Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Update on the Broadway Whole Foods Closure

With its July 2nd closure hard upon us, what little is left at the Broadway Whole Foods store is now 70% off. Today it's the place to go if you're in the market for instant mashed potatoes or a dog collar. I did snag a few more good birthday cards and a bag of 365 mesquite wood chunks, of which they had quite a few. Sad to see the Whole Foods store go, but I'm still very much looking forward to the reincarnation of Alfalfa's.

A Pleasantly Hot Farmers Market Scene Today

Today's Boulder Farmers Market is a hopping scene, well attended but not intolerably crowded. As one might expect, the beer garden seems to be a particular hit, and today it's featuring beer from Twisted Pine. At my favorite organic farm stands, as I recently reported, there is now so much on offer that it would take all day to list what's in season. While we still have a wait for local tomatoes, corn, and zucchini, if it has green leaves, it's there. Of note this week, fava beans were available at several of the stands (for cooks more adventurous than me - I think anything so labor-intensive as to require two shellings should only be eaten in a restaurant). Cauliflower has made an appearance at Red Wagon farm, adding white to the sea of green, and sugar snap peas were so abundant, it seemed like all the vendors were sampling them. The market's open until 8, so there's still plenty of time to enjoy!

Update on Shrimp Skewers at Whole Foods

For today's great one-day sale on shrimp skewers for a buck, the Pearl Street Whole Foods has them available unseasoned, and you can then select from six seasoning choices for the fish staff to season your skewers on the spot. Most of the choices are dried, but I went for fresh garlic and parsley. They also have peach glazed shrimp skewers, which will remain on sale for $1 all the way through the 13th. P.S. The Pearl Street store also has huge bunches of organic kale on sale for $1.50.

Mark Bittman Does It Again

Just in time for our 4th of July barbeques, Mark Bittman has released another in his fabulous "101" ideas series, this time 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling in the New York Times. I'll be referring to this one again and again. Way to go, Mark!

New Deals Are Up

Highlights of new sale prices starting today at our Boulder Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods are up on the left. As usual, it gets a little crowded over there on Wednesdays, when both Sprouts and Sunflower have two sets of sales going on (last day for asparagus for $1.69/lb at Sprouts!). Don't forget that Vitamin Cottage has its own post for sales going on through 7/10, too. Dinner ideas to follow shortly.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

About the Antibiotics in Our Food Supply

Interesting baby steps from the Food and Drug Administration toward reducing the antibiotics in agriculture are being reported by both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal today. I'd be happier too if our "natural" grocery stores were more forthcoming about antibiotics in the meat they sell; we know some are very strict in their policies, while others seem to play looser with the word "natural." You can read the NYT article here.

One-Day Shrimp Sale Tomorrow

Here's something easy to put on the grill during this hot week. Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have shrimp skewers for just $1 apiece, half off. Wrap some fresh figs in pancetta and add them to the grill while you're at it!

6/30 update - if you like their peach glazed variety, they'll remain on sale at $1 each through 7/13.

A Toast to King Tut

With the blockbuster King Tut exhibit opening today at the Denver Art Museum, let's welcome him with some suitable foods from ancient Egypt, like the figs in the post just below this, and toast him with beer, reportedly the Egyptians' favorite beverage. Smart people.

Fresh Fig Sighting!

Yahoo, yahoo, I've seen my first fresh figs of the season at Whole Foods, both the Pearl Street and Superior stores. Last year, I was introduced to what has to be one of the greatest foodstuffs in the world, grilled pancetta-wrapped figs. Its name says it all; just wrap a fresh fig (maybe cut in half if it's big) in pancetta, skewer it, and grill until the pancetta is done. Eat before, during, or after a meal, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, as often as you can.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rushing to Complete the Rest of the Week

Good thing tonight's dinner will be so easy, as I might not have time to get anything together to do any more than the simple reprise it will be. The sausage with lentils and spinach from Bon Appetit that I made a few nights ago made a truly epic amount of food. We'll do a quick reheat of it tonight with an easy salad on the side, but I'm afraid it's hardly going to make a dent in that bowl of leftovers in the fridge. I swear what's in that leftover bowl is growing.

After two purely or nearly vegetarian meals, we'll then capitalize on some of this week's chicken breasts on sale at Sprouts, Sunflower, and Vitamin Cottage, as I'm in the mood for chicken burritos with chiles and corn. This would be even better soon, when the corn will be local, but we're officially into summer and ready to eat corn now. At least the cilantro will be beautifully local and fresh.

Then we'll do a rice dish to combine two of our themes of the week: stocking up on asparagus at Sprouts for $1.69/lb while the sale lasts through Wednesday, and continuing to use the fresh mozzarella I picked up at the Whole Foods one-day sale last week. That spells some sort of risotto with mozzarella and fresh herbs from my herb pots, with the asparagus either cooked into the risotto itself, or served as the side veggie. The big caprese salad I made over the weekend only used two of the mozzarella balls I bought at the sale, when I thought it would use up three. This rice dish will make use of the third, but that still leaves me two more to go (I got a little enthusiastic about the deal). At least I have a couple more weeks before their expiration date.

Finally, we'll round out the week with some sort of stir fry, serving it over soba noodles, since we've just had rice the night before. Incorporating broccoli sounds appealling, since local broccoli has just made its appearance within the past couple of weeks. Bon Appetit has a recipe that would be perfect, adding in asparagus yet again, plus the sale chicken: chicken, asparagus, and broccoli stir-fry. Sounds like its name was concocted directly from this week's shopping list. I have a couple of other possibilities too, but no time to continue with them now - maybe later in the week, as we get closer.

And that's all she wrote, folks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not Enough Time in the Day

Goodness, what a busy weekend. I never did make it to yesterday's Farmers Market. Thank heavens for the Cure Organic Farm stand a little west of 75th and Valmont. And the produce department at Whole Foods, at least at the Pearl Street store, is starting to look like a farmers market as well. The produce is increasingly local, and labelled with its farm of origin. I saw lots of undulating garlic scapes and a beautiful basket of snap peas. Many signs were indicating produce from the Zweck organic farm in Longmont, good to know. The Zwecks have their own stand in Longmont, but I believe it isn't open yet. Lots of options, even if you can't get to the Boulder Farmers Market.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to Scanning

Again from Saveur, one of my favorite magazines, we learn that today is the anniversary of supermarket scanning. On June 26, 1974, at a Marsh's Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, "a ten-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum became the first item to be scanned electronically at a checkout counter." Now there's a piece of food history trivia you can really use.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Markets Around the World

Thinking of tomorrow's Boulder Farmers Market, I'd highly recommend the current June/July issue of one of my favorite reads, Saveur magazine. Its theme is The Market Issue, making it both seasonal and global in Saveur's unique style. Most of its content is online, but the stunning photography from markets around the world can only truly be appreciated with the full magazine in hand. The introduction to the market theme, "The beauty of it all: we go to markets to nourish body, mind, and soul," says it all. Its comment, "Where else can you connect with people without the aid of a common language, and bond with them over a shared love..." reminded me of the many wonderful tourists from other countries that we frequently see joyously snapping pictures at our own Boulder Farmers Market. The article opened my eyes as to what their experience of our own market might be. It also reminded me of my own experience, strolling markets in places like Paris and Vietnam. So if you get a chance, enjoy the global wonder of Saveur's special market issue.

Quick Thinking About Weekend Dinners

Whew, we know it's going to be hot this weekend, with today's temps in particular approaching 100. So for today, we'll be looking at a nice, cool dinner, a gigantic caprese salad featuring the fresh mozzarella I picked up at Wednesday's fantastic one-day sale at Whole Foods, when it was $2 for a half pound ball. (You can still find good deals - both Sprouts and Sunflower are featuring 8 oz containers of fresh mozz for $3 this week, and my $2 mozz is now $3.99 at Whole Foods, still a discount.) Some crusty bread and something green, maybe just a tossed salad on the side, will fill it out.

Then with temperatures still in the 90s, we'll be grilling tomorrow, probably whatever fresh wild salmon I can find at Sprouts or elsewhere. I've just realized that Sprouts' current ad is ambiguous, as the fresh salmon they have for $7.99/lb doesn't specify whether it's wild or farmed. Grilled potatoes in foil packages and grilled veggies can round it out, without having to do a bit of cooking indoors.

Then to actually cook something on Sunday, we'll take advantage of all our wonderful spring (now summer) produce with pasta with peas, asparagus, butter lettuce, and prosciutto from Bon Appetit. Asparagus is a great price at Sprouts at $1.69/lb, lettuce is in full swing, and I picked up a nice package of pancetta to substitute for the prosciutto at the Broadway Whole Foods closing sale - already a decent price, and then I got 30% off of that. Some peas might stay in, but the sugar snap peas are so beautiful right now, they'll have to be added as a featured component. A veggie fiesta to end a hot weekend.

Then on to more planning...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Broadway Whole Foods Closure Sale

Many, many thanks to my friend Ms. A. for telling me about the big sale happening at the Whole Foods store on Broadway. I've mentioned before that the store is slated to return to its original roots as Alfalfa's in the coming months, and the approval to go ahead was recently reported in the Daily Camera. With the store's July 2nd closure as a Whole Foods rapidly approaching, Ms. A. informed me that everything in the whole store is 30% off, with a further discount possible as the closure approaches. I got there today, and while the shelves are emptying rapidly, there were still smart finds to be had. I stocked up on staples like bottles of peppercorns and herbs, clam juice, boxed broth, and the like. Also picked up a couple of nice, reusable produce bags to cut down on plastic use. If you have friends/relatives who still prefer a paper birthday card, the greetings card racks were practically fully stocked. And the frozen food cases still contained quite a bit, as did health and beauty. Thanks so much for the tip, Ms. A.! I'm looking forward to the return of Alfalfa's, where I shopped faithfully in the 80s. What a long, strange trip it's been, Alfalfa's morphing into Wild Oats morphing into Whole Foods, transforming itself back to Alfalfa's, whew.

Food to Feed an Army

Goodness, last night's sausage with lentils and spinach made enough to feed a small army, soup kitchen, or family reunion. This is the second time I've made the recipe, and have never found the brown lentils it calls for in the stores I usually frequent. The first time I substituted French green lentils and found the timing to cook them was way off. This time I substituted regular green lentils, and the timing was again way off, needing more like 45 minutes, rather than the 18 minutes in the recipe, for the lentils to be cooked. Aside from that, the recipe is really good and makes just a ton of food. A reheat for another dinner with definitely have to happen later in the week. Speaking of which, I'd better get planning those dinners.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bike to This Afternoon's Farmers Market

Today being Bike to Work Day, why not bike to this afternoon's Boulder Farmers Market as well? With its location downtown on 13th Street, the market is perfectly bike-friendly (aside from needing even more bike racks), just steps from the Boulder Creek Path. The city of Boulder has a website to plot your best bike route, and Google maps has a new gadget to do the same.

IQ in Boulder on the Decline?

Sometimes you just gotta wonder... I was in Whole Foods today, capitalizing on today's fabulous one-day sale on Rio Briatti fresh mozzarella (see the post three below this for details). I happened to see a woman put a container of Whole Foods own brand of fresh mozzarella, the 8 oz one that sells for $3.99, in her cart. I couldn't help mentioning that the same amount of fresh mozzarella was on sale today in ball form for only $2, half what her current choice cost. She replied, "Do you think that's a better deal?"

Organic Berries At King Soopers

I don't usually cover King Soopers, but they have so many organic berries on sale this week, thought I'd mention them. Being advertised: 2 pounds of organic strawberries for $3.88 (or a one pound package for $2.50), or 6 oz of organic raspberries or blackberries for $2. A dry pint or organic blueberries is $2.50, all prices with a KS card. Nice organic choices!

New Deals Are Up

It gets a little crowded over there on the left on Wednesdays, when Sprouts and Sunflower both have two sets of overlapping sale prices, but the new hot deals (IMHO) for this week are up. Lots of competing or identical pricing going on, as noted. Don't forget that today is your last day to pick up some low steak prices at the end of the Father's Day sales. But Sprouts has introduced what I think is a good one for this coming week, with organic grass-fed ribeyes for $9.99/lb. For non-organic, you'd do best to catch the deals that are ending today.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One-Day Fresh Mozzarella Sale

Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have Rio Briatti fresh mozzarella in a half pound ball for only $2 each, better than half off its usual $4.99 price. Pull a few basil leaves from your garden or herb plants, toss in a few tomatoes (although they're not likely to be local yet), drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy a little caprese salad. 6/23 update - it's while supplies last, and people are scooping them up, at least at the Pearl Street store.

Catch Your Free Breakfast Tomorrow

As you ride your bike to work tomorrow on Boulder's Bike to Work Day, don't forget to take advantage of the free breakfast offered at venues all around the city. You can see a list of possibilities here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Goodness, Monday already. Happy summer solstice! But that means more dinners need to get planned. I want a vegetarian pasta dish for tonight, and with the beautiful produce we have available, there are just so many options. I might be jumping the gun a bit since our corn isn't yet local, but I bought such beautiful snap peas at Saturday's Farmers Market that we'll go with linguine with summer succotash, a veggie fiesta from Bon Appetit. Sounds like a good way to welcome the first day of summer.

Next, we love polenta/grits/whatever you want to call them. With pretty large shrimp on sale at Sunflower (although not at as good a price as they had a few weeks ago), we'll indulge in shrimp and grits with spinach, also from Bon Appetit. This makes good use of the beautiful spinach we still have available, too.

So we've done potatoes, pasta, then grits, so it will be time to move onto something with rice. With chicken sausage being part of Sprouts' sausage bonanza sale, I'm in the mood for sausage and lentils with spinach served over brown rice. Spinach is looking like a theme for this week, but I can't get enough of it.

Finally, it's a week of beef sales, and I have some gorgeous cilantro to use from the Farmers Market, so we'll wrap up with sirloin steak with tomato and cilantro sauce. I'll either make soft tacos with warm tortillas as Bon Appetit suggests, or might experiment with serving it over microwaved baking potatoes.

And voila, we're done for the week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bittman for Cheap

Such a short life cycle books can have these days. Mark Bittman is my hero for his minimalist cooking approach, and his How To Cook Everything cookbook (a bit presumptuously titled) really gets a workout in my house. He's published a number of spinoffs, and one from last year, Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express, has hit the bargain bin at Amazon, selling for $10.40. (It ships for free if you have a $25 purchase or sign up for a trial of Amazon Prime.) I love Bittman's 101 ideas columns that he publishes in the New York Times, and it sounds like this book is along the same lines: 404 ideas for seasonal dishes that can be prepared in less than 20 minutes (which for me usually means 30 or 40 minutes), using concepts rather than exact measurements. At $10.40, I might have to indulge.

Stock Up Alert

Good news - the 99 cent sale on Luigi Vitelli organic pasta at Sunflower *does* include the whole wheat varieties. Organic whole wheat pasta for 99 cents a pound - it doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Salmon Clarification

This one probably falls in the shush, don't tell them category. Sprouts is advertising fresh wild Pacific salmon for $12.99 a pound, but when I got to the store in Boulder, they're actually selling it for $7.99 a pound, quite the deal.

Veggie Nirvana at the Boulder Farmers Market

From the moment I rounded the corner and saw my first organic farm vendor, Isabelle, I knew the variety of organic veggies available at the Boulder Farmers Market had reached a turning point of abundance. (As one vendor put it, "we're finally out of the fog of just lettuce.") There are now simply too many choices to be able to report on them all, yeah! To take Isabelle as an example, their big chalk board of offerings now boasts two long columns, too many to list, even for one stand. They of course had the beautiful greens we've been seeing this spring, including spinach, arugula, kale, chard, and collards, along with radishes and bok choi that have more recently joined the offerings. This week we now see heftier options like broccoli and snap peas ("sweet peas" in their parlance), and carrots, which add a welcome splash of color amongst all that greenery. The Isabelle stand was typical of what I saw further down the line with my favorite organic vendors, so no stand-by-stand list is needed anymore. But a few notes are in order for a few new observations. First, several stands had the most beautiful peonies I have ever seen. Back to the veggies, Full Circle looked to have the widest variety of organic peas, with English peas and snow peas, in addition to the snap peas that were widely available. Pea shoots were still available at the Red Wagon Organic Farm stand, and I noticed a new organic vendor option, Monroe Organic Farms from Kersey, which was offering strawberries and asparagus. So it's a glorious time for the Farmers Market - with so much in season, we now have plenty to choose from. But you might want to get there early, as I did, to avoid the crush of the crowds that come with the beauty of the market. Oh, and if you're looking for a bike to cruise your way to the market, there's a "vintage" bike sale going on at Boulder High School, practically next door.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Cod Clarification

I'm not sure how this works, but although the cod on sale at Sprouts is advertised as fresh, it in fact has spent time frozen. The guy at the counter tried to explain how their vendor sells it to them as fresh, but the logic eluded me, and it's marked in the case as previously frozen. Looked good, so I went for it anyway.

Desperately Seeking Inspiration

Hmmm, this week's lackluster sales aren't leading me anywhere. I guess we'll start with what we know: it's going to be hot, Father's Day is coming up, grilling is looking good, and fish is the primary area of interest to me in this week's sales. We'll start with the fish, which I could see doing two days in a row. I'm thrilled that Sprouts is advertising fresh wild Alaskan cod for $6.99/lb, and in hot weather, that deserves just a quick saute with a crack of pepper and a squeeze of lemon, with some potatoes mashed with buttermilk on the side.

Then we'll be into the weekend proper, and time to get the grill going. Sprouts is winning again, with fresh wild salmon for $12.99/lb. Some herbed rice could go on the side, along with some sort of find from tomorrow's Farmers Market (oh, the joy of serendipity). Since this week's advertised organic emphasis is on fruits rather than veggies, I'll also make up a little fruit salsa, involving organic fruit of choice, a chopped roma tomato, diced avocado, a little red onion, olive oil, and lemon or lime juice.

Then for Father's Day, with more hot weather expected and steaks on sale everywhere (look to the left margin for options), I suppose we'll be grilling some steaks. It's fun to grill foil packages of diced potatoes (either the white or yam variety) as well. If I don't find another side at the Farmers Market, I'll probably do sauteed zucchini, cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil. It's from Bon Appetit but oddly isn't on their site, so I found it elsewhere.

Certainly not the most inspired start to this week's planning, but maybe some brilliant idea will strike when it's least expected.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow, the 18th, our local Boulder and Superior Whole Foods will have not just one, but two one-day sale items. Cherries, presumably conventional since they don't say organic, will be $1.99/lb, while baby back ribs will be $4.99/lb. BTW, if you're willing to pay a whole bunch more for organic, King Soopers has organic cherries for $3.99/lb with a KS card this week.

A Busy Friday at Superior Whole Foods

All kinds of action happening tomorrow at the Whole Foods store in Superior. Here's what they say about it.

"Friday, June 18th
One Day Sale
Great for Father's Day- One Day Sale Ribs.
Check out these great deals on Friday. Something new every week at a great savings! Sign up today for Flavors and receive a, “Day before the Sale” email letting you know the savings and item!"

"Friday, June 18th
Good Stuff for Less Tasting
4:00pm-6:00pm Free
Join our Team Members in their individual departments and enjoy a sample of one of the many items that we have on sale in our sales flyer. This is the perfect way to try something before you buy!"

"Friday, June 18th
Lecture and Book Signing by Brendan Brazier
6:00pm-8:00pm Free
Join us at Whole Foods Market Superior to meet Brendan Brazier- the Iron man Triathlete and author of the best seller, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide. Brendan will sign and answer questions about his new book Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-based Training Program that will help you sculpt strong, lean muscles, reduce body fat increase energy and more!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Specials this week at our Boulder natural grocery stores that look particularly good to me are highlighted at the left. This week seems to be emphasizing grilling in time for Father's Day. Overall, the deals aren't as exciting as last week's, which had some really tantalizing specials, but it looks like we'll be doing some grilling this weekend. Good thing, as our temperatures will be in the 90s for the near future. Dinner plans to follow soon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Last Call

Don't forget that tomorrow is the last day for 40% off all bulk cut cheese at Sprouts, really quite a deal.

Last Call for Brownies and Grapes

Today's the last day for the current specials at Whole Foods, which means it's your last chance to scoop up a tub of irresistable Two Bite brownies for just $2.50, half price. The other sale I'll really miss is the organic green grapes for $1.99 a pound. Conventional grapes are on sale everywhere, but it's hard to get organic ones for such a reasonable price. I need to stop by Vitamin Cottage and check out their price, as they've really surprised me with some low organic fruit and veggie prices.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beer and Brats Tasting at Whole Foods

The Superior Whole Foods will be hosting a free, but invitation-only tasting of their own brats and Oskar Blues beer on Thursday, the 17th. Either sign up at the store sufficiently in advance to get your invitation or follow the email directions in this description from Superior Liquor:

Beer and Brats Tasting Whole Foods Superior Thursday, June 17, 2010 6:30pm - 8:00 pm Join Superior Liquor at Whole Foods Superior for this private sampling party, just in time for Father's Day! Sample beers will be provided by Oskar Blues Brewery; these will be paired with Whole Foods brats (made in-house fresh daily) and cheeses. This is a private, invitation-only event. To receive your invitation, please send an email to

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Time to get thinking about the rest of this week's dinners, under today's gloomy skies. Still on a fennel kick with the fennel on sale at Sunflower (they like to call it anise), and we need to fit some pasta in, I'm thinking spicy spaghetti with fennel and herbs from Bon Appetit. Will probably substitute parmesan (don't forget about the great cheese sale going on at Sprouts) for the romano. I picked up a beautiful head of romaine lettuce yesterday from the Abbondanza stand at the Farmers Market for the side salad.

I don't usually prepare soups from scratch in the middle of the week, but there's one from Cooking Light that comes together in a snap, and is perfect for this week's sales, chipotle turkey and corn soup. It can be made with either turkey or chicken tenders, and Sprouts has good prices on both this week.

Then it's time for a rice dish. Sunflower has Mozzarella Fresca fresh mozzarella at a good sale price and my herb pots are really cranking, so I'll improvise a vegetarian rice dish flavored with fresh herbs and mozzarella, yum.

Finally, for another super easy dinner on what should be a pretty hot day (we should eventually see the sun this week, and it should be back to 90 on Thursday), pork loin chops for $3.99/lb at Sprouts with microwaved "baked" potatoes are a quick standby. The chops on sale at Sunflower are sirloin, a different cut, that I'd rather use in something like a stir fry.

And that will do us for the week, and get us tantalizingly close to the start of summer.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Beautiful Day for the Boulder Farmers Market

If you like your veggies fresh from the farm, but hate fighting your way through crowds to get them, today's the day to visit the Boulder Farmers Market (open until 2). The rain is pretty light, but so are the crowds. I was actually able to pull straight into a parking space in the 14th Street city lot, where it's usually necessary to stalk people leaving to get a space. There were some gaps where vendors chose not to show up, but all my favorite organic farms, diehards that they are, were there. The rain prevented taking detailed notes, but here are a few observations. We've had green garlic available for a couple of weeks, but this was the first week I saw garlic scapes, those fun, wildly curly scallion/garlic creatures. Snap peas also made their first appearance, so along with the collards, kale, and other substantial greens that are available, the organic veggie selections are now considerably beyond a bunch of baby spring greens. I also saw real heads of lettuce, in addition to the loose baby lettuce that is still available. With the very diminished crowds because of the weather, the sweetheart at Red Wagon Organic Farm gave me a beautiful bunch of radishes for free with my purchase of their garlic scapes. Finally, coming from a different parking lot for me since parking was so easy to find, I encountered Community Cycles doing valet bike parking for a donation (probably to file under the "only in Boulder" category). This is a terrific idea, since trying to lock up a bike at the market gets to be a big challenge on glorious summer Saturdays. Not an issue today, but something to keep in mind for the future.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Excellent Bulk Cheese Sale at Sprouts

If you're a cheese lover of the ordinary type like I am (as opposed to the type that won't touch a cheese costing less than $20 a pound), the 40% off bulk-cut cheese at Sprouts this week is a dynamite sale. I was just there, looking for a smoked gouda, and they had not one but two options at 40% off. I'll definitely stock up on long lasting parmesan too, before the sale ends next Wednesday. I usually buy the domestic or Argentinian variety, but at 40% off, might spring for authentic reggiano as well.

Pet Appreciation Day at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Boulder (generally seems to mean the Pearl Street store) is tweeting that they will be holding a Pet Appreciation Day tomorrow starting at noon, if your pet needs a little pampering. Here's what they say: "Pet Appreciation Day this Saturday from 12-3pm. We'll have an animal communicator, masseuse, and trainer on hand to pamper your best friend!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Some Dinner Ideas For The Week

This weekend's ideas are weather-driven, with the wacky June forecast we have coming up, with rain and highs in the 60s, maybe not even out of the 50s on Saturday. Tomorrow won't be quite so bad as we transition into it, but I'll stay inside with my grill pan, doing grilled sea scallops and tomatoes with olive vinaigrette from Bon Appetit. Sprouts is featuring the sea scallops, and we have such beautiful greens available at the time of year for the bed, be they the arugula the recipe calls for, or some other baby greens mix.

Then with a high of maybe 59, after the mid-90s we're having today, it's time to take a last look at some cooler weather favorites, hot from the oven. With organic fennel on sale at Sunflower, I'm torn between two possibilities. There's a fennel and leek gratin that I love (that doesn't have a link), which would be a great accompaniment to the pork tenderloin on sale at Sprouts. I'm also tempted by cod, potato, and fennel casserole from Gourmet. Finding the fish for that one might be the challenge; Sprouts has some nice frozen fish and might have it, and they also have rockfish fillets on sale as a possible substitute, although I've never tried it.

Then with another chilly day on Sunday, we'll jump on one last pizza for the season. Again there are a couple of favorite possibilities. I'll most like do a sausage pizza (pizza alla salsiccia) from Cooking Light, since this fits in another fennel from Sunflower, and Italian chicken sausage is on sale at Sprouts. The other temptation is barbeque chicken pizza from Bon Appetit. Again, Sprouts has the best price this week on chicken tenders (although don't forget Vitamin Cottage's ongoing sale on some very fine boneless, skinless breasts), and they probably have some smoked gouda included in their 40% off bulk cheese sale.

Will continue to think about the rest of the week, and fennel will likely be making another appearance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lovely Veggies at the Cure Organic Farm Stand

Finally got out to the Cure Organic Farm stand at 75th and Valmont today, where they had a lovely assortment of veggies, plus lots of starter plants. In their protective little refrigerators, there was braising mix, salad mix, spicy greens, and pea shoots, while out on the table they had carrots, turnips, strawberries, and head lettuce. Past experience has been that you can never be absolutely sure what will be available (or left, after others have snapped up their purchases), but you'll have a pretty good idea, based on the season and time of day you get there. I think they stock it for opening around 10, and a couple of items had already been erased from the board by a little before noon.

The little stand is pretty well hidden in the trees, a bit west of the southwest corner of 75th and Valmont (watch for the Cure Organic Farm sign hanging at the end of the driveway). Munson's farm stand is practically across the street, on the northwest corner, but their corn crop is the big feature there, so they aren't open yet. With one or both stands open, it makes for a pleasant trip.

New Prices Are Up, Plus a Rearrangement

Best looking prices (IMHO) from this week's new grocery sales are up on the left. We're facing the weirdest weather forecast for Boulder, with temps reaching the upper 90s tomorrow, and rain and 60s expected over the weekend. That speaks to skipping the usual weekend grilling, and fitting some in tomorrow instead. Sprouts has fresh Columbia River salmon still on sale through today, so I think I'll see if they have a new delivery available for putting on the grill tomorrow. If not, King Soopers and Safeway both say they are trying to offer fresh wild sockeye at $14.99/lb too, so that's another possibility. If that doesn't work out either, Sprouts has their sockeye that was flash frozen at sea for $8.99/lb.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Organic Strawberries 99 Cents a Pound

The Sunflower in Boulder has a "Manager's Special" on one pound packages of Driscoll's organic strawberries for just 99 cents each. Sign said through the 11th, but they looked to be going fast. I had to set aside a couple a packages where I could see a few brown spots starting, but this is an amazing price if you have a use for them soon. I so prefer fruit to be organic, but it can be tough to find it at a reasonable price, especially compared to the sales we see on conventional fruit. So these organic strawberries are a steal, even much cheaper than conventional!!

New Deals At Vitamin Cottage

Vitamin Cottage, aka Natural Grocers, has a new sales flyer for June, with deals running all the way through July 10th for their stores in Boulder, Lafayette, and Longmont. Some sales catching my eye include Eldorado Springs water, either a liter or one gallon bottle for 69 cents (I wonder if the little self-serve place at the springs still exists, used to be 25 cents), and Maverick Ranch air-chilled, antibiotic-free boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $4.99/lb. Knudsen 4-packs of canned spritzers are $1.99, and I just paid $3 as a "sale" price across the parking lot. Select Pirate snacks like Pirate's Booty are $1.49 a bag, Julie's organic ice creams or sorbets are $2.49 a pint, plus of course there are lots of good deals on vitamins. To go with their quinoa that's $2.99/lb in bulk, the flyer has a recipe for summer quinoa pilaf with shrimp that I'm going to have to try.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

With temperatures heading to 95 today, we all should be thinking salads for dinner, but salad as a main course has never been too appealing to me. Instead, I'll take advantage of this week's chicken sausage sales and do a simple pasta with sausage, onion, bell pepper, bottled pasta sauce, and maybe some chopped fennel, relegating the salad to its rightful place on the side.

As predicted, the cod chowder made enough for a second appearance on Tuesday, with another salad on the side, with my own buttermilk dressing.

Midweek is for quick and easy dinners, like the chowder reprise. Another quick one is pork chops on sale at Sunflower, accompanied by potatoes "baked" in the microwave, with something nice and green, like chard sauteed with a little garlic and red pepper flakes, on the side.

Time to incorporate something with rice, and with chicken breasts $1.97/lb at Sunflower, I'll go for kung pao chicken from Cooking Light. There's always a bag of edamames in my freezer, a quick side for anything with an Asian influence.

That was easy, and we're done for the week.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Savings Tip From Sprouts

Here's a tip I heard this week from one of the cashiers at Sprouts. Evidently, if you spend $100 in one trip on items from their vitamin and health and beauty department, you get 10% off your whole bill that trip. With their entire vitamin and health and beauty department 25% off this week, that would mean actually getting 35% off all your vitamins, shampoos, and the like, plus 10% off the rest of your purchases. Think this would work only for the uber-consumer who uses a lot of these products, or for somebody who is totally organized, and I'm neither, but the woman checking out ahead of me did it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

News from the Saturday Boulder Farmers Market

The biggest news from today's Boulder Farmers Market is probably the crowds, and I'm ready to hit the individual farm stands, rather than fighting again through an immobile mass of gawkers with dogs, strollers, and who knows what else. Kind of like the Yogi Berra quote the Pearl Street Whole Foods has in front of its entrance, "That place is so crowded, nobody goes there anymore." As for organic veggies available, the offerings of course are similar to what I reported Wednesday, with a few expansions in the greens varieties. Isabelle Farm has red cardinal spinach, a lovely green that looks like baby red chard. Red Wagon has added green garlic, and they still have the Walla Walla onions, both being sort of scallion-like, plus baby kale and broccoli rabe that I hadn't noticed before. Cure Organic Farm still has pea shoots and fava bean leaves available (plus lots more, of course). Abbondanza has added pea shoots, and still has the gigantic red radishes, "crunchy royal" variety, that I mentioned Wednesday. Full Circle has the best price I noticed on organic spinach, at $6 a pound, and they also have Napa cabbage and spring garlic, among other offerings. Finally, the Boulder Green Building Fair is happening in the adjacent park, so if you're looking for a crowd, come on down!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Update on Copper River Salmon

If you're looking to buy Copper River salmon in Boulder this weekend, I'd suggest calling ahead before making any special trips. The Pearl Street Whole Foods is sold out of Copper River sockeye until next week. They're expecting a delivery of Copper River king tomorrow, but it will be selling for about $30 a pound. The Baseline Whole Foods is also sold out. The Superior store had one Copper River fillet left, but I didn't ask them to hold it, and in the 15 minutes it took me to get to the store, it had been sold. Don't know what's happening in the rest of Boulder's stores, but I imagine it's a similar scene. I know the river is periodically closed to fishing to protect the fish, and one guy told me this recently happened and is what's affecting its availability this weekend. Meanwhile, as an alternative I bought a beautiful piece of fresh salmon from the another Alaskan river, that had just been delivered to the Superior store this morning, but at a price so high, I felt I should take out extra insurance on it for the trip home. I should have gone back to Sprouts, where Columbia River king is $14.99/lb, but was just too burned out at that point.

Burgers For A Buck At Sunflower Tomorrow

If you'll be running your errands in the vicinity of the Boulder Sunflower and looking for a quick, cheap bite for lunch tomorrow, the 5th, they say they'll be offering burgers for just $1 from 11 to 2.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Time to get to work on a plan for this week. I've been thinking about the cod that Sprouts has on sale for $4.99/lb (we've had really good fish from them), and am considering another round of cod chowder with fingerling potatoes. I skip both the saffron and the cream, and substitute chicken broth for one or two of the clam juice bottles, and it's still delicious, plus less expensive and healthier. Perhaps this would be considered more of a winter dish as we head towards summer, but think about the pleasure of eating fish stews and clam chowders by the beach, and it becomes totally appropriate. Now if we could only get the beach...

Saturday is uncertain, as I might throw caution to the wind and see what creation might come out of the offerings at the Boulder Farmers Market. As an alternative, we could always do sausages and polenta, using the chicken sausages on sale for $2.99/lb at Sprouts, possibly doing them on the grill if the breezy forecast doesn't get too breezy.

With a less breezy forecast for Sunday, we'll indulge in some of the first fresh, wild salmon of the season out on the grill. You'll find a comparison of local fresh, wild salmon prices here. Rice with fresh herbs would be nice on the side. It's guaranteed that there will still be spinach at the Farmers Market, so sauteed spinach or braising mix and mushrooms with a pinch of garlic would be good as well. Maybe a little stewed rhubarb with vanilla frozen yogurt to round it out as dessert.

More thinking to do, although I know the chowder will turn up as a reprise later in the week.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Price Comparison Smackdown - Fresh Wild Salmon

*Friday update - see the post above regarding Copper River selling out quickly this weekend.*

It's always exciting to see the arrival of fresh, wild salmon in our stores this time of year, although it is of concern how it's becoming so popular (and with a focus on a particular river) that overfishing could be a real threat. That said, here's a rundown on what's being offered in our local Boulder stores this week (including the big chains for a change), in alphabetical order, as usual.

King Soopers (Table Mesa store, seen 6/2) - $24.99/lb for Copper River sockeye.

Safeway (Meadows shopping center, seen 6/2) - $19.99/lb for Copper River sockeye with Safeway card.

Sprouts (seen 6/2) - $14.99/lb for Columbia River king.

Sunflower (seen 6/3) - no fresh wild salmon this week, and they're hoping for some next week.

Whole Foods (Pearl Street, seen 6/3) - $19.99/lb for Copper River sockeye. Earlier this week they had Copper River king (I think at $29.99/lb), but the fish counter staff report they're having problems getting the king salmon in.

If they discount like last year, we might see some big sales from King Soopers and Safeway as we get further into the season. Some emphasis on alternative rivers, as Sprouts is doing this week, would also be a good thing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday Boulder Farmers Market - What's Happening Today

The Wednesday Farmers Market, an afternoon mini version of the Saturday market, is hopping with prepared foods, veggies, starter plants, meats, breads, chocolate, and flowers galore. The big news is the opening of the beer and wine garden, today featuring Oskar Blues, so you can grab a brewski and listen to a great guitarist while taking a break from the market stalls. All my favorite organic farm vendors were there, and here's a quick lowdown on what I saw. Isabelle has good looking lacinato kale, in addition to the usual salad greens and radishes. At Pachamama, asparagus joins spinach, scallions, and salad mix. Red Wagon has a nice variety, with another week of pea shoots (yeah!), plus rhubarb, mizuna, Walla Walla onions, lettuce mix, and braising mix. Pea shoots are also on offer at Cure Organic Farm, in addition to salad greens, braising mix, spinach, and I was happy to see, turnips. Turnips are also making an appearance at Black Cat, where they also have radishes, spinach, and an unmarked interesting mix of greens with something yellow in it. Abbondanza has the hugest red radishes I've ever seen, plus spinach. Finally, Full Circle has rhubarb, radishes, parsley, cilantro, asparagus, spinach, and salad mix. The Wednesday market is open until 8, so there's still time to get on down, grab a brew, some veggies, and maybe even dinner from the food court.

New Sale Prices Are Up

My favorite highlights of new sale prices at Boulder's Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods are up at the left. I'll need to check with Vitamin Cottage to see if they've come out with a new sales flyer yet after their hiatus. The exciting news is that Sprouts is advertising fresh wild salmon (Columbia River king for $14.99/lb) and I've seen Copper River at Whole Foods for considerably more (waaaay more for king). I hope to do a survey of our stores shortly, including King Soopers and Safeway this time, comparing availability and prices. Fresh, wild salmon, yum.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

We've gotten through the holiday, so it's time to get the rest of the week planned. We need a break from all the grilled burgers, ribs, and shrimp we had over the weekend, so I have a family request for twice-baked vegetarian potatoes to give the meat a rest tonight. I make my own invention, variously involving shallots or scallions, plain nonfat yogurt or lowfat sour cream, parsley, and maybe a bit of shredded cheese. I haven't tried them, but for a prepared version, Sprouts has them on sale in their deli for $2.99/lb through tomorrow.

So we've had one night's vegetarian break, then it will be back to grilling, this time with a surprise gift of some very nice Coleman ribeyes. We have lots of leftover salads from yesterday to go along. For a fresh addition, I might add a tomato and peach salad while organic romas are 88 cents a pound at Sunflower through tomorrow, and I have some peaches left from the Vitamin Cottage sale. This is a real harbinger of summer, as it's the first time I'll invoke one of Mark Bittman's wonderful series on 101 things for summer, the tomato and peach salad being number two in his 101 simple salads for the season.

Then, to get away from all these potatoes and salads, it's time to move on to a rice dish. I'd hoped to get in one more recipe using pea shoots before they're done for the season, and had my eye on chicken and shitake stir fry with peas and pea tendrils over rice, but that idea met with resistance from the family. Guess last week's two dinners involving pea shoots were enough, and perhaps I should have trimmed the stems more than I did as they approach fin de saison. Will look forward to next year and experimenting with pea shoots the moment they hit the market, presumably a little more tender.

Looking for another rice dish, I've liked the nice big size (26/30 count) of the shrimp on sale for $4.97/lb at Sunflower through tomorrow, so I'll pick up another two pound frozen bag for one more dinner plus a future use. If I'm lucky, the stand at Cure Organic Farm will have spinach in stock (if not, store-bought will be fine), as we'll have shrimp risotto with baby spinach and basil from Bon Appetit. Interesting that this recipe pairs seafood and cheese, and comments that Italians actually do this, contrary to popular belief. I never saw it happen while there, although I find it usually a delicious combination, so I wonder just how prevalent the pairing might actually be in Italy. Anyone with experience of cheese in a seafood dish there?

And that will do us for the rest of the week.