Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eataly Opens in NYC

A little diversion here, but still related to food and shopping thereof. If you've followed any of the hype surrounding the creation of an Italian superstore in Manhattan by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, you might be intrigued by the live blogging of its opening that you can follow here. Sounds like quite the event. So what local store featuring Italian food and wine should I turn to for solace?

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will be offering a couple of items in a one-day sale. Oogave soda 12 oz four packs will be 2 for $6, and seedless watermelons from Rocky Ford will be $1.99 each, $4 off the regular price for a melon. (Sprouts has whole seedless watermelons at 25 cents a pound through tomorrow, but they say "USA grown," so provenance isn't known.) Also, don't forget Whole Foods' one-day sale coming up Friday on grass-fed ground beef (see the post right below this for details).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grass-Fed Beef One-Day Sale

Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, this coming Friday (9/3), all Whole Foods markets will have grass-fed ground beef on sale for $3.99/lb. You can read more about it here.

Beer, Wine, Cheese, Chile Tasting in Superior

This Thursday, 9/2, the Whole Foods store in Superior will partner with Superior Liquor to present a free tasting that has to be about the most challenging one I've ever heard of. From 6:30 to 8:00 pm, they will feature "roasted Hatch green chilies paired with American artisanal & Mexican cheeses, beers from Wynkoop Brewery and wines from Veraison Distributing." Chilies and cheese, okay, chilies and beer, even better, but chilies and wine? Wonder how they will pull that one off. While the event is free, please note that you have to receive an invitation, either by signing up at the store in advance, or by emailing kathy.ongarato@wholefoods.com.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roasted Green Chiles in Superior!

The chile roaster is cranking today at the Whole Foods store in Superior. They're roasting medium and hot chiles, the more interesting ones (although mild has its place, too). When these stores get roasting, it generally means you'll find a stock of the roasted chiles in a refrigerated case, whether or not you see the roaster outside. Yahoo!

More Mambo

More Mambo Sprouts stuff happening at the Whole Foods in Superior this afternoon. Here's what they say:

"Sunday, August 29th
Go Mambo
2:00pm-5:00pm Free
Join us for a sampling tour of Go Mambo! Receive sample bags filled with products, brochures and coupon books. Enjoy samples from different companies such as Floral, Natures Path, Pure, Knudsen and much, much more!"

More Dinners For This Week

Getting plans together for weekday cooking, it's about time for pasta, and we need a break from all this wonderful local corn we've been eating. With 41/50 count shrimp $3.99/lb at Sprouts and our local tomatoes starting to look gorgeous, I'm thinking spicy shrimp and fettuccine from Cooking Light, using some fresh basil from my herb pots instead of the dried basil it calls for.

You know that a reheat of something that's really worth reheating makes a quick midweek dinner, so this week it will be a reprise of the weekend's sweet corn chowder with hot-smoked salmon, with a big salad on the side.

Green beans are looking great right now, either at my favorite local farmstands or in the stores, so to fit it a dish that includes rice, we'll do a standby from a classic cookbook, Jane Brody's Good Food Book. Simply called ground beef and green beans, it's basically a stir fry of burger and green beans with some garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, sauced with a bit of soy sauce, broth, and cornstarch, the whole thing served over rice.

Finally, for another quickie, we'll saute the pork loin chops that are $2.99/lb at Sunflower, with some microwaved "baked" potatoes, and sauteed chard (organic 99 cents a bunch at Sunflower) on the side. Can't always be consulting a recipe, especially when seeking speed and simplicity on weekdays.

And that will get us through another week, enjoying plenty of our seasonal produce and natural grocery store deals.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Whole Foods is Roasting!

Yahoo! At the Pearl Street Whole Foods, the chile roaster is cranking away today in the parking lot, roasting wonderful Hatch green chiles from New Mexico. Packages of the finished product are in the refrigerated case in the produce department, where they keep the salsa. And for the first time in my experience there, the containers are marked mild, medium, or hot. In the past, the staff hasn't been able to tell me what they were, although that made things a rather fun crapshoot. It's even better when you can talk with someone who can go beyond mild, medium, or hot to tell you that they're Big Jims, Sandias, any number of other varieties. We might find that experience soon, once roasted chiles turn up at the Boulder Farmers Market. Yes!

Boulder Farmers Market - No Chile Roasting Yet

Patience, roasted chile fans. The roaster hasn't arrived yet at the Boulder Farmers Market, but the folks at the information booth report they expect it "in about another week." Meanwhile, there's lots more to choose from, and it wasn't horribly crowded, at least by 10. Practically any summer veggie you might want is there, plus a fair amount of fruit. There are now several vendors selling organic peaches, and melons were everywhere. My favorite organic farms are now carrying nice, big tomatoes, in addition to the cherry tomatoes we had earlier. I saw the hugest, freshest kale on earth at Pachamama and Abbondanza organic stands, and Isabelle had edamame, too. To fit the fairly early time of day, a musician was playing appropriately mellow music on an amplified acoustic guitar, very nice. You still have plenty of time to head down there before 2, and the food court offers lots of good lunch options too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why We Shop at Natural Food Stores

Well, recalls can and do happen everywhere, but this one is evidently limited to Walmart, a national recall of deli meats. Care for some nationally distributed scrambled eggs with that?

Dinner Ideas for the Weekend

Lots of opportunities for this weekend, with the season's produce overflowing, and the hot temperatures inviting more grilling.

With the fresh, wild salmon prices featured at the left (fresh coho at $6.99/lb!), it will be no surprise that grilled salmon will once again be on the menu. I've previously suggested using peaches instead of nectarines in the salsa for grilled salmon with nectarine salsa, and that's certainly still an option. But if you're starting to tire of being surrounded by Palisade peaches, it's also an excellent week for nectarines, with organic ones just 99 cents/lb at Sunflower (88 cents/lb for conventionals at Sprouts). For a side, we'll have a salad from the current issue of Bon Appetit that was a huge success when we tried it before, shaved zucchini salad with parmesan and pine nuts. Here's a great chance to use some of the bumper crop of zucchini, taking care to make sure they're of reasonable size, not like baseball bats, and also organic, since they are shaved raw into this salad. I didn't have pine nuts on hand when I made it last time, and toasted pumpkin seeds made a fine substitution, at about one fifth the cost.

Next, we'll need a big pot of something to serve as a weekday reheat as well, and since I resisted doing a corn chowder last week, we'll have to succumb this week. Not quite sure which one it will be yet, probably either corn and fingerling potato chowder with applewood-smoked bacon or sweet corn chowder with hot-smoked salmon, both from Cooking Light. If the corn weren't such a draw (Munson Farm, here we come again!), I'd be going for the steaks that are 40% off at Sunflower this week.

Another reason we've kept it healthy so far is because the last dinner of the weekend will be a wicked indulgence, smoked country style ribs, coming from Sprouts where boneless ones are just $1.47/lb this week. For a light side, I'm tempted by another veggie from the current Bon Appetit, summer corn saute with tons of herbs. You can take a look at the recipe, but its name pretty much says it all. BTW, the August Bon Appetit has a great article called Singular Sensations, with ideas for savoring those three summer greats: corn, zucchini, and tomatoes. Both this corn recipe and the zucchini salad above are from it, and it has other tempting possibilities as well.

Weekday planning yet to come, while we enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boulder Peach Prices Compared

With peach season at its height, here's a rundown of peach prices advertised in the Boulder area this week. Depending on the store, sales end either next Tuesday or Wednesday (for those stores that do double ad Wednesdays). If not specified organic, I'd assume the peaches are conventional, and we're going in alphabetical order, as usual.

King Soopers - Palisade peaches, 99 cents/lb with card.

Safeway - Palisade peaches, 99 cents/lb with card.

Sprouts - California yellow or white peaches 88 cents/lb.

Sunflower - California yellow peaches 88 cents/lb. Organic white flesh peaches (no origin) 99 cents/lb.

I'll add in unadvertised prices as I observe them. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure Munson's farmstand was charging $3/lb for their Palisade peaches, while Cure Organic Farm had organic Palisades for $4/lb.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today's Farmstand Scene

Lots of activity today at my favorite farmstand location, 75th and Valmont. It looks to be flower gathering day at Cure Organic Farm, with lots of people bent over, harvesting blooms in the flower garden. I do wish I had a picture of such a pastoral scene. There should be an artist out there, painting the beat up pickup truck with its tail down and bed filled with buckets of flowers, just gorgeous. Since it's Wednesday, the farm store is open today instead of the self-serve table. Inside, I found all sorts of beautiful organic produce of their own, plus organic peaches from Palisade. Veggies included yellow (aka wax) beans, those long squiggly cucumbers, chard, beets, carrots, and more. I opted for the chioggia beets, with their super-fresh greens that will get cooked as a separate dish. Also on offer were eggs from the farm, yarn, handmade soaps, and some pottery pieces as well.

After such a placid, pastoral experience at Cure, it was a bit of a jar to cross the street to Munson's and have to wait for a semi tractor trailer to back out of the parking lot before I could get in. Rationally, the dissonance makes no sense, since the semi was from Palisade, and those peaches have to get here somehow, right? And the organic peaches I'd just seen in a bucolic display across the street had to get here from Palisade too. Furthermore, we're doing better buying peaches from the Western Slope, rather than those that have been trucked all the way from California, right again? But still, it was more enjoyable contemplating the flowers in the beat up pickup than the tractor trailer backing out. Regardless, it's a great time to enjoy Munson's fabulous corn, and I picked up a bunch of ears for tonight's tagliatelle with fresh corn pesto.

New Sale Prices Are Up

Along with the sale prices ending today, highlights of this coming week's deals are up on the left. Of particular note this week, fresh wild salmon continues to be a good deal (Sprouts, Sunflower, and King Soopers all advertising), Sprouts is doing 25% off its entire health & beauty, vitamin & supplement department (stock up time), and Sunflower is doing 40% off 10 types of Harris Ranch steaks. Dinner plans to follow soon.

Boulder County Eat Local Week

Here's an interesting sounding event coming up: Boulder County's Eat Local! Week, from the 28th through September 4th. Called "a celebration of local food and farming," you can find all the details here, including an ice cream social, a "Flat Iron Chef" local food cook-off, and a "tour de coops."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Time for another one-day sale tomorrow at all of our local Whole Foods stores. This time they'll be offering two items, one that sounds great to me, and one not so appealing. If you're a fan of American cheese (I'm not), a 16 oz family pack of organic creamery sliced American cheese will be a good deal at $5.99 each, which is $4 off. More interesting to me are the Wellshire smoked or roasted turkey 6 oz packages that will be $2.99 each, an impressive half off for the day. Sounds like the makings for lots of back to school lunches.

Last Call for Some Specials

This hasn't been the most exciting set of specials we've ever seen, but here's a headzup that today's the last day to get the current two-week set of sales at Whole Foods, and you have through tomorrow for the sales at Lucky's, Sprouts, and Sunflower. (Vitamin Cottage does theirs for a month or more at a time.) A few items of possible interest include the organic heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods for $3.99/lb (Mark Bittman wrote a nice little piece just this morning about heirloom tomatoes and corn), bulk coffee (including organic) for $5.99/lb at both Lucky's and Sprouts, organic Colorado peaches for $1.50/lb at Lucky's, and bone-in New York strip steaks for $4.97/lb at Sunflower. Then we'll see what the new set of sales brings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun Events at Superior Whole Foods Today

The Whole Foods in Superior will host a couple of fun things late this afternoon, a local tasting and also hand massage, both from 4 to 6. Here's what they say:

"Monday, August 23rd
Local Tasting
4:00pm-6:00m Free
Join our Team Members in their individual departments and enjoy a sample of a Local item featured from each department. Why buy Local? Buying Local helps support our Local producers and product is fresher because it is grown or produced within seven hours from this store!

Monday, August 23rd
Hand Facials
4:00pm-6:00pm Free
Having a stressful day? Join Cindy, in our Whole Body Department for a complementary hand massage using Local products from one of our Local producers- Pangaea!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mambo at Baseline Whole Foods Today

The nice folks from Mambo Sprouts Go Mambo! tour will be at the Baseline Whole Foods today from 3 to 6, giving out their fun packages full of samples and coupons. And I know that these guys do show up, which isn't always the case with other advertised events.

More Dinners For This Week

Getting back to the dinner planning, we'll need to lighten up after tonight's steak indulgence, so with 41/50 count shrimp at $3.97/lb at Sunflower, we'll turn to shrimp and corn pilaf from Bon Appetit to start off the weekday dinners. Yet another chance to fit in more of our local corn. A side veggie could be kale sauteed with a bit of garlic and red pepper, with organic kale just 99 cents a bunch at Sunflower right now.

Then as usual, we have a dinner that's a quick reheat from the weekend, this time the cod chowder, with a big salad on the side.

It will then be time for pasta (and another opportunity for fresh, local corn), so we'll try a new recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetit, tagliatelle with fresh corn pesto. I don't usually drag out the food processor in the middle of the week, but this recipe sounds pretty quick, even with it.

Finally, with fresh mozzarella on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower, and my herb pots bursting with basil, oregano, and parsley, we'll probably put together a vegetarian risotto with mozzarella and herbs. A tempting alternative is pork chops from either Lucky's or Sprouts (bought by Wednesday) with a peach salsa, since peaches are absolutely everywhere right now. (Look here for a comparison of peach prices this week, bearing in mind that those sales will end on either Tuesday or Wednesday.)

And that will do it for the rest of the week's planning.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Evol Burritos a No-Show

The folks in customer service at the Pearl Street Whole Foods couldn't explain it, but Evol Burritos didn't show (at least by 12:15) for their "local vendor spotlight" that's on the store calendar from 11 to 2. On a brighter note, there were several other vendors there, including one of my favorites, Caleb and Milo, from near Taos, NM, with their incredible eggplant spread, salsas, and pesto.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Evol Burritos at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Like we need another food-related event to entice us on a day that already has the Boulder Farmers Market and the Lafayette Peach Festival. But from 11 to 2 tomorrow, the Pearl Street Whole Foods calendar says it will shine its local vendor spotlight on Evol Burritos, makers of possibly the tastiest prepared burritos you've ever tried. My assumption is they'll be sampling their wonderful product, and if we're really lucky, they'll be doing it by giving out their adorable mini-burritos as they've done in the past, maybe even with a coupon. If you're looking to buy one (in their main line - they're branching out into snack size and premium now too), take note that they're currently on sale at Sunflower for nearly one third off at $2 each. Today's price at Whole Foods was the regular $2.99.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Looks like this weekend will be a particularly warm one, with highs tomorrow and Sunday in the mid to upper 90s. (With little signs popping up everywhere that fall is just around the corner, we should relish the heat while we still have it.) That will mean grilling both those days, so I'll move our big double-duty chowder day to tonight.

We could do another corn chowder in celebration of our local corn season, but there's plenty more corn on deck this week, and we only recently made corn chowder, so instead, I'll opt for cod chowder with saffron and fingerling potatoes from Bon Appetit, using the cod on sale for $4.99/lb at Sprouts. I don't usually go for previously frozen fish, but the "flash frozen at sea" technique sold at Sprouts has always been surprisingly good in my experience. Also, this recipe adapts well, and is perfectly delicious without the saffron and even skipping the cream. Much cheaper chicken broth can also be substituted for one or two of the three bottles of clam juice, too.

Then, on to the grilling. While at Sprouts, I'll also pick up their fresh coho salmon for $7.99/lb, for a spin on grilled salmon with nectarine salsa from Bon Appetit. You could do it as written, with nectarines easy to find these days, but with its being the height of the peach season, I think substituting peaches would be the thing to do right now. (Don't forget the Lafayette Peach Festival tomorrow, 30,000 pounds of organic peaches.) As a side, to enjoy some fresh, local corn, we'll try succotash of fresh corn, lima beans, tomatoes, and onion, also from Bon Appetit.

With temps in the upper 90s on Sunday, some bone-in New York strip steaks for $4.97/lb at Sunflower will hit the grill. We'll experiment with seasoning them with Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Steak Magic Seasoning Blend, a packet of which was in the big bag of sample I got yesterday from the Go Mambo! tour folks. (They'll be at the Pearl Street Whole Foods today from 10 to 1, undoubtedly giving out more of those sample bags.) For a side, we'll do sauteed zucchini, cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil. It's from Bon Appetit, but doesn't have a link, so just look at its name, which tells you just about everything you need to know to make it. Add a little garlic and rosemary while sauteing the zucchini, and finish with sliced fresh basil and a touch of balsamic vinegar, and you have it. Organic on the vine cherry tomatoes are $2 for 12 oz at Sunflower, and you can't turn around right now without bumping into a zucchini.

That at least gets us through the weekend, with extra chowder to take care of one midweek dinner. More planning to come.

Catch Go Mambo! at Whole Foods Today

The fine folks from Mambo Sprouts will be bringing their Go Mambo! tour to the Pearl Street Whole Foods store today from 10 to 1. I caught them yesterday at the Baseline Whole Foods, where they were sampling products at their table, plus giving out bags full of coupons and more samples like Nature's Path organic granola bars, Pure organic chocolate brownie bars, Crunchmaster multi-seed crackers, and even dog and cat food samples from Wellness. Go Mambo!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lafayette Peach Festival

Speaking of peaches, don't forget the Lafayette Peach Festival coming up this Saturday from 9 to 4. Over 30,000 pounds of organic peaches, and a zero waste event, to boot! Details here.

A Peach Price Rundown

With peaches at their peak right now, here's a rundown of advertised prices for them locally at the moment (generally through next Tuesday or Wednesday). If they don't specify organic, I'd assume they're conventional.

King Soopers
Palisade peaches 99 cents/lb with card

Lucky's Market
Organic Colorado peaches $1.50/lb

White or yellow USA grown peaches 3 lbs for $1

Palisade peaches $1.88/lb

Peaches don't appear in the ads for Safeway, Vitamin Cottage, or Whole Foods. I'll check them out if I stop by.

Big Egg Recall Affects Colorado

Lots of news this morning about an egg recall that includes eggs sold in Colorado. You can read more, including the list of brands affected, in this NYT article.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good Stuff at Munson's and Cure Organic Farm

Made a trip out to my favorite farmstands at 75th and Valmont today and saw a very tempting array of fruits and veggies. Since Cure Organic Farm now has their store (okay, technically "its store," but that sounds weird) open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 to 6, in addition to the self serve stand on all other days, I headed inside there to check things out. The chard bunches were absolutely sumptuous, as were several types of beets, the green beans, and much more. Since today I was only looking for fresh corn, I took the opportunity to ask the person in the store about the sweet corn I'd seen one day at their unattended self serve stand. Turns out that they sometimes get corn from Munson's stand across the street to add to their offerings, so since that's my favorite corn place anyway, I headed over there.

In addition to their own wonderful pesticide-free corn and some of their own veggies, Munson's increasingly has offerings from elsewhere locally. Beautiful small watermelons were being unloaded from a farm about 10 miles east as I arrived (the woman at the counter didn't know the name of the farm, but thought their cantaloupes also came from the same place). And they have long had peaches from Palisade, probably before anybody else around here got excited about them and turned them into a mini-craze. Let's continue to celebrate the corn and peach season!

New Sale Prices Are Up

With so many good deals to choose from, and Lucky's Market added this week even though I rarely get to north Boulder, the list of specials at the left is especially long today. Since it includes the deals ending today at Sprouts and Sunflower, it will get easier to handle tomorrow, when those specials come out. Dinner ideas to follow shortly. It will be a hot weekend made for grilling, I can tell already.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

If tomorrow's Wednesday, it must be time for another one-day sale at our Rocky Mountain region Whole Foods stores (yeay!). This time, they'll have fresh, wild sockeye salmon from Washington for $9.99/lb (possibly the finest you'll see, but deal-watchers should look to the left column for a better price on fresh wild salmon at Sprouts). Also, Rocky Ford cantaloupes will be 99 cents each (Safeway has them at that price with card through 8/24, and they're 3 lbs for $1 with card at King Soopers through 8/24), and 32 oz of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap will be nearly half off at $7.99. Think about catching these deals by going out to the Ideal store on Alpine (actually a Whole Foods), and checking out the Mambo Sprouts touring van there between 10 and 1 for coupons and samples at the same time.

Gluten Free Class Tonight in Superior

Tonight from 6:30 to 8, the Superior Whole Foods will host a gluten-free cooking class and tour at no charge. Here's what they say:

"Tuesday, August 17th
Gluten Free Cooking Class and Tour
6:30pm- 8:00pm Free
Learn how to de-gluten-ize your life! What is gluten and why do so many people talk about it? Join us as we talk about what “Gluten” is and how it can affect your life and body. Make a meal, and tour our store as we point out where you can find gluten free products or substitutions!"

New Deals At Vitamin Cottage

Vitamin Cottage (aka Natural Grocers) has a new set of long lasting specials, this set good all the way through September 25th (eek, fall!). Some items looking particularly good to me are assorted organic plums for just $1.09/lb, Applegate Farms organic turkey slices for $3.99 a 6 oz package, and Rudi's selected organic sandwich breads for $2.99 a loaf. Not eaten in this household, but a dozen Farmers Hen House large brown cage-free eggs for $1.79 sounds like a deal to me. Clif or Mojo bars are a very good price at 89 cents each, and even better in a box of 12 for $9.99. Other good deals include varieties of Westbrae's organic beans at 99 cents a 15 oz can, Cascadian Farm's organic boxed cereals for $2.79 (see the store for flavors), and select 16 oz bags of Cascadian Farm organic frozen veggies at $1.99 each. Big 30 oz bottles of Jason body wash (a really nice product) are $8.99 each, and of course, lots of vitamins are on sale. But the deal that most particularly enthuses me is the big 100 oz Seventh Generation laundry liquid for $11.99, yes!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mambo Sprouts Coming to Boulder

Mambo Sprouts, the folks who bring us fine coupons (both online and printed coupon books in stores) for some of our favorite natural products, will bring their road show van to Boulder this week, stopping at several Whole Foods stores. Their Go Mambo! tour offers natural and organic product samples, information, and coupons from their mobile van. You can check their full schedule online, but they'll be at the store on Alpine on Wednesday from 10 to 1, same hours Thursday at the Baseline Whole Foods, and at the Pearl Street store on Friday. Sunday the 22nd, they'll be back at the Baseline store from 3 to 6, and Sunday the 29th at the Superior Whole Foods from 2 to 5. Other days they'll be visiting Whole Foods stores elsewhere in Denver and farther afield. Go Mambo!

Enjoy Those Avocados

With avocados just 49 cents apiece at Sprouts this week through Wednesday, you might consider stocking up and controlling their ripening by storing them in the refrigerator, a technique perfected by my friend Ms. A., as detailed here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Continuing the Chile-Themed Dinners

Since I managed to get some roasted chilies at yesterday's Boulder Farmers Market, I'll continue with the chile-centric thinking for the rest of the week, hoping my family is as enthused about the chiles as I am. For tomorrow, it's about time we had something vegetarian and it's been awhile since we've had pasta, so I'm thinking about a favorite dish that isn't online, chili 'choke pasta. The basic idea is that, while your pasta of choice is cooking, you make a sauce of chopped artichoke hearts (with their marinade) from a 6 oz jar, chopped roasted green chilies (substituting a 4 oz can if you don't have fresh), half a cup of lowfat sour cream, a touch of olive oil, and finally, a cup of grated parmesan. Add a little pasta water if the sauce needs thinning, then toss the cooked pasta with the sauce, yum.

Then it's time for the usual quick midweek reprise of something made over the weekend, this time being our New Mexican chile verde, with a big salad and some warm tortillas on the side.

For Wednesday, if I'll be allowed one more dinner with chilies, we'll go for chicken burritos with poblano chiles and corn from Bon Appetit, using our freshly roasted chilies and corn kernels fresh off a local cob. (Anyone notice how many spellings there are of chile, chili, chilies, chiles?) In addition to the seasonal ingredients, this will make use of boneless chicken breasts from Sprouts on the last day of their $1.99/lb sale.

Those chicken breasts from Sprouts are already sitting in my freezer, as are some chicken sausage from their $2.99/lb sausage celebration. To finally get a break from the chilies, we'll go with an old Italian favorite from the northeast, sausage subs with onions and peppers. A touch of bottled pasta sauce completes the mixture to stuff into a fresh sub roll or crusty baguette.

And that will complete our chile-dominated week of planning.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Roasted Chilies Scored at Today's Farmers Market!

Knew I was jumping the gun in wanting to see chile roasting everywhere this weekend, with the arrival of the first of the Hatch green chile crop from New Mexico. The folks at the Boulder Farmers Market report that the guys who bring in their big chile roaster aren't expected for maybe another couple of weeks. But I was thrilled to see that Isabelle Farm had their own Anaheim chilies available, roasted just last night, and sold in one pound bags. They also had a few bags of roasted jalapenos, which sounds like dangerous stuff to me. So I'll continue with my chile-centric thinking for the week, since today's purchase should carry me through until the big roasters arrive.

Otherwise, the market was what you'd expect at the height of the season: overflowing with produce, crowds, dogs, strollers, and people trying to park. Definitely the place to ride your bike today, if you're thinking of going. It's probably the best time of year for the greatest variety of veggies, but think about your local farmstands, too, if you'd prefer to avoid the crowds.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Back to School Tasting Fair

In addition to the back to school event tomorrow at the Superior Whole Foods that I noted previously, the Boulder Sunflower is also scheduled to hold a back to school tasting fair tomorrow, from noon to 3. I write this with a bit of skepticism, as the last time I went to a scheduled tasting fair at the Boulder Sunflower, it didn't happen.

Last Call for Current Vitamin Cottage Specials

The current batch of long lasting specials at Vitamin Cottage, aka Natural Grocers, will be ending tomorrow, so it's your last chance to grab those that appeal. They'll hopefully have a new set of sales available on Sunday, so stay tuned for details.

A Report on the Zweck's Farmstand

Needing to be in the neighborhood anyway, I managed to make my first visit today to the cozy farmstand operated by Zweck's organic farm west of Longmont. Their veggie abundance is all organic, with the exception of their sweet corn, which is pesticide-free. Lots to choose from at the stand, although the green beans were nearly gone, unless more were forthcoming. There were several varieties of peppers, beautiful bulbs of fennel, large cherry tomatoes available in bags, white and purple onions (the white on special today for $1/lb), bunches of chard, interesting "Tropea" onion bunches for grilling, and some handsome eggplant, which I picked up for tomorrow's grilled chicken and ratatouille. They also had plenty of corn and absolutely gigantic sunflowers. A fun place, hopefully convenient for our east Boulder County readers (it's on Airport Road, a few yards south of 9th Avenue in western Longmont), and worth a stop for Boulderites in the area. Check their website for hours, since they are limited (as you would expect) and vary by day. A wonderful place, and with a family history that dates to 1865, which according to their website makes them one of the oldest family-owned farms in Colorado. You can feel it being there.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

So much good stuff to work with this week, between the good sale prices happening in our stores and the bounty of local produce. Tonight and tomorrow look like our better grilling nights of the weekend, with Sunday looking possibly wet, so we'd better get grilling. We have some great prices locally on fresh, wild salmon this week (see the left margin for details), and with fresh sweet corn everywhere you turn, we'll fire up the grill tonight for grilled salmon with roasted corn relish from Cooking Light, which also celebrates the arrival this week of the first of the Hatch green chile crop from New Mexico. A quick alternative to the corn relish would be a fruit salsa using a Palisade peach and one of the 49 cent avocados from Sprouts. Sides could be anything: buttermilk mashed potatoes, potato packages done on the grill, grilled veggies, whatever. I hope to possibly stop by the Zweck family's market out by Longmont today, drawing inspiration from the organic veggies I'll find. I'll report further if I do in fact make it out there.

I'm hoping eggplant will be among the veggies I'll find (I know Munson's stand has the Japanese variety already), as with boneless, skinless chicken breasts $1.99/lb for a value pack at Sprouts, we'll be ready to fire up the grill again for grilled chicken and ratatouille from Bon Appetit. This is a great grilling recipe for summer's bounty, and it's equally good with regular rather than Japanese eggplant.

With thunderstorms potentially looming Sunday (and looking to do a big pot of something that will also make a quick midweek reheat), we'll head indoors for New Mexican chile verde from Cooking Light. This recipe will again celebrate this week's arrival of Hatch chilies from New Mexico, while also capitalizing on the pork loin roast that's an astonishing $1.88/lb at Sunflower, what a combo. I'm hoping somebody, either at tomorrow's Farmer's Market or at Whole Foods, will already be roasting chilies so I won't have to do it myself. Also, I bet the dish would be great with fresh corn kernels substituted for the hominy.

More planning yet to come.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Chile Update and Clarification

Although the Whole Foods flyer says they have both organic or conventional Hatch chile peppers at $1/lb, that isn't exactly the case. At the Pearl Street store, there's one type, and according to the produce guy, Hatch chiles, while not certified organic, grow easily without pesticides because bugs hate the peppers anyway. In fact, he said, the peppers are ground up and spread on other veggies as a natural insecticide. The Pearl Street store just got their first shipment yesterday and has not yet set a schedule for roasting. I may be jumping the gun, but I'm thinking a chile-centric menu for the coming week.

BTW, while there, I noticed they have organic green grapes for $1.99/lb, a good price. (Since it's not in the regional flyer, you can't tell what you'll find from store to store on things like that.) But the $3.99/lb they're charging for organic roma tomatoes is highway robbery. If you have to spend that much, better to pick up the heirlooms they have on sale this week for the same price.

More Fun in Superior

While the Humane Society visits the Pearl Street Whole Foods (see immediately below), the Superior Whole Foods will be hosting its own event Saturday, a back to school fete. Whether or not the school part applies to you, the samples in every department part should appeal broadly. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, August 14th
Back to School Event
12:00PM-4:00PM Free

Hey Kids, join us at the Superior Whole Foods Market for a Back to School Event featuring yummy Back to School samples in each department, music, grilling, tours of Fire Trucks from the Rocky Mountain Fire Dept, Walking/Biking to School Safety tips, and Free Cooking Classes for kids chair massage, and face painting. Sign up for one or all three of our Cooking Classes at the Customer Service Counter today to reserve your spot today!

Class Times:
12:00pm-1:00pm :: Start your Day with a Healthy Breakfast
1:30pm-2:30 :: Build your own lunchbox
3:00pm-4:00pm :: After School Snack"

Humane Society Coming to Whole Foods

If you're considering a furry loveball addition to your household, the Boulder Humane Society's pet care cruiser will be at the Pearl Street Whole Foods store this Saturday (the 14th) from 10 to 2. Prepare to be "awed."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights of today's new deals at our Boulder natural foods stores are up on the left, along with the specials ending today. Some good specials to be had in the coming week, including fresh wild salmon at good prices, great prices on organic fruit, and conventional Hass avocados for 49 cents each. With the new crop of Hatch green chilies arriving, could we be on the verge of fall already?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Another trifecta coming up tomorrow at our Whole Foods regionally for one day only. They'll be offering Justin's almond or hazelnut butters at $5.99 for 16 oz, which is $4 off. (Since that's two products, maybe that makes this a four item sale - a quartet, maybe?) Also, select Rudi's sandwich breads at an impressive half off, $2.50 per loaf, and Sorano gelato pints half off at $2.50. Happy shopping.

Last Call for Some Specials

Time is running out on a few good deals, but who knows what the new specials tomorrow will bring. Today's the last day regionally for the current two week set of sales at Whole Foods. Items I've particularly liked there include the organic red grapes for $1.99/lb, organic grape tomatoes for $2.50 a container, organic cucumbers at $1/lb, Seeduction bread at $2.79 a loaf, and Mrs. Meyers liquid hand soap for $3.49. You have through tomorrow to catch this week's specials at Sprouts and Sunflower, including the conventional (sigh, but the price is too good) blueberries at $1.88 for a container that's over a pound at Sprouts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Events Today at the Superior Whole Foods

Mmm, the Superior Whole Foods store is promising both a local foods tasting and free hand massage today. Here's what they say:

"Monday, August 9th
Local Tasting
4:00pm-6:00pm Free
Join our Team Members in their individual departments and enjoy a sample of a Local item featured from each department. Why buy Local? Buying Local helps support our Local producers and product is fresher because it is grown and produced within seven hours from this store!

Monday, August 9th
Hand Massage
4:00pm-6:00pm Free
Having a stressful day? Join Cindy, in our Whole Body Department for a complementary hand massage using Local products from one of our Local producers- Pangaea!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Word About Deli Meats

With the exception of stores like Whole Foods, which don't carry meats with nitrates, I'm always a little leery of what might be in the deli meats at our local stores. With deli meats 40% off during this week's sale at Sprouts, I took a look at what they offer and was pleased to see that at least two choices had big labels on them pronouncing them as "nitrate free." (The roast beef packages had these stickers and I think the other selection was turkey breast.) This is a nice, honest approach, and it also sends a warning that all the other choices, not marked as nitrate free, evidently must contain them. In some other stores, you have to look a whole lot more closely to find this information.

More Dinners For This Week

Moving on to the rest of the week, we're fans of chicken sausage and also love our fresh spring and summer greens, so we might once again enjoy sausage risotto with spring greens from Bon Appetit. The sausage will come from the sale at Sprouts, and the choices for the greens are everywhere, from the Farmers Market to my favorite farmstands to the nice bulk bin of braising greens that the Pearl Street Whole Foods store maintains.

Then as usual, we'll capitalize on the lengthier weekend cooking with a quick reheat for a midweek dinner, this time rewarming the sweet corn chowder with hot-smoked salmon from Cooking Light, with a big salad on the side. The bread from Whole Foods' Bakehouse will come out of the freezer, much as I'd prefer to have it fresh from the store. You can only make so many trips a week to get your fresh ingredients.

We'll be looking for a seasonally appropriate pasta dish next, and something vegetarian would be nice, so we'll turn to a great Mark Bittman recipe from the New York Times, pasta with corn, zucchini and tomatoes. This recipes lends itself to all kinds of adaptations, depending on the types of tomatoes and squash available and your inclination regarding the seasonings. I like to play it with a southwestern spin, using chili powder and cilantro instead of the tarragon.

Finally, time to get back to some meat, and with beef stew beef $3.99/lb at Sunflower ($4.49/lb at Sprouts), I'm thinking sirloin steak with tomato and cilantro sauce from Bon Appetit. Okay, so stew beef isn't sirloin steak, but it works just as well in this recipe. It produces the most delicious sauce, and typically would be wrapped up in tortillas, but it has been a while since we've had potatoes on the menu, so this time we'll serve it over microwaved "baked" potatoes. That's a very good combination as well.

And that does it for the rest of the week.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Reminder Re Sprouts Three-Day Sale

Not quite a last call but close, just a reminder that tomorrow will be the last day of Sprouts' three-day sale, details here. Great deals for $1, and a few multiples thereof.

Get a Free Mini Facial

Tuesday evening, the Pearl Street Whole Foods store will host a spa night with Pangea Organics, giving free mini facials if you sign up in advance. Here's what they say:

"Tuesday, August 10th
Spa Night with Pangea Organics
4-7pm FREE
Make time for you-time with a mini facial from our friends at Pangea Organics. Sign up for a time slot at our customer service booth!"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekend Dinner Ideas

Unlike last week, I'm more enthused about what kinds of dinners to whip up with this week's natural foods sales. For starters, I just saw an intriguing recipe in the current August issue of Bon Appetit that fits perfectly with what's available this week, grilled salmon with quick blueberry pan sauce. It sounds wacky enough that I have to try it, and with the sauce kept on the side, we'll still have a nice grilled salmon if the sauce isn't a hit. Sprouts has fresh wild coho for $7.99/lb this week and they also have big 18 oz packages of blueberries for $1.88 each. I usually don't eat conventional berries and will check out organic prices elsewhere, but the organics tend to run so high, I might just opt for the conventionals at this special price.

Turning our grilled salmon into quite the dinner, we'll start with an appetizer of some of the stuffed clams or scallops that are just $1 each at Sprouts today through Sunday. The salmon will be accompanied by yams of some variety, either grilled as spears or mashed with a touch of orange juice. To add some green color, we'll have green bean and radish salad, also from Bon Appetit, since green beans have come into season and organic radish bunches are just 88 cents each at Sunflower.

Whew, that was a fairly elaborate dinner, so for a hot Saturday (95 again), we'll just throw something else on the grill, maybe the chicken breasts that are on sale, with grilled pineapple or peaches for dessert. Pineapples are just $1 each at Sprouts' three-day sale, and Palisade peaches are arriving everywhere ($1.50/lb at Lucky's).

Next, since this past week's corn chowder with bacon was such a success, we'll turn to a different spin, sweet corn chowder with hot-smoked salmon this week. For maximum freshness, the corn will come from one of my favorite farmstands, either Cure Organic or Munson's (Munson's has become pretty widely available in stores too, but I'd bet not as fresh as from the stand), and the smoked salmon will be from Sprouts, where wild smoked sockeye 4 oz packages are $3.99 this week. Big salad on the side, plus a nice fresh loaf of bread from the Whole Foods Bakehouse, yum.

That at least gets us through the weekend, more planning yet to come.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grocery Farm to Grocery Veggies

The Boulder Sunflower today has the most beautiful mix of green, yellow (aka wax), and purple beans for $2.99/lb, fresh from Sunflower's own farm in Longmont. Yellow squash from the farm are also available, but I didn't note the price. Featuring of independent local farms at our local grocery stores has been a most welcome trend, but I believe Sunflower is the first store to take it all the way to establishing its own farm, courtesy of Mike Gilliland of Sunflower and Wild Oats fame. (Think I saw a tweet recently that another chain was claiming that title after starting a farm this year, but Sunflower was doing this last year, too.) Hope to see more Sunflower produce to come.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Deals Are Up

Highlights of today's new sale prices at our Boulder natural food stores are up on the left, along with the deals ending today (last day to catch a $100 gift card at Sprouts for $89.99!). Dinner ideas to follow soon, and I'm feeling much more energetic about the possibilities this week.

Dollar Sale At Sprouts

For three days only, this coming Friday through Sunday, the 6th through the 8th, our Boulder Sprouts store (plus a bunch of others in Colorado, including Aurora, Fort Collins, Greeley, and Westminster) will hold a "1 Big Sale" with some pretty good prices. Items I like include golden pineapple for $1 each (limit 4, but who could eat that many), 16 ounce packages of Sprouts frozen veggies for $1 (limit 3), Sprouts sourdough round or loaf for $1 (limit 2), Sprouts large eggs $1 for a dozen (limit 3), and my favorite 5 ounce stuffed clams (also scallops or blue crabs - have to try those) $1 each. More items featured at cheap prices as well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gift Card Deal at Sprouts

As mentioned in the sales highlights on the left, Sprouts this week is selling their $100 gift cards for $89.99, making everything you buy with it 10% off. People were snapping them up while I was there, myself included. This week's sale prices run only through tomorrow, so this might be your two day warning. One time they ran this deal for several weeks in a row, but we won't know about that until their new sales flyer comes out.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will have two items at half off for tomorrow only. Organic Applegate chicken strips will be $3.99 for 8 ounces (still pretty pricey, but that's $4 off). Also, Starfish battered cod will be $2.99 for 10 ounces, $3 off. Not quite as fun as last week's mountain of organic green beans for a steal, but I'll take it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Local Sampling in Superior

The Superior Whole Foods store says it will be offering sampling of items grown and produced locally from 4 to 6 today, and every Monday this month.

More Dinners For This Week

Perhaps it's the August doldrums hitting, but I just don't seem to be enthused about planning and cooking a slew of food this week. I've already made one dinner easy with a big chowder on the weekend that can be a quick midweek reheat, and I have a couple of other quick ideas, so here goes.

First of all, we have lots of organic green beans to deal with, originally from Whole Foods' one-day sale last week, and the few I still had left from that were supplemented yesterday from the $1.99/lb sale at the Pearl Street store. That brings to mind a standby without a link, since it is from my favorite old cookbook, Jane Brody's Good Food Book. She gives it the humble title of ground beef and green beans, and it's simply a quick stir fry of burger, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a whole bunch of green beans, topped with a bit of sauce composed of soy sauce, a bit of broth, cornstarch, and a touch of vinegar. I serve the whole thing over brown rice, and you have everything you need in one dish.

As mentioned above, I have a big pot of corn chowder from the weekend that can be a quick midweek reheat, accompanied by a big salad and my favorite homemade buttermilk dressing.

Then, as if we haven't been lazy enough, one of these midweek nights we might just use a coupon for Modmarket, either the BOGO flatbread pizza deal or the bottle of Barefoot wine and a M'rita pizza for $10 coupon.

That still leaves me short a dinner, even with all that cheating, but maybe my cooking energy with return within the next day or two. If not, some takeout from KT's BBQ has been floating around in the back of my mind all summer, and it just might be time...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Watch It At Checkout

An update to the post just below about organic green beans on sale at the Pearl Street Whole Foods store. The sign may say they're $1.99/lb, but they're ringing up at the standard $2.99/lb (I just checked my receipt), so speak up if you're expecting $1.99/lb. Annoying.

And The Bean Goes On

Wednesday's one-day sale on organic green beans for just 99 cents a pound at all our local Whole Foods stores was pretty spectacular, and it seems the Pearl Street store can't quite let it go. Organic green beans are $1.99/lb there today, not as good as the super sale, but still better than their usual $2.99/lb, which is the price they are back to at the Superior store today. The Pearl Street store has impressive mounds of them in at least three places in the produce department, but nothing approaching the veritable mountain of beans they displayed for Wednesday's sale. I really have to get into the 21st century and get a phone that has a camera so I can show some of this stuff.

Adopt a Kitty From the Humane Society

A relatively rare off-topic post, I can't resist mentioning that today the Boulder Valley Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for kittens and cats. Help a guy or girl feline companion find a loving home, and find companionship yourself as well! Purr.