Market Musings Blog

Locally-loaded potato soup

Looking over this week’s deals, a meal idea jumped out at us – Mashed potato soup, loaded with local ingredients! Read more …

Warm breakfast ideas

I had a realization this week. I looked down at my staple summer breakfast -a bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola- and was no longer satisfied. It just wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I wanted something heartier. I wanted something… warm.

Luckily I work here, where everyone is talking about (or eating) food, all the time. Apparently, I wasn’t the only craving something different for breakfast. As I strolled around the office, I noticed that Lauren had unpacked her Oatmeal-in-a-jar and Luke was eating a hot breakfast sandwich at his desk.

Beyond those two stand-bys around here, I was also pointed to these two recipes, both warm & hearty, yet satisfying in different ways. Read more …

Taste the Difference! Round 1: Butter

Mississippi Market’s members and shoppers are a savvy group, but feedback tells us that many people are reluctant to try new brands and varieties of expensive foods.

If it’s only a matter of comparing, say, your usual daikon radish to the flashy watermelon radish, it’s easy enough to drop one of each into your basket and sample to your hearts’ content. When it comes to expensive foods that commonly come only in fairly large quantities, however, most folks are grateful simply to have found a brand or variety that you like, and you leave it at that.

hope_creamery_butterMississippi Market to the rescue!
On Sunday, August 25, we began a series of Taste the Difference! tastings in our kitchen classroom so you could blind-taste Mississippi Market and big-box foods that you might otherwise not try. Our first tasting was of butter—and by the end, everyone was definitely buttered out. Five brands of unsalted and six of salted butter were blind-tasted by participants, on slices of Rustica baguette. The butters ranged from big-box store brands to some of the co-op’s customer favorites. None of the participants had any idea what they were tasting, so their votes were on taste, mouth feel, texture, and color alone.

butter & knifeThe winners: first place among unsalted butters was shared by Hope and Rochdale Farms; first place among salted butters was awarded to Hope. Interestingly, none of the participants had tasted Hope butter before, though most of them promptly sped off to the dairy case following the tasting to score a pound of it.

Why did they attend our first Taste the Difference! blind tasting? 
“I was so delighted to see that the market was holding tastings of foods. I am very unlikely to buy several varieties to compare myself, because what am I going to do with five or six different brands of butter or olive oil?” one of the enthusiastic butter eaters told us.

Olives_in_olive_oilWe agree!
And we hope you’ll join us for our next Taste the Difference! on Saturday, November 9, from 3–4.30 pm at the West 7th store, when we’ll taste a wide variety of olive oils – both for cooking & for dipping.

Hey, cat lovers – Eat Local Month’s not just for humans

It’s not at all uncommon for people to pamper their pets, sometimes by way of treats, toys, special grooming, or young children (oh, I already said toys). Among these other ways, our cats are also pampered in their everyday food.   When we adopted a pair of sibling kittens just about a year ago, we did some research into what the healthiest and most natural food out there was (and one that would still fit into our budget).  It seemed clear to us that the way to go was to simply make our own raw meat cat food at home.

Cats are, by design, hunters—pull out a feather toy or laser pointer or watch them around a bug and you’re sure to see the instincts kick in—but their teeth and digestive tract are set up to process raw meat, and little else.  We read over and over that dry-only diets are the worst for cats, and are the leading cause of obesity and other health issues…because they simply didn’t evolve to eat such stuff.  Canned wet food is a step up, no doubt, but even the varieties we sell at Mississippi Market have filler and are bound to utilize meat scraps and some form of preservatives, and this highly processed mush doesn’t give a cat’s teeth the same cleaning that chewing into fresh meat does. We discovered that it’s really not difficult to make a simple, chicken-based chow that our kittens really enjoy.  And when I say ‘really’, I mean they complain quite vocally if we run out and substitute canned food instead.

Most ingredients for making your own cat food can be found at Mississippi Market.

Most ingredients for making your own cat food can be found at Mississippi Market.

The recipe we work from we found online at Cat Nutrition and it’s pretty simple, almost everything is available at Mississippi Market, and all of the meat and eggs are locally produced!

-Raw muscle, bone-in meat:  We usually use Kadejan or Schultz whole chickens.  We’ve also made a batch using a rabbit from LTD Farms, but that was some costly meat.  Dark meat is more nutritious than white meat, so adding in some leg quarters is wise.  Essential nutrients are found in bones, and if you don’t grind these in, additional dry supplements will be necessary.

-Organ meat: cats will usually eat their entire kill, and vital vitamins, minerals, and proteins are only found in certain organs.  US food laws only allow sale of whole animals after certain organs have been removed, so you’ll need to get some chicken hearts and livers to supplement; Kadajan also offers these, and can be found in the meat freezers or special ordered.  Our cat Porter really enjoys a plain heart as a treat, too!

-Egg yolks: we almost always buy Schultz eggs in bulk.

-Water: while cats will drink water from a bowl, much of their hydration should come from food (one reason the dry-only diet isn’t ideal).

Cat food #2

A meat grinder is necessary. We found one online for about $120, it works great & has uses for human food, too.

-A variety of vitamin and mineral supplements: since skin, hair, and many organs have been removed from the meat we grind, essential oils and other nutrients won’t be present in the above ingredients alone.  Of what the website lists, almost everything is either readily available in the Wellness section of our stores or can be special ordered.  I think the only part of this recipe we couldn’t buy at Mississippi Market was the glandular supplement, but this is relatively inexpensive to order online.

-Lastly, a meat grinder is necessary.  We bought a simple stand-alone unit (as in not a Kitchenaid attachment) for about $120 online, and it has worked flawlessly for us, bones and all, for the past year.

The recipe calls for mixing the yolks, water, and supplements into a slurry, which is then mixed in with all the ground up meat (we use a medium-size grind head).  When using whole birds, we remove the skin to cut excess fat out of the recipe when there’s white meat included….and this helps the grinder from getting clogged up.  I’ve had friends around during the process who’ve asked what I was making because it looked quite good.

Cat food #3

Need a reason to buy Talenti gelato? Their containers work great for reusable storage!

If you’re busy or don’t want to walk through the entire process multiple times a month, it’s simple stuff to store and freeze. We usually make a double batch of this recipe, and that’ll last us right about a month for our two still-young cats. And, what better reason to buy Talenti gelato? The sturdy plastic containers are excellent for re-using for storage (Heads-up – Talenti will be on sale for part of September! Perfect!) Each of these containers is about two days-worth of food for two cats, at two-servings a day.

After our first batch, we cost it out to see if it would be a cost-effective venture to keep up with. Not counting the grinder (which can be used for a plethora of other human-food tasks!) or Talenti, buying all the raw food and supplements works out to be about the same as buying a similar quantity of any of the cans of cat food we sell when they are on sale. And if you snag meat or supplements when they are on sale or otherwise discounted, all the better. The whole process (cutting apart the chicken through the final cleaning) for a batch the size we make is usually a two hour process at most, but we only need to do it about once a month.

Finding the benefits of raw cat food isn’t hard, from helping avoid kidney and weight issues, a healthier coat, a more active personality, to just knowing what’s going into the food this extension of your family is eating. Oh, and they won’t be able to get enough.

Cat food #4

We discovered that it’s really not difficult to make a simple, chicken-based chow that our kittens really enjoy. And when I say ‘really’, I mean they complain quite vocally if we run out and substitute canned food instead.

*Disclaimers: While cats’ systems are tuned to digest raw food, all precautions should be taken with making sure what they eat is as fresh as possible. Only thaw what they will eat within 2-3 days, and be sure to clean all hands, surfaces, containers, and implements that come in contact with raw meat immediately. Transitioning a cat from a dry-only or canned food diet should be done gradually. There is always the risk of injury from a bone fragment being too big or sharp, but this is nothing that a cat wouldn’t also risk hunting on their own outdoors.

Co-written by Ben & Jess Zamora-Weiss, staff members and bloggers for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. You’ll also find Ben at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find and Jess at the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and taste amazing!

You want cheese on that burger?

Get the coals, make the lemonade, unfold the lawn chairs, get out the boom box, and put the beer on ice. It’s time to bust out that grill and cook up some burgers – sun, or no sun!

No offense to our lactose intolerant and vegan friends, but for me a plain hamburger just won’t do. It’s gotta be a CHEESEburger.  A hamburger without cheese is just like early eighties musical duo Hall and Oates… each excellent on their own, but unmistakably magical when paired together.  While American slices will always be a burger’s best friend, you might want to think about classing your beef, turkey, or veggie patty up with some of our favorite burger toppers.  Here are some of our favorite burger companions.

Burger toppings

(Recommended Grilling Soundtrack)                                  (Very solid layering of burger ingredients)

joe widmer

(excellent early 90’s cheesemaker pose from Joe Widmer)

Widmer’s Two Year Cheddar,Wisconsin- Joe Widmer has been cranking out award winning cheeses for decades. He originally started helping out at his grandpa’s plant when he was six years old. The plant itself has literally been home to three generations of cheesemakers, living directly above the plant. Joe is a certified Master Cheesemaker and we think his Two Year Cheddar is the bee’s knees on top of a burger. Sharp and meltable, this crowd pleasing cheddar will not get lost in a burger that is piled high with your other favorite burger toppings.

Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue, Wisconsin- Roth Kase Buttermilk blue is exactly what it sounds like. A tangy, piquant blue cheese that is mellowed out by a buttery smooth finish thanks to milk from predominantly Jersey cows. Forget about crumbled blue cheese, grab a thick slice of this Raw Milk blue – your gonna want a lot. Blue cheese not really your thing? Try cutting the blue with one of Minnesota’s favorite condiments…mayonnaise.

Somerdale Red Dragon, United Kingdom- This Burger Topper Cheese is a triple threat. Threat No.1- It is fantastic high-moisture (good for melting) cheddar from across the pond. Threat No.2- It already has whole grain mustard seeds in it. The mustard seeds provide all the tang you need for your burger. Threat No. 3- It has beer in it. My personal grilling drink of choice is grained into this multifaceted cheddar. Less is more with this cheese. Full flavored and packed full of mustard, this cheddar can be the predominant flavor of your burger if you’d like.

Abbott’s Gold Carmelized Onion Cheddar, England- This cheese is seriously rich. No need to chop a bunch of onions and painstakingly caramelize them on the stove top. You can skip that step because Abbot’s Gold does it for you. Of our recommended Burger Toppers, this is the cheese that screams…Give me bacon!

And remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Take yourself on a culinary adventure and experiment with other cheeses. If you find any keepers please make sure to stop back into the Market and let us know!
- Kevin L., Selby cheese buyer & cheeseburger connoisseur 

So now you know how we feel about burger toppings, but what about the burger itself? Jay C., our West 7th meat & seafood manager, recommends trying local ground beef from Hill & Vale. The grass-fed, grain-finished beef is super tasty and the flavor is a good balance between 100% grass-fed and 100% grain-fed.

For non-meat-eaters, try a local Trempeleau Walnut Burger on the grill. Or, a grilled portabello mushroom is always delicious on a bun with your favorite burger toppings.