In the Kitchen

You Meet the Nicest People

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Posted December 8th, 2012 in Holiday, In the Kitchen, Posts, Serving with Style

A few weeks ago I was on a plane to Portland for a meeting and had the good fortune to sit next to a nice man named David Weiss.  David is a fellow food sales guy making his living selling Nestle Water to convenience stores.   Ironically, David’s family has a traditional holiday jello salad that contains Oregon Fruit!! What are the odds???

In my own family we didn’t eat a lot of jello.  I stopped eating it after the jolly green jello incident.  When I was in college and VERY POOR my siblings and I decided to throw a 25th anniversary party for my parents. We bought and prepared all the food.  My sister and brother were working so I am sure they either bought or made something good. My contribution was the Jolly Green Jell-O as it has come to be known in the family lore.  Of course I didn’t want to run out so I borrowed a VERY large banquet pan from the restaurant I worked in and made enough red/green Jell-O (In layers!) to feed the local soup kitchen.  I tried to get guests to take home to go portions in Ziploc bags.  I have not heard the end of this so I have never brought Jell-O to a potluck again.

I might have to change that rule this Christmas because the Weiss family recipe is delicious!  It is Cherry Coke Jell-O!  I have a very cute mold with a Christmas tree and the color is lovely.

While thinking about this post I decided to do a little Jell-O research.  I discovered that there is quite a cult following for Jell-O.  Did you know, for example that JELL-O is America’s most famous dessert?  Another interesting fact is that JELL-O was once considered a very decadent dessert and served by the upper class. They used fancy Victorian molds to create desserts that were both beautiful and tasty. OR that in 2001, after an astounding 14,000 people had signed a petition, JELL-O was made the Official State Snack of Utah? Another fun fact is that the people of Salt Lake City actually eat more lime flavored JELL-O than any other city in the world. And lastly that one million packs are sold each day? In America alone, 300 million packs are sold each year. I can assure this was all news to me.

This chance meeting on a plain reminded me that there are lots of old family recipes and several of them use Oregon Fruit. Who knew??  So I am challenging you all out there to share you family recipes with me, whether or not they contain Jell-O.  You can post them to our Facebook page, send them to me by email at or even mail them in the old fashioned way to: Erin Johansen Oregon Fruit Products LLC, PO Box 5283 Salem, OR 97304.

I really enjoy being inspired by other’s traditions so please provide me some inspiration. Happy Holidays!!


Oh My, Let’s Bake a Pie

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Posted October 13th, 2012 in Desserts, In the Kitchen, Posts, Recipe


Last year there was some talk in the food trends world that the cupcake craze had passed and the next big thing was going to be mini pies.  Pie has always been an American favorite so it just made sense.  The single serve indulgence appeals to our sense of individuality and even makes us feel like the portion control has been done for us. The latest research tells us that the cupcake is here to stay.  In fact, small indulgences are even more decadent with bold flavors and an international flare.  In some towns shops specializing in baby bundt cakes are cropping up and in grocery store bakeries you can even get an individual slice of pie.   Pies have made up 12% of the in-store bakery category for the last 5 years. 

So let’s hear it for American Pie!!  If it has been along time since you baked one or maybe you have never baked one it is high time you did it.  There is nothing like a homemade pie with the warm fruit filling oozing out through the vents, the scent of a flaky pastry crust  makes your whole house smell like grandma’s house at Thanksgiving. 

Check out the video for a quick how-to and then give it a whirl. The recipe for all our fruit pies are on our website.  The crust I like is found here just remember to double for a two crust pie. Let me know how it turns out. 

Quick Bread for a Quick Trip

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Posted October 6th, 2012 in In the Kitchen, Posts

Yesterday morning I got up at 5am to pack the car for a long weekend at the Southern California Beach to celebrate my mom’s 86th birthday. I realized immediately that I had forgotten to bake my weekly blog recipe, let alone post!  My plan all week had been to try a Blackberry Lemon Quick bread I saw on a blog I like called Italian Food Forever.  Her photos of the Umbrian countryside and fresh picked blackberries were truly inspiring.  Although the fresh berry season in California is over and they are no longer abundant in the local farmer’s markets and the can pack at our plant in Oregon was completed nearly a month ago, I still can’t get enough blackberries. Thankfully I had all the ingredients for this recipe in my fridge and pantry including a can of Oregon Fruit blackberries. 

I was about to find out just how quick a quick bread could be. I assembled the ingredients and this bread came together in 10 minutes flat. I popped it in the oven and proceeded to pack the car and get ready to leave. Just before 6am I pulled out a beautiful golden loaf, wrapped it in a dish towel and left for the beach! That’s quick.

Last night my parent’s and I sampled this delicious cake at sunset overlooking Laguna Beach and I was filled with gratitude along with cake.  My parent’s have 20 years of sunset pictures at this place. Just 6 months ago they were facing the harsh reality that their traveling days were over. My formerly spry dad was becoming increasingly debilitated from the pain of a degenerative back condition.  His long walks were over and he was lucky to just get around in his house.  A surgeon we all called “Dr. Happy” assured him that surgery would have him back on the golf course in under a year, pain free. That was funniest because my dad does not golf.  However, here we are 90 days later and my dad is back-all the way back. His mind and wit are sharp again and he is waiting for me to finish this so we can take a long walk on the beach.  I just hope I can keep up with this almost 88 year old with the constitution of someone much younger, sometimes much younger than ME!

A Gentle Confluence-Fall and Back-to-School

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Posted September 23rd, 2012 in In the Kitchen, Posts

The first signs of fall are in the air and the blogosphere is full of baking.  Home cooks and bakers can’t wait for the opportunity to fire up the ovens again.  At the same time, it is back to school and moms everywhere are bombarded with admonitions to give their kids a healthy breakfast.

These two simultaneous events inspired me to bake a nutrient dense version of a blueberry muffin that could serve as breakfast on the go for anyone-school kids, office workers, commuters and, well, ME!

The news is full of “economic downturn” and “belt-tightening” for most everyone.  Even worse we learned this week that 30% of us are obese (some of us were already quite aware, thank you very much) Gone are the days when we could just buy that $4 muffin at the local coffee establishment and call it breakfast with impunity. It impacts our pocket book and don’t even get me started on the fat and calories in that thing!

But food has to taste good. We are supposed to enjoy it. So I spent my Sunday working on a muffin that could relieve a mother’s guilt, make a child happy (maybe even smarter according to the latest research on breakfast), go great with a cup of coffee on the run and be made from items I found in my pantry and fridge (except for the sweet potato I bought for $1 at the Farmers Market this morning.)

I took my inspiration from a Sweet Potato Muffin I saw on Food Buzz last week. It was posted by a blogger named “Chew Out Loud”.  This was already a pretty healthy muffin but I made some additional nutritional tweaks and the Sweet Potato Blueberry Muffins are amazing!   Whip these up for your next boring morning meeting and you might even see a rise in productivity. If members of your family are anti-vegetable just don’t mention the sweet potatoes.


Girl’s Night

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Posted August 2nd, 2012 in In the Kitchen, Posts

Several of my girlfriends have been getting together for a “girl’s night” about monthly for many years.  Sometimes a husband or two will show up and lately some of our grown daughters just “happen” to be around as well. It is one of my life’s true blessings. This reconnection with the people that love you best, who have watched your kids grow up and love them almost as much as you do, is the true value of being human. These women have joined together in tough times to clean a house, make meals, watch kids or just be there when one of us needed to cry. These are the same women who have never missed an important celebratory event and have provided more laughter than anyone else I know.

In the early years we use to call these “wine nights” and to be honest there is still wine.  The time was more limited when the kids were small so we had to make do with a glass of wine and a few snacks before running off to one activity or another.  Life is a little more leisurely now. We have all moved a little farther away from each other so we have now added a light dinner so we can linger longer and talk more.

I found this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats and I think it will be perfect for Girl’s Night. It is a Quinoa Salad with Corn and Blueberries. Of course it is perfect for summer when corn and blueberries are plentiful. But I think it is also perfect for when you need to make something from the pantry because you just NEED a Girl’s Night impromptu and you have to make something with what you have.  So, of course, I modified this recipe to use canned Oregon Blueberries and canned corn.  Just as delicious, light and healthy. Perfect for the girls.


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