Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Food patrol at Hy-Vee and elsewhere

The big expansion/remodel began this week at Chariton Hy-Vee, which should provide a good deal of entertainment this fall. Yes, I know --- I've been through this type of thing at favorite grocery stores before: It can be a little inconveneint to shop when everything is in motion. On the other hand, consider how inconvenient it must be to work there during an operation like this --- and be (a) doing the moving and (b) trying to remember where this or that has moved to when frustrated consumers ask.


Lord knows I'm not a coffee snob --- but Sunday was one of those days when the big can of Hy-Vee "classic" --- translates as relatively cheap --- lost its savor and and I set out to find something with more flavor (this happens about once a month).

The good news --- an enirely new display of Verena Street coffees, roasted in Dubuque. I'm now drinking my way though a package of "Nine Mile Sunset," picked because it was "dark roast." Great stuff, although if caffeine keeps you awake you might consider drinking this at sunrise rather than sunset. I think all varieties offered by the relatively new company were there, however, including several "mediums." Many of the names will ring bells with anyone who knows Dubuque --- Lock and Dam 11, Julien's Breakfast Blend, Shot Tower Espresso, Mississippi Grogg, etc.

The coffee company is a new project of the Gantz family, in business in Dubuque for a long time, and is named for the now-vanished street (it fell to a highway bypass project) where family homes once were located. Marketed initially to mom-and-pop operations, Hy-Vee and other larger Iowa grocery concerns now have signed on and it's spreading.

I really like to buy Iowa stuff, so this is great. You can find out more about the company and its products on the Web site located here.


The other good news at Hy-Vee last week involved Nonesuch mincemeat --- in real glass jars. In order to live fully, at least one mincemeat pie during the period November-January is needed, preferably more. Last year, there was a great mincemeat failure at Chariton Hy-Vee and I had to drive to Walmart in Knoxville to find the familiar jars. I'm not anti-Walmart --- just become disoriented, as if entering an alternate universe, every time I get inside one of the beasts.

So I was really happy to see Nonesuch back in its familiar place close to home. I probably should stock up now. Chances are, if I wait until mid-November to buy, the pie filling shelf will have moved elsewhere.


Iowa cooks seem to devote considerable time to figuring out what it is that makes Maid-Rite loose meat sandwiches Maid-Rites --- with mixed results. I've tried, but haven't come close. Now that I've found this recipe for "Sloppy Joes ... the real food way," I can quit trying. It's wonderful. It's better. Lifted from the "A little bit of Spain in Iowa" blog via Blue Gate Farm.

Pound ground beef
Half cup diced green pepper
Half cup diced onion
Four cloves garlic pressed
Three-fourths cup tomato sauce
Two tablespoons tomato paste
Cup beef broth
Fourth cup honey
Two tablespoons cider vinegar
Tablespoon soy sauce
Tablespoon chili powder
Teaspoon ground mustard
Salt and pepper to taste.

Brown ground beef, then add peppers, onion and garlic and cook for 5-8 minutes (or more). Add the other ingredients, mix well, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or so. Serve on toasted buns. Great stuff!


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