Hello Wheatsville friends!
There is a lot of exciting stuff happening at the co-op these days! We'll be opening up the new addition in just a matter of DAYS! Yep, sometime in the week of March 16th (our BIRTHDAY!) you'll be able to get your first shopping experience in the new Wheatsville! We're shooting for opening on March 17th or 18th, but will keep you posted!
I'll have a lot more information about this in next week's post and you can read about it in the March issue of the Wheatsville Breeze, but for now here is a quick look at what's coming mid-March!
At first, we'll be opening the new deli, meat & seafood and frozen departments. We'll have our NEW bathrooms! Cheese will be in a new temporary location. The old deli will be closed and start to get renovated. That's all I have time for right now, but like I said, lots more information will be coming next week! Stay tuned! It's WAYYY exciting!
In the rest of this post, scroll down for:
Produce seasonal deliciousness
The deli has some specials
Shopping for your family on a budget
Eat Your Greens
With spring coming quickly, it is time to start switching up what you're cooking at home. Within the next two months it will get too hot to braise meats for hours and hours, and slaving over a pot of soup just won't feel as nice as it did back in December. A nice salad, or steamed pile of greens will nicely compliment the lighter fare that we assoiciate with spring and summer here in Texas. We offer a great selection of organic greens: curly kale, lacinato kale, red kale, red, green, and rainbow chard, as well as mustard and collard greens. I like to blanch or steam my greens, and then finish them in some kind of fat (either butter, bacon grease, or duck fat...). If you saute some onions and garlic, then add the greens for until they're nice and shiny, and finish with a vinegar of your choice for a little brightness. Eat your greens!
Citrus is on the way out. This season has been good, and look for some lingering citrus varieties over the next month or so, but we'll soon be transitioning to spring veggies soon enough. The blood oranges are amazing right now, and if you haven't tasted one of these crimson beauties, get'em while we got'em. If you like grapefruits to start your day, now is the time to get really amazing Rio Star grapefruits from South Texas. These are very juicy and have a great balance of sweet and tart.
Mushrooms Are Good For You
Or mushroom selection offers delicious varieties of organic specialty mushrooms, as well as Texas grown varieties. This week i'd like to tell you about maitake mushrooms. These delicate mushrooms have a nice meaty flavor, and a supple texture that lends itself nicely to stirfrys or sautes that focus on them. You can use them instead of meat as a protein, and be careful not to over cook them. I like them sauted in butter with a little bit of garlic, parsley, and thyme. The make a great side to rich cuts of meat, like ribeyes, or strip loin steaks. Delicious.From the deli:
In The Grocery Aisle
I'll admit I was skeptical at first. A bar made of buffalo and cranberries sounds unusual to me. But it turns out this is a variation of a Native American recipe that's been around for a long time. It's an energy bar the old fashioned way. Tanka Bars combine slow smoked buffalo with tart-sweet cranberries for a taste that is unusually easy to take. It's a natural snack packed with protein and mellow, smoky flavor. Tanka Bars are one of my new favorite snacks for a quick break. For a plethora of history and information on this company, go to http://www.tankabar.com
Justin Merrifield, Grocery Buyer
The deli rocks the delicious food! (and will soon be in their new home!)
In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, this month the Deli Counter brings you the "Soylent Green is Leprechauns!" Smoothie! This tasty pineapple-strawberry concoction has an added boost of protein-rich spirulina (plus the obligatory ground-up leprechauns, magically vegan of course!) to give the shake added nutritional value as well as a brilliant emerald green hue!
In the same wearing of the green spirit, Poblano Salsa is the salsa for March – an instant hit with staff and owners, this green salsa blends poblanos with tomatillos, jalapenos, onions, garlic and lime juice to make a delicious, spicy and flavorful salsa, perfect for dipping chips or topping your taco!
On sale at the Wheatsville Deli now through March 15th are our two brand new Fresh in the Deli Specials for March. From Blue Hill Co-op Community Market and Café in Blue Hill, Maine, we have the savory, creamy Red Curry Tofu. A vegan favorite, we marinate chunks of tofu in sesame oil, tamari, curry and other spices and roast it in the oven. When it cools off, we toss it with Veganaise, celery, red onions and carrots to make a velvety, intriguingly spicy vegan entrée.
In our self-serve case, you can pick up our new Spinach Salad with Maple Vinaigrette, recipe courtesy of the Hanover Co-op Food Store in Hanover, New Hampshire. Up in New Hampshire, springtime means maple syrup time! We combine fresh spinach with sweet dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts and tangy bleu cheese, and include a wonderfully sweet and sour maple walnut vinaigrette in each Spinach Salad.
Money-saving coupons this month at the Deli include 50¢ off a delicious deli-made Tuna Salad Sandwich, made with fresh green apples, celery, red bell peppers, carrots and green onions, on any kind of bread you like with all the veggies you could ask for! We're also featuring 25 ¢ off a Black Bean Taco, which you can order on your choice of corn, white or wheat tortilla, a slew of veggies and your choice of salsa (try the Poblano!!). We also have a great deal going on in the self-serve case – our all-white meat, all-natural Buddy's Chicken Salad, tossed with tart apples, toasted pecans and crunchy celery in a fresh basil mayonnaise dressing, is 50¢ off the price of each package all month long.
And don't forget to stop by the Deli during Owner Appreciation Week – March 7th through the 15th – we'll be sampling many of our items, so come by and have a nibble! (Owner coupons were available in the Wheatsville Breeze that was mailed to your house!)
From Greg in the land of cheese
I want to welcome Brazos Valley Cheese to Wheatsville. They are located 7 miles north of Waco along the Brazos river. Their cheeses are made with raw cow's milk, vegetable rennet and all natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives. I am bringing in their Roquefort and Brie right now but they make other styles of cheeses. I have tried their cheeses and they are amazing. I am so excited to be able to introduce to you these wonderfully made local cheeses. Enjoy!!!
From Bryan, the Butcher
Saving money at the meat case…and on your groceries: Part 2.
Last week I offered some suggestion to our members on how to spend smartly at the meat case, but I realize not everyone's situation is the same. My point of view is cooking for one or two people. Family food planning can be more intensive, but the basics can still apply. If time permits, cooking at home is a big money saver. Here are a few simple steps you can take to save on your grocery bill.
One: plan ahead. Don't decide on dinner in the parking lot. Maybe menu planning isn't your favorite thing (or even something you would normally do), but try to think about meals which can use up leftover ingredients from one meal to the next. In my kitchen, leftover veggies always make it into a soup or a quick stir-fry. When I buy a large cut of meat, I'll cut it down and save the trimming to use the next day. Of course, I cut meat all day, so it's not a big deal for me; the rest of you could just use the left-over cooked meat in a meal.
Two: Buy whole foods. Non-processed "ingredients" are the key. These are raw foods that you keep in your pantry or freezer for long-term storage. Hit up the bulk department and pick up a week's worth of rice, beans, pasta or anything else you would like to eat regularly. This very simple step really works. Buying ground pork instead of pre-made and seasoning it into your favorite sausage saves your money. At the meat case buy a 1 to 1 ½ pound chuck roast instead of the pre-cut stew meat. Pick up a steak and cut it in half for two meals. Better yet, buy a 2-3 rib roast and invite some friends over for some amazing rib eye steak that you've cut yourself. I guarantee you're going to get a free meal of your own out of it someday. (If not, your friends' suck.) Plus you'll save up to $2 a pound on rib eye steak going this route. Buy a whole chicken and learn how to cut it up yourself. Like I mentioned last week, whole chicken can be very useful in long term planning.
Three: Look for those specials. Wheatsville always has a lot of discounts. There are always regular monthly specials and store coupons. Plus, our store-wide event, Membership Appreciation Day (MAD for short) is a great time to save 10% off your entire bill, as is the week-long version. It's really a time to plan for and wait on those big pantry stock items that keep for months and months. Another thing most folks forget about is filling the freezer with great meat options that can last for 6 months to a 1. You can also have the meat department prepare your products for the freezer in special wrapping paper that better preserves the meat for long term storage. Remember: buy discounted or special priced items.
Four: Portion control. This works great in larger dishes where meat is the main ingredient. Cut down the amount of the meat and increase something else that is not so expensive. I'd even go so far as to say you can use TVP to stretch out hamburger meat in a meal. Use fish filets for cakes and then you can make more servings by using bread crumbs or oatmeal as filler. Do the same thing for hamburger patties or chili. The flavor is already there, so you won't even notice you did anything different.
There are a lot of other tips you can try. Some other things I suggest are:
Use the green produce bags that keep veggies longer and are sold in the produce area. They work well and will save you money in the long run.
Make larger meals like soup and casseroles and try portioning it out and freezing it. This is very useful because reheating requires less energy than cooking a new meal.
Try walking or riding bike to the grocery store. This will save money on your gasoline costs and walking is fun. (Sorry for you folks that live too far to walk.) City busing is always an option for some of us.
One thing I almost hate to mention is eating less. Please don't shop less. Just steer away from snack foods and choose to make meals that will keep you satisfied all day.
Another thing you might want to consider as a long term money saver is a counter vacuum sealer. These might have an up-front cost, but in the long run you'll find them to be a real value. Store anything and everything. Store the leftovers or portions of meals, meats, cheese, veggies, almost anything that has limited freshness.
Lastly, look into the past. There are many ways to eat smart and on-the-cheap that we have forgotten about. In most cases, this will involve more complicated meal preparation, but with more profound results. Examples include pate, terrines, & confit. If you don't know what the heck those are, there's a reason. They have been all but forgotten by the modern world of faster food. They are inexpensive to make and, by their nature, are designed to preserve themselves. I suggest looking them up and starting your own culinary adventure.
This is a basic gumbo recipe. Remember from last week that you should make your own stock from the chicken, but be sure to remove your favorite part(s) to make another dish at a later date. The gumbo will not be affected. You can also leave the rice out while cooking and cook it separately. Try this when you make the gumbo; Take the leftover gumbo and add more stock (fresh preferred), more veggies, and some sausage, then cook and reduce again. If the volume is right, the roux will still thicken the soup again 1 or 2 times. I have had success in getting back to a volume that's close to the original batch. Adding more liquid than your recipe originally called for will create a thin gumbo… nothing really wrong with that, since it will still taste great. Don't be scared of Roux, it takes time and patience. Don't use burnt roux. Just make another batch.
Bony chicken pieces (backs, necks, and wings) from 2 chickens
2 stocks celery with leaves cup up
1 carrot cut up
1 large quartered onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 whole cloves
6 c. cold water
Put all ingredients into large stock pot or Dutch oven and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove chicken, strain stock and discard vegetables. If to be used right away skim off fat if not chill and lift off fat. Makes 4 1/2 cups stock.
1 3lb Broiler-fryer chicken, cooked (boil with vegetable trinity to make stock)
2 tbsp Vegetable shortening (for Roux)
2 tbsp Flour, all-purpose (for Roux)
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 Green bell pepper, fine chop
5 cups Warm chicken homemade broth
8 Tomatoes, peeled/chopped
½ lb Okra, cut into 1/4″ pieces (frozen is ok)
2 Ribs celery, chopped
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Thyme
½ tsp Oregano
pinch Cayenne (more to taste)
1 whole bay leaf
1. In large Dutch oven, melt shortening over low heat; add flour and cook,
Stirring, until brown, about 10 minutes (do not hurry; if flour burns, roux
2. Add onions and bell pepper; cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Slowly add warm broth; stir until broth reaches a boil.
4. Add tomatoes, okra, celery, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf; bring to a boil.
5. Add chicken; when mixture boils again, reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 20 minutes.
6. Some add rice to the gumbo in order to cook the rice. That's fine and with this recipe add a ½ cup of rice in step 4. Or better make the rice separate and pour finished gumbo over. I believe this is more traditional.
7. Stir and cook, covered, 20 minutes longer.
SWEET AND SOUR BEEF BRISKET
1 (5 lb.) beef brisket or boneless beef chuck pot roast
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. chili sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 med. onions, sliced
1 c. sliced celery & leaves
3 sm. cooking apples
2 tbsp. cornstarch
Trim fat from beef. Mix above ingredients together until dissolved. Pour marinade over beef in a large roasting pan. Chill covered for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
After roast has marinated, place the roast in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish and top with 2 medium onions and celery with leaves, pour marinade over top of roast and cover. Bake in a 325 degree oven for approximately 3 hours. Add 3 small cooking apples the last 10 minutes of cooking.
For Gravy: Remove meat and vegetables. Measure 2 1/2 cups of strained juices. In medium saucepan, stir in 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water and juices. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened.
Let's not forget about this month's specials. We have Niman choice beef briskets, which are great for corned beef on St. Patrick's Day. This month they're $1 –off the total retail price. We will cut briskets to order if you call ahead. Also this month our new favorite Dewberry Hills Farm whole fryers is $1-off the total price with a member coupon. It's a great time to try out some of the tips I've offered the last two weeks. If you ever have questions, please feel free to contact me (Bryan) at email@example.com. I'll do anything I can to help.
Have a great week!
Wheatsville GM and e-mail guy!