Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vitamin Cottage Mini Sale Hiatus

Since Vitamin Cottage's very long lasting sale ended on the 28th, I stopped by to see if a new sale might be in place. The nice folks in the Boulder store told me the next sale flyer will be out on the 5th, not too long from now.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

For tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have delicious Grafton horseradish cheddar for $5.99 a pound, which is a whopping $7 off. Try it in a roast beef sandwich or topping a burger, yum.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

While remembering the somber purpose of today's holiday, I hope you're also enjoying yourself, whether running the Bolder Boulder or kicking back with a beer in the backyard (or more likely both). If you're still contemplating what to put on the grill for today, look back a couple of posts to the grilling guides. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Well, we already have through the holiday tomorrow planned out, but might as well finish off the rest of the week's plans, since time permits.

We usually make a big casserole or chowder over the weekend that serves as an easy weekday reheat, but somehow with all this grilling, that just isn't happening this week. So since Tuesday's dinner will have to be made from scratch, I'm thinking of an easy rice dish of my own invention (or perhaps it was from the back of a can!), that's kind of a clam risotto. Basically, saute some onion and a fair number of sliced mushrooms, and use that as the base to cook a cup of rice. However, for part of the usual broth for the rice, substitute a can of clam sauce, such as Cento. Add some fresh parsley at the end, and if you don't follow the rumored Italian proscription against combining seafood and cheese, finish it with a grating of parmesan.

For Wednesday, I'm thinking of returning to mushroom and sausage ragu with polenta from Cooking Light. Sunflower has all chicken sausage on sale through Wednesday, and Sprouts has their Italian chicken sausage on sale. I love polenta, but this makes a great sauce to serve with pasta as well. Not sure which way we'll go with it.

By Thursday, I'll be in the mood for an experiment, an intriguing recipe from last month's Cooking Light, paella with soy chorizo and edamame. Edamame are a freezer staple staple around here, and this doesn't look too complicated for weekday cooking.

And that will get us through until Friday's planning. Happy long weekend!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day Dinner Guides

Looking for ideas for barbequing, grilling, smoking for your Memorial Day festivities? Check out these guides for expert help: ultimate grilling and barbeque guide from Epicurious, Bon Appetit's Memorial Day menus, and American barbeque side dishes from the ever regionally sophisticated Saveur.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekend Sale At Whole Foods

Hard on the heels of today's one-day chicken breast kabob sale, our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a quartet of special sales for tomorrow and Sunday. Organic mini-watermelons will once again be just $1.50 each, a great price for organic. Lobster tails (4/5 ounce) will be $10.99, $2 off (the tails won the Facebook vote contest to get an extra 50 cents knocked off). Their own, very delicious cowboy burgers will be $3.99 a pound, $2 off. And finally (attention all you herb gardeners out there), the handsomely huge one gallon pots of organic basil that they've had on sale the last couple of weeks for the very good price of $5 each will be practically given away at $3.33 each.

Weekend Dinner Plans, Including Memorial Day

We're at Memorial Day weekend already, a time dominated by grilling, if the weather will cooperate. For tonight, my foray into Lucky's Market yesterday jump-started my planning, since I snatched up some of their sushi grade tuna for $10.99 a pound and organic artichokes for $1.50 each. The tuna will get seared on the grill, and a favorite sauce for steamed artichokes is this simple herb-caper mayonnaise from Bon Appetit. To dress up the rice on the side, I've recently really gotten into Lundberg's fabulous rice mixes, and tonight it will be Black Japonica, which is "a gourmet field blend of black & mahogany rice." Black it is, indeed.

Since Sunday's forecast isn't looking so great for grilling, we'll try to fit in another bbq tomorrow night, although that's when the threat of showers starts moving in. It will be another sale-driven dinner, since who could resist the chicken breast kabobs that are on sale for today only at half price, $3.99 a pound, at Whole Foods (I do love the standards Whole Foods sets for their chicken). For the veggie, we'll jump the summer gun to enjoy tomato and corn salad with marjoram from Bon Appetit. Whole Foods has fresh corn at 3 for $1, but I've seen a surprising amount of organic corn around recently for that price, at Alfalfa's a few days ago and at Lucky's yesterday. Obviously, none of this corn is local yet, but it is yummy nonetheless. Alfalfa's has organic roma tomatoes for the excellent price of $1.49 a pound, or organic grape/cherry tomatoes could be substituted, and there are good prices for those also at Alfalfa's and Sprouts.

By Sunday, we'll want a break from the grilling, and it sounds like the weather might not cooperate for it anyway. Whether or not carbo-loading for the Bolder Boulder is involved, pasta sounds good. I'm thinking of trying a recipe from the current issue of Cooking Light, pasta puttanesca. Since the anchovies don't appeal around here, I'd omit them, making this vegetarian, as well.

For Memorial Day proper, obviously we have to get back to the grill. As holidays go, Memorial Day is kind of a burger and hot dog one, not the most exciting from a culinary standpoint (unless those hot dogs morph into brats, at which point you're talking to me). Ribs make a more interesting choice, and there are some great sale options out there: $2.99 a pound for organic pork spare ribs at Lucky's, Sunflower's 25% off "rib extravaganza," and St. Louis style spareribs $3.99 a pound at Whole Foods. But I'm inclined to dress up the day a bit with the Beeler bone-in pork chops that Alfalfa's has on sale for $3.99 a pound, either grilling them as is, or in a fancier fashion as cumin-crusted monster pork chop with peach chipotle salsa from Epicurious. Lucky's already has organic peaches at a good price, and I'll take chipotle in anything. Sweet potato spears will also go on the grill, with some of that organic corn on the cob that I'm finding around town on the side.

And that gets us all the way through Monday. Best wishes for a safe and fun weekend.

Saturday update - oh great, now the weather people are flipping the days with chance of rain, now more likely this evening than tomorrow. Oh well, chicken kabobs might wind up under the broiler instead of on the grill.

Good Deals At Lucky's This Week

North Boulder is unfortunately out of my usual travel territory, but I was in the neighborhood yesterday and stopped in at Lucky's Market to see what was happening, finding some very good deals, of course. Perhaps most notable is an excellent Memorial Day bbq possibility, organic pork spare ribs for $2.99 a pound. Lucky's always seems to have great deals on organic produce, this week including cantaloupes or seedless watermelons at three pounds for $1, broccoli or zucchini for $1.50 a pound, peaches $2.50 a pound, and artichokes for $1.50 each (beating Sunflower's current price of $2 for organic artichokes). While I was there, I picked up sushi grade tuna steaks for $10.99 a pound and those organic artichokes, so I have a good start on dinner for tonight.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ribs Grilling At Sprouts

Don't feel like doing your own bbq this weekend but still want to get in the mood? Sprouts will be grilling full racks of baby back ribs over mesquite tomorrow and Saturday from 11 to 6 pm (or while they last), selling them for $9.99 a rack.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores are kicking the Memorial Day weekend off right with a one-day sale for tomorrow, an unusual event for a Friday. Tomorrow only, all varieties of their own Market Made chicken breast kabobs will be half off at $3.99 a pound. What an easy thing to throw on the grill on a weekend dominated by grilling. I can see part of my weekend dinner plans shaping up, indeed.

Vitamin Cottage Sale Near End

Here's your three day heads up that the current, very long lasting (all the way back to the beginning of last month) sale at Vitamin Cottage is nearly over, running through this Saturday, the 28th. Who knows what their next sale will bring, but this one had some particularly impressive deals, most notably Applegate Farms six ounce organic sliced turkey packages for $3.99 each. Muir Glen pasta sauces for $2.49 a jar, Nut Thins for $1.89 a box, Pamela's cookies, for $2.49, I could go on and on. And with four types of Rudi's organic sandwich breads just $2.99 a loaf, I send thanks to reader Melissa for her comment about the $1 off coupon available at Rudi's Organic Bakery's site to make an already good deal an absolute steal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Whole Foods Wine And Spirits

Is already open. Wow, that was quick. The Camera just reported last Friday that the Pearl Street Whole Foods would be taking over the space next door, occupied by Ace Liquor, and lo, they opened as Whole Foods Wine & Spirits yesterday. So in the space of just a few weeks, we now have two Boulder natural grocery markets (the earlier one being Alfalfa's) with their own liquor outlets. As always, it will remain to be seen how this will work in terms of selection and price, but the convenience is obvious. I checked a couple of prices today when I saw the Whole Foods store had opened, and they definitely could be bought for less elsewhere, but then there's the ever upward spiral of the price of gas, not to mention one's time. The Whole Foods store also has something to possibly rival Trader Joe's famed Two Buck Chuck; they have an exclusive wine line called Three Wishes, selling for $2.99 a bottle (no comment yet on whether it's in fact drinkable). Boulder may still lack a Trader Joe's, but hey, so what?

This Week's Hot Deals (IMHO)

If it's Wednesday, it's food day, with new deals out for our Boulder Sprouts and Sunflower, while the current sales continue at Alfalfa's, Whole Foods, and Vitamin Cottage. Here's what looking good to me in the new ones.

Country style rib wars: for your Memorial Day grilling pleasure, bone-in $2.49 a pound at Sprouts, bone-in or boneless or extra lean all 25% off at Sunflower, both through June 1st.

Organic blueberry wars: $2.99 for 6 ounces at both Sprouts and Sunflower through June 1st.

There are wild sockeye salmon wars going on, but with the fresh wild season just starting, I'd skip the previously frozen stuff (IMHO).

Also looking good to me at Sprouts through June 1st, chicken tenders are $1.99 a pound, they're having a "Steak Bonanza" with ten cuts all 25% off, and gigantic 16/20 count ez-peel raw shrimp are $8.99 a pound (they'd skewer nicely for the grill). In organic produce, their good deal on blueberries is mentioned above, while red delicious apples, cantaloupes or honeydew melons are all 88 cents a pound, cherry tomatoes are $1.99 a pint (Alfalfa's has organic grape tomatoes for same, while they're $2.50 at Whole Foods), and one pound bags of baby carrots are good at $1.50. If you want to skip your own grilling this weekend, they'll be grilling full racks of baby back ribs from 11 to 6 on Friday and Saturday for $9.99 each.

At Sunflower through June 1st, I don't use ground beef often, but for a big grilling weekend I'll mention the 85% extra lean ground beef at $1.99 a pound for the family pack. They're doing a "Rib Extravaganza" with several types of ribs all 25% off, boneless New York strip steaks look good at $7.99 a pound, boneless pork loin chops or tenderloin are $3.99 a pound, and all chicken sausage are $2.99 a pound. In organic produce, in addition to the blueberries above, celery is great at 99 cents each, avocados are also 99 cents, yellow onions are 99 cents a pound, as are cantaloupes (88 cents a pound for those at Sprouts), strawberries are $2.99 for one pound, and large California artichokes are $2 each, (good organic deals in there, as usual). Also, my fave Cascade Fresh yogurts are excellent at 50 cents each for select varieties while their 16 ounce sour cream is just 99 cents. Select Annie's organic mustards are $2.50 each, Santa Cruz organic lemonades are $1.25 for 32 ounces (same at Whole Foods), and select Back to Nature crackers are $2.50 or $2.99 for their cookies, but Alfalfa's has both on sale for $2.49.

For the ongoing sales, check these links for prior coverage: Alfalfa's (through the 31st), Vitamin Cottage (heads up, only through the 28th), and Whole Foods (through the 31st, look down alphabetically until you reach it).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a trio of special sales for tomorrow only. Finlandia imported cheese slices will be $3.99 for a six to seven ounce package, $2 off, and organic mini watermelons will be a very good deal at $1.50 each, usually $5.99 (rare to see such a price on organic). Also, select Applegate Farms' wonderful sliced turkey packages will be $3.99 each, $2 off, but Vitamin Cottage has been doing that sale for weeks, and you have through the 28th to catch that price there.

Gluten-Free Sale Ending Soon

Here's your heads up that you only have today and tomorrow to finish capitalizing on the great sale Sprouts has going on, 25% off more than 2,000 gluten-free products. While that doesn't mean you can waltz out with an apple as part of it just because it doesn't contain wheat, the sale does include some surprising basics, like bags of Lundberg's excellent rice (organic or eco-farmed). While I luckily don't have any gluten issues, I swear many products are tastier by virtue of being gluten-free. Just try a Crunchmaster cracker or one of the gluten-free Pamela's cookies for proof.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Free Wine and Cheese Pairing

Noon update: I hear via @ladomestique, who tried to sign up for the event below, that it has been postponed, something regarding liquor license issues. Bummer!

Superior Liquor and the Whole Foods in Superior will be teaming up this Thursday to present a tasting of cheese and salmon burgers with wine pairings, but signup is required to get a free invitation. Here's what Superior Liquor says:

"Whole Foods Market Superior and Superior Liquor present a cheese and wine pairing event at Whole Foods from 6:30 until 8:00 on Thursday, May 26th

Join us for a sampling of fresh summer cheeses and an assortment of chef-prepared grilled salmon burgers, all expertly paired with wines provided by our friends at Veraison Wines. As a special treat, winemaker Alfonso Undurraga of Terrapura winery in Chile will be on hand pouring and talking about his wines! Entry to this event is free, but by invitation only. To be invited, please sign up at the Customer Service desk at Whole Foods Market or email kathy.ongarato@wholefoods.com"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Looking Forward to Munsons in July

I always can hardly wait for the first of Munson Farms' fresh local corn and the opening of their farm stand at 75th and Valmont in July. I had a chance to talk with Bob Munson yesterday at the Farmer's Market, and he reported that, while they're sometimes able to open as early as the 4th of July, this year's chilly temperatures are looking to push back the date. Let's hope for warmer weather to speed that wonderful corn! (Meanwhile, I picked up some fully organic corn yesterday at Alfalfa's for the great price of three for a dollar, so I'm getting my corn fix early.)

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Well, the Rapture has come and gone, and I'm still here, so I guess the drumbeat of dinner planning resumes, darn. To start tomorrow's weekday dinners off, we'll go with a spring favorite, risotto with sausage and spring greens from Bon Appetit. I bought a bag of Cure Organic Farm's fabulous braising mix at yesterday's Boulder Farmer's Market, and it's perfect for this recipe. I prefer chicken for the sausage, and all sausage is on sale for $2.99 a pound at Sprouts, but is pretty cheap everywhere.

Tuesday is usually our reheat of something big made over the weekend, and this week that's New England seafood chowder from Bon Appetit, with fresh bread and salad on the side. And I'm hoping to find a little time to research the history of curry in New England food, to see if all those commenters crying heresy are right. Sure, curry isn't found in contemporary classic New England chowder. However, with New England's time as a British colony and history of whaling around the world, I wonder if curry might have an authentic culinary place. Regardless, it's delicious.

On to Wednesday, we'll need something vegetarian by then, and a pasta dish should be on deck by then also. With organic roma tomatoes just $1.49 a pound at Alfalfa's, I'm going for linguine with spicy leek and tomato sauce from Bon Appetit. Instead of one of the leeks, mine will have glorious Egyptian walking onions bought yesterday from Red Wagon Organic Farm at the Farmer's Market.

By Thursday, we'll want something rice-based, and stir-fried beef, broccoli, and yams over brown rice should fit the bill. That's yet another recipe from Bon Appetit, so I seem to be on a Bon Appetit roll this week. Sunflower has both organic broccoli and organic yams on sale for the excellent price of 99 cents a pound through Wednesday. And don't forget Sprout's fantastic gluten-free sale also running through Wednesday, which includes packages of Lundberg rice (stock up!). For the beef, I shortcut by using pre-cut stew beef, which is never very expensive anywhere.

And that will get us through to Friday's planning. I guess the next end of the world isn't expected until next year, so I better keep going on the dinner plans, darn.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today's Boulder Farmer's Market Report

It's a lovely day for the Boulder Farmer's Market Today, even with sunshine after our streak of Seattle-esque weather. The spring veggie offerings just keep increasing, to the point where I can't try to keep track of them all. In addition to lots of baby lettuce, spinach, arugula, baby chard, radishes, and the like, this week I also saw bok choy, red Russian kale, mustard greens, mizuna, and head lettuce (big enough to sell as one head instead of part of a mix). Cure Organic Farm has tons of beautiful organic veggie starter plants for your garden, and Red Wagon Organic Farm has their signature Egyptian walking onions again (and pea shoots!). This will probably be my last regular report for the Farmer's Market however. Lovely as the vendor stalls are, the crowds and the parking situation are too much to bear, especially now that my favorite Cure Organic Farm has opened their farm store for the season at 75th and Valmont. Why fight the crowds, dogs, and strollers, when you can get the freshest organic produce in a leisurely fashion straight from the farm?

Bone Density Scanning At Alfalfa's

Yay, another free bone density screening this week. This time it will be at Alfalfa's, today from 11:30 to 6:30 this evening in the wellness department. With Alf's proximity to the Farmer's Market, that's a convenient combination while the Farmer's Market runs through 2 this afternoon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Sale At Whole Foods

Our local Whole Foods stores are offering us a quartet of special sales for tomorrow and Sunday. Cal-Organic Farm blueberries will be a great price at $2.50 a pint, regularly $5.99 (and blueberries, in my humble opinion, are one of those things that should only be eaten in organic, which is usually very pricey). Organic grass fed burger in a 95% lean grind will be $5.99 a pound, $2 off, and WFM's own fresh pizza dough will be $1.99 each, usually $2.99 (it makes the best pizza in the world, covers an entire baking sheet, and comes in a multigrain option). Finally, 4" orchid plants will be available for $14.99, $5 off. Happy shopping!

New Deals At Alfalfa's

Alfalfa's has a new set of specials that runs through May 31st, and now that I have my hands on their sale flyer, here's what looks hot to me.

It's a good time for organic tomatoes around town, and Alf's is joining the fray with organic grape tomates at $2 (doesn't specify, but presumably a pint) and organic romas at the very good price of $1.49 a pound. (Elsewhere, you'll find the organic grape tomatoes for $1.99 at Sprouts and $2.50 at Whole Foods, while organic hothouse tomatoes are $1.99 a pound at Sunflower.) Organic yellow onions are great at just 69 cents a pound, although Alf's regular price of 89 cents is excellent too. I haven't tried their Butcher's Choice single ground chuck, but the 85% lean is $3.99 a pound, and my experience so far with their meat department has been great. Also, Beeler's bone-in pork chops are $3.99 a pound, their half or whole hams are $5.99 a pound, and in fish, they have local fresh trout for $5.99 a pound. My favorite big 32 ounce containers of Straus organic and kosher yogurts are very good at $2.99 each, and Back to Nature crackers and cookies look good at $2.49 a box.

Outside of food, they have quite a few supplements on sale, including "Now twin packs 2 for 1, save 50%." Does that mean the twin packs are BOGO, or you get two bottles for the price of one because they're packaged as a twin pack? And in wine, they have one from France that sounds good at $6 off, La Barrone 2008 Montagne D'Alaric blanc for $8.99 a bottle.

Weekend Dinner Ideas

I need to get going very quickly on thoughts for the weekend, so here goes.

For tonight, wanting something pretty speedy, I'm thinking sauteed sausages and polenta, since Sprouts has all their fresh sausage for $2.99 a pound right now. Polenta is so easy to do from the bulk aisle at Whole Foods, combined in a 3 to 1 ratio with milk/broth/and/or water. For a more formal approach, baking it is fun. My fave is a recipe from Saveur that they unfortunately never put online, that layers prepared polenta with tomato sauce and fontina. For a similar idea, check out this recipe from Bon Appetit, adding a couple of layers of prepared pasta sauce, and heavens, skipping the cream.

On to tomorrow, this gloomy weather has me thinking back to a winter favorite, New England seafood chowder from Bon Appetit. The haddock will be from the $5.99 a pound sale at Sprouts. Finding butternut squash this late in the season might be a challenge, but I'm betting a substitution of the organic yams on sale at Sunflower for 99 cents a pound would be fine (it's almost last call for yams as well). For the side salad, if I don't make it to the Farmer's Market tomorrow for spring greens, Sunflower has organic red or green leaf lettuce for $1.50 a head.

Sunday is still a bit up in the air, so to speak, as I'm still in this rain-inspired mood. My current plan is to do quick coq au vin from Bon Appetit, using the boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale at Sprouts for $1.97 a pound (value pack). However, if our weather improves, that might morph into grilled chicken and ratatouille, also from Bon Appetit. Much as we've needed this rain, enough is enough, so I'm hoping for a weekend suited to shopping at the Farmer's Market and maybe getting a little grilling in.

So that's it for the weekend, more to come.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cure Organic Farm Store Opens!

Great news - my fave Cure Organic Farm opens their farm store today, with expanded hours this year covering Wednesdays through Sundays. Follow their Facebook reporting, hmm, where they say they'll be open on Tuesdays, too. Wonder which is right, their website or Facebook. Great news in any event. Best braising mix I know.

Recipe Surfing on the Web

The New York Times has a great article this week on the proliferation of recipe search engines, including one that integrates with Facebook so you can see recipes your friends like. Google and Bing are of course in on the act, and Google allows you to limit your search by ingredients, cook time, and calories. Kind of makes me want to stroll this weekend's Boulder Farmers' Market and see what I can concoct just with my own imagination.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Week's Hot Deals (IMHO)

Could it be? King Soopers is reporting that Copper River salmon has arrived. No price advertised, but something to check out.

As for what's happening at our local natural grocery stores, here's my take on the best new deals.

London broil wars: $4.99 a pound at Sprouts, $3.99 a pound at Sunflower, both through May 25th, $3.99 a pound at Whole Foods through May 31st.

Organic grape tomato pint wars: $1.99 each at Sprouts through May 25th, $2.50 each at Whole Foods through May 31st.

Other deals starting today at Sprouts that look good to me (through May 25th) include boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.97 a pound (value pack), all fresh sausage $2.99 a pound, center cut pork loin chops $3.99 a pound, fresh salmon (that would assuredly be farmed) for $8.99 a pound, and wild caught haddock for $5.99 a pound. Their fantastic sale of 25% off more than 2,000 gluten-free products continues for its final week. In organic produce, romaine hearts are $1.99 for a three pack, Italian squash (think zucchini) is 99 cents a pound, and the grape tomatoes mentioned above look great at $1.99 a pint. I'm also liking 25% off all Annie's Naturals dressings, 25% off select 505 sauces and salsas (pour some sauce over the chicken breasts above), and Rondele cheese looks great at $3 an eight ounce container.

At Sunflower through May 25th, I'm especially enthused about the organic produce this week, with broccoli or yams at 99 cents a pound, hothouse tomatoes $1.99 a pound, red or green leaf lettuce $1.50 each, green onions, cilantro, and cucumbers 99 cents each, and corn (yes, organic, not just pesticide-free) for 50 cents an ear. I also like top sirloin for $3.77 a pound, select Brown Cow yogurts for 79 cents each, and select Barbara's Bakery Puffins cereals at $2.99 a box.

Alfalfa's should have a new set of sales starting today, but they don't post them, so a report on them will have to wait until I actually get to the store.

Whole Foods' sale is continuing on from last week all the way through the 31st, and I reported on it here (a three week sale is very unusual for them, so I hope their flyer is right). Vitamin Cottage's very long sale is winding down to its end on the 28th, and you can find highlights here.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Today

For today only, our local Whole Foods stores will have a duo of special sales for us. Adora chocolate calcium supplements (30 count) will be $3.99, a whopping $6 off. Also, Whole Foods' own soft cookie value packs will be $3 each, $1.99 off.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Supper Club At Superior

The Whole Foods store in Superior will host another Health Starts Here supper club this Thursday. Here's what they say:

"Thursday, May 19th
Health Starts Here Supper Club
6:30pm-8:30pm $10.00 per person

Join us for a great night of delicious food using no oils, sugar, or salt. With each course you will learn a new technique or tip to making these healthy recipes at home. Please sign up at the Customer Service Counter to reserve your space today – Limit 15 people.

Menu includes the following:
Appetizer: Creamy Cucumber Dip served on Endive Leaves, Crackers, Fresh Veggies, and array of olives
1st Course: Spring Asparagus Soup with Various Whole Foods Rocky Mountain Bake house HSH Breads
Main Course: Baked Salmon with greens and Strawberry Salsa on a bed on Brown Rice Pilaf
Dessert: Strawberry Melon Gazpacho"

Produce Sampling At Sunflower

The Boulder Sunflower's calendar says they're planning on holding a Produce Recipe Sampling tomorrow from noon to 2. Produce sounds more diet-friendly than the yummy coffee cake they were sampling when I was in there yesterday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bone Density Scanning At Whole Foods

The Whole Foods store in Superior will host bone density screening on Wednesday, an excellent opportunity to see how you're faring on that front. Here's what they say:

"Wednesday, May 18th
Rainbow Light Bone IQ Event
11:30am-6:30pm Free

Rainbow Light will be in our store offering Free bone density scanning opportunities via “Mobile Bone IQ Centers” to our customers. Early scans can help detect early risk for bone loss and fractures, and gives consumers the tools and information to intervene and prevent further bone loss. Please sign up to reserve your time today at the Customer Service Counter.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

I'm a little gun shy about writing extensively about dinner ideas for the rest of this week, after Blogger went down on Friday and lost my post regarding weekend plans when it came back up. But that had never happened before, and hopefully won't happen again, so here goes.

For tomorrow, after tonight's indulgence in beautiful NY strip steaks from Alfalfa's, we'll want to compensate by going vegetarian. Pasta sounds good, so we'll go with whole wheat pasta with edamame, arugula, and herbs from Cooking Light. I picked up a bag of the most fantastic, spicy, organic arugula at yesterday's Farmers' Market from Isabelle Farm, but arugula is certainly available from our stores as well. Edamame are a freezer staple around here, and Whole Foods' own brand is a reliably good deal (and you can get it in organic for just about 20 cents more a bag than the non-organic). Whole Foods also has a great price on organic grape tomatoes this week, $2.50 for a pint. I'll save a bit of that arugula to add to the side salad as well (the heads of lettuce that are on sale at Alfalfa's for $1.50 each were quite handsome yesterday).

For Tuesday, we always have an easy reheat of something big made over the weekend, and this week it will be the summer squash and corn chowder, with another salad and some fresh bread on the side.

On to Wednesday, with boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.99 a pound for the family pack at Sunflower through that day, I picked up extra greens at the Farmers' Market to do spicy stir fried chicken with greens and peanuts from Bon Appetit, which will go over brown rice. The greens may be fresher and more fun coming from the Farmers' Market, but you can obviously also get them anywhere.

For Thursday, I'm inclined to do baked potatoes with spiced beef chili from Bon Appetit. Burger is never expensive, and I also like making this with stew beef, which is on sale through Wednesday at Sprouts. For the potatoes, I was happy to see yesterday that the everyday price for beautiful organic russet bakers at Alfalfa's was only 69 cents a pound, wow.

And that will get us through to next Friday's planning. Now let's hope the Blogger software doesn't blow up and lose this one.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today's Boulder Farmer's Market Report

Lots of folks (and dogs and strollers) are out today, enjoying the produce and vibe of the Boulder Farmers' Market, despite the gloomy skies. In addition to a glorious assortment of the usual spring greens, I'm happy to report that pea shoots have arrived for their brief season!! Red Wagon Organic Farm had them, and also their exotic Egyptian walking onions (use them like scallions), plus a beautiful display of various spring greens. In other news, Munson Farm has made its appearance. We have a long way to go before we'll be enjoying their signature fresh corn, but it was nice to see them there so early, baby lettuce being the offering du jour.

National Buttermilk Biscuit Day

Is today really National Buttermilk Biscuit Day? If so, here's the best recipe in the world, from Boulder's own beloved Dot's Diner, published better than a decade ago in Bon Appetit. I remember that at the time it was published, the Dot's Diner folks noted a correction in the Camera, saying that the butter should be just barely worked in, not as thoroughly as Bon Appetit suggests. It's a good day for buttermilk biscuits!

Weekend Sale At Whole Foods

Our local Whole Foods stores have a quartet of special sales for today and tomorrow. First, you can cheer up this rather gloomy weekend by bringing home a dozen Whole Trade roses for $8.99, $4 off. On to the food, Applegate organic chicken strips are half off at $3.99 each, and there are great deals on two local products: pints of Boulder ice cream for $2.50 each, and Blue Moose salsas for $2 each, both excellent prices.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Lost My Posts!

The blogging software that runs this blog has been down most of the morning, and now that it's back up, it lost my posts from yesterday and today! No time for real reconstruction, so here's the synopsis. There will be a Fair Trade Town Crawl tomorrow, including Fair Trade products highlighted at three of our natural groceries, details here.

For weekend dinners, here's the very brief version of what's in the works:

Tonight, seafood succotash, scallops a good deal at Alfalfa's, corn at Sprouts, Sunflower, Whole Foods.

Tomorrow, summer squash and corn chowder, corn as above, organic squash at Alfalfa's.

Sunday, NY strip steaks from Alfalfa's, sauteed organic zucchini (Alfalfa's) and cherry toms (Whole Foods).

And that's all the time available for reconstruction, curses.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fair Trade Crawl Saturday

This Saturday, the 14th, Boulder will host a Fair Trade Town Crawl, highlighting Fair Trade products at ten locations around town, including Ideal Market, Sunflower Market, and the Pearl Street Whole Foods. In addition to sampling on the Crawl, crawlers will have an opportunity to win Fair Trade prizes. Details here.

Cheaper At The Farmers Market?

As the sun makes an attempt to peek through after a blessed day of rain in Boulder, here's some food for thought (ouch) from The Atlantic about why you might want to get to the Farmers' Market that starts today at four. It might even be cheaper than shopping the grocery stores. I'll have to pay closer attention to the price comparisons, since that hasn't been my general sense. And it can also be hard to compare prices in an environment favoring bags and bunches, rather that weights and measures. But it's nice to think that farmers' markets are in the running or even beating grocery stores on prices, and our Boulder Farmers' Market is simply the best for freshness of produce and local support. Darn, if we can't be elitist shopping at the Farmers' Market, where's a Boulderite to turn next?

This Week's Hot New Deals (IMHO)

We have new specials starting today at our Boulder Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods, along with those that are continuing at Alfalfa's and Vitamin Cottage. Here's my take on what's appealing of the new deals.

Corn wars (presumably conventional and certainly not yet local): 6 for $1 at both Sprouts and Sunflower through 5/18, 3 for $1 at Whole Foods through 5/31.

Pork rib wars: bone-in country style $1.99 a pound at Sprouts, baby back $2.99 a pound at Sunflower (both through 5/18), St. Louis style spareribs $3.99 a pound at Whole Foods through 5/31.

Fresh mozzarella wars: 8 ounce BelGioioso $2.99 at Sprouts, Mozzarella Fresca $3.99 at Sunflower, both through 5/18, but for today only at Whole Foods, you can get 8 ounce Mozzarella Fresca for $2.99.

In Sprouts new deals through 5/18, in addition to the above, I particularly like their "Gluten Free Jubilee," with 25% off over 2,000 gluten-free items, running all the way through 5/25. Flash frozen Alaskan sockeye salmon is a good price at $6.97 a pound, but I'm waiting for the start of the fresh season in just a few more weeks. Several types of beef roasts are 30% off, beef stew meat or short ribs are $3.99 a pound, 51/60 count (pretty small) cooked shrimp are $5.99 a pound, wild caught Alaskan cod is $7.99 a pound, and colossal sea scallops are $10.99 a pound. Lots of good deals in organic produce, where cucumbers are just 69 cents a pound, gala apples are 99 cents a pound, Italian squash (think zucchini) and broccoli are both $1.29 a pound, one pound bags of baby carrots are $1.50 each, vine-ripe tomatoes are $1.99 a pound, and three pound bags of yellow onions are $1.99. Finally, my favorite big 32 ounce containers of Straus European-style organic yogurts are just $3 each (try it instead of sour cream).

Sales looking good at Sunflower through 5/18 include boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.99 a pound in the family pack, all chicken sausage $2.99 a pound, and ground turkey for $2.99 a pound. In organic produce, romaine lettuce looks great at 99 cents a head, gala apples or yellow onions are 99 cents a pound, fresh cucmbers are 99 cents each, and 8 ounces of strawberries are $2. Select Amy's lasagnas are up to half off at $2.50 each, yummy Evol burritos are $2 for select varieties, and Kozy Shack puddings look great at $1.99 for the four pack.

At Whole Foods through 5/31, I'm liking London broil nearly half price at $3.99 a pound, organic grape tomatoes at $2.50 a pint, organic mini peppers at $2.50 for 16 ounces, and organic spinach at just $1.50 a bunch. Select Santa Cruz lemonades are just $1.25 each, better than half off, and if you need hamburger buns, three types are on sale. In soaps, EO liquid hand soaps are $4.99 each, $4 off (but you can catch them for $3.99 for today only), and Greenshield organic liquid laundry detergent can be found for $7.99, $5 off.

For the continuing sales, here are my favorites at Alfalfa's and Vitamin Cottage.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will give us a quartet of special deals for tomorrow only. Fresh cantaloupes will be $1 each, and Norwegian salmon fillet will be $11.99 a pound, $5 off per pound (wonder if that's the fresh farmed fish that's supposed to be particularly good, as farmed salmon goes). Also, Crave Brothers 8 ounce mozzarella balls will be a good price at $2.99 each, and EO liquid hand soap looks great at $3.99 each, $5 off.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Two-Day Heads Up

Just a poke that if you want to grab anything from the current two-week sale at Whole Foods, you have through tomorrow. Particularly appealing items to me include Market Made large cinque formaggio pizzas for $7.99, Laughing Cow Babybel cheeses (4.5 ounce) half off at $2.50, select Oikos Greek yogurt cups $1 each, and their fabulous Market Made Maryland crab cakes $2 off at $10.99 a pound.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Time to start thinking about some easy meals for weekdays. For tomorrow, I'm thinking exceptionally easy, wanting to take advantage of the large cinque formaggio pizza that's just $7.99 at Whole Foods through Tuesday. This is good on its own, or dresses up well with additions like mushrooms and Yves veggie pepperoni to keep it a vegetarian dish. For the side salad, Alfalfa's has red, green, or romaine lettuce for $1.50 a head, and I think I might have seen an unadvertised sale at Whole Foods, too.

We always have something big made over the weekend that serves as an easy midweek reheat, and for Tuesday, it will be potato and yam soup with bacon and spinach, again with a side salad, and maybe some fresh bread from either Alfalfa's or Whole Foods' bakeries.

Catching some reasonably priced asparagus (Whole Foods' $1.99 a pound sale runs through Tuesday), and looking for a rice dish, we'll turn to seasonally-appropriate spring risotto from last month's issue of Cooking Light. This would also be great with any remaining spring greens from the Farmer's Market tossed in as well.

For Thursday, I plan to pick up the ground pork that's $2.99 a pound through Wednesday at Sprouts, since that would be perfect for my new fascination with a dish variously called laap, larb, or laab, which hails from Thailand and also possibly Laos. The spicy ground meat can be wrapped in lettuce leaves for a very satisfying, diet-friendly meal.

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

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Eve Festivities

On this day before Mother's Day, our local stores are planning some special events in her honor. Here's what I know about.

Alfalfa's will have live music in their cafe today from noon to 2, free seed packs and special prizes for moms, plus mother/daughter cooking demos, and Organic Valley will surprise somebody by buying their cart of groceries.

The Boulder Sunflower plans to have "Mother's Day Pampering" today from noon to 2.

The Pearl Street Whole Foods store plans the following:

"Saturday, May 7th
Celebrate Moms Together
10am-4pm FREE
Did you forget to buy mom a present for Mother's Day? Don't worry- we've got you covered!
- Customize your own lotion, bath salt or body wash for mom in our whole body department from 10am to 1pm.
- Have one of our bakery team members personalize a cookie or cupcake for mom from 1pm-4pm for just $1.99 each.
- Sample tasty foods in each department to get creative ideas for a Mother's Day picnic or breakfast in bed."

They also plan a Mother's Day brunch for tomorrow, Mother's Day proper.

Weekend Sale At Whole Foods

Our local Whole Foods stores are offering us another quartet of specials, just for today and tomorrow, and one's a stunner. Organic artichokes will be just $1 each, wow. Also "bone-in split breast chicken" will be $2.99 each (I can't quite visualize that, but it's $2 off the regular price). Yummy horseradish cheddar will be $6.99 each (size not specified, but it's $6 off - pair it with leftovers from Sprouts' sale on USDA Prime top sirloin for just $3.99 a pound), and all Sigg water bottles will be 30% off.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekend Dinner Ideas

How quickly Friday rolls around. I'm planning get get our big weekend pot of something done tonight, making potato and yam soup with bacon and spinach, which Bon Appetit says is a quick one. Sprouts has bags of organic russets for a good sale price, and organic yams are just $1 a pound at Sunflower. But wait, maybe I should rearrange things so that the spinach can come from tomorrow's Farmer's Market. Then I'd also be right next to Alfalfa's, where they're smoking their own bacon in-house, mmmm.

Tomorrow is supposed to hit 80, so unless I switch things around, that spells barbeque, winds permitting. With top sirloin $3.99 a pound at Sprouts, it will be ginger-soy grilled steak from Bon Appetit. The recipe suggests stir-fried sesame asparagus as a side, and Whole Foods has asparagus for $1.99 a pound (other places should be discounting as well at this time of year).

For Sunday, I'm thinking about those fabulous Maryland crab cakes that are on sale for $10.99 a pound at Whole Foods. I just have to have them once again before the sale ends Tuesday, and they'd also be fitting for a Mother's Day meal. To go with them, the organic green beans that are $1.49 a pound at Alfalfa's are suggesting green bean succotash from Bon Appetit. We have a very long way to go before our local corn season, but ears of corn from elsewhere have made their appearance in our local stores recently, so with summer-like weekend temperatures, we can anticipate summer on the table, too.

And that will get us through the weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Deals At Alfalfa's

While at Alfalfa's today, I picked up their sales flyer with specials that run through May 17th. Looking especially good to me are their Meyer Natural Angus New York strip steaks at $10.99 a pound, $5 off. The Meyer ribeyes they had on sale last week were excellent. Fresh Mexican bay scallops (Monterey Bay Certified) are $7.99 a pound. (I haven't had a chance to try much of their seafood yet, but the swordfish I bought on opening day was about the best I've ever had, plus I like their sustainability commitment.) Organic produce also has some good deals, including green beans at $1.49 a pound, zucchini and yellow squash just 99 cents a pound, Valencia oranges even cheaper at 49 cents a pound, and red, green, or romaine lettuce $1.50 a head.

GoLite Warehouse Sale Starts This Weekend

Okay, so this has nothing to do with cooking, but it's too good to ignore and I've mentioned it before. The big GoLite (or GoLight, as people tend to spell it) outdoor gear sale, with huge savings of 30 to 80%, starts this Saturday and will run everyday through the 15th, 9 am to 7 pm. It's at the same place as last year, 3850 Frontier Street, just off of Pearl west of Foothills Parkway. Details here. Grab some great gear and get outdoors to work off all those cooking calories. UPDATE - the sale has been extended through May 22nd.

So Many Things To Celebrate

We have a slew of fun celebrations from today through this weekend, starting with Cinco de Mayo today, which I covered a few days ago here. Don't forget also that the Pearl Street Whole Foods will be doing Cinco de Mayo tastings from 4 to 7 today, mentioned here, and Alfalfa's is promising it to be a "food fiesta and always fun times."

Then tomorrow will be graduation at CU, so major congrats to all graduates, as I send hopes for festive celebrations your way.

But then we're on to Saturday, which will be the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, an excuse for a party if ever there was one. Epicurious has a nice guide that will take you through everything you'll want to eat and (more to the point) drink for that festive day.

But wait, then we're on to Sunday, which is Mother's Day. Heavens, mother has seen enough of the inside of a kitchen, so take her out. Or there can be special in-house options like brunch or a special dinner, which I'll cover a bit later.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Boulder Farmer's Market Today

So we're that far into the season already. Today will be the first Wednesday afternoon for this year's Boulder Farmer's Market, open from 4 to 8 this evening. And if Longmont's your location, the opening day there will be this Saturday, from 8 to 2. Now I'm anticipating my favorite farm stands opening as well, but those will likely be awhile yet.

This Week's Hot New Deals (IMHO)

We have new sales starting today at Sprouts and Sunflower, while Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods continue from last week. Alfalfa's also should have a new set of sales today, but it looks like I'll need to get to the store to see what they are. So here are some highlights, based on what's in front of me.

Lobster tail wars (in time for Mother's Day): $5.99 for 5 ounce at Sprouts, $4.99 for 3.5-4 ounce at Sunflower, both through May 11th.

Tilapia wars: $6.99 a pound at Sprouts, $5.99 a pound at Sunflower, both through May 11th, but based on this NYT article, I'd check the country of origin first.

At Sprouts through May 11th, other deals that look good to me include natural cut up or whole chickens for $1.49 a pound (but see below for an organic option at Sunflower), boneless top sirloin steak for $3.99 a pound, grass-fed organic ground beef for $3.99 a pound (Sunflower also has grass-fed ground beef for $3.99 a pound, but the ad doesn't say organic), and fresh ground pork for $2.99 a pound. In organic produce, a one pound bag of carrots is stellar at 88 cents each, red delicious apples are 99 cents a pound (same at Sunflower), green onions are just 69 cents a bunch, Braeburn apples are $2.99 for a three pound bag, and russets are $2.99 for a five pound bag. If going for conventional watermelon, you can get a whole seedless one for $1.25. I really like Sprouts' bulk coffee beans (including organic Fair Trade decaf), so I'm happy to see it on sale for $8.99 a pound.

Deals that appeal to me at Sunflower through May 11th include an "ultimate steak sale," with several Harris Ranch cuts all at 40% off, organic whole chickens for $1.99 a pound, and 41/50 count cooked shrimp for $4.99 a pound. In organic produce, romaine lettuce looks good at $1.77 a head, broccoli and white cauliflower are $1.88 a pound, red delicious apples are 99 cents a pound (same at Sprouts), jewel and garnet yams are $1 a pound, and Hass avocados are $1 each. Like Sprouts, Sunflower is featuring conventional whole seedless watermelons, in this case at 17 cents a pound (how much does one watermelon weigh?). Also looking good, Lundberg rice chips are $1.50 (and check Mambo Sprouts for a 75 cents off coupon), my fave Crunchmaster crackers are $1.50 a bag (with $1 off coupon at Mambo Sprouts, practically free!), and select Pamela's cookies are $2.99 a box, plus more than 50 gluten-free products are 20% off.

Vitamin Cottage's long lasting sale is highlighted here, and I covered highlights of Whole Foods' new sale when it came out last week. Will spread some news about what's happening at Alfalfa's as soon as I get there.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

For tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have a duo of special sales. Wild caught coho salmon will be $9.99 a pound, $5 off their usual price, and Pamela's gluten free pancake mix will be $7.99 for 64 ounces, a whopping $7 off.

Cinco De Mayo At Whole Foods

The Pearl Street Whole Foods will be whooping it up for Cinco de Mayo on Thursday, with samples and giveaways. Here's what they say:

"Thursday, May 5th
Cinco De Mayo Fiesta
4-7pm FREE

Join us as we celebrate Cinco De Mayo with yummy samples in every department and "Fiesta in a Bag" giveaways at checkout."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Avoiding Imported Tilapia

Thank heavens country of origin is required in fish cases these days. Today's New York Times gives us good reasons for seeking out tilapia farmed in the United States or otherwise designated as responsible, per this article.

Saveur's Rustic Mexican Food Feature

Wouldn't you know, I no sooner write the post below about Cinco de Mayo, mentioning the great article in Saveur magazine on the food of Zacatecas, Mexico that wasn't yet available online, and today they post it. You can find the illuminating article here, with a gallery of local recipes, including the arroz a la Mexicana that I mentioned in a post yesterday.

Cinco De Mayo Menu Guides

Looking for inspiration for a Cinco de Mayo dinner, either this Thursday on the 5th, or postponed for a weekend fete (a Mother's Day fiesta?)? Check out these guides from Bon Appetit, Epicurious, and the New York Times. For some particularly authentic ideas, grab a copy of the current May issue of Saveur, with its extensive feature on the rustic food of rural Zacatecas, Mexico. (It will eventually be online, but isn't yet.) Or turn to Rick Bayless' recipes section for even further inspiration.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Happy May Day. Tonight's dinner of pasta with peas, asparagus, lettuce, and prosciutto is suitably spring-like, and we'll continue the spring celebration tomorrow with shrimp risotto with baby spinach and basil, another Bon Appetit recipe. The shrimp are on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower, while my spinach is beautiful stuff bought at yesterday's Boulder Farmer's Market, although it can obviously come from a store, too.

For Tuesday, we always have something big made over the weekend that serves as a quick midweek reheat, and in this case it will be the smoky shrimp and halibut stew. Tuesday will also be the last day of the current Alfalfa's sale, where organic spring mix for the side salad is a stunning $1.99 a pound (and the Pearl Street Whole Foods was matching that the last time I looked).

By Wednesday we'll want something with an Asian flair, and since that will be the last day of Sunflower's 40% off select ground meat sale, I'm thinking of trying something new from the April issue of Bon Appetit, spicy pork with asparagus and chile. Since ground pork isn't part of Sunflower's sale, we'll use ground turkey or chicken instead, and we can catch asparagus for $1.99 a pound at Whole Foods all the way through May 10th. I'd up the sparse number of green onions (in Vietnam, we saw that they were very liberally used, and delicious), and maybe throw in some of my green garlic from the Farmer's Market. We'd normally serve something like this over brown rice, but might use sobas this time for variety (and they're buckwheat, too).

Finally, we'll want something simple and quick for Thursday, and since Wednesday's "pork" dish will be turkey or chicken instead, we'll go with a quick saute of pork chops, which are $2.99 a pound through Wednesday at Sprouts. Since Thursday will be Cinco de Mayo, if I get ambitious I'll do arroz a la Mexicana from the current issue of Saveur. They're not yet sharing that content online, but there are plenty of other recipes for it out there, like this one.

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