The Local Grocer

News and blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 9/17/2015 6:02pm by Erin Caudell.

Don’t let the color fool you.  These potatoes taste a lot like the white ones.  So cook this fingerling variety just like you would any other potatoes.  Purple mashed, roasted, or baked potatoes may look a little funny, but with some garlic, rosemary and butter they will taste like heaven.  If you use these potatoes to make your homemade potato chips they will look a bit like Terra Chips “Blues.”  

Purple Peruvian Potatoes are rich in anthocyanin.  What’s that fancy pants scientific name?  Anthocyanin is the immune boosting and cancer fighting antioxidant and flavonoid found in blue, red and purple produce like berries and pomegranates. That extra benefit is missing from your red and russet potatoes. If Dr. Oz says purple potatoes are good for you, and Martha Stewart has a recipe for them, then you know they are good eating.   

Posted 9/11/2015 11:06am by Erin Caudell.

Who hasn’t daydreamed of stepping into Daigon Alley and into the Leaky Cauldron for some pub grub? A traditional chicken and leek pie sounds good, or maybe a big bubbling bowl of potato and leek soup. Enough daydreaming. Now what to do with those leeks? 

The best advice I ever received about leeks came from asking the farmer that I purchased them from what she does with them. She told me to keep those leeks refrigerated, trim the roots and any rough outer leaves and tops before cooking, and rinse to remove traces of soil. Then slice the leeks into 1 inch coins and lightly steam, pour some melted butter over them and a little salt and pepper. Those were the best tasting leeks I’ve ever had. When you get food that is local and at its peak of freshness, the simplest preparation can often be the best. No need for complicated recipes. Just eat your food while it’s fresh and ask your farmer what they like.  They don't have time for fussy food and have great ideas for you. 

For those of you that are ok with something more complicated than steaming, try soup. For some reason leeks and potatoes go together like peas and carrots, or chocolate and peanut butter. This recipe is gluten free, nut free, soy free and grain free. To make it dairy free simply replace the butter with olive oil and omit completely the heavy cream. 

Potato Leek Soup

2 tablespoons butter

2 large leeks,white and pale green parts only, well rinsed to remove sand grit, chopped

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy creamSalt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Special Equipment: an immersion blender, or blender  


In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the leeks until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and cook until the vegetables are cooked through and beginning to fall apart, about 15 to 20 minutes. If using an immersion blender, submerge in the soup and puree until smooth but with some small chunks remaining.

*If using a blender, ladle the soup into the blender and blend until smooth but with some small chunks remaining. You may have to do this in 2 batches. Add the cream and blend to combine, then check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot ladled into soup bowls and topped with some of the chopped chives. 

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.  

Recipe courtesy of Amy Finley from The Gourmet Next Door.

Posted 9/2/2015 8:11pm by Erin Caudell.

The French refer to the eggplant as an aubergine, meaning garden egg. Usually in the grocery we see eggplants that are purple.  Did you know that they often come in a variety of colors, ranging from purple to white to green?  The white garden egg seems to be where the name eggplant originates. You know eggplant from its starring role in several popular recipes, such as eggplant parmesan, baba ganoush, and ratatouille. Frequently it is breaded and baked, grilled, or stir-fried. To remove some of the bitter flavor and make eggplants less prone to absorbing oils when cooking, sweat the eggplant by salting and let sit for 30 minutes, rinse and then prepare per recipe directions. 

Eggplant is full of fiber, potassium and magnesium, making this veggie a ninja when it comes to taking out free radicals. The high fiber and low carb count contributes to its ability to help stabilize blood sugar. 

A few weeks ago I tried Lidia’s, of Lidia’s Italy, recipe for Slow- Cooked Summer Tomato and Eggplant Sauce (otherwise known by its traditional name Melanzana Affogate or “Suffocated Eggplant”).  This was fantastic!  It was even a great recipe to hide the eggplant for younger picky eaters.  They won’t see it, but will taste it.  I will admit to altering the recipe slightly, but I have always viewed recipes as a suggestion and starting off point. It's always ok to make a recipe your own. My alterations were simply in the amounts of eggplant and tomato, and to eliminate the cheese (for allergy reasons).  I didn’t have anywhere near 3 pounds of eggplant.  And that night I was making a huge batch of tomato sauce to freeze for the winter.  I used the ingredients and put in what I had to make a 13” skillet full of sauce to put on top of a plate full of red lentil pasta for dinner that night with no leftovers.  Amazingly delicious! 

Posted 8/26/2015 2:58pm by Erin Caudell.

Why reinvent the wheel?  Thanks to the internet there are thousands of resources available for us to find recipes for ingredients that we’ve never seen before. Which, face it, happens more often than we care to admit when picking up our weekly CSA share.  The first thing we have to do once we start getting produce from a farmer as a part of a CSA is to think differently about how we cook.  Instead of going to the grocery to stock up on the items we need for our favorite recipes, we have to figure out how to cook with what we have on hand.  By being a member of a CSA, you are eating seasonally and regionally.  The funny thing is we have to start thinking more like our grandparents and great grandparents when it comes to preparing meals, than everyone else in the fast food drive-thru or freezer section of the grocery.  Not only can we eat heirloom tomatoes, but we can do a Google search for “Heirloom Recipes.”  If you’re lucky enough to have them, look through old family recipes and skip the heirloom search.  

Get creative and think back to your college days and all that research you did.  What kind of terms can you search for and get some fresh ideas? Recipes by ingredient, eating seasonally, eating locally, CSA recipes, CSA cookbooks, heirloom recipes, and search by the single ingredient.  Or you could type in several ingredients from this week’s box and see what recipes your search will yield. Did you know that you can search by ingredient at  


Here are a few fun links to get you started:  

Seasonal Food Guide (Recipes and what's in season where you are right now.)

Super Cook (In Time Magazines's Top 50 Websites of 2014)  

31 Things to Do with Confusing CSA Vegetables

New CSA Cookboos to Choose from (Reviews)

Posted 8/20/2015 6:23am by Erin Caudell.

Besides being super easy to prepare and sweetly delicious, beets have many health benefits too.They are known to be a super cleanser and purifier of the liver and blood. Beets contain betaine and tryptophan which help relax the mind and aid in a sense of well-being. The ancient Romans even used them as an aphrodisiac. Their high levels of boron directly correlate to the production of human sex hormones. Beets are definitely a feel good food.

The best method of preparation is to cut off the greens, wash the beets and wrap them in foil. Roast in the oven until a skewer glides through the beets (about an hour depending on their size). Store beets with the greens attached in a loosely sealed plastic bag. You could also shred them to eat raw in salads. Don’t forget to eat the greens too! Prepare them as you would spinach or chard. For those that aren’t sure they like beets try them in a veggie cake mixed with potatoes. Crisp Beet and Potato Cake

1 pound peeled and shredded russet potatoes

1 ½ teaspoons salt

4 medium beets

¼ cup snipped chives

2 tablespoons butter

Toss shredded potatoes with salt. Trim stems and dangling roots from beets. Remove skins with veggie peeler. Shred beets in box grater or food processor. Mix potatoes, beets and chives. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10 inch nonstick skillet. Distribute mixture evenly in pan to make 1 giant pancake. Cook over medium heat, pressing down with spatula until underside is crisp and browned, 10 – 12 minutes. Slide pancake onto plate. Invert onto another plate, brown side up. Add remaining butter to pan. Slide pancake into skillet brown side up. Cook until second side is browned, 8 – 10 minutes. Slide finished pancake onto plate. Cut into wedges and serve.

Posted 8/12/2015 11:10pm by Erin Caudell.

Napa translates loosely in Chinese as “leaf.”  Like other leafy veggies, this Asian favorite is very low in calories and high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C.  If you search online there are a million variations for a raw napa cabbage slaw.  It’s excellent in miso or clear broth based soups, kimchi, stir-fries, or spring rolls.  Napa is crisp and mild with pale green ruffled leaves and it is more perishable than its other cabbage cousins. So use it quick and keep it simple on these warm summer days for a refreshing salad, slaw or stir-fry. 

Stir-Fried Napa Slaw 

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil – grapeseed, olive or canola will all work

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. minced ginger

1 small head of shredded napa cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

2 Tbsp. Asian Sesame Ginger Dressing (Bragg’s brand is my favorite)

Juice from ½ a lemon

¼ cup sesame seeds

¼ cup diced scallions

¼ cup chopped cilantro  

Optional: Top slaw with left over diced chicken (warm or cold) 


Put oil in skillet over medium high heat and sauté minced garlic and ginger about 3 minutes. Add cabbage and carrots to skillet.  Stir-fry veggies for 3 to 5 minutes or until cabbage is slightly wilted but still crunchy.  Turn off heat and move stir-fry to serving bowl.  Add dressing and add chicken if desired.  Squeeze juice from ½  lemon. Toss everything together.  Top with sesame seeds, scallions, and cilantro.  Serve warm.

Posted 8/7/2015 9:18am by Erin Caudell.

Everyone’s favorite summer veggies are ripe and finally don’t have to be shipped in from another state.  Locally grown fruits and veggies taste so much better because they can stay on the vine longer and spend less time travelling to you.  What can you do with all of the delicious tomatoes and peppers?  There are a few recipes that I can’t live without in the summertime, like Black Bean Salad and Tomato Pepper Soup.  Whip up some quick and cool dishes to enjoy some easy summer living and eating.  Or just eat a handful of those cherry tomatoes that are so sweet they taste almost like candy!    

Black Bean Salad

 1 (15oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cooked corn, canned, frozen or fresh from the cob

1 bell pepper diced

1 cup cherry tomatoes halved

¼ cup chopped onions or scallions

Juice from 1 lime

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste ½ cup cilantro, chopped    

Optional: to add some spicy heat 1 jalapeno or any other type of hot pepper, diced  

To make, place all ingredients except the cilantro in a bowl.  Stir together.  Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving to let the flavors mingle.  Add chopped cilantro right before serving.  (If you don’t like cilantro, substitute with parsley or basil.)  



Tomato Pepper Soup (serves 2 – 4)  

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp ground coriander

1 Tbsp ground cumin Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup vegetable broth  

Optional: to add some spicy heat 1 jalapeno or any other type of hot pepper, chopped  

Place the tomatoes and peppers onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with coriander, cumin, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until the tomatoes are very soft and the peppers are starting to caramelize, about 45 minutes. Scrape into a medium saucepan, using a spatula to remove all the juices, and then add the vegetable broth. Puree with an immersion blender, and then taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.  Serve warm or cold.                              

Posted 7/29/2015 11:29am by Erin Caudell.

Put a cape on this veggie and call it a dietary superhero. Swiss Chard is a leafy green with edible and colorful stems. They are easy to recognize with their white, orange, yellow, pink and red stalks. One cup of chopped and boiled chard leaves and stalks has only 35 calories and an amazing 636% of your daily vitamin K. That is the vitamin that makes our time in the sun or the vitamin D supplements we take more effective, as vitamin K helps our bodies absorb vitamin D. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, you can feel good about eating this food for bone health, blood sugar regulation, and to reduce inflammation. Store in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator and wait to wash the leaves until just before you use them. Most recipes suggest sautéing the chard for a quick and simple side dish.


Parmesan Swiss Chard

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp minced garlic

½ small onion chopped

1 bunch Swiss chard (stems and leave separated)

½ cup dry white wine

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or to taste)

2 Tbsps fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Stir in garlic and onion and cook for about 1 minute. Add chard stems and wine, simmering about 5 minutes until stems are softened. Stir in chard leaves and cook until just wilted. Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Posted 7/22/2015 11:01am by Erin Caudell.

 What’s up, Doc?  Its carrot season, that’s what’s up.  These colorful carrots are going to have subtle flavor differences and not so subtle color differences from Bug’s favorite giant orange carrot.  They are white, yellow and purple.  The white and golden carrots are a bit milder, the purple sweeter and sometimes more peppery. Maybe your kid will be willing to give that purple looking carrot a try. The most creative recipe yet for the carrot just might be Linsey Pollak’s Carrot Clarinet.  Enjoy the TedX presentation.  

Linsey Pollak - Carrot Clarinet

Posted 7/22/2015 11:00am by Erin Caudell.

Created in Argentina as a sauce for flank steak, this is great as a marinade for chicken or fish too!  

½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves

½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

4 garlic cloves

½ seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper

2 tablespoons chopped scallion or onion

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¾ cup good olive oil salt and pepper

  Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, onion and jalapeño in a food processor until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. Store in sealed container in fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Serve on chicken, fish and beef.