I don't know about you, but I like and do most of my bulk shopping at Meijer's in Royal Oak, MI. When I was single and living near there I would go in and feel like I was in a Star Wars movie -- way too much space, and a universe of choices. I'd feel overhwhelmed.
Well, times change don't they? I've shopped there now for years, as our two children grew we needed more and more and more chow. It was convenient, prices were great for commodities.
The produce section has evolved into a cool way to buy specific MI farmers' crops as they ID them.
But that's not the story, the last two times I've shopped there I've not only had help but have just learned to like a couple guys there. The produce guy pickles 25 POUNDS of asparagus a year. Found out he's from my rival high school and graduated the year after me. It all started with trying to find a bag of lemons.
The meat guy changed some prices for me and smiled the whole time.
And I saw the produce guy again tonight on a not quite desperate, but urgent, trip to get cat food for the old lady cat Sylvie.
This guy totally made my day, we laughed, talked about high school - the bad guys he knew, a little bit of politics. It's such a pleasure to find foodly people, colleagues wherever you go. And this is why I want to share such experiences on this blog. You never know where a good person and a food person turn up. And they're always a keeper.
So props to Mark at Meijer's. My bagged lemons are proudly in my fridge.
A dinner of fresh walleye last night confirmed that the fish should be the state fish of Michigan. As delicious as brook trout is, and it's really pretty, walleye is a transcendent experience.
Sweet, large fillets, dusted with flour and sauteed in butter with just a little seasoning may be one of the best dishes in the world. Yes, THE world.
Not ready to set up a referendum, but can't rule it out.
In honor of Detroit Food guy's father, Edward Francis, who believed that the Irish were the lost tribe of Israel, we enjoyed corned beef and cabbage this year with a nice Kosher cabernet sauvignon from Israel.
A package of "Irish" bangers called to me recently and I also thought of boxty - mashed spuds with green onions as well. So that what was for dinner would be a good addition.
A little research and I knew...despite the small lure of St. Patrick's Day dinner and thinking this would work, this is not an Irish meal.
First, the Irish didn't have meat. And because of that they didn't make sausage. So what they had were potatoes... lots and lots of potatoes, until they didn't. And we know what tragedy happened.
However and nonetheless the bangers were on the menu. A couple of Google searches and Serious Eats landed the recipe. Gently cook the bangers, then crisp up in a pan.
Make the spuds (the other Detroit Food guy is a pro at that.)
And, the kicker, the onion gravy. SO easy. Caramelize a couple of onions, toss in a bit of white wine, a little flour, cook and add beef broth.
Serve the bangers over the fluffy spuds and ladle on the gravy, which is just ridiculously good. The gravy can anticipate a number of appearances in the future.. over spuds, noodles, and a great burger.
So while our Irish DNA is a little bit offended by the non-Irish-y bangers, our tastebuds were fine with it. Easy and comforting and hearty. Serve with peas for the full English treatment. But not on an Irish holiday.
We all know we overdo it, maybe slightly, maybe a lot, during the season between (let's be real here, including Halloween) November and January. This is followed by eater's remorse, the whole fake resolution thing and then the dreary march on through the rest of the winter days until we can redeem ourselves outside with exercise and fresh food.
OR you can be strolling through your local market and find on the fast-sell rack three great green peppers and realize all kind of really great fruit is on sale.
The mental cooking computer clicks in pretty quickly and comes up with - stuffed peppers and lavish fruit salad.
Which is tonight's menu. Instead of using rice, Trader Joe's brown rice/black barley/other grains mix that had been lingering in the pantry sprung into action. Not exactly sure if I like the outcome as I added pearl barley as well. But, how bad could it be with ground round, good onions, Worcestershire and homemade tomato sauce tucked into those halved peppers.
Turned out, pretty good. Not totally on the top 10 crave list, but a very decent effort for several meals to go into the freezer. And decent daily cooking after the weeks of feast-making.
The fruit salad is glistening, fresh, delicious and full of all kinds of stuff you should be wanting - antioxidants, fiber, nonprocessed stuff.. and etc., etc.
So let's admire it again:
Best thing is, this tastes really good. Made on a balmy and sunny day that ended with a feeling of solid creative, daily cooking.
Pat yourself on the back if you're doing the same...