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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More memories of the good old days at Prisco’s- Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our family store has been an integral part of who I am since my siblings and I were born. Growing up, we loved to work at the store. Grandma and Grandpa would teach us age appropriate jobs. Most kids my age enjoyed playing make believe games like cowboys and Indians, teacher and students, or playing grocery store. I never realized just how cool it was to be able to play store with a real live grocery store at my disposal. One of our favorite jobs was pricing the cans. One would get an ink tin and a stamp with a price. As things go, we would stamp anything that we could, which didn't go over too well with Grandpa! If we did a good job, we were certain to get ice cream.

As I got a bit older and had mastered the basics of reading and writing in grade school, I used to answer the phone and take the home delivery orders for my Grandpa. After writing down the orders, I went and filled them and packed them for delivery. When the truck wasn't too full, Grandpa would let us ride with him to deliver. Of course, that meant we had to ride in the back of the truck because there was only one seat up front. We sat on the wheel wells or the floor and bounced around and laughed. Imagine how that would go over today with no seats or seat belts! 

My teenage years in high school introduced me to my least favorite job, cashiering. Someone yelled at me once and frightened me and I didn't like it. Being in the front at the cash register, however, did have its good moments as you got to see everyone coming in or leaving the store. One day when I was a junior in high school, I was standing at the cash register and a very handsome young man came in. He was polite but not interested in talking to me. He was looking for my two cousins who also worked there…

Long story short, that handsome young man and I have been very happily married for 37 years. We have five children, all of whom have worked at the family business: Mark, Peter, Andy, Bridget and Jacquie. Today Andy, Bridget & Jacquie are the future of our family business, the fourth generation. I’m proud of them and I am proud of our entire Prisco-Guzauskas family. Ninety years is indeed quite an accomplishment. Thanks grandma and grandpa, mom and dad for all that you did for us. And thanks to all of you great customers who have been our neighbors and supporters all these years. We could never have made it without you.

 

Beth (Prisco) Guzauskas

Get to know your vegetables - Cabbage - Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Here is one of the vegetables that never gets much fanfare and is often taken for granted. Chances are good you eat a whole lot more cabbage than you’d expect. How often have you enjoyed a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut or fried chicken with coleslaw?

There are lots of reasons to love cabbage and two of the most popular are the fact that it’s always very inexpensive and extremely versatile. It’s also crispy, sweet, high in vitamin C and fiber, and rich in cancer-preventing compounds (like its relatives kale, broccoli, and cauliflower). And talk about versatile! Shred it finely and it’s a coleslaw, or make sauerkraut by salting and weighting it. Slice it less finely and it stir-fries beautifully. And in quarter-inch or larger slices, cabbage becomes a succulent braised vegetable. For many backyard gardeners, however, cabbage is not easy to grow as it takes up loads of space, but at its low price point it’s hardly worth trying to grow it yourself when it’s almost always in good supply at at Prisco’s.

Pickling cabbage started in China and is embedded in the cuisine of many countries, including Korea (think kimchi). In France, choucroute is a specialty of Alsace. Eaten raw, sauerkraut is tangy and chewy, good on hot dogs, reubens and other sandwiches. When cooked, sauerkraut acquires complexity and sweetness. It’s a pretty fair guess that most of the cabbage we Americans eat comes in some form of coleslaw, a term anglicized from the Dutch koolsla. Coleslaw comes in an endless variety of flavors and ingredients, and personal taste plays a big part in determining whether you love it, can tolerate it or can do without it, thank you very much. Some like it noticeably sweet; some don’t. Accents of grated carrot, sweet peppers, red cabbage, apples, and even currants boost flavor and visual appeal.

So, pretty much everyone has had boiled cabbage if you’ve ever had a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. For something a bit more interesting and as a great way to enjoy cabbage as a standalone vegetable, try braising it. Slow cooking in a small amount of liquid after an initial sauté is an ideal way to prepare cabbage. Braised cabbage is good enough for company! It’s also a luscious side dish for an everyday family meal—and the aromas are great, possibly because it starts with sautéing and doesn’t cook long. The basic technique accommodates other additions, including onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, peppers, carrots, peas, cream, nutmeg, or fresh herbs.

Here is a recipe for Braised Cabbage and several others you might like to try.

 

Great memories from the really good old days at Prisco’s!- Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I realize that for Andy and his sisters it’s tough to really understand all that has happened to our family business over the past 90 years, but even as far back as I can remember the company has had a rich history here in Aurora. Many years before I became active in the business.

Over the past several decades, I’ve seen and experienced a wealth of changes not only in our family, but in the store and the industry as well. As the county emerged from WW II, change was in the air. Prisco’s had been primarily a deliver-focused concern that had to deal with the shortages and rationing of the war years. My grandparents had a desk at the very back of the store with several shelves of ledger books and a telephone. Every day except Sunday, Grandpa would go to a particular section of those books and the calling would begin. Grandma and my dad would begin filling those orders, Grandpa would load up the truck for the first round of deliveries, and the day was underway.

Since they lived above the store and Grandpa loved nothing better than talking to customers, it wasn’t uncommon for him to get up at 5 AM, head down to the store, open the door, and then proceed downstairs to shave, always listening for the front door bell.

In those days, it was also common practice for most businesses -- including grocery stores -- to open from 9-5 most days and to be closed on Wednesday afternoon and Sundays. He loved the action too much to be constrained by those hours. He was the first store in Aurora that I can remember being open so early, and to be open half a day on Sunday as well. It also wasn’t unusual for him to sneak back downstairs late in the afternoon on Sunday (after a huge family meal) and open the store again for a few hours. I chuckle as I recall Grandma shouting downstairs on Sunday evening, “Tony, close the door. It’s supper time!”.

Fridays were extra special, too. On Friday afternoon the focus or emphasis would shift to the late afternoon and evening shoppers who would be stopping at the store from All Steel, Processed Plastics, Caterpillar, Anchor Brush, and so on to do their weekly shopping and cash their paychecks. Grandpa would head to the bank to ensure that he had plenty of cash to meet the rush. Those were busy times!

By the mid- to late-60s, change was again in the air and we actually stopped home delivery for a number of years as people’s new lifestyles led them in other directions. By then, a renewed interest in Italian foods led us to begin exploiting that niche, and a new direction was born.

Yes, there have been many changes, but one thing has never changed: the focus has always been on meeting the needs of the customer.

By the way folks, we are now halfway through our Win-What-You-Spend Grocery Giveaway. If you haven’t seen the large sign in the front of our store with winners posted, you can view it here on the website. Thanks to all who have participated and good luck to everyone through the end of this month!

 

Rob Prisco

All About Brie - One of the world’s greatest cheeses- Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Brie is one of the best known French cheeses and has seen a surge in popularity in the United States over the past couple decades, with peoples’ perception of it transitioning from “this is a luxury food” to “this would probably be great on my grilled cheese” mainly in the past ten-fifteen years or so. This is largely due to the tremendous increase in availability and variety of Brie cheeses, which has brought prices down and enabled more people to experience Brie, as well as experiment with it.

While it may have only taken off here in recent times, throughout its history Brie’s popularity in Europe has been immense. In fact, it was dubbed the “King of Cheeses” (or “Queen”, depending on whom you ask) not long after its creation in the Middle Ages, and was often given as tribute to the Kings of France… And if you have ever encountered a perfectly ripened, quality Brie, it’s easy to understand why it was so strongly favored.

Types of Brie

[info courtesy of Wikipedia.org]

Brie de Meaux - Brie de Meaux is an unpasteurized Brie. It is manufactured in the town of Meaux in the Brie region of northern France. It was originally known as the "King's Cheese", or, after the French Revolution, the "King of Cheeses," and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.

Brie de Melun - This Brie is considered to have a stronger flavor and more pungent smell than Brie de Meaux. It is made with unpasteurized milk. Brie de Melun is also available in the form of "Old Brie" or black Brie. This Brie also has AOC status.

International Bries – Bries are now produced all over the world using a variety of methods and ingredients, including herbs, but what always remains the same regardless of country of origin is Brie’s development and texture...

Brie is classi?ed as a "bloomy rind, soft-ripened cheese," which indicates that it ripens from the rind inward, forming a thin white skin with that velvety "bloom." When perfectly ripe, it should be creamy and ?avorful, not runny or pungent. It should bulge slightly when cut but not collapse or pull away from the rind.

Serving Brie

A wheel of Brie is a quintessential party food due to its unmatched ?avor and elegant reputation. However, in order to maximize its flavor and texture, be sure to remove the cheese from the refrigerator approximately 30–45 minutes before serving.

Once brought to room temperature,

1)     Slice the Brie into bite sized pieces.

2)     Serve the Brie with a crusty bread or a plain crackers, or with light-colored fruits, such as pears or grapes.

3)     For the full experience, pair your Brie with wine. Acidic, herbaceous, dry whites like Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) or Sauvignon Blanc work well, as do champagnes and sparkling wines.

Though Brie is pure heaven on its own, as part of a cheese course, or with cool, fresh fruit, it takes on an equally delightful character when heated. Try baked Brie (see below) for a more traditional take on the cheese, or experiment a bit by incorporating it into a grilled sandwich or homemade macaroni and cheese. Brie in puff pastry is also delicious, and it lends itself perfectly to fondue as well.

Baked Brie

1)     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)     Place the Brie on a glass pie plate or some other decorative oven-proof plate.

3)     Bake the Brie for 10 to 12 minutes, until the center is soft.

4)     Serve sliced with fruit, crusty bread, or crackers.

Recommended toppings for Baked Brie

  • Slivered almonds
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Apricot preserves
  • Raspberry preserves
  • Caramelized pears or apples

Other Brie recipes

Baked Brie with Spicy Kiwifruit Compote

Lemon Pepper Chicken & Brie Flatbread Pizza

Tuna, Broccoli and Brie Casserole

Ripe Olive and Walnut Brie Torte

Baked Brie in Pastry

 

Sharing the Good News with Old Friends- Tuesday, September 13, 2016

We have known that we would be celebrating our 90th Anniversary in the month of September for some time now. For several weeks we have been scratching our heads trying to come up with some clever way of carrying that theme out in our ads, and since we have no past experience in that area I’ve got to admit it has been a challenge. We couldn’t hire a big PR or advertising agency to come up with ideas so it was up to our staff to do the best we could.

The one idea we came up with that seems to have been well received and appreciated by our customers was the Win-What-You-Spend Grocery Giveaway.

Every day throughout the month of September we are running a customer drawing. When you check out each day, your cashier will provide you with an entry form which you simply fill out and drop in the bin at the front of our store. The following day we invite a customer to reach into the bin and draw a winner from the previous day’s entries. That selected winner then receives a Prisco's gift card worth the total spent on their receipt (before sales tax).

As of the time I am writing this blog, we’ve had a total of 11 winners and given away over $300 in gift cards. Our biggest winner to date was Matthew Powell, who won $83, and we also saw Gayle Innarella win $45 and Marge Buckly win $38. If you have entered at least once and not been chosen a winner, please don’t give up. EVERY DAY WE START FROM SCRATCH. That’s correct, don’t just enter once because we dump the entries from the previous day and start fresh each time. On any given date, only the people who shop that day and fill out an entry form are eligible to win that particular drawing. Any shopper has an excellent chance of winning, so for the next few weeks keep on trying.

In addition to the drawing, we thought it might be fun to offer items at a price loosely tied to the 90th Anniversary theme, so be certain to take the time to look over this week’s ad. Here are a few of our Anniversary specials:

 

  • Fowler Farm’s Apple Cider in gallons - 2/$9
  • Prisco’s USDA Choice Angus Beef 12 oz. Strip steaks - $9 ea.
  • Prisco’s Ground Chuck 85% lean in a 3 lb. package - $9 ea.
  • Angelo’s Hand packed Italian Gelato by the scoop - 90¢ a scoop
  • Eli’s Cheesecake 24-26 oz. varieties - $9 ea.   
  • Aroma Roots Bar Soap Locally made using all natural ingredients - 2/$9
  • Lagunitas Sucks, Little Sumpin, or Maximus IPA (6 pack 12 oz. bottles) - $9 ea.

 

That’s just a sampling of some of our special anniversary offerings. The rest are available to view on the website and also in our in-store flyer.

It’s all meant to be fun, and it's our way of giving our customers an opportunity to share in the sense of accomplishment that we feel having endured so long as a family-owned business. That being said, however, don’t think for a moment that we aren’t keenly aware that we have each and every one of you, our loyal customers, to thank for our being able to celebrate this anniversary. We fully realize that you have more choices than ever before when it comes to deciding how to spend your food budget. It’s your continued loyalty and support that have kept our family business solvent all this time and we most truly appreciate your patronage. We look forward to celebrating the century mark with all of you in just 10 short years.

 

Thank you,

 

Andy

An introduction to several fall / winter squash varieties- Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Unlike summer squash, such as zucchini, crookneck or yellow squash, these are harvested in autumn when they are hard and ripe, and most varieties can be stored and enjoyed for use throughout the winter. Here is a bit of information about some of the more popular varieties...

 

Acorn Squash - Acorn squash is aptly named because when fully grown, they look quite similar to large acorns, except they are green and heavily ridged around the exterior. Acorn squash was frequently used by Native Americans, as it is native to North and Central America. Besides the delicious taste and the harsh conditions in which acorn squash can grow, it is also more nutrient-dense than any of its summer squash relatives, making it an invaluable part of a healthy and balanced diet.

 

Buttercup Squash - Compact and green with paler green striations, the buttercup has a distinctive bottom with a circular ridge. On some, the ridge may surround a more pronounced bump, or "turban." A freshly cut buttercup may smell like a clean, fragrant cucumber, but once cooked, its orange flesh becomes dense, a bit dry, and very mild.

 

Butternut Squash - A slim neck and bulbous bottom give the butternut squash its distinctive bell shape. The muted yellow-tan rind hides bright orange-yellow flesh with a relatively sweet taste. To make butternut squash easier to handle, cut the neck from the body and work with each section separately.

 

Red & Green Kabocha Squash - a squat squash that has faint white stripes running from top to bottom. While the green kabocha is relatively savory, the red kabocha is unmistakably sweeter.

 

Sugar Pumpkin – also known as the pie pumpkin, this is the smaller version of what we know as the Halloween carving pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are prized for their classic pumpkin flavor, as well as for their thick and flesh-packed walls. If you'd like to opt out of canned pumpkin for your baking and make your own purée instead, reach for a sugar pumpkin.

 

Spaghetti Squash – if you have ever tried a low carb diet, chances are you’ve already met the spaghetti squash. Take a fork to the inside of a cooked spaghetti squash, and you'll understand how this variety got its name. By scraping the flesh, you'll get "strings" that closely resemble noodles. If you're in search of a healthy pasta alternative, try this very mild-tasting squash.

 

 

Here are a few winter squash recipes to enjoy:

 

Have fun tailgating- Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Yes, it’s true, football is back as the 2016 season gets into full swing. Most high schools are in their third game, college teams started games last weekend, and the NFL kicks off this week.

Before the weather becomes just too darn cold, why not plan a tailgate party this weekend or next at your favorite sports venue? You say you don’t have tickets? No problem. Just use your driveway as the stadium lot; when the game starts, just go inside and watch the game on your high definition wide-screen. No one freezes and there is no need to leave early to avoid traffic.

If you really want to enjoy yourself, however, call the Prisco deli for some great tailgate party ideas. By the way, here is a factoid that will impress your guests: Friday, September 16th is National Guacamole Day. Everyone loves fresh guac at a tailgate party.

As you make plans, here are a few tips to help ensure things go smoothly.

Tailgate party planning tips

Do prep work the night before:

  • Marinate kababs
  • Make burger patties
  • Slice and prep condiments like peppers, onions, & other add-ons.
  • Fill an empty 6/pk. carrier with a supply of sauces, marinades and dressings.
  • Pack a small first aid kit. Accidents happen and it’s good to be prepared.
  • Bring a large plastic bin to haul home dirty utensils, plates, glassware and flatware.
  • Have fun, and go-team-go!

 

A lot has happened in our world over the past 90 years- Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What does 90 years look like? In the scientific history of the world, even in the written history of the world, 90 years doesn’t seem like any great length of time. But when you put it in the perspective of a human lifetime (or several lifetimes), the significance seems much greater. Since it's founding, our store has been in the hands of four generations of Priscos, and over the course of the past 90 years, two of those four have passed on.

I thought I’d do my best to help us remember what it takes to survive 90 years, and just how much can change. So many things that we now rely on to provide the best experience for our customers weren’t around in 1926, such as computers and the internet. Back in 1927, refrigerators ($285) cost as much as cars (roughly $290 for a basic Ford Model-T).

Yes, times have changed, but Prisco’s has weathered some very momentous occasions and we are very proud that we have continued to serve, through good times and bad times. Here are a few highlights from the history of the past nine decades...

 

  • Charles Lindbergh made the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight (1927)
  • The stock market crashed and the Great Depression ensued (1929)
  • The Star-Spangled Banner was adopted as the National Anthem (1931)
  • Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (1932)
  • The twentieth (1933), twenty-first (1933), twenty-second (1951), twenty-fifth (1967), and twenty-sixth (1971) amendments were ratified
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation was established under J. Edgar Hoover (1935)
  • World War II (1939-1945)
  • The establishment of the United Nations (1945)
  • The CIA was established (1947)
  • NATO was established (1949)
  • First electronic computer was finished (1951)
  • The Korean War was fought (1953-1953) - Grandpa Guzauskas served on the front line
  • The Vietnam War was fought (1950-1975)
  • Puerto Rico became a U.S. Territory (1952)
  • President Eisenhower champions integration by sending federal troops to Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. (1957)
  • The first U.S. satellite was launched (1958)
  • Alaska and Hawaii became states (1959)
  • The first astronauts went to space (1962) and walked on the moon (1969)
  • The Civil Rights Act was passed (1964)
  • Invention of the World Wide Web (1980s)
  • Persian Gulf War (1990-91)
  • Dissolution of the USSR (1991)
  • 9/11/2001 – American values attacked
  • Start of the Iraq War (2003)
  • The Great Recession (2008)
  • 14 U.S. Presidents have served since our store first opened.

 

When you stop and think that Prisco’s was providing food to the community before the National Anthem was established...Well, it is quite amazing to me, and there is certainly no telling what the next 90 years will bring. But for our part here at Prisco’s, we plan to be here and continue serving the best darn customers in the world.

Thanks for your support.

Andy