Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

My dinner plans run from Fridays to Thursdays (a habit dating back to a very old work schedule), and I'm usually rushing to get the Friday plan together, but this week I seem to be a little more organized. This week's a bit of a transition - starting to let go of summer produce a bit, but not yet ready to embrace fall. And with the last of the fresh wild Columbia River salmon just $5.99/lb at Sprouts, it will be a salmon-centric week.

So starting with tomorrow, what could be better than some of that salmon on the grill? I don't like to mess with it much (why ruin a beautiful piece of fish with something like a maple glaze?), so it will get a squeeze of lemon, and maybe a fruit salsa on the side. In a nod to the late summer/early fall produce scene, we'll also have grilled eggplant salad from Cooking Light, using the beautiful eggplant and tomatoes from the Wednesday Farmers Market.

With turkey tenderloins $3.99/lb at Sunflower this week, penne with turkey and wild mushrooms from Bon Appetit sounds appealing for our next dish. This recipe actually comes from a Boulderite, Joan Brett, and it sounds like something that might ease me into a more fall-like mood. It says it can be done in 45 minutes or less, which for me translates into more than an hour, and that spells weekend cooking.

To end the weekend, we haven't yet done a big dish that can serve as a quick midweek reheat, and I've found a good one to get more of that fresh coho from Sprouts into the plan. While most salmon chowders call for smoked salmon, Whole Foods has one that uses a good hunk of fresh fillet, so we'll do their version of salmon chowder. The bacon will come from Whole Foods to be sure it's nitrite-free, but we're fortunate to have Sprouts for the price on the salmon.

So that gets us through the weekend planning, with more to come.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today's Boulder Farmers Market Report

It's a beautiful early fall afternoon at today's Boulder Farmers Market. So much summer produce still to choose from, plus the fall veggies starting to take over. There were some unusual offerings, too, like the red mustard at Cure Organic Farm (it's a leafy mustard green, with an interesting reddish tinge to the leaves) and the gigantic watermelon radishes at Red Wagon Organic Farm (big globes maybe three inches in diameter, yellow on the outside and red within). Full Circle Organic Farm was there with their chile roaster, and you can buy their wonderful certified organic roasted chiles by the one pound bag, by the half bushel, or even by the full bushel. As we head into fall, the crowds were a little thinner (yeay!), but there seemed to be a few less vendors already, too. Notably missing was the stand for Munson Farm. This does not bode at all well for getting any more fresh corn from them for the season. Oh well, such is the cycle of things, and soon I'll start getting enthused about winter squash. Or at least I'll try.

New Deals Are Up

Highlights of new sales starting today at our local Boulder natural food stores are up on the left, along with the deals that end today. With Columbia River coho salmon $5.99/lb this week at Sprouts, I don't think I'll have any menu planning to do - I'd suggest seven nights of salmon!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Another one-day sale will be happening tomorrow only at all our local Whole Foods stores. This time, they'll be offering Key West pink shrimp, 36-40 count, at $8.99/lb, $4 off. That's a higher price than you'll often see at our other natural stores, but these are wild caught in the U.S., unlike those other shrimp. Also, autumn couscous salad sounds pretty good at $4.99/lb, $4 off. Maybe I'm getting resigned to the advent of fall, despite our summer-like weather. 9/29 update - the autumn couscous will remain $4.99/lb for the next two weeks with the new sale that starts today, so no need to rush.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cooking Light Lauds Whole Foods Brands and Rudi's

The new October issue of Cooking Light includes their 2010 Taste Test Awards, results of the magazine's blind taste tasting of grocery and artisanal foods in 32 categories. Whole Foods' own brands did well, picking up six awards. Also to note, in the 100% whole wheat bread category, Whole Foods Organic did well by winning the basic taste test award, but Boulder's own Rudi's Organic Bakery did even better by taking the grand prize in the category. Look here to see the rest of the grocery category winners.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Getting back to our dinner planning, we need something with a rice base, and it has been a while since beef has been in the picture. We'll therefore start the workweek with stir-fried beef, broccoli and yams from Bon Appetit, conveniently made with stew beef that's on sale for $3.99/lb at Sunflower (sometimes they have a stir-fry cut at a matching price, too) and organic broccoli that's 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, or just 49 cents a pound at Lucky's Market.

Over the weekend we of course made something that serves as a second quick midweek reheat, and this time it's the cod chowder with fingerling potatoes, done in our spin as a cod and corn chowder. All you need is a big salad on the side and possibly some fresh bread for those runners in the family.

For another super easy midweek dinner, capitalize on all the boneless, skinless chicken breast sales going on this week by simply sauteing some chicken, possibly coated with a few panko breadcrumbs left over from the weekend's eggplant parmesan. Microwave some "baked" potatoes on the side, and if you're feeling ambitious, whip up another end of summer side veggie by consulting a recipe. Green bean and radish salad from Bon Appetit is a super easy one.

Finally, we need a pasta dish, so I'll take a chance on fresh corn still being available (have to fit it in one last time), and go for zucchini, corn, and basil fusilli with bacon from Gourmet magazine. Using the prepared pesto it calls for makes this a quick dish, and my cupboards are stocked with organic whole wheat pasta from Sunflower's 99 cent sale.

So that completes our planning for the week, celebrating our end of summer produce bounty while we can. Maybe by next week I'll be willing to admit it's actually fall already.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Roasted Chiles All Year Round

Hope you've been enjoying all the roasting of fresh green chiles that's been happening at our local natural food stores and at the Boulder Farmers Market. While it's great to use them fresh from the roaster, these chiles freeze beautifully, so it's a wonderful idea to lay in a stock now that will give you flavorful options all the way until next year's roasting season (considerably better than what you'd get opening a can of chiles in the winter/spring, IMHO). The only caveat when freezing is to lay out the chiles in as single a layer as possible in a plastic freezer bag, then freeze the bag in a flat position. That way, it will be easy to break off exactly the number of chiles you want when cooking later in the year. Believe me, a basketball-sized ball of frozen chiles does you no good, as I found when a friend made such a "gift" a few years ago. I couldn't even chisel them off. If you're looking for more freshly roasted chiles, Sunflower is done for the season, but Whole Foods is still cranking, and you should find the Full Circle Farm folks at today's Farmers Market, where they sell chiles that are not only certified organic, but are also identified by varietal, so I love those guys!

Beautiful Fall Scene at Munson's Farmstand

Dear readers know I'm not enthused about letting go of our wonderful summer produce, but the scene at Munson's stand at 75th and Valmont can make anyone a fall enthusiast. Pumpkins are lined up on hay bales, next to groupings of dried cornstalks. Incredibly beautiful arrays of both edible and decorative veggies are set up on the north side of the side of the stand, with the heirloom pumpkins a sight to behold. The gigantic swan gourds and little winged gourds are also spectacular. Sad to see our corn season winding down, with the yellow corn already done, and the white or peaches and cream availability getting spotty. But the winter squash is available in full force, for those who are ready to go there.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

I know, summer's officially gone, and I should be celebrating the arrival of fall with menus centered on things like acorn and butternut squash. But unlike spring and summer, when we cherish the arrival and sometimes brief seasons of things like pea shoots or sugar snap peas, when the winter squash arrives, we know we'll be looking at it for a long, long time. Since it keeps well in a cool place, stock up now with the good organic winter squash sales currently going on at Lucky's, Sunflower, and Whole Foods, but don't expect to find it in this week's menus, because I'm just not ready to go there.

So to get started with tonight, I'm betting on more fresh, local corn while we can still get it. A big corn chowder would give us something for our midweek quick reheat dinner too, but we've already done at least two formal versions of corn chowder in the past few weeks, so I'm thinking of a different spin this time. Sprouts has cod this week for $5.99/lb, which would make for a great cod chowder with fingerling potatoes from Bon Appetit (easily skipping the saffron if you choose). But wait, that chowder is looking a whole lot like the base for a corn chowder, so let's just toss in some corn kernel scraped off some fresh ears from Munson Farm while we can still get them. Voila, cod and corn chowder. And if corn unexpectedly disappears for the season, you still have dinner.

Next, fresh, wild salmon is another item we need to enjoy in these last few days we can. With all those good sale prices over on the left, pick some up to put on the grill for an early fall bbq. Perfect with just a squeeze of lemon. While the grill is going, consider grilled corn succotash from Cooking Light. I like this recipe with edamame instead of lima beans (edamame currently on sale at Sunflower but should always be in your freezer anyway).

For Sunday, with our cooler temperatures, we can get back into comfort food coming from the oven, but I'm just not ready for it to be winter squash. To enjoy the eggplant that you'll find everywhere right now, I'm trying a recipe for eggplant parmesan that's in this month's issue of Cooking Light. Love the idea of coating the eggplant with panko and baking it first, instead of working with greasy fried slices. This will also incorporate some of my bumper crop of basil.

That at least will get us through the weekend, with more planning to come.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Deals at Lucky's This Week

Much as I love Lucky's Market in north Boulder, I don't usually cover them for a couple of reasons. First, they're just too far away from where I live for me to get there very often, and second, as befits a locally owned store, their website usually isn't updated with the speed of the larger chains, so their new deals aren't visible when I'm looking at the others. But this week, they have some sales that are so appealing, I have to give them a shout out. First, if 99 cents a pound for organic broccoli at Sunflower seems like a good deal (and it is), check out Lucky's for organic broccoli at just 49 cents a pound, practically giving it away. In organic winter squash, they're matching the Whole Foods sale, with acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash at 99 cents a pound, and it's locally grown, too. A slew of other locally grown organic veggies are available at $1.49 a pound or each, as appropriate. They have Rocky Jr. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $4.99/lb (from Petaluma Poultry, which also brings us the organic version currently $6.99/lb at Sprouts). In frozen, they have delicious Ling Ling potstickers for $2.99 a package, an excellent price, and a great item to keep in your freezer for impromptu appetizers. Lots more specials available, and you can see the current flyer here.

Last Call for Current Vitamin Cottage Specials

Here's a heads up that you only have a couple more days to catch the current set of long lasting specials at Vitamin Cottage (aka Natural Grocers), which run through the 25th. Among them are Applegate Farms organic turkey slices $3.99 for a 6 oz package, four kinds of Rudi's organic breads $2.99 a loaf, and the big 100 oz container of Seventh Generation concentrated liquid laundry detergent for $11.99. You can see the entire sales flyer here (look to the top to move page by page).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

This week's good looking grocery deals are highlighted at the left, crowding in with the deals ending today. The really good news is that our fresh, wild salmon wars are continuing, with good deals on king at Sprouts ($11.99/lb) all week and today only at Whole Foods ($10.99/lb), while coho is just $6.99/lb with card at King Soopers. Winter squash is starting to overtake our summer produce (sigh), with organic butternut or kabosha 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, organic acorn, butternut, or spaghetti squash 99 cents a pound at Whole Foods, and if you don't care if your winter squash is organic, you can pick up conventional acorn, butternut, or spaghetti squash for just 49 cents a pound at Sprouts (77 cents a pound at Sunflower). I suppose this transition is appropriate for the first day of fall (happy autumn, everybody), but I'm still not ready to let the summer produce go. Dinner plans to follow shortly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Good Recipe for This Week

I just came across a recipe in the current issue of Cooking Light that's so good for this week, I have to mention it now, even though it's out of turn for our planning for the week. It's seared scallops with farmers' market salad. With sea scallops on sale through tomorrow at Sunflower ($8.99/lb) and the Boulder Farmers Market happening tomorrow afternoon for the seasonal tomatoes, corn, and basil it calls for, how could the timing be better? And with only five ingredients in the dish, even counting the oil, it couldn't be simpler.

Excellent One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Ooooh, ooooh, I'm excited about this one. Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will offer a quartet of fine deals. My very favorite Two Bite brownies will be half off at $2.50 for a big 11 oz tub (Whole Foods, here I come). Also a two pound block (that's a lotta cheese) of Tillamook medium cheddar will sell for $5.99, $3 off. I'm not familiar with it, but their 365 Every Day Value foaming hand soap will be $2 off at $3.99 for 18 oz (I've had very good luck with the 365 products I've tried). Finally, salmon fans take note, wild caught fresh king salmon will be $10.99/lb, which in their parlance is $9 off. That's $1 more than the sale price Sprouts had all week last week for fresh king salmon, but it's still a heck of a good price, and you get to have it wrapped for you by someone wearing waders.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Bittman Cookbook Out Tomorrow

Mark Bittman fans are noting that his new book, The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living will be released tomorrow. This is presumably the cookbook sequel to his book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, in which The Minimalist got religion of a sort regarding sustainable eating, espousing the virtues of veggies and whole grains, while limiting meat consumption. Since Bittman's stamp of approval typically only goes to recipes that are totally delicious and usually easy to prepare, this new cookbook could be a most welcome guiding light towards healthier cooking.

Autumn Squash Cooking Class

Just in time for the official arrival of fall, the Whole Foods store in Superior will be offering a class on how to cook with autumn squash Wednesday evening. Here's what they say:

Wednesday, September 22nd
Cooking Class- Autumn Cooking with Squash
6:30pm-8:30pm $20.00
Squash anyone? Don't let this vegetable's tough skin defeat you! We'll show you winning techniques to coax it from its skin, turn it into a satisfying sauce for whole grain pasta and roast it for an autumn main dish salad! Please sign up at our Customer Service to reserve your space today!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whole Foods is Hoppin'

The Pearl Street Whole Foods is a jumping joint right now until 3, both inside and outside the store, in celebration of Whole Foods' 30th anniversary. Local vendors tables are everywhere inside the store, plus there's a slew of them lined up under canopies outside as well. Evol Burritos is giving away their luscious mini samples, Rudi's is serving up mini PB&J's on their fabulous bread, and a gazillion other local folks are giving away good stuff as well. A band is playing outside, with little kids dancing to the music, and some adorable puppies from the Humane Society are likely to find a good home today too, given the amount of attention they are getting. Altogether, a fun scene, excellent sampling, and some good coupons available, too, including, just for today, 10% off any local product.

More Dinners For This Week

With the weekend half over, it's time to get the rest of the week's dinner plans in order. The asparagus for $1.77/lb at Sunflower is still on my mind, so for our rice-based dish of the week, we'll go for asparagus and leek risotto with prosciutto, an oldie but very goodie from Bon Appetit. Bear in mind that you can get whole pieces of prosciutto at the Pearl Street Whole Foods cheese counter for far less than the thinly sliced stuff costs.

Of course, we made one extra large dish over the weekend for a quick midweek reheat, in this case our spicy turkey chile verde with hominy and squash. A big salad and some whole wheat tortillas on the side complete that dinner in a snap.

Looking for our pasta dish of the week, there are several possibilities coming to mind. The winner might be linguine with bay scallops, fennel, and tomatoes from Bon Appetit, since organic fennel is on sale at Sunflower, where a substitute of sea scallops can be picked up on sale, too. I would bet that this would be delicious with the addition of more of that $1.77/lb asparagus as well.

Finally, to get back to our seasonal celebration of corn and roasted green chiles (and to finish off the package of tortillas that accompanied the turkey chile), we'll turn once again to chicken burritos with chiles and corn, using our roasted chiles from the Farmers Market instead of the fresh poblanos in the recipe. Yet another chance to fit in fresh corn from Munson Farm. We'd better hurry up on that, since Wednesday of this week marks the first day of fall. (!)

And that will take us through to next Friday's planning.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dates for Whole Foods Celebrations

Maybe it's because of today's gloomy weather, but while the Superior Whole Foods calendar is still planning its 30th anniversary celebration today, the ones at the Pearl Street and Alpine stores are on the calendar for tomorrow.

Lots of Options Today

Plenty of fun food-related things to choose from in the Boulder area today. Here's a quick rundown.

Whole Foods celebrates its 30th anniversary today (think technically it's actually on Monday) with events and tastings at its area stores. You can find the details all brought together here. *Update* - Superior's party is still scheduled for today, but Pearl Street and Alpine are now on for tomorrow.

The Boulder Farmers Market will be in full swing today from 8 to 2. Get your farm fresh veggies, flowers, and freshly roasted green chiles from the source.

If you're looking for the latest in kitchen ideas to upgrade your surroundings for all that cooking, the 2010 Flatirons Tour of Homes runs both this weekend and next from 10 to 4 each day. It offers a free look into high end new homes on the market, usually with information about the interior designs and furnishings that you see, and without sales pressure. Homes throughout Boulder County are on the tour, and unlike recent years, there are quite a few within Boulder proper to choose from.

Hey today's also Erie Biscuit Day for the biscuit lover in all of us.

Drag out those fall jackets and get out there!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Time to get going with some ideas for this weekend's dinners. I'm going to continue to enjoy grilled fresh, wild salmon for as long as the season permits, so that's what will be on deck for tonight. I snagged some gorgeous Columbia River king salmon on the last day of Sprouts' $9.99/lb sale Wednesday, but King Soopers is advertising coho for $6.99/lb this week as an alternative. Also, the fish guy at Sprouts said the Columbia River should remain available after the sale, selling at $14.99/lb this week, still an impressive price, especially since I've seen it sell for $25/lb at a store that shall go unnamed. This salmon is so beautiful, it really shouldn't be tinkered with. The farthest I might go, aside from a squeeze of lemon, would be to try something like grilled salmon with lime butter sauce from Gourmet magazine, not really messing with the fish at all. It doesn't sound like end of summer fare, but Sunflower has asparagus this week for $1.77/lb, and we can make it summer fare by putting it on the grill, too. (Preferably crosswise in a basket, so they don't all wind up in the fire.)

Saturday's temperatures will be a little cooler, and with whole frying chickens just 67 cents a pound, it's tempting to pop one in the oven to roast, along with some cut up veggies like the organic yams and baby carrots also on sale at Sunflower ($1.49/lb and $1.50 a bag, respectively). But that feels just too much like winter, and I'm not ready to go there yet. Instead, we'll continue our roasted green chile celebration with a spin on spicy turkey chile verde with hominy and squash, substituting a few of the roasted chiles I've picked up at the Farmers Market and Whole Foods for the fresh poblano called for in the recipe. Note that fall is creeping in here anyway, with our first appearance of butternut squash in a recipe. Whole Foods is running a particularly good deal on organic butternut (also acorn and spaghetti squash) at 99 cents a pound through the 28th. Easy to find cheap conventional hard squash these days, but a good price on organic doesn't happen so often.

Enough of our hint of fall. For Sunday, we'll be back on the grill, probably with the steaks that are all 40% off at Sprouts' "all natural steak round-up" sale. Packages of diced organic yams ($1.49/lb on sale at Sunflower) will also go on the grill. To continue our end of summer celebration, we'll have a side that was spectacularly successful on its first try a few weeks ago, tomato and corn salad with marjoram from Bon Appetit. (In my spin, bits of fresh mozzeralla sub for the feta, and fresh basil subs for the marjoram, making it kind of a caprese with corn.) Still looking for every chance I can get to enjoy fresh corn from Munson Farm.

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boulder: America's Foodiest Town

Yet another accolade for Boulder, Bon Appetit has named us "America's Foodiest Town 2010." Read the article as the author runs, bikes, and eats his way through town.

Whole Foods' 30th Anniversary Celebration

How time flies. Our local Whole Foods stores are gearing up for a big celebration of their 30th anniversary this coming Saturday, the 18th. Here's what you can find. *Update* perhaps because of Saturday's gloomy weather, celebrations at Pearl Street and Alpine are scheduled for the 19th instead. Superior calendar still shows the 18th.

Pearl Street store:

"11-3 FREE
Bring the whole family and help us celebrate! It's our 30th birthday and we're hosting some of our favorite local vendors, a rockin band and local photographer Peggy Dyer. We'll also have cake, balloons and prizes- don't miss this great event!"

Superior store:

"12:00pm-3:00pm Free
Join us as we celebrate our 30th Birthday! Samples galore throughout the store, music, outdoor grilling featuring our Burger's and Brats- $6.00 per plate includes chips and drink, Birthday Cake, Popcorn, Face painting, Dog Wash, Jumpy Castle, and a Special surprise guest!!"

Alpine Ideal store:

"2:00-5:00 Free!
Come join us in celebration of our Whole Foods Market's 30th Birthday!"
(Heck, they just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Ideal store itself, so what's 30 years?)

Baseline store:

Sitting next to CU, their Saturdays are more football-oriented, but still tempting. From their calendar:

"Saturday, August 28th - Saturday, September 25th
Saturday Grill Fest
11:00 AM - 1:30 PM FREE
Come sample the tastiest grilled foods Whole Foods Market offers. We'll be out front grilling yummy treats for you while you shop inside or before you attend a football game.
And while you're tailgating, here are some suggestions for your own grilling excellence:
Hatch Mac-n-Cheese with Grilled Brats
Hatch Burgers
St. Louis Pork Spare Ribs
Diestel Turkey Burgers
CNB Boneless Chuck Steaks
Organic Grass Fed Beef burgers"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Organic Roasted Chiles at Today's Farmers Market

I knew that had to be there somewhere. There was no chile roaster on the premises at the Boulder Farmers Market today, but I could definitely smell that wonderful aroma of roasted chiles. Victory was mine when I tracked the scent to the Full Circle Farm stand (aka Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch. Turns out they were they folks with the roaster in the alley at last Saturday's market, who were selling the chiles at a separate small table dedicated just to the chiles. Unlike Saturday, when you could only get the variety that just came out of the roaster because they were selling so fast, today you can choose from all four that they carry: anaheim (mild), Big Jim (medium), poblano (medium/hot), and mirasol or dynamite (guess how hot a dynamite chile might be). And because they come from Full Circle Farm, all the chiles (and I doublechecked this with them) are certified organic. Their plan is to bring the roaster with them for the larger Saturday markets, and bring chiles they've roasted that day at the farm to the Wednesday markets. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Saving Mucho Dollars

Love those receipts that say you've saved more than you spent. I managed that today at Sunflower, stocking up on some of the spectacular deals they have that are ending today. With sales like 41/50 count shrimp (not a cocktail size, but perfectly good for cooking) at $2.97/lb and Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice $2.40 off at just $1.59 each, it's not that hard to have your savings equal or greater than your expenditure.

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights (IMHO) of the grocery sales starting today are up on the left, crowding in with those ending today. Note that we're winding down the fresh, wild salmon season. If they have it in stock, you still have through today to catch the excellent Columbia River king salmon Sprouts was offering this past week for $9.99/lb. For this coming week, King Soopers plans to have coho at $6.99/lb, and excellent price if they can get it in. I'd eat up while we still can. Overall, the deals aren't quite as exciting as last week's, but there are still some good ones. The knockout of the week is at Sunflower, where Seventh Generation high-efficiency liquid laundry detergent is just $10.99 for the big 100 oz size, the lowest price I've ever seen anywhere.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

If today's Tuesday, it's time for another one-day sale tomorrow at all our local Whole Foods stores. This time it will be a triple play, with two of them related. Fresh Maryland blue crab cakes will be $4 off at $8.99/lb, and to go with them, remoulade sauce will be nearly half price at $3.99/lb. If Clif bars are more your thing, 12 pack sleeves will be $9.99 a package (no mixing, no case discount) for the day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stock Up Time at Sunflower

A reminder that Sunflower has some particularly good deals this week in the "stock up" category, many at half off or even better, and you only have through Wednesday to grab them. Items most appealing to me include:

Muir Glen organic pasta sauce, $2.50 for a 25.5 oz bottle
Muir Glen organic tomatoes, $1.50 for a big 28 oz can
Luigi Vitelli organic whole wheat pasta, 99 cents a 16 oz package
Lundberg organic rice, select varieties $2.50 for a 2 lb bag
Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, $1.59 a 16 oz bottle (refrigerated, but yesterday's stock had November expiration dates, plenty of time for stocking up)

Those prices are absolute steals, definitely worth laying in a stock.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Double Check Those Receipts

As I've mentioned previously, it pays to take a look at your receipt when you've finished your grocery shopping, to make sure everything was assessed correctly. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that something was amiss when my half loaf of multi-seed bread rang up at $940.00 at the Pearl Street Whole Foods today (the cashier said "whoa" before I even saw it). But with the complexities of identifying unmarked exotic produce at the register, having prices in the system that match the prices on the shelves, and even having the signage in the right place, it's really a miracle that things work as accurately as they do. It's always worth checking though, and my experience at all our natural grocery stores has been that the staff is more than gracious in making amends for goofs when they do occur.

More Dinners For This Week

Time to get planning for all the rest of this week's dinners. We need something with a rice base, and with beef stew meat $3.99/lb and organic broccoli only 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, that calls for an antioxidant-rich dish, stir-fried beef, broccoli, and yams from Bon Appetit, using the stew beef as an easy substitute for the flank steak.

As usual, we've made a big chowder over the weekend that forms a quick midweek reheat dinner, this time the potato leek chowder from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, with a big salad and fresh bread on the side.

The organic leeks on sale at Sunflower for just 99 cents a pound prompted our making the chowder, and they deserve another go-around, this time in our pasta dish of the week, which will be linguine with spicy leek and tomato sauce from Bon Appetit. Since we've already gone vegetarian with our chowder dinners, I'm thinking of experimenting by adding some of the shrimp that are on sale at Sunflower for just $2.97/lb at Sunflower. They're a pretty small size, but that would be fine in a dish like this. People in Italy might call me a heretic for combining shrimp and cheese, but I think it's delicious.

Finally, we need one more quick mid-week dinner that doesn't even call for looking at a recipe, so that will be sauteed pork chops ($3.99/lb at both Sprouts and Sunflower) finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, with microwaved "baked" potatoes and something like chard or spinach on the side. Doesn't get much easier than that.

And that will do it for our dinner planning for the week.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chile Roasting at Today's Boulder Farmers Market!

Yahoo, the guys with the chile roaster are cranking away at today's Farmers Market. While we've had roasted chiles available at Whole Foods and Sunflower for a couple of weeks, what I love about these chiles is that they are identified by varietal, not just a generic mild, medium, or hot, as you'll find at the grocery stores. Their sign today is set up for poblanos, dynamites (yikes), big Jims, and anaheims, but they're selling so fast, you'll only find the type that just emerged from the roaster at any given moment. (By the way, the sign also identifies how hot/mild the varietal is.) Pricewise, you'll do better buying at a grocery store, but I enjoy knowing what type of chile I'm eating, besides its heat. Being so excited about seeing the roasters, I neglected to ask about their future plans, but in past years, once they turn up, they're there for a few Saturdays in a row. Roasted chiles freeze beautifully to last through the year, but that deserves a post of itself, soon to follow.

As far as other things happening at the market, this is probably the very best time of year to catch the maximum variety of offerings. While we still have plenty of greens and the later summer produce like corn and tomatoes, fall is starting to make an appearance. I saw Brussels sprouts and cabbage at several places, and First Fruits Organic Farms from Paonia was there with their apple cider. A yellow leaf fell on me as I passed the cider, surely a sign of the times. I'd give the most notable offering award this week to Red Wagon Organic Farm, where they have wild cherry tomatoes. They look like concentrated bursts of flavor, but at $5.50 a pint, pretty pricey. Isabelle Farm has cherry tomatoes for $3 a pint, but the deal of the day is at Black Cat, which practices organic techniques but is not yet certified. All the tomatoes there, including the cherry tomatoes, are $3 a pound, way more than you get in a pint.

The market is open until 2 today, so you still have time to head there to join the fun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sockeye Salmon Season Ceasing

Say that five times fast. All good things come to an end, and it looks like we're close to it for this year's fresh wild sockeye salmon season. I've seen signs in two Whole Food stores recently (one today) saying that this is the end of the sockeye season. Guess I was very lucky last week to have gotten fresh sockeye at King Soopers for just $6.99/lb as a substitute for the coho that was advertised. As you can see from the salmon specials listed to the left, we still have good options in coho/sockeye/king this week (so long as they don't sell out), so enjoy while you can. I'm also looking forward to trying Norwegian farmed salmon, which I hear is wonderful, but the wild variety options keep pulling me away during the season.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Yahoo, we'll have a relatively cool day today, with temps only getting to the upper 70s (but hope, hope, hope for less wind), so we have to return to the oven after being so deprived of pizza across the summer. Just roll out the wonderful fresh dough from Whole Foods (I believe Sunflower carries their own too, don't know about Sprouts) on a cookie sheet and top with whatever suits your fancy. With the sausage sales happening this week at both Sprouts and Sunflower, we'll probably return to our favorite pizza alla salsiccia, or sausage pizza, from Cooking Light. It's also an opportunity to use some nice fresh fennel and local tomatoes. With smoked gouda on sale at Sprouts for $6.99/lb, another possibility that suggests itself is another favorite, barbeque chicken pizza from Bon Appetit.

Getting back to our end of summer celebration as the temperatures rise a bit again, we'll of course have to fit in another grilling of salmon, with the good prices at several stores that you see at the left. Last weekend we grilled eggplant for a side salad, so this week we'll turn to something like grilled corn succotash, which fits in all kinds of veggies at the height of their season. Some edamame from the freezer are also a really good substitute for the small amount of lima beans called for.

To round out the weekend, the fabulous sale on organic leeks for 99 cents a pound at Sunflower is calling, so one thing that spells is a potato leek chowder. My favorite is from the classic cookbook Jane Brody's Good Food, so it doesn't have a link, but this simple recipe looks very similar. I might be inclined to add some fresh corn kernels, too.

That will get us through the weekend, with more thinking ahead.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Food Trucks Helping Fire Victims

StrEAT Chefs and Comida will be teaming up with several other local businesses this evening to collect donations and donate a portion of sales in support of evacuees, pets, and firefighters. They'll be at the Common Threads parking lot (2707 Spruce Street) from 4 to 8 this evening, where you can drop off donations, buy great food from the trucks, and shop at several participating stores. See this from Facebook or the large ad appearing in (and generously donated by) today's Daily Camera for details.

Also, today's Daily Camera has a good summary of ways to help, in addition to how to get help (scroll down to get to the ways to help). Note that dropping off donations at fire stations is not a good idea. Those folks are a little too busy to be dealing with that right now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Rainy Farmers Market - Hallelujah!

Not great for vendor sales, but everybody was still smiling in the rain at today's Boulder Farmers Market, so glad for its potential help with the Fourmile fire. The beer and wine garden was a popular spot while I was there, as its many canopies form a pretty good rain shelter. No green chile roasting happening today, but the folks at the information booth say that the roaster will be there for this coming Saturday's market.

Food-Related Fire Relief Efforts

All four Boulder area Whole Foods stores are taking donations at their registers for the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund to help those affected by the devastating Fourmile Canyon fire. Also, StEATchefs reports they are donating food to victims displaced by the fire. I bet other stores and restaurants are stepping up as well. Reports on any activities most welcome.

Midafternoon update - Evol Burritos will be sending hot burritos tomorrow to firefighters and victims. Contact them if you are in need or know of someone who is.

Today's Pearl Whole Foods Report

If you're thinking of adding a furry friend to your home, the Boulder Valley Humane Society pet adoption van is at the Pearl Street Whole Foods today. Resisting the temptation to go in as I passed by, I saw a happy looking couple checking out an even happier looking dog outside the van. Hope they've found their match. Inside the store, I was ecstatic to see that the organic fresh fig sale of $2.99/lb has been extended a week, and now runs until 9/14. Organic green (also purple and sometimes yellow) beans have bumped up a bit to $2.49/lb from the fantastic $1.99/lb they were last week, but that's still half as much as you'll likely find locally from an organic farm. The beans do say they're from Colorado but unfortunately don't identify a farm. I love supporting our local farm culture, but price has to figure in there as well.

Happy Rosh Hashanah

For festive ideas for celebrating Rosh Hashanah beginning tonight, you can turn to the nice guide put together by the folks at Menus, recipes, ingredient how-tos, entertaining advice, and kosher wine recommendations all pulled together in one spot, followed by a Yom Kippur guide.

New Sale Prices Are Up

The best (IMHO) new deals at Boulder's natural grocery stores are up on the left, along with the deals that expire today. This is a week to get excited about, with several opportunities for stocking up. Sunflower is particularly notable for organic pasta options, including Luigi Vitelli whole wheat pasta at 99 cents, Muir Glen pasta sauce $2.50, and big cans of Muir Glen tomatoes $1.50. At Sprouts, I want to check out their 25% off individual frozen fish sale. I'd rather have my fish fresh, but I've had good luck with the "flash frozen" fish I've gotten at Sprouts so far. As we head toward winter, there won't really be a choice anyway, so I'll take a look at their prices on fish like sockeye salmon, halibut, tuna, cod, and swordfish. Might be time to lay in a stock in the freezer for winter. Sprouts also has good prices this week on grass-fed organic ribeye or New York steaks and fresh, wild Columbia River king salmon (check out other good salmon prices at the left, too). A pretty good week for deals.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow only at all our local Whole Foods stores, Bell & Evans chicken nuggets will be $3.99 for 12 oz, nearly half off. Also, Three Sisters Cereal will be better than half off at 3 for $5. Shop till you drop.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

It seems exceedingly stupid to be chirping about dinner plans while firefighters are battling the Fourmile Canyon blaze, the smoke from which we can see nearly everywhere in Boulder. At least it sounds like the current winds are expected to die down this afternoon, which is wonderful in terms of the firefighting and also good news regarding tonight's many planned barbeques. A little reminder to always play safe with those fires in the grill.

Since we've already planned through tonight's chicken sausage grill, there really isn't a whole lot more to figure out for the week. We always need a pasta dish, and to continue our celebration of local corn and veggies, we'll go back to a beautiful one for this time of year, pasta with corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, from the New York Times. As I've mentioned before, you can spin this one any way you like, using the fresh herbs that suit your fancy, or taking a Southwestern turn by using chile powder and cilantro. Or maybe roasted green chiles that are popping out all over the place - hadn't thought about that one before.

Of course we have a reprise dinner from the weekend too, an easy reheat of something that took more effort. I'd mentioned a couple of options for chilis and chowders previously, but actually wound up making a vegetarian chile corn chowder I found from an old recipe from Alfalfa's Market, long subsumed through takeovers via Wild Oats and eventually Whole Foods, but now happily slated to make a comeback as an independent store.

Finally, we're still looking for more excuses to use those fresh roasted chiles, and we have tortillas left from the stack that was bought to be a side to the two nights of chile corn chowder, so that spells chicken burritos with chiles and corn, where the roasted chiles are even better than the poblano preparation called for.

So that does it for the week. Let's think good thoughts about the winds dying down and helping out our firefighters.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Good Stuff at Cure Organic and Munson Stands

Two very different scenes this afternoon at my favorite farmstands at 75th and Valmont. People are whizzing in and out of the parking lot at Munson Farm, many seeking their fabulous corn that's nearly sold out for the day. The peaches and cream is gone, and there were four ears left of the yellow, so white corn is the remaining choice of the afternoon (but their white corn is absolutely delicious, too). They have onions the size of cantaloupes, fresh chiles, tomatoes, peaches, and lots more, some from their own farm, some from elsewhere. While they're not an organic farm, they do seem to support pesticide-free produce.

Meanwhile, the little self-serve stand tucked away across the street at Cure Organic Farm was quiet and brimming with organic options, plus beautiful flowers. Particularly notable were the pints of yellow cherry tomatoes (of the type I think are called pear), tomatillos, leek-like onions, chard, arugula in the fridge, and just a ton of other veggies out on the table. Of special interest, they're selling their regular red tomatoes for $3 a pound, same price as the ones across the street that don't seem to be organic or from the Munson farm. Cure also has heirloom tomatoes for $5 a pound. So much to choose from at this wonderful time of the year.

Roasted Chile Prices on the Rise

Glad I started stocking up on roasted Hatch green chiles a few days ago, when they were $1.99/lb at the Pearl Street Whole Foods store. The price at Whole Foods (both Pearl Street and Superior) has now jumped 50% to $2.99/lb, and you'd better want the hot variety, as that's all either store was offering at noon today. Last I checked (several days ago) at the Boulder Sunflower, their Hatch chiles roasted onsite were $1.99/lb, so I'll provide an update on that price the next time I'm there. Roasted chiles freeze beautifully, so now's the time to lay in a stock to take you all the way to next year's season. More on that in a bit.

StrEATchefs at Boulder Creek Fair

If you get the munchies while wandering through the Boulder Creek Fair happening across this long Labor Day weekend, my favorite food truck, StrEATchefs has tweeted that they will be on the scene both today and tomorrow to keep you satisfied until you get back home to your own kitchen and grill. ("All day and into the evening," per their tweet.) The brainchild of Hosea Rosenberg, obviously our local celebrity as Top Chef Season 5 winner, the StrEATchefs Airstream trailer serves up tasty and decadent meals, with some lighter options like salads as well. Definitely not in the latter category, the grilled cheese sandwich with pork belly and apple jam that I got from the truck a few weeks ago lives in my memory as one of the greatest sandwiches of all time.

Now I need to get back to planning the rest of our dinners for the week, but our plans are in place through the holiday tomorrow. Will still stick with grilling the sausages tomorrow as planned, despite the fact that the temperature will barely make it to the 70s, yikes. I'm not ready to start cooking with winter squash. Let's keep that local corn, zucchini, and eggplant coming.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Best Pizza in Colorado?

Permit me a quick diversion from our usual home cooking theme. John Lehndorff does great food writing for Yellowscene magazine and elsewhere, following his years of writing for the Daily Camera and the Rocky Mountain News. In an article in the current Yellowscene issue, he takes note of the booming local artisanal pizza scene, and also mentions that he'll be naming The Best Pizza Joint in Colorado for USA Today. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts about your fave local pizza, email him at

Friday, September 3, 2010

Burger Comparison for the Weekend

If you're considering grilling burgers for your Labor Day weekend cookout, here are some of the available prices:

Sprouts: extra lean ground beef, $1.99/lb (value pack).

Sunflower: extra lean ground beef, $1.88/lb (family pack).

Whole Foods: organic grass fed beef patties $3.99/lb today only, then on sale for $4.99/lb after that. Diestel turkey burgers $3.99/lb.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Cornucopia of Labor Day Ideas

If you're looking for more ideas on what to cook across this Labor Day weekend celebration, Bon Appetit has the site for you. They've put together a great Labor Day food guide with just about everything you might want to know about grilling recipes, summer sides, ideas for seasonal produce like corn and tomatoes, plus a whole bunch more.

Organic Figs, a Whale of a Sale

Never mind the sale Sunflower has this week on organic fresh figs at $2.99 for an 8 oz package. The Pearl Street Whole Foods store has fresh organic figs for $2.99 a pound! (Through 9/7.) Since the sale isn't in the regional flyer, there's no guarantee you'll find the same price at other local Whole Foods stores, but it often happens. Wrap them in pancetta from the Whole Foods meat/cheese deli counter and put them on the grill. Heaven.

Dinner Ideas Across the Labor Day Weekend

This weekend marks our last big hurrah for grilling and celebrating our wonderful summer produce, although we'll continue to enjoy plenty of bbqs, corn, tomatoes, and the like for the next few weeks. To start off that celebration, I picked up some steaks at Sunflower's 40% off steak sale that ended Wednesday, since that seemed the better deal than the new sales that came out on Wednesday. They'll hit the grill, along with foil packages of diced potatoes seasoned with some chopped scallions and a few herbs. For another foil package idea, we'll try grilled mushrooms in packets that was published this week in the New York Times. And of course, for another side, there have to be ears of corn from Munson Farm.

Of course, there has to be fresh, wild salmon on the grill this weekend, too, with the prices you see for it just to the left. (N.B. King Soopers has coho advertised at $6.99/lb this week, but when I stopped by there, it was fresh sockeye they were selling at that price. The fish counter person reasonably explained that they couldn't control what was caught, so they were honoring that price for what came in their deliveries.) We might start with some grilled pancetta-wrapped figs, since organic figs are on sale at Sunflower, and Whole Foods has wonderful pancetta. For a side, we'll try something to highlight the season from Bon Appetit, tomato and corn salad with marjoram, plus some grilled peaches for a sweet finish.

To get off the grill for one day, create something big and yummy enough to reheat during the week, and also highlight our seasonal and/or sale ingredients, I'm conflicted, because two tempting possibilities come to mind. I'm so enthused about the arrival of roasted Hatch green chiles, now available at both Whole Foods and Sunflower, I'm leaning towards New Mexican chile verde from Cooking Light. But with hot smoked salmon at an excellent price at Sunflower this week, I'm also thinking about another round of sweet corn chowder with hot smoked salmon, also from Cooking Light, with corn of course coming from Munson's farmstand.

Finally, to complete the long weekend and get back on the grill, we'll do a spin on a classic, grilling chicken sausages on sale at Sprouts in lieu of bratwurst or hot dogs. We'll stuff the sausages into some crusty baguette sections, and am considering grilled eggplant salad from Cooking Light as the side.

A few details to still fill in, but that basically completes it for a long Labor Day weekend celebration. Hope yours is fun-filled and relaxing!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Last Call Headzup on Steaks

If you're planning on grilling across most of the Labor Day weekend, but not really impressed with enough specials in the new sales that came out today, don't forget that today is the last day of Sunflower's "ultimate 40% off steak sale," with ten varieties of Harris Ranch steak all 40% off.

New Deals Are Up

Highlights (IMHO) of this week's sale prices at Boulder's natural grocery stores are posted on the left, crowding in with the deals that are ending today. Had to look up the salmon prices for King Soopers and Safeway online, as my dear Daily Camera failed to include those inserts, so I hope they're accurate. I'm pleased to see that Sunflower notes they have Hatch green chiles roasted on site (we've already seen them at the Whole Foods stores on Pearl Street and in Superior). If you're looking for a easy way to get around a Labor Day weekend barbeque, Sprouts will be grilling baby back ribs over mesquite at the store on Friday and Saturday, offering full racks for $9.99 each from 11 to 6, while they last. Other dinner ideas for the week to follow shortly.