Prisco’s Family Market

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

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If you love coffee, you need to try our Modest Coffee – It’s grand!- Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We’ve been carrying Modest coffee, which is roasted and packaged in West Chicago by Marcus and Jenni Contaldo, for about a year now. This coffee is amazing and it’s a credit to Marcus and Jenni that it’s growth has come from hard grass roots sampling work and the praises of folks who have tried it.

Unlike the big multi-national brands, they have no real budget for advertising. So today I’d like to give their coffee a free plug here in our newsletter -- because if you love good coffee, you’re gonna love Modest Coffee.

By way of introduction, I’d like to share some information that Marcus passed along to me when he first introduced his coffee to our staff.

“There is a lot of fluff out there in the coffee packaging world. Shiny bags, wordy (yet oddly vague) flavor descriptions, catchy buzz-words. How does one cut through the excess of marketing hype and identify a truly high quality coffee? I really enjoy trying other coffee roasters and when I am in the market for beans I want to make sure that I get the best bang for my buck. Whenever I pick up a bag I run down a mental checklist to whittle down my choices to the best two or three. By no means does this guarantee that the bag is going to make a great cup, but in my experience, the chances increase dramatically. If you start looking for quality coffee, you will find it!”

Here is a list of things that Marcus suggests that you consider when looking over a new coffee:

“Roasted on” date – Coffee tastes the best when it is fresh. Conventional coffee only has the expiration date on the bag so you really have no idea how long ago it was roasted. Try to get coffee as close to the “roasted on” date as possible and avoid anything 30 days post-roast.

Origin Information – Look for the name of the farm and details like elevation, processing method, or grade. This tells you two things: first, it gives you more information on the coffee you are buying and second, it tells you that the roaster cares about their sourcing. A bag with just the name of the country is a red flag because often it’s just commodity coffee with a country of origin.

Roast Level – Does the roast level say Light, Medium or Dark, or does it say City, City+, Full City, Full City+, or Light Vienna? The general public understands what to expect from a light, medium or dark roast, but the City/Full City/Vienna descriptions tell you exactly where the roast ended and what to expect from a flavor perspective.

Certifications – Certifications can be deceiving because they do not guarantee quality processing. In very general terms, if a producer goes through the extra effort to meet certification requirements you should expect a higher quality cup of coffee. On the flip side, there are many award winning small farmers that produce world class coffee but have not yet gone through the certification process. So again, take this in context with the rest of the bag.

Awards – These are great acknowledgements and the easiest way to find quality coffee. You won’t often find these on the shelf at a supermarket but you will see them from time to time at specialty coffee shops. Cup of Excellence, Best of Huila, Best of Cauca, and many other regional producer competitions have independent judges flown in internationally to do blind tastings. After many days of rigorous testing, they award the winners. If you can find it fresh, buy it!

I do hope that you will give Modest Coffee a try, and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. To help make the decision to try a bit easier, we are offering a sale of $1 off any 12-oz. bag of freshly roasted Modest coffee beans. You will be doing yourself a favor by tasting an excellent batch of coffee beans, and you will also be helping support another local, family operated business.

 

Enjoy

Andy

Tips for Grilling Peppers- Tuesday, July 11, 2017
  • You will want to seed and stem your peppers before grilling.

  • Next, toss them in a very light coat of olive oil. This helps protect the skin and even out the heat.

  • Set up your grill so you can roast the peppers directly on the heat source – if using charcoal, make sure you have an even layer of coals. Or you can use a rack directly over the heat source.

  • Peppers should be roasted on high heat – over 450 degrees F, or with bright orange charcoals.

  • Grilling the peppers for about 5 minutes on each side should produce a nice char – watch carefully and adjust for your level of char preference.

  • Decide whether you want to eat your peppers with skin on or off. If you want to remove the skin, let the peppers sit in a bowl under plastic wrap right off the grill for about 15-20 minutes. This loosens the skin and you can peel it easily.

Here is our recipe for Grilled Assorted Peppers

Serves 4

Preparation: 5 min. Cooking: 10 min. Total: 15 min.

Ingredients

      • 2 sweet peppers - red, yellow, orange, purple

      • 2 hot banana peppers

      • 2 Gypsy sweet peppers

      • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

      • 1 tsp kosher salt

Heat a grill to medium-hot. You can core and halve or quarter the peppers, and remove the seeds, or grill smaller peppers whole. Brush the skin side of each piece with olive oil, place the peppers on the grill skin-side down, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove skin, if you like, or let diners do it themselves. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

 

What you may not know about almonds.- Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Just a handful of almonds per day may help you get more of the nutrients your body needs while helping maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol levels. A handful of almonds is a tasty way to help crush cravings and keep energy levels up throughout the day. Almonds are also easy to take on the go and pair well with lots of other foods.

Here are some other good-to-know facts about almonds:

  • When asked "What is an almond?", folks naturally reply "It's a nut." This is true, but only partially so. As a member of the peach family, the almond is technically the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree.

  • Almonds are among the lowest-calorie nut meats. A single serving of almonds (1 oz. – 23 whole almonds) provides just 160 calories. They also have more calcium than any other nut, plus nearly 9 grams of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats, 6 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of fiber.

  • Almonds are healthiest for you raw or dry roasted. You will want to avoid "roasted" almonds as they may have been heated in unhealthy fats.

  • There are 98 published research papers to date (with 19 more in progress) on the health effects of almonds, in particular their positive effect on heart health, diabetes and weight management.

  • Almonds eaten as a mid-morning snack can help moderate your blood sugar levels throughout the day. They help to slow absorption of sugar and carbs

Don’t sell fresh fruit short.- Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Everyone knows we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately it’s much easier to convince ourselves to get a hamburger, fries and a tall soft drink than it is to make an effort to include healthier foods in our diet.

Folks, this is the best time of year to get to know our produce department because the summer fresh fruit season is at its peak for the next several weeks. There is always a deep selection of fruits on our racks, many only offered in the summer months like sweet, tart bing cherries, sweet plums, and peaches. As a bit of incentive, here are a few astonishing fruit facts to help convince you to load up your shopping cart with less snacks, canned and processed foods, and more fresh fruits.

Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, what’s not to love? These convenient snack-worthy hand foods are packed with nutrients. Berries are one super food that can impact your health far more than the typical fruit. They are an excellent source of disease-fighting antioxidants and offer greater anti-cancer activity than most other fruits. They also have a nutritional profile that any expert will tell you is worth their weight in gold.

Trying to lose a few excess pounds? Who isn’t? Eat a cup of berries every day for a between meal snack. It’s only 50-90 calories per cup (depending on the type of berry), and you get 3-4 grams of fiber to boot. Want to mix it up a bit? Toss berries into a spinach salad topped with toasted pecans or add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to a bowl of mixed berries and a dash of cinnamon.

Mangoes – If you have a Central or South American heritage, chances are mangoes are a large part of your diet. If not, it’s a fruit well worth getting to know better. Mangoes are packed with vitamins A and C, plus a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which may help prevent cancer and promotes healthy skin. Bonus: an entire mango only has 135 calories, and it's packed with 3.5 grams of fiber.

Here’s a cooking tip you may not know: Mangoes are a great tenderizing agent, and thus, perfect for marinades. Next time you are serving tacos, fish or chicken consider topping then with delicious mango salsa. For something refreshing anytime the heat rises, puree and freeze mangoes for an icy cool treat.

Peaches – The fresh peach season is always too short for me. A good fresh peach is bursting with sweet juicy flavor and always seems to refresh my palate. And talk about low cal: a medium peach has only 38 calories. What a peach lacks in calories it makes up for in measurable amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins C and K.

Here’s another food tip for less than usual uses of peaches: Try using fresh peaches as a topping for grilled meats like chicken and turkey, or mix them into savory foods like quesadillas, salads and salsas. You can even use peaches to make innovative barbecue sauces and marinades.

Watermelon – If you took all the water out of a watermelon you’d end up with a fruit about the size or a large lemon. That’s because 90% of what goes into a watermelon is water, making it by far the juiciest fruit around. It’s also loaded with disease-fighting lycopene (a powerful plant chemical linked to lower risks of some forms of cancer). They’re cool, sweet, hydrating, and they pair well with almost every food genre (salty, sweet, spicy, bitter -- you name it!).

Besides slurping on a cool, juicy slice, what else can you do with watermelon? Think salads (it's perfect with feta and mint), sorbets, icy beverages, and even soup (like gazpacho, but with watermelon instead of tomato).

I do hope that you take something away from this article and try adding a bit more fresh fruit to your daily diet this summer… You’ll be glad that you did.

 

See you in the produce aisle,

Dave Michaels – Store Manager

Looking for something different to serve at this year’s July 4th BBQ? Think Beef Brisket- Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When we think about grilling meats for a summer event most of us think of burgers, dogs, brats, chops and steaks. All great choices and it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. If, however, you want to step your BBQ grilling game up a notch and show the neighbors what a real grill master you are, why not consider a beef brisket, one of the BBQ staples of the lone star state, Texas?

The brisket is cut from the breast section of a side of the animal. As with any cut of beef, it’s flavor and juiciness will be directly related to the amount of marbling (fat) contained in the animal, so you will want to be certain to choose only a USDA Prime or Choice cut of brisket. It just so happens that we are featuring beef briskets this week -- so enjoy the savings.

The first thing that you will want to do is prep your brisket. There is going to be some amount of fat that you will want to remove because smoke and rub won't penetrate it. It will take more time and fuel to cook the brisket with all the fat intact. And in the end, you're not going to eat the fat -- you're going to cut it away and discard it.

So, select a very sharp knife and cut away some of the thickest areas of fat on the brisket and trim the fat cap over the flat to 1/8" to 1/4". This leaves enough fat to keep the brisket moist during cooking. Concerned that you don’t know how to do this correctly or don’t have the proper equipment? Don’t worry, our meat cutters can open the Cryovac and trim your brisket FREE of charge, you simply pay the price shown on the untrimmed package.

Next, you will need to season your brisket. I’ve checked and in Texas, the most popular seasoning is a simple 50/50 mix of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper along with the smoke created while cooking. If you want to be more adventurous, we have a wide selection of rubs and marinades available for sale in aisle 4.

Okay, it’s time to start grilling. For a gas grill, soak 6 cups wood chips in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Leave in water throughout the cooking process. Have some additional dry chips in reserve. Light only 1 grill burner to medium (if using a 3-burner grill, light burner on either end). Make sure that your drip tray is empty because as it cooks a good deal of fat will be rendered. Place smoker box over the lit burner and add to it add ½ cup soaked wood chips, and close grill. Adjust heat as needed to keep the temperature at 225-250 degrees. The wood chips should begin to smolder and release a steady stream of smoke. How long this takes depends on how wet your chips are and the heat of your grill. To get more smoke without increasing grill heat, add a few dry chips to the soaked ones.

Place brisket, fatty side up, on grill grate as far away from the lit burner as possible. Resist the urge to open grill often, as this will cause the temperature to fluctuate. Adjust heat as needed to keep the temperature steady at 225-250 degrees. Check wood chips every 45 minutes or so, and add soaked chips by 1/2-cups as needed to keep smoke level constant. Keep smoking the brisket, rotating every 3 hours and flipping as needed if top or bottom is coloring faster than the other until meat is very tender but not falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of meat registers 195-205 degrees, 10-12 hours total.

As always, don’t forget to let your brisket rest at least 30 minutes. Slice brisket against the grain 1/2" thick. There you go, partner -- you are now a virtual member of the Lone Star BBQ Association.

 

Happy Independence Day weekend,

Andy

Something to think about – Water Footprints- Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It’s been argued by scientists for years that in addition to the need to control and reduce greenhouse gasses in order to stop the increase of holes in our Earth’s atmosphere, we also need to be concerned about our fresh water supply. It’s not infinite, and definitely not something we want to waste. It’s relatively easy to think about how we use and at times waste water. We drink it, bathe in it, wash our cars and clothes, water our lawns, etc. What we fail to take into account, however, is the amount of water that goes into providing for our every-day needs that are less than obvious.

For example, consider a number of beverages that we consume quite regularly. When you take into account the amount of water needed to grow, process, produce and package these beverages, it may come as a shock just how much water is consumed creating each.

 

Beverage

Water used

Explanation

Unsweetened Ice tea 12 oz.

10 gallons of water

Nearly all is used in the cultivation of the tea. After water, tea is the most consumed beverage worldwide.

Lemonade

12-ounce 

41 gallons of water

The water needed to grow and produce the 10 or so lemons and 1 cup of sugar.

Soda ½ liter

40 to 80 gallons of water

½ liter of soda requires approximately 40 to 80 gallons (150 to 300 liters) of water to produce. Type of sweetener determines the different amounts of water needed.

Beer 12 oz.

28 to 37 gl. of water

Some of this water is associated with the brewing process; however, much of the water used is related to growing beer’s ingredients, like hops and barley.

Wine 8 oz.

29 gl. of water

The water used for irrigation and in the wine making process.


Bottom line: No resource is infinite so we never want to waste what we have. Enjoy that refreshing beverage, or perhaps consider just having a glass of water. Just think of all the water that you will be saving.

 

Big Shakeup in Our World- Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Unless you were on a vacation in a remote location or stayed away from watching or listening to news reports this weekend, you would have heard about the big announcement that Amazon purchased Whole Foods this past week for the mere sum of $13 billion+ dollars. This came as a surprise to almost everyone, including experts in the tech and retail food industries. It has been no secret for a long time that Amazon has visions of providing a quick delivery solution to grocery shopping, as they have been publicly talking about it and preparing for it for years. However, when you have the buying power of Jeff Bezos, you can really shake up the world by paying cash for an entire food giant, one with both a national and international presence, with the stroke of a pen. Most likely, done with an electronic signature to boot.

So, as you can expect, lots of folks have asked us what we think of this turn of events and what does it mean for the future of the grocery industry... and, for that matter, for the future of Prisco’s Family Market? Well I can assure you that we are confident that there is plenty we can and will continue to do to assure that our customers and their children and grandchildren still have the pleasure of shopping at Prisco’s for generations to come.

Let’s be realistic, Amazon and many of the big box competitors and national grocers that we compete with today have the buying power to sell goods cheaper than we can, so we can eliminate low prices as a weapon to use for survival and growth. The same is true for logistics, technology, and access to unlimited capital.

Well that sounds pretty bleak doesn’t it? Actually, we don’t think so. Here’s why: Just how many of you, our loyal steadfast shoppers, come here now for our super low prices or because of our extensive network of retail locations or because you can jump online, place an order, and have it delivered by a drone in two hours?

There are about fifty families who give us a phone call or send us a fax or email two or three times a month with a list of items that they’d like Patty Joray to pick out, ring up and deliver to their home in the Prisco’s delivery van. Perhaps not the cutting edge of high tech, but it works well for them. There is also the comfort of knowing that there is a warm, friendly store on the 1100 block of Prairie Street that is home to a family-owned business -- one which has been located somewhere in this neighborhood for over 90 years, serving the food needs of the community.

As nice as they are, when the UPS or Amazon driver arrives at your door they are a stranger to you with no time to stop and chat or ask about how you are recovering from a knee replacement surgery or ask if you enjoyed the ribeye steaks that were special cut for you last week. Everyone has seen those green trucks from Peapod driving around town delivering groceries ordered online, but you can be certain that no one receiving those deliveries will be getting a package of homemade brats made using Great Grandpa Tony’s recipe. At Valentine’s Day, they won’t have Bridget’s gigantic hand dipped, chocolate covered strawberries on their trucks. If you have a hankering for Grandma’s recipe for homemade lasagna or one of my Mom’s delicious homemade salads from our deli, you’d be wasting time Googling them from Amazon or elsewhere. The same is true if you want to replenish your supply of Aroma Roots handmade soaps, created by Maria Skokan and her family, or if you want access to locally raised honey from the Lorences of Aurora or the Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn.

If it’s friendly customer service, locally produced foods, or homemade and handmade creations that you cherish, Prisco’s will always be miles ahead of the big industrial giants. We're ready to serve your needs, and more so your passions, just as we’ve done now for the past four generations.

I’ll see you down on Prairie Street real soon, and as always THANK YOU for your loyal patronage.

 

Andy

Sweet, refreshing cantaloupe- Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Everyone has their favorite summer melon. For most, the watermelon has become iconic; look at stock photos of picnicking families and you will see it frequently, often alongside sandwiches, hot dogs or burgers. The reality is, come warm weather watermelon is available everywhere, and it dominates the produce department from May all the way through August. But the second most recognizable melon, the cantaloupe, is available year-round and never goes out of style. Unlike its more watery cousin, the cantaloupe is popular because its flesh is similarly sweet but much more dense, making it far better for recipes and anyone who prefers to bite into a firmer fruit.

[info courtesy of nutrition-and-you.com & organicfacts.net]

Many varieties of cantaloupes are grown all over the world. However, two common types have become popular in the western world. The European cantaloupe (Cucumis melo cantalupensis) derives its name from the Italian papal village of "Cantalup" and features lightly-ribbed, pale green skin that looks quite different from the North American cantaloupe. Galia melon and charentais belong to this category. North American cantaloupe (Cucumis melo reticulatus), famous in the United States and some parts of Canada, is named reticulatus due to its net-like (or reticulated) skin covering.

In general, cantaloupe fruits feature round or oblong shape, measure 4.5- 6.5 inches in diameter and weigh 1-2 pounds. Internally, its flesh color ranges from orange-yellow to salmon, has a soft consistency and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates best in the completely ripe fruits.

What's so great about cantaloupes?

They help boost the immune system. Cantaloupes not only have the beta-carotene and phytochemicals working in its favor against free radicals, but also a healthy dose of vitamin-C. Vitamin C similarly scavenges disease-causing free radicals and act as an important line of defense for a healthy immune system. Also, vitamin-C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which seek out and destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other toxic substances.

Cantaloupes may help in preventing cancer. Cantaloupes are rich sources of beneficial nutrients, including beta-Carotene, an essential carotenoid that the body requires and a powerful antioxidant. It has been linked to reduced chances of a number of different types of cancer, and the phytochemicals present in fresh fruit like cantaloupes have also been linked to anti-tumor behavior.

Cantaloupes contain substances which are known to help maintain eye health. Cantaloupes contain carotenoids, which are associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, as is the vitamin-C content of cantaloupes.

Cantaloupes have a high amount of dietary fiber, which is an essential component of healthy bowel movements and digestive health. Eating a proper amount of dietary fiber can bulk up your stool and reduce your chances of becoming constipated, and can make your bowel movements more regular and consistent. By insuring a smooth flow through your digestive tract and colon, you reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other dangerous gastrointestinal conditions.

Eating cantaloupes is good for your skin. Cantaloupes are wonderful places to find beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin-A. The body converts the beta-carotene into vitamin-A, which enters the skin and stimulates the membranes of skin cells and increases regrowth and repair.

They help reduce stress and anxiety. Potassium is one of the essential nutrients found in cantaloupes. Potassium has been shown to relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Excited levels of blood pressure can act as a stressor on the body, and can even induce the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Potassium also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and reduce the presence of stress hormones in the body, which can seriously reduce symptoms of anxiety.

The phytochemicals in cantaloupe also have anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that having a proper amount of cantaloupe in your diet can help prevent oxidative stress on your joints and bones, thereby reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation of these vital areas can lead to conditions like arthritis.

Cantaloupe Recipes

There are plenty of ways to consume cantaloupe aside from raw... Not that there is anything wrong with a nice, juicy slice or cube of cantaloupe. However, eating raw cantaloupe is common; most of us have enjoyed melon slices and fruit salad numerous times over the courses of our lives. Consider this an opportunity to experiment a little with this wonderful fruit, rather than doing the same old thing!


Grilled Sea Bass with Cantaloupe-Lime Salsa

Chicken Cantaloupe Salad

Cantaloupe and Blueberries with Vanilla Sauce

Easy Fruit Tarts

Cold Melon Soup

 

The Wines of Summer- Tuesday, June 13, 2017

When the weather gets hot it’s a good time to shift to sparkling, white, and rosé while eliminating the heftier reds. During the summer months, when there is a wider array of produce available, you will want to enjoy simpler, seasonal wines.

We advise purchasing a 1/2 case of wine for the months to come. With 6 bottles stashed in your fridge, you're ready for any last minute day-drinking opportunity. Besides that, you'll even get our extra 10% discount for buying all 6 bottles at once.

When entertaining this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind about your wine:

A 750 mL bottle of wine holds about 5 (5-oz.) glasses. Estimate that 2 glasses of wine per guest for the first hour of a party, plus 1 glass per guest for each additional hour. For a wine tasting, choose 5 to 6 different wines and plan on 1 bottle of each for every 6 to 8 people.

Crisp white wines are great for quenching your thirst in the summer, but slightly chilled, easy-drinking reds are perfectly suitable, too. If serving outdoors, keep your wine cool in a mix of ice and water. (Ice alone doesn’t chill as well.) It’s also helpful to keep the wine bottle out of direct sunlight – especially if you’re enjoying a red wine, which can “cook” if it gets too warm.

Favorite summer wines:

  • Sauvignon Blanc

  • Pinot Grigio

  • Riesling

  • Chardonnay

  • White Blend

  • Rosé

  • Red Blend

  • Merlot

  • Sangria

If you want to have fun making your own summer refresher, here is an easy-to-make recipe for a Traditional Red Sangria.

 

Two ways to make authentic and delicious Shrimp Ceviche- Tuesday, June 13, 2017

As many of you know, this past weekend was very special for me and our family. I married my beautiful bride, Sarah. As you can imagine my Mom, my sisters, and other key members of the team have been very busy either involved with the wedding or taking our places to keep the store running smoothly. As a result, I did not have lots of time to write the Shout Out and decided to simply share a popular summer recipe that may or may not involve any cooking (depending on your preference). With the outside temperature busting past 90˚ day after day, who wants to cook?

If you’ve never tasted Ceviche you are in for a delicious surprise. Ceviche is seafood prepared in a centuries old method of cooking by contact with the acidic juice of citrus fruit instead of heat. It can be eaten as an appetizer or main dish, depending on what is served with it. The chemical process that occurs when the acid of the citrus comes in contact with the fish is similar to what happens when the fish is cooked, and the flesh becomes opaque and firm. Indeed, many people refer to the juice as “cooking” the fish, although that is just plain wrong!

I’m going to give you two different recipes for Shrimp Ceviche because depending on the cook there are different points of view as to whether you should apply any heat to the shrimp.

Here are the arguments for using heat: The reason why many recipes tell you to partially cook or parboil the shrimp when making ceviche is because the time it usually takes to "cook" the shrimp with the acid -- as is traditionally done in ceviche preparations -- would render the shrimp flaccid and rubbery. That’s reason enough for me to want to do a bit of steaming or parboiling, but others will argue that using the fruit acid will not impact the texture of the shrimp if done correctly. I’ve also heard that it makes a difference if the shrimp is fresh or frozen. In Mexico, where the uncooked method is popular, the shrimp used is fresh off the shrimp boats. Maybe if using frozen shrimp parboiling is a better choice?

Here are the two recipes. You decide.

Shrimp Ceviche – (cooked)

Shrimp Ceviche Verde – (uncooked)

 

In closing, all of us at Prisco’s would like to wish the very best to all our Dads, Stepdads, and Granddads. Happy Father’s Day!

Andy