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Welcome!

Welcome to haylleyjohnson.com.

This web page is a portfolio sampling Haylley Johnson’s journalistic clips and press releases varying in topic from cuisine to government policy.

If you want to know more about Haylley, you can go to the About page for details.

Please feel free to navigate through the site. On the right hand side of the page, you will find a Publications section which identifies the spaces in which her clips have been published. That could be newspapers — Seven Days, the San Antonio Current and The Vermont Cynic — or “Press releases” at UVM. If you want to view only Haylley’s clips concerning her culinary exploits, go to the “Culinary Clips” heading.

Feel free to stroll through the Seven Days, the San Antonio Current and The Vermont Cynic websites as well.

If you have any concerns or questions for Haylley, please navigate to the Contact page (above) or just leave a comment.

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On Feb. 3, the University of Vermont Board of Trustees approved a cross-college, Master of Science degree program in food systems, after more than three years of extensive planning and discussion.

The effort, begun in 2009 when UVM received a USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant for the creation of the program, gained steam in 2010 when Food Systems was chosen as one of UVM’s Transdisciplinary Research Initiatives (TRI). Along with complex systems and neuroscience, behavior and health, food systems has been identified as a key area of research investment across the disciplines.

“I am heartened by the success and send kudos to those who developed it and stuck with it,” Naomi Fukagawa, co-chair of the Food Systems Steering Committee, said. “And I praise the trustees and administration for understanding the importance of this to UVM, its land grant status, and the TRI process.”

“This is a vehicle in which numerous partners … can really engage, and put UVM and the state of Vermont in the forefront of how we actually create a change in the local and regional food system,” John Bramley, interim president, said at the board meeting.

The program has already begun the work of connecting with partners external to the university. Community Development and Applied Economics professor Jane Kolodinsky and Nutrition and Food Sciences professor Amy Trubek, co-authors of the program’s proposal, consulted with more than 400 organizations outside of UVM during the writing process.

Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition and food sciences and a member of the program’s steering committee, believes that its approval will help UVM gain ground in the academic food systems community. “The approval of this masters program is very exciting and puts UVM at the leading edge of the emerging field of food systems,” she said.

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Now that the program has been approved, next steps include accepting students’ applications for the fall 2012 semester and furthering the research. “Now, the real work begins,” Kolodinsky said.

Published online by the Food Systems Spire  on 02/06/2012. Read it here.

Sunbathing, dancing, doing homework (or not), getting married and having sex are just a few good uses of the Flying Diaper. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about an actual diaper. The Flying Diaper is the unofficial name of a structure on the University of Vermont’s Redstone Campus that just happens to resemble a diaper if it were upside down and, well, flying.

UVM students pass the Diaper every day en route to classes or Patrick Gymnasium. Its location is also a great place to nap, or have a snowball fight.

For a few years, students could even watch a live cable feed of goings-on in front of the Diaper by tuning to channel 13 on their dorm-room sets. UVMtv, the student-run television station, used to be located in the bottom of Coolidge Hall, a building near the Diaper. Then technical director Trav Fryer rigged it so a camera filming the structure connected directly to the cable network.

Once, UVM Diaper legend has it, some students forgot about the surveillance and were caught enjoying illicit substances near the Diaper. The opportunity for late-night Diaper amusement was lost, however, when the camera was taken down at the end of the 2009 academic year, when UVMtv moved into its current Davis Center location.

Students have a strange fascination with the Diaper, mainly because few know why it’s there in the first place. Even professors who have been at the university for years admit they don’t know the origins of this oddly shaped structure. The only clue available to the curious investigator is the rumor that engineering students were behind it.

Turns out, the rumor is correct. An inquiry to UVM’s engineering department reveals that the Flying Diaper was built in 1968 by the graduating civil-engineering class, and it’s officially called a hyperbolic paraboloid — in engineering slang, a “hypar.” It’s a shape made entirely from straight lines that appears curved — hence its strange appearance.

In the spring of ’68, assistant professor of civil engineering Burdette “Bud” Stearns taught a course on the mechanics of materials. Mid-semester, Stearns assigned his 23 students a design project and, to make it interesting, divided the students into groups to compete with each other.

When the designs were complete, the class regrouped and voted on the best. The winning design, by Burlington native William Arnold, was chosen for its practicality and the ease with which it could be built. It was a hypar — our future Flying Diaper.

Then Ralph Clark — a nontraditional student who had worked in construction — suggested the class actually build the hypar. All the students pitched in, and local firms, including Vermont Structural Steel and Anderson Ready Mix of Waterbury, donated the necessary materials.

Stearns managed to bypass university red tape and gain permission to build the structure on the modern-day Redstone Campus. The feat still astounds current UVM engineering professor Jeffrey Laible, one of Stearns’ former students.

Clark took charge as foreman, and the building process began. Laible recalls that the group was lucky the weather held. The Rutland Herald ran an article noting that the sunshine gave the male engineering students a different set of problems — distracting “coeds” sunbathing on the lawn. (Redstone used to be the female campus).

The group had to build a wooden mold and fit it with steel bars to support the concrete after it was poured. Pouring the concrete was the trickiest part of the process, since it had to be done in one go. The students worked in shifts of five or six for three full days to pour all the concrete.

“Well, we ordered pizza and [brought along] other sorts of things that we weren’t supposed to have. It was a good time,” Laible says. “Of all the things in my undergraduate experience, this was the most valuable one,” he adds. “You went from theory to actually building it.”

In 2003, the Diaper faced a serious threat — it was targeted for destruction to make way for new university parking lots. But another of Stearns’ former students came to its rescue. Like Laible, Jean-Guy Béliveau helped build the Diaper in 1968 and returned to UVM as a professor. Béliveau clearly had a special place in his heart for the structure — when he got married in nearby St. Augustine Chapel, the couple’s receiving line passed under the Diaper.

Béliveau joined his daughter, Chantal, a member of UVM’s civil and environmental engineering class of 1997, to speak for the Diaper at Burlington City Hall, and the university ended up sparing it. When Béliveau passed away in 2009, part of his memorial service was held under the hypar.

The Flying Diaper remains in its rightful location to this day. Nowadays, a quick search will bring up videos of students freestyle skiing off the Diaper, but usually it hosts more peaceful pursuits. The UVM students of 1968 and 2010 aren’t so different — they know a great napping spot when they see one.

Published in print and online by Seven Days on 08/18/2010. Read it here.

Head Trip

It’s just after midnight, and a late-night snack is in order. Downtown has some decent options: You can order from Big Daddy’s Pizza, head over to Kountry Kart Deli for a Rise & Shiner, or maybe grab a falafel at Ahli Baba’s Kabob Shop. Or, you can have fresh, homemade chocolate-chip cookies delivered to your doorstep.

A love of sweets and some entrepreneurial flair went into the creation of Hungry Headies, a late-night cookie-delivery service. Founders Greg Ramey and Wyatt Fowler, both community entrepreneurship majors at the University of Vermont, started the company on a whim. They began making cookies to satisfy their own nocturnal snacking needs and thought maybe others would be interested, too.

After UVM’s 2010 spring break, the pair put up posters — as a joke, they say, since they weren’t sure they’d have any takers. Little did they realize that nighttime cookie demand in Burlington was, well, high.

“We didn’t have hours when we first started,” Ramey says. “I had people calling me at 4 o’clock in the morning asking for cookies, and I was, like, ‘I need to sleep, man.’”

After the posters brought them their first orders, the two nascent businessmen set some official hours: Thursday through Saturday, delivery begins at 10 p.m. and continues until 3 in the morning. After just a few weeks, Ramey and Fowler had gained some very loyal customers. “A friend of a friend told me about it, and I’ve been all over it,” says UVM senior Aaron “AJ” Kasen. “How can you not like cookie-delivery service fresh to your door?”

Ramey and Fowler make sure the goods are fresh by whipping up a batch of 200 cookies from scratch at about 8 p.m. in the basement of their fraternity, Sigma Phi. If they run out, they make more — sometimes 600 cookies in a night.

Fowler, Ramey says, is the mind behind the cookies. His love of cooking is one of the reasons the guys started baking in the first place. They kept tweaking Fowler’s recipe and feeding the test runs to their fraternity brother and to high school buddy Ax Hayssen.

“I was one of the main testers,” Hayssen says. “I probably tasted 100 cookies.” Poor guy.

After two weeks of having their treats turn out too gooey or too dense, the duo had an “aha” moment. Now, with just the right balance of chips to batter, their cookies have the perfect consistency. Hayssen raves about them: “I’m a big cookie person,” he says. “I put [Hungry Headies cookies] on the same level as Oreos and milk, and that’s saying something.” Hayssen encourages customers to ask for milk with their cookies.

At first, moo juice was on the menu every night, but, Ramey says, people were too picky about whether it was skim, whole or 1 percent. Now, he and Fowler bring along a gallon jug of milk on their delivery rounds and pour out some if customers ask nicely and pay a couple of dollars extra. Other add-ons are energy drinks and Hungry Headies chocolate syrup (i.e., Hershey’s syrup with “Hungry Headies” written all over the bottle).

The head Hungry Heads keep their customers updated on specials and other events via Facebook and Twitter. They even have a competition for the “Hungriest Head of the Week,” which is more about enthusiasm than the number of cookies consumed. “We’ve had people with vomit on them order. It gets pretty rowdy,” Ramey says. “You can always tell when someone is competing to be Hungriest Head.” The winner gets a featured photo on the Hungry Headies Facebook page.

The owners have stories galore. Ramey’s favorite is about the time somebody requested delivery to the South Burlington McDonald’s. At first he and Fowler thought the Mickey D’s staff had the munchies, but they got blank looks at the front counter, and eventually found their customers sitting at a table.

Far-flung deliveries like that one aren’t rare. While Hungry Headies originally targeted campus-dwelling UVM students, Ramey and Fowler say most of their cookies end up in downtown Burlington.

The cookies aren’t available during the summer, but the arrival of the fall semester means Hungry Headies will reopen in full force: Students and townies alike will be able to order packs of a half-dozen cookies for $5, a dozen for $9, or two dozen for $16. The owners have plans to expand, too; they’re in the process of making T-shirts, relocating their kitchen and searching for a pro skier to represent them. They’re even sponsoring rapper Wiz Khalifa’s concert at UVM in the fall.

Despite all the time and effort the service takes to manage, Ramey and Fowler have fun. “It doesn’t really feel like work. [It’s] like a party, delivering cookies,” Ramey says.

Hayssen chimes in. “[Hungry Heads] are people who enjoy life … and want good cookies to complement their good life,” he says. “If you are a Hungry Heady, you are hungry for cookies and a whole lot more.”

Published in print and online by Seven Days on 08/18/2010. Read it here.

Mastering Master Sauce

For six hours, Jason Frishman — cofounder with his wife, Shana Witkin, of specialty-food company FolkFoods — and 10 close friends have been working together to create an almost ludicrous amount of Master Sauce. The flavorful condiment, sold at the couple’s booth at the Burlington Farmers Market, is made from a slew of flavorful ingredients, including carrots, maple syrup, tamarind and fiery habanero peppers.

“All right, everyone,” Frishman says as he begins to set up the jar-filling station, “when you go to the bathroom, don’t touch your genitals once you’ve touched the peppers.”

“Don’t touch anyone else’s genitals, either,” Frishman’s longtime friend and neighbor, Chapin Spencer, says with a smirk.

Putting body parts at risk is a given when one decides to help make FolkFoods’ summer supply of its signature sauce — 650 gallons’ worth. Since it isn’t something a home kitchen can handle, at 8 a.m. on a sunny summer day, Frishman and friends began production in the Vermont Food Venture Center in Fairfax.

A run-down, practically windowless building, the center houses an industrial-sized kitchen that can be rented by small food businesses that would not otherwise have access to one large enough to meet their needs. It has everything, including a Cuisinart the size of a small bathtub.

Peeling paint, grungy rooms and “well-loved” supplies make the 14-year-old building look like it’s on its last legs. The center will move to a new, modernized location in Hardwick next January.

Frishman, usually sunny and full of energy, looks a little glum when someone mentions the center’s relocation. It takes him forever to drive down to Hardwick, he points out, and he still doesn’t know where or how he’ll make his sauce after the move.

Frishman’s positive attitude returns when Eric Van Vlandren, compost manager at Burlington’s Intervale Center and a close friend, bursts into the room hallooing cheers and waving his arms. It’s the kind of reaction Frishman, whose day job is working as a family therapist, seems to elicit on a regular basis.

“I love working with Jason. He has such a carefree personality,” says Brittany Langdon, a FolkFoods employee, housesitter for the couple and friend.

Langdon starts directing traffic and setting up workstations — one for chopping two huge sacks’ worth of white and purple onions, one for measuring spices, one for cleaning.

Watching the scene unfold, it’s easy to see why Frishman attributes his success to his pals. Master Sauce was invented seven years ago when Frishman and Witkin were trying to write a cookbook, not build a company. After three years of urging by his sauce-besotted friends, Frishman finally decided to sell it. “The booth, the bottle’s label, the name — it couldn’t have happened without my friends,” he says.

For example, when crises hit, Frishman has ultimate handyman Sky Lewe on his side.

“What do you mean, the scale is broken?” Frishman asks, hanging on to a jug of cumin. A few minutes later, with the help of a pocketknife and batteries, Lewe has the scale up and running.

Next, helpers dump out gallons of maple syrup and jars of tamarind. To his friends’ chagrin, Frishman’s favorite brand of the pungent pulp comes only in relatively tiny, 16-ounce containers.

As each ingredient is prepared, the crew divides it equally between two huge cooking pots in the back of the room. The pots are set to a low simmer, and everyone gets a chance to stir the concoction with a five-foot-long whisk.

An immersion blender goes into the sauce next, and people begin to cough as fermented habanero pepper fumes from the vats fill the room. “It’s like going to a Cheech & Chong concert, except worse,” Van Vlandren says with a wink.

As the jarring process commences, the laid-back Vermonters form an automotive-style assembly line. Each jar must be placed under a mechanical funnel that spurts exactly six-and-a-half ounces of sauce, then lidded and boxed.

After five hours and numerous habanero burns — which make the skin sting for at least 24 hours — all the sauce is processed.

Given the time commitment, one would think Frishman must be making a great profit when he sells the sauce for $6.50 a jar, but he says he only makes enough to cover costs. He jokes that it’s because he gives away all his sauce to friends. “We don’t have money, and we don’t have time,” he says. “But what we do have is food, and that we can be generous with.”

Frishman holds up the final jar of sauce with a ceremonial flourish. “Done!” he exclaims.

When someone in the group asks what she should do with her allotment of free sauce — which has a subtle, intense heat mixed with a fruity spiciness — Frishman replies that it goes well in curries and on grilled-cheese sandwiches and eggs.

Van Vlandren has a different response. He looks at the questioner blankly, as if she should already know the answer. “Everything,” he says.

Published in print and online by Seven Days on 08/04/2010. Read it here.

Fighting with the speaker at the Taco Cabana drive-thru near my house never gets old for me. It is the same scenario every time I go to buy a breakfast taco – I drive up, I order, and then I try to ask for salsa. The poor guy on the other end asks if I mean hot sauce. “No,” I say, “I want salsa. You know the red stuff with chunks of tomato?” “Ah, pico?” he asks. I sigh . . . “No, I’ll just take some red hot sauce.”

I usually give up in the end and simply ask for the hot sauce (which I always think of as salsa foolishly or not). Recently, though, I’ve been noticing it more in my culinary travels around San Antonio. Hot sauce or salsa? The tomato, pepper, and tomatillo concoctions – freshly-made and chunky – used to be salsa in my mind, but so many San Antonians seem to call that creation hot sauce. To me, hot sauce is the thin, spicy, red or green liquid which contains plenty of vinegar: Tabasco essentially. I needed to get the story straight, and maybe spare the poor man at Taco C.

First stop – the professionals. Elizabeth Kossick, a CIA Chef-Instructor and Latin Cuisines Specialist, seemed confused by my query. In interior Mexico, “salsas can be either green or red. They can be spiced with chilis, or they can be mild,” she says. “You could say salsa picante, but there is no specific term for hot sauce. It is under the umbrella term of salsa, and salsa can be made with anything and everything.”

“You know, I have more background on Mexican food, but what I think hot sauce means in San Antonio is a sauce that contains a vinegar,” fellow instructor and Latin Cuisines Specialist Iliana de la Vega says. “Everyone relates [hot sauce] to bottled ones – Cholula or whatever brand like that.”

That’s what I thought, too – where were the wires crossing? Mary Lou’s Café’s manager, Elena Joch, had a similar answer: “A hot sauce is not salsa. Salsa is a mix with tomato, and hot sauce is more of a liquid.”

Maybe the owner of Chris Madrid’s Nachos and Burgers, Chris Madrid, would know. Madrid’s serves house-made salsa with his famous tostada burger. “Sometimes we just say hot sauce. Sometimes we call it our homemade salsa,” Madrid said. “Years ago, I think when we did tacos and enchiladas, we called it salsa. Now for our burgers, we just call it hot sauce.” But when he looked at his menu, he realized that Chris Madrid’s menu says salsa goes on the tostada burger.

“Salsa’s definition is a sauce, especially a hot sauce containing chilis. It means basically the same thing [as hot sauce],” he said. “All the taco places I go to, I always ask for hot sauce.”

Madrid admitted to me that he had never really realized that there was this discrepancy before I asked him. I racked my brains trying to think of someone who might have noticed it as well. Diana Barrios, the owner of Los Barrios, a long-time San Antonio Tex-Mex establishment, perhaps. “We call it hot sauce for some people and salsa for others. We call it hot sauce because we have a bunch of different salsas that we use for topping different dishes,” she says.

So the different nomenclatures could be a distinction between types of sauces in general – like the sauce that you dip chips in verses the sauce you put on your taco.

“I know exactly what customers want when they ask for either one,” Barrios says. “It is just how people were brought up and what region of the country you are from . . . Some people will ask for cheese sauce, and I’ll say ‘Oh! Queso!’ because here in San Antonio that is the only thing we call it.” Having spent some time living in New England, I know what she means about queso being “cheese sauce,” but different from, say, a European-style “cheese sauce.”

I had to go back to the root of my problem – Taco Cabana – to confirm culture was the cause. Julian Ortiz, a TC manager, thought he knew the reason. “I think that [some employees] consider hot sauce and salsa to be the same, not really knowing the difference, whereas there are people who know the difference between hot sauce and salsa,” he said. “Maybe they weren’t raised with the difference.”

Phew! While I know that many individuals will forever have to succumb and ask for hot sauce at the Taco Cabana drive-thru when what they really mean is salsa, at least it is because of cultural diversity.

Published online by the San Antonio Current on 07/10/2009. Read it here.

There is finally a way to procrastinate that is both noble and useful.

Www.freerice.com, a way to sound smart and feel good about it, builds vocabulary intelligence while simultaneously feeding the world.

According to the Freerice homepage, people can play a vocabulary building game that consists of matching words to their synonyms. Each correct answer donates the money to buy 20 grains of rice to the World Food Program.

World Food Programme, a site that represents “the food aid arm of the UN,” according to their mission statement, has also gathered a lot of attention due to Freerice.com.

According to National Public Radio, Freerice.com has “driven the most Inter¬net traffic to the World Food Programme site.”

Jennifer Parmelee, a spokesperson for the World Food Program interviewed by NPR, said the site has provided “the gift of awareness about world hunger.”

Freerice.com, as well as its sister site, Poverty.com, was started by a computer programmer named John Breen who began the site from his residence in Indiana to help his son prepare for the SATs, stated “The Christian Science Monitor.”

According to “The Christian Science Monitor,” after Poverty.com launched in January of 2007, Freerice. com was created in October of that year, and is one of the various websites that Breen began with a humanitarian goal.

By January of 2008, Freerice.com players had donated “more than 15 billion grains of rice…enough to feed more than 700,000 people for one day,” said Jennifer Parmelee of the World Food Program.

The funding, totaling to enough money to cover 6,948,988,060 grains for the month of December 2007, gifted by freerice.com to the World Food Program, is generated through a system of internet advertising, stated Freerice.com.

The advertisements are placed at the bottom of the screen of each new vocabulary challenge. With each new question, the advertisers give freerice.com enough money for that one question’s rice winnings.

According to freerice. com’s FAQs section of the site, the advertisers can afford this because they earn money from the products that people buy after viewing their advertisements on the freerice website.

All of the money earned is donated to the World Food Program, as Freerice.com is a nonprofit website, stated Breen.

The rice distribution is not limited to only a few countries either. According to the World Food Pro¬gram Web site, ten different countries, such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Nepal, receive support from the efforts of Freerice.com.

According to their Web site, even the purchasing of the rice itself assists in the fight against poverty and hunger.

All of the rice is “bought in developing countries, keeping the cost of reaching the hungry to a minimum and boosting farmers’ efforts to grow their own food,” stated the site.

Beyond the rice provided by the World Food Program, the site states that their group provides school meals to the children of supported countries, providing “hungry children [incentive] to attend school and help them concentrate on their studies.”

According to their Web site, the World Food Program also gives food to workers, allowing them flexibility to try new innovative agricultural techniques without as much pressure to find the necessary sustenance.

With both the World Food Program and Freerice.com, everyone has the ability for to help solve world hunger.

Any amount of money can be donated through the World Food Program to actively promote their humanitarian cause, stated the World Food Program Web site.

Even without some extra change to donate, anyone can help end hunger through the creation of Freerice. com. Saving the world one grain of rice at a time is just a mouse click away.

Published by The Vermont Cynic on 04/08/2008. Read it here.