Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Olives – Candy for the Mediterranean Diet- Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Anyone who has visited our store knows that we offer a wide variety of fresh marinated olives, which can be found both in the cheese case and in bulk in our deli. Olives make up an important part of the healthy Mediterranean diet, so why not take a closer look at them? Here is some useful information regarding several varieties of olives, from harvesting facts to preparation suggestions...

(Much of the information contained in this blog article was found in a web posting on About.com, written by Nancy Gaifyllia.)

The color of olives indicates what time during the harvesting season they were picked.  Harvesting runs from October to January: The greenest olives are harvested in October, the red or pink in November, the black in December, and the wrinkled black (not to be confused with olives that have shriveled due to curing in salt) in January.

picSmall Cretan Green Olives
Crete is famous for these tiny olives, which are also cultivated in Messinia and Zakynthos.  Despite their size, they are packed with oil and are the source of some of the world's best olive oil.  When green, small quantities are harvested as table olives.  When black and ripe (December, January, and sometimes February), they are almost exclusively harvested for the production of olive oil.  Most of the table olives are consumed in Greece, never reaching western markets; the olive oil, famous the world over, is consumed in Greece and exported.

picHalkithiki Green Olives
These olives are harvested in October and are grown solely on the Halkithiki Peninsula.  Recently, green olives from Halkidiki were finally granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Union (EU).  A PDO product is given this designation/label to highlight the fact that it is produced in a specific geographical region, and therefore unique.  The Halkdiki green olives are huge due to the microclimate and the geography: low-lying hills, lots of flat land and the sea being nearby.  These olives have a unique flavor profile and, like all other olives, are very healthy for you.

picGreen olives from Nafplion
Harvested at the beginning of the season in October, these olives are named after a town which is found on the coast and which is famous for its exotic places and nature.  The Nafplion olive is rather small and has a nutty flavor.  They are used in Greek specialties, including cold appetizers, as topping for warm main courses, and in salads or garnishes.  These kinds of olives are sometimes used simply for decorating salads and various meals.  They may also be used in local kebabs, and beside chicken, lettuce and mayo.

picKalamata Olives, Red & Black
Also known as "pink" olives, these are harvested in November.  If left on the tree longer to further ripen, the Kalmata turn black and are harvested, at full ripeness, in December.  This is the olive most recognize as the Greek olive.  Kalamata is a region in Greece famous for its production of olives and olive oils.

Most Kalamata olives are split prior to being brined or pickled, which allows the flavor, particularly of vinaigrette, to soak into the interior of the olive.  Yet before you begin eating, be aware that these olives are usually sold with their seeds in.  If you plan to serve these, eat them yourself, or add them to recipes, be sure to remove the seed first.

picWrinkled Black Olives or "Throubes"
Unlike olives that shrivel up after curing, these are fully mature olives that are not picked...They ripen and shrivel on the tree.  Nets are placed under the trees and the olives fall off when fully ripe.  The wrinkling is their natural state.  They are the only olives that can be eaten directly from the tree, but are dry-cured for commercial use.  Most throubes come from the Greek island of Thassos.  Favorite ways to serve them are with Patatosalata (Greek potato salad), or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano.  They are meaty with a strong olive taste, and are not used to make olive oil.

 

Announcing produce department enhancements!- Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It’s often said that a grocery store is first judged by its produce department. While not one of our biggest departments with respect to sales, our fresh produce department is most definitely one of our most important. As you begin your shopping trip it is the produce department that you enter first. Therefore, it is critical that we offer a good first impression. We want our customers to be dazzled by the cleanliness, attractive displays, good variety, and fresh, crisp product. The produce department sets the tone for the remainder of the shopping experience.

I’m very pleased to announce that Dona Hess, formerly one of our front end checkers, has agreed to become our produce department lead.

For those of you who live on the west side of Aurora, Dona can be no stranger to you. She is a lifelong Aurora resident who grew up on the west side and attended Aurora West High School. Last August we were fortunate to have her join our team when her former employer closed shop and went out of business. Anyone who has met Dona at the checkout lane knows that she has a contagious smile and positive attitude, both of which go a long way toward making the chore of grocery shopping seem more like a fun task. For over twenty years Dona was a fixture at Nicole’s Hallmark store where she began as a sales clerk and worked up to assistant store manager. Prior to moving over to Nichol’s Hallmark, Dona had spent about fifteen years at another Aurora establishment, Randall Drugs & Gift.

When I first approached Dona with the offer of moving over to the produce department as team lead, she was very enthused and eager to learn a new skill set. I asked her to think about it and get back to me and also asked her to consider what she would like to see us accomplish in the produce department under her leadership. I wanted to be certain that Dona was aware of both the challenges and opportunities that such a position offered.

  • The height of the fresh produce season is approaching and we will need a sharp decision maker in place to ensure that we have plenty of fresh merchandise on hand as the summer selling season kicks off starting Memorial Day weekend.

  • As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, we have begun sourcing locally grown produce from area farms. Dona will be a great asset in making certain we spread the word to all of our customers about the many field-to-Prisco items we will have available throughout the season.

  • In an effort to continue to upgrade the quality of the fruits and vegetables offered at Prisco's, I’ve been looking for a new produce vendor and I am pleased to say that we have found a new supplier who has an excellent reputation for quality. With Dona joining the produce department now, she and the new vendor are making great strides helping each other get off to a running start.

A few days after first asking Dona if she would like to become our new Produce Department Lead and after she had ample time to think about the new position, I asked her once again what she hoped to accomplish and I loved her spontaneous response. “I want customers to come into our produce department and feel like they are stepping into a local farmer’s market. I want them to know that we are here to answer their questions, and make nutritious and tasty recommendations regarding the fruits and vegetables that they purchase. I want them to realize that they are getting the freshest produce in a clean and well-stocked environment, and that no sale is complete without outstanding customer service.”

I hope you agree that Dona Hess is a great new addition to our Produce department. Please give her a friendly hello next time you see her in her green apron!

 

Andy – General Manager

A little help with the obvious.- Tuesday, April 19, 2016

You all know the popular auto insurance commercials where one actor says something like, "Did you know that a square is a plane figure with four equal straight sides and four right angles?" Then in response another actor replies, “Everybody knows that!”

Well I’m about to state one such obvious fact: Scientists and doctors universally remind us that in order to live a healthier life, fight disease, reduce stress and stave off excess weight, we should exercise regularly and eat five 1/2 cup servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. Here, however, is the big but! 70% of Americans (and I’m pretty certain that holds true for our shoppers and employees as well) simply ignore that startling fact and don’t come close to including the recommended amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits into our daily diets.

So here is what I thought I’d do in this week’s Shout Out. I wandered the web once again in search of a few helpful tips we might want to adopt in order to help make it easier to get in our daily produce needs. (And by all means, if you have other simple ideas please share them with all of us. Wouldn’t it be great to make our neighborhood one of the healthiest in the area?)

  1. DON’T SKIP Breakfast! And don’t make fast food your substitute. Our bodies need fuel to start the day and breakfast ("break the fast") is what gets our metabolism to start really burning calories. Since you are going to put in the effort to make a breakfast, make it a good one with ease by adding fresh berries or bananas to any cereal, pancake, or muffin you choose. In a hurry? No problem! Grab a banana, apple, pear or orange and eat it on the way to work or school.

  2. Eating a hot breakfast – even better. Add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms or onions to your eggs for a delicious omelet, or pile the whole scramble on your favorite bread, tortilla, or bagel for a healthy, vegetable-filled breakfast sandwich.

  3. Double up for better odds - Stir extra veggies into soups. Don’t be afraid to stray off the beaten path just a bit. When it comes to something like soups, an overdose of chopped vegetables will not ruin the recipe. It will enhance the flavor, nutritional value, and your daily vegetable tally. A half cup of chopped vegetables and a whole cup of dark leafy greens is another serving.

    3b. This works in a sandwich as well. A sandwich is another blank canvas just waiting to get stuffed with color. Take your routine turkey sandwich and jazz it up with sliced apples, cucumber, zucchini, sprouts, and spinach. A 1/2 cup of this colorful combination just scored you another serving. How hard was that?

  4. Sometimes veggies need not be so obvious to still give you the desired effect. You can shred or grate fruits and vegetables down, or puree them up and see how creative you can get with your favorite recipes. Grated zucchini and carrots do wonders for turkey burgers, meatloaf and meatballs, adding both moisture and nutrients to the dish. Puree cooked cauliflower, winter squash, or red peppers and stir them into sauces, mashed potatoes, pot pies, or even mac & cheese. I know that it is possibly messing with nature to tamper with mac & cheese, but try it -- you might just like it.

  5. Enrich a great marinara sauce. In addition to your traditional tomato sauce base, use any combination of chopped mushrooms, eggplant, onions, peppers, squash, and carrots. This versatile sauce can then be used in a variety of creative ways to add both flavor and a serving of vegetables to your day. Spoon it over noodles, mix it into lasagna, start it as a soup base, spread it over pizza crust, or use it as a dipping sauce.

  6. Don’t skip dessert, just pass on the unnecessary sugar and carbs. Eating ice cream or frozen yogurt? OK, two good sized scoops is plenty. Fill it out with 1/2 cup of fresh peaches, mangos or berries for a serving of fruit.

    Cut out the buttery, fat-laden crusts. Place the filling of your favorite fruit pie recipe in individual ramekins. Bake until set and enjoy a serving of warm, satisfying fruit pie without the rich crust.

  7. Salads can be a great way to ramp up consumption of both vegetables and fruits. Just be wary of what you add, especially the dressing. I’m not talking about salads with a wedge of iceberg and loads of bacon, cheese, and ranch. We’re talking dark green, leafy beds with colorful, crunchy toppings. Start one meal a day with a small salad. Get creative. One cup of leafy greens + 1/2 cup of fruit or veggie toppings = 2 servings. Alternate your greens from the normal Romaine or iceberg to other leafy variants like kale or spinach.

    Rule of thumb: The darker the greens the more nutrient rich they are. One cup of leafy greens is a serving; pile on healthy toppings of chopped fruits and you can easily get half your daily fruits and vegetables packed into one glorious salad.

I never want to pass up a chance to plug the two new local farms that we will be sourcing fresh produce from this year... One is the Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn, IL, where we get local honey and those delicious, nutrient-packed MicoGreens (available in five varieties: kale, broccoli, arugula, radish and mixed blend). Talk about an easy way to get a serving of vegetables! Just pop open a package and use it to top your burgers, or add them to a salad.

Within the next few weeks we will also begin receiving deliveries from the Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley, IL. Keep an eye out for lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, radish, mustard, and collard greens -- available very shortly.

 

Healthy Eating,

Andy

Something you might not know about mushrooms- Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mushrooms are a curious lot. Here is an interesting fact: Most of the table mushrooms that we Americans eat are all of the same variety. The Latin name is Agaricus bisporus, and within that one species of mushroom are three (some would argue four) varieties, including the portobello (or portabello), cremini, and white button mushrooms.

The truth is, the only difference between the three is age. Best known and most popular among Americans are the white button mushrooms, which are the youngest variety. They have been cultivated for that white color and soft texture but when found in the wild, these mushrooms are usually browner.

The cremini mushroom is a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom, which is why it has a similar flavor. It's younger than the portobello, but still related -- hence why these are sometimes sold as "baby bella" or "baby portobello" mushrooms. Their slightly more mature state means that they have a browner color, firmer texture, and better flavor than the younger white mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms are often added to stews and soups because they hold up better in liquid. The portobello is the most mature mushroom here; it's really just an overgrown white mushroom. They are left to grow for a longer period of time, until they have spread out into that delicious meaty cap.

Handling your mushrooms
When buying portobellos, you will want to select plump, firm, and solid mushrooms. They should not be shriveled or slippery (which indicates decomposition). The mushroom should have a nice earthy smell. Remove the mushrooms from any wrapping and spread them out on a tray. Cover with paper towels. Don't moisten the toweling or the mushrooms; place them in the refrigerator in an area that allows the air to circulate. Avoid placing any other items on top of them. The mushrooms should keep about 5 - 6 days.

Cooked portobellos can be frozen and will keep for several months. Place in freezer containers or bags, excluding as much air as possible. Note: Uncooked mushrooms don't freeze well.

Basic Cooking Preparations for portobellos

Grill - Brush mushrooms on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes on each side until just cooked through.

Oven Roast - Brush portobellos with oil. Place each one cap-side up on a baking sheet. Roast in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Sauté - In a skillet, cook sliced, chopped, or whole mushrooms in a little oil or butter over medium-high heat, stirring or turning until tender (about 5 to 6 minutes). Other ingredients such as onions, peppers, and garlic, can be cooked along with the mushrooms. Season with your favorite herbs or spices.

Cooking Tip

The longer you cook the portobello, the meatier (firmer textured) the mushroom becomes.

A few fun (and interesting) food facts- Tuesday, April 12, 2016

[Info courtesy of howitworksdaily.com, todayifoundout.com, popcorn.org]

Ever wonder why peppers taste hot, or why crackers have holes? How about why lobsters and crabs turn pink or red when cooked? Did you ever ask yourself why hamburgers are called “hamburgers”, or how potato fries can be French? Well, you are definitely not alone. There are all sorts of fun and interesting facts to learn about common foods, even those we eat every day!

Here are a few more frequently asked culinary questions for the curious reader…

Why is milk white?

Milk is made up of about 87% water and 13% solids, such as fat and various proteins. Chief among these proteins is something called casein, four types of which make up about 80% of the proteins in milk. White objects in nature appear such when there is some level of light diffusion going on and no part of the visible spectrum gets reflected off the object any more than any other part of that area of the light spectrum. So as you might guess from that, these casein proteins and some of the fats in the milk scatter and deflect light. This results in milk being fairly opaque and appearing white to our eyes.

Why does mint taste “cold”?

When we perceive something to be hot or cold, this is due to electrical signals from the nerves which come into contact with the hot or cold ‘thing’. Our brain then interprets these electrical signals as instructions such as – ‘that is hot, don’t touch!’ or ‘that is cold’. Mints usually contain an active ingredient called menthol. Menthol has the ability to affect the pores on our nerve cells which changes the electrical activity of the cell. This change in electrical activity corresponds to the same change that would take place if something cold came into contact with the cell. The cell interprets the change in activity due to menthol as a change in temperature and sends that information to the brain. This accounts for the ‘coldness’ which we experience when eating a mint.


Why do onions make your eyes water?

Tears in the eyes are regulated by the lachrymal gland, which is situated just above your eyelids. When the brain gets a message that there is an irritant in the eye, such as the syn-propanethial-S-oxide* produced by onions when they are chopped, it then kicks the lachrymal glands into overdrive, trying to flush the irritant out of your eye(s) with tears. Cooked onions won’t produce this same effect because the process of cooking the onion inactivates the enzymes needed to make the syn-propanethial-S-oxide. So you can safely chew the cooked onions without getting teary-eyed.

* When this substance, in a gaseous state, comes in contact with the moisture in your eye, it triggers a burning sensation via the ciliary nerve.


Hey, why do crackers have holes?

Surprisingly, it turns out the holes are there for a reason, not just for decoration or for convenience in some manufacturing process, as one might expect. In actuality, without these holes, crackers wouldn’t bake correctly. These holes allow steam to escape during cooking. This keeps the crackers flat, instead of rising a bit like a normal biscuit as the steam tries to escape; these holes also help to properly crisp the crackers.


Speaking of holes, why does swiss cheese have them?

The holes in Swiss cheese come from bacteria that form during the aging process. This specific type of bacteria is unique to Swiss cheeses due to the type of starter used and the specific temperature the cheese wheels are stored at during aging. This bacteria gives off carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide forms bubbles in the cheese and when the bubbles "pop" holes are created.


Why does popcorn pop?

Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel's hard outer surface. As the kernel heats up, the water begins to expand. Around 212 degrees the water turns into steam and changes the starch inside each kernel into a superhot gelatinous goop. The kernel continues to heat to about 347 degrees. The pressure inside the grain will reach 135 pounds per square inch before finally bursting the hull open. As it explodes, steam inside the kernel is released. The soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and spills out, cooling immediately and forming into the odd shape we know and love. A kernel will swell 40-50 times its original size!

Why does salt enhance flavors?

This is partially due to the simple fact that “saltiness” is one of the five primary basic tastes the human tongue can detect. Those five tastes being: salt, bitter, sweet, sour, and umami. The extra salt has other effects as well though, outside of simply making things more salty. Particularly, adding salt to foods helps certain molecules in those foods more easily release into the air, thus helping the aroma of the food, which is important in our perception of taste. Salt also has been shown to help suppress the bitter taste. So adding a bit of salt won’t just increase your salty taste perception, but will also decrease your bitter taste perception in any given food. Finally, adding salt to sweet or sour things, while not shown to suppress sweet or sour flavors as with bitter flavors, will help balance out the taste a bit by making the perceived flavor, for instance of sugary candies or lemons, less one dimensional.

 

Take your Grilling Skills Up a Notch or Two… With Grilling Planks and Seasoned Wood Chips.- Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Before you know it Memorial Day, the official kick off for the annual grilling season, will be here. Like many of you, I am eagerly looking forward to letting my creative juices flow and to try new firsts when it comes to being the captain of our family’s patio and barbeque grill.

After reading a few articles about meat smoking and just how popular it is becoming, I came across another idea far less expensive than buying a smoker but which may prove to be equally exciting, Wood Plank Grilling.

About a week ago we received dozens of new grilling spices and rubs and a great selection of wood planks, wood chips, and paper-thin wooden wraps. For most customers this is something new, so let me tell you about this fun way of grilling your favorite meats and seafood...

Put simply, planking is cooking food directly on a piece of hardwood. When cooking this way, the surface of the food touching the wood picks up some of the plank's natural flavors. Although there's some debate on the origins of planking, it's been documented that Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest pinned their salmon to large wood boards, then slow cooked them -- planking. Since then, the method has been carried down and modified for the home cook. The grill is the primary means of planking, but it has also been adapted for use in the oven.

Plank preparation is key

A plank must be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling to avoid over-charring or catching fire. Rimmed cookie sheets are perfect for soaking planks -- just place a plank in the pan, add enough water to completely cover it, then weigh the plank down to keep it submerged (try using a medium-sized pot for this). If the rims on your pans aren’t deep enough, use a large baking pan to submerge your planks in the kitchen sink. If time permits, I prefer to soak my planks for a minimum of an hour, flipping halfway through to ensure they're evenly and thoroughly soaked. ALSO: You don’t need to limit your imagination by just using water to soak the planks. Why not add additional flavor and aroma with apple juice, wine, or perhaps beer?

Cooking Methods

Indirect heat is what you need when grilling on wooden planks. This is accomplished using a two-zone indirect fire. Arrange the food on your planks, then place them on the cool side of the grill and cover. The longer the food cooks, the more time it has to get saturated with the wood's flavor, so work with a medium heat to extend the cooking time with a full, indirect cook.

Another method starts by using a two-zone indirect fire and placing an empty plank over the hot side of the grill. Let it go until it just starts to blacken and smoke, then flip the plank, place the food on the charred side, and move it to the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook. Starting on a scorched and smoking plank gives a deeper wood flavor compared to the pure indirect method. It's also great for quicker cooking fish fillets.

There are some who say that you can grill on a plank over direct fire; this will likely kill the plank beyond reuse, but it also produces more smoke and potentially more wood flavor. When grilling steaks on planks it is preferable to first sear the meat before placing it on the plank because it just wouldn’t be right to grill a steak without a well-developed crust.

No matter what method you choose, it's always a good idea to have a squirt bottle with water handy to smolder the plank if it catches fire. Or just add some extra moisture if any area of the plank seems to blacken too quickly.

Reusing Wooden Planks

There's no problem reusing the plank. Just make it a point to place a note with each plank explaining what was cooked on it -- you don’t want to prepare different foods on the same plank or your meal flavors will blend with each other.

As long as there's still wood left and the plank hasn't been charred through, there's no problem reusing the plank. To clean a plank, start by scrubbing it down with water and a scouring pad without soap -- you don't want soap soaking into the plank and staying there. If there's some excess char or food that just won't dislodge, then it's time to bust out a piece of fine sandpaper and go at it until the plank is clean. Once it's washed, it's important to let it completely dry out before storing it away to prevent molding.

Plank & Wood Chip Pairings

Just as we know that there are right and wrong ways to pair wine and beer with various foods, the same is true when selecting what type of wood to use for the food that you wish to grill.

  • ALDER – a Pacific Northwest favorite offering a delicate, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness. Alder’s subtle, all-purpose smokiness pairs especially well with halibut and other mild fish, seafood, pork and poultry.

  • APPLE - Apple wood produces a sweet, fruity smoke that is the strongest and most popular of the fruit woods. It pairs well with fish, poultry and pork.

  • CHERRY - Cherry gives fantastic flavor with its sweet and fruity smoke. Cherry is a popular choice and pairs well with poultry, turkey and Cornish game hens.

  • HICKORY - Strong and bold, hickory is ideal when you want a distinctive, savory smoke. Hickory pairs well with beef, lamb and wild game.

  • MAPLE - Maple is the sweetest smoke of the grilling woods. It is subtle, balanced, and shares a special alchemy with pork and ham.

  • MESQUITE - If you want to make a statement, use Mesquite. It burns hot and fast, and is the boldest smoke out there. Mesquite works best with beef and is the wood of choice for the Texas-style brisket barbeque.

  • NW BLEND - The best of all worlds and a perfect blend that will light up your taste buds. Maple provides the sweet notes, cherry compliments the maple, and the alder rounds it all out with a mild smokiness.

Next time you visit our store be certain to look over our selection of wood planks, chips and wraps, and by all means, if you have questions (or perhaps a suggestion for a good planking recipe), please ask for me in the meat department and let’s chat.

 

Enjoy your grill!

Chris Tope – Meat Manager.

What you may not know about Asparagus.- Tuesday, April 5, 2016

asparagusDid you know that from the time that asparagus sprouts from a seed, it will be three to four years before any edible asparagus is produced?   Asparagus is also a crop that takes up a lot more space than others. Farmers need to devote several square feet to each plant in order to get them to produce on an annual basis.  Another interesting fact is that we are actually eating the tiny young shoots of what would become a giant, fern-like woody plant if left to mature. If you have ever eaten asparagus spears that have grown too far or been stored too long, you know that they become very stringy and wood-like...And not at all pleasant to eat! 

Asparagus Season

Asparagus is harvested from March through June, depending on the region. Early in the season, spears may be as thin as pencils; towards the end of the season, fatter, meatier spears become available. Don’t misinterpret the previous comment, however: Thickness in no way indicates tenderness, which is related to how the plant is grown and how soon it is eaten after harvest rather than spear size. Poorly or long-stored thin asparagus can be tough and flavorless; fresh, fat spears can be remarkably sweet and tender.

Preparing Asparagus

Begin by rinsing asparagus under cold running water to remove any dirt or sand.  Do not wash until ready to use. Store the asparagus unwashed.  You will want to trim off the bottom ends of the stalks. Find the area where the green color starts to fade. This is where the tough woody end begins and the stalk should be trimmed off here. Do not remove the spears at the top of the stalk.

An alternative method is to snap off the portion of the asparagus you want to exclude. Hold the spear firmly towards the end and bend it until it breaks naturally. The spear should break at the point where it becomes tough.

If you have a recipe that calls for "cut" asparagus, the spears should be cut at a diagonal in 1 and 2 inch pieces. Several spears can be cut at one time. Cutting the spears into pieces will expose the most flesh and help to ensure even cooking, which may be critical for some recipes.

Cooking Asparagus

Asparagus can be cooked in many ways, including roasting, grilling, steaming, boiling, pan-roasting and frying. Determining how to prepare it, however, depends as much on your taste as the asparagus itself. Generally speaking, thinner spears are better for roasting, grilling, stir-frying, tossing with pasta, or eating raw in salads, and thicker asparagus is traditionally left whole, so its tender, meaty texture can be appreciated. Try it steamed with butter or hollandaise sauce, or blanched and chilled with vinaigrette or other dressing.

 

Enjoy these delicious Asparagus recipes http://www.priscosfamilymarket.com/recipes/?ingredient=asparagus 

 

 

Tags :  Asparagus
Local Crop Report- Tuesday, April 5, 2016

In February, I shared with you the exciting news that this year we will be sourcing some of our fresh produce locally while in season and available.  We met with Jeff & Kim Wielert who own and farm the Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley IL, just 20 miles west of our store.  Last week I checked in with Jeff to get an update on how things are going this early in the growing season.  As always, Jeff was very optimistic and eager to fill us in.

As he explained, the weather is always a challenge but Kim and he feel that they have a good chance of making 2016 their best season ever.  That is good news for Prisco shoppers because it’s the goal of the Wielerts to provide our customers top quality, fresh, locally grown, produce at a reasonable price throughout the season.

They began planting in green houses at the end of February and so far things are looking great. In fact, Jeff told me that he anticipates having some early product within the next month. Last week he planted lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, kale, other assorted crops in their high tunnels (protected growing boxes). Jeff says that this will give tham a three to four-week jump on the season.  Their potatoes and dry onions are being planted this week. Bunching onions and radishes will be going to the field shortly. The peppers and tomatoes are looking great, but have to wait a bit for frost free days ahead before transplanting them to the soil.

Looking at the long range forecast, Jeff told me “April is going to be on the cool side. This is good and bad. The good side is that the cold weather crops will love it! The bad is that the warmer weather crops will be postponed a bit. With that being said, I still think this will be an excellent growing season. “

Finally, I was surprised to learn that Jeff plans to have lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, radish, mustard and collard greens available around the end of April so keep a look out for updates which we will pass along as items become available.

We also have exciting news from one of our other local farm partners, Heritage Prairie Farms in Elburn IL, less than 15 miles due north, just off Randall Road.  We have been selling their organic MicroGreens for the past couple of months and I’m encouraged to share that this super healthy food source is really starting to catch on.  If you haven’t tried these local nutrient packed dynamos yet, please consider doing so.  We offer five varieties; kale, broccoli, arugula, radish and mixed blend.  MicroGreens are the edible young seedlings of immature plants, harvested at 7-14 days after germination. Typically ranging in size from 1-3 inches tall, MicroGreens are older than sprouts and much younger than petite or baby greens. MicroGreens are specifically selected for their unique color and flavor.  In recent studies by the USDA, MicroGreens were discovered to be more nutrient-dense than their mature counterparts so thy make a great addition to any salad, a burger topping, to try them on a cold cut sandwich.  We all could do a better job of eating more vegetables and fresh locally grown organic MicroGreens are a great alternative.   We have also been selling local honey from Heritage Prairie Farm and have been trouble keeping it in stock alone with the other locally produced honey from our friends and neighbors Charles and Karen Lorence.

Stay tuned for more updates on local foods and as always enjoy the local bounty.

 

-Andy

Tags :  shout out Andy