Market Musings Blog

Big on bulk

Buying in bulk doesn’t mean dealing with large quantities. At the co-op, we’re big on bulk because buying in bulk means buying products with minimal or no packaging.

The best part is that it’s easier on the earth and your pocketbook.  Read more …

A condiment that brings the heat – Giardiniera

Okay, I won’t lie, in my house, we’re a little less than patient for spring to really be here.  Thinking about warm weather makes me think of grilling, which in turn makes me think about condiments.  About a year ago, I discovered my new favorite: giardinieraRead more …

There’s oatmeal, and then there’s oatmeal.

Ounce for ounce, oats have more fat and more protein than most grains, making them perfect fodder for our keenly cold late winter. With their fat and fiber, they stick to your ribs, as people used to say. Read more …

Tea – finding the perfect mug

That great warming morning beverage, that iced and sun-brewed afternoon cup, or that mug at the end of the day to help the sleep come.  Mmmm, tea. Read more …

Hoppin’ John for good luck in the new year

New Year’s Day in the American South is celebrated in many families with Hoppin’ John, a stew made with black eyed peas. Some people add a penny or other small trinket to the beans when serving them. Whoever finds it is promised especially good luck in the new year. As many recipes can be found for Hoppin’ John as there are cooks who make it, so use this one as a foundation for creating your own version. Read more …

Easy salads complement summer meals

We love the versatility of beans and grains, especially for making summer salads. They work great as a side dish or an entrée; they’re great for a crowd (make one for the next barbeque you’re invited to); and, they make great leftovers (make a salad at the start of the week and you’ll have lunches for the following days).

We’ve borrowed this handy chart from Mark Bittman – it breaks down just how easy it is to make your own salads and dressings. Plus, it suggests various additions so that you can mix & match.  The Basic Bean & Grain Salad is a good place to start. The Pinto Bean & Quinoa salad is an example of what you can come up with when you combine the ingredients in the chart. You’re bound to a nave a new salad each week of the summer!

Mix & Match - Make your own salads

Basic Bean & Grain Salad
ingredients
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1⁄4 cup chopped red onion or shallot
Salt and black pepper
4 cups cooked or canned beans, drained, or cooked grains, or a combination
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation: Combine lemon juice, oil, onion, and salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk. If you’ve just cooked the beans or grains, add them to the dressing while they are still hot. Toss gently until the beans or grains are coated, adding more oil or lemon juice if you like.
Let cool to room temperature (or refrigerate), stirring every now and then to redistribute the dressing. Stir in the parsley just before serving, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Simple Pinto Bean & Quinoa Salad
Ingredients
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
1⁄4 cup chopped shallot
Salt and black pepper
2 cups cooked pinto beans
2 cups cooked quinoa
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation: Combine the lemon juice, oil, shallot, and salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk. Add cooked beans and grains to the dressing while they are still hot. Toss gently until the beans and grains are coated, adding more oil or lemon juice if you like.
Let cool to room temperature (or refrigerate), stirring every now and then to redistribute the dressing. Stir in the parsley just before serving, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Add fresh veggies, or serve with greens or crusty bread.
Adapted from Mark Bittman.

 

Iced Coffee – at home or at the co-op

I’m a great fan of high-grown African coffees, but boy—they’re no fan of me! If you’re like me, you should try cold-pressed coffee.

It couldn’t be simpler: the cold-press method tames acidity (and caffeine content, too), producing sweet, brightly flavored cups that can be drunk straight but I prefer to temper with milk. And what better, in summer, than Vietnamese coffee (cà-phê-sua)—that sweet, languorous drink? I think the sharpness of a high-acidity coffee, tamed by cold-press and sweetened condensed milk, yields the best of all possible cups—the perfect drink for sitting on the porch on a scorching-hot Minnesota summer day.

You could win a Co-op Discovery Box! Snap a pic of your cold press coffee. Tag #trythischallenge Twitter/Instagram!

Vietnamese Coffee
Makes 1 cup

6 oz. very concentrated cold-press East African coffee*
1 tablespoon to ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk

1. Stir coffee and milk together.
2. Pour over a glass filled with ice.

*Try Peace Coffee’s Ethiopian—sensational.

New to cold-press coffee?
You can make it using a variety of methods. This one uses a Toddy:

1. Plug the hole in the bottom of the coffee maker, spritz the filter, and place it in the bottom.
2. Add a cup of cold water and 6 ounces of finely ground coffee. Pour in 3 more cups of cold water, slowly circling the measuring cup over the grounds. Add another 6 ounces of coffee, wait 5 minutes, then add another 3 cups of cold water. Don’t stir! But you can lightly tap the grounds that are floating on top to make sure they become wetted (they’ll eventually sink).
3. Allow to steep for 12–18 hours. (You do not have to refrigerate the Toddy.) Decant the coffee by removing the stopper and allowing the coffee to flow into a two-quart glass canning jar. It will keep well in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

But, you can also make it using a French press.

Out and about? Stop by our stores to pick up a Cowfee. You read that right, a Cowfee. It’s an iced latté to-go – cold press, milk and organic cane sugar chilled to cool you down & pick you up. Available now at the Selby store & coming soon to West 7th.

Bulk Love: Twist ties, stickers & glass jars

We sell Restore the Earth dish soap soap in bulk & in a package. This local company uses plant-based solvents and other biodegradable ingredients.

We sell Restore the Earth dish soap soap in bulk & in a package. This local company uses plant-based solvents and other biodegradable ingredients.

Shopping in the bulk section is fun for many reasons: no packaging hiding the food – you can see it all, the scoops and bins are hands-on, you can load up however much (or little) you’d like, and we have stickers & twist ties to label your containers. You can bring in your own jars and containers or use one of our bags. Shopping in bulk is versatile and the best part is that it’s easy on the earth and your pocketbook.

Less Food Waste
Research shows that between 25% and 50% of the food Americans purchase ends up in the garbage or compost.  Buying in bulk means you can buy only the amount you need– no waste!

Lower Costs, Lower Prices
Without all those packages to design, manufacture and fill, our suppliers can offer us better costs on bulk foods than packaged foods,  and we pass those savings on to you.

Less Packaging Waste
Americans discard 570 million pounds of food packaging each day.  By bringing your own containers for bulk foods, you avoid much of the waste associated with packaged products.

Here’s a primer for buying in bulk:

If you bring your own container, weigh it and record the weight while empty.  That’s the tare weight.

2. Fill your container with the amount you need. Pelase use the clean scoops and funnels provided or ask for assistance. We’re happy to help!

3. Record the PLU number from the bin on the container. All the cashier will need is thePLU number and the tare weight and product.

Bulk eggs allow for you to buy just enough - breakfast for one or brunch for twenty.

Bulk eggs allow for you to buy just enough – breakfast for one or brunch for twenty.

Beyond the bulk section
With all the bins and jugs, the bulk department is easy to spot. But don’t forget that we sell plenty of other products in bulk too – produce, eggs and meat at our West 7th meat & seafood counter, allowing you to buy just as much as you need.

 

 

 

Make Oscar night pop!

Old-Fashioned Popcorn

Buying popcorn in bulk assures freshness. Whole Grain Milling, of Welcome MN provides our bulk popcorn.

Buying popcorn in bulk assures freshness. Whole Grain Milling, of Welcome MN, provides our bulk popcorn.

Sitting down to a good movie isn’t quite the same without a bag of popcorn, so why would you watch the awards without one?

Food historians believe popped corn was the first culinary use of maize, and they trace its use back to the Aztecs and Incas in Mexico in the fifth century BCE. The first recorded uses of it in North America were in the 1840s, when the kernels were brought to New England by American sailors. A popcorn craze soon followed, fueled in part by increasing travel: popcorn could be sold to train and stage passengers. It became a favorite in saloons as well, where highly salted free popcorn encouraged drinking. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, the 1877

Popcorn balls were part of a popcorn snack wave that started in the mid 1800s.

Popcorn balls were part of a popcorn snack wave that started in the mid 1800s.

edition of which was published in Minneapolis, contains a recipe for “Pop-Corn Balls . . . such as the street peddlers sell.” At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the confection Cracker Jacks was introduced to a nationwide audience and became a long-lasting success: popcorn, molasses, and peanuts. The early movie industry increased popcorn’s popularity, as did the growing number of baseball stadiums, for freshly popped corn drizzled with butter was both delicious and an ideal snack, since it required nothing more than hands and a simple container to eat it.

In an odd way, the arrival of the microwave oven in the 1970s spelled the decline of popcorn—not of its popularity, but of its tastiness. The overly salted, overly heated popcorn produced with commercial microwaved packets pales beside the flavor of freshly popped, stovetop-made popcorn.

Stovetop popcorn offers more in flavor than its salty sibling,  microwave popcorn.

Stovetop popcorn offers more in flavor than its salty sibling, microwave popcorn.

Here’s how to make popcorn that’s leagues better than the microwave variety. It takes very little more time, and it affords you the luxury of deciding what, if any, toppings you want to add to it.

Plain Stovetop Popcorn
Use a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Don’t crank the heat too high; the oil will degrade at high temperatures and singe the corn kernels.

 

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of high smokepoint oil (for example, canola or grapeseed)
½ cup corn for popping*
salt to taste

Toppings (optional): melted butter, tasty olive oil, caster (extra-fine) sugar, brown sugar, toasted nuts, nutritional yeast, powdered chipotle or cayenne, molasses

  • Put the oil in the pot, turn heat to MEDIUM, and add 2–3 kernels of corn. Cover the pot.
  • As soon as the kernels have popped, add the rest of them, cover, and shake the pot back and forth a few times each minute to distribute the oil and prevent the kernels from burning.
  • When you can no longer hear popping, remove the pot from the burner.
  • Pour the popcorn into a big bowl; drizzle with butter or oil and add salt, a bit at a time, until you like the level of saltiness. If you want sugared popcorn, add the caster sugar or brown sugar as soon as possible so it partially melts from the corn’s heat.
  • Nutritional yeast is tasty on popcorn, as is a bit of heat from powdered chipotle or cayenne. For old-fashioned, nineteenth-century American popcorn, add some molasses and toasted nuts and mix them in thoroughly. You can also make a heavy sugar syrup, allow it to cool and thicken a bit, and use it to form popcorn into balls. Pour the syrup over the popcorn, then use your greased hands to form the balls—children love to do this.

* Buy your popcorn in bulk if possible, because popping corn that gets a lot of turnover contains more moisture and pops faster and more thoroughly.

A versatile holiday cookie dough + recipes

Everyone loves holiday cookies, though few people have the time to make several varieties. But here is a master dough recipe that you can easily vary to produce cookies with three distinctive flavors and appearances. These are delicate, crunchy cookies made with the season’s nuts, and each of them will win you raves.

James Beard’s Nut Butter Balls
Austrian Nut Crescents
New Mexican Biscochitos

The first two of these cookies use identical doughs and differ in their shapes and flavorings—Nut Butter Balls are most glorious with pecans or hazelnuts, while Austrian Nut Crescents feature walnuts. Set aside one-third of the dough to modify for making traditional New Mexican Biscochitos.

The Master Dough

Ingredients:
2 c. unsalted butter
1/4–1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. sifted all-purpose flour

  • Preheat oven to 325°; use middle rack of oven.
  • Cream butter; add sugar and beat in until mixture is fluffy. Add vanilla.
  • Add flour.
  • Divide dough into three portions; place each in a separate bowl.

Cooking Tip: To grind nuts, you may use a hand-crank nut mill, a food processor or a coffee grinder (not the one you use for coffee, though!).  Just be sure to pulse briefly if you use the electric options- Or you’ll end up with nut butters!

Nut Butter Balls

Ingredients:
1/3 master dough
1 1/3. c. finely ground pecans or hazelnuts
2/3 Tbsp. brandy (optional)
Powdered sugar, sifted                   

  • Add 1 1/3 c. c. finely ground pecans or hazelnuts. Using fingers, mix nuts lightly into dough.
  • If desired, add brandy and mix lightly again.
  • Roll out portions of dough, 1/4 c. at a time, into 1/2-inch diameter snakes. Cut into 1/2-inch lengths and roll between your hands into small balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet and cook for 10–12 minutes.
  • While they’re still warm, roll balls in sifted powdered sugar. 

Austrian Nut Crescents:

Ingredients:
1/3 master dough
1 1/3 c. finely ground walnuts
Powdered sugar, sifted

  • Add 1 1/3 c. c. finely ground walnuts to dough. Using fingers, mix nuts lightly into dough.
  • Chill dough in refrigerator until it can be easily rolled into a log about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Roll dough into a log, and cut off slices about 1 inch thick. Place each section on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bend each end of cookie so that it forms a crescent. Bake for 10–12 minutes until lightly colored.
  • While they’re still slightly warm, sift powdered sugar from far above cookies so that it coats them very delicately.

New Mexican Biscochitos

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/3 master dough
1 1/3 c. more of sifted all-purpose sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. anise seed, ground or anise oil extract
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • Add egg to 1/3 of Master Dough; stir in thoroughly, then add flour, baking powder, salt, brandy, and anise seed.
  • Flour a board and roll out dough 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters or cut into your own shapes. Before placing on greased cookie sheet, sift combined sugar and cinnamon over cookies from a height so that it coats them very delicately.
  • Place cookies on pan and bake for 10–12 minutes.