Aimee, what is your favorite Tillamook product?
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Santa Likes Tillamook
Most families have many holiday traditions: for some it’s about the meal you have, for others it’s about the way you exchange gifts or where you go for the holidays. For many homes, leaving cookies and milk for Santa is a must.
When my best friend and her husband started their family, they started the tradition of leaving cookies and cheese for Santa. Tillamook Cheese, of course…Santa only deserves the best, right?
So when our son Eli was born, and we set out on creating our own holiday traditions, I’m proud to say that borrowing my friends’ idea of leaving cheese for Santa seemed perfect for our family.
Coming up on our fifth year of having little ones in our home, leaving a nice variety of Tillamook Cheese and a tall glass of cold milk is a must (no cookies at our house!). The other day while grocery shopping, I added a brick of Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar to the basket and Eli said, “Good job, mom! Santa really likes the cheese with the black label.” To which I responded, “Yes, he does.” (Only the best for Santa, right?)
This year, Santa has a trampoline and a play kitchen to put together at our house, and we know that he will look forward to enjoying his snack when he gets there…he never leaves any behind!
We’ve never left something for the reindeer, so I think we’ll need to start that next year. Any ideas?
Cheesy Story Time
With two little ones running through the house, bedtime can be busy at my house. After the kids run laps around our kitchen island, take warm bubbly baths and slip on those oh so comfy footed PJ’s, we all pile on the couch for story time.
Living in Tillamook County, of course, some of our favorite books are farm themed and most of them have cows! My four year old loves Little Blue Truck, while my one year old prefers Moo, Baa, La La La or Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
Here are some ideas for other fun cow and cheese related books to read to your little ones:
- Are You a Cow?
- Stop that Cow!
- The Cow That Laid an Egg
- Tangerine and Kiwi Visit the Cheese Maker
- The Cheese
Butter Tart Recipe
This Butter Tart is a more like shortbread than a traditional pie crust, and has a wonderful crisp texture. The butter crust holds up well with a simple fruit filling, or my favorite, Sour Cream Lemon Curd (recipe follows below).
Butter Tart Crust
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups flour
⅔ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold Tillamook Unsalted Butter cut into small bits (I cut mine up and put it in the freezer until it’s needed)
In a small bowl whisk the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla together and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add in butter and pulse about 20 times, until butter is incorporated. Turn on food processor and add the egg mixture through the feed tube and process until liquid is absorbed, and mixture comes together.
Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to two days.
After you have chilled dough, let it soften at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Roll dough out to fit into tart pan, and place into freezer for about 30 minutes. Cover dough with foil, and weigh down with pie weights (I use beans).
Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes, remove foil and weights, and continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 5-10 minutes longer.
My dad is a lemon lover, and I have tried dozens of different lemon curd and pie filling recipes over the years, and we both agree this is hands down the best one yet! This year for Father’s Day, I made him a Butter Tart with this filing, but I also made an extra batch that I put in a mason jar. My mom said he savored the contents of that jar, and added it to almost everything…marionberry cobbler, vanilla bean ice cream, toast, fresh fruit, etc.
Sour Cream Lemon Curd
7 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1¼ cups sugar
¾ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
¼ cup grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Tillamook Unsalted Butter
½ cup Tillamook Natural Sour Cream
1 Butter Tart, warm from the oven
In a medium sauce pan, whisk egg yolks, whole eggs, and sugar together until combine; add in lemon juice, zest, salt, and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until curd thickens (about 8 minutes).
Strain curd through a fine mesh strainer and add sour cream. Add curd to the warm tart crust and bake at 375°F for about 10-15 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!
Mother-Daughter Package Pride
As a kid, packaging operator Karen Robitsch remembers coming to the Cheese Factory with her family, being treated to an ice cream cone and heading upstairs to watch her mom, packaging operator Doris Clark, work.
For Doris, who retired in 2000, the 25 years she spent working on the line in packaging hold a lot of wonderful memories. While it was the good pay and benefits that drew her to the job, it was her co-workers, who were like a tight-knit family, that kept her.
In the late 70’s Tillamook Cheese was still dipped in wax and hand wrapped – very different from how Karen, who has worked here since 2005, works. Technology and advances in packaging materials have led to more automation.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the pride both women feel when talking about their jobs and products we make. Doris says she was always so proud to work at Tillamook. She would proudly wear her whites into the grocery store after work; “when you are in whites, everyone knew exactly where you worked,” she said.
Karen says she liked telling people she’s from Tillamook, Oregon when she is out of town. She says people always say “Oh, like the cheese.” And she gets to say “Yes! That’s where I work!”
The tradition of getting a cone and watching the packaging line run from the windows has now shifted. It’s Doris who comes in, often with her great-grandchildren, to watch Karen work.
Karen is happy to be following in her mom’s footsteps and thinks that matching her mom’s 25 years on the line is a possibility. Doris says that “I knew Karen would be happy here. I’m happy for her.”
My mom tastes the cheese. What’s yours do?
You would think working at Tillamook gives us working moms a leg up in the Tillamama movement: We would never run out of hugs or Tillamook products. (OK – who are we kidding, we would never run out of Tillamook on purpose, but we are human, and we are busy moms!).
At home, our Dairy Products Quality Manager, Jill Allen, keeps up with three very busy kids. Her oldest, Marshall, is an active eight year old, and I wondered what he thinks about what his mom does at work (and home):
What does your mom do for a job?
She tastes the cheese.
What does your mom do at home?
Takes me swimming and cleans.
What makes your mom special?
She takes me swimming and bike riding and we love her.
What is your favorite thing that your mom makes with Tillamook cheese?
Melted cheese sandwich and cheese and crackers.
What is your favorite Tillamook product?
Grandmas Cake Batter Ice Cream.
Can you tell Marshall likes to swim? He is a member of the Tillamook Sharks swim team.
And he’s right, his mom does taste the cheese. She actually tastes Tillamook Cheese, Ice Cream, Sour Cream, Cutter and Yogurt and manages the technical staff of other “cheese tasters” through our sensory program, ensuring that all of our products meet the high Tillamook quality standards.
Thanks Marshall for telling us about your Tillamama!
Tillamook Employee Spreads Holiday Cheer
Travis Cole has worked in the packaging department of the Tillamook plant for 17 years and has been a team leader for the last 16 years. He’s sort of the go-to guy with all the answers.
Travis is a 10 year veteran of one of the local volunteer fire departments, and he stays busy on his 160 acre beef ranch, giving bull riding lessons to little tykes (they start em’ off at five years old!). During the holiday season you can find him decked out from head to toe as Santa.
Travis has been playing the role of Santa for 23 years, a tradition handed down to him from his dad who had done it for as long as Travis can remember. It started off as something that he did for friends and family, showing up to Christmas dinner to hand out gifts, but it quickly turned into more. Donating his time (and suit) to local merchants, charities, schools and organization dinners, he estimates he’s had his photo taken with thousands of kids.
His favorite Santa memory was when one of the large chain grocery stores sponsored a family and asked him to deliver the gifts. The dad had been seriously injured in an accident, and the store employees pitched in to provide a holiday meal and gifts for the kids. They had no idea Santa would be knocking at their door. Travis said the excitement of the whole family was overwhelming.
When asked what it takes to be a good Santa, Travis chuckled and said “a big belly… and you have to be good with the kids, talk to them and make them comfortable so that their mom or dad can get that perfect picture. Then everyone is happy.”
I think it has more to do with his big heart and that twinkle in his eye. I’m proud to have a coworker like Travis — it’s people like him that make our community shine.
Creating the Perfect Gift Basket
Gift baskets are a fun, personalized way to give a gift, and I love putting them together. Hunting for the perfect mix of items for someone special is always exciting! But how do you make your basket look good? Follow these tips, and you’ll get it right every time:
1. Make sure that the basket (or whatever you are using) is the appropriate size. You’ll want the items to fit nicely, without a lot of room to slide or move around.
2. Fill the bottom of the basket with crumpled paper, decorative grass or fabric. You’ll want the items to be lifted, so you can see all of the goodies.
3. Start by placing tall items in the back.
4. Put the smaller items up front. Make sure that labels are turned to the front.
5. Once you have all the items in place, tuck extra grass or stuffing into gaps to stabilize the items.
6. Wrap the basket with cellophane. You’ll want about two and a half times the height of the basket.
7. Add the bow and voilà
~ Aimee of the Tillamook Team
November Recipepalooza: Green Chili Pork
I love fall. The leaves are turning colors and the air is crisp, but most importantly it marks crock pot season at our house! This recipe is a favorite, I love coming home to the savory smell wafting in the air knowing that dinner is ready!
GREEN CHILI PORK
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup flour
salt & pepper
3 pounds pork roast, cubed into large pieces, with fat trimmed
3 tablespoons oil
3 cups prepared green chili enchilada sauce
1 6 oz. can diced, fire roasted green chilies
1 bag high quality, thick tortilla chips
1 ½ cups Tillamook Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
½ cup Tillamook Sour Cream
green onions (optional)
Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. In a large Ziploc storage bag combine flour, salt and pepper. Shake pork in bag until coated and add to pan. Cook pork until nicely browned. In order to avoid overcrowding your pan, cook pork in batches.
Add onion, garlic and pork to crock pot. Cover with enchilada sauce, and green chilies. Cook on low for 8–10 hours.
Place handful of tortilla chips in bowl, top with green chili pork and Tillamook Monterey Jack Cheese. Garnish with Tillamook Sour Cream and green onions.
Time saver tip: Mornings at my house can be hectic (we have an infant and a three year old)! So, I cube the pork, season the flour and slice the onion and garlic the night before so everything is ready to go in the morning!
November Recipepalooza: Aimee’s Amazing Spinach Dip
First of all, I didn’t name this. It was bestowed upon me by my siblings! I am the cook in the family, and like to try new recipes and ingredients, but, I cannot show up to a family gathering without this spinach dip, and often have to whip up a second batch to get us through a weekend together! Enjoy!
AIMEE’S AMAZING SPINACH DIP
1 – 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, water squeezed out
1 – 16 oz. container Tillamook Natural Sour Cream
¾ cup of mayonnaise
1 – 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and diced
1 – 1.8 oz package dry leek soup mix
Combine sour cream and mayonnaise, add dry soup mix, water chestnuts and spinach; mix well, refrigerate overnight. Enjoy with baguette, veggies or crackers.
Photo: Flickr/Jack Spurlock (Creative Commons)
What Is Sour Cream?
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