Welcome to the blog of the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. Pull up a bar stool and experience our Counter Culture!

I'm Andy Meddick, Owner and President of the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. In 2005, I left my corporate I.T. job in Washington DC, to relocate with my spouse's business to the DE beaches. What to do now we live in a state where chicken houses can often outnumber human? Faced with a four hour round trip to the closest decent food market, I opened my first store, Good For You Market, a full service grocery store, focusing on organic, natural, and gourmet foods. In the worst economy since the 1930s, I won Best of Delaware awards three years running. After four years, I decided to simplify the business, re-aligning to focus on what we did best. The result is the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. We sell (retail and wholesale) artisan/farmstead cheeses, charcuterie, organic produce,and other specialty foods such as spices and seasonings. We also teach cheese classes, cater, sell online, and consult with other businesses to build their cheese programs.

I've learned much since starting out. For example, staffing was a steep learning curve, and I discovered that a savvy sales and marketing professional lay dormant in an I.T. geek! Systems analysis, business analysis, database design and development, data architecture, web design, specialty cheeses and foods, organic farming, catering, and cooking. What do all these threads have in common? Curiosity! It begets technique, which in turn begets better solutions to commond needs. Why complain about lack of choice, if you're not willing to offer an alternative? Our move, and my business development has taught me to participate in life, and to be ever curious! Enjoy!

Oct 27, 2010

Good For You Market is now closed at our Route 9 location in Lewes, DE!

Thank you for four award-winning years! With your support and your business, we won Best of Delaware three times and became only the second of two Delaware-based artisan cheese retailers to be a member of The American Cheese Society (the other is way upstate). Not too shabby for a former Corporate IT guy turned specialty foods retailer!

At this point I am pretty certain our Route 9 building and farm are leased. I'm very excited about our tenant. However I will not leak the news - they have a really cool concept and it's their spotlight not mine.

Why did I decide to close Good For You Market instead of relocating as originally planned? Was business not good? Business was great! After four years, it was time for a change. I decided to close so we could re-tool, take the Best of The Best (of Delaware!), simplify the business concept and focus on the lines of business I've learnt to excel at.

While we've been looking for a new location on Route 1 southbound for my new concept specialty foods store, an opportunity arose for me to work with Mary Murphy of Hamel's Gourmet Market, Rehoboth. For those whom do not know Mary and her lovely store on Rehoboth Avenue, opposite Grove Park, then why not? You're missing out on a local treasure of great food and phenomenal customer service under Mary's leadership. Mary brings many years of hospitality industry executive management experience to her Hamel's business. We share a similar corporate America background, a no-nonsense passion for authentic foods, a common business philosophy and high standards of customer service.

So, while I still entertain a possible Route 1 south location, I could not pass by the opportunity to team with Mary. The synchronicities between our businesses were too many to let this go. Here is our press release announcing our new team.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Yum Comes To Town!

Hamel's Gourmet Market, Rehoboth Beach, DE - October 26, 2010 - Andy Meddick, former Owner of three-time Best Of Delaware award winning Good For You Market, Lewes, DE, will manage Hamel's Gourmet Market for the winter. Andy will oversee a winter menu of Hamel's popular baked goods and prepared foods to go at Hamel's Rehoboth Avenue store - original site of the historic MacQuay's Market. Andy will bring with him the best of The Best of Good For You Market's specialty food lines sold under his "We Know Yum!" brand. Yum includes Andy's popular artisan cheeses, growing charcuterie and high end deli, organic produce, bulk spices and dried goods, fresh prepared organic juices, smoothies, and coffee, special events, educational classes, and catering. "This is a natural synchronicity between two local foodie entrepreneurs. I am proud that Hamel's would consider me to operate their gourmet food market. Together we continue to demonstrate that we do not have to sacrifice choice, customer service, or value when we relocate, or recreate at the Delaware Beaches. We Know Yum and we're proud and excited to be continuing Yum with the talented team at Hamel's Gourmet Market."

Contact:

Andy Meddick
Hamel's Gourmet Market,
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971(302) 381-6182
http://www.weknowyum.com

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Aug 8, 2010

It's no secret we live in a small (beach) town, but here's a guilty secret you may not know! We love to eat at the bar in our favorite restaurants! Not only do you experience great service and camaradrie with the bartender (a key staff member in any restaurant in my humble opinion), you meet the most interesting people at the bar. Sociable, fun, creative people, full of zest. Or, as my Jersey relatives say, "Piss and vinegar!"

As a small town, 'townie,' I love to sit at the bar because, well, you get great scuttlebut! As delicious as the food! Sometime, during the winter months, when we're all running a little slower, start a rumor about yourself, and see how long it takes to come back at cha! Social networking indeed!

Here's the key skill any great bartender, small town Doctor, or small town Banker understands, "The better part of valour is discretion." Great bartenders never kiss and tell, great Doctors don't bring up that wierd tattoo on your butt cheek over dinner with friends, your Banker will never discuss the size of your business deposits at the firehouse spaghetti dinner! For this, I raise my glass to you all!

Not convinced? Pull up a stool, order up, and socialize! For a brief hour or two, curiously, PDAs are silent! Join in the conversation, you make great new friends at the bar. Above all else, take a leaf out of Bartending 101 - be a good listener, you learn so much about your town...

For the record, I'll never tell who asked me what wine to pair with Velveeta at my artisan cheese bar! Townies, did you hear any scuttlebut?

Jul 27, 2010


Some days are baking days, some are not.

With, "All apologies" to Amazon Kindle, artists Ashley & Little, and proof in the power of advertising, I can't get the Kindle song out of my mind.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon baking - proofing a blackberry custard tart recipe for the store. The whole time, I hear, "Bake Me Away..." on loop in my head.

I think this was an autonomic reaction to baking with 3 Jack Russell Terriers under my feet - I needed a stress diversion. You can't bake when you're stressed. Ever seen a Pastry Line Cook? "Bake Me Away!"

This blog entry is a shout out to home designers. Sure, I get the, "Be in your kitchen and be able to talk to your guests thing." However, whomever came up with the idea of an open plan kitchen/family room/dining room combo clearly does not use the kitchen 'area' very often! Or they don't have dogs/cats, kids, or curious spouses. File this under, "What we want is not what we need!"

So, before I hang up my apron, home designers, please, either start a new trend for 'private' kitchens, or come up with a solution for us to be able to close them off.
Go ahead, "Bake My Day!"

Jul 25, 2010

Sunday morning. Early. Left the family sleeping in a bed of dog hair and slipped out to grab a coffee, do some food shopping, prep us some juices, check on the web stats and get home before I'm missed, and the heat of the day hits (or at least gets above the 80F it was at 6am). Ughh...

All of this made me realize, despite what y'all may think, being a food market owner is not all world travel and glamour. It's a lot of wild ride, rollercoastin', fun, persistent, put your big boy pants on hard work. The bennies are rare, but one I treasure, I get to food shop without a line! I can slip into our juice bar and juice up some Valencias and make it home with fresh organic O.J.. All just in time for a family breakfast with the goodies I've hit up from the store: produce, bread, milk, eggs, meats, wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. Yum!

So, taking a break from the shopping, I check our web stats while (st) catching up on past episodes of The Splendid Table. A few weeks back, host Lynne Rossetto Kasper talked with Anthony Bourdain asking him the question we love as listeners, but if asked ourselves are not quite sure if etiquette, business concerns, or don't pee in your own backyard issues will come back to bite us. Let there be no metaphor that go un-mixed!

So, back to Bourdain. In an uncomfortable, but guilty pleasure question (thank you Splendid Table, good interview!), Chef Bourdain was asked what he thought of his peers? An impressive laundry list! I put my coffee down, thinking, "This is going to be good!" It was. Good, that is. Diplomatic, inciteful, and honest. Considerate. Even appreciative comes to mind. Watered down, no. My favorite was the question, followed by a long pause, regarding the provocative, elegant, impactful, Chef Alice Waters. I believe the words, "Shoot yourself in the foot" were used! The discussion regarded Chef Waters' reply when asked if eating organic produce was feasible for all people, because of the, "Expense?" For example, organic grapes at $6 a lb. versus conventional at $2 a lb less. Don't get me started on "expense" - it's my day off and I need to stay calm! Chef Waters apparent comment was that we could cut down our cell phone minutes and eat better. Wow - you go, there!

My first thought was, "Where are you shopping?" Organic Grapes at $6 a lb. ? Clearly not Good For You Market !

My second thought was that I have a love-hate relationship with my cellphone, but this is not a discussion about the evils of cell phones, nor bashing those who do (love their cell phone). It's about prioritizing resources. Sometimes tact just doesn't cut it!

Thank you Splendid Table. Thank you Chef Bourdain and Chef Waters. Your work, and comments are much appreciated by this food market owner. Good For You, Good For Us All!

Jun 4, 2010

My maternal Grandmother was quite a character. It's been 28 years since she passed, but I can still picture her rolling down her stockings on returning from a shopping trip. I can still hear her laugh: deep, unabashed, guttural, sudden. Nana was a pure delight for us kids, full of eccentric ways of doing things her way, which I'm sure was frustrating for those one generation removed, but for us grandkids, pure joy. Nana used a saying, once quite popular in the UK, "She's all furcoat and no knickers." I use it to this day, and it's been 17 years since I moved to the US. This idiom is used to denote someone putting on airs and graces, a social climber if you will. It sounds a bit mean spirited, but my grandmother was not a mean person. I took this to mean more of a self-effacing way of saying, "Pride comes before a fall." Or, don't let your aspirations wander further than your attention!

Why did I think of this today? Sometimes when I'm using social media to highlight a new product we've got at the store, I have to be economical with words. Twitter enforces 149 characters, so I link up my Twitter to my Facebook and I'm forced to be brief there also. So, when I post an update on a new product I love that happens to be sourced from Italy, I think of my Nana and her saying, and wonder if she'd remind me to put undergarments on with my (faux) fur coat when referring to, "Artisan this," and "Imported that?" I remember Nana's caution about airs and graces and laugh to myself and post anyway. You see, for me, it's not about pretension when it comes to food and ingredients. It's about finding awesome, authentic foods, and being tickled pink that I get the opportunity to share them with my (adopted) home community.

One hint of mean-spirited exclusivity is a sure fire way to get on my goat, idiomatically speaking. Come one, come all, the imported, the artisan, the grow it yourself, dirt under your fingernails veggies, come on in. You're welcome. Now where did I put those knickers?

Here's a link to a photo I posted to our Facebook Group: Beach Savvies. It is of ants enjoying yum artisan pastries and imported Italian Marmellata Extra di Mandarini on china from the British Airways First Class cabin. That's orange marmalade to the lady in the fur coat! Salute. Grub up!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4933513&id=327062746569

May 27, 2010

I was recently asked why I blog? The fame? The accolades? The enormous amount of business the blog brings to my store? Yeah right, about that day job?

This blog is about, "We Know Yum! Musings, reviews, tips, hints on: food, recipes, articles, green living, organic gardening and farming from Good For You Market and Farm, Lewes, DE." It's mostly about food, since, well, that's what I mostly do! It's my experience of making a business out of my interests, and out of necessity. I could not find authentic food and ingredients at the beach. I started a 'natural food store,' and it evolved into a good, food market. Gourmet schmourmet. It's food after all, let's not take things too seriously, but let's get it right, food should taste like it should taste! That being said, if I buy cheddar cheese, I want to know it's a good cheddar cheese. "American Cheese" is not cheese. Cheeses that are made in America are American Cheese, and we in America have many fine artisan cheese. In fact we have a cheese revolution under way in the USA. I digress. If my cooking club has dealt me the appetizer course for Italian American Heritage month (October, by the way!), then I want to know where to get good Mozzarella, and do I need Perle, Bocconcini, or Ciliegine? What about Buffalo Mozzarella? Is it made in Buffalo, NY? Chiogga Beets, Broccoli Rabe, Fennel? Where do I get them and what do I do with them?

I may Know Yum and own/operate/manage a food market, but at the end of the day, I have the same learning curve and time pressures we all have. I love to eat, I'm insatiably curious about the world around me. I'm fascinated by technique. I love to write - it helps me process what I'm doing, sort through what I'm learning, figure out where I need to prioritize available time to delve deeper. It keeps me on my toes and keeps inertia at bay. I thrive on being busy and having lots on the go at once. Blogging is a way of me to categorize, preserve, make sense, share what I've learnt in the hope that it may stimulate others to try, or share their experiences.

We all eat, right? Life's too short to eat bad, inauthentic food. I want my food to be as authentic as possible. Take cheese for example. I find the more I learn of fine cheeses, paradoxically, the less quantity I eat. I'm learning to appreciate subtlelties in flavor that are just lost if I over do it.

Right now I'm on a wine and a Spanish food kick (not necessarily Spanish wines). I've had enough of the confusion over 'varietals' and the financial/quality crap shoot when buying wine. If the store couldn't tell me, I decided to educate myself so I know the questions to ask at the wine store. I picked Pinot Noir to start with. I'm having so much fun learning about where the Pinot Noir grape is grown, and how local climate affects the resulting wine. Now I understand why Pinot Noir seems to average a higher price than other wines: it's a fussy grape, low yielding and difficult to grow. So if I'm to spend $50 on a bottle, I want to know what makes it a $50 bottle and why that's different from the average of $25 a bottle. My reading tells me that New Zealand and Oregon have similar climates so their Pinot Noirs are very similar. So, I should notice that, right if I buy a bottle of each region? I should notice the similarity between a French Pinot (don't even get me started on the Bordeaux path - oy!) and a Californian? Why is that New York state grapes (Pinot Noir included) have a higher level of resveratrol than others? I find that fascinating. I'm a complete food and beverage geek!

G4U Market is entering the world of Charcuterie (separate blog entry on that one!). No Charcuterie department worth its salt (pun intended!), would not carry the world's finest cured hams: Jamón Ibérico and Proscuitto. IMHO, Jamón Ibérico is the superior, but hey, Proscuitto - not too shabby either. If you're going to pay the premium price that Jamón Ibérico commands, then you'd better know you're in good hands, right? You want your deli guy/gal to know when, where, and how. You want a story with your ham, Ma'am? Spain, I'm learning, is a fascinating country, with no one identifying cuisine. Geographical and historical concerns have painted a palette of regional food culture. The impact of geography and religious groups on Spanish cuisine is a fascinating story. I'm fortunate to be in the position of researching this for a living (hopefully!).

I'm fascinated by what I'm discovering and I couldn't imagine someone else wouldn't be also. QED - blog. How much cured Jamón Ibérico does one need to round out a stew? How much pushes a salad over into a taste explosion? Can you really taste the difference between the three grades (and prices) of Jamón Ibérico? There's Jamón Ibérico Bellota (with the Black Iberian Pig foraging in the wild for black acorns), Jamón Ibérico de Recebo (pastured pigs fed a mix of grain and acorns), and Jamón Ibérico de Cebo (pastured pigs fed only on grain). When shopping around for spices for my store, I've enjoyed a fascinating diversion into the world of Moorish Spain. Andalusian cuisine is much the richer for cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and of course, saffron. Where would the rest of the world be for Saffron were it not for La Mancha? Did you realize the majority of the world's garlic comes from La Mancha (sorry China!). I also learned this week of the exchange of crops during Columbus' Voyages of Discovery. Where would Spanish cuisine be without the early patronage of Queen Isabella? We don't know much of Spanish cuisine in the USA. Consider, however, where our popular dishes would be had Columbus landed much further north. We might be living in a land of Spanish delis instead of Italian!

So, in a world of 24x7 google and smart phones, why do I add my voice to the mix?

Short answer. I blog because I want to share the yum! I'm fascinated by technique and all things food and drink. In life, anything I do, I want to do it well, and want it to be authentic. As a retailer and grower if I'm to carry a product, or grow a variety of vegetable, I want to know everything I can about it. I enjoy cooking because it's a hobby, it's makes me better at my job, it calms me, and it feeds my family (and occasionally my staff and customers!).

Longer answer. At the risk of hubris, it's my voice. This is my experience - grown out of my particular circumstances - I own a specialty food market in an area of the country quite some distance from the choices urban areas typically bring. I want to know that in this area, if I need saffron, I can find it. Decent cheeses, bread, oils, vinegars. Got that covered. I want to be comfortable that the product is fairly priced and works for my budget. I want to know that the person selling it to me knows what to do with it and how much to use, how long it stores.

So, is the blog a shameless plug for my business? Of course, I need to earn a living! I'm trying to earn a living doing what I love. However, you can listen to my radio ads if you're interested purely in an ad for my business. This blog is about sharing my experiences. There's a reason the header photo is of me slugging the wine in my home kitchen and not me in the store. My experience is dualistic: retailer and consumer. I take the same approach to learning about food whatever side of the retail counter I'm standing on - retail buyer or consumer. So, as I dabble and learn, I share along the way. It's not about what I'm not (I'm not a professional chef, for example). It's about what I'm learning. For example, if having the appropriate knife and cutting technique helps me in the kitchen, then I learn knife skills. Or is that, life skills?

Some people have complained to me that my blog entries can be too long. I wasn't aware of a mandate. Some are short, some long. I don't editorialize in the way that I'm forced to when covering the same material for say, a magazine article. My blog is my opinion on my experiences. I hope it is of value to someone.

Experiment with Yum. Be fearless. Be curious. Curious people are so stimulating to be around.

Now, back to the annual Matanza in La Mancha. Poor pig. Thank you for your gift. I hope it was quick and painless.

May 18, 2010

I wanted to post something to show we are hard at work. Here's our new logo. In my opinion, you can see in the logo our evolution from our humble, crunchy origins into the fine food market we are destined to become. We are well on our way. Yum is a journey not a destination to go all philosphical on you. I can't wait until we launch the new website and able to complete our move to our (as yet), 'undisclosed location.' You wait until you see the new online store and 'bricks and mortar' store. Then you'll appreciate the fine work Fine Line are doing for Good For You Market, it will all fall into context!

By the way, my blog template puts the orange borders around the logos, they are not part of the logo.











The new logo.









The old logo. Not too shabby, but we've outgrown it.

What's up? After I moved to the States, it took me years to learn how to answer that friendly question. Colleagues would glare at me as I stood stammering, blushing, or simply walked away in defeat. "Fine thank you" became my muttered reply. I figured I was being asked, "How are you?" Or, "How are things today?" Turns out, like many sayings, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. I settle for, "What's been going on since we last spoke?" The British just say, succintly, "How are you?" Or, as my grandmother said, "'ubby?" Short for "How be (you doing today)?"

So, what's up? Can't say I've been doing much cooking of late, but I've sure been curious! The busyness of being in business has kept me busy, busier than my perennially busy Mother-in-law! Busier than the sweatshop apiary that keeps me in local honey! That's a JOKE Rick - I know Buzzter and the crew get meal breaks.

I'm busy planning our move to our, new 'undisclosed location.' I'm busy working with the fine guys at http://www.finelinewebsites.com/ getting our web site redesigned and relaunched. I'm busy being our Produce Manager, Store Manager, HR, IT, and Marketing departments, and well, busy 'Knowing Yum!' I'm having fun right now learning all about grape varietals with the objective of understanding food pairings better and reducing the crap shoot that buying wine often is. I'm finding out all sorts of (often confusing) information. Did you know the French were the first to sequence the genome of a fruit? It was the Pinot Noir grape, sequenced in August, 2007. C'est vrai! Je l'ai lu sur l'Internet! It's true. I read it on the Internet!

Earth shattering news. I cleaned out the home fridge this week. I cant stop looking at it. I'm marvelling at how the inside of a fridge can go from looking like it got rolled downhill to a model home in one afternoon. It made me think. E-mail me photos of the inside of your fridge goodforu@comcast.net For any that, a) Make me laugh or b) Impress me AND in either case get chosen for publication in Good For You Market's E-News, "The Grapevine," I will reward you with a $5 Green Buck coin good for redemption in store at Good For You Market.


Oh, to cue, the store calls, busy is a good thing. Good For You!

Mar 14, 2010

It's Sunday. My day off. My 'breakfast day.' Faithful spouse just insisted I wasn't eating oatmeal because, "Oatmeal has milk in it." Oatmeal confuses everyone, customers and staff alike get everything mixed up: Oatmeal, Scottish Oatmeal, Irish Oatmeal, Oat Bran, Rolled Oats, Steel Cut Oats, Groats... Jimmy Olson hits the streets to find out the deal on oats and oatmeal. Ready Brek, Go!

Rolled, Steel Cut, Oatmeal, Oat Bran, and Oat Flour. Did you notice how many bath and body products have oats in them? Also many brands of pet food contain oats. Ever wonder why?

Oats (Avena sativa) are classed as a cereal grain. They are grown for their edible seed with the foliage, and roots may be used by farmers, and home gardeners to provide a useful weed control barrier and also as, “Green Manure” for soil conditioning. Oat straw is reknowned as a horse bedding due to its softness.

Oats originated as a weed growing among the earlier domesticated cereal grain crops – wheat and barley in the fertile crescent of the Near East – the so called, “Cradle Of Civilization” of Mesopotamia and the Levant. Oat weed was well suited to the cooler, wetter climates westwards into Europe, so much so that by the Bronze age, as wheat and barley spread into Europe, Oat was also well established as a domesticated cereal. Today Oats grow best in temperate climates such as the Baltic area of Russia, Northwest Europe, Eastern Canada, Northeast USA, and Southeast Australia. and the North-eastern USA. Great Britian and Ireland have a particularly long love affair with the Oat. English writer, Samuel Johnson satirized the English propensity to feed oats to their animals over the Scottish propensity for human consumption when he wrote in his 1755 Dictionary Of The English Language, oat is, “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” Perhaps in response to this, England was the first country to establish an oat bread factory in 1899. Oat bread, oat cakes, and porridge oats were a common breakfast food in my own household growing up. Oats are commonly used in Europe as a soup or sauce thickener. As an adult I particularly enjoy a glass of Oatmeal Stout beer, whichever country I may be in! Although if in Latin America, please sample the local Chicha de Avena – a popular chilled sweetened beverage originating in Ecuador, and made of oats and milk. My favorite commercial non-dairy ‘milk’ is the Pacific brand of Vanilla Oat milk.

After harvest, oats are processed, separating the outer insoluble hull from the grain – the ‘groat.’ The discarded hull can be processed into animal feed, or used as a biofuel.

The unsized groats are treated with heat and mositure to stablize the oil in the oat, preventing it turning rancid. The groats are then broken by milling and separated based on size into whole oat groats, and three sizes of steel cut groats - coarse, medium, and fine steel cut groats.

The three final milled products are oat flakes (rolled oats), oat bran, and oat flour. Oat flakes are made from the whole oat groats. You’ll notice the flattened rolled oats in packaged cereals and on top of oat breads. Steel cut groats are used to make oat bran, and oat flour. What we think of as oatmeal is another product of steel cut groats. The three size grades of oat groats (coarse, medium, and fine) produce instant, baby, and quick rolled oats respectively. Quick Rolled Oats (“Oatmeal”) are so called because the rolled oat produced from fine steelcut groats absorb liquid quicker and thus produces oatmeal quicker. Is all this as clear as porridge?

Oat bran is the outer part of the oat groat separated from the inner part (the endosperm) as discussed above. The endosperm is filtered from the bran and further milled to create a fine debranned oat flour.

There are two types of oat flour: debranned and whole oat. Debranned oat flour is produced as discussed above. Whole oat flour is produced directly from the whole oat groats before being steel cut and before having the outer bran removed. The groats are sent to a separate milling unit where they are repeatedly ground and sifted into a fine flour containing the ground bran also. Such flour should always be kept chilled. The oil in the bran will go rancid quickly even when slightly heat treated during processing.

Oats are considered, “Health Food,” but don’t let that put you off! Oats are high in iron, thiamine, and soluble fiber and thought to reduce LDL – the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Oats have the highest protein content of any grain. Oats are the only grain to contain Avenalin, or Avenin - a soluble prolamine protein. It is this prolamine group of proteins that people with Ceoliac disease are ‘allergic’ to, causing extreme digestive distress and associated health issues. Together, the prolamine proteins are classified as, “Gluten.” We see many foods labeled as, “Gluten Free.” This really means there are no ingredients containing this group of proteins, or that any part of their production has come into contact with prolamines. Oats lack many of the prolamine proteins that occur in other cereal grains such as wheat and barley. The jury is out on whether or not those with Ceoliac disease can consume oats. Specifically, which prolamine proteins are Ceoliacs allergic to? There is a school of thought that oats are safe and that the reactions some people experience are due to cross-contamination from wheat and barley. Please consult a qualified medical practitioner when making dietary decisions.

So, back to the personal care products hinted to above. Oats have been shown to help heal dry, itchy skin. Oat grains and straw appear in shampoos, dusting powders, moisturizers, cleansing bars, deodorants, and more. If you have a persistent flaky, itchy skin, or insect bites, grind rolled oats in a blender to make fine oatmeal. Suspend the oatmeal in a cheesecloth bag on the faucet while drawing a bath. Lie back and sip a cup of warm oat milk!

Time for a cup of tea and some oaties!

Feb 14, 2010

Orangen’t you glad you read Curious and Cooking? I bet you never thought it’d be so varied! Today: citrus. We don’t typically think of citrus as winter fruits, but really they are. They ripen slowly through balmy summer and mild fall days, ready in time for us to enjoy that sunshine energy packaged up inside the fruit for the long winter months ahead. Citrus are our original solar cells!

Finding organic citrus fruit is a ‘must-do.’ I also counsel buying un-sprayed, or at least citrus from growers who practice, “Integrated Pest Management, AKA, “IPM.” IPM utilizes principles of organic farming with the aim of reducing and eventually eliminating synthetic pesticides and other chemicals. Tree fruits are susecptible to fungul blights and are very often sprayed. Despite (usually) having a thick peel, citrus acts like a sponge, sucking up chemicals sprayed on conventional trees. A rind is a terrible thing to waste! I love to use citrus rind in all types of cooking, even raw grated on salads and ice-cream. Why add a cocktail of chemicals to that Martini? Quick tip if using a lot of citrus: zest (finely grate) the rind into ice cube trays, add a little water and freeze. Each time you want some rind, pop out a cube. Press that, “Easy” button!
True orange season is Mid-November through February. This is because most oranges hail from the Northern European and North African Mediterranean basin. However, with some climates producing citrus year round (think Florida, California, even Israel), and the fact that oranges will store well in cool, dry conditions, we get many orange varieties year round.

Citrus fruits feature in many recipes from sauces, salads, cakes, breads, beer, and cocktails to preserves. It is difficult to single out favorites. My favorite use for citrus is in sauces.There is the French classic Bigarade, made with orange and port served with duck. Another is the classic English Cumberland sauce – orange and lemon juice mixed with zested rind and added to port and redcurrant jelly. Try it with pork tenderloin for a traditional British Sunday roast dinner.

Undoubtedly the most famous of British citrus inventions is Marmalade. When we think of Marmalade we think of the Seville orange. Native to Southern Spain, this incredibly bitter orange has no real culinary use outside of orange marmalade. Growing up in the UK we visited Spain in much the same way our DC and Philly natives visit the Delaware and Jersey shore. “Downey Ocean Hon” for many Brits are the coastal towns of Southeast and Southwest Spain – the so called, “Costas.” The Coasta Brava, Dorada, del Azahar, Blanca, Calida, Almeria and, my favorite, the Costa del Sol, home to one of Spain’s most beautiful regions: Andalucia. The city of Seville is at the heart of Andalucia. Seville is home to the famous Seville orange mentioned above.

Visit any city along Spain’s Costa regions and you will notice the streets overflowing with Seville orange trees, heavy with fruit. Be careful where you park your car! I wondered, like many tourists, why non-one helped themselves to the oranges. I ‘helped myself’ to one while in Malaga. Faithful Spouse was very amused to see me spit the bitter fruit all over the plaza. I learnt a lesson: some produce is renowned for its instantly edible use, and some for its transformational culinary use. Seville oranges are the latter! The bitterness is tempered with a little sugar, and reduced into a highly-flavorful tangy preserve.

Legend goes that Marmalade is not a British invention at all, but, Zut Alors, French! Marie-Antoinette awoke with a headache. Her chef when told that, “Marie est malade (marie is sick), made a boiled conserve of Seville oranges and sugar to tempt her appetite. Hence Marmalade! This legend is bogus of course, an, “Urban Legend.” One does wonder however, if Marie-Antoinette was the original, “Lady Marmalade?”

Urban legend aside, the true origin of marmalade is actually not citrus at all, but Quince. Quince is a pear-like fruit, most frequently used in a preserve known as, “Membrillo” in Spanish cultures. Membrillo is delicious as an accompaniement to fine cheeses. The word, "Marmalade" comes from the Portuguese "inannelo" or "marmelo," meaning Quince. At the end of the 18th century, quince marmalade evolved into the British “Marmalade,” originating in Dundee, Scotland. James Keiller discovered a cheap cargo of oranges that he bought for his store. Discovering that they were too bitter to eat and therefore sell, Keiller gave the oranges to his wife who took them home to make jam. The resulting “jam” was hugely successful and was named Marmalade after Marmelos, the Portuguese word for the quince paste that had a similar texture to the orange jelly. Marmalade is still produced today by the Keiller Company in Dundee. So you see, Marmalade is really a British invention with a branched lineage to mainland Europe. As is the case with many of our manufactured foods, Marmalade was a product of, “Necessity being the mother of invention.” Put another way, an accidental success.

There are many varieties of citrus fruits ranging from oranges, limes, lemons, tangerines, clementines, tangelos, all the way up to the monster truck of all citrus: the massive Pomelo grapefruit. Don’t let your experience of edible oranges be limited by the Seville. Spain is also home to the sweet, edible delights of the juicy Valencia and the Cara Cara Navel. So many varieties the choices make my head spin, right rind, like a record, rind, rind…

There I go again, I made myself laugh! That’s so uncool!

Until next time, Andy.

Jan 29, 2010

I'm on a gnocchi roll this week. Gnocchi are so easy to make, there's no excuse for discarding any less than perfect vegetables in your pantry. Just peel, cube, and steam the vegetable of choice. Then mash it, or, if you have a potato ricer (and why not if you don't?), it's a breeze.

I've been experimenting with Rutabaga, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Spinach, or Broccoli, Winter Squashes (Butternut, Acorn, Kabocha), Carrot, Gold Beets, Red Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Parsnips. The result has been a range of flavors (mild to sweet and earthy), and color (pale green, pale yellow, golden orange, and deep red).

I'm working on an article for The Grapevine (Good For You Market's E-newsletter) and my Organic Living column in the E-zine Coastal Sussex Weekly. I'll post photos of my gnocchi, together with a discussion of Gnocchi in a few days when I'm done experimenting and come out of my starch induced high!

Spread the word about Good For You Market and our E-newsletter and this blog. This time of year is especially hard for beach area businesses and we need all the support we can get. Help us change the perception that we are an expensive, "Healthfood Store." We're a serious food market that also carries health food. We're cheaper than the big boxes and have better quality food, and rare, 'Foodie' items you just cannot find elsewhere at the DE beaches. Send us a message you value this choice before I give up working like a dog on this business!

To sign up for The Grapevine, our E-newsletter, visit the Good For You Market website http://www.good4uorganic.com/

To follow or read our Blog Curious and Cooking, well you're already reading it aren't cha Blanche?

Jan 28, 2010

Dum da-da, dum da-da…

Are you a, “Man/woman on a mission?” I am. I have a mission to get us cooking. If we make it ourselves then we know what’s gone into it. At the very least we understand the waiter when they’re discussing the specials, or know what a huge deal it is when a local chef posts live Maine Lobstah, or boasts of rutabaga in a subtly sweet gnocchi – a vegetable we would never eat otherwise.

We’re all so distracted – so much information from so many media. It’s overwhelming, but if we have access to a computer, how is there ever an excuse for not knowing where to start? Whenever I asked my Dad how to spell, or drove him nuts with, "Dad, dad, dad, what’s that?” Dad would say, “Look it up!” Look it up for us meant a 2-hour trip to the town library. Look it up today is as easy as getting the kids, or spouse off of Facebook so we can get a turn with the computer.

I’ve been half-heartedly ‘learning’ Italian, French, and Spanish for a decade. Ten years is enough time to be reasonably fluent in any of these languages. Technique fascinates me. Not being able to communicate drives me nuts. I don’t just mean traditional spoken languages, what about so called, “Insider jargon?” In other words - when a TV chef discusses a, “rolling boil,” or, “Brunoise/finely dice,” or, “the acid in the lemon brings out/ruins the balance of…” Martha Stewart shows us how to debone a chicken, having just crocheted a pot-holder and carved a cutting board out of a single block of maple. There’s a little bit of Martha in us all, but I think we get overwhelmed, instead of learning how to selectively focus and learn by incremental steps.

I’ve just been listening to a chef on the radio discussing pasta and pasta sauces for simple mid-week dinners. He knew his stuff – making of pasta: bronze die cuts, hand rolling, air-drying, which shape to choose for which sauce… However, he lost me at hello! He began by instructing us to buy our pasta at our neighborhood pasta store. What the fricasse?

Before we all go searching our hood for our pasta store, do we know how to make a basic sauce? Can we budget out a weekly shop, navigate the internet scanning for ingredient glossaries, print recipes, download a video on how to chop an onion so we get just onion and not the finger? Do we know how to prepare meats and vegetables, how to dice, puree, buy the minimal number of pans, knives and kitchen gadgets we really need, how to balance acid and sweetness, understand the role of fat in a recipe? The poor chef cannot possibly cover all this in his allotted 30 minutes.

Chef did a great job: advocating making inexpensive sauces from scratch, and hand-making ravioli in large batches for freezing and use ahead. However, again, I felt overwhelmed at the volume of what I didn’t know. Faced with this, it’s natural to give up and buy an unsatisfying junk-laden pasta sauce - overly salted to disguise inferior ingredients. I felt like I was being taken from the linguistic equivalent of learning how to ask for the bill, to discussing whether the Director’s cut of Bladerunner is the better version.

I’ve set my bar so high with language skills that I’ve let fear of not knowing enough, or wanting to be an expert lead me to a destination ten years in the making. I still can’t ask what’s in my meal when ordering on vacation. I don’t need to be able to discuss Kafka with my specialty food vendors for whom English is not their first language. Their English is fluent enough for that! I would however like to be sociable and to be able to connect with them. This year, I will become proficient with basic Italian to ask my cheese vendor how his family is, which type of milk is in the cheese, and what time of year the cheese is made instead of just, ‘looking it up.’ I will re-kindle my high-school French enough to pass the time of day with my lovely local French lady customer at the store. I will learn basic Spanish so I can find a supplier of authentic Dulce de Leche when we’re in Argentina.

Studies show that people who cook for themselves maintain better control over their weight and physical health, not to mention financial health, and the social benefits of sharing a meal! We’d all benefit from learning some basic cooking skills.

Don’t be so intimidated by the volume of information you don’t know, or by the need to get it perfect, that you never try. If all else fails, have a few takeout menus in your kitchen drawer. If you love to eat out, plan restaurant visits into your budget, shop the specials and, if they’re not too backed up in the kitchen, talk to the chef and understand what you’re enjoying. I was quite surprised recently to discover I was enjoying a Chocolate Balsamic when I always said I don’t like vinegar! I got an impromptu lesson in acid, the powers of reduction, and a command to avoid so called reductions that are really cheap vinegars thickened with sweet syrups.

I remember basic cooking classes, and financial planning games at grade school. Ask our younger generations, and the answer may be, “Is that available on Wii?” So, here’s my mission for our school systems. I believe this is a Mission Possible. I’d like to see basic cooking skills, along with project management skills such as cost estimation, long-range planning, and financial acumen being taught as a pre-requisite for high-school graduation. We don’t need to be chefs, financial planners, or contract negotiators to budget our households and put together a toolkit of culinary basics, but these basic skills will give us a start in life and may even inspire a few careers.

Tutto Mangia!

Jan 25, 2010


Each time I declare I’ve had enough of Facebook, vowing to re-enter the ‘real’ world, someone posts a great snippet of information. Leave it to the folks at the excellent Saveur magazine (http://www.saveur.com)/ to post this update, “Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute declaring 2010 the International Year of the Rutabaga.” I’m sure tongues are firmly planted in cheeks, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a case of, “Rutabaga: you give so much and get so little love in return.”

Rutabagas are not well understood, nor widely eaten, and this is a shame. I admit they look and smell ghastly when raw. In fact, never eat it raw; for you will not pick it up ever again! When cooked, however, Rutabagas endures an alchemical transformation into a delicate color and sweet flavor.

Rutabagas are fall/early winter root vegetables with a very long growing season. As such they are picked only once during the year - in the wintertime. They weather frost well and, like Kale, sweeten up after exposure to frost. Rutabagas store well in cool, dark places, lengthening the availability at market. Since they are not well used outside of commercial food preparation, rutabagas are quite hard to find. Some supermarkets may carry them, but they sit forlorn and overlooked. Best to seek out a discerning specialty food market.


The Rutabaga is actually a hybrid of a turnip and a cabbage. Don’t hold that against it since it tastes like neither. The flavor combination, like any relationship, is complicated - simultaneously sweet and slightly bitter. Since Rutabaga is inexpensive, many chefs use Rutabaga to bulk out recipes: stews, pies, casseroles, or even mash. Rutabaga is a refreshing substitute for the humble potato. Discerning chefs will transform rutabaga into gnocchi, replacing the potato. Rutabaga’s flavor pairs well with gamy meat such as rabbit, or with shellfish – shrimp, or lobster.

Resist the temptation to overcook Rutabaga in an effort to remove the raw smell and bitter taste. You can slightly cook them to soften, as in blanching, or you can slow cook them, as in roasting. When blanched they will need more sweetening. My favorite prep method for rutabaga is to peel, chop into rough cubes, steam and puree. I add a touch of heavy cream and a dash of sweetness such as maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup; even apple juice. Mix in a pinch of spice such as cumin, cayenne pepper, or paprika and, “Bon Appetit” – a simple, nutritious soup or thrilling pasta sauce. The heavy cream can be substituted for a thick, non-dairy milk such as coconut milk for a Vegan option. In this case, the soup/sauce mix will need to be reduced somewhat to thicken.

Growing up in the UK we used large Rutabagas as Jack-o-Lanterns for carving at Halloween. Imagine how long it took poor old Dads to carve that tough baby while their offspring moved onto more immediate distractions. Mother made sure Rutabaga, or, “Swede” as we called it, would be on every Sunday roast dinner plate, and we hated it; that pale orange stuff that had better not touch anything else on the plate! As a ‘grown-up’ I’ve learnt to love this vegetable for its earthy sweetness and adaptability to any kind of use You may not have noticed, but enjoy any kind of ‘pasty’ (pastry turnover) in the UK – Cornish, or otherwise, and you’ve enjoyed Rutabaga – it is the sweet, inexpensive ‘filler’ in pasties. You probably thought it was sweet potato, or carrot.

Please try this humblest of vegetables. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It is very cheap to buy, and suits well to just about any recipe you throw it at, just don’t forget to sweeten it. Rutabaga is commonly used in desserts amongst adventurous cooks. See what you can come up with and get back to me! Enjoy 2010: let’s make it a great year for Rutabaga!

Jan 17, 2010


I just made wholewheat shortcrust pastry and pasties with said pastry and frankly I'm stunned! The pastry is light, crumbly, and a little crunchy. For the filling I used some caramelized onions which I cooked down over 24 hours in my crockpot and added steamed organic veggies and a strong cheddar from the store. While I don't think I'd win many awards for appearance, the result is one to be proud of. I listened to my Mother's advice when it comes to pastry and, well as always, Mother knows best!

Next time I roll the edges of the turnover like an old Cornish lady.

Meanwhile Tom, being from Jersey thinks a British pasty could be improved by deep frying like a Panzarotti. Ychafi!

More on pasties later. For now I gotta nap. I'm so overwhelmed at my pastry!


Jan 8, 2010

I've been reading various online posts that discuss the proposed benefits or not of Agave Nectar. Also the marketing of said nectar. I'm not going to link to the posts since, well you know how to Google, don't you Steve? Also, admittedly, I haven't trawled my way through all the research, articles and conflicting viewpoints that have arisen this week.

So, why mention this at all? I have a guilty pleasure when I view online articles. I love to scan the comments. It's like people watching on the boardwalk. Fascinating. Such diversity. One thing disturbed me in the comments on the Agave nectar posting. There was a trend toward bashing 'Natural Food' stores.

Now y'all know (that I'm from The South, right? South Wales that is!) that I don't consider Good For You Market to be a 'Health Food' or a 'Natural Food' store. Does that set us apart from a so called, "Health Food," or "Natural Food" store? No, we carry 'Health Food' or 'Natural Food' products, but above all we focus on good food and great ingredients, be they so called 'Health Food' or a Triple Cream Brie. I love my Quinoa as much as my Triple Cream Brie! Are conventional supermarkets charged with the moniker, "Health Food Store" if they carry products considered to be, "Health Food?" What's the cutoff point with product mix when one switches over to being called a, "Health Food Store?" What constitutes a, "Health Food?" Is a conventional cereal or milk considered a, "Health Food" if it carries a "Heart Healthy" label? Oooh, deep!

At Good For You Market, we do not 'prescribe' when we sell a product. Instead we focus on what is it? Is there any exploitation involved in producing it? Is it sythentically altered (chemicals - pesticides or test tubes)? Does it taste good? How do we use it? Can we get a fair price on it? What do we need to know about it, 'good' or 'bad?' Don't misunderstand the last question. We can't place a value judgement on conflicting information. We can tell you if it tastes good and how to use it! This is the reason I dislike the term, "Health Food." Nutritionally is Broccoli 'healthier' for us than a tablespoon of 'sugar?' Well, starches in vegetables break down to 'sugar.' Now we're all getting a little confused and lost! This is where we give up and pop open that pint of ice cream! How about Broccoli ice cream? Is that better? I'm getting a little Johnathan Swift in my analogy to make a point here. My point is get a second, third, fourth opinion from practioners when it comes to 'health' claims. Look at the mess we're all in over our understanding of fats in our diet. Help!

So, if you're a 'Food Market' why do you carry supplements? I covered this in an article I wrote for Coastal Sussex Weekly from last December. Here's an abbreviated version of it:

http://www.good4uorganic.com/media/mediaCategory/December_2008_Minerals.doc

Basically we take the same approach as with our food sourcing: we do not carry 'test tube' synthetic products. Our products are whole foods based, including our supplements. If periodically we make a mistake, or consistent research has shown something to be dangerous, we drop the product.

So, that out of the way, you know what bothers me about the 'Natural Food' store bashing? It's not that I'm taking any of it personally. I get that the comments come from a general frustration over misleading claims, or perceptions of false marketing. We're all so conflicted - there's information overload in our modern lives and we just don't know what, or whom to believe anymore.

What bothers me is indiscriminate bashing, actually any kind of bashing! Instead seek out businesses that know what they're stocking and selling. Y'all know stocking a product is not the same thing as selling it, right Good For You staff? Mmm hmm... If you're making a claim for a product based on a health related concern, you'd better make sure you know what you're talking about.

Yes, we carry Agave Nectar, and no I'm not going to comment on the articles. I use Agave Nectar in dips and in baking. I use minimally refined sugar equally as much. I love the taste of Agave Nectar. I also like the challenge of figuring out how a recipe works with a liquid sweetener versus a crystallized sweetener.

I think much of our confusion comes from a basic misunderstanding over the application of the words sugar, sweetener, fructose and so on. Food Scientists, Nutrionists, and Dietitians - you're up! In the meantime I'll keep using Agave Nectar with the same philosophy I have for my Triple Cream Brie - moderation not denial. Hopefully we can all apply that to the facts, whatever they may highlight.

It strikes me that there's some other terms that we're all confused over, "Raw," "Refined," and, "Processed." Also, why is Good For You Market named so? For these things we'll have to wait for another column, I've got a Food Market to open!

Jan 4, 2010

G4U Cheese Ads

Check out our new Artisan Cheese ads running locally in DE. We're now upto 40 artisan cheeses and not 25 as mentioned in the ads.

Clip 1: Cheese 101 Class being held at the Good For You Market, January 16, 2010

video


Clip 2: The Power of Yum!

video

Jan 2, 2010

I changed the blog name yet again. Why? I think words matter, they matter a great deal. Language is a great gift and an enormous tool, best used for good and to develop others. After 16 years in the USA, I still get in trouble over verbal and cultural misunderstandings and I hail from a country with (allegedly) the same language.

So, "The Moodie Foodie" - while close, just didn't cut it. For now, the closest I can find is, "Curious and Cooking." Why not Moodie Foodie? Too limiting and just didn't sit right with me - like wearing someone else's shoes. They may look good and be your size, so come close, but they don't feel right and make you walk funny. Life shouldn't be about staying in your comfort zone, but why walk funny, if you don't naturally walk that way?

"Curious and Cooking," sums up where I am and doesn't limit. No need to impress. As my, "About Me" says, I like curious people. They're interesting to be around, they motivate and are full of life. To not be curious is not to live and food is about life! If you're familiar with any of my writing in my "Organic Living" column for the excellent e-zine, Coastal Sussex Weekly, I think it's fair to say I think somewhat laterally. Part of that is cultural - Brits do tend toward the oblique over the direct reference. Part of me just cannot switch off the longstanding Systems Analyst/Designer/Project Management corporate IT training. Some would say being infinitely curious is what makes one good at that. Part of it is that I'm infinitely curious and when my curiousity is spiked, I'm driven to want to know as much as I can about a subject and be as good at it as I can. This lands me in some very diverse destinations. I like to think I learn from each spot I land in. The skills transfer even though the landscape changes. Besides, Foodie just sounds a little prissy to me and I already have more than my fair share of sparkle! No offence to, "Foodies." I just don't want to have to keep defining something I don't really understand myself.


Here's part of my curious family. Mam taught Tom how to make Yorkshire Puddings.



This navel gazing (I mean my belly-button not a variety of orange, did I spell that right?) has me tired and Faithful Spouse is getting ticked off because I've not come up yet.

Andy.

Jan 1, 2010

Happy New Year! Our Bayberry Candle burning New Year's Eve. Burned out just in time for New Year EST!
This morning I woke up convinced it was New Year's Eve and that I had to open the store. I made it to the bathroom before going, "Huh?" So Happy New Year from a bleary eyed retailer who is glad things can settle back to normal. It's a long crazy ride from Thanksgiving to December 31.

Tom's New Year outfit. Skipped the crowds in downtown Rehoboth and stayed home. Tom made Crab Imperial and we drank heavily to get over the shock of how much we paid for the Maryland Crab. No we did not get it at Good For You Market! I'm looking into it though. It was yummy for the tummy, but not much money left for my honey afterwards!

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