Friday, April 24, 2009
I love myself a natural foods store. And when it's located in a lovely old wood framed house and surrounded by shade trees? That makes my shopping experience all the sweeter.
However, The Granary would be pretty sweet even if it was located in a cardboard refrigerator box. I love shopping here; the staff is knowledgable, the selection is great, and the prices are enough to justify a twenty-minute drive (which I make about twice a month). And if you're a vegetarian, this is your place. They sell all the supplies that keep herbivores hale and hearty, like vital wheat gluten, textured vegetable protein, nutritional yeast, quinoa, and a rainbow of dried beans. If it's an alternative protein source, you can usually buy it here.
My main love at the store is the bulk foods section. These are sold pre-portioned in small bags; if this puts you off, don't let it. I, too, initially wished that I could dish it out of the bin myself. Then I noticed that there a variety of weights and sizes amongst the offerings, and that there is still that great bulk discount price without the mess. I could easily spend fifty dollars in this small room if I don't watch myself, since the products range from frankly practical (who doesn't need more whole wheat pastry flour?) to temptingly luxurious (grain sweetened dark chocolate coconut haystacks, anyone?).
Though I'm lucky enough to not suffer from celiac disease or diabetes, I have perused. The Granary has options for both categories, and they seem to stock a nice range of products. Different flours, like coconut, corn, and rice, are all on offer, and they have a bunch of gluten free convenience products as well. The grocery section has agave nectar in a variety of flavors, as well as stevia and xylitol for those with sugar sensitivies, or those of us who could just do to cut back on the calories (as I pause to raise my own hand sheepishly).
Need supplements? They have you covered:
(somewhere in that shot is my favorite brand of B12 tablets. They're the best).
Rover or Tiger need vegan pet food? Just step right up:
Need castille soap? Sulfate/sulfite free shampoo? A netti pot? All-natural toothpaste? I dare say The Granary can help you:
The Granary does stock some frozen convenience foods and prepackaged snacks, as well as fresh organic produce, dairy, and soy foods. There are also some delicious locally produced fresh breads (all I can vouch for is the Italian style loaf, which is killer). And as I wind this paragraph to a close, I know that I'm probably forgetting about ten or fifteen more wonderful things that they have managed to gracefully arrange in such an economical space. But I'm not too worried about it. All that it means is that you'll have one more reason to check the place out for yourself.
Friday, April 17, 2009
This is particularly tragic because my daughter and dog have been extra cute recently. Bean put one my brasierres on her head yesterday and pranced around looking like Minnie Mouse for a good ten minutes, and Gretchen the dog looked for all the world like she was reading one of the baby's picture books all the while. Too adorable, and no photo evidence. This also leaves me without any food porn, even though I have been diligently cooking.
So I decided to go ahead and give a shout-out to some of my favorite local stores, markets, and restaurants. I originally planned to feature about five places in one go; this quickly proved to be both impractical and kind of overwhelming. So I've decided to just feature one local business each Friday over the next month or two, so that I can devote plenty of time and loving detail to each location. I am madly in love with these places, but I'll try not to get too lovey-dovey gooey.
I know that most of the people who are kind enough to follow my blog don't live locally, so feel free to skip these Friday posts for a while, y'all. This is just my attempt to (possibly) help some great local folks, and to maybe steer some Clay County, Florida, vegetarians in the right direction.
So without further ado, allow me to sing the praises of:
Everyone loves famers' markets. They are deservedly popular, too; I used to make a biweekly twenty-minute drive so that I could go to one in the next town over (more on that in a later post). Now, I only have to take that trip if I'm craving a particular hard-to-find item, becuase Countryside Produce has filled my weekly vegetable needs.
The place for plant foods in Lake Asbury, Middleburg, and even Orange Park if you don't mind a little bit of a drive. They always, always, always have a great selection of fruits and veggies. The owners, Doug and Earlene, are also the nicest people on the planet, and they really stand by their products; I can't count the times when Doug has looked at what I've selected and told me to wait while he pulled something fresher or better from the back. They try to focus on locally or Florida grown produce (sometimes from their own farm), but they usually have a pretty nice variety of the more exotic items as well. Depending on the season and on demand, they also carry cane syrup (perfect for biscuits - which I'll blog about later, I promise), Florida honeys, and Georgia pecans.
This is where I go every Friday to empty my wallet on screaming green vegetables. Today, for example, I hauled home a bag of fresh Starke strawberries as well brussels sprouts, eggplants, bell peppers, snap beans (all grown in Florida), some of the first crop of Vidalia onions, and a bunch of bananas and a pineapple as a special treat for Bean. All for about eleven bucks, which is about half of what I'd end up shelling out at one of the local grocery stores. And no one at the supermarket delights my daughter with endless games of peek-a-boo with while we're shopping. Take that, Winn-Dixie!
I love this place. I want Earlene and Doug to adopt me, even though I think I'm too old to be their kid. So instead, I've sworn allegiance to their produce. It only took one tasteless basket of roadside stand strawberries and a couple of rubber red tomatoes to make me see the light. And I always come back for more.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It's been a while... so long that it's embarrassing, in fact. Here's the story: after Bean's first birthday last month, Red and I started the long and arduous tasks of weaning her and trying to get her to sleep a little better at night. As soon as we accomplished both, Red had to start getting ready for a two month business trip to the Middle East (he does these two or three times a year). Now that Bean is completely on solids and Red is on his way, I finally feel like a human being again.
I've been trying to get back into blogging now for about a week and a half, but after nearly a month-long hiatus I didn't know where to start. I've been cooking, but not photographing. Finally, I decided to suck up the picturelessness and just list a few new recipes that have delighted me recently.
1. Snuggle Bunny's Baked Seitan Steaks. Yummy. I even successfully fed these to my carnivorous mom.
2. Celine's Chickpea Blondies. I am now madly enamored of legume based desserts. Watch this space for more beany creations...
3. Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Sausage. I left out the sausage entirely, and it was still out of sight.
4. Kittee's Red Beans and Rice. A dash of Crystal hot sauce and I was back in the French Quarter - without the meat or the $9 a plate price tag.
5. Buttered Cabbage. This is so simple I almost feel guilty about posting it. Almost. Not sure how well this would work with margarine for a vegan version, but the old fashioned way is just amazing.
6. Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage. Made with veggie crumbles and a little bell pepper in place of the cranberries (I never have been able to dig fruit in savory dishes), this was great stuff. Yes, we have been on a cabbage kick recently. There were some great ones at the produce store last few weeks.
To make up for a lack of food photos, I instead I posted a shot of Bean's Easter basket. I'm entirely too proud of the bunny I knitted for her, which you can see front and center. He's from the Spring 2009 issue of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine (there will be more projects from that magazine in the future - all I have to do is get the yarn). Bean also had a new sorting toy and some Rice Krispie treats (made with crisped brown rice cereal and Fluff - so veggie but not vegan friendly).
There! It wasn't too hard to get back on track after all. Thanks for all the understanding, guys :) Now all I have to do is get caught up with my reading. Only about fifty backlogged blog posts to go...