Thursday, February 26, 2009

March is our Birthday! Value and deliciousness and more!

Hello Wheatsville friends!

We like to win things, so please vote for us in the Austin360 A-List poll for best neighborhood grocery.

Reminder, as part of our big project, we had to close our store restroom. SO, we have a deluxe portable one (including a hand washing station) next to the patio outside. We're sorry for the inconvenience, but it is necessary AND temporary. We'll be opening our new bathrooms around March 15th!

March is our birthday month and we're excited to usher in our 33rd year on the edge of some exciting changes! Stay tuned to future e-mails this month with more birthday stuff!

This week, scroll down for:
Upcoming events
The delicious deli
Value tips from our butcher
Produce seasonal news you can use
Refrigerated update! Milk prices come down!
Talkin' Softball

Upcoming events of note!

This year, we are the major sponsor of It's My Park Day on March 7th, Austin Green Art Earth Day on April 18th, and the Sustainable Food Center's signature fundraiser, Farm to Plate in May.I am really proud and pleased to partner with these great groups and help them to do the good work that they do in our community.

The fine folks at the Austin Parks Foundation are the movers and shakers behind the awesome It's My Park Day and they could use your help! Here's more about it and how you can get involved!

It's My Park! Day, presented by Wheatsville Food Co-op, is an annual citywide park volunteer event. Individuals and community groups lead projects ranging from simple cleaning and repair to trail building and playground installation.

This year's It's My Park! Day, coming up March 7, features more than 50 different projects at parks in every area of town. Tree planting will be a major focus. Come meet your neighbors and lend a hand at a park near you!

See the full list of projects and register online at Registered volunteers receive a free tee shirt. Snacks will be provided by Wheatsville.

Wheatsville Herb Fair TRANSPLANTED!
Due to the construction, our annual celebration of growing season is being held downtown at the Austin Farmer's Market!
Come visit the temporarily transplanted Herb Fair on March 14th from 9am-1pm at Republic Square Park.

The deli cooks so you don't have to!

Record high temperatures mean it's time to cool off at the Wheatsville Deli! We have an abundance of delicious treats to cool your head and fill your belly! Smoothies!!! All fruit and no ice, our chilly smoothies are thick, sweet, creamy and made fresh to order every time! In today's deli case are so many of our staff and customer favorites: Crispy Fish Cakes, Curry Lime Chicken Salad, Risotto Cakes, Asparagus and Orzo Pasta Salad, Veggies Vinaigrette, Couscous with Feta and Fava, Lively Carrots and Beets, Basil Pecan White Beans, and tons more! We have Sesame Baked Tofu, Southern Fried Tofu and Popcorn Tofu! African Peanut and Black Bean Beer soups are on the menu as well. As always, sandwiches – grab a coupon for 50 cents off a Boar's Head meat sandwich this month, tacos, and our rice 'n' beans are ready to be served just the way you like 'em. And don't forget our righteously famous Frito Pie, made with our own Tempeh Chili – it's a chewy, crunchy taste sensation and the perfect lunch on any day. Or just grab a bite from our self-service deli case – green salads, chicken salad, Gingered Tempeh Pasta, tuna salad, pimento cheese, Thai pasta, hempseed hummus… all these and more await you, so stop in and let the Wheatsville Deli fill you up!
Super Deli Value, EVERY DANG DAY!!!
Looking for a well priced, nutritional lunch?  We always have organic black beans and organic rice for only $1.99.  This is one of the best deals that we have, the serving is just right plus it comes topped with your choice of fresh salsa.
From the Land of Cheese, Greg Flores
This is the last week that Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheeses will be on sale. They will be going back to their regular  price on Sunday. We have Pure Luck Goat Feta on our shelves and their Hopelessly Blue will be coming soon. And if you are looking for a good deal on Brie we are stocking a  tasty Canadian Brie that is $9.99 a pound. And if you are in need of a savory snack and you cannot seem to make up your mind we have Cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto wrapped provolone. The weather is warming up and it will be picnic season. The Brie and stuffed cherry peppers would be great picnic items.
From Bryan Butler, the Meat Guy
Saving money at the meat case: Part I
In most areas of the country the recession is very real.  Fortunately, Austin has shown great resilience to this economic down turn. Even so, there are plenty of Austinites really feeling the pinch. In some cases folks have had to drastically change their spending habits.  Not eating out as much helps.  So does having a budget when spending, not to mention a healthy dose of frugality.  Wheatsville has many departments that offer great deals, the biggest being the bulk department, where your dollar can really be stretched. And of course the grocery department always has great coupons and sweet monthly specials.
As with most things in the meat department, the old, traditional ways of doing things are always the best. The phrase, "using the whole animal" comes to mind.  Too bad we don't sell the whole thing (yet!)  But the ideas can still be applied, albeit with some creativity and imagination.  Much of southern Americana cooking revolves around these ideas, although it's not exclusive to southern cooking: most regional cooking around the world has these ideas represented in spades.  Soups, casseroles, and stir-fries can stretch your meaty ingredient to their max without compromising great flavor.
For example: buy a whole chicken or one that's already cut up. Save your favorite part, (let's say the breast) and use it in a manner that you normally would. Then, you have the remainder that you can boil and make stock with for soups. Pick all the meat off and reserve some to make a nice chicken salad with... maybe a few servings.  (You can also make a second chicken veggie stock with the leftover bones and the trinity of celery, carrot, and onions. That's really stretching your dollar).  What you have left may well be the mother of all things good: great stock and tasty meat.
You could go a number of ways with it from here.  I like to make Gumbo.  Gumbo is really an amazing thing to behold.  One of the magical things about gumbo is that it can be stretched out over weeks (really!)  The reason: It's that awesome French stuff called Roux.  Roux allows the consistency and flavor of the soup to remain after several heating's.
Another great idea is stir-fry.  You can buy our precut stir-fry for $9.99 a pound, which is a great price for an outstanding pre-prepared product.  You can also prepare it yourself with only a sharp knife and an adventurous mind set.  Here's my tip: buy your favorite steak… I'm thinking of the ambassador sirloin ($8.99lb).  Cut the steak into the thin 1/8th inch strips lengthwise through the steak.  Then, either take the strips as they are or cut them in half again to make them ready for stir-frying.  To really save a buck, use something less expensive than sirloin…like chuck steak, shoulder steak, eye-round steaks or thin pork chops.  If your technique is good, the meat will be exquisitely tender without you having to pay the premium steak cost. The same substitution can be done with stew meat: instead of using steak, try roasts for an even cheaper choice.
Remember that the real trick is portion control.  Instead of using all of the stir-fry or stew meat in one dish, make two! Once the flavor of the meat is there, it stays.  Use other substitutes for that chunky meat.   I like tofu (please don't tell anyone) or mushrooms… like the king trumpets that Johnny mentioned in last week's email.  I prefer beech mushrooms, but buttons work fine, too.  A good variety of veggies also does the trick.
One thing's for sure: you have a lot options when buying your meats.  Let me say one thing that may just save…well, your life (or at least your health).   Many people elect to buy really cheap, conventional meats when times get tough.  This is not a good idea!  Without talking too much about all the bad stuff you wind up eating in conventional meat (like antibiotics and genetically modified corn feed), you're getting far less nutritional value.  Buying quality meats from Wheatsville ensures that you're getting the highest quality products with the highest nutritional value.  That's a plain fact and it really translates into getting more for your money in the long run.  So, be smart!  And think before you buy.  Or better yet, track me down and ask me how you can save some money at the meat case. You might be surprised at what you're missing out on.
In my next weekly email, I'll give you more tips and techniques to make gumbo as well as other great recipes that will stretch your dollar to its max, while still allowing you to eat like a king.  I know… you're probably thinking that the meat guy has lost his mind, but it's not true.  These are proven techniques handed-down from one from generation to generation.  They're also darn smart…not necessarily quick, but cooking is supposed to be fun.  Why rush?
Let's not forget about the great member coupons this month.  Get great $1 off deals on Niman rib eye steaks and Ivory white king salmon filets with member coupons.

From the world of Produce I bring you Johnny Livesay!

In Between Seasons  
Citrus season is getting long, but the flavors are still fresh! If you haven't tried any of our delectable citrus, then you are missing out. We've been getting rave revues on the Rio Star grapefruit, and the Texas juicing oranges. Both are organic, and from South Texas, give'em a try. Nothing beats fresh squeezed orange juice, and we sell a few great citrus juicers in the housewares section in aisle three. Meyer lemons are still around, and make wonderful additions to sauces, chicken or fish dishes, or simple salad dressings. These lemons are sweeter, and more flavorful than their regular cousins the plain old lemon.
Eat Your Greens
You should eat more greens. They're good for you. Besides being nutrient dense, and a good source of fiber, they just taste good. We have a nice selection of greens, have you seen it? I'm really enjoying curly leaf kale, and red chard right now. Chard is a very versatile green, with delectable leaves, and flavorful stalks. If you sautee the stalks in some remember when butter... or duck fat, if you have some handy, the taste wonderful. Add the leaves in when the stalks are near finished, and some garlic, and you'll take your greens to the next level!!! For reals.
What Are You Cooking?
I'd like to know what you guys are doing with our produce, and other products. If you are doing interesting things with our foods, I'd like to know. I read food blogs written by a few of our members, and am always stoked to see my produce in there wonderful meals. If you want to share what you're doing with our food when you get it home, email me at: . I'd love to hear from you, and maybe publish some recipes in the breeze! Thank you for sharing!

In the Grocery Aisle from Justin Merrifield, Grocery Buyer:
Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O's:
I brought some Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O's home thinking that my kids would like a something a little sweet for breakfast. I decided to try them and ended up eating most of them myself.  Being the Organic alternative to other cereals, I'm okay sharing them with my children. The moral of the story is these are some tasty O's that you don't have to feel guilty about eating, even if you're all grown up. These and other Cascadian Farms cereals are on sale at Wheatsville now. It's a perfect time to give them a try. Read about this company at

Here's the latest from Chill Buyer Mike Crissey:
No more crying over spilt milk? No whey!
After more than a year of climbing milk prices, we've started to see a little relief, particularly for our two Texas brands – Oak Farms and Remember When Dairy. Prices for Oak Farms Dairy, our conventional milk brand, which is based in Dallas, are now $4.49 a gallon (down from a high of $5.19 last year) and half-gallons are $2.79 (down from $2.99). Meanwhile, prices for the low-temperature pasteurized, non-homogenized, grass-fed milk from Remember When Dairy, which is in Yantis, are $5.29 a gallon (down from $5.69) and $3.19 for a half gallon (down from $3.59).
We're also still selling Remember When Dairy's absolutely intoxicating farmstead butter for $1.50 off ($2.99, reg. $4.59) a half-pound. This tangy, cultured butter – which borders on cheese -- makes everything better.
Come buy the 'Bucha
This week is the last that shoppers can enjoy almost $1 off all flavors of GT's Raw Organic and Synergy Organic and Raw Kombuchas. They remain on sale for $2.49 (reg. $3.29) until the store closes on Saturday night. Unfortunately, shoppers are out of time to special order cases of Kombucha at the sale price but we should be able to sell you a case out of the cooler while supplies last.
No milk mustaches here
This past weekend, I competed against about a dozen other furry faced men in the 3rd annual Misprint Magazine Beard and Mustache Contest. My 8-inch organic, natural push broom with handlebars and no additives didn't help me place. Grocery stocker Mike Conti tried for gnarliest beard but also came away empty-handed.
A link to the contest (and a picture of my apparently unimpressive mustache – slide 27) can be found here:
Austin Chronicle rings up 21 against Wheatsville in Alternative Softball action
The newly-formed Wheatsville softball team (the SKUs or Stock-Keeping Units) came up short against The Austin Chronicle this past Sunday, losing 21-13 in a scrimmage as part of the Alternative Softball League. The 2008 ASL champions had a nine-run inning which put the game out of reach for Wheatsville. This summer is the second season for the Alternative Softball League, which consists mostly of teams from independent businesses. Wheatsville will be playing in a division with The Austin Chronicle, BookPeople, KOOP Radio and SXSW. Check out the Alternative Softball League and the Wheatsville SKUs on MySpace. Just a warning, the ASL is all about keeping Austin weird, but not always keeping things clean. Some people could take issue with some of the league's banter, which is in good fun.
Have a great week!

Dan Gillotte
Wheatsville GM and e-mail guy