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Marriage, Yogurt, and the Local Economy

November 29, 2007

My husband just walked in…I told him I have a blog. His response: “You’re nuts.”

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about my adorable and wonderful new husband:

We were going through pre-marriage counseling with the priest at our church. He gave us a marriage workbook, and suggested we go through some of the exercises and activities in our spare time. So one evening I, conscientious student that I am, was reading over the section entitled “Admiration and Appreciation”. I thought it was important and beneficial information, so I decided to read the paragraph out loud to Bob.

The lesson recommends that you pay your partner a compliment each day, and spend 15 minutes daily (and 30 minutes on the weekend) discussing what you appreciated about your relationship for that day. It gave suggestions on how to word these compliments, appropriate times to engage in the conversations, and various other tips for creating a healthy, stable, and caring marriage. After sharing the lesson out loud, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m ready for my compliment now.”

He thought about it for a few seconds, and replied: “You read that crap really well.”

This is typical Bob. But, he’s cute, so I’ll keep him.

In other news…

Foodies everywhere (especially people following Weight Watchers or other weight-loss programs) will be interested to know that Fage (Greek yogurt company, pronounced FAY-yeh) has nearly finished construction on their 120,000 square foot production facility in Johnstown, NY (about 45 minutes from where I live). Press release here.

This is big news, both for our local economy, and for yogurt lovers in the United States. Obviously, our local economy will benefit because of the new facility, which promises to bring 70 new jobs to an economically depressed area of New York. Secondly, this will be the first expansion by Fage into the United States. The sales of Fage Total yogurt (which is a Greek-style strained yogurt, which means all of the whey has been drained off, leaving a very thick, creamy, and less-tangy product) has increased by nearly 70% in the first half of 2006, so it makes great sense for them to expand production here. There’s a huge demand.

The strained yogurt is extremely popular (it is rather good), but it is also extremely expensive here in the U.S. – I recently paid $2.13 for a 6.5oz container. Granted, I bought it in a specialty foods store, but Hannaford carries it for $1.99, so I didn’t pay that much more. That’s nearly triple the price of a regular 6oz yogurt package! U.S. production will of course mean lower cost to the U.S. consumer, since we won’t have to subsidize the import taxes and other fees. I’m no economist, but I think this is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

That being said, I don’t think I’m going to buy much of that yogurt, no matter where they make it. I’m cheap – and resourceful. Many many years ago, I purchased an item called a yogurt strainer. I saw it on that great old cooking show with Graham Kerr on PBS (not the Galloping Gourmet – way later, in the ’90s.).

It’s basically a plastic cone (sort of looks like those gold cone coffee filters), with a fine mesh on the inside. Put nonfat plain yogurt in the strainer over a measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap, and let it strain in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Voila! Strained yogurt, at a fraction of the cost. It’s really good! I eat some just about every day. I’ve gotten to the point where I buy two 1-quart containers of nonfat organic plain yogurt every week. Yum!

Man, if you don’t like yogurt, you probably tuned out about 5 paragraphs ago.

What the heck can you do with strained yogurt? You can use yogurt cheese (as it’s called) as a dip base, cracker spread, or just on its own with some sweetener and a little vanilla. Here’s a quick little recipe:

Yogurt Cheese and Spinach Dip

  • 1-1/2 cups yogurt cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups lowfat sour cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 3 scallions, green part only, minced
  • 1-2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 8-oz can water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper or Tabasco to taste

Whisk together the yogurt-cheese and low-fat sour cream. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

My yogurt rant is now over. I promise.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. beyond bluestockings permalink
    November 29, 2007 7:10 am

    Nice to hear from another yoghurt aficionado! Personally, I can’t go past a bowl of super thick Greek, with chopped banana, walnuts and a serious splash of pure maple syrup.

  2. Snapdragon permalink
    November 30, 2007 4:04 am

    The Greek yogurt makes fantastic taziki. I have a recipe for that somewhere. I’ll find that and add it tomorrow, if there is interest 🙂

  3. wendalicious permalink
    November 30, 2007 4:16 am

    Please do! I love Greek food…thanks!

  4. Snapdragon permalink
    December 5, 2007 4:32 pm

    Greek Salad Dressing

    ½ cup olive oil (you can use salad oil but olive oil is so much better)
    4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon oregano
    ¼ teaspoon (plus) freshly ground black pepper (or pink, green, white, black pepper mix)
    ½ teaspoon freshly minced garlic (I use two cloves)
    Freshly ground sea salt to taste (I skip this altogether)

    Let the flavors blend. Store in the refrigerator. (The olive oil may congeal.)

    This is really good stuff. I make the “traditional” Greek salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta) and dress it with this. A tasty meal in itself!

  5. Snapdragon permalink
    December 5, 2007 4:41 pm

    Tsatziki

    2 c. plain yogurt (I use the Fage Greek yogurt – it is the right thickness without needing to be strained)
    ½ c. cucumber, diced to desired size chunks
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon wine vinegar (red or white – color wise, white is better here)
    1 pinch freshly ground sea salt
    1 pinch freshly ground pepper
    Splash of lemon juice
    Optional: ¼ teaspoon onion powder

    Depending on your taste you could add oregano – or – dried mint leaves – or – dill for additional flavor. I’m a purist, so I skip these.

    Serve with pita chunks.

  6. Snapdragon permalink
    December 5, 2007 4:43 pm

    Sorry it took me a week to get these up here. But I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

    I have been in love with Greek food (especially the simple stuff) since Chris and I honeymooned there. I love souvlaki too, but I am still trying to find the right recipe for that. Will keep you posted.

  7. wendalicious permalink
    December 5, 2007 10:38 pm

    Snappy: thank you SO much…they sound absolutely delicious – I know what I’m making this weekend.
    Joanne honeymooned in Greece as well – I wonder if she liked the food…she’s very picky! Joanne?

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