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Alley

Market District Granview Yard & Meeting Chef Mario Batali


If you haven't been to a Market District grocery store yet, you should definitely check it out!  I went to the grand opening of the one at Grandview Yard this morning where they had tons of things going on.  And... met chef Mario Batali!  He was so friendly, down-to-earth, and so insightful and poetic about food.

Back to the store...  If you have ever been to a normal Giant Eagle store, the Market District has all of that.  Then if you are looking for local, foodie faves, hard-to-find, or even obscure ingredients you will find it on the other half of the store.  It starts off with a Starbucks, then a bar (a real bar to chill and drink at, watch a game, and then do your grocery shopping), sushi area, made-to-order stone fired pizza station, deli for custom sandwiches and more perfect for the grab and go (aka wish I had more time to cook, but this is the next best thing).  In the produce section you'll find your normal everyday stuff, some organics, a section of local produce, and a section of oddball things like bittermelons and full sugar canes (which sound like a fun challenge to me!).

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My favorite is the cheese section!  I love to try new cheeses and they had enough variety to keep me entertained for quiet some time.  They get many of their cheeses in giant wheels and currently have a contest to guess how much one cheese wheel weighs.  I guessed 428 pounds (based on the weight of one of the wedges and how many times I thought I could fit it in the wheel).  I think I might be pretty close, but the guy behind me said I was way off and guessed over 1000 pounds.  I guess we'll see if I win!

Although I don't buy meat that often, their meat section was very intriguing.  Again, they still have your everyday stuff, they have a LOT of local stuff (including local lamb and boar), aged beef (I don't even know what that means!), python (what?!), and much more!  Plus most of the meat is labeled with the place of origin and some even have a sign with the story behind the farm.

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One of my pet peeves about Whole Foods has always been that they won't slice the fresh bread for you (or maybe I ask the bread lady on a bad day every time).  I hate slice it at home because I always smoosh the bread.  Well Market District will slice it at whatever thickness you want... yay, no smooshed bread!

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Chef Mario Batali came to talk to a few of us bloggers before heading down to the crowded store and doing a cooking demo and book signing.  It was awesome to just casually talk to someone who really helped re-start the whole cook-at-home movement.  We talked to him about favorite dishes to prepare, what he enjoys doing, a little about Eataly (my husband's favorite thing to talk about from NYC), about eating much veggies and less meat.  We all got pictures with him.  It was definitely a neat experience!

After a tour of the store by the head chef, Mario made some grilled cheese with the CEO of Giant Eagle.  Since he's a professional Italian chef, it wasn't just your everyday grilled cheese... this Italian version was with ricotta, fresh purple cherokee tomatoes (sliced thick) with cracked pepper and dredged in cayenned french toast batter.  We tried sample afterward and it was delicious!

He was very poetic about why he loves lots of fresh cracked pepper on his tomatoes.  He said because when the tomato plant is growing, it grows best when it is still hot in the early evening... it sweetens the tomato.  So too does a little heat (pepper) on the actual fruit... it brings out the sweetness.  Such an interesting way to think about food pairings!

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Like most Giant Eagles, the Market District has a decent wine and beer selection.  They also have a full liquor license.  This place really is a one stop shop!

Lastly, wanted to mention their local produce.  They had two large sections of produce with the farm  of origin listed on the sign.  Their definition of local is withing 150 miles of the store (so the Cleveland stores would not include Athens produce even if it is in the same state).  I thought that was an interesting (and honest) take on local.

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So there you have it, Market District in a rather large nutshell.  Oh... and... one of the best parts... you can use your loyalty card on everything!  Hello fuel points!

And to end with Mario's words (since he is way more qualified than I)... Simple foods you make with your hands in your home come from your heart.

Fresh Thyme

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It's been a busy month, but I wanted to let you know about a new grocery option in the area (and get on a soapbox for a minute).  Fresh Thyme opened on Sawmill Road a couple weeks ago.  It reminded me of Sunflower Market which I used to frequent six years ago in the same area.  It is a value based organic grocery store specializing in bulk bins, convenience foods, and produce.  It is kind of like a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's combined.  Both of which are withing a mile of this store (soapbox time...).  I wish they would have put something like this in Pickerington or Grove City, areas of Columbus that are underserved in organic grocery options. 

I would't say this could be your only store to get all of your grocery... but it is a good substitute for the higher prices at Whole Foods and the lower standards at your normal grocery.  There were lines of people at the deli and prepared foods area, so it must be good.  I just grabbed a few things, which were quiet random (said the cashier), but they were all great (including their chocolate chip cookies, which I'm pretty much an expert in judging).  Definitely something to check out!  

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Radio Silence... Oops!

Many apologies for the radio silence on the blog!  It has been a busy month and the next several weeks will be even busier (but also tons of fun).  So when life gets busy, you have to let some things slide in order to keep your sanity.  ;)  Don't worry, I'm still working on recipes when I can and will have tons to share when I have time.  So please check back soon!

Until then, here are some of my favorite blogs to follow...

Cooking: Pinch of Yum
Baking: Browneyed Baker
Menu Planning: This Week for Dinner
Gardening: Seeding the Good Life
Organic Lifestyle: Chiot's Run
Columbus Happenings: Girl About Columbus

Weekly Menu

Had a great weekend in Canton this weekend spending time with family.  My niece and nephews were running around like crazy kids and the adults enjoyed some sangria at Gervasi and then enjoyed the walk home on some park trails.

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Here is the menu for this week!  What are you making?

stuffed onions
zucchini rolls and corn on the cob
BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches

Okra Corn Cakes - total time 30 minutes


One of the fun things that comes along with having a CSA share is the random fruits and vegetables you get.  The first year we got kohlrabi... we got tons of kohlrabi.  I had never heard of it before.  It kind of looked like a turnip, but didn't look like a root because of the leaves.  And the only real recipe available on the internets was roasted kohlrabi... so we had that often.

Now that our bin is customizable (which happened the second year), we no longer get kohlrabi... but we certainly glad we tried it!

This year's new vegetable is okra.  I have seen it before and have heard it is great in stews and fried.  But summer is no time for stews and I'm not going to fry it either.  I have also seen it growing in the community garden and the flowers on okra plants are beautiful!  So it was time to try this elusive veggie.

What better way to try this southern favorite than in a way that is completely southern... in cornbread!  The okra adds some color, a little different texture, and some crunch to your normal corn cake.  On the first time trying okra we landed on a winning recipe... yippee!

Drunken Baked Peaches - total time 20 minutes


I love peaches!  Everything about them, the flavor, the smell, the fuzzy skin... so good!  In fact, back in the day I used to use Peach Nectar body lotion from Bath & Body Works (before they retired it) and because I smelled like peaches all of the time, people started calling me peaches.

During the summer we have a plethora of peaches in the house.  Perfect for snacks, fruit salads, topping parfaits, and of course desserts.  An easy, no hassle way to make a great peach dessert is to bake them with a little bourbon and sugar.  So good!  I made these four nights in a row they were so good.  Mmm.  Might put a couple more in the oven right now.  :)

Weekly Menu

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  The Ohio State Fair and Dublin Irish Fest used to mean that summer was over to me.  It still kind of feels like that, but since I don't have a summer break from work, it really shouldn't feel that way.  We still have almost two months of summer until Fall starts.  Time to make the most of it!

Like I mentioned, we went to the fair this week.  My dad, sister, and I have been going to the fair together ever since I can remember.  Since it was just the three of us this year, it was all about traditions.  Making sure we covered each one of them even if they were new traditions.   :)  Met at the red cardinal, ate at the smorgous board, saw the baby chicks, pet the rabbits, walked through ODNR, saw the baby cows, got ice cream and ate it in the coliseum while 'betting' on horses, and wandered around looking at all of the animals.

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Yay! It's strawberry time again.  Everbearing strawberries are ripening right now and they are sooo good!  We also made a stop at B Spot where they specialize in burgers, brats, beer, and bourbon.  Pretty good hamburger and delicious campfire milkshake with toasted marshmallows on top.

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And of course Dublin Irish Festival was this weekend.  After a few Guinness, some Irish nachos )chops with beer cheese) from Claddagh, and perusing the vendors we learned how to make linen from flax straw, saw how to play some traditional 'track and field' type games and listened to a lot of bagpipes.

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Here is the plan for this week!  What are you planning on making?

salmon burgers
shrimp po boys with grilled potatoes
pizza night
grilled brie sandwiches

Campfire Eggs-periment


When you're camping you can't take your whole kitchen with you, so it requires some minimalist cooking techniques.  We were planning our meals a couple day before we left (meal planning is an absolute necessity for camping) we found this interesting technique for cooking eggs.... right in the fire... using just the egg itself.  Can't get more minimalist than that!  So we packed an extra couple eggs to try this eggs-periment.  :)

First you poke a hole in the top of the egg shell.  You could use a safety pin, push pin, or even a metal skewer.  This allows for the heat to escape to prevent the shell from cracking under the pressure.  Then you carefully place the egg in the coals of the fire (not the flame).  Wait about 10 minutes for the eggs to cook.  You'll see the steam escaping from the small hole and maybe even little egg whites bubbling out.  Remove the eggs from the fire and let rest for at least 5 minutes before pealing the shell away.  

Lessons Learned
1.  Do not shake the egg before cooking... this doesn't create scrambled eggs in the shell... it creates explosive eggs.
2.  Poke a big enough hole, maybe two... or the shell will crack.
3.  Bring backup eggs just in case!

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regular egg verses shaken egg... oops



Or just use your castiron... it is a camp cooking essential.
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