Looking forward to 2015: Flyover Resolutions

Why Make Resolutions?

It’s been a fun 7 months (so far!) of blogging about the culinary geography of America’s Flyover States. And it’s heartening to realize that I’ve barely scratched the surface—lots more to discover and blog about! So, in the spirit of New Beginnings and a Blank Slate, I thought I’d share some Flyover-themed New Year’s Resolutions.

The Resolutions

In 2015, I resolve to:

  • Visit more farmstead cheese producers, specifically
  • Visit Zingerman’s Deli and Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Make a pilgrimage to Springfield, Illinois to taste their signature Horseshoe sandwich (consisting of bread, hamburger patty, fries, and a cheese sauce
  • Trek out to some new-to-me farmers markets and get to know some other farmers
  • Make a Sugar Cream Pie—it’s Indiana’s official state pie and, since I’m now living in Hoosier Land, it’s time I made (and ate!) one of these
  • Blog about issue facing Heartland farmers (NOT the beholden-to-Monsanto industrial farmer, but rather the small-scale producer

I may be adding on to this list (in fact, I’m SURE of it!) And I’ll be sure to post any additions. Well, there is ONE big resolution that I’ve not mentioned yet—that is to cook in my NEWLY REMODELED KITCHEN! Starting some time in January, I’ll be having my kitchen renovated (basically a gut job). So, whether you want to or not, you’ll be hearing all about it. Given my love of food and cooking, this is something I’ve been living for. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve LOVED my quite dated kitchen and have spent many happy hours (and “happy hours”) in it. But it’s time for me to modernize it. I won’t feel too keen on washing dishes in the bathtub, but it’s a sacrifice I’m ready to make.

And My Wishes to You

May your 2015 be filled with love, happiness, joy, and Flyover Food! Happy New Year!

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I’m Dreaming of a Cheese-y Christmas

Someone on my list is getting a raclette grill for Christmas! Raclette, which originally hails from Alpine Switzterland, is a cow’s milk cheese that is typically eaten melted. Indeed, the time-honored fashion of serving raclette is to melt some (this was originally done over a fire), scrape it onto a plate, and eat with boiled new potatoes, gherkins or cornichons, and pickled onions. So simple and so satisfying.

Raclette grills or machines must be one of this year’s in gifts, because I’ve seen them in several catalogs (and I don’t recall seeing them last year). They are typically of two kinds: a traditional one in which a large wedge of cheese is melted by a heat source (and scraped onto serving dishes) and a modern style with individual dishes and spatulas for up to eight people (that’s the kind on this year’s gift list). There is also the Barbeclette, an individual one made by Boska that you can use with your grill. I have one of these and love it—great way to add melted cheese to a grilled burger.

Barbeclette

How do I love thee, Barbeclette? Let me count the cheeses.

So, what, exactly, is Flyover about this? I mean, Switzerland is a LOOOONNNGGG way from America’s heartland. Well, it turns out that some wonderful raclette is being made right here in Flyoverlandia. The Leelanau Cheese Company in Suttons Bay, Michigan (on the Leelanau Peninsula) has been producing award-winning raclette since 1995. John and Anne Hoyt are the cheesemakers. Both apprenticed and worked in Switzerland (Anne is originally from France, where they know a thing or two about cheese). I was fortunate enough to visit the plant this past summer and try their cheeses (they make regular raclette, rosemary raclette, an aged raclette, and fromage blanc). Although I didn’t buy the fromage blanc, I did buy the other three and almost cried when I finished them! The rosemary added a delicious touch to the raclette and I’d really recommend it. All were lovely and the regular raclette melted quite nicely on the grill when I used my Barbeclette.

LeelanauLable

So, someone is going to have a merry, raclette-y Christmas and I’ll be sending said loved one a link to order some of the wonderful Leelanau Cheese Company raclette!

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A Flyover Holiday? Gift Ideas!

Your Head FlyoverTapan (yeah, that’s me) is working on holiday preparations, which explains the late post this week. Whatever you celebrate—Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, New Year’s Eve and Day, Festivus—if your plans include gift-giving or eating, why not add a Flyover twist to your festivities? I know I will!

Some ideas—cheese from a Flyover farm! I’ve given cheeses crafted by the talented Matthew Brichford of Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese1 (from Indiana’s beautiful Whitewater Valley) in the past. Individually wrapped 1-oz. wedges of Newton, Iowa’s Maytag Blue Cheese are going to my parents this year. Gift certificates from a favorite local foods purveyor, such as The Downtown Farm Stand (in Muncie Indiana) or Goose the Market (in Indianapolis) come to mind.

1265883_cowshirt

T-shirt from Jacobs and Brichford. Best-ever photo of a cow!

Sweet toothed people on your list? How about a bunch of chocolate bars from Endangered Species Chocolate (based in Indianapolis) or a selection from Madison, Wisconsin’s award-winning Gail Ambrosius Chocolates.

Whatever you are celebrating, Flyover Tapas wishes you the most wonderful holiday(s)!

1I’ll be writing about Jacobs and Brichford’s Ameribella, Briana, and Everton cheeses in the new year!

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Grown Up’s Hot Chocolate (for Two)

You can make a decadent hot drink with an actual chocolate bar instead of powdered cocoa. Indiana’s Endangered Species 72% Dark Chocolate1 (the one with the chimpanzee on the package) is used to make a delicious dessert-like hot chocolate that is more rich than sweet (and gluten-free). And it IS a dessert! This is inspired by the inimitable David Lebovitz. If you do like a sweeter drink, feel free to add some sugar; you can also use a chocolate with a lower cacao content (though that will remove some of the richness and sophistication of the drink).

What You’ll Need

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • small saucepan (I used a 1-quart pan)
  • whisk
  • thermometer

Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz. (70 g) Endangered Species 72% Dark Chocolate, finely chopped (you can use another chocolate of the same strength, but it won’t be Flyover!)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (45 ml) heavy or whipping cream
  • rum, brandy, Cointreau, Himbeergeist, or some other chocolate-compatible spirit (optional)
  • sugar, if desired
  • Ingredients

How to Make Grown Up’s Hot Chocolate

  1. Add the milk and cream to the saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the milk mixture to about 160°F (70°C or 345 K if you are of a scientific bent); it will be steaming and hot to the touch.
  2. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. You don’t really need to take the pan off the heat, but it does lessen the possibility of the mixture coming to a boil, which you don’t want.
  3. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted; you can do this on or off heat (it doesn’t take long).
  4. WhiskingChocolate

  5. Bring the mixture to a SLOW boil2 and turn the heat down to medium-low.
  6. Whisking constantly so that the mixture doesn’t burn, cook at a slow boil for two (2) minutes—this will thicken your hot chocolate.
  7. Remove from heat and divide between two heatproof cups. Sweeten to taste if you prefer a drink that’s a bit more sugary. Add about a tablespoon of liquor per cup, if desired, and stir.
  8. Enjoy!

HotChocolate

Flying solo? Drink one cup and refrigerate the rest to be enjoyed the next day. Or drink both of them.

1According to the company’s website, this bar is gluten-free, certified vegan, Rainforest Alliance certified, and non-GMO to boot!

2By slow boil, I mean that you will see bubble breaking the surface, but at a gentle pace (i.e. not a rolling (roiling?) boil

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Help for Endangered Animals—the Flyover Way!

A Chocolate Delight

I first discovered Endangered Species chocolate many years ago at Newark Natural Foods, a natural foods co-op in Newark, Delaware, where I lived for many years while working on masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Delaware. I was a life member of the co-op (and a volunteer as well), so I did a fair amount of my grocery shopping there. The little Bug Bites (0.35 oz. squares of milk or dark chocolate, with insect-themed cards to teach kids about bugs) were right by the register, so I HAD to buy one every time! The full bars featured delicious flavor combinations (dark chocolate and raspberry, anyone?) and showed a different endangered animal for each flavor. Once I arrived in Indiana, I discovered that the company (Endangered Species Chocolate) is based in Indianapolis!

About the Company

Endangered Species Chocolate makes ethically traded, non-GMO chocolate. Their Mission Statement (taken from their website) shows a company that really wants to make a positive impact on the world:

“To have a positive impact on Earth’s species, habitat and humanity by providing resources through the creation, manufacture and sale of delicious, premium, ethically traded, natural, organic, gluten free, vegan and kosher certified chocolate products.”

Now, not all products are all things. Many flavors are NOT organic or vegan, for example, but the information about each product is readily available.

Each chocolate bar flavor teaches the eater about a different threatened animal. Unlike your supermarket checkout chocolate, you will WANT to read packaging here!

Giving Back

Endangered Species Chocolate partners with non-profits working on wildlife conservation. Currently (December 2014), those partners are the African Wildlife Foundation and The Xerces Society (which works on insect conservation). These are called 10% GiveBack Partners (ESC donates 10% of net profits) and organizations can apply to be selected.

DkChocEndSpecies

Yeah, But Does This Chocolate Taste Good?

In a word—YES!!! Personally, I am a dark chocolate fan (80% cocoa or greater is my preference) and Endangered Species Chocolate produces a dark chocolate bar with 88% cocoa (and features a beautiful black panther on the package). This is really dark—only a hint of sweetness to counteract the bitterness. And it really works. I allow myself a square every morning for breakfast “dessert”—suck it like a lozenge to get the full flavor. Love this bar!

But the company makes a more standard, 72% cocoa chocolate bar, as well as 48% milk chocolate bars. While I’ve not had the milk chocolate, I HAVE indulged in some of the 72% varieties—the dark chocolate with hazelnut toffee and dark chocolate with espresso beans are fabulous!

Filled Chocolate Bars and Seasonal Flavors

Endangered Species also produces crème-filled bars, such as sea salt and lime crème-filled dark chocolate and blueberry-vanilla crème-filled. Some of the flavor combinations are quite inventive. And, for the holidays, they create some seasonal flavors. This season, indulge in Vanilla Chai, Peppermint Crunch, and Pumpkin Spice with Almonds (all made with 72% chocolate). I’m putting these in Christmas stockings this year!

DkChocPumpkinSpice

Party Idea—Chocolate Tasting!

Okay, winter in the Flyover States can be a pretty long, often cloudy, and depressing affair. That’s why you might want to consider hosting a chocolate tasting party. Invite your friends who might be suffering from cabin fever to taste different varieties of Endangered Species Chocolates. You (and they) might discover some new favorite!

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