Market Musings Blog

Hey, there’s a game on!

Chicago-Bears-SuperBowl-ShuffleIf truth be told, there are only two Super Bowls from over the years that I really remember. The first is the 1985 Super Bowl with the Super Bowl Shuffle Chicago Bears vs. the New England Patriots. The Bear’s song would have been enough to capture my 4th grade self’s attention and awe. But, it seems that I was also looking for a way to wage a small rebellion against my dad.

You see, I grew up in Wisconsin and there were few things that would rile my dad up like a Packers Game would. The Packers were pretty bad back then and I could not understand why he would want to root for a losing team. So, I chose the Bears as my team. If you know any Packer fans from the ’80s, you can appreciate how much this irked my dad. I ate it up. At some point during the season, I actually started paying attention to the games and understanding the rules. By the time the Super Bowl came around, much to my father’s chagrin, I was pretty invested.

favreThe second Super Bowl I remember was in 1997. By this point I had changed my tune, left the Bears behind and embraced my roots (I know, fair-weather fan). I was ready to cheer the Packers onto victory against the New England Patriots (Sorry, Patriots fans). I even called my dad to share the good news! I doned my green and gold. I hung a sheet I’d spray painted announcing my allegience to Wisconsin outside the house. I invited all my friends and passed around enough plates of Wisconsin cheese and sausage to make my dad proud. I was all in.

I remember the fun of getting behind a team and going a little over the top with it. But, the real reason I remember this game has nothing to do with football. It has to do with the tall, thin, bearded fellow who walked into the party with no interest what-so-ever in the Packers. This year, we’ll be watching our 17th Super Bowl together (everyone now… Aww!)

So, yes, the Super Bowl holds a special place in my heart. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to in the dead of winter. It’s a reason to chill out with friends. It still gives me something to talk about with my dad. And, increasingly, it’s a reason to take snacking to a higher level.

Whether your a football fan or not, don’t be shy – make some memories during the Super Bowl this year.

Recipe Cards header

Ingredients
1 bag local La Perla tortilla chips
Mississippi Market Made chorizo
1/2 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup local Snappy Dog or Salsa Lisa salsa
local Fancy Brand cheddar cheese, shredded
local Chippewa Valley habañero jack cheese, shredded
local Organic Valley sour cream (optional)

Method

  • Arrange the tortilla chips on 1-2 rimmed baking sheets in a single layer.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add bite-sized pieces of chorizo.
  • Cook chorizo until browned and thoroughly cooked. Drain any fat off with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle the chorizo over the chips.
  • Stir together black beans with salsa and spoon over chips.
  • Generously distribute the shredded cheeses over the chips, chorizo and beans.
  • Broil the nachos for just a few minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned (watch these closely!).
  • Serve nachos immediately with cool sour cream and extra salsa for dipping.

Cooking Tip: You can prepare a single-serving of these nachos in a toaster oven !

 

 

Where our deli sources its ingredients

As an individual born after 1985, the power of the internet is certainly not lost on me; Instagram, Yelp, Twitter and a myriad of other distractions have become my personal tastemakers.  As a manager in a natural foods grocery store, I’ve seen my personal procrastinations begin to have a wider impact on customers in my store, and my friends’, family and colleagues purchasing habits. No longer is Facebook just a place to see the pictures from last weekend’s totally awesome party, but also a platform to build community, educate, and hold a dialogue that steers the food trends, that as a member of the food industry, I’m trying to stay two steps ahead of.

This weekend, one such dialogue addressed the use of Sysco as a vendor in Twin Cities’ food co-ops.  At Mississippi Market, we are committed to sourcing ingredients that help us to achieve our mission :

“Mississippi Market creates positive change in the community by influencing the production distribution and enjoyment of food.”

Our product policy, created to support this mission, dictates a preference for vendors that supply organic, local, sustainably produced ingredients that are free of genetically modified ingredients, and fair in price.  This last piece, so often forgotten in the discussion on what qualifies as a “clean” product, is taken especially seriously in the deli.  In our communities the delis are a food access point for new shoppers.  The smells of chili, whole roasted chickens, or fresh brewed coffee, can help to introduce new shoppers to the cooperative business model and a more healthful and sustainable diet.  In my opinion, they are also some of the most enjoyable types of food in our store!  To be able to offer things at a fair price is crucial to the continued success of co-ops.

To that end, we purchase our ingredients from a variety of vendors.  Because of delivery schedules, limited food storage space, and our high production volume we are not able to support as many small local famers as I would like, but we do our best to source from local distributors whenever possible.  Below you will see the breakdown of our deli purchases, by vendor, from our current fiscal year.

Deli purchases year to date

As you can see we do use US Foods as one of our vendors.  They are able to provide us with commercial sizing on products that are simply not available, at a reasonable price, from our other vendors.  It was disappointing to hear that they were bought out by Sysco earlier this year, and even more disappointing when Sysco purchased European Imports this past summer.  Our tangential relationship with Sysco means that their subsidiaries are able to continue to offer ingredients that fall within our product policy at a low cost that can be passed on to our customers.

More illustrative of our commitment to sourcing products of integrity is the breakdown of our ingredients by category: organic, local & organic, local & conventional, and conventional.  Below is a graph of a recent week of deliveries.  As you can see, even in the winter, more than two thirds of our incoming product was local or organic.  Of the conventional items we received that week the many were clean products that were delivered from UNFI or Alberts Organics; Applegate sliced meats, Earth balance margarine and shortening, brown rice syrup, etc.  The only conventional fresh produce we buy with any regularity are bell and hot peppers, and avocados.

deli purchases 1.3-7.14

Every day we are committed to sharing healthy and sustainable foods to our community at a reasonable price.  To do that, and remain competitive with conventional stores that are steadily encroaching on our traditional customer base, we must work with a variety of vendors and continue to source the best values to be passed on to our customers, without compromising our product policy and mission.

Written by Anne O’Gara, the deli operations manager at our Selby store. You’ll find her overseeing the Selby deli team, including the commissary cooking for the West 7th store, as they create wholesome and delicious food day in and day out.

Impromptu – Celery Almond Salad

It’s the dead of winter and I can only eat so many bowls of soup before I start to crave something fresh and crisp. This salad comes together quickly and satisfies the need for something light and flavorful. I was so happy with it that I figured I’d share, for those who are looking for a bit of freshness these days. Read more …

Season’s Eatings

We get excited around here during the holidays. We love how the holidays bring people together and we love playing a part in people’s celebrations by providing fresh, delicious foods for their holiday spreads.

C

Read more …

Thanksgiving Central

Cranberry_Pecan_Skillet_Stuffing_vertictal web

photo courtesy of strongertogether.coop

Digging through dozens of recipes? Reading Thanksgiving recipes until your eyes weep? We’re keeping it simple! Here’s what we think every memorable Thanksgiving meal needs: Read more …

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.

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.

Flavors for Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!Cinco de Mayo is about more than just Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla- It’s a celebration of Mexican heritage and traditions! This year, we’re highlighting some of our favorite Mexican flavors.

Visit our deli between May 1-6 to pick up some of these delicious salads and entreés:

  • Mango black bean salad
  • Chipotle potato salad
  • Southwestern enchilada pie
  • Green chicken enchilada pie
  • Roasted red pepper quesadillas
  • Pesto chicken quesadillas
  • Tres Leches cake

Saturday and Sunday, May 4 & 5, our deli will be serving a Taste of Mexico in the hot bar – try a variety of Mexican entrées and sides for lunch or dinner.

Our cheese department has sales on Queso Fresco and Cotija - authentic Mexican cheeses to add to your meals.

Plus, our produce departments are stocked with avocados and tomatoes for all your guacamole needs. Tired of your everyday salsa? Try mango salsa! Our mangoes are perfectly ripe and ready for salsa!  Just add diced mango to some minced onion, jalapeño and cilantro and squeeze fresh lime over everything for a fresh way to get your fruits and veggies.

Meet Whole Grain MillingConfused about how to properly cut an avocado or a mango?  Our produce managers show you how in these videos: avocado | mango  

Grab a bag of Whole Grain Milling or La Perla chips – they are both made locally and both work well for scooping guacamole and salsa.

Want to spice up any dish?  We recommend our Mississippi Market Made Chorizo.  Perfectly spiced, this sausage can be added to scrambled eggs, nachos, spicy tortilla soup or anything that needs a kick!

 

Make it, quick! – Grilled cheese & soup

Sometimes we just need something quick & easy for mealtime. In winter, something warm is usually preferred.  Well, one of the most comforting and quickest meals around is grilled cheese & soup. Now through February 26th, you’ll find all you need to make this quick meal on sale:

  • Amy’s organic soups – 2 for $5 (choose from chunky tomato bisque, split pea, lentil and more
  • Local, Milton’s Creamery Prairie Breeze cheddar – 20% off
  • Rudi’s organic sliced bread – $3.29 per loaf

Ask around in our aisles and you’ll find that almost everyone has their favorite way to spruce up their grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s a no-fail recipe from James, our grocery manager at Selby, for a grilled cheese sandwich that brings it up a notch:

Garlic Grilled cheese recipe

The Story of my Dinner, or why I ate blackberry jam on beer bread

Tonight’s meal of homemade blackberry jam, Rustica beer bread, Bent River Camembert and Michigan blueberries began with just blackberries, a big bowl of them sitting on my countertop.  I already had another bowl’s worth of them freezing on a baking sheet in my chest freezer.  And there were more ready to be picked, giant blackberries and more than I’ve ever had in years past.  It was time to make jam.

So I headed off to work at the co-op the next morning with my empty jar for sugar.  All I needed to get for the night’s project was lemons (for extra pectin in
the jam), sugar and jar lids.

But along the way that day, my list started growing. I get some insider information by working for the co-op: like knowing the exact moment the Michigan blueberries arrive, or that Rustica bakery has beer bread every Wednesday.  So after work, my shopping cart was filled with Bent River Camembert, made with grass fed organic milk from Cedar Summit Dairy [Which may or may not be going on sale in August for Eat Local Month, hint, hint], the first Michigan blueberries that arrived minutes before, and a loaf of dark and crusty Rustica beer bread.  How could I resist?  I didn’t know I was going to eat these together until I started making the jam.

Making jam isn’t always pretty.  There’s fruit splashing everywhere, towels stacked up and lots of testing spoons.  Not to mention the heat.

So in the moment of jamming, and the mess, sometimes I lose track of dinnertime and have to make a meal of jam.  This is how beer bread with blackberry jam was born. Partly because it was the only bread in the house and partly because blackberries and beer sound fantastic together, I started my meal with dipping beer bread in the jammy-foam that was skimmed off the top of the simmering jam.

Then I started thinking about that Camembert in the fridge.  It has a grassy flavor this time of year, from the cows grazing on fresh pasture.  It’s just the flavor to insert between the malty, rich beer bread with the bright, sweet-tart jam.  Perfect.

I was just starting to feel guilty about eating mostly sugar and cheese for dinner when I remembered those Michigan blueberries.  Adding fruit rounded everything out and made me feel a lot better about my dinner choices. Nothing like a handful of antioxidants to brighten up a meal.

The blackberry jam is cooling now and my pieced-together dinner is long gone.  The kitchen’s still a mess, but that’s okay.  It’s summer.

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Your kitchen should get messy this Saturday- It’s Can It Forward Day!