Friday, April 30, 2010

A Tour With Your Veggie Shopping

Tomorrow at 9 (and on the first Saturday of each month), the Boulder-Dushanbe Sister City non-profit will be offering a free tour of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. So you can tour this treasure for an hour, then shop for your veggies just steps away at the Farmers Market.

Kentucky Derby's Tomorrow

If you're looking for ways to toast and lift a fork to the Kentucky Derby tomorrow, Bon Appetit as usual has a pretty nice guide. If making mint juleps, Black Cat Farm has had mint at the Boulder Farmers Market for the past two weeks, so I bet they'll have some great stuff at their stand there tomorrow, as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nice Plastic Reductions At Whole Foods

In making last night's fettucine with peas, asparagus, and pancetta, I used a bag of frozen peas from Whole Foods' own 365 brand, and was pleased to see that the lighter-feeling bag proclaims that "our new bag uses 25% less plastic." Nice move, that will hopefully influence some other brands to do the same. Also, at least at the Pearl Street store, plastic bags have recently been replaced with paper ones in the bulk section. Closure of a paper bag containing dry goods that would love to spill out everywhere on the way home is going to take some practice, but it seems like a good adjustment, and plastic bags are still available in the produce department if something just won't work with the paper bags.

Starting on This Week's Dinners

With rain/snow in the forecast for as long as five days (it's snowing like crazy right now!), are we back to thinking about the foods of winter? Maybe, maybe not.

My first choice, grilled sea scallops and tomatoes with olive vinaigrette (originally published in Gourmet) has a spring-like lightness, especially with its arugula base, but is prepared on a grill pan, safely indoors. Arugula from a store would be fine, or I could wait another day and get it at the Boulder Farmers Market. Sprouts has sea scallops on sale this week, and this pairs well with a freshly baked bread, maybe the seeduction bread from Whole Foods.

The weather also gives us another opportunity to enjoy a warming chowder, and with the Farmers Market full of potatoes and parsnips, that suggests potato and root vegetable chowder with bacon from Bon Appetit.

Then I have a dilemma, as I have a weakness for grilled country style ribs, which are on sale this week at Sunflower. Perhaps we'll have a break in the weather somewhere, permitting outdoor cooking in comfort. Besides, these ribs are especially good smoked, which means the grill cover would mostly be on, so maybe only the cook would be exposed to the elements if it continues to rain or snow. Heck, the cook can wear a rain jacket. So long as the ribs don't get snowed on, think this one's on the menu.

More ideas to come shortly.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Using a combo of hard copy and flyers on screen, this week's new deals are posted on the left, along with the sales expiring today at Sprouts and Sunflower. Looks like the major news of the week is coming from Sprouts, with avocados at 25 cents each, and a 25% off gluten-free product jubiliee starting today, and running all the way through June 2nd. Even if you aren't gluten intolerant, this sale affects tons of yummy products (I swear gluten-free cookies are held together with extra chocolate), and you can think about stocking up on things like Lundberg rice, if you like it.

Working on Getting the Best Sale Prices

How annoying. My copy of today's local paper has ads only for Safeway and King Soopers. With Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods all missing, I'd bet it's the paper's fault. Since I pay the Camera's high hard copy subscription fee primarily for the convenience of the ad content, that's pretty irritating. Since it's so much easier to make comparisons across the store offerings using hard copy rather than the screen, I'll need to wait to post a summary of this week's new best deals until I've picked up the flyers myself. Meanwhile, you can check them online, at Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods. And remember that both Sprouts and Sunflower overlap their sales on Wednesdays, so their prices in the left sidebar remain good through today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Leek Prices on the Move

Looking for leeks for tonight's asparagus and leek risotto with prosciutto, I bypassed the bundled organic leeks that were $1.99/lb at Sunflower in favor of the nice, long, loose leeks I recently saw at Whole Foods for the same price, unusually low for them. Of course that meant, at least at the Pearl Street Whole Foods, they're bumped back up today to their more usual $2.99/lb. Oh well, can't sweat every detail.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Haven't quite finished planning for this week's dinners, but most is in place. Horrors, they're changing the forecast for today, moving showers up as early as six this evening, and I've already committed to ginger-soy grilled steak from Bon Appetit, using the top sirloin on sale at Sunflower, with grilled yam spears on the side. Am also planning on skillet greens with cumin and tomatoes, also from Bon Appetit, using the kale and hothouse tomatoes (rather than drained canned ones called for) on sale at Sunflower. Worst case, if the showers do move in early, is that the steak will wind up on the grill pan and the yam spears in the oven, so it all works.

It would then be time for a rice dish, and one of my spring favorites is asparagus and leek risotto with prosciutto. Organic leeks are not bad at $1.99/lb right now at Whole Foods, where they also have cooking prosciutto for dicing available in the deli, but nobody is running a great deal on asparagus, so I'll take what I find. This dish is also good made with snap peas instead of asparagus.

Last night's sausage and lentils with spinach made so much, it just might find itself reheated for a super easy dinner. A word of caution regarding lentils: I used French green lentils instead of the brown ones called for, because I only found green or French green when I happened to be at Whole Foods. I've used their French ones before and didn't notice a big difference in cooking time, but last night they took a good three times the amount of time called for in the recipe for the brown variety.

I'd then be looking for a pasta dish, and am thinking of trying fettuccine with peas, asparagus, and pancetta, which is the cover recipe of the new May issue of Bon Appetit. Looks like I could add some of the green garlic I picked up at this week's Farmers Market. The 1/3 cup whipping cream is so small, I might leave it in for the flavor, but what to do with the remaining 2/3 cup of pure calories and cholesterol?

Still one more dinner to figure out, maybe it will be a surprise.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Boulder Farmers Market - What's Happening Today

In its third week of spring, the themes of spinach and braising mix of course are with us at the Farmers Market, with lots of organic starter plants available for your garden, too. My big score was green garlic and sorrel at Red Wagon Organic Farm. Here's generally what I saw among my favorite organic farms: spinach and their own honey at Red Wagon Organic (in addition to the green garlic and sorrel), purple Peruvian potatoes, shallots, asparagus (new!), spinach, and lots of organic starter plants at Pachamama Organic, and braising mix and lots of starter plants at Cure Organic. Abbondanza has roasted Big Jim peppers, presumably frozen from last fall's harvest, if you need some to carry you through to this season's roasting time. And Black Cat (of the Boulder restaurant fame) continues to have the most eclectic offerings: rapini, chervil, mint, chives, and wild arugula, in addition to the usual spinach and braising mix, plus they have an early jump on salad mix. I was happy to see Modmarket, offering soup, salads, and sandwiches, join the vendors in the food court. I'm still hoping to see Denver's wonderful Le Central restaurant show up, as was reported to be expected in the Daily Camera. The mood was festive and crowded under the cloudy skies, with four guys harmonizing soulfully in the food court. Sure sign that the crowds have picked up: cars now circle like vultures for a parking space in the 14th Street city lots by the market. Parking will shortly need to be farther afield, and hopefully better biking weather will be in the forecast, too.

Last Call for 20% Off at Sunflower

Reminder - today is the last day of Sunflower's three-day sale of 20% off all organic produce. The 20% off even applies to organic veggies that are already on sale, like kale or hothouse tomatoes, making them even better deals.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Keep Those Reading Glasses Handy

If shopping for the top sirloin I've mentioned as a good deal at the Boulder Sunflower this week, beware of its proximity to London broil. The big sign for the top sirloin sale actually refers to the meat on the shelf below it, not to what's directly behind the sign, which is London broil. Since the two cuts look almost identical and I didn't bother to examine with reading glasses, I discovered when unpacking the groceries that I'd accidently bought the London broil. Since it cost one third more than the meat I'd intended to buy and it's reportedly a tougher cut as well, I brought it back. The folks at Sunflower were absolutely gracious in handling the return and making me a happy camper. The reading glasses will probably stay at hand in the cart in the future.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some Dinner Ideas For The Week

Don't why I'm in the mood for a fritatta in such gloomy weather - maybe it's the comfort food aspect. Mark Bittman's minimalist idea, more-vegetable-than-egg frittata can form the basis for any number of variations. It's great using braising mix for convenience, and if I can't wait to get some from the Farmers Market, the Pearl Street Whole Foods sells their own very nice version next to the bulk salad mix. Also, organic leeks are running $1.99/lb there, and would be a tasty starting point for the frittata.

Looking for a pasta dish, and with shrimp $3.97/lb at Sunflower, think I'll return to a favorite from Cooking Light, spicy shrimp and fettuccine. The organic hothouse tomatoes that are $1.99/lb at Sunflower would go well in it, too.

Next, I'm thinking Bon Appetit's sausage and lentils with spinach, with the spinach coming from the Farmers Market and chicken sausage on sale at Sprouts. I made this once before and it was really good, especially served over brown rice. My only hesitation is that something about it reminds me of the early "health food" days, when little dives on The Hill dished out stuff like plain brown rice with grated raw carrot. An irrational connection, since this dish is light years from that time.

More ideas shortly.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

GoLite Warehouse Sale Starts Friday

Now that the Title Nine Blowout Sale has come and gone, we have another great opportunity coming up to find cutting edge workout wear for burning off all those cooking calories. The GoLite semi-annual warehouse clearance sale will be happening at 6230 Lookout Road in Gunbarrel, 8 to 8 Friday, and 9 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday, April 23-25. They promise "30-90% off performance apparel, outerwear, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags and more." I scored some really wonderful stuff last time I was there, including a breathable waterproof running jacket for at least half off, and a two water bottle fanny pack for about $12.

Earth Day At Whole Foods

More for Earth Day, the Pearl Street Whole Foods is doing a pre-celebration *today* from 3 to 7, offering electronics recycling. Here's what they say:

"Join Whole Foods Pearl St. in welcoming Techno Rescue to Boulder with our Earth Month electronic recycling event. Small electronics are free- a small fee will apply to CRT and television monitors."

Then tomorrow, also from 3 to 7, they'll hold an Earth Day celebration in the parking lot (hopefully not under too much rain):

"Join us in the parking lot for an afternoon full of fun and educational Earth-friendly activities. We'll welcome some of our favorite vendors and some of Boulder's amazing community partners."

Meanwhile, here's what's happening at the Superior Whole Foods tomorrow:

"First 300 Customers will receive a FREE Sheryl Crow Bag in honor of Earth Day. We will also be playing "Register Bingo." Be the customer at the register when we spin and you have a chance to win a bag of compost."

Might Be Time For A Pizza

Sounds like some showers might start moving in this evening, and rain stays in the forecast into Saturday, so it might be time to bring home a nice big Nick-n-Willy's take and bake pizza. This month's money mailer includes some nice (and unusual) Nick-n-Willy's coupons, like a 16 inch pizza with two toppings for $10.99. The money mailer also continues to include a BOGO flatbread pizza at ModMarket, and has a coupon for $5 off any ticket of $10 or more at the South Side Walnut Cafe. Maybe it's time for some pie, too.

Another Earth Day Special

Sunflower will have all organic produce at 20% off for three days, tomorrow through Saturday. Nice!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day With A New Bag

If shopping at Vitamin Cottage on Thursday, they are advertising that they will be celebrating Earth Day by giving you a reuseable bag!
Afternoon addendum - although the TV ads they're running don't mention needing a coupon, there's a coupon for the shopping bag on the back of their current sales flyer, which says "with coupon only." Not earth-friendly to need a 20 page flyer for a four inch coupon, if it's truly needed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's Happening at the Boulder Farmers Market Today

As to be expected this early in the season, among the farm stands, spinach, braising mix, potatoes, and onions still predominate, and last week's list of what's being sold at my favorite farms is pretty much unchanged. The big news is that Black Cat, as in chef Eric Skokan's organic farm that supports the ultimate farm to table restaurant concept, has joined the market. In addition to the usual spinach and braising mix, they're offering some more exotic choices, including chervil, mache, and burdock root. In other news, Miller Farms had asparagus, and I was excited to see sorrel added to the offerings at Red Wagon Organic Farm. Will have to look up how to make a sorrel sauce for tomorrow's grilled fish. The prepared foods vendors are in full swing, and the crowds are still easy to walk through, unlike the summer crush, so it's a good time to get to the market.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Prepare For A Parking Zoo

If traveling to the Pearl Street Whole Foods in the near (or maybe further) future, steel yourself for a parking challenge, at least on the west side. They're ripping up bunches of pavement, and the road in front of the entrance is one way going west (at least today). Eastbound traffic is being diverted through the parking lot, and combined with Mack dump trucks loading chopped pavement in the places people are trying to drive, it takes patience to park or get through. And it looks like a project that's going to take awhile.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Sounds like tomorrow and Saturday will be a little gloomy here in Boulder, with a chance for showers, so I'll hold off on jumping outside to the grill. Think I'll start with a nice vegetarian standby, potatoes romanoff, since organic russets are $2.50 for a 5 pound bag at Sunflower (also on sale for $1/lb at Whole Foods, but that works out to twice as much). My version was originally published in that great classic, The Vegetarian Epicure, but this recipe looks identical. It withstands much-needed lightening up well, using lowfat cottage cheese (nonfat gives it a weird texture), and lowfat sour cream or even better, nonfat plain yogurt.

Then with shrimp on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower (not at the greatest price, but the convenience of having them already peeled is built in), there's a recipe in the current issue of Bon Appetit that I'd like to try, shrimp and grits with spinach. I'll lighten it from the get-go by cutting the bacon at least in half, and probably using a mix of milk and broth. Grits (aka polenta) are easy to find in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods, and undoubtedly at our other stores as well. Hope the spinach will have come from Saturday's Farmers Market.

By Sunday, the forecast is looking a whole lot better, so hopefully it will be time to get grilling. Don't know if it will be a healthy choice, like the Copper River salmon or fresh Alaskan halibut on sale at Sprouts, or juicier and more decadent, like the pork shoulder ribs or beef ribs on sale at Sunflower. The whole meal can be done on the grill, including sweet potato spears (organic yams 99 cents a pound at Sunflower), and other grilled veggies like the organic zucchini that's 99 cents a pound at Whole Foods.

More ideas on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Prices Are Up, Plus an Observation

New prices from the sales promotions that start today at Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods (always naming them in alphabetical order to avoid any favoritism) are posted in the deals sidebar to the left. Special sales at Vitamin Cottage (should we list them under V for Vitamin Cottage or N for Natural Grocers?) have already gotten their own posting, and those prices last all the way through May 15th. I'm already shopping at three stores regularly, but I must admit, I have to start paying much closer attention to Vitamin Cottage too. A friend (Ms. A, you know who you are) recently mentioned that she found Vitamin Cottage's everyday prices to be particularly competitive, and gently suggested that if I found myself in the store to collect some sale items, I might check out some everyday prices as well. At least with the short shopping list I had with me a couple of days ago, was she ever right! My Rocky Mountain Ocean Lip Trip was $3.79 there, which I snagged right up, because when I crossed the parking lot to a store that shall go unnamed, I priced the same product at $4.59. The Earth Balance spread that was on my list was $3.85 at Vitamin Cottage, and I found the same to be $4.69 across the parking lot. I know the larger store across the lot has many of its own strengths, especially in its own brand name, but I think I now have a lot more shopping to do. Heaven help me when the Whole Foods store at Broadway and Arapahoe becomes an independent reincarnation of Alfalfa's (yeah!), and Lucky's (currently too far north for me) possibly moves into the Baseline Whole Foods. I'll be spending my nights dreaming of price comparisons. Go Boulder!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Price Comparison Smackdown

Here's a look at the lowest prices I could find this week at our Boulder natural foods stores for items that I consider to be pretty much staples: organic tomatoes, conventional avocados, fair trade decaf bulk coffee, chicken breast meat, and a half gallon of organic 1% milk. Sunflower and Sprouts were visited on 4/9, Whole Foods (Pearl Street store) and Vitamin Cottage on 4/11.

Organic tomatoes
Sprouts: cluster tomatoes, $4.99/lb
Sunflower: hothouse tomatoes, $1.99/lb
Vitamin Cottage: greenhouse tomatoes, $3.19/lb
Whole Foods: hothouse tomatoes, $3.99/lb

Conventional avocados
Sprouts: 50 cents for an unusual type, 88 cents for Hass
Sunflower: 99 cents (conventional or organic)
Vitamin Cottage: 79 cents for organic, conventional not carried
Whole Foods: $1.99 (organic $2)

Bulk fair trade decaf coffee
Sprouts: $8.99/lb
Sunflower: none (non-fair trade $6.99/lb)
Vitamin Cottage: could only find Daz Bog at $9.99/lb, probably not fair trade since doesn't say
Whole Foods: $12.99/lb

Organic half gallon 1% milk
Sprouts: Horizon Organic, $3.49 (but there was a better price on a non-standard size brand)
Sunflower: Horizon Organic, $2.89
Vitamin Cottage: Organic Valley, $3.15
Whole Foods: 365 brand, $2.79

Chicken breast without bones/skin
Sprouts: boneless, skinless chicken breast value pack, $2.99/lb
Sunflower: chicken breast tenders family pack, $4.49/lb
Vitamin Cottage: boneless, skinless chicken breast 6 pack, $6.89/lb
Whole Foods: boneless, skinless chicken breast value pack, $6.49/lb

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

With good sales and great stuff from the farmers market, filling out this weeks' dinners has been really easy, with one exception. I'll use the chicken sausage from either Sunflower or Sprouts for $2.99/lb and the fabulous mixed greens I picked up at the farmers market from Cure Organic Farm to make sausage risotto with spring greens. Might play with adding some of the green garlic I got from Red Wagon Organic Farm, and saute some spinach from the market on the side.

As usual, there's a weekend dish that makes plenty for a quick reprise, and this time it's the pasta dish I made with ricotta and greens. Will add some fresh fennel from the Sunflower $1.99/lb sale to the side salad.

Now's where I am conflicted. A pork stir fry, using Sunflower's $2.49/lb stew meat sounds good, but I'm not sure which direction it will go. Most likely will be garlic pork with tomato and basil, served over brown rice, and using Sunflower's organic tomatoes for $1.99/lb. But Mark Bittman did an unusual thing three or four weeks ago, publishing a wonderful-sounding winter recipe right on the cusp of spring, winter squash and pork stir fry. It has all my favorite ingredients, but seems a bit retro, given the beautiful spring weather we're having.

Finally, I'm finishing off the five pound bag of organic russets that the Pearl Street Whole Foods had for $2.50, and it has the best large baking-sized potatoes I've ever seen in a bag, so I'll go for stuffed baked potatoes. That's an improvised recipe, probably including some ricotta left over from making the big pasta dish, some smoked cheddar from Sunflower or parmesan from Sprouts, and maybe the green garlic from Red Wagon Organic Farm will find its way into them as well. Whatever, they always turn out really well.

And that does it for the week!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Boulder Farmers Market Report

In its second Saturday of the new season (Wednesday afternoons won't start for awhile), the Boulder Farmers Market is the place to be. Unlike opening day last week, when winds were blowing spinach everywhere, today is a warm one under beautiful, clear skies, and nary a breeze. Almost all the vendors are there already. Produce, being seasonal, is of course limited, but that's the challenge of eating locally and seasonally, isn't it. Among my favorite organic farms represented this morning are Abbondanza (beets, cabbage, onions, seeds), Cure Organic Farm (braising mix, spinach, their own lamb (farm to table coming a little too close to home in my book), and veggie seedlings to plant, including lettuce, collards, leeks, kale, and broccoli), Red Wagon Organic Farm (spinach, green garlic, and their own honey), Isabelle Farm (chard, collards, arugula, potatoes), and Pachamama Organic Farm, with potatoes and onions. Plenty of other action also represented, including the new Noosa yogurt company giving out yummy samples, Colorado wineries, knife sharpening, beef and bison vendors, Windsor Dairy with their cheeses and eggs, and lovely chamber music in the courtyard from a violinist and cellist. For those into beak to tail eating, a natural poultry purveyor included chicken feet among his offerings. Something for everyone, and it's open until 2, so you still have time to get there.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Organic Strawberries For A Steal

Was at the Boulder Sunflower today and was resigned to buying conventional strawberries for their excellent advertised price of 97 cents a pound, when I found they had a "Manager's Special" on organic strawberries for $1.50 a pound! That's what some other stores are advertising as a sale on conventionals. So either way, conventional or organic (and for fruit that's eaten whole, it's so good to have the organic option), Sunflower looks to be the place for strawberries, unless somebody else is sneaking in an unadvertised stunner as well. Unfortunately, you can never tell how long a "Manager's Special" is going to last. But the berries I took home are beautiful!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Starting on This Week's Dinners

So much to think about - beautiful weather, the Boulder Farmers Market now open on Saturdays, some good sales, including organic fennel for $1.99/lb at Sunflower. With freshly ground turkey breast on sale at Sprouts, think I'll start with spicy turkey burgers from Bon Appetit (seems like half of my favorite recipes start with the word "spicy"). Will incorporate some fennel into the menu by improvising a fennel and avocado salad on the side. This isn't the best week for avocado sales, but Sprouts has them for 88 cents, and organic ones are 99 cents at Sunflower.

Next, with the return of spectacular weather, we have to get grilling, maybe with some fish. I'll take a look at the swordfish Sunflower has for $7.99/lb, and Whole Foods has sockeye at $10.99/lb. Will take advantage of running the oven before the weather gets too warm, doing a fennel and leek gratin from Julee Rosso's Great Good Food cookbook on the side. Think that's enough fennel for the week, unless some gets tossed into more side salads.

Thinking again of using the oven before it gets too warm, there's a favorite dish I haven't yet made across the entire winter, so I'd better fit it in now, baked rigatoni with ricotta and collard greens. You can lighten it up with lowfat milk and cheeses. Sprouts has mozzarella (including part skim) for $2.99/lb this week, and last week, I noticed they had some very good looking organic collard greens at a good price. If going with conventional collards, Sunflower has them this week for 88 cents a bunch. Since the recipe notes that spinach can be substituted, think I'll toss in some nice fresh spinach from the Farmers Market when the collards are just about cooked.

With this wonderful weather, a Harris Ranch T-bone steak from Sunflower at $4.97/lb would be great tossed on the grill, but is anybody else thinking about cholesterol with the big 9 Health Fair slated to start in another week? Think I'll consider some other options, more to come.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights (IMHO) of the natural foods sales that start today are posted in the sidebar on the left, in addition to the overlap sales that continue through today at both Sunflower and Sprouts. Menu ideas to follow shortly. What a bummer I've already bought the fennel for tonight's spicy spaghetti with fennel and herbs. Sunflower has just put organic fennel on sale for $1.99/lb, half as much as I paid at another of our natural stores that shall go unnamed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Time to put down the chocolate and get organized for the rest of the week. In a spring mode, and still going back to my old faithful cookbooks, I'm going to make a classic risotto with sundried tomatoes and peas. For the side, I'll saute the wonderful braising greens I picked up Saturday from Cure Organic Farm at the Farmers Market.

Yesterday's pork roast with garlic and rosemary turned out fabulously, and was so simple, there weren't even any adjustments to make. It made plenty for another dinner round, which will be accompanied by a quick polenta with a little smoked gouda mixed in, and sauteed spinach from the Farmers Market.

Next, a recent issue of Bon Appetit had a good looking recipe I've been wanting to try, spicy spaghetti with fennel and herbs. It has both fennel bulb and fennel seeds in it, should be interesting.

Finally, I'm intrigued by the Bell & Evans chicken nuggets that Whole Foods has at half price for $3.49 right now. Might pair them with microwaved baked potatoes (5 pound bags are $2.50 at both Sunflower and an unadvertised special I found at the Pearl Street Whole Foods), or maybe some baked sweet potato spears for a grown up kid's meal.

Now it's back to the chocolate. If you run out of chocolate, note the Chocolove sale below at Vitamin Cottage.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Boulder Farmers Market Opening Day Report

Batten down the spinach! Opening day for the Saturday farmers market couldn't be much windier, but everybody seemed to be taking it in stride. One vendor said, "If it blows your way, it's yours to keep!" Good turnout of both vendors and public despite the wind. The north wing was already full with the prepared foods folks, and many vendors were already assembled along 13th Street and the food court alcove as well. An increase in meat purveyors seems to be a difference already this year. Was glad to see my favorite Red Wagon Organic Farm and Cure Organic Farm already in place and am thrilled to have scored some of Cure's fantastic braising mix so soon, as well their spinach. (I was told that this winter spinach is especially sweet, can't wait to try it.) The Daily Camera reported this week that Denver's exceptionally affordable and authentic French restaurant Le Central will be a participant, selling all sorts of French creations to munch on the spot or take home. They weren't there today, and I'll really look forward to their arrival. Meanwhile, it's the start of another great season at the market.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Deals At Vitamin Cottage

I don't usually make it to Vitamin Cottage (or as they say, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage), since I already shop enough stores as it is, but their current sale in Boulder, Lafayette, and Longmont has so many appealing items, I'll need to find time to stop in. These prices are good for a whole month and a half, through 5/15, so there will surely be an opportunity. Particularly nice-looking deals include four types of Rudi's organic breads for $2.99 each, Annie's salad dressings (not the organics) for $1.99 each (8 oz bottles), Blue Diamond Nut-Thins crackers (the smokehouse almond ones are positively addictive) for $1.89 a box, Chocolove's 3.2 oz chocolate bars (not chocolatour) $1.59 for the non-organic and $1.99 organic, Pamela's gluten free cookies (the chunky chocolate chip ones are sooo rich) for $2.49 a box, Muir Glen organic pasta sauces $2.49 for 25.5 oz, MaraNatha no stir peanut butter (natural OR organic) for $2.49, and the giant 100 oz size of Seventh Generation laundry detergent for $11.99. That sells for $17.99 practically everywhere, and it's about time somebody put it on sale. With a name like Vitamin Cottage, they of course have lots of supplements on sale too, and I've heard from staff in another of our natural stores that they just can't compete with Vitamin Cottage's supplement buying power, so the prices must be good.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holiday Sampling Alert

Just in time for Easter, the Boulder Sunflower will be holding a holiday sampling this Saturday from 11 to 2. If past holiday events are any guide, this should be pretty good.

Starting on This Week's Dinners

I'm in a techno-rebellious mood today, and have turned to some much-loved but long neglected cookbooks for dinner ideas, meaning no links. Wanting to use the cod that's $4.97/lb at Sprouts, I picked up my wonderful Mediterranean Light cookbook, and remembered the recipe for Egyptian baked fish with cumin and coriander. It's a simple, quick one - saute onion and garlic in an ovenproof casserole, scent it with cumin and cilantro, lay fish over it, pour on some stock, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven. Squeeze lots of lemon on it and serve over brown rice, delicious.

I also dusted off my beloved Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone book, a lovely, seasonal approach, and found a really appealing pasta in the spring section: fettuccine, wild mushrooms, & prosciutto. The portobellos on sale at Whole Foods could go into it, as well as the cooking prosciutto they sell for a good price in the deli. The recipe calls for some sugar snap peas. Doubt I'll find them yet on opening day of the Boulder Farmer's Market Saturday, but I might be able to supplement with some fresh spinach.

Wanting to tap into the pork loin roast price wars for Easter dinner (see deals sidebar to the left), I turned back to the web, as I confess that I've never cooked a pork roast before. Settled on a really easy one, roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary, originally published in Bon Appetit. For a side, might do golden potatoes with caper-brown butter crumbs from Gourmet magazine, or just roast some sweet potato spears on the side. Green veggies will depend on what turns up at the Farmer's Market. There's an old French recipe for lettuce and peas sauteed together that might be a possibility.

More to follow soon.