each other’s hair, even though I had separated them in different parts of the house. One of the doors had a mirror on it and the kids slammed the door so hard it shattered into a thousand pieces. That’s when I broke down. However, the struggles were soon forgotten when the wind stopped after two weeks of howling in our snowed filled world. After the children went back to school, all the broken water pipes were fixed and our life returned to normal.

In the meantime, Jack had lost ten pounds and now we too could talk about the northeaster from experience.”

-Audrey Appel

Stories from Beppe: The Little Smeerlap

With Thanksgiving come and gone, it is now officially Christmas season! The brisk weather ushers in a time where we may blast carols without being chided, wear obnoxiously bright green and red everything, and throw glitter around like no one’s business. The hustle and bustle of this time of year may be the source of a little stress for some, but deep down we love preparing for and spending this special day celebrating our Lord’s birth with our family and friends. For the month of December, I will be sharing stories close to our family’s heart, stories told to us by our Beppe. These have been the cause of much laughter at our family gatherings but also a source of wisdom, lessons to be learned, and fond memories. Please, grab a cup of coffee, some delicious, flaky banket, and come into our home! You may feel a little cozy squeezed between Aunt Elaine’s laughter, Uncle Gerald’s soft spoken stories, and who knows how many grand kids at your feet. We welcome you!

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We sell these as a fundraiser for a local school!

 

Growing up, we would often spend time with our Pake and Beppe while dad was working and mom ran errands. There have been tales of the grand children being stuck there because a “Nor’easter” blew in and stranded us there for the night. Eventually someone would plow a tractor down the road to pick us up, but we were always more than happy to stay with them until then! Here is a story told by Beppe of one winter when she and Pake took seven grandchildren for a whole week. The Richard in this story is my younger brother, whom has always been a little rascal… still is sometimes!
Katherine

“I often had them sit around the table, playing with play dough. One time, little Richard (this would be Richard Jr., my younger brother) who was four years old, got tired of it and started to throw play dough balls. Pake felt he had to put a stop to that immediately. He said “Quit that, you little smeerlap.” Richard responded promptly, “you’re a little smeerlap yourself.” Smeerlap, translated freely, means “dirty rascal”. It was so funny and Pake loved it, but I told him “Don’t tell Rich and Ann tonight!” When they got tired of the play dough I would send them down to the basement to play. One time, when they went down I heard excited screaming. The basement was flooded! They had already taken their socks off and were ready to wade in the water! So, upstairs again we go!”

Audrey Appel

I can’t imagine trying to entertain all of us, but I do remember playing with play dough quite often! I specifically remember making birds, complete with a nest and little eggs! We also made snakes, but I don’t like those as well 😉

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Look at his little angel face!

Raising a Farm Family.

My siblings and I learned to love farming at an early age. From riding on the tractor with our Dad to exploring the wooded areas and streams running through our farmland. Our world was full of bare feet, scraped knees, and coming home soaked to the bone (much to our mother’s dismay) because we were drawn to any type of water like magnets. In my opinion, a childhood like that is hard to beat. However, anyone who knows me even a little bit is already privilege to that information. I thought we could let my dad do a little bit of the talking, starting with what it was like to raise a “Farm Family”. 

Young Family
  My parents were married at a fairly young age, and had my brother Chris about a year after they were married. In this photo they’re probably in their early and mid twenties. My age! I can’t imagine raising a family being so young while also owning a farm!

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What was it like raising a family on a farm?

“It was awesome, because I was always home! When we (John and Rich) were younger we did all our own milking, so I would get up early and go out to the barn. By 8:00 we had been up for 4 hours working, so I’d coming in about then for breakfast. My family would just be getting rolling, so lots of times I would just make breakfast for everybody and kind of get everyone together. We would have breakfast together and I could go back out to work before coming in for lunch. Later in the afternoon I would work until after the evening milking (about 7:00), and then we could have supper together. It was a busy life, but it was pretty structured, and we were able to be around all the time. A lot of the time after breakfast in the morning, I’d take at least one or two of the kids with me. We would ride in the pickup or they could just hang around with me. We did a lot of that, and it was nice to be able to give mom a break with four little kids.”

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“One of the beautiful things about growing up on a farm is being able to go out and play in the barn, build hay forts, jump off things, and just be able to run around. Then seeing my kids enjoy the same things. The same little creeks that I thought were so big and wonderful to explore. When I got older they were not nearly as big, but then they were to my kids. They were the same mystery to each generation, to each little kid, to explore. It was all brand new, all over again! I would hear the kids talk about certain spots on the creek that were really cool and I remember when we discovered those spots as kids.”

                                                                                               -Rich Appel, 2015

 As soon as Dad mentioned us finding cool spots along the creek, I smiled. I knew exactly the spots he was referring too. Even though plants grow and the creek beds have shifted, that massive tree (you could have a picnic up there) is still there.

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An extra mucky part of the creek bed (now home to several lost boots) is probably still there…though I’m not going to risk making sure! While exploring will always be a treasured memory, if we’re being honest, being able to hang out with our parents regularly was vital in shaping who we are as individual adults. Our family is no where near perfect, but our roots run deep. For some reason, we always come back to the farm and the farmers who make it home. Plus, the “family discount” on our cheese is hard to beat.