GENERATIONS: Evan Hazard: Bachelor cuisine, interrupted

Here's the simplest scrumptious recipe ever. Ingredients: a quart container of fat-free vanilla yogurt and lots of dried sweetened cranberries. At a local supermarket in mid-November, I reached for a quart container of plain fat-free yogurt, pick...


Here's the simplest scrumptious recipe ever. Ingredients: a quart container of fat-free vanilla yogurt and lots of dried sweetened cranberries. At a local supermarket in mid-November, I reached for a quart container of plain fat-free yogurt, picked up the one next to it by mistake, and brought home Our Family fat-free vanilla yogurt. What to do with all that sweetened yogurt?  Light bulb: cranberries!

Evan Hazard

Store-bought dried cranberries are always sweetened; cranberries are just too strong without some sugar. (You can get lower sugar cranberries at a downtown grocery, as well as regular strength sweetened.) Already had most of a bag of dried sweetened cranberries (Ocean Spray Craisins), so tried something. Took a clean, empty 6 ounce yogurt cup, put in about 4 oz. of the vanilla yogurt, stirred in as many Craisins as would fit, and tasted the mix. Zowie! Just enough creamy vanilla sweetness to balance the cranberry jolt.

Problem: cranberries were still dry and chewy. Solution: added all the cranberries I could to the quart container, stirred them in, and refrigerated for two days. Liquid from the yogurt gradually soaked into the cranberries, flavor from the cranberries diffused into the yogurt and the blend tasted divine, better than the initial mix did. Any time I wanted a quick snack, had a teaspoon or two, then took a clean long-handled teaspoon to stir in more cranberries while dragging up unmixed yogurt from the bottom. Snacked occasionally from the older marinated mix, and eventually all the unmixed yogurt was blended in and I had to plan my next non-fat vanilla yogurt purchase. I copyright these columns, but think maybe the above recipe is too simple to patent, so I hereby declare it public domain. Enjoy, but watch it; dried cranberries, like prunes and raisins, are potent!

Actually, I'd typed a first sentence or two of the above Sunday, Nov. 19. While working out at the gym formerly known as Peak Performance that afternoon, I had a brief sharp pain in my right rib cage, and that happened again once or twice in the evening. About 7 a.m. the next morning, after I'd had only a Clif bar and a mug of Yorkshire Gold tea, decided these were recurring enough for an 88-year-old to seek professional care. So Monday plans went on hold, I packed this laptop and other necessities, then drove to the emergency room at Sanford’s West lobby.


A sign there says, “Chest pains? Tell us immediately.” In minutes I was in Room 14, shirtless but with a silly hospital gown, a needle in my right arm, and getting to know a couple of emergency noom nurses I'd seen often from the family waiting desk where I volunteer Tuesdays, across the lobby from the registration desk and ER. One of them actually had been my student in freshman biology some years back.

Sanford Health Bemidji, by the way, does not have a “Main” lobby.  It has East and West lobbies, and now an Orthopedics/Sports Medicine lobby. To protect the guilty, I'll not name other Sanford volunteers or employees who agree the new O/SM lobby looks like a well-designed bank.

After they'd done an EKG and after lab had assayed the blood they stole, an ER physician told me that the EKG was as normal as the last one (my EKG is slightly strange but not dangerously so) and that the only odd thing in my lab report was low potassium (K), the element just below sodium (Na) on the periodic table of the elements ( ), which I first met at Manhattan's Stuyvesant High in ’47. K is a highly reactive metal that occurs in nature mostly as KCl, potassium chloride. Nurse brought me a fruity drink laced with KCl. Ghastly, but I've not had those pains since, am now eating a banana a day, and finding ways to use canned chopped spinach in recipes.

I'd been lying on the ER mattress, staring at the ceiling while the automatic sphygmomanometer took my blood pressure periodically when my stomach noted, “It's been hours since that granola bar.” So I asked an RN for a muffin. She asked the ER physician, and soon someone from “Nothern Dining” brought breakfast: 2 percent milk, orange juice, a small portion of farina, a muffin and coffee. Server gladly brought skim to replace the 2 percent, and I soon felt better, physically and mentally.

Soon one of the RNs arrived with my discharge papers, explained it all, and said the ER physician says to see my primary physician next week. Fat chance, since Thursday would be Thanksgiving. My next annual was scheduled for Dec. 12, two days ago if this comes out in “Generations” on the usual second Thursday.

Banana and spinach are two common sources of high natural K.  Another good source is DJOTi Delhi Saag, a highly curried mix of mustard greens and chopped spinach, from the downtown grocery.  Mustard greens also contain K, but not as much as spinach. Should be easy to keep my blood level of K up to normal with such ordinary foods. Actually, too high a K level can also do damage, particularly to kidney function. Dr. Wilcox will get all the details.

Maybe we'll get back to bachelor cuisine next month, unless something more timely intrudes.

Opinion by Jillian Gandsey
Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at (218) 333-9786, (218) 996-1216 or at
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