Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

It might be Halloween, but the dinner planning never ends, so we'd better get going. By tomorrow, it will be time for a pasta dish, and with basil chicken sausage on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower, I'm thinking just a simple pasta with sausage, peppers, and onion, held together with pasta sauce conveniently coming from a jar (heavens!). If you want to be a little more elaborate, the sauce we made a couple of weeks ago for the mushroom and sausage ragu with polenta would also be delicious over pasta.

Then again we have our reprise of a big dinner made over the weekend, in this case the fabulous black bean chile with butternut squash and Swiss chard, with a salad on the side and a nice hunk of fresh bread from the Whole Foods Bakehouse.

Next, we need something with rice as a base, and with organic bok choy just $1 a pound at Sunflower this week, that spells stir fry. Stir fries are about the most accommodating meals in the world, made with whatever suits your fancy. If looking for a recipe, bok choy with beef from Gourmet looks good, and beef stew meat is $3.99 a pound at Sunflower this week. It would also work subtituting the pork stew meat that's just $2.99 a pound there.

Finally for Thursday (and the sale ingredients need to be bought by Wednesday, the last day of the current sale), I've had good luck once before trying the stuffed chicken breasts that are $3.99 a pound at Sprouts right now. They'll be accompanied by microwaved "baked" potatoes, and I saw large artichokes for just $1 each at Sunflower yesterday. (Looks like there's a bumper crop of beautiful artichokes coming out of California right now.) That would create a rather elegant meal at minimal midweek effort.

And that will do us until next Friday's planning. Don't forget to eat some fruits and veggies along with all that Halloween candy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boulder Farmers Market Today

Here's another reason for visiting the Boulder Farmers' Market today, in addition to the popcorn mentioned below and all the wonderful produce available. They're planning a Kids Costume Parade for 9 this morning, plus a free small pumpkin to kids in costume (and more). Should be a good time.

Boulder Popcorn Lauded

In the October issue of Bon Appetit, the "BA Foodist," Andrew Knowlton, gives a shoutout to Boulder's own Boulder Popcorn, declaring "my favorite brand right now is Boulder Popcorn ( The company sells three small-kernel varieties, which means that the hulls are smaller and less stuff will get stuck between your teeth." This is the same issue that declared Boulder "America's Foodiest Town 2010." You should be able to find Boulder Popcorn at today's Boulder Farmers' Market, so get out there (it opens in twenty minutes, runs until 2).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Since it's Friday already (yeah!), it's time to get started on the dinner plans. I hate to be so predictable, but Sprouts' flash frozen salmon has been excellent in my experience, and since it's $8.99/lb this week, it's on deck for tonight. And with temperatures pushing towards 80 this afternoon, it's going on the grill one last time for the season, albeit in the dark. With avocados just 49 cents each at Sprouts, and organic apples on sale everywhere, invent your own salsa, tossing in some chopped roma tomato, parsley or cilantro, lemon or lime juice, whatever you feel like. I'll be roasting an assortment of winter veggies on the side, chunks of acorn and/or butternut squash (49 cents/lb for conventionals at Sunflower, 69 cents/lb at Sprouts), along with some parsnips, organic baby carrots ($1.25 a 1 lb bag at Sprouts, $1.50 at Sunflower), and organic onion wedges ($1/lb at Sunflower).

For tomorrow, to capitalize on the chicken breasts on sale at Sprouts for $1.97/lb, we're planning to try a recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetit, quick coq au vin. Wow the reviewers have given this recipe four forks out of four, which is a real rarity. Although it has "quick" in its name, appears in the Fast, Easy, Fresh section of the magazine, and purportedly takes 45 minutes to make, this looks complicated enough to be a weekend dinner only, at least in this household. To me, a 45 minute estimate translates to well over an hour in reality.

Then what for Halloween? I'm thinking a seasonal favorite, black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard, will be perfect. This recipe proves beyond a doubt how delicious a vegetarian dinner that's full of veggies can be. Since the butternut gets peeled, I'll probably opt for the conventional squash that's only 49 cents a pound at Sunflower this week, and a big salad will go on the side (organic red or green leaf lettuce $1 a head at both Sunflower and Whole Foods).

And that at least will get us through the weekend, and through Halloween!

One-Day Sale on Honeycrisp Apples

In an usual Friday one-day sale, our local Whole Foods stores have organic honeycrisp apples half price at $1.49 a pound today. This Bon Appetit article recommends honeycrisps as the best starting point for getting out of the mundane variety rut. But the more common varieties have their virtues, too, and are available at good prices this week. At Sprouts, you'll find organic red delicious apples for 88 cents a pound, while Sunflower has organic red or golden delicious or organic Granny Smith apples, all at $1 a pound.

The Rib House Offer - $20 for $10

I've mentioned The Daily Deals that started recently, where various Boulder businesses offer their wares for at least 50% off for a limited amount of time. For those wanting to get out of the kitchen, today's deal is a particularly good one: $10 payment for $20 of bbq at The Rib House at either their Boulder or Longmont locations. You have until 11:59 pm this Sunday, the 31st, to purchase the deal, which you can then use between November 1st and December 31st. Check the details on the minimal restrictions, like one per table, not applicable to alcohol. You can also purchase an additional deal as a gift, and with your purchase you'll receive a code to refer your friends if you like. If three of your friends purchase the deal through the code, your deal is free, how sweet. They're selling quickly this morning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's National Chocolate Day!

If you needed a reason to celebrate, go for it. I'm not kidding, today is national chocolate day.

Two-Day Warning for Vitamin Cottage

Just a headsup that Vitamin Cottage's current set of long-lasting deals will be ending Saturday, the 30th. You can see highlights of the sale and link to the full flyer here.

Free Herbs and Spices From Penzeys

Today's Daily Camera has a coupon good at all Penzeys Spices Colorado stores for a free Mini Gift Box with a $5 purchase. The Mini Gift boxes contain four 1/4 cup jars and normally cost $11.95 (appearing in the picture are freshly ground pepper, cinnamon, granulated garlic powder, and Mural of Flavor). The coupon is good through 11/30, good deal.

New Deals Are Up

Sorry about the delay, but I've finally got the highlights up on the left for the natural grocery sales that started yesterday. The best news to me is that, while we've left the fresh wild salmon season behind, Sprouts is already offering their "flash frozen at sea" sockeye for $8.99/lb. While there, I'll also be picking up 1 lb bags of organic baby carrots for just $1.25 each, Hass avocados at 49 cents each, a boneless skinless chicken breasts value pack for $1.97/lb, and some things from their bulk department (especially their Fair Trade coffee), where everything is 25% off. Meanwhile, I'll debate whether organic is worth it on hard shell squash that gets peeled anyway, since conventional acorn, spaghetti, or butternut squash can be had for just 49 cents a pound at Sunflower (69 cents a pound at Sprouts). For red or green leaf lettuce, where organic really, really counts, both Sunflower and Whole Foods are looking great at $1 a head.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Peek at the New Deals

As I said below, today's a little crazy for completely looking over the new deals (check the links below for direct access to the ads), but there are a few that jump out. At Sprouts, Hass avocados are 49 cents each, so rejoice, avocado fans! Also, you'll find boneless, skinless chicken breasts there in the value pack for $1.97/lb, and they're doing a big sale on their bulk items of 25% off through 11/3. Meanwhile, my favorite 1 pound bags of organic baby carrots at Sunflower are $1.50 each. More to follow.

Deal Highlights Hopefully Tomorrow

My apologies for not being able to get the highlights of today's new natural grocery sales up as usual this morning, but things are a little busy around here right now. I hope to have them up tomorrow, but in the meantime, if you'd like to look, here's where you can find the new sales flyers for our local stores.

Lucky's Market (click on Weekly Sales and give them a break if the new one isn't posted immediately - they're a local, independent store, not a big chain with a big web staff)

Sprouts (click on the Weekly Ads basket at lower left, then enter your zip code)

Sunflower (click on the Boulder store)

Whole Foods (this will take you to the Pearl Street listing, which should be the same for all the local stores)

Halloween Fun in Superior

On Saturday, the Whole Foods store in Superior will host a "Whole-O-Ween" party from noon to three, with pumpkin decorating, samples (the "treats"), and a costume contest. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, October 30th
Whole-O-Ween Party at Whole Foods Market Superior
12:00pm-3:00pm Free
Join us from 12:00pm- 2:030pm in our Café for Pumpkin Decorating and Trick or treating throughout the store. Stop at each department and get a treat! 2:30pm-3:00pm we will parade through the store and prizes will be awarded for the Most Creative, Funniest and Scariest Costume!"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween, Foodie-Style

Looking for ways to jazz up your Halloween celebration? Bon Appetit has a nice Halloween guide, complete with seasonal chile recipes, all sorts of things to do with pumpkin and cider, and even guidance on costumes for foodies.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will be directing us to their meat and seafood departments for their one-day sale. Alaskan Dungeness crab clusters will be $9.99/lb, $3 off, and London broil will be $2.99/lb, better than half off at $4 off.

Big Gluten-Free Sale Ends Tomorrow

Just a heads up that you only have through tomorrow to take advantage of 25% off all the tons of tagged gluten-free items at our local Sprouts. I swear that when the wheat comes out, the flavor gets to shine more, so this sale is for everybody, gluten-intolerant or not. Stock up!

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Bite Boulder's Coming Up

Make plans to get out of the kitchen! First Bite Boulder, when you can get a three course prix fixe dinner for $26 at more than 40 of Boulder's fabulous restaurants, will be happening from November 12th through the 20th. Because of the popularity of the event, reservations tend to be essential, and should be done early. Check out the menus being offered via the First Bite Boulder website, make a reservation, and enjoy a night out. Most restaurants offer the traditional three courses in which the third is dessert, but I favor the few that go for three savory courses. Enjoy this dining deal!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

The weekend's almost over, so it's time to get the rest of the dinner plans in gear. We need a pasta dish, and I'm thinking of an easy improvisation for Monday, involving chopped chicken breasts (both organic and non-organic on sale this week at Sunflower) sauteed with a mix of diced onion, some garlic, tomatoes, asparagus (99 cents/lb at Sunflower), a few organic broccoli flowerettes (99 cents/lb by the bunch at Sunflower), and some diced olives. Whatever else you're inclined to add to the pan before the cooked pasta goes in would probably be fine too.

Then of course we have an easy midweek reprise dinner, this week being the fennel-potato soup with smoked salmon from Bon Appetit, just needing a salad and fresh bread on the side to complete it.

For a rice-based dish this week, there's a stir-fry that this week's sale is demanding be made: chicken, asparagus, and broccoli stir-fry, also from Bon Appetit (and submitted by a Colorado reader, no less). Its headline ingredients are all on sale at Sunflower this week at very good prices.

Finally, for an easy, no-recipe-needed midweek quickie, pork chops will be on deck, with some microwaved "baked" russet potatoes, and a quick veggie side of either asparagus, organic broccoli, or organic kale or spinach, absolutely all of which are on sale at Sunflower this week. (I don't favor any particular store, but Sunflower does seem to be winning this week.)

And that will do it until next week's planning.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Egg-Free Pasta Discovery

Cholesterol-watchers know that pasta can sometimes be a challenge. The everyday types of pasta, like penne, linguine, or fettucine are usually fine, but when you want a nice, wide noodle, that takes you into the category of the egg noodle, which packs a wallop of a cholesterol punch. But when you make something like a classic goulash, what else are you going to serve it on? Sobas? I don't think so. I was therefore delighted to discover that the pastas offered by Pappardelle's at the Boulder Farmers' Market are mostly egg-free, with a few made with egg whites, the safe part of the egg. This includes their namesake pasta, pappardelle, which usually carries sky high cholesterol numbers. At $8 a pound, their pasta doesn't come cheap, but their zero cholesterol numbers are a real rarity. You have a couple more weeks to catch them at the Farmers' Market, or you can buy online or at their Denver store.

Head to Today's Farmers' Market

It might be a bit chilly and breezy, maybe even a spritz of rain, but that should make it a perfect day to take advantage of one of the few remaining Boulder Farmers' Markets, which we'll only have on Saturdays for a few more weeks. (It happily has been extended by a week, and there will be a special one just before Thanksgiving - more on that later.) Enjoy the fall weather, the smaller crowds, and the fine fall produce until 2 today.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Time to get a start on what to eat for the weekend. I'm thinking about the freshly ground meat sale happening at Sprouts (40% off pretty much everything except organic beef), and am thinking it's time for turkey burgers. To go with a recipe, I'd favor spicy turkey burgers from Bon Appetit. Another option would be to use some roasted chile peppers from your freezer (or Full Circle Farms should have them again at tomorrow's Boulder Farmers' Market), mixing the diced chiles into the ground turkey to approximate the delicious chile turkey burgers the Pearl Street Whole Foods was selling a few weeks ago when chiles first appeared. The ground chicken also available at Sprouts would be an option too, instead of turkey if you prefer.

We'll need a big pot of something made over the weekend to help us with a quick midweek dinner, and with organic russet potatoes on sale at Sunflower for $2.50 for a 5 pound bag, fennel-potato soup with smoked salmon sounds appealing for this time of year. The recipe is written as a first course, but I just up the salmon considerably to make it a substantial main course. Whole Foods happens to have Duck Trap smoked salmon on sale this week too.

I must be in a fall comfort foods mode, because to round out the weekend, I'm thinking meatloaf. It's prompted by two sales: the 40% off ground meat at Sprouts (and everybody already has their own favorite meatloaf recipe) or the lazy way, with prepared meatloaf on sale at Sunflower for $2.99 a pound. I've never tried their meatloaf, but if their prepared turkey meatballs are any indication, it should be good. Bake some russet potatoes from the 5 pound bag from Sunflower on the side.

On to the weekday planning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Events at Sunflower

Our Boulder Sunflower has a string of events on its calendar, with a "featured product sampling" from 4:30 to 6:30 today, a product sampling for cheese lovers from noon to 2 tomorrow, and an "everything pumpkin!" event Saturday, featuring pumpkin food samples and recipes from 11 to 1.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Deals Are Up

New sale prices for our Boulder natural foods stores are up on the left, crowding in with the deals ending today. Not as exciting a sale week as last week, but there are still some specials of interest. The asparagus sale mantle passes from Sprouts through today to Sunflower for next week (with the price upping from 77 cents to 99 cents a pound). Of particularly note, don't forget that Sprouts' two-week Gluten-Free Jubilee is in its final week, with 25% off the tons of tagged gluten-free products throughout the store. Even for those of us without gluten issues, this is a really good deal - subtracting the wheat often means boosting the flavor (try Crunchmaster crackers or Pamela's gluten-free cookies to be blown away) and you can even stock up on basics like Lundberg rice.

Sunflower Now Open in Lafayette

The new Sunflower is having its grand opening today in Lafayette (and a new store in Thornton, too), and it's a festive scene. The store is located on South Boulder Road, just east of 287. I got there early, but not early enough for one of the 200 special grocery bags (rumor had it only those who were in line by 6:30 managed to snag those). I did still get yet another regular free reusable bag with my purchase to add to my collection. The store is crowded, but they've smartly brought in some seasoned employees from other stores to help keep the service running smoothly through the crush of people. There are some grand opening specials exclusive to the store, like 17 oz bottles of Sunflower's own extra virgin olive oil for $4.99, and I overheard several happy shoppers commenting on how great it will be to not have to drive so far for their natural foods shopping. A welcome addition to Boulder County's natural foods empire. Meanwhile, that excursion delayed my usual highlighting of the new deals starting in our stores today, but I hope to have that info posted a little later. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Praise of Imagine Broth

I'm so, so pleased that Whole Foods has Imagine's wonderful organic broths on sale for $2.50 each for one quart boxes through November 2nd. That's an exceptional price on its own, but you can even improve it further with the $1 off purchase of two boxes coupon that you can find either online or in the hard copy Whole Deal newsletter in the store. With soup and stew season upon us, and the holidays coming up, this is the time to lay in a good supply of broth, be it chicken, beef, veggie, whatever. Imagine's is particularly good (not just my saying so - Cook's Illustrated found their chicken broth superior in a taste test a few years back), and I'm especially fond of their organic, low sodium free range chicken broth. The broths also have no MSG, something you might be surprised to find masquerading under one of its many names in other broths on the shelves of our natural food stores. If you don't get a chance to take advantage of this great sale, Whole Foods' own 365 organic broths are a good deal at $1.99 everyday (and the chicken also comes in a low sodium version), but I'd grab the Imagine while it's comparably priced with the coupon.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will be offering a quartet of sale items at pretty darned good prices. Three of them would go together for a tailgate party: Continental brats half off at $2.99 for 12 oz, a six pack of bratwurst buns to go with them for $2 (regularly $2.99), and traditional potato salad half off at $2.99 a pound. Also on sale will be Evol premium burritos at $2 each, which is $1.69 off a 7 oz burrito. I haven't yet tried these new premium ones, but based on how incredibly delicious their regular ones are, I'm betting they're fantastic. In addition to being convenient, they're also local, made from great ingredients, and by a company with strong sustainability values. If you miss tomorrow's one-day sale price, you can still catch them at a pretty good price, as Whole Foods has Evols for $2.50 each in their regular sale, lasting through November 2nd.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Free Shipping But Shop Local Anyway

If you're looking to expand on some of your kitchen wares before the holiday season is upon us, you might be interested in knowing that Chef's Catalog is offering free standard shipping on any size order (excludes some obvious things like their wine club) if you enter promo code BW1EM6085 through October 24th. They frequently offer free shipping on orders topping $99, but this unrestricted freebie is a rarity. However, if you're looking for excellent customer service, good advice, and highly competitive pricing, I'd suggest you shop our own local Peppercorn first. For the items I've priced, Peppercorn's prices were identical to those listed by web retailers like Chef's, plus you get the warm fuzzy of helping our local economy, and the fun of being in a real store with real people.

New Lafayette Sunflower Opening This Week

The grand opening of the new Sunflower store at 555 West South Boulder Road in Lafayette will be this Wednesday, the 20th, at 7 am. The first 200 customers through the door will get reusable grocery bags filled with groceries (assuming you purchase something, too), and if you miss that, you'll probably get one of the thousands of free grocery bags they'll be giving out with your purchase. I have the special commemorative bag they created for the first customers at the Boulder store opening, and wonder if it will be as cool for the Lafayette opening. A welcome expansion eastward for the Boulder County natural foods empire!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

We're set on our dinner plans through today, but it's time to get going on the weekday plans. We've had sweet potatoes and a pasta dish already, so it's time to base something on rice. The asparagus that's only 97 cents a pound at Sprouts is still very much on my mind, so we'll go for asparagus and leek risotto with prosciutto from Bon Appetit. As usual, the prosciutto will come from the Whole Foods cheese and cold cut counter, where you can buy chunks of prosciutto for cooking at nearly half the price of the thinly sliced stuff.

Then, since we've made a big pot of sweet potato and sausage soup over the weekend, that will serve as a quickly reheated midweek dinner too, accompanied by a tossed salad and some bread. Nothing better than making dinner in about ten minutes.

It's about time for something with an Asian spin, and my basil pots need to be totally finished off because of this week's frost-threatening temperatures, and with pork stew meat on sale at Sunflower for just $2.79 a pound at Sunflower, that spells garlic pork with tomato and basil from Cooking Light. This usually gets served over brown rice, but since rice was already on the menu a couple of days ago, it will probably go over soba noodles instead, a delicious and very quick-cooking option.

Finally, to finish off the week's planning, we'll try a good-looking recipe from the current issue of Cooking Light, mushroom and sausage ragu with polenta, catching the chicken sausage that's on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower before the sale ends Wednesday. Polenta can sound daunting but is actually really easy, and is readily available (and cheap) in the bulk aisle. It's interesting to note that the first recipe reviewer thinks there's a typo in the liquid called for in the recipe. Since I make polenta in a three to one ratio of liquid to polenta, I'd agree that the recipe looks too wet, and will adjust accordingly.

And that will get us through the week until next Friday's new set of plans.

Cooking Class at Superior Whole Foods

The Whole Foods store in Superior will be holding a soups and bread cooking class this coming Wednesday, the 20th, from 6:30 to 8:30 in the evening. There is a charge for this one, $10 that needs to be prepaid when you register at their customer service desk.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Spectacular Day for the Boulder Farmers' Market

On this stunningly beautiful fall day, everybody and his brother has decided to turn out for the Boulder Farmers' Market. If you don't mind the crowds, there's plenty to see, buy, and eat. Munson Farm has reappeared, with lots of winter squash and gourds, but their corn is of course of the decorative variety by now (sniff, I do miss their summer corn). Red Wagon Organic Farm has spectacular Brussels sprouts on stalks that are over two feet long, selling for $7 each (impress your dinner guests). Full Circle Farm still has their roaster there, roasting their wonderful certified organic chiles. Organic tomatoes are a pretty good deal, selling everywhere at $3 a pound, same price as the non-organics (and I even saw one non-organic stand selling theirs for $4 a pound). Not a bad price, since you'd probably pay more at Whole Foods, although Sunflower often has organic romas for $1.99 a pound. You have until 2 today to head out, enjoy some food and music in the food court, and shop around for fresh, local produce.

The Natural Foods Scene Around Boulder

Today's Daily Camera has a good article summing up all the expansion activity happening in our lively natural grocery store environment, including the super-sized Whole Foods under construction for the Pearl Street store, next week's opening of a Sunflower in Lafayette, and the reincarnation of our beloved Alfalfa's next spring, as I've already mentioned a number of times. What a great place to be a natural foods shopper.

Friday, October 15, 2010

So Ends the Wild Salmon Season

We saw this coming, and here it is: the end of the fresh, wild salmon season. But there's some good news to go along with this, too. Sprouts tried to continue with fresh, wild salmon, and at the fabulous price of $4.99/lb, but I've just learned that the fin de saison shipment they received was not up to their standards, so they tossed it. The good news is that they've replaced it with farmed salmon at the same price, and today it's Norwegian salmon. I've been wanting to try Norwegian salmon for some time (I keep hearing it's wonderful, and is farmed in exceptionally deep waters, better than other farmed salmon), but the wild salmon availability kept getting in the way, so now's my chance. Sprouts' fish guy told me that eventually they'll probably offer Canadian farmed salmon instead, as they won't be able to keep up with demand for the Norwegian, but at least today, the case is nicely stocked with the product of Norway.

BBQ'd Ribs at Sprouts

If you're in the mood for bbq on this summer-like day, but don't feel like doing it yourself, our Boulder Sprouts will be barbequeing racks of back back ribs today (tomorrow too) and offering them for $9.99 each for a full rack. They'll have them from around 11 to 6, unless they run out.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

So we have at least one more shot at fresh, wild salmon, and at a tremendous price, $4.99/lb at Sprouts. We'll just have to do it, and with today so summer-like at 80 degrees or better, it will probably go on the grill, even though it gets dark so early these days. If you're tired of grilling, a delicious alternative is salmon, mustard greens, and potatoes with mustard-dill glaze from Bon Appetit. It's a fun concept, using the glaze for all three elements, and reinforcing the mustard theme with the mustard greens. It's also very easy.

Then to return to a more fall-like feel for the weekend (and to make a big pot of something to reheat midweek), we might go for sweet potato and sausage soup from Bon Appetit, fully cooking chicken sausage on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower instead of the pre-cooked sausage in the recipe. Because of that switch, the soup might benefit from the addition of a little smoked paprika (but then, everything benefits from the addition of a little smoked paprika). I love soups like this that have a bunch of greens added in.

To finish off the weekend, I have an idea that sounds just right for the day. It's time for a pasta dish, and I want to enjoy some of our beautiful fall squash, but asparagus is also begging to be used, since it's 77 cents a pound at Sprouts. The solution will be an improvisation: pasta with winter squash and tomatoes from the New York Times, with asparagus pieces added to the tomato-squash mixture when the squash is nearly cooked. Bet that will make a lovely combination. Hope you stocked up on long-lasting organic winter squash when it was on sale last week. If not, if you don't mind conventional (you'll be peeling it anyway), you can pick that up at Sprouts this week for just 49 cents a pound.

And that will at least get us through the weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Get Your Portrait at Whole Foods

The Pearl Street Whole Foods will hold a fall photo fundraiser for the Humane Society tomorrow. Bring your pooch and/or kids, get a festive picture taken, and help a good cause. Here's what they say:

"Friday, October 15th
Fall Portrait Fundraiser with the Humane Society
4-6pm Donation to the Boulder Valley Humane Society
Stop by our pumpkin patch and take a festive fall photo with pets and family. All proceeds benefit our friends at the Boulder Valley Humane Society."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Some good new deals coming at us today from Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods, all crowding in on the left with the sales that continue through today. Particularly good is fresh, wild salmon just $4.99/lb at Sprouts, where you'll also find asparagus for 97 cents a pound, and their great bulk coffee on sale for $5.99/lb (including their Fair Trade organic decaf). Whole Foods has their incredible Two Bite brownies $2 off at $2.99 a tub, organic red or green leaf lettuce just $1 a head, and you can find Imagine broth at $2.50 each, already a great price, plus they have a coupon for $1 off two. They'll probably place the coupons right in front of the product, so expect shortages at this price, but stock up while you can.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will be offering a disparate quartet of products for their one-day sale tomorrow. Perfect for the season, medium-sized carving pumpkins will be better than two thirds off at just 99 cents each. 34 Degrees crispbreads (4.5 oz) will be BOGO, two for $4.49. Also, Natural Factors Fruit Chew C (500 mg, 90 chewable tablets) will be half off at $6.49 each. Finally, you can pick up a 4 inch orchid for half off, $9.99 each.

New Food Deals Via BoCoDeals

Long anticipated, the Daily Camera's Daily Deals got started yesterday, and so far it's batting 1000 for being food-related. The idea is you sign up for a daily deal in your inbox for 50% to 80% off some Boulder County item. The first one yesterday was for $50 of food at Jill's restaurant in the St. Julien for $25. Today's is an even steeper discount, $15 worth of Haagen-Daaz ice cream at the Pearl Street store (also Flatiron Crossing) for a mere $5. You have to purchase the deal on the day it is offered, but these first two have given a couple of months to use it (check the deal for its expiration date). The deals won't all be food-related, but so far it's looking good.

Garden and Herb Pot Alert

Outdoor flower pots, too. Tonight is our first really good chance for frost around Boulder, so do what you can to protect anything you want to save. Cover things, bring the pots indoors, whatever you need to do. (Or clip the rest of your herbs and create an herbal fantasia for dinner - that will guarantee we won't get a frost.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Vinegar Price Comparison

Call it an accidental price comparison, unlike some comprehensive ones I've set out to do previously. I'd run out of sherry vinegar, a favorite in my house, and since its price runs on the high side, I checked all the stores I was in over the past week for relative prices. Napa Valley Naturals seems to be the sherry vinegar of choice for our local Boulder natural stores to carry, and here's what I found, all for the 375 ml bottle.

Sprouts: $6.49

Sunflower: $6.59

Vitamin Cottage: could not find any sherry vinegar, but in the course of looking, discovered they carry cooking wine, an unusual find in our natural grocery stores. Not to be used for wine-centric recipes, but very convenient for those that call for a splash.

Whole Foods (Pearl Street): $6.99

Last Call for Some Good Deals at Whole Foods

The current two-week set of sales at Whole Foods ends tomorrow, and this group has some that shouldn't be missed. Through tomorrow, organic zucchini is just $1 a pound, organic kale is $1 a bunch, and a 5 pound bag of organic russet potatoes is just $2.50, pretty darned good prices.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stock Up on Avocados

Avocados are looking pretty good this week, 3 for $1 at Sunflower and 49 cents each at Sprouts. I used to think of them as being quickly perishable as they sat on the counter, until my friend Ms. A. introduced me to the idea of buying in quantity when the price is good, then controlling their ripening in the refrigerator. You can see the details in this prior post.

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Time to get moving with our weekday dinner planning. It has been awhile since red meat has appeared in our menus, and I'm finally in the mood for food suitable to autumn, so I'm thinking about baked potatoes with spiced beef chili from Bon Appetit. You can get a 5 pound bag of organic russet potatoes at Whole Foods for just $2.50 through Tuesday, and burger is always a cheap option (and currently on sale at Sunflower). The vinegar in the recipe adds a nice touch, and I agree with the reviewers who say to lighten up on the cinnamon.

Then of course we made a large dish over the weekend that will serve as a quick midweek reheat, in this case the cod, potato, and fennel casserole. A veggie or salad on the side and you're done.

With winter squash just 99 cents a pound at Sunflower through Wednesday, it's time to start indulging my love of butternut squash, which will get me through the winter. We haven't yet had a rice dish this week, and shrimp are also on sale at Sunflower, suggesting butternut squash risotto with shrimp from Bon Appetit. A $1 bunch of organic kale grabbed at Whole Foods before their sale ends Tuesday would be good sauteed on the side.

For our final weekday dinner before the planning starts all over again, I'm thinking of an experiment, which might be foolhardy for a Thursday evening, but the recipe looks worth it. I've been checking out (literally - thank you library!) Mark Bittman's new book, The Food Matters Cookbook, and there's a pasta dish in it that intrigues me. It's one-pot pasta with zucchini and chicken, and since it's from the new book, it doesn't have a link. With chicken tenders $1.99/lb through Wednesday at Sprouts and organic zucchini just $1 a pound through Tuesday at Whole Foods, this sounds like a winner. The basic idea is to brown chicken chunks, remove them, saute onions and garlic, then put back the chicken and add a lot of zucchini. Then comes the kinky part - instead of cooking the pasta separately, you add some wine and stock, then cook the pasta right in the dish. I've done that plenty of times with soups like pasta e fagioli, but never in a regular pasta dish, gotta try it.

And that will do us for the week.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Free Pumpkins Around Boulder!

While you're picking up produce and decorations to match our fall weather, take advantage of an offer of a free pumpkin as well. Some I've noticed include Munson Farm currently offering a free kids pumpkin with any purchase if you bring a printout of their homepage showing the offer to the farm stand. Red Wagon Organic Farm has been distributing flyers at the Boulder Farmers' Market that say if you visit their new farm stand at 7694 N 63rd Street, you can get a free pumpkin there, up to $10 value through October 31st. Doesn't say you need the flyer, but it wouldn't hurt to have it with you. For kids 12 and under, Freuhauf's at 1665 33rd Street in Boulder (a garden center with gifts and outdoor furniture) has been running ads (including today) in the hard copy Daily Camera where kids can color a face on the published Jack-O-Lantern and bring it in (with an adult) for a free small pumpkin. Don't forget to pick up a few hundred dollars worth of lawn furniture while you're getting that free pumpkin.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Boulder Pumpkin Picking Guide

Today's Daily Camera includes a guide to fall activities at our local farms, including favorites Munson Farm and Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch (aka Full Circle Farm). The guide also includes haunted houses and the like. It's beginning to look a lot like Halloween.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Okay, with fresh corn gone, rain possible, and temperatures headed only into the 70s (and even 60s), I'm finally ready to acknowledge some of the joys of fall cooking. Making big, comfy casseroles in the oven is one of them, so that will be our starting point for the week, with cod, potato, and fennel casserole from Gourmet magazine. This suggests itself from three directions: the gorgeous fennel bulbs I picked up at the Boulder Farmers' Market two days ago, the organic russet potatoes currently on sale at Whole Foods for $2.50 for a 5 pound bag, and in a twist, the haddock on sale at Sprouts for $4.99 a pound. I'm hoping haddock will work as well as cod in the dish based on its interchangeability (is that a word?) with cod in an old New England classic, scrod. Tradition has it that if it is spelled scrod, it's made with cod, and if schrod, it's haddock. A little asparagus from the sale at Lucky's will go on the side, either steamed or roasted along with the casserole.

Then, no surprise, we'll take advantage of Saturday's clear weather to get in at least one more grilling of fresh, wild salmon, with just a squeeze of lemon to top it off. Since eggplant and tomatoes are still abundantly available, we might turn back to grilled eggplant salad from Cooking Light, since the grill is going anyway. More likely we'll return to our fall thinking and therefore to the oven, roasting an assortment of veggies (no recipe required, although there are many). The rest of my fennel from the Farmers' Market could go in, along with cubes of some of the organic squash on sale at either Sunflower or Lucky's, tossed with a bit of olive oil and herbs.

To finish off the weekend, I'm sure there are plenty of other people in Boulder like me who are looking to use up the fresh herbs in their gardens and pots, since temperatures in this coming week are going to be dipping dangerously low for delicate herbs. One of my solutions will be penne with asparagus and basil from Bon Appetit. This uses the asparagus available for cheap at Lucky's, some organic tomatoes from the Farmers' Market, and plenty of my own herbs. In addition to the basil and parsley called for in the recipe, I bet it would benefit from some of my fresh oregano, too. It could either be left vegetarian as written, or given a little omph with the addition of something like prosciutto or pancetta. Using a touch of meat as a flavoring is a technique heavily championed by Mark Bittman in his new cookbook, The Food Matters Cookbook, which I'm currently checking out. A bit of prosciutto could be sauteed in the pan before starting the recipe, removed from the pan, then crumbled into the finished dish.

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

Thursday, October 7, 2010

French Tablecloth Warehouse Sale

Warehouse sales in Boulder tend to be fun and worthwhile events. Can't speak to this one yet, as I'm not familiar with the company, but it looks worth checking out, and it even relates to our theme of cooking in Boulder. Starting tomorrow, Amelie Michel ("fine tablecloths from Provence") will be holding a warehouse sale at 1813 Pearl Street. They promise tablecloths, runners, placemats, napkins and the like, plus kitchen towels, napkin rings, and olive oil soaps. All are imported from the south of France at sale prices they say are great, including tablecloths starting at $29. The sale runs from tomorrow, the 8th, through Tuesday, the 12th, 10 to 5 each day. Add a dash of Provence to your food presentation?

Cheap Asparagus at Lucky's

Lucky's new sales weren't posted on their website yesterday morning when I looked, but I happened to be in their north Boulder neighborhood and picked up a sales flyer the old fashioned way. And lo! This week, Lucky's Market has fresh asparagus for $1.50 a pound. As we move out of our summer cornucopia of veggies towards a winter of hard squash, veggies like asparagus or artichokes popping up for cheap like this starts to become appealing. Lucky's also has organic spaghetti, acorn, or butternut squash for 99 cents a pound (matching Sunflower's price), and organic romaine lettuce for just 99 cents a head. Lots of other deals, which you can see in their full sales flyer, which is now posted.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ode to a Bunch of Fennel (Boulder Farmers' Market Report)

So sad that today is the last midweek Boulder Farmers' Market of the year. Although the number of vendors has shrunk, the market is still well attended, and the produce is varied and beautiful. I bought the most amazing bunch of three fennel bulbs tied together for $3, making it just $1 per fennel bulb, at the Red Wagon Organic Farm stand. The fronds flowing from them are amazing, filling and overflowing my grocery bag by nearly two feet. I was moved to measure them with a tape measure, and the part I grabbed clocked in at a whopping 31 inches long. Plenty of other produce was available, from the hard squash, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts you'd expect to see this month, to the leafy greens like kale and chard that we fortunately have through so much of the year, and even lettuce and sorrel, that I think of more in the spring. Full Circle Farm had their chile roaster there, roasting their wonderful, certified organic chiles, so you still have a chance to lay a supply in your freezer for the rest of the year, if you haven't already. Sad to see the end of the Wednesday markets for the season, but we'll still have the Saturday ones for a few weeks more.

Last Wednesday Boulder Farmers Market Today

Here's a headsup up to start planning for Halloween, Thanksgiving, maybe even Christmas. A sign of how far up the calendar we've gone, today will be the last midweek Boulder Farmers' Market for the season, open 4 to 8 as usual. The Saturday markets will continue through November 6th.

New Sale Prices Are Up

Today's new sale prices at our Boulder natural grocery stores are highlighted on the left, along with the deals that end today at the double-ad Wednesday stores. Avocado fans are rejoicing over Hass avocados at 3 for $1 at Sunflower (also 49 cents each at Sprouts, not bad either). There are still some fresh, wild salmon options, and organic produce continues to look good, including winter squash for 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, and kale or zucchini just $1 a bunch or pound at Whole Foods, where 5 lb russet bags can also be had for just $2.50 each. Time to get shopping!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow's one-day sale at all our local Whole Foods stores involves two BOGOs. Popchips (don't know what they are) will be $2.39 for 3 oz, buy one, get one free. Ditto for 8 oz of Shikai Borage Dry Skin Therapy Lotion, $6.49, buy one, get one free. That sounds pretty nice.

Humane Society Coming to Whole Foods

Tomorrow, the Humane Society's mobile adoption unit will be at the Pearl Street Whole Foods from 11:30 to 1:30. If you're in the market for a new furry friend, consider stopping by. Whole Foods usually does some pretty good one-day sales on Wednesdays, too (no word yet on what tomorrow's might be), so there might be some good grocery deals to pick up at the same time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Artichokes for Cheap

Was in the Boulder Sprouts yesterday pm, and they were selling artichokes for a mere 97 cents each. It's not part of their advertised sale, and the sale sign didn't have a date on it, so there's no way to tell how long this price will last. But if you're in the mood to be thinking spring-like thoughts instead of fall, hit up the artichokes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More Dinners For This Week

Yikes, time to get back to dinner plans for the rest of the week. I'm still enjoying freshly roasted green chiles, still available from Full Circle Farms at the Boulder Farmers Market, plus the freezer-full I've already laid in. I'm therefore in the mood to go back to a favorite pasta that unfortunately doesn't have a link, called chile 'choke pasta. The gist of it is this: while your cut pasta of choice is cooking, saute chopped marinated artichoke hearts from a 6 oz jar with a reasonably small number of chopped roasted green chiles. Add 1/2 cup lowfat sour cream, a little olive oil, and a cup of grated parmesan to the mixture, blend it, then toss in your cooked pasta. Wow.

Then, as you may have guessed, there's a quick midweek reheat of something made on the weekend, this time our salmon chowder. When this week's specials came out, I kidded that with Sprouts' $5.99/lb deal on fresh coho, we'd simply eat it all week, no planning required. We're actually nearly halfway there, since salmon was on the grill Friday, and this is the second time we've had the chowder, thereby marking salmon's third appearance for the week. Get it while you can.

We still need a rice-based dish, so I'm thinking about the shrimp on sale at Sprouts for $3.99/lb, so that spells risotto. I have a favorite recipe for shrimp and butternut risotto, but I'm just not ready to go there yet (we have all winter for that). Since spinach is still available at the Farmers Market and of course can be gotten year-round in stores, I'm thinking shrimp risotto with baby spinach and basil from Bon Appetit. This will also help use up some basil from my outdoor pots, which are getting endangered by our chillier night temperatures.

Finally, midweek cooking shouldn't necessarily require any recipe at all, so a simple saute of pork chops ($2.99/lb at Sprouts), finished with a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar, and microwaved "baked" potatoes will be on deck. We might get a little fancier with the side veggie, with something like green bean succotash from Bon Appetit (frozen edamame make a good substitute for the lima beans).

And that gets us through our planning for the week, as we slowly acknowledge the arrival of fall.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Deals At Vitamin Cottage

Vitamin Cottage (aka Natural Grocers) has a new set of long-lasting deals out (this group lasting through October 30th, at which point we'll be starting to think about Thanksgiving(!)), and you can view the full sales flyer online. A few items particularly of interest to me include Maverick Ranch natural young whole chickens at $1.99/lb (Whole Foods has an even better deal on similarly air-chilled whole chickens for the next week and a half, see to the left), Santa Cruz Organic peanut butters, $2.99 for 16 oz jars, organic pears 99 cents a pound, select Ezekiel sprouted breads (love them) for $2.99 a loaf, and three types of Rudi's Bakery gluten-free breads for $3.49 a loaf. Of course, there are plenty of good deals on vitamins and supplements, as well.

Get Thee to the Farmers Market

Should be a great day to check out the Boulder Farmers Market, open from 8 to 2. The air's cooler, the crowds will probably be starting to thin, and the veggies and fruits will be available in abundance (not to mention everything else the market has to offer). Full Circle Farms plans to be there with their chile roaster, so you can pick up a bag of freshly roasted chiles straight from the roaster, and identified by varietal as well. (A less interesting but also cheaper option is to get them from the refrigerated case near the entrance of the Pearl Street Whole Foods store, where I recently saw they still had them.) Time to start getting in the mood for autumn!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Harvest Festival at Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch

The fine folks who are Full Circle Organic Farm also have an alter ego as Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch, so is this ever their time of year. You'll find them at the Boulder Farmers Market (roasting chiles, to boot), but they also have lots to see and do at their market about 20 minutes northeast of Boulder. Check our their flyers at the Farmers Market or their website for all the good stuff that might get you enthused about fall (homemade pumpkin bread and cider for starters).