A moo-ving occasionDid you ever have one of those...

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February 21, 1993|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

A moo-ving occasion

Did you ever have one of those noisemaker toys that, when you turn it over, makes a sound like a cow mooing? Were you ever tempted -- and you don't have to answer out loud -- to imitate the noise, because you thought you could do it better?

Well, the time has come for any closet mooers to get their due. Fleishmann's Move Over Butter is having a moo-off.

The idea comes from the product's current TV commercial, in which a farmer and his cow moo together over the benefits of Move Over Butter. Fleishmann's claims to know that many folks sitting at home like to moo along. So it's sponsoring a contest for people who like to imitate the barnyard beasts, with a final moo-off among regional winners to be held in New York's fabled Carnegie Hall in April.

To enter the contest, call (800) 833-4COW. Leave your name, address and moo. The line will be open through March 31.

A panel of judges will select five finalists based on the clarity, strength and realism of the entrant's cow sound. Only human imitators need apply; no real cows allowed. Everybody knows that trash is a problem, and there have been stories about landfills filling up before the end of the century so garbage will have no place to go. The food and household-products industries have come in for a lion's share of criticism, because packaging is widely believed to be responsible for a growing problem of discards.

But the magazine devoted to tracking trash, Garbage, reports that this is not exactly the case. Increased recycling and changes in packaging design and materials mean net container and packaging discards per capita actually went down 10 percent in the period between 1970 and 1988.

What went up? Household formation, says Gary Tanhauser, author of the article. Between 1972 and 1987, he writes, U.S. household formation went up 34 percent. Among items that trend has caused to be discarded in a big way: lawn trimmings (up 34 percent); major appliances (up 74 percent); home furnishings (up 80 percent); and clothing and footwear (up 260 percent).

Legislation to crack down on packaging has popular support, Mr. Tanhauser writes, but it's not looking at the whole picture. Costs of production, clean-processing methods and transportation are also issues with environmental impact that should be considered.

The article appears in the December/January issue of the magazine, founded by Patricia Poore three years ago. The magazine's no-nonsense approach is sometimes controversial, but it's always interesting.

Do get in a stew

There's nothing like a stretch of long, cold evenings to make you long for the end of winter. But there's one good thing to say for the season, though: It's a great time to enjoy hearty, homespun meal of stew.

Robin Kline, director of consumer affairs for the National Pork Producers Council, an industry group, suggests cooking can be "one of the best cures for cabin fever."

Here's a recipe from the council:

&Pueblo green chile stew

Serves eight.

2 pounds boneless pork cubes (about 1 1/2 -inch cubes)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 12-ounce cans corn kernels, drained

2 stalks celery, without leaves, diced

2 medium potatoes, diced

2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

3 4-ounce cans diced green chiles

4 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt to taste

In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet with lid, lightly brown pork cubes in oil over medium-high heat. Add rest of ingredients to pot; cover and simmer 1 hour. Serve hot with fresh corn or flour tortillas.

The stew would also be good with a hearty bread, preferably whole-grain and homemade, and a fresh green salad. It's not easy putting a great, nutritious meal on the table every night. True, there are plenty of convenience foods, but until recently, they weren't designed for the fat-conscious consumer. But more and more manufacturers are realizing consumers want fast, easy products that are light in calories.

Among them: Ragu, which has just introduced "light" versions of its no-recipe simmer sauces for chicken. The new sauces come in three flavors: honey-mustard, Italian primavera, and sweet and spicy. The 24-ounce jars contain six servings. Each serving has fewer than 50 calories (less than 10 percent from fat), and no cholesterol. Ragu says that when the sauce is prepared with the recommended 1 pound of boneless chicken breast, and served over one-half cup of rice per serving, the dish will have approximately 240 calories and 2 grams of fat (8 percent of calories from fat). The meal needs to be balanced with a salad or perhaps steamed vegetables, though.

The suggested retail selling price per jar is $1.99

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