Monday, May 31, 2010

Last Call for 25% Off Gluten-Free

As you are hopefully enjoying this Memorial Day weekend, just a reminder that the big 25% off gluten-free products sale at Sprouts (Boulder, Fort Collins, and Greeley) ends this coming Wednesday, 6/2. Even if you have no gluten sensitivity, lots of gluten-free foods are exceptionally delicious (one bite of a Pamela's cookie will prove that). Sprouts has the Mambo Sprouts coupon books at their checkout registers, so pick one up for additional savings, most of $1 off. If you buy a gluten-free item already 25% off like Nut-Thins crackers, then use the $1 off coupon in the book, you'll have your crackers for a steal.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Colorado Wine Tasting

If you're heading out to see the Superior Morgul Classic bike race tomorrow, Superior Liquor will be holding a tasting of Colorado wines in their parking lot from 3 to 6 pm to celebrate the finish of the race.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Planning a Weekend of Grilling

In spite of this weekend's forecasts for breezy, if not downright windy days, I'm in the mood for barbequeing, so here are the current plans.

Sunflower has quite large 26/30 count shrimp for $4.97/lb this week, and those would be a nice big size to put on skewers for the grill, alternating with some bell pepper pieces, scallions, and perhaps some chicken breast. On the side, we'll have buttermilk mashed potatoes (Sunflower sells buttermilk in a convenient one cup package, unlike most stores where you have no choice but to buy a quart). The side veggie will likely be corn and summer vegetable saute, using corn from Whole Foods (3 for $1) or Sunflower (4 for $1). We might end with some grilled organic peaches, a fabulous $1.69/lb at Vitamin Cottage.

Continuing with the grilling, it's been eons since we've had grilled beef short ribs, and Sprouts has boneless ones this week for $2.99/lb. Accompaniments will be grilled yam spears (99 cents a pound at Sunflower) and a saute of shrooms, garlic, and organic spinach, with the spinach coming either from the Farmers Market or from Whole Foods, where it's $1 a bunch through Tuesday.

In honor of the Bolder Boulder, even though it's not going to be run, we of course have to have pasta Sunday night. Those big shrimp on sale at Sunflower are almost certainly available in the frozen section in 2 pound packages, so that's how I'll buy them for both the shrimp skewers above, and as a substitute for the scallops in linguine with bay scallops, fennel, and tomatoes from Bon Appetit. We'll make it with whole wheat pasta, and Sunflower fortunately has Luigi Vitelli organic whole wheat pastas perpetually "on sale" at $1.39 a one pound package.

For Memorial Day itself, will do something in a classically relaxed vein, like grilling burgers. A bunch of grilling possibilities are on sale at our natural food stores, as I've listed here. We'll try to keep the sides healthy, and will probably try a new vegetable slaw from Bon Appetit and maybe sweet potato salad with mustard viniagrette, originally from Gourmet. Sunflower this week has good sale prices on organic yams and cabbage for these recipes. Finally, some ears of corn from Whole Foods or Sunflower will make it onto the plates.

That will get us through a long grilling weekend. Since Cure Organic Farm has opened their wonderful farm stand at 75th and Valmont, I might not make it to the Farmers Market Saturday. But pea shoots probably have about one more week of availability, and they're on my mind for another experiment later this week. More to come.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grilling Favorites Prices Compared

With the big grilling weekend of Memorial Day soon upon us, here's a comparison of advertised prices of some popular grilling possibilities from my favorite Boulder natural food stores. As always, bear in mind that stores have differing policies regarding the sourcing of their products.


Sprouts - 40% off all ground meats, including extra or super lean and organic ground beef
Sunflower -Harris Ranch 85% extra lean, $1.97/lb, family pack, gourmet beef burgers, $2.99/lb
Whole Foods - Market Made 85% lean patties, $2.99/lb, Market Made beef bacon cheddar burgers, $3.99/lb

Pork baby back ribs

Sprouts - $2.99/lb, plus full grilled racks at $9.99 each during backyard barbeque tomorrow and Saturday, 11-6
Sunflower - $3.99/lb

Country style ribs
Sprouts - $1.99/lb for either boneless or bone-in
Sunflower - $2.49/lb for boneless

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Sprouts - $3.99/lb
Sunflower - $2.99/lb, family pack

Veggie alternative
Sunflower - Lightlife Smart Dogs hot dogs, $2.49 for 12-13.5 oz package
Whole Foods - Gardenburger veggie burgers, $3.00 for 10 oz package

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights of this week's sale prices at our favorite stores are up in the left margin. With sales focusing so much on stuff to grill for Memorial Day, I'll do a post shortly comparing prices on the featured grilling items.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Is Out!

Okay, I can't draw any kind of association with cooking in Boulder on this one, but today's an exciting day for fans of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. You can get your hands on a copy in hardback of the third in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Target in Boulder and Superior has it on sale for $16, while it's $19.56 in-store for nonmembers at the Barnes and Noble in Boulder. Online, it's $11.92 at Amazon, $16.34 at Barnes and Noble, but then you have to look at shipping charges (and waiting to actually have it in your hands, unless you pay even less for the ebook). Haven't checked yet with the Boulder Bookstore. If you missed it a few days ago, check out this New York Times article on Larsson.

Perhaps we could draw an association with this blog by starting a discussion regarding coffee consumption and the types of sweets or other goodies that are presented with the coffee in social settings in the books. Sorry, that's a stretch. Another possibility might be the benefits of Boulder's healthy eating and exercise lifestyle, in light of Larsson's hamburger and cigarette habits, and his untimely demise climbing stairs when the elevator was out (see NYT article above).

Controlling the Ripening of Avocados

When buying avocados, I've always just put them on the counter, where they would ripen quickly and need to be used within a few days. Recently I experimented with a method used by my avocado aficionado friend, Ms. A., who controls the ripening of her avocados by storing them in the fridge to slow their ripening until they are close to being used. Does this ever work! I may have pushed it a bit by keeping them for as long as three weeks (the last one did get pretty mushy), but it's true that initial storage in the fridge allows you to buy in quantity when the price is really good, then spread their ripening out over time. An excellent technique, Ms. A.!

I was surprised to learn that another friend, Ms. S., who sets foot in her kitchen as little as possible, was also aware of the effect of refrigeration in slowing the ripening of avocados. However, Ms. S. listens to copious amounts of Jimmy Buffett, and it could be that parrot heads are generally well versed in the lore of guacamole.

As for the flip side of speeding the ripening process, I've heard elsewhere that putting the avocado in a bag with a banana will do it, but haven't tried that technique yet.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

I'm only looking for three more dinners to round out the week, since we unexpectedly wound up pushing everything back a day over the weekend. But here's how the rest of the week looks.

We've already seen temperatures hit the mid-80s, and we're headed back there by the middle of this week, so the cooler early week temps might call for one last pizza hot out of the oven. With chicken a good price at Sunflower, one of my favorite recipes is barbeque chicken pizza from Bon Appetit. The combination of smoked gouda and barbeque sauce is decadently stunning, and it's great topped with chopped cilantro after baking, as one of the reviewers suggests.

The pasta dish to which I'm planning on adding a bunch of pea shoots from the Farmers Market isn't happening until tonight, so I can't yet comment on whether it's successful. But I'm expecting to have about a half a bag of pea shoots left, and I'm thinking they should make a good addition to shrimp risotto with peas from the New York Times. Shrimp happens to be on sale at Sprouts this week, so it's a good match.

Finally, to fit in something with an Asian spin, and to take advantage of pork stew meat on sale at Sunflower, I'm thinking five spice pork stir-fry with soba noodles, which also hails from Bon Appetit. I picked up beautiful radishes for it from Isabelle Farm at the Farmers Market, and if there are any of Red Wagon farm's Walla Walla onions left after the pasta dish, they'll go in too, in place of some of the green onions.

And that will do us for the remainder of the week!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Boulder Farmers Market, Blowin' In The Wind

Batten down the spinach, part deux. It looks like Boulder's winds are starting to calm down now, but when I was at the Farmers Market this morning, produce, canopies, and even weighting rocks were flying in the wind. Everybody seemed to take it all in stride, as the vendors held down their canopies with one hand, while trying to make change with the other. Funny that Boulder's winds are more likely in the spring, when the baby lettuce and spinach take to the air, than in the fall, when it wouldn't budge a butternut squash or pumpkin.

As for offerings at my favorite organic farm stands, it's of course much as I reported last week, but the variety of greens looks to be expanding. In addition to the spinach and braising mix we've been seeing since the market's opening, there are more baby lettuce varieties, including romaine, butter, and mixed baby lettuces. At Red Wagon Organic Farm, they'd added mizuna and mustard greens, and last week's Egyptian walking onions were replaced by Walla Walla onions with long, scallion-like tops, which will go into my pasta tonight. At Pachamama, they've added organic asparagus, and Munson's Farm made its first Saturday appearance. (As I noted in the Wednesday report, Munson's isn't organic, but they're really nice local people, with generally pesticide-free products.)

In visiting the Cure Organic Farm stand, the big news for me was that they have opened their stand near 75th and Valmont for the season! They will be open every day now, and it's always a surprise to see what the picks of the day (almost literally) are. Munson's, mentioned above, has a stand right across the street, but it's not open yet (their vast and wonderful corn crop is a big driver of when the stand opens). Even with just one of the two stands open, I'm likely to start biking out there whenever I want, rather than fighting the downtown market crowds. Reports on the Farmers Market will therefore become highly sporadic, just because I'll be heading out to even more options - let the summer produce season begin!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Coupons For Dining In/Dining Out

Whether bringing in a pizza to bake at home or heading out, there are some good deals to be found among this month's MoneyMailer coupons. My favorite is the free pizza with purchase of another full size item at Modmarket, but this month they're also offering a second option that positively sloshes: a full size salad or M'rita pizza and a bottle of Barefoot wine for $10 after 5 pm. Other notable coupons are $10 off a total bill of $50 or more at the Gondolier, $5 off a $10 purchase at the Southside Walnut Cafe, and several deals from Nick 'n Willy's take and bake pizza. The coupons have differing expiration dates in June.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Working with this week's rather uninspiring sales, I'm thinking in different directions in planning dinners for the week. First, the sun is finally back out, and soon we're supposed to have temperatures in the 80s, so the grill will be getting more of a workout. I have one last piece of salmon in my freezer from last season, so that will be coming out to hit the grill, just before we get into this year's fresh wild salmon season. Never again will I take up so much room in my freezer with salmon frozen on my own, since Sprouts across this entire past winter has had excellent salmon, flash-frozen far more professionally than I can do, available at very reasonable sale prices. To accompany the fish, some yam spears (organic yams 99 cents a pound at Sunflower) will also be hitting the grill.

Next, I've been fascinated by the pea shoots appearing at the Boulder Farmers Market, especially after being given a sample by one of the vendors last week. I don't have a recipe specifically for them, but it looks like they are a good wilting green, and they really do taste like peas, so I have an idea to try them as an addition to a pasta dish I've been wanting to do: pasta with peas, asparagus, butter lettuce, and prosciutto, from Bon Appetit. Since the dish already calls for peas and wilted lettuce, pea shoots sound like a logical addition. The pea shoots are being sold in pretty big bags at the Farmers Market, so I'll use half in this and will be looking for another option for the other half.

We need to fit in another dinner from the grill this weekend, and when I saw the lackluster new sales yesterday, I ran out and grabbed grass-fed, organic ribeyes at Sprouts on the last day of their 40% off sale. (Perhaps I'm jumping the gun after this week's media coverage of a study intimating that unprocessed beef like steak may have gotten its bad health rap somewhat unfairly. Look a couple of posts below this for coverage.) Not quite sure what else might hit the grill - most likely some ears of corn from Whole Foods. Cure Organic Farm has had some nice baby bok choy at the Farmers Market in the past week, and the current issue of Saveur, in an article on true Chinese stir frying technique, has a recipe for donggu pei shucai (stir-fried mushrooms and bok choy). An earthy mushroom dish like that sounds like a good accompaniment to a grilled ribeye.

Also, rhubarb is sprouting up everywhere at the Farmers Market and in my yard, so I'd best get started using it. My preference is just a simple stewed rhubarb, ready in just a few minutes by stewing diced rhubarb with just a touch of water and a little sugar. I prefer it very tart, especially served warm over vanilla ice cream (Boulder Ice Cream pints are half price at Whole Foods, $2 each, hope the vanilla's included).

More to think about for the week, including what else to do with the rest of a whole bunch of pea shoots, plus whatever else the Farmers Market comes up with on Saturday. After last week's Egyptian walking onions, who know what to expect.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Boulder Farmers Market Report

Finally got to the Wednesday Farmers Market for the first time ever, and found that parking in the convenient city lots on 14th Street is made available for it, and free, to boot. Saw a mini-version of the Saturday market, running along 13th Street only, without the extension along Canyon. Many of the same vendors were there, and the food court was in full swing. Of the organic farm vendors, I saw Cure Organic Farm, Pachamama, Full Circle, Red Wagon, and Beyond Organic Farm (if they're beyond, I'd assume they're still organic, as well). For the first time this year, Munsons Farm was also there. While not organic, they've long had nice pesticide-free offerings, and they're sweet, longtime local folks as well.

Last Call for 40% Off Organic Beef

Along with the other specials ending today at Sprouts and Sunflower on their "double ad Wednesdays," today is the last day to catch organic, grass-fed beef at Sprouts for 40% off. I snagged a couple of beautiful ribeyes at $8.99/lb to grill over the weekend.

New Sale Prices Are Up

Last week featured some specially competitive pricing, so it's probably no surprise that this week's new sales (highlighted at left) don't strike me as that exciting. Perhaps we're in a lull, anticipating a new round of hot deals next week for Memorial Day. One bright note, the fresh Copper River salmon season is approaching. While usually in the range of $20 plus dollars a pound once it comes in, some stores, particularly King Soopers and Safeway, will offer it at a sharp lead-in discount. Something to watch for.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Steak As The New Health Food?

I don't think so. But today's Wall Street Journal reports on a "far from definitive" study that suggests the real heart risk culprit among red meats might lie in processed ones, such as bacon and sausage, rather than in unprocessed meat, such as steak or hamburger. Makes for interesting reading.

Free Haagen-Dazs Reminder

Don't forget, today is the day to get your free scoop of Haagen-Dazs ice cream from 4 to 8 at either the Pearl Street or Flatiron Crossing stores (also participating stores nationally). Duck out of this afternoon's thundershowers, go wish them a happy birthday, and enjoy.

Vitamin Cottage Specials on Hiatus

Wouldn't you know, I just belatedly become a rabid fan of Vitamin Cottage's sales and everyday low prices, and now have to wait a couple of weeks for new sales. Their last sales flyer, with deals that were good for about a month and a half, expired over the weekend. I was eagerly anticipating a new set of sales, but folks at the store tell me that the next flyer won't be out until June. Meanwhile, they do have a one-page sheet with a few "springtime specials," including organic peaches at a very nice $1.69/lb, select Cascadian Farm 10 oz frozen veggies for $1.59, and the big 25 oz size can of Westbrae Natural organic canned beans, four kinds at $1.39 each. Nice enough, but I'm still looking forward to the next big hotline sale.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pesticides in Foods and ADHD Linked?

In the why are we not surprised category, a new study suggesting a possible link between pesticides commonly used on fruits and vegetables and attention-deficit disorder in children is getting lots of media attention this morning. Yet another reminder to go organic whenever possible.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

What, oh what, to do with a whole bunch of Egyptian walking onions from the Farmers Market? Since they're supposed to be similar to scallions, a few things are coming to mind to shape the rest of the week's dinners. For starters, the side for tonight's bbq'd salmon will be spring vegetable and quinoa pilaf from the current issue of Bon Appetit, using the walking onions instead of the scallions. We'll also do a pineapple salsa to go with the fish, with my $1 pineapple from Sprouts, in addition to grilling some pineapple for dessert.

Two other food types suggest themselves as being walking onion-friendly: a stir fry and a frittata. For the frittata, I'll start with Mark Bittman's totally adaptable more vegetable than egg frittata, with the walking onions as my starting point. Then for the stir fry, I'd like to take advantage of Sprouts' 40% off organic beef, possibly using stew beef for Cooking Light's sirloin and vegetable stir fry, tossing in any remaining walking onions if the pilaf and frittata haven't consumed all of them.

Finally, for a dish free of walking onions, and one involving pasta, we'll try spicy spaghetti with fennel and herbs, published earlier this year in Bon Appetit, but I haven't yet had a chance to try it. Sorrel and radishes from the Farmers Market will be in the side salad.

One more dinner still to figure out, but that makes things interesting.

Last Call for Sprouts Three-Day Sale

Today's the last day for some big savings at Sprouts' "1 Big Sale," with some hot items $1 or so. Just one dollar will get you a whole pineapple, a Bolthouse juice, a round or loaf of Sprouts sourdough bread, a 5 oz stuffed clam, an Alexia garlic baguette, or 100 softgels of Sprouts vitamin D3, among other things. Others go in multiples of 1, like extra lean ground beef for $2/lb, and Sprouts sandwiches at $3 each. Four types of Knudsen 32 oz juice blends are $1 each, and if you use the 75 cents off coupon in the Mambo Sprouts coupon book that Sprouts carries, you get your juice, normally $3.39, for 25 cents.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Today's Boulder Farmers Market Report

Since I missed last week's market, I was happy to see two weeks of evolution in the Farmers Market's spring offerings. While spinach is still ubiquitous, radishes, which were almost nonexistent two weeks ago, are available in abundance, and other interesting offerings are popping up at the various vendor stands. Here's the lowdown on what I saw at my favorite organic farm vendors.

The prizes for most varied offerings and most unusual veggie both go to Red Wagon Organic Farm this week, in my book. In addition to radishes and braising mix, today they have pea shoots, sorrel, lovage, and rhubarb, plus assorted fresh herbs offered in convenient little $1 packages. As for the most unusual veggie offering, they have a tie within their own stand, between fava bean leaves (yes, I said leaves, not the beans), and Egyptian walking onions. The Egyptian walking onions reportedly can be used like scallions, and their name comes from a fascinating propagation method. If I understand this correctly, the plant develops a little bulb at the top of its scallion-like stalk, causing it to bend over from the weight, subsequently rooting itself in the ground for another shoot, ready to do the same thing. Just think, a field of scallion-like creatures rising, bending, and rising again in a Slinky-like fashion, how awesome.

Here's a summary of what I saw at my other organic stand faves. Isabelle Farm has radishes, chard, arugula, spinach, and kale. At Pastures of Plenty, baby lettuce, baby arugula, French herb mix, chervil, plus hanging baskets. Pachamama had so many starter plants, they could hardly fit in some spinach leaves. Cure Organic Farm was offering pea shoots, radishes, chives, bok choi (interesting spelling), and arugula. Finally, Black Cat Farm had "hailstone" radishes, arugula, braising mix, spinach, chervil, and rapini.

Apologies if I've missed any offerings. It's a bit awkward trying to record these on the fly, and one vendor in fact inquired what I was up to, in a nice way. The skies may be gloomy, with yet more rain on the way today, but we can celebrate our spring produce!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Maybe some light bulbs will go off when I visit the Farmers Market on Saturday (it was too icky out to try for Wednesday's market), but I don't seem totally inspired at the moment. Here's what seems to be shaping up for now.

With temperatures still chilly and wild Alaskan cod $6.99/lb at Sprouts, I'll go for another round of cod chowder with fingerling potatoes (it's fine without the saffron, or even the cream, for a healthier take), from Bon Appetit. Think I'll take advantage of Sprouts' three-day sale to include a starter of stuffed clams for $1 each, and an Alexia garlic baguette hot from the oven, also $1.

Next we have a request from the family for a veggie pizza, and that's where I'm struggling to get creative. Organic cluster tomatoes are a nice price at $1.99/lb at Sunflower. Not sure what else will go on it besides probably some Yves veggie pepperoni, which is really good, and probably some fresh mozzarella (Whole Foods' own brand is always a good price). Hopefully I'll find some interesting toppings at the Farmers Market, although that's a challenge in the spring. Maybe the garlic scapes will have made their appearance.

By Sunday, we're supposed to finally return to warm, sunny weather, which will mean grilling time. It will be either a grass-fed, organic ribeye at 40% off from Sprouts, or maybe wild salmon from either Sprouts or Sunflower. There will definitely be grilled pineapple, which is so good and so simple, since Sprouts' three-day sale will include pineapples for just $1.

More thinking to come, and hopefully, some inspiration from the Farmers Market.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last Call for Current Vitamin Cottage Specials

Who knows what wonders Vitamin Cottage will have in their new sales, but here's a headzup that you only have through this Saturday, the 15th, to take advantage of their current specials, highlighted here. I just picked up another 100 oz bottle of Seventh Generation laundry detergent at $11.99, a pretty rare and excellent price. MaraNatha organic peanut butter and Chocolove bars are also standouts. If you have a Mambo Sprouts coupon book (available at alot of natural grocery stores, but not at Vitamin Cottage), a box of Nut-Thins would be only 89 cents with the dollar off coupon, a steal for a usually pricey product.

Health Fair At Sunflower

This Saturday, the 15th, the Boulder Sunflower will host a Health Fair from 11 to 2. They say to "stop by our health fair for great tips and tricks to maintaining good health," perhaps more tantalizingly, also offering prizes and samples.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Free Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream

That'll get anybody's attention. Next Tuesday, the 18th, participating Haagen-Dazs stores, including the ones on the Pearl Street Mall and in Flatiron Crossing, will be offering a free scoop of ice cream (chocolate, coffee, or vanilla) from 4 to 8 in celebration of their 50th birthday. Go wish them a happy birthday!

Sale Prices Are Up, Plus An Adaptation Suggestion

Highlights (IMHO) of this week's new sale prices from our favorite stores are up on the left, dinner ideas to follow shortly. Plus, what's with this return of winter in the middle of May? With rain turning to snow last night, we morphed the planned sausage risotto with spring greens into a comfort food dinner more suitable to the evening. Instead, it became a southern New England Italian classic, sausage subs (aka grinders) with sauteed onions and peppers. Add a touch of pasta sauce to the sausage mixture for some tomato brightness, and stuff it into a section of nice, crispy baguette from Whole Foods, and you have a meal worthy of anything you'd find at an Italian festival in Louisville. Some Alexia sweet potato fries and an ear of corn on the side make for a heavenly plate, no fork even required. With more rain and snow still on deck for this evening (!), it would do instead of a spring risotto tonight as well. Hope we'll be back to spring shortly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Avocado Experiment Is Going Very Well

I'll report out more fully as I gain more experience in controlling the ripening of avocados bought in quantity, but I'm so enthused by the early results, I have to do a quick update. My avocado aficionado friend, Ms. A., keeps hers in the fridge until it nears time for their ripening and use. Of the eight I bought a week ago at just 25 cents each at Sprouts, three went on the counter immediately to ripen, one came out of the fridge yesterday to get started, and the remaining four in the fridge are happily still green rocks. Your method is looking mighty good, Ms. A.!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Electronics Recycling at Whole Foods Wednesday

This coming Wednesday, the Pearl Street Whole Foods will be hosting an electronics recycling event, so maybe it's time to get rid of that old 386 you've been using for years as a base underneath your laptop. Here's what they say:

"Wednesday, May 12th
Electronic Waste Recycling Event with Techno Rescue
12-4pm Small Fee for Monitors
Dispose of your old electronics the eco-friendly way with our pals from Techno Rescue."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Haven't quite finished thinking this through, but a little flexibility is always good too. Here's where we're at.

We'll follow the indulgence of the grilled ribeyes with a vegetarian pasta dish, pasta with sugar snap peas, asparagus and parmesan, from Bon Appetit. This one can be played with liberally, both in methodology and ingredients. I agree with the reviewers who say that it benefits from the addition of garlic, which means switching things around so the final product comes together in a big saute pan with the oil and garlic. That opens up the possibility of cooking the veggies in the pan, and adding others as well. My preference is to cook the asparagus with the pasta, adding it when the pasta is nearly done, and cooking the snap peas either the same way, or in the saute pan with the garlic. Think I might add some wonderful braising mix to the saute pan as well, making this a real salute to spring veggies. Don't forget Sunflower has organic leaf lettuce and pesticide-free tomatoes at really good prices this week for the side salad, and asparagus is a decent price at Whole Foods.

Next, we'll want a rice-based dish, and not to be repetitive, but in the spring, I can't get enough of sausage risotto with spring greens. It's particularly apt this week, with Italian chicken sausage on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower.

For a really quick midweek dinner, I'm looking at experimenting with the fresh Atlantic sole that Sprouts has on sale. Am not used to cooking it, but I expect it would do well as a quick saute with lots of lemon on the side, and with a microwaved "baked" potato. A side veggie could be anything nice and fresh. If I have time for something a little more ambitious, I'd like to try shaved fennel and arugula salad, ahem, minus the anchovies. This actually would be pretty quick if the dressing were made in advance, or a if bottled vinaigrette were substituted.

Since there should be some soup leftover from the weekend too, maybe we're set for the week.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Whole Foods' Treats For Moms

More for moms, the Pearl Street Whole foods will be offering free mini-facials today from 11 to 1 in the Whole Body department.

Tomorrow, on Mother's Day proper, the Superior Whole Foods will hold a Mother's Day brunch from 9 to 1. Cost is $11.99 for adults, $5.99 for kids 4 to 10, and free for kids three and under, and the menu looks yummy. Here's what they say about it, and how to sign up:

Dad's and Kids, surprise Mom this Mothers Day with Brunch at Whole Foods Market Superior!
Menu includes: Chef's Omelets to Order; Eggs Benedict with Black Forest Ham; Crab and Asparagus Benedict; Avocado, Tomato and Spinach Benedict; Crème Brulee French Toast Muffins; Potatoes O'Brian; Steel Cut Oatmeal; Seasonal Fruit; Bacon; Coffee, Milk and Juice.
Sign up at Customer Service or call (720) 274-1415 to reserve your space today!

Mom's Spa Day

The Sunflower flyer says that there will be a "spa day" today at the Boulder Sunflower from 10 to 2, for which they invite moms to "come in today to be pampered and treated." A word of caution in that I've rarely seen a Boulder Sunflower event begin at the published time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Help Feed Others, Too

While doing that grocery shopping for all your great cooking, don't forget to pick up some items for those less fortunate. Tomorrow, the 8th, is the National Association of Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Just put some non-perishable food items in a bag by your mailbox, and your letter carrier will get it to a food bank for those in need. Good deal.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Start on This Week's Dinner

We're off to an unconventional start this week, with a family request to grill some fish, and most of the advertised sale fish this week either isn't suitable for grilling or doesn't appeal to me. I'll probably wind up touring Whole Foods' spectacular fish counter, looking for the best deal that suits. My requestor also wants a baked potato on the side, which will send me across the parking lot to Vitamin Cottage, where I last saw organic russets at a non-sale price of an amazing 69 cents a pound. Don't know if that exceptionally low price is what they do all the time, but I have lots to stock up on before their current sale ends on the 15th anyway.

Then back to what's freshest this season, I've been having fun with sorrel from the Farmers Market (it tastes like a spinach leaf with a sliver of rhubarb in the middle), and need something new to try it in. Looking around, I discovered sorrel soup with broccoli, spinach, and fennel from a fellow blogger. I'll be making a pilgrimage to north Boulder anyway for organic broccoli for 75 cents a pound at Lucky's (plus their red grapes, also 75 cents a pound), and spinach is abundant at the Farmers Market, in addition to the sorrel that's been available. What a cornucopia of antioxidants.

Having eaten so healthily, it might be time to grill a ribeye, $4.97/lb for the bone-in ones at Sunflower. Sunflower also has pesticide-free hothouse tomatoes for 99 cents a pound, which suggests a favorite casserole without a link - layer sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, some fresh bread crumbs, grated sharp cheddar, scallions or chives, and ground pepper. Repeat, drizzle with olive oil and bake for around 45 minutes, delicious. And since this dinner falls on Mother's Day, if it isn't sufficiently festive, go out to one of our wonderful restaurants!

More ideas to come soon.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Holidays to Celebrate

Today of course is Cinco de Mayo, with lots of foods on sale for celebrating, not to mention the last day of 25 cent avocados at Sprouts. Then tomorrow, instead of rueing any overindulgences on the fajita and margarita fronts, we have International No Diet Day (no kidding!). May 6th now holds an esteemed place on my calendar, in addition to May 5th.

Spotlight on Lucky's Specials

Oh no, my life is made more complicated by the appearance of a sales flyer in today's paper for Lucky's Market in north Boulder. I really like Lucky's, and as the flyer notes, they are "Boulder's independent grocer," but they are too far north for me to frequent (although stay tuned for their possible takeover of the Baseline Whole Foods store). However, presented with their sales flyer, I can't resist pointing out a few good deals. First of all, they have seedless red grapes for 75 cents a pound. These will be conventional, but so are ones being sold at our other natural foods stores for prices more like $1.99/lb (Sunflower's new sale price) to up to $4/lb. Lucky's is also offering organic broccoli for an astonishing 75 cents a pound, organic green onions for 50 cents a bunch, and organic Hass avocados for 75 cents. I don't know about their meat/seafood, but they have Boulder Natural Meats chicken breast fajitas for $3.99/lb, and antibiotic-free baby back ribs for $4.99/lb. Clif bars are $1 each, but they are 89 cents at Sunflower this week.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Time For 25 Cent Avocados Running Out

A reminder that the Boulder and Fort Collins Sprouts have Hass avocados for just 25 cents apiece through tomorrow. I might have to eat my words (and more avocados), but this deal is so good, it seems unlikely we'll get a similar one in the sales that start tomorrow. When I stock up today, I'm going to try a novel storage technique that an avocado aficionado friend uses to control their ripening. If as a novice I can get it to work with a modicum of the success she has, I'll definitely report out on the system.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Think Good Thoughts For Frasca

Let's all send our best thoughts towards NYC, where one of the five contenders for tonight's James Beard Foundation award for outstanding wine service is Boulder's own Frasca Food and Wine, Bobby Stuckey wine director. The competition of course is stiff, and includes Jean Georges of NYC, so let's send good vibes for a win by Frasca. If like last night's book and media awards, the Foundation should be tweeting the awards live, @beardfoundation (they'll also be blogging the results). BTW, in last night's awards, Saveur, one of my favorite magazines, did quite well, and Denver's Westword picked up an award, too.

Update - as previously tweeted (@WhatsCookinBldr), the award did go to Jean Georges. Bummer. Let's hope Frasca gets the recognition it deserves next year.

Farmers Market Wednesday Opening

A sure sign of spring progressing, the midweek Boulder Farmers Market will open this Wednesday, the 5th, with hours from 4 to 8 pm. More super fresh, super local veggie opportunities!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Am still hoping today's showers will stay away long enough to get our ribs off the grill tonight. Our household bbqmeister will be out there, rain or shine.

As for the rest of the week's dinners, we'd next be looking for something with rice as a backdrop, and with asparagus a decent sale price at Whole Foods and plenty of chicken in my freezer, it will be chicken, asparagus, and broccoli stir fry from Bon Appetit, served over brown rice. Speaking of rice, remember that Sprouts is doing 25% off all its tagged gluten-free products this month.

Next will be an easy midweek reprise of the potato and root veggie chowder, which makes so much.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I'll do something along the fajita lines, with either the chicken or beef fajitas on sale at Whole Foods, or the pollo or carne asado/asada on sale at Sprouts. Don't forget that Sprouts has avocados for 25 cents apiece this week.

Finally, to finish with a pasta dish and continue the celebration with chilies, I'll make a pasta dish that isn't available anywhere online, but is so good. The gist of it is to combine chopped marinated artichokes with diced green chilies and a bit of water in a large saute pan, add some light sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt, olive oil, and grated parmesan, and when the sauce is blended, toss into it your cooked pasta of choice (a cut pasta shape works best). I always keep roasted chilies in the freezer from the fall harvest, and Abbondanza Farm has had a nice selection at the Boulder Farmers Market for the past two weeks.

And that will do it for this week's planning. P.S. Is it an affirmation of budget-mindedness that yesterday's winner of the Kentucky Derby was a horse named Super Saver?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What's Happening at the Boulder Farmers Market Today

Crops of course change as slowly as the seasons, so last week's report on what I found at my favorite organic farm stands at the Boulder Farmers Market largely still holds. Plenty of spinach, braising mix, and onions to be found. Here are some of the notable differences I saw. Isabelle Farm has added chard and collard greens, and their vegetable signage is now subtitled in French. Nice touch, but I wonder why. I didn't see any green garlic, that I've enjoyed so much for the past two weeks, at Red Wagon Organic Farm, but perhaps they sold out before I got there. The big news is that Cure Organic Farm has added pea shoots, and I think this might be the first week they've offered arugula. Abbondanza again has roasted green chilies from last fall harvest, if you don't still have some in your freezer. Even cooler, in addition to last week's Big Jims, the type most commonly seen around here, this week they have poblanos and Joe Parkers. I love it when a vendor appreciates the differences among the various types of chilies, something I've never been able to find at our big store's annual fall roasting, where they've never even been able to identify what variety they're carrying. Finally, horrors, after carrying mint previously, on Kentucky Derby day, Black Cat has none. They do have mache, burdock, and rapini, in addition to the usual suspects. They're also the first I've seen to offer "lil' radishes," but were sold out by the time I arrived. Here's to spring, and happy May Day!