Market Musings Blog

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 …

Extreme Local – Wild Foraging

Before I start: wild foraging can be very dangerous. The amount of mushrooms that are fatally poisonous are relatively small, but there are a great many that will make you wish you were dead and cause serious illness. You should never eat a mushroom unless you are 100% confident in identifying it. There are a great many resources if you would like to get into wild foraging, but it should be approached with a healthy respect and only after much study. DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS ON A WHIM.

Chicken of the woods on tree

Chicken of the Woods, too old, but still pretty cool.

I am an outdoors person. I love hunting and camping, and when morel season hits in spring I am in the woods nearly every weekend. This year, I have decided to enjoy some of the local foraging that can be had in mid-summer months.

Ok, morel season is easy: little undergrowth, very distinctive mushrooms, little to no mosquitos and hardly any ticks. All of these things have made it a trendy thing to do, amateurs beating down trails to every dead elm tree in state parks around Minnesota. And with good reason, morels are delicious.

Mid-summer mushroom hunting has been about as far from that as possible. Minnesota mixed hardwood forests are hot, full of bugs, poison ivy, buckthorn, wild berries, stinging nettle, and a fair amount of other hidden pitfalls. I have found mushrooms that I have picked, learned to do a spore print, and identified them with some confidence. Only then to throw them out because doubt about my knowledge crept in (this is normal and a healthy thing). I have worn poison ivy rashes with pride for a good portion of the summer. I have invested in what I call a hippie basket, a bandaloo (which I have already lost), spent a small fortune on gas driving to state parks, and shirked some responsibilities.

Chicken gnocci with chicken of the woods

Chicken gnocci without the kale, subbing thyme in its place, and with whole wheat gnocci

Despite this, the exhilaration that I felt when I saw my first mass of orange Chicken of the Woods* was just as exciting as any morel patch I have found. Finding lobster mushrooms buried in leaves was worth the mosquito bites (technically my lovely wife found our first lobster). And wild mushroom gnocchi shared with friends and family? Good grief.

*Mississippi Market carries wild, foraged mushrooms from time to time, so it is possible to cook with them without foraging. Call ahead before making a special trip.

Here is the recipe:
Wild Mushroom Gnocchi, serves 2-3

1 med onion, diced ½ inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
A large mass of wild mushroom, your choice on variety, all have been excellent – usually around .5 lbs, or you could use button, but the earthy flavor of the wild mushroom is what makes this dish. Tear/cut/break the mushroom into bite size pieces. Be sure to clean the mushroom, ideally using a brush of some kind, not in water. Mushrooms really soak up liquid and it is ok to wash them in water, but it will alter how this dish cooks and you may need to cut the rest of the water out of the recipe entirely.
2T Olive oil – you may need a little more if you are frying a large amount of mushroom, they tend to soak up liquids
1 package of Cucina Viva gnocchi
1 half of a bunch of dino kale, or a sautéing green of your choice, rough shred/julienne
1 table spoon Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Stock
1.5 cups water

1 14” sauce pan, with 1.5 inch sides, or some equivalent
1 stock pot to boil gnocchi
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onion, garlic, mushroom together stirring often on medium high heat until your onion just starts to become translucent. Dissolve the Better Than in 1.5 cups of water and pour that mixture into your sauce pan. Cook until reduced, but not dry. There should be some liquid left in pan to provide a ‘sauce’ for the dish.

At this time add the gnocchi to the water. The gnocchi will sink to the bottom. When it rises to the top it is done. Add your kale to your frying pan and stir it in. The gnocchi will cook quickly in a rolling boil (4-5 minutes tops) and will overcook just as fast. Scoop out the gnocchi leaving as much water as possible behind and put it right into your mushroom mix. Stir and serve.

At this time I like to shred a little Pecorino Romano on top, but that is completely optional. There are gluten free gnocchi’s in some grocery stores, so it is possible to make this dish gluten free as well.
Eat and enjoy.

Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods

James Talbot is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. As the grocery manager at Selby, you’ll find him in the ailes stocking the shelves, answering questions and figuring out how to make space for more awesome products. 

Locally-raised goat? Perfect for stew!

While my role at the Market is the Frozen and Bread Buyer for the Selby store, I was also raised as a meat-and-potatoes guy…and with the freezer doors right next to the meat cases, my eye always catches on sale signs and discount stickers.  This week, I saw the Shepherd’s Song ground goat meat marked down, so I thought I’d give it a try.

local goatMy project for this afternoon was to find something I could do with the goat and our large selection of CSA produce before leaving town for the weekend.  Peppers and onions were plentiful on our counter and we had almost a fridge bin full of a variety of greens, so a simple stew came to mind.

Four diced hot peppers (jalapeno and Serrano), a pair of bell peppers, three small sweet onions, and a few cloves of garlic made for an aromatic kitchen once cooked in with two packages of the goat meat, some salt, a few diced tomatoes, and a healthy dose of garam masala.  This cooked for about an hour or so on medium low heat.

My wife turned me on to sautéed greens…the preparation for I’ve come to really enjoy: fold the leaf, cut the spine off, stack a couple leaves, roll, and slice into strips.  Fill a large pot, we usually use a 2-gallon model (I’m not even joking), with the green ribbons, a bit of extra water, and a pinch of salt (sometimes I’ll add onion, garlic, or turmeric to the greens, too), and wilt it all down to al dente.  To add a third color to the meal, we halved then sliced four summer squash to salt and sauté. Enjoy!

Ben Zamora-Weiss is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. You’ll also find him at the Selby store keeping the shelves stocked with the best locally baked breads we can find.

Sizzlin’ Summer Sauté

One of my absolute favorite ways to cook vegetables is to sauté them. It is the simplest and fastest way to prepare vegetables and has never failed in encouraging family members to try—and like—foods they once hated.

It’s easy to start off with sautéed greens but if you really want a meal filled with summer bounty, you should try this simple summer sauté I created a couple of years ago while working on a farm.

1 medium zucchini (or 2 small)

1 medium yellow squash (or 2 small)

1 medium onion, medium dice

2 ears of corn

2 tbsp Hope Creamery butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Dice onion and cut zucchini/summer squash into quarters, and slice about 1/4” thick. Cut corn kernels off corn cob.

corn on cob

Melt butter and sauté onions until translucent on medium high heat. Add zucchini, yellow squash, and corn and sauté until vegetables caramelize – about 10-12 minutes.

Serve hot, next to freshly sliced, lightly salted tomatoes.

corn saute

Early August is the perfect time to find all of these items local and fresh at the co-op. If you crave a little meat with your veggies, grill up some of our Mississippi Market Made jalapeno cheddar brats.

A 100 percent local meal that’s 100 percent tasty!

Jess Zamora-Weiss is a staff member and blogger for Mississippi Market’s Eat Local Challenge. You’ll also find her in the Selby store’s juice bar, making things run smoothly and taste amazing!

Seriously? Orange creamsicle flavored protein powder?

Krysta runs. A lot.

Krysta runs. A lot.

I like to run. A lot. I’ve been known to run marathons and the occasional shorter distance, too, and for roughly 7-8 months of the year my boyfriend affectionately refers to my running habit as “the other man.”  His logic is pretty sound – I buy Running new shoes, I go out with Running most nights of the week, and on Sunday mornings I have a standing date with Running for 2-3 hours, not to mention how sweaty I am when I return home.

So you see, I am a runner, and contrary to popular belief, being a good runner or athlete depends on fueling just as much as training. I try my hardest to eat pretty well (and to be honest it isn’t too difficult when working at a natural foods co-op) but trying to find clean “sport” products proves to be another challenge entirely. You know what I’m talking about – the electrolyte drinks with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the protein powders with flavors like “orange creamsicle” and “cookies and cream,” and those energy gels made out of….whatever they are made out of!  All of these things seem counterintuitive to feed my body, and so when I found out that the co-op, MY co-op, was going to bring in a few “sport lines,” I literally leapt for joy.

Part of Krysta's running shoe collection.

Part of Krysta’s running shoe collection.

Below is a short list of my favorite “sport” products  – give them a try, especially if your sport-of-choice has developed into an imaginary friend who takes up all of your free time. Because in that case your imaginary friend deserves something new and awesome like a HFCS-free electrolyte drink!

Vega Sport Endurance Gel – just like all of those other weird gels on the market, but better! These sticky space-food-looking packets are awesome during long runs (runs lasting more than 90 minutes) and are made with dates and coconut oil!

Tera’s Whey Organic Whey Protein – A local, organic, DELICIOUS protein powder in real flavors and colors (I’m looking at you Big Brand orange creamsicle flavor!) I love to add a few scoops to my post-run smoothie to refuel; the Fair Trade Dark Chocolate is so good it tastes sinful.

Trace Minerals Electrolyte Stamina Power Paks – these little packets are the bees knees, small and simple, and not so different from your favorite vitamin-C supplement. Trace Minerals knows their stuff, and so they understand that athletes need electrolytes as well as potassium, vitamin C, and a few carbs and calories for good measure. Perfect for a sweaty summer run!

Zico Coconut Water – I admit it, I was slow to catch onto the coconut water craze. The thickness of its consistency really turned me off, but the benefits that it touted were hard to ignore, so I bought a few and gave them a try. Coconut water is seriously awesome stuff, made from pure water harvested from coconuts and loaded with electrolytes, potassium, and refreshing coconut flavor.

Plastic: The Final Destination

A plastic bag – it seals in freshness, doesn’t tear so easily, weighs practically nothing and when we’re finished with it, we can just throw it away. End of story…?

Let’s see, these bags that seal in freshness also seal in bisphenol A (BPA). Even bags that are “BPA-free” can leach out chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA). In one study, researchers tested over 500 plastic products consisting of baby bottles, Tupperware containers, sandwich bags and plastic wraps. Their findings were that practically all of them leached chemicals that:

produce an increase in circulating estrogen, which in turn can cause problems such as early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, altered function of the reproductive organs, obesity, increased rated of certain cancers and problems with infant and childhood development.” Chris Kresser – How plastic food containers could be making you fat, infertile and sick

Plastic bags do not tear so easily – a trait that makes their demise nearly impossible. When a plastic bag ends up in the trash, it ends up in a landfill. I recently did some landscaping at my father’s cabin and dug up some sheet plastic which had been buried 13 years earlier. If I had chosen to wash it off, it would have looked no different than it did new. Also, trash that ends up in our waterways (tossed out of fishing boats, off the side of ships, etc.), finds its way to the ocean and eventually to one of the floating masses of plastic which rival the size of the continental United States.

plasticbagPlastic bags are lightweight, and therefore the wind can take them many places: treetops, ditches, swamps, my backyard, streams, rivers… literally anywhere. Other than your backyard and mine, this world is inhabited by creatures that neither created nor use plastic, yet they are getting it shoved into their homes. “Gone with the Wind”, but by no means negligible.

So, what do we do with our plastic bags? Even if we reuse the bags for a couple more trips to the store, pack a lunch, or pick up after our dog, the bag will be laid to rest at some point. Then what? Out of our hands is into somebody else’s hands, paws, wings, or stomachs. Can we honestly not make a choice to choose a different container?

– Joe Walls, Mississippi Market Employee, “Green Team Member”, Co-op Customer and Member-Owner

Low-Tech Kitchen Cleansers: If It Ain’t Broke . . .

BonAmi_1886_formulaOne hundred fifty years ago, if you needed to clean out an especially grimy kitchen pot, you’d add water and ashes from your wood-burning stove to the offending pot and allow the potent alkaline mixture (lye) to scour the pot for you. This caustic kitchen brew was replaced in the post-Civil War period by one of the first commercially made cleansers: Bon Ami (feldspar-tallow soap). Bon Ami is still available today, and is superior to more popular big-box cleansers like Comet and Ajax.

Bon Ami solved a problem that nineteenth-century cooks faced when using homemade wood ash or brick dust as scouring agents: both scratched delicate surfaces like the newly popular and prized porcelain sinks and enameled steel and aluminum cookware. Bon Ami’s inventor, J. T. Robertson, recognized this and chose feldspar, a soft mineral often found in association with quartz, as a scouring agent. At the time, quartz was powdered for use in laundry soaps and the feldspar discarded. Robertson realized that the much softer feldspar could also be used for cleaning without harming delicate surfaces. His cleanser combined tallow (the fatty by-product of animal processing, which has been the historical basis for most soaps) and feldspar, and Bon Ami was marketed with the logo of a tiny chick and the slogan, “Hasn’t scratched yet.” (You chicken keepers out there know that chicks don’t start scratching until they’re about four days old, and Bon Ami’s logo assumed this knowledge on buyers’ parts.)

BonAmi VintageBon Ami remained a popular cleanser through the 1940s, but thereafter it steadily lost market share to the aggressive, chlorine- and abrasive-laden cleansers that came on the market in the 1950s. Happily, the environmental movement that swelled in the wake of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) recognized the value of Bon Ami’s old-fashioned, fragrance-free formula, and sales began to climb again. Mississippi Market carries the original-formula Bon Ami (feldspar and tallow only), as well as a more recent Bon Ami cleanser. Both are free of dyes, fragrances, and other industrial additives. I’ve used Bon Ami all of my life, and it’s a wonderful cleanser—hasn’t scratched yet!

This old-fashioned cleanser can handle just about any kitchen cleaning job you ask, and does so in transparent, low-impact ways. No kitchen should be without it.

Once in a while, though, everyone has a stovetop accident, and a thick layer of char coats the bottom of a beloved pan. In such cases, the most effective remedy is simple, old-fashioned baking soda. Make up a very thick paste of baking soda and cold water in the charred pot or pan and leave it to sit overnight. Most of the char should lift off easily after such treatment when you add hot water. Once most of the char has floated off the surface, you can scour out the remainder with Bon Ami.

For more simple, homemade, green cleaning tips: register for our Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Cleaning Kit class on Saturday, April 20th. The class will cover harmful chemicals in household cleaning products and their adverse effects. Then learn how easy, economical, and fast it is to make your own cleaners with common ingredients. Make an eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner and a scrubbing cleaner for you to take home, too!

Notes from the Field – MOSES organic farming conference

If I learned one thing from the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) organic farming conference, it’s that one of the most powerful and effective things we can do to further the organic movement is to tell our stories-  our stories of farming, of eating, and of changing our habits to do the right thing for our families and the earth.

While I was a health-minded college student in 2000, even looking to studying holistic health and nutrition, I was also still a teenager.  I enjoyed an average of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s a night and could drink my weight in Dr. Pepper.  I had a decent knowledge of healthy food, but wasn’t exactly putting it into practice.

My turning point came during a presentation by the Women’s Cancer Resource Center at St. Catherine University.  They pointed out that while genetics do impact our risk of cancer, focusing on genetics doesn’t exactly spur anyone into healthy behavior changes- to the contrary, it can make us feel doomed or invincible.  And the reality is that for breast cancer, less than 10% of cases are due to genetics.  That means that 90% of breast cancer cases are due to our environment.

Whether it’s our food, our water, our air or our stress levels, environmental factors of cancer are the ones we have a chance of changing.  That impacted my thinking about my lifestyle profoundly.

I returned to my dorm room and threw out my junk food.  I got rid of the makeup, perfume and household cleaning products that I now knew contained risky chemicals, many of which were actually classified as “probably carcinogens”.  I stopped using caffeine.  I stopped microwaving plastic Tupperware.  I started exercising and I started thinking critically about all of the products I used- whether I really needed them and whether I could use a less-toxic version.

And one year later, I started working at Mississippi Market Co-op and eating organic food.

I’m thankful every day that I have access to fresh, organic and minimally-processed foods that support the kind of lifestyle I envisioned that day when my eyes were opened.  Since then, I’ve been able to dive much deeper into the world of organic and local foods through my work at the co-op and my own experiences with gardening and preserving.

This weekend, my job at the co-op brought me into a room with thousands of people, from all walks of life, who gathered together to learn about organic farming.  Some were old-timers in the organic movement, sharing what they’ve learned over the years, and others were filled with new enthusiasm for changing the world, soaking up every word.  I couldn’t help but wonder what brought them here.  The young boy in a smart-looking suit, brave enough to ask the keynote speaker questions at a microphone?  The worker from a bio-tech company in the front row?  The patch-worked, dreadlocked trio in front of me?

What’s their story?  What brought them to the world of organic agriculture?  What’s your story?
Email us at to share your story about how you started eating organic. We’ll publish it on our blog!


Alaffia body care – beyond fair trade

We carry many lovely body care products – many that are good for your skin and the earth. Then there is Alaffia. In the words of Lauren, our Wellness manager, there is no question in my mind that of all the lines we carry, Alaffia is the company that gives the most back in meaningful, real outreach.”

Olowo-ndjo & his mother, Abiba Agbanga near Lome, Togo

Olowo-ndjo & his mother, Abiba Agbanga near Lome, Togo

The company’s founder, Olowo-n’djo, grew up in Togo where his mother was a farmer. He quit school in the 6th grade to help his mother on the farm. But in 1996, he met my wife Rose Hyde, who is from a farming community in rural Washington State. Rose was in Kaboli as a Peace Corps Volunteer with the agenda of educating farmers on sustainable farming techniques. Two years after meeting Rose, he joined her in the United States and began learning English immediately. In 2004, Olowo-n’djo earned a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Studies, with emphasis on Global Economic Systems from the University of California, Davis. Prior to that, in 2003, he returned to Togo to organize women to handcraft shea butter.

Olowo-n’djo and Rose have pledged their lives to do what they can to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa – helping their communities in central Togo sustain themselves through the fair trade of their indigenous resource – shea butter.

Recipients of the Alaffia bike project line up to greet Olowo-djo in Sokode, Togo.

Recipients of the Alaffia bike project line up to greet Olowo-n’djo in Sokode, Togo.

Their empowerment programs in Togo include: 

  • the bike project – distributes bicycles in 40 villages near the shea butter cooperative, which provide transportation to and from school
  • the school project – donates school supplies and bench seats to schools
  • the reforestation project – plants trees & supplements women farmers’ incomes
  • maternal health – helps provide prenatal care to reduce maternal death rates
  • gender equality – honors women’s contributions by working towards gender equality in our communities. One way to do this is to place fair monetary value on the unique skills of African women, such as handcrafting shea butter, and compensate them with fair values for their products and knowledge.

It would be enough to want to buy Alaffia products simply to support them in the amazing work they are doing to better peoples’ lives. But the fact that their body and hair care products are high-quality and fair-trade make them even more compelling.

To learn more about Olowo-n’djo and Alaffia, visit their website

Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil. However, the protective and emollient properties of Shea Butter are most valued for skin care.

Shea Butter has been used for centuries in Africa as a decongestant, an anti-inflammatory for sprains and arthritis, healing salve, lotion for hair and skin care, and cooking oil. However, the protective and emollient properties of Shea Butter are most valued for skin care.

Photos courtesy of Alaffia

Super dips for wings & veggies

Mississippi Market has all the makings for a super party for the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl Sunday is on the event horizon, and that means major snackage for all football fans. We want to do everything we can to enhance your game time, as simply and deliciously as possible, so here are a few quick-and-fabulous dips you can use to fuel your watching. Pair them with wings, raw or blanched vegetables, and watch them disappear.

Ranch Dressing
Make it yourself, and you’ll find it’s far tastier than the bottled varieties, and almost as simple—plus you can decide on how thick you want it to be.

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup buttermilk powder
sea or kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste
¼ cup chives, finely chopped
fresh dill fronds to taste, finely minced (optional)
¼ cup blue cheese (optional)

1. Place ingredients in a quart jar and shake them up until they’re well combined. If you use blue cheese, mix the ingredients in a blender on the lowest speed.
2. Taste for seasoning, cover with a lid, and keep refrigerated for use.

Flavored Mustard Dips
Your dog could mix this these up successful, they’re so easy. And you can flavor powdered mustard with anything you like.

¼ cup powdered mustard
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
salt to taste
liquid to taste and texture: white wine, rice vinegar, beer, water

Mix ingredients together; taste. For an Asian-style mustard dip, add small amounts of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. For a honey mustard dip, add more honey. For a super-heated mustard dip, add wasabi powder or wasabi from a tube.

Curried Mango Chutney Dip
This dip has its origins in Coronation Chicken Salad, a dish created to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s succession to the throne in 1952. You may also recognize it as the basis for Mississippi Market’s wonderful deli dish, Curried Mango Chicken.

½ cup mango chutney
1 cup mayonnaise
4 scallions, green and white parts, finely chopped
juice from 2–3 limes
1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
powdered cayenne, to taste
yogurt or sour cream, to taste and texture (optional)

1. Stir chutney into mayonnaise; add scallions, lime juice, and curry powder. Taste, then add a pinch or two of cayenne if you want more heat.
2. Refrigerate for 1 hour; taste again to see if more seasonings are needed. Depending on the thickness you want, you can add yogurt or sour cream to thin the dip a bit.

Roasted Red Pepper-Garlic-Cheese Dip
Here’s a dip that will make you think of summer in February! Use some of the fine and fiery local garlic available now to make this a memorable as well as beautiful dip. Besides being a fine accompaniment to wings and blanched vegetables, this is also sensational spread on rye-sesame crackers.

½ pound Neufchatel (reduced-fat) cream cheese at room temperature
1–2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2–3 roasted red peppers, finely minced
3 scallions, green and white parts, finely chopped
juice from 1 lemon
1/2–1 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
chipotle powder, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to taste

1. Beat Neufchatel until it is smooth and soft (this can also be done in a food processor [buzz only] or blender [use only low speed]).
2. Add garlic, red peppers, and scallions; mix in thoroughly, until dip turns a lovely salmon color.
3. Add juice from half a lemon, salt and black pepper, and taste. Add chipotle powder, a little at a time, until you like the heat.
4. Strip thyme leaves off their branches, bruise with the butt of your knife, and add; mix in thoroughly.
5. Refrigerate for several hours before using; bring back to room temperature before serving.