I think each of us has a food we've never tried until adulthood, much to the shock of our friends. Mushrooms and various shellfish come to mind. Sometimes it's a certain dessert, or a type of wine.
For me, it was cottage cheese. I didn't make its acquaintance until into my 30s, when it suddenly occured to me I might be missing out on something great based on the eating habits of friends. Just to make sure of my hunch, I asked the local food community on Twitter how they best enjoy cottage cheese.
The replies came fast and furious.
- Atop papayas with jam on top (@fourchickens)
- Plain with low-sugar jam mixed in (@cooklocal)
- With a ripe pear (@pastrycraft)
- With flax seed and manuka honey (@jenniellingson)
- With cracked black pepper (@rmarcham)
- With chopped green onions, salt and pepper (@nandron)
- With a teaspoon of mayonnaise stirred in (@thesunbreak)
- With pepper or potatoes (@annamharlow)
- With black pepper and Tabasco sauce (@curtwoodward)
- With Chobani nonfat yogurt (@hawkblogger)
- With pineapple and granola (@carbzilla)
What exactly is cottage cheese? My trusty copy of "The Food Lover's Companion" calls it a fresh cheese made from whole, part-skimmed or skimmed pasteruized cow's milk, with a moist texture and mild flavor. I found it to be a creamier version of the cheese curds I enjoy from the farmer's market. At PCC, we carry cottage cheese from Organic Valley and Nancy's. Store it in the coldest part of your fridge for up to 10 days past the stamped date.
I'm still happy eating it plain, though it's clear there's no shortage of options. How do you most enjoy it?
Each year, I resolve to do something better, whether it's sip more water from my reusable bottle, eat fewer cookies, or spend more time outdoors. From the chatter on Facebook and Twitter this week, I know you do, too. So this year, I look forward to helping you find the tools to keep those resolutions long past February :)
We'll begin with yogurt. It's one of the most nourishing foods for your body and has sustained cultures around the globe for millenia. It's rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin and B vitamins, and, like other fermented foods, contains friendly bacteria that promote healthier digestion and can help boost the immune system. PCC carries an even-growing number of varieties (many made with organic ingredients) including yogurt made from cow's milk, goat's milk, coconut milk, soy milk and rice milk. You can even make your own.
Yogurt's not just for breakfast or snacking, either. Spoon it into a fancy dish with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey for a lovely (and healthy) dessert. Better yet, use plain yogurt in your cooking and baking in place of sour cream (it makes a killer dip for raw veggies). Find recipes for soups, dips, smoothies, desserts, slaws and plenty of additional culinary inspiration here.
Next up: Leafy greens.
We already revealed the Top 10 most-viewed PCC recipes of the past year. Here's a look at other chart toppers!
Most-viewed Sound Consumer pages
Certified organic leaf lettuce the size of pom-poms from Rent’s Due Ranch in Stanwood, Wash., shown by Greenlake PCC Produce Coordinator, Dan Johnson (from Organic Can Feed the World in September's Sound Consumer).
- The Truth About Fats
- Microwaved food: Is it healthy?
- Organic can feed the world
- Kick the sugar craving
- Calcium vs. magnesium: The key is balance
- Not all shrimp are equal: Wild shrimp vs. farmed shrimp
- Let food be your green medicine
- Insights by Goldie: TSP in Cheerios
- Agave: Considering the issues
- Tomato and pepper growing in the Pacific Northwest
Most-viewed video pages
- Easy Whole Grain Side Dishes (from KING 5 TV's "New Day Northwest")
- Kitchen Sink One-pot Pasta (from KING 5 TV's "Gardening With Ciscoe")
- The Good News About Gluten Free (from KING 5 TV's "New Day Northwest")
- Brown Sugar Sour Cream and Strawberry Scones (from KING 5 TV's "Gardening With Ciscoe")
- Cure Your Cold and Flu Naturally (from KING 5 TV's "New Day Northwest")
- Best apples for eating/baking (PCC Quick Bites)
- Homemade mustard as a holiday gift (from KING 5 TV's "Gardening With Ciscoe")
- Homeade Whole Grain and Olive Oil Baguette (from KING 5 TV's "Gardening With Ciscoe")
- Our PCC Natural Markets recipe search screencast
- Individual Strawberry Grand Marnier Frozen Souffles (from KING 5 TV's "Gardening With Ciscoe")
Did you have a favorite story video that appeared on the PCC website? I particularly enjoyed this one, about our adventures at a PCC Cooks class on making homemade Chinese noodles!
It's always fun to look back at year's end at which recipes tickled our collective fancy (and surprise, surprise: many of them hail from the PCC Deli). Here's a look at what topped our recipe database for 2010!
PCC Emerald City Salad
Thanks so much to all of you who entered our recipe contest in November! The trio of winners, randomly selected, each received a PCC gift card for adding to our Recipe Database. Here's a little about two of our winners, Sheila and Mary.
"It's fun to start with a pile of ingredients and put them all together into something that tastes good. It's almost like solving a puzzle," Sheila, left, says about her love of cooking. Time in the kitchen is her favorite way to unwind.
"My fantasy is having an entire weekend to plan a menu, shop, prepare ingredients and cook a great meal for a group of friends and family members. I have always loved food, and I think it is so rewarding to impress family and friends with good meals." Sheila, we totally agree!
Sheila advises new cooks to pay attention to tastes they like and to ask cooks and servers about specific ingredients. "You can build a whole meal around a specific ingredient -- just do a Web search for a few things you might have on hand, like "curry chicken potatoes") -- or look at PCC's online recipes, and you're bound to find something great to cook."
Her favorite section at PCC is produce. Try her recipe for Sauteed Kale.
"I love PCC's fresh vegetables. I try to use only seasonal ingredients in my meals, and PCC has a good selection of squash and greens in the fall, and berries and cherries in the summer. Clean, organic, locally grown produce is important to me, and I never have to worry about PCC meeting all my requirements."
Mary, left, whose favorite PCC department is our bulk section, submitted a recipe for Potato Corn Chowder. She learned to cook from her mom, who always included the family in her kitchen projects, from baking homemade bread to canning beans. "She was and is a great cook and always made working in the kitchen fun," Mary says.
Mary enjoys cooking as a way to relax and unwind at the day, loves to read cookbooks and uses recipes more as inspiration than a guide. She loves to cook for others and to see the pleasure a good homemade meal can create.
Her biggest piece of advice for new cooks? Relax.
"I see too many people that come at a cookbook with a white-knuckled approach and are so afraid of making a mistake and not having it turn out that they do not enjoy the experience, smells and sheer fun of cooking. Some of my "mistakes" have turned out to be my best results!" says Mary.
Again, thank you to all of you out there who shared a recipe, and hope to see more of your delicious meals in the database in the coming months!
Here's a great piece in The Atlantic that's worth a read as 2010 winds down. What do you hope 2011 will bring when it comes to food safety, politics and agriculture?
And did you know PCC has taken on a stand on many of the top issues the named above? We have advocated for school-lunch reform, support the Non-GMO Project, do not sell products with high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient and offers an abundance of local and/or organic fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy options and more.
PCC offers two great, easy ways to stay up-to-date on the latest food news: Our monthly Sound Consumer newsletter and our PCC Advocates e-newsletter. And remember: Each meal you buy or create is a chance to show your support for healthy, sustainable foods.
Whether you refrain from eating meat and other animal products or are a conscientious omnivore, you're welcome at PCC Natural Markets. Leika Suzumura, one of our nutrition educators and a Bastyr University-trained registered dietician, speaks to this point as a guest in a recent podcast on the KBCS program "Voices of Diversity." Click here to listen to a discussion on the topic of eating animals with a panel that includes Leika and representatives from the Humane Society, Sidecar for Pigs Peace and Farm Forward.
Some people are blessed with the gene for craftiness, including Andrea from our incredibly gregarious Community Relations team. Today, we salute her ingenuity with a parade of the "turkey" centerpieces she crafted for our PCC Thanksgiving potluck from winter squash, kale, beans, cashews and other ingredients.
This just begs for a caption contest.
It goes to show that you never know when the creative bug will strike! Hmm ... what could YOU whip up for future gatherings?
He looks a bit bent out of shape, perhaps from slogging through our Seattle snowstorm?
Love the color of this guy.
What a great expression he has!
Kale: It's not just for dinner.
Hope your Thanksgiving was splendid! Ours certainly was here at PCC HQ, the latest in a long tradition of such gatherings. Here are a few photos of our feast -- email me at karen.gaudette at pccsea.com or visit us at www.facebook.com/pccnaturalmarkets to share photos of the feast you put together at home!
The spread! Well, part of it. Our potluck covered two additional tables.
Goldie's famous mushroom gravy. Click here for the recipe!
Thankful, emphasis on full.
And, to follow up on our Thanksgiving poll, looks like your favorite Thanksgiving sidedish is ... stuffing! Stuffing took first place with 67 votes, followed by mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. Thanks for voting, and don't forget to vote this week for your favorite holiday sweet treat!
The generosity of our PCC community in the past year has helped birds get cleaned after after the gulf oil spill, helped replace stolen food after a food bank was robbed last year and warmed the less fortunate with thousands of donated sweaters and coats. Wonderful!
Most recently, the barrels of gently used toys, clothes and baby gear donated by West Seattle and Fremont shoppers over the past month helped cover the tables at the 3rd-annual CoolMom Holiday Toy Swap 'N' Sale earlier this month.
CoolMom is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that unites mothers to take action on climate change through education, lifestyle change and advocacy. This event, held in West Seattle and Wallingford, is one of many the group organizes to reduce waste and consumerism during the holidays. Proceeds support the group's mission as well as family services groups WestSide Baby and FamilyWorks.
More than 200 shoppers turned out for the event.
A few easy ways to reduce waste this holiday season: Give the gift of a PCC Cooks class. Donate to the PCC Farmland Trust and preserve organic farmland forever. Wrap gifts in tea towels, reusable bags or other handy items that don't have to go straight to the waste bin.