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Natural Goodness Blog

  • Oakhurst Dairy Annual Producer Awards

    Recently, we recognized our top dairy farms from around the state for outstanding milk quality, cow health and farm cleanliness at our recent annual producers luncheon. Ten farms were recognized for overall quality with the top five receiving awards. We also presented certificates to farms scoring high in four individual milk quality categories.

    The top five overall quality farms included: Chartrand Farm of Norridgewock, R.E. Hemond, Inc., of Minot, Hemond Hill Farm of Minot, Aghaloma Farms of Knox, and Deerfield Farm of Winterport. These farms received a plaque and a cash gift from Oakhurst Dairy. The remaining five producers recognized in the top 10 include: Androscoggin Holsteins of Leeds, The Wright Place in Clinton, Silver Maple Farms of Albion, Martin Farm of Corinth, and Baker Brook Farm in Gray.

    Chartrand Farm, run by Elroy and Constance Chartrand, received the Oakhurst Dairy Producer of the Year Award (their first year). Chartrand Farm has been producing milk for Oakhurst Dairy since 1994. The Oakhurst Dairy Producer of the Year award is presented to the farm that receives the company’s highest quality ratings across all categories.

    R.E. Hemond, Inc., run by Noella Hemond, finished second in the top ten list. The farm had reached the top spot the last four years prior to this year. R.E. Hemond, Inc., has been producing milk for Oakhurst for 25 years.

    John and Irene Hemond of Hemond Hill Farm placed third. The fourth place ranking went to the Larrabee Family of Aghaloma Farms. Paul and Linda Cole of Deerfield Farm rounded out the top five producer list.

    More than 30 farms and Oakhurst staff attended the luncheon at the Elks Lodge in Waterville.

  • Interview with Portland Sea Dogs General Manager Geoff Iacuessa

    As the Portland Sea Dogs begins its 20th season, we wanted to sit down with General Manager Geoff Iacuessa and see what fans can expect during this special anniversary year. And, we also wanted to take this opportunity to wish the Portland Sea Dogs a Happy 20th Anniversary. It’s been fun being along for the ride as a corporate sponsor since the first year. Heading to the ballpark is a wonderful family fun activity!

    What do you think fans will be most excited about this season? Players, etc.

    Well, we always try to have new and exciting things for our fans at the ballpark. We have some new in-between inning promotions that we are excited about and some game day promotions including Friday night bands, the Saturday Kastaways appearances, and appearances by an American Idol finalist and New England Patriots player. Also we have one of our best prospect laden teams in a while. All five starting pitchers along with our bullpen and lineup are very strong.

    In addition this off-season, we completely re-did the playing surface by re-sodding the field, re-surfacing the infield, and redoing the irrigation system. Obviously many fans may not notice the direct impact of that but the benefit for the players will be great. The sod itself came from a Maine farm while the infield mix is identical to Fenway Park.

     

    Rich Gedman brings a tremendous amount of on and off field baseball-related experience with him in his first year as the Sea Dogs Hitting Coach. How have you seen this experience translate to the players on and off the field?

    Rich is a great person and coach. He brings a wealth of both knowledge and experience to the job and that translates well for the players. The success he had through his career going from an undrafted player to a long major league career certainly helps from a coaching standpoint.

    This is the Sea Dogs 20th season, what special events do you have planned for the fans?

    It is hard to believe that we are in our 20th season. We have several season-long promotions going on to help celebrate including our Field of Dreams on September 1. The event will feature our players coming through a cornfield we build in centerfield. It should be an exciting season. 

    How do pitchers (and top prospects) Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman’s playing styles differ? Who else should fans be watching this season?

    Both are very good pitchers and are only getting better. They both work hard and approach the game with a good plan. I think anytime you have as many top pitching prospects as we have it is a good thing for their development as they are always pushing each other.

    How important is it to have sponsors like Oakhurst involved? What does it mean to the ball club?

    It is extremely important. Our corporate partners allow us to keep pricing low for our fans and hopefully the partners see a great benefit through the partnership as well. Oakhurst has supported us for 20 seasons and we are very grateful for their support.

  • Facebook Photo Fun Contest: We Want Your “Mug Shot”

    This week, we kicked-off a fun Facebook photo contest called Oakhurst “Mug Shot”. And, all it takes is a single picture of your favorite Coffee Mug. It’s simple so start sending us your “Mug Shots” to win!

    Here’s How it Works:

    Step 1: Take a photo of your favorite Coffee Mug (check out a few examples on our Entries page on Facebook for inspiration); it can be just your mug, you and your mug, etc. You get the picture. Really the possibilities are endless.

    Step 2: Share Your Photo via the Mug Shot Sweeps Tab on the Oakhurst Facebook page and you’ll be automatically entered to win the daily and weekly prize! For anyone who doesn’t want to submit on Facebook, they should send their entry via snail mail to Oakhurst “Mug Shot” at 364 Forest Avenue, Portland, Maine 04101.

    Step 3: Share your “Mug Shot” with friends and family and stop back by the Facebook page every Monday to see if you’ve won.

    Contest Period:

    Monday, April 22 – Monday, June 3, 2013

    Prizes:

    For the next six weeks, we will randomly select four daily winners (Monday – Friday only) to receive a FREE coupon for one pint of any Oakhurst cream product. Additionally, our judges will select a favorite “Mug Shot” at the end of each week and that winner will receive $100 to spend on their favorite coffee and cream. The weekly favorite “Mug Shot” will also be featured on the Oakhurst Facebook page cover photo!

    The Fine Print:

    • Photos should include a favorite coffee mug, someone drinking from a coffee mug, etc.
    • Submissions will be reviewed daily and selected entries included in the photo album on the Entries page and potentially shared on the Oakhurst Facebook wall
    • Four daily winners selected to receive one (1) Free Oakhurst Cream Coupon
    • One weekly winner to receive $100
    • Coupons will be mailed weekly
    • All images are the property of Oakhurst once submitted

    Official Rules:

    To view official contest rules, visit: http://oakhurstdairy.com/fb/mugshots/official-rules.php

    GOOD LUCK!

  • Earth Day

    Earth Day, which falls on Monday, April 22 this year, is a wonderful opportunity to help educate your family more about sustainability, and what it means to be green.

    For more than three generations, the Bennett family has made caring for the environment a core value of the Oakhurst brand and has been an industry leader in adopting sustainable business practices with many sustainability firsts as a company. Some of these include: using locally produced biodiesel fuel which now meets 14% of the company’s overall fuel needs; adding truck skirts to its fleet of semi tractor trailers which result in 6% to 8% per vehicle fuel savings; investing in innovative technologies including hybrid delivery trucks which uses 25% less fuel, hybrid vehicles for 45% of the company’s auto fleet (including sales force) and an alternative energy source such as thermal solar energy as a means to reduce the company’s dependence on petroleum.

    In 2009, Oakhurst became the first dairy company in the United States to purchase a hybrid delivery truck. Last year, we unveiled three new hybrid electric delivery trucks that operate primarily in New Hampshire’s ozone non-attainment areas, which include municipalities in Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Strafford Counties. Currently, these areas do not meet federal air quality standards. The three new hybrid delivery trucks represent an expansion of the dairy’s existing alternative technology vehicle fleet.

    Additionally, we converted our delivery fleet vehicles to biodiesel seven years ago, becoming the largest private biodiesel fleet in Northern New England and reducing our CO2 emissions by 1,332 tons per year. Here’s  a fun video about our partner, Maine Standard Biofuels, Maine’s only local full-service waste grease collector and biodiesel manufacturer. Maine Standard Biofuels buys used cooking oil from more than 600 restaurants and recycles it into high performance, low impact biodiesel fuel that can be used by vehicles and to heat homes. The video certainly shows the power of eating locally, buying locally and recycling locally.

    If you want to join us in celebrating Earth Day, below are some activity ideas to consider.

    1. Read an environmentally themed book such as The Lorax by Dr. Seuss with your younger children and engage them in conversation.: Discuss odors in the air around us. What are some smells you like and dislike? Are there certain odors that you associate with a place or event? List the ways we use water each day; brushing teeth, washing hands, drinking, taking a bath, washing the dishes, washing clothes, watering the garden or lawn, swimming etc. Discuss water conservation and some things we can do to conserve waterDon’t take baths; a quick shower saves more water. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Only wash full loads of clothes. Plant a yard with flowers, and plants that do not need a lot of water to grow. (More ideas can be found on the Scholastic website, just apply them to your home)
      For more Earth Day book ideas for your family check out this Huffington Post list.
    2. Go for a hike and when you get back make a collage of what you saw (great reuse of old issues of National Geographic!). 
    3. Teach your kids about recycling. Here is  a super fun and informative packet of recycling games from the California Energy Commission.
    4. Turn off the lights at dinner and use candles instead. 
    5. Gather up clothes and items you have not used and donate them so they can go to another home.

    About Earth Day
    The first Earth Day on April 22, 2013 activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

    Please feel free to share with us your favorite recycling and environmentally friendly practices on our Facebook page .

  • Healthy Cottage Cheese Recipes

    Our dietitian, Pam Stuppy, shares a couple healthy recipes using Oakhurst Cottage Cheese, which pack in the flavor and nutrition. These recipes are delicious examples of just how versatile cottage cheese can be for any meal of the day, and snack time too.  Did you know, the American Heart Association recommends eating two to three servings of low-fat or no-fat dairy per day? We hope these, and other recipes featuring cottage cheese on the Oakhurst Facebook Page’s Recipe Tab help you meet that recommendation. Enjoy!
    Recipes by Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Oakhurst Dairy Dietitian.

    Savory Cheese Strata

    4 slices whole grain bread
    1 Tbsp. olive oil/ butter spread
    ½ C. thinly sliced white onion
    1 C. low fat cheddar cheese
    3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
    ½ C. Oakhurst low fat cottage cheese
    2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
    4 eggs
    1 ¾ C. Oakhurst low fat milk
    ½ tsp. dry mustard
    1/16 tsp. cayenne pepper
    ¼ tsp. black pepper
    6 asparagus spears

    Directions

    • Spread butter spread over bread slices; cut bread into ½” cubes.
    • Put half of bread in bottom of baking dish; cover with half of sliced onions, half of low fat cheese; half of Parmesan cheese; half of cottage cheese; sprinkle with fresh thyme; repeat layers.
    • Whisk together eggs, milk, dry mustard, cayenne/black peppers; pour over bread mixture.
    • Lay asparagus over top.
    • Allow to rest for at least an hour or in refrigerator overnight.
    • If kept in refrigerator, allow to come close to room temperature (about 20 minutes) before placing in preheated oven.
    • Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60m minutes or until puffed, golden, and center is cooked through; cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

    Serves 6.

    Oakhurst Cottage Cheese, Fruit, and Granola

    Spoon ½ C. Oakhurst cottage cheese into dessert bowl.
    Sprinkle in about ¼-½ C. granola.
    Top with sliced fruit or berries.

  • Refueling with Lowfat Chocolate Milk is no April Fool’s Joke

    Did you know lowfat chocolate milk is the ultimate sports replenishment beverage? Lowfat chocolate milk has the optimal level of  carbohydrate and protein ratio (greater than 3 to 1) scientifically shown to refuel and rebuild tired muscles after heavy exercise. It also contains water and electrolytes to replace what you lose with sweating, and has calcium to build strong bones and keep them that way.  For more information, visit our website and check out this article.

    Proven Results
    According to Got Chocolate Milk , in a study of 13 male college soccer players, post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk was found to provide equal or possibly superior muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories following a four-day period of intensified soccer training.

    In a University of Texas at Austin study, cyclists who recovered with chocolate milk gained more muscle and lost more fat during training, with a 3 pound lean muscle advantage, compared to athletes who recovered with a carbohydrate-based sports drink. Average power output during the trial time was significantly higher when they drank chocolate milk after exercise, compared to a carbohydrated drink or water flavored with noncaloric flavoring and artificial sweetener.

    Expert Body Recovery Tips
    What you do after your work out can make the difference in the way you feel and perform. Check out these expert (body recovery) tips from Nick Folker, USA Swimming Trainer and Director of Aquatic Performance at the University of California, Berkeley on the Got Chocolate Milk website.

    So, next time you pack your gym bag or tie up your sneakers, make sure you’ve got some lowfat Oakhurst chocolate  milk waiting for you when you get back.

  • Egg Dyeing Fun for All Ages

    As the first signs of spring begin to poke through the soil and the last of the snow begins to finally subside, Easter is suddenly upon us. What better way to ring in the warmth than celebrating with family and friends? Easter is surrounded by endless family traditions, and dyeing Easter eggs is a memorable one for many of us. There are those who creatively display their skills with color and dye to create intricate patterns and designs while the youngest turn the hard white shells into a splattered canvas of colors.

    It’s hard not to forget this tradition thanks to the stained fingertips, the laughter and chatter at the kitchen counter, not to mention the delicious egg salad that can be made after the conclusion of Easter festivities. Whether you’re an old-fashioned egg decorator or a self-proclaimed egg-dyeing artisan, everyone can share in this fun tradition. If you are novice and want to create easy marbleized eggs, we found a great video from Martha Stewart, which provides step-by-step directions. View the video here: http://www.marthastewart.com/348096/dyeing-easter-eggs.

    We’ve also outlined some steps below that Martha Stewart also suggests when creating one color dyed eggs.

    • Line your workspace with paper towels or newspaper
    • Pour one cup of hot water into a bowl (make sure it’s heat-proof!)
    • Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to water
    • Add food coloring to vinegar/water mixture  (around 20 drops, but use less or more depending on how dark you want the dye to appear)
    • Dip egg into mixture with tongs for 5-10 minutes (5=light, 10=dark)

    There are endless amounts of decorating techniques and color combinations that can be applied to the egg. If you’re up for the challenge here are some fun tricks and tips we pulled from Better Homes and Gardens at http://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/eggs/quick-and-easy-easter-egg-decorations/#page=1 for making your Easter eggs stand out. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites techniques below.

    1. Tie-dye Easter eggs: Dampen a paper towel with vinegar and wrap one layer around your egg. Then, squirt different food-dye colors onto the paper towel covering the egg. Keep the paper towel on the egg for a couple minutes, and remove to see your funky and colorful design.
    2. Striped Easter eggs: Wrap rubber bands around your eggs before dyeing and remove after newly dyed eggs have dried. You can also do this with two different colors—this will make your base color show through in your stripes!
    3. Melted Wax: Before dying eggs, use melted wax to draw detailed patterns on your eggs. After the wax has dried, dip eggs into dye and watch as your wax patterns stand out against the dye color!
    4. Tape/Stickers: Cut tape designs or put stickers onto your egg before it has been dyed, then dip eggs and let dry. Then, remove stickers/tapes to reveal the patterns underneath that you have created.

     We hope you have fun making beautiful Easter eggs with your children, grandchildren or neighbors this year. Please share some of your creations with us on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/OakhurstDairy

  • Maine and New Hampshire Maple Weekends

    Farmers are an important part of our business, working hard every day throughout the entire year with the common goal of providing customers with the highest quality product. We have featured several of our dairy farmers in this blog and will feature many more in the future, but today we wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge the maple sugar producers of New England. These hard working farmers ensure we will have the option of pure New England maple syrup on our breakfast table, in our cabinet, and with our milk at the breakfast table.

    Both Maine and New Hampshire enjoy a festive weekend in late March when maple producers open their doors to the public, offering demonstrations and tastes of the final product.

    Maple sugaring takes place in late winter over about a six-week span, when there are consistently warm, sunny days and cold nights. The length of the winter, amount of snowfall, and temperature are only a few variables that influence when sap begins to run and how long the run will last.

    Since the mid-1500s, when North American Indians drank the sap, maple syrup has been a quintessential sweetener. Today, there are many recipes featuring maple syrup as an ingredient, including Maple-Walnut Muffins and Maple-Yogurt Pound Cake.  For children in New England, however, “sugar on snow,” means hot maple syrup poured over clean snow to congeal. 

    It is not uncommon to find “sugar on snow” during Maple Weekends.

    Maine Maple Sunday, a statewide Maine maple syrup event held annually on the fourth Sunday in March, is turning thirty years old this year. In the winter of 1983, in Jack Steeves’ kitchen in Skowhegan, the Maine Maple Association’s Board of Directors launched a statewide open sugarhouse event, an event that would promote and celebrate Maine’s long standing maple syrup culture. Producers representing Luce’s Maine Maple Syrup, Anson; Greene Maple Farm, Sebago; Jackson Mountain Farm, Temple; Maple Hill Farm, Farmington; Strawberry Hill Farm, Skowhegan; and Smith Maple Products, Skowhegan were present. It’s not known for sure who actually came up with the festival idea and coined the phrase, “Maine Maple Sunday.” The first Maine Maple Sunday took place barely six weeks later, March 27, 1983. 

    The 1983 Maine Maple Sunday was a first-in-the-nation event. A dozen Maine producers hosted open houses. “Come and see Maine maple syrup made,” they broadcast. Entertainment featured syrup making, sleigh rides, sap collecting tours, syrup tasting, pancake breakfasts, maple sundaes, and syrup selling. Acceptance by the public was unexpectedly high, with participating sugarhouses receiving as many as 1500 visitors. Two years later in 1985, nineteen sugarhouses hosted open houses, and 12,000 visits to Maine’s participating sugarhouses were counted on Maine Maple Sunday. This year the Maine Maple Producers Association (http://www.mainemapleproducers.com) expects 50,000-plus visitors to sugarhouses on Sunday, March 24.

    This year’s Annual New Hampshire Maple Weekend is Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24.  Last year, the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association (http://www.nhmapleproducers.com) reported over 110 sugarhouses participated.  For a list of producers taking part in this year’s event visit:  http://www.nhmapleproducers.com/weekend.html.  Be sure to check out the descriptions of what each sugarhouse is doing, for example at Cormier’s Sugarhouse they will be offering maple cotton candy samples, fried dough with fresh syrup, sap gathering, and tours. Sounds like fun!

  • Indoor Culinary Gardens and Cooking at Home

    Herbs and certain edible flowers are fun and easy to grow indoors year-round, and can enrich the taste of your cooking. And, while drinking your morning coffee each day and treating yourself to Oakhurst cream you can look over at a sunny windowsill and enjoy watching your plants and herbs mature into food for your family. These indoor gardens can also be a great way to teach responsibility and natural sciences to younger children.

    A great resource on cooking with herbs is Craig Claiborne’s Cooking with Herbs and Spices (paperback available on Amazon and maybe by request at your local bookstore).

    You may think it’s complicated to start your own indoor garden but it’s really not. In fact, you don’t need a lot of gardening experience, equipment, or even time to get started. What you do need is a window that gets a lot of natural sunlight (at least six or seven hours). This space could be in any room, though it is not recommended you keep potted plants in bathrooms (too much moisture). You’ll also need a bag or two of potting soil, seeds, a few planters (different sizes depending on what you are growing i.e. rosemary needs more space than basil). No fancy equipment or special tools needed and gardening gloves are optional! And you can even repurpose an Oakhurst one-gallon milk container and use it as a container for your garden (just make sure to punch holes in the bottom for drainage into the plate underneath).

    For creative ideas on building window boxes (inside and out) Storey Publishing’s Window Boxes: Indoors and Out by James Cramer and Dean Johnson is a wonderful resource.

    Before you start planting, be sure to read the directions on each seed packet to find out how deep they should go in the soil. If you are a beginner, here’s a good way to start: fill the pot with two or more inches of soil, place the seeds on top and cover them with a half-inch (again, read the instructions for specific amounts) of soil and then water. You’ll want to water once a week. And as you continue to monitor your herbs and flowers you’ll find your indoor garden does not require the same commitment as an outdoor one. 

    If you do create outdoor herb gardens each summer we have a great article to share with you from Organic Gardening. It talks about how to transplant certain herbs (i.e. oregano and thyme) from your summer garden to indoors.

    Our indoor garden includes Rose Geranium and following is a delicious recipe using this wonderful plant. Rose Geranium is a plant used for flavoring in many old-fashioned recipes (for flavor and scent) and in perfumes!  You can find Rose Geranium seeds online and in most gardening sections of hardware and garden supply stores. To learn more about how this plant can be used in your kitchen visit: http://researchingfoodhistory.blogspot.com/2009/09/rose-geraniums.html

    Rose Geranium Cake

    Recipe by Deborah Gideon of Bee Blossom Botanicals www.beeblossom.com
    12 Rose Geranium leaves
    1 c. (2 sticks) butter
    1¾ c. sugar
    6 egg whites
    3 c. sifted cake flour
    4 t. baking powder
    ½ t. salt
    ¾ c. Oakhurst milk
    ½ c. water

    Rose Frosting
    2/3 c. unsalted butter
    1 egg yolk
    2 cups confectionary sugar
    1 t. vanilla
    6 rose geranium leaves

    Rinse and dry the geranium leaves.  Wrap 6 leaves around each stick of butter.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and chill overnight.

    The next day, unwrap the butter and remove the leaves.  Place the butter in a mixing bowl; rinse the leaves and set aside.

    Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

    Add the sugar to the butter and cream until light.  Add the egg whites, 2 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  In a separate bowl, mix the milk and water.  Alternatively add the flour and milk mixtures to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat until smooth after each addition.

    Arrange 6 of the geranium leaves on the bottom of each cake pan.  Spoon the batter over leaves.  Bake until the cake springs back when touched in the center and has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling.  Gently remove the leaves from the bottom of the cake and discard.

    Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  In a bowl, cream the butter well.  Beat in the egg yolk, and then gradually add the sugar, beating constantly.  Stir in the vanilla.  Chop the geranium leaves very fine by hand or in a food processor and stir into the frosting.

    When the cake layers have cooled completely, fill, and frost.

    My notes:  The frosting was very skimpy.  I would double the amount to be able to cover the cake adequately.  Also, I would eliminate the yolk in the frosting, as it seems to me unnecessary (butter cream frosting is fine without it), and I noticed an “eggy” flavor in it after the cake was a few days old.

  • Beat the Winter Blues

    If traveling to a tropical paradise isn’t in the cards this winter, how about planning a ”staycation” with your family at home. This could be a day or weekend long break from taxes, snow shoveling, and errands.

    Step one: Disconnect from the day to day (just like you would if boarding a plane to Florida). Power down the laptop (aka remove it from sight), turn the ringer on the phone off (only answer your mobile for emergencies), and unplug the television (unless movie night is part of the plan).

    Step two: Take advantage of your surroundings. Have a backyard? How about winter camping just steps away from a warm shower and hot breakfast, Savory Herb Muffins anyone?  

    Step three: Indulge in simple pleasures (just like you would on the beach) by taking time out to read one of those books from the stack that’s been building since your last trip to the bookstore, or how about finishing up that baby blanket you were knitting for your coworker? By all means pour a mug of homemade Peppermint Hot Chocolate for each member of the family. 

    Step four: Check out what’s playing at the local theatre. Remember, you are on staycation so you can make a matinee. Afterwards dine out at that restaurant with something on the menu for everyone in the family. If your family are sports fans find out what games are happening and make use of the concessions stand.

    Step five: Catch up on sleep!

    Have fun!