Monday, April 20, 2015

Excuse Me Sir - My Cheese Is Too PALE

There was some earth shattering news this week.

That beloved monument of fluorescent food - Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - has decided to go a somewhat more natural route with its classic, kid-friendly snack. And college student snack, I might add. Aaaand, a graduate student snack. #askmehowiknow

This is great. I love it when any food company makes an effort to produce anything that approximates real food.

I do, however, think that food warriors have gotten too nasty on the subject. Read through Chobani's Facebook feed to see what I'm talking about. Being mean and yelling aren't a great way to get good change to happen, or to win people over to your cause. And more natural food is a great cause. So I think people should be nice and celebrate wins like these, instead of insulting a company with a great history, employing a lot of people and providing popular products to a market which wanted them.

So that's my "be nice" lecture for the day. When in doubt - be nice.

Anyway, on the subject of fluorescent orange food...

So at what point in human development did we decide that a delightful English cheddar just bored us to tears? Was someone having a lovely spot of cheese and wine on a farm somewhere and just burst out in tears at the ennui brought on by white cheese? Did they then decide on making it their life's work to infuse all cheese with the glow of a nuclear holocaust? I mean really - what precipitated the dyeing of food? Especially food that really stands on its own, like cheese?

I understand dyeing candy. Kids are strange little beasts. You sometimes need to have your tongue dyed blue by something when you're young - I get that. But cheese? I remember when I found OUT that cheddar cheese was dyed orange and I was so confused. I felt like my whole cheese-loving life had been a lie - I actually didn't know the real color of cheese! Talk about questioning your place in the universe. Boy howdy. Maybe that's the real origin of Who Moved My Cheese?.

Margarine, which is most decidedly NOT real food, used to come with a little package of dye that you smooshed into it to make it look like butter. Why? Why would you want your petroleum stick to look like butter? If you're eating petroleum, it should look like petroleum, in my humble opinion. That helps your amygdala reject things that are dangerous for you. Like sticks of petroleum.

As a recent recipient of some REAL Cadbury chocolate from England (love you Bekka), that isn't full of wax and God knows what all - I can tell you that your amygdala should be firing up every time you even THINK about chocolate in the US. When I was researching food dyes after pondering the orange cheese question, I found this, which I find pretty interesting.

So, America - we have to face ourselves. It's not an evil corporation forcing us to eat fake food. It's  a market (us) in our country (us) spending our dollars (us) on food that is dyed bright red, yellow, orange and blue. We are food losers. We like shiny, brightly colored food.

The UK has their act together, clearly, and the very same company is making these more natural foods to sell them, and doing quite well. So is Cadbury, who makes a heinous approximation of real English Cadbury to sell here in the US.

(Although honestly, I don't want any freaking beetroot or annatto or paprika in my cereal bars either - food should just be the color it is.)

So - I hereby proclaim that everyone in America who rants about food needs to zip it and quit spending money on anything that has road cone dye in it. And be nice to the people who work at Kraft and Kellogg. They are just giving the country what it wants, and buys. They aren't evil. They're regular people just like us, working hard, trying to be good at what they do, and probably stamping on the weekend.

I believe dye belongs in ink, and paper and paint, and powder and all sorts of things I play with daily.

So at this weekend's class we had some fun with dyes at my Background Stamps technique class.

Everyone got to choose what background stamp they wanted. I did my samples with the Handcarved and Hardwood Stamps, but I have to say - by the end of the class, the samples they did with the Something Lacy stamp were my absolute fave. So I had to come home and play. Also, since the retired list is out, I'm super excited to see that this stamp is NOT on it. YAY US!

I will have some virtual shopping options available for my retirement sale, so stay tuned for that.

Anyhoo - here's a little fun with some retiring colors and a NON-retiring stamp or two (Sentiment is from So You).

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Now that I look at this - it sort of looks like some of the cheese dye colors.

If you receive this card in the mail - please don't lick it. It's not good for you.

And now - for this week's cooking update. Here's a sad tale - my Crockpot crock cracked. Say THAT three times fast. So I've been hesitant to use it, and I don't know if Crockpot was affected by the dockworker's strike or what, but the replacement crocks have been unavailable for SIX MONTHS. So I've had to make do. Now I'm thinking I don't need a crockpot because 200 degrees for 8 hours in the oven does exactly the same thing. See this pulled pork recipe post for proof. And since I hate appliances in general, and don't like unitaskers (I don't own a toaster, for example), maybe saying goodbye to the crockpot is just ducky.

However, Jennifer McGuire has recently sold me on a unitasker. And if she can sell ME on a unitasker, she can sell Alton Brown on a unitasker.

I eat a LOT of eggs. While I love a good filet, bacon, etc., I can honestly say I'd do just fine without meat. If left alone, I tend towards mostly vegetarian foods. But I cannot live without eggs. I eat them every which way, but I almost always start my day with a boiled egg, because they're easy and delicious. My mom made us breakfast every day before school my entire school-aged years, and I never, ever had a breakfast without an egg. She taught me to love soft boiled eggs, mashed up with pieces of torn, buttered toast, which, were I to commit a capital crime, would be my death row meal. So if you want a way into my heart, I strongly suggest papercrafting and eggs, both of which Jennifer brings. The thing about her is that when she finds something awesome, she shares it, and she was kind enough to share the most miraculous unitasker in the world with me last month - the VonShef egg cooker.

VonShef Egg Magic Witchcraft Cooker

I am not even kidding - this thing has changed my life. What's crazy is it uses this tiny amount of water to steam your eggs (you poke a little hole in them with this pokey thing they give you) - and there are individual measurements on the water cup that comes with it for every combination you could imagine. Are you cooking two soft boiled eggs? There's an amount of water for that. Are you cooking 7 hard boiled eggs? There's a measurement for that. I've tested ALL the settings and all the different quantities and doneness of the eggs and they are perfect. I actually suspect witchcraft.

And you KNOW I do not recommend unitaskers, so if this gets my seal of approval - you know it's legit. Get one. See the deets here.

Basically here's my advice. If Jennifer tells you you need something, you need it. Get over yourself. Order whatever she says before they run out.

Also, if you cannot get local free-range eggs and you're within shopping distance of Vital Farms, those are my faves. But buy from your local crazy chicken lady whenever possible.

Because crazy chicken ladies do stuff like buy harnesses for their (indoor) chickens.

And we should support that.

In any way we can.



  1. Knowing about Wisconsin cheese, and that it is definitely NOT naturally orange, I know all about dyes. I buy Wisconsin cheese whenever I can. I don't like day-glo food. Sadly, I'm having a rough time lately finding white cheddar. What's up with that!?

    And of COURSE those Kellog and Kraft people stamp on weekends, because we are awesome.

  2. We had never seen orange cheese before we came to Canada; Australians don't dye their cheese! I don't know if they diaper their hens??
    Lovely blend of the colours on the card.
    Heather T

  3. Lydia - once again, you created a home run. Your posts are wonderful. I smiled all the way through. My daughter is death on food dies but I've yet to enjoy any of her attempts to use beet juice in her frosting. My grandchildren, I fear, will have to deal with grandma's purchased colored poison...I love the egg cooker. I think I need one. Well, maybe not need...but want. Wish you lived in Illinois. Consider moving so you can give your workshops close to me...

  4. The cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone! High ho the derry-o, the cheese stands alone!

  5. All hail proper English Cheddar! Preferably so mature it, as we say in my area, "makes your tabs laugh" and preferably with those mysterious little gritty bits in it. (Tyrosine apparently, I looked it up)

  6. This is all so true! I was just wondering the other day about something I was eating (can't remember now what it was) why it had to be dyed? I've heard that it's because our brains create whichever chemicals are the "happy chemicals" when we see certain colors which makes us want to eat those foods, and I suppose that's true and is the food producers' sneaky, underhanded way to make us buy their products, but REALLY! Why dye everything we eat? Especially when so many people are developing sensitivities to all those food dyes. And I was also wondering recently, who the H.E.Double Hockey Sticks decided that wheat needed to be bleached?! What would make a person choose to do that? I'm perplexed.

  7. Oh my, Oh my...Love your musing..and the card is fab...Maybe I need a egg thingies and that stamp someone who refuses to have a microwave at home....and quit using a coffee pot when you can make much better coffee with boiling water and a individual Melitta cone coffee thing....

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