Ohio Turkey Deals 2015

Welcome to the 2nd annual Eat Like No One Else guide to buying a turkey in the 17th state, Ohio. Last year I decided to expand my ever popular turkey deals list to the state just to the south of me. I was met with equal succes, so I am back at it again this year.

This list includes many of the store in Ohio but not necessarily every one. If you find one missing, leave a comment below and I will add it to the list.

Cheapest Turkey Price in the State of Ohio – Just as in my home state, Meijer is the champion of the cheapest turkey with their 52 cents per pound price on their Meijer brand frozen turkeys.

Whole Foods Market
Locations in Columbus,
Fresh Brined Turkey $2.99/lb
Fresh Boneless Turkey Breast $6.99/lb
Fresh Whole Heirloom Bronze Turkey Non-GMO Verified $3.69/lb
Fresh Bone-In Turkey Breast $4.99/lb
Whole Free Range Turkey $2.69/lb
Fresh Kosher Turkey $3.49/lb
Fresh Organic Turkey $3.99/lb

Various locations throughout the state.
For the 2nd year in a row Meijer is offering 50& off all frozen or fresh turkeys with an additional $20 purchase.

Here are some example prices with the 50% off:
Meijer Frozen Turkey $.52/lb
Meijer Fresh Turkey $1.49/lb

Lucky’s Market
Location in Columbus
Amish Country All-Natural Fresh Turkey $1.39/lb
Plainville Antibotic-Free Fresh Turkey $1.99/lb
Mary’s Organic Free Range Turkey (the ad says to contact them about this one)

Jungle Jim’s International Market
Locations in Fairfield and Cincinnati, OH
Amish Country Fresh Turkeys $1.99/lb
Frozen Grade A Turkey Breats $1.59/lb
Honeysuckle Frozen Whole Smoked Turkeys $2.59/lb
Butterball Frozen Turkeys $1.39/lb (no limit)

Walt Churchill’s Market
Locations in Maumee and Perrysburg, OH
You can pre-order Bowman Landes Fresh Whole Turkey or Turkey Breast. Contact the store for more details.

Giant Eagle
Various locations throughout Ohio
Giant Eagle says “We Won’t Be Beat”. They will match any competitor’s price on frozen whole turkeys.

Giant Eagle Frozen Turkeys USDA Grade A, All sizes $0.98 lb. With an additional $25 purchase, limit 2
Honeysuckle White Frozen Turkeys USDA Grade A, 18 lbs. and up $1.09 lb. with an additional $25 purchase.
Butterball Frozen Turkeys $1.59 lb.
Nature’s Basket Fresh or Frozen Turkeys $2.89/lb
Plainville Farms or Bells & Evan Fresh Turkey $2.99/lb
Giant Eagle Fresh Turkeys, USDA Grade A, All Sizes $1.69 lb.
Honeysuckle Whole Fresh Turkeys $1.89/lb
Butterball Fresh Turkeys $1.99/lb
Honeysuckle Frozen Turkey Breasts $1.99/lb
Giant Eagle Fresh Turkey Breasts $3.69/lb

The Andersons
Locations in Toledo, Maumee, Sylvania, and Columbus, OH
No prices advertised as of yet.

Acme Fresh Market
Various locations across Ohio
Acme Frozen Turkey $.59/lb, limit 1 with card
Honeysuckle White Frozen Turkey $.99/lb with card
Buckley Farms Bone-In Turkey Breast $1.89/lb with card
Butterball Frozen Turkey $1.59/lb with card

The Fresh Market
Locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Shaker Heights, Toledo, West Chester
Check with store to pre-order your turkey.

Buehler’s Grocery
Various locations across Ohio
Honeysuckle White Frozen Turkey $.99/lb, limit 1 (additional turkeys will be $1.49/lb)
Honeysuckle White Fresh Turkey $1.99/lb
Honeysuckle Frozen Boneless Turkey Breast $13.99 for 3 pounds
Butterball Frozen Turkey $1.79/lb

Locations in the Cleveland Metro area
No prices listed online, contact store for pricing information
Planville Fresh Turkeys (antibiotic and hormone free)
Amish Country All-Natural Turkey (raised without antibiotic or added hormones)
Frozen Empire Kosher Turkey
Honeysuckle Frozen Turkey
Butterball Frozen Turkey

Various location across Ohio
Fresh Honeysuckle Turkey $1.49/lb
Kroger Frozen Turkey $.98/lb
Honeysuckle or Private selection Frozen Turkey $1.29/lb
Honeysuckle Turkey Breast $1.69/lb

Trader Joe’s
Locations in Cincinnati, Kettering, Woodmere, Westlake, Columbus, Dublin
Trader Joe’s All Natural, Brined, Fresh Young Turkeys (12-22 pound birds) for $1.99 per pound
Glatt Kosher, All Natural, Fresh Young Turkeys (12-16 pound birds) for $2.49 per pound.

Chief Market
Locations in Paulding, Wauseon, Delphos, Celina, Coldwater, Defiance, Bryan
Prices not available currently.

Earth Fare
Locations in Dayton, Akron, Cleveland, Columbus
Fresh Free Range Organic Turkey $4.29/lb
Natural, Hormone & antibiotic free fresh Turkey $2.69/lb
Bone-In Fresh Natural Turkey Breast $5.99/lb
Boneless Fresh Turkey Breast $6.99/lb

Dorothy Lane Market
Locations in Dayton and Springboro
DLM Fresh Free-Range Turkey $3.39/lb (price down 60 cents a pound from last year!)
DLM Fresh Free-Range Turkey Breast $6.19/lb
Heavenly Turkey Breasts $8.99/lb
Whole Herb Brined Turkey $4.29/lb

Marsh Stores
Locations in Southwest Ohio
Norbest, Jennie-O or Honeysuckle Frozen Turkey $.69/lb (limit 1, with additional $25 purchase)
Butterball All Natural Frozen Turkey $.89/lb (limit 1, with additional $25 purchase)


Whole Foods Market Turkey Prices 2015

It’s once again that time of year. My favorite time of year to be a food blogger. Why? Because I get to spend the next several weeks talking turkey. What is not to love about that? Up first this season. One of my favorite things to do is share the prices and selection of turkeys in stores across the country. I love seeing what’s going on from coast to coast and sharing that information with you – the blog reader. This season we are going to kick it off with a nationwide look at what Whole Foods Market is offering up in the way of turkeys this season.

Whole Foods Laguna Beach

Why Buy a Turkey at Whole Foods
If you are looking for more than just the cheapest, frozen bird you can find, if you want something organic, or fresh range or one of those really cool heritage birds you may have heard about on TV, then Whole Foods may be the place for you. Each store has a holiday order table, where you can pre-order your Thanksgiving bird and pick it up when you are ready.

whole foods market huntingon

Location and Choices Vary
As it is often in life, it is all about location, location, location. The selection varies based on what region your store is in. Whole Foods is divided into 11 U.S. regions. Some regions have a much larger selection than others. If I had the choice I wish I could have the selection in the western regions. Here is a link to a pdf file showing you how the company is divided up. The selection and price should be very similar within a region, although you will see some “value stores” where prices are lower (the Detroit, Michigan store is usually one of those stores for example). Checking with your local store will give you the best information.

All turkeys sold at Whole Foods have to meet these following standards:

1. 5-Step® Animal Welfare rated
2. No antibiotics
3. No animal by-products in their feed
4. No Added solutions or injections
5. No added growth hormones

Whole Foods sells organic turkey but not all of their turkeys are organic, so make sure you look for the word “organic” if that is what you want. To learn more about organic turkeys, check out my post What is an Organic Turkey?

My Recommendations
Diestel turkeys available in regions 2,3, 5, or 11 (western regions) are highly recommended. Check out my post on 9 reasons to buy a Diestel Turkey. If you live on the east coast, I recommend Jaindl turkeys, who raise a turkey breed unique to their farms with more edible meat per pound. Their turkeys may be found under the Whole Foods Market label but it should read on the packaging “Grown and processed by Jaindl Family Farms”. Check my post on Why You Should Buy a Janidl turkey. You will find a link to a map of what Whole Foods locations carry Jaindl turkeys.

For more turkey & Thanksgiving day recommendations, tips, recipes, ideas, etc, sign up for my e-mail newsletter by submitting your e-mail address in the box below.

2015 Whole Foods Market Turkey Price List by Region

Region 1 Pacific Northwest

Prices from a store in Seattle, Washington
Organic Whole Turkey $3.99/lb
Raw Whole Turkey $2.69/llb
Whole Foods Market Whole Turkey $2.49/lb
Mary’s Free-Range Heritage Turkey comes from the Pitman Family Farm and are descended from the first breed of turkeys that existed in the United States. $5.99/lb

Region 2 Northern California

Why Buy Diestel Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Prices from store in San Francisco, California
Diestel Nature Bone-In Half Turkey Breast $5.99/lb
Diestel Nature Bone-In Full Turkey Breast $5.99/lb
Diestel Organic Bone-In Half Turkey Breast $7.99/lb
Diestel Organic Bone-In Full Turkey Breast $7.99/lb
Diestel Non-GMO Project Verified Turkey $3.49/lb
Diestel Heidi Organic Petite Turkeys $4.69/lb
Diestel Boneless Turkey Breast Roast $7.49/lb
Diestel Mediterranean Brined Turkey $4.99/lb
Diestel Original Brined Turkey $4.99/lb
Diestel Lemon Herb Brined Turkey $4.99/lb
Diestel Organic Boneless Turkey Breast Roast $8.99/lb
Diestel Pastured Raised Turkey $5.99/lb
Diestel Petite Turkeys $2.99/lb
Diestel Heidi Organic Turkeys $3.99/lb
Diestel Organic Heirloom Turkeys $4.99/lb
Whole Foods Market Turkey $2.69/lb

Region 3 Southern Pacific

Prices from store in Laguna Niguel (Orange County), California
Mary’s Free Range $2.79/lb
Mary’s Organic $3.99/lb
Mary’s Heritage $5.99/lb
Mary’s Brined Turkey $3.99/lb
Diestel Free Range $2.79/lb
Diestel Heidi’s Hens Organic Turkey $3.99/lb
Diestel Free Range Petite Turkey $3.29/lb
Mary’s Free Range Bone-In Turkey Breast $5.99/lb
Diestel Free Range Bone-In Breast $6.59/lb
Kosher Valley Turkey $3.99/lb
Mary’s Organic Bone-In Breast $7.99/lb
Diestel Heidi’s Hen Organic Bone-In Breast $7.99/lb
Mary’s Boneless Breast $6.99/lb
Diestel’s Free Range Boneless Turkey Breast $7.99/lb
Mary’s Organic Boneless Turkey Breast $8.99/lb
Heidi’s Hen Organic Boneless Breast $8.99/lb

Region 4 Midwest

Prices from store in Ann Arbor, Michigan (this my store!)
Nature’s Rancher Fresh Turkey $2.49/lb
Organic Turkey $3.99/lb
Valerie’s Family Organic Brined Whole Turkey $2.49/lb
Kosher Valley Kosher Turkey $3.99/lb
Bone-in Turkey Breast $4.99/lb
Boneless Turkey Breast $6.99/lb
Organic Bone-In Turkey Breast $6.99/lb

Please note that the stores in Lincoln, Nebraska and Detroit, Michigan have the following special prices:
Nature’s Rancher Fresh Turkey $1.99/lb
Organic Turkey $2.99/lb

Region 5 Southwest

Prices from store in Austin, Texas (the flagship store)
Bone-in Turkey Breast $5.99/lb
Boneless Turkey Breast $7.99/lb
Smoked Turkey $5.99/lb
Diestel All Natural Turkey $3.49/lb
Diestel Heirloom Organic $5.49/lb
Diestel Organic $4.49/lb
Nature’s Rancher $2.99/lb
Organic Bone-In Breast $7.99/lb
Organic Boneless Breast $8.99/lb

Region 6 North Atlantic

Prices from store in Boston, MA
Free Range Herb Rubbed Turkey $3.99/lb
Free Range Plain $2.69/lb
Free Range Brined Turkey $2.99/lb
Free Range Organic $3.99/lb
Koch’s Turkey Farm Heirloom Bronze $3.99/lb
Plainville Free Range $2.99/lb
Boneless Turkey Breast $6.99/lb
Brined, Boneless Breast $6.99/lb

Region 7 South

Prices from store in Atlanta, Georgia
Whole Organic Turkey $3.99/lb
Whole Foods Market Fresh Turkey $2.69/lb
Organic Bone-In Turkey Breast $5.99/lb
Bone-In Turkey Breast $4.99/lb
Bells & Evan Whole Brined Turkey $2.99/lb

Region 8 Florida

Prices from store in Miami, FL
Plainville Fresh Bone-in Turkey Breast $6.99/lb
Plainville Boneless Netted Turkey Breast $7.99/lb
Organic Fresh Turkey $3.99/lb
Fresh Brined Turkey $2.99/lb
Kosher Valley Fresh $3.99/lb

Region 9 Mid-Atlantic

Prices from store in Columbus, Ohio
Fresh Brined Turkey $2.99/lb
Fresh Boneless Turkey Breast $6.99/lb
Fresh Whole Heirloom Bronze Turkey Non-GMO Verified $3.69/lb
Fresh Bone-In Turkey Breast $4.99/lb
Whole Free Range Turkey $2.69/lb
Fresh Kosher Turkey $3.49/lb
Fresh Organic Turkey $3.99/lb

Region 10 Northeast

Prices from store in New York City, NY
Whole Foods Market Free Range Brined $2.99/lb
Whole Foods Market Free Range $2.69/lb
Whole Foods Market Organic Free Range Turkey $3.99/lb
Plainville Turkey $2.99/lb
Plainville Organic $3.99/lb
Koch’s Free Range Heirloom Bronze $4.99/lb
Kosher Valley Turkey $3.99/lb
Plainville Brined Turkey Breast $6.99/lb (bone-in), $7.99/lb (boneless)
Plainville Turkey Bone-In Breast $5.99/lb
Plainville Boneless Breast $6.99/lb

Region 11 Rocky Mountain

Prices from store in Denver, Colorado
Brined Turkey $2.99/lb
Nature’s Rancher $2.49/lb
Diestel’s Natural $3.99/lb
Diestel’s Non-GMO Project Verified $3.89
Diestel’s Petitie Whole Turkey $3.99/lb
Kosher Valley Farms $3.99/lb
Diestel’s Organic $4.99/lb
Diestel’s Organic Heirloom $6.99/lb
Diestel’s Step 5+ Pasture Raised $6.99/lb


365 Organic Barbeque Sauces

I love it when my love for food and geography can come together. Whenever I see those posts online about each state’s regional food, I enjoy clicking through them (while being annoyed I have to click an arrow and wait to see the next one). I want to spend more time researching regional foods. One thing I have selected to learn more about his barbecue sauce. In different parts of the country, different types of sauces are present. As part of this research project, I wanted to take a look at how sauces from different regions are re-created to sell at the grocery store. I decided to pick up 3 organic 365 brand sauces from Whole Foods Market. Each sauce is based on a different region – Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas. While not expecting these to be as good a a homemade sauce, I wanted to see what the perspective on the difference in each type of sauce.

Let’s start by looking at the ingredient list of each sauce. I put in italics some ingredients I want to highlight.

365 Organic Barbeque Sauces

Kansas City Love – Thick and Sweet
Tomato Paste
Apple Cider Vinegar
Brown Sugar
White Vinegar
Cane Sugar
Jalapeno Puree
Garlic Puree
Cayenne Pepper
White Pepper
Onion Powder
Spice Blend

The first ingredient on this list is tomato paste. When people think of barbecue sauces, the Kansas City style is what most people think of – heavy on the tomato. Tomato is definitely the thing that dominates the flavor. It is a thick sauces that sits atop of the meat. There is some heat to it, but gentle heat.

365 Organic Barbeque Sauces

Memphis Madness – Tangy, Sweet, and Spicy
Apple Cider Vinegar
Brown Sugar
Tomato Paste
Mustard Powder
Soy Sauce
Onion Powder
Xanthan Gum
Jalapeno Puree
Spice Blend
Cane Sugar
Lemon Juice
Cayenne Pepper
Caramel color
Garlic powder
Natural anchovy flavor
Lemon extract
Ginger oil
Orange extract
Capsicum extract
Natural onion flavor

The first ingredient on this list is apple cider vinegar. Memphis sauces tend to be similar to the Kansas City style but with more vinegar, which is definitely the case here. The Memphis sauce had molasses where the Kansas City does not. You could taste the spices more in this sauce than the other two.

365 Organic Barbeque Sauces

Texas True – Savory and Tangy
Tomato Paste
Apple Cider Vinegar
Cane Sugar
White Vinegar
Soy Sauce
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder
Lemon juice
Caramel color
Garlic powder
Natural anchovy flavor
Lemon extract
Ginger oil
Xantham Gum
Orange Extract
Capsicum extract
natural onion flavor

The first ingredient on this list is water. Out of the three sauces this one was easily the thinnest. Good for when you want it to soak into the meat. The Texas sauce is influenced by it’s proximity to Mexico which is why you find tamarind and cumin in it. It has a good amount of heat to it – more so than the KC sauce. I would have liked to have the cumin flavor make a bigger impact. It is less sweet than the KC sauce.

From this experiment it is easy to see the basic in the different styles of sauces – thickness, tomato ratio, vinegar ratio. It’s a good start for me on my journey to understand regional sauces. These bottled sauces don’t necessarily capture on the nuances of each style, which is what I hope to do when I try to make my very own versions.

My favorite was probably the Memphis Madness. It has the most balanced flavor profile. You could taste the spices better, I think that the KC, which is so strong on the tomato. The Texas True was my least favorite. My personal preference is towards a thicker sauce but also the flavor was more watery down in general.


Organic Produce at Costco

There is no doubt that the organic trend is here to stay. More and more people are striving to buy only organic. Yet there is still a lot of people that don’t buy organic because they simply cannot afford it or they don’t want to pay the increased cost. Time magazine recently reported that a lot of consumers believe that organic labels are just an excuse to charge more. Clearly cost is clearly an issue when it comes to shopping for organic, that brings me to the topic of today’s post – if you are a Costco member, can this membership make organic produce more affordable for you? During my April 2015 visit to Costco, I recorded what kind of organic produce they had and the prices of that. Kept in mind, produce price vary a lot based on season, particularly something like berries.

Fruit/vegetable, price
Strawberries 16 oz, $3.99
Blueberries 6 oz, $4.88
Blackberries 12 oz, $7.98
Bananas, $.66/lb
Gala apples, $1.99/lb
Peeled carrots, $1.20/lb
Whole carrots, $.70/lb for 10 pound bag
Romaine hearts, $4.49 for 6 count bag
Earthbound Farms 1 pound salads, $4.49
Earthbound Farms Power Green in 1.5 pound bag, $3.66/lb

Organic Produce Costco

Some of the organic containers of berries at Costco are larger sizes than your normally find. The blackberries came in a 12 oz clamshell where most stores sell the 6 oz clamshell. Costco had the usual Driscoll’s berries. You can tell whether they are organic just by looking at the color of the label, a green label means organic, and a yellow label means conventional. Simple!

Organic Produce Costco

They also had berries from Naturipe. The prices of blueberries is one that wildly changes. Going into summer, expect lower prices, going into the winter, expect higher prices and small containers.

Organic Produce Costco

Costco also sells products from Earthbound Farms, a huge organic operation out of Central California. Their stuff is everywhere. Costco sells 10 pounds bags of carrots that would be great for juicing for the low price of 70 cents per pound.

Organic Produce Costco

They also have the 1 pound clamshells of organic baby spinach. One thing they had that I haven’t seen elsewhere is the 1.5 pound bags of Power Greens, which is a combination of baby kale, baby swiss chard, and baby spinach – one of my favorite salad mixes and at what works out to $3.66 a pound, it is also the cheapest I have seen this mix going for. It’s excellent for salads – also for juicing or on a pizza for a healthier dinner.

How Does the Price of Organic Produce at Costco Compare to Whole Foods?
Whenever we talk organic, we just have to bring up Whole Foods Market. They played a huge roll in bringing the organic movement to the forefront and they offer more varieties of organic produce that anyone else (keep in mind NOT all of Whole Foods produce is organic!) Their selection will beat Costco every time. You can get a lot of basic produce items at Costco and the prices are cheaper. For example, organic bananas at Whole Foods cost $.99/lb where they are $.66/lb at Costco or Earthbound Farms 1 pound salads are $5.99 at Whole Foods and $4.49 at Costco. But I didn’t find organic beets, leeks, onions, celery, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, etc. If you are an organic shopper take advantage of Costco’s savings while taking advantage of the Whole Foods selection.


When are Muscat Grapes in Season

As many of you may know I spend several hours in a California grape vineyard this March. It got me really craving some good grapes. Problem is that grapes in the late winter and early spring are really known for their great flavor. But their is one exception, one silver lining in a rather lackluster time of year for grapes. Thank God for Muscats (sometimes called Pink Muscatel Grapes). If you have never heard of them, they are a unique grape. They aren’t a red, green, or black grape they have a rosy color with a green background. Some are more green and some are more rosy, some would use the word pink. They are easy enough to pick out from among the other grapes. Not only is their color unique, their flavor just as unique. I would describe it was kind of floral. The flavor isn’t for everyone – it’s one of those you either love it or hate it, not a lot of people sitting on the fence. I think they are super refreshing, especially during a time when all the grapes are from Chile and are serious lacking in any real flavor. So how long do you have to enjoy these delicious grapes?

When are Muscat Grapes in Season

When are Muscat Grapes in Season?
You might see some volumes of them beginning in late February and starting to pick up in March. April is the month where you expect to find them in large quantities. Right at the end of the season in May I find them to be at their sweetest – grab them in bunches then. I remember one season when they arrived the same day as Sumo mandarins did at my local Whole Foods market, which might just have been the greatest winter day in produce history! In the late summer/early fall you might seem some coming out of California, but I haven’t found any that match up to the quality of the Chilean ones. If you do find them from California, it’s usually only very briefly. The variety may not be the same either, but any California grape I have had labeled muscat has been a letdown. This is the only time you will probably hear me say some fruit from Chile is better than California.

When are Muscat Grapes in Season

Where to Find Muscat Grapes
My main source has always been Whole Foods Market. They have been a big supporter of this variety and you should be able to find them in stores nationwide. The last seasons they have placed them on sale a couple times – which I really appreciate. Besides that you have to look at more specialized produce stores or grocery stores that carry specialty items. For example here in Ann Arbor, Michigan I have found them at the Produce Station and Hiller’s. I have never seen them at Trader Joe’s, Meijer, or Kroger stores. They are listed on Melissa’s Produce website, so contact them to help you find them. Here are a few stores/distributors you can check with:

Kings Supermarket, Fairway Markets, Baldor Specialty Foods, Agata & Valentina, Eataly, Dean & Deluca, Union Markets.


What Part of a Ramp Do You Eat

It’s the time of year again. The time of year where foragers are foaming at the mouth, searching the forest for spring’s early bounty. What are they looking for? The morel mushroom, the Fiddlehead fern, and the topic of today’s conversation – the ramp or wild leek. You may find it just as much of a search to find these items in your grocery store. Only more specialty stores like Whole Foods Market (I bought an organic bunch there for $2.99 a bunch) and local small produce shops will carry these products. If you can find ramps you are in for a treat. Not quite onion, not quite garlic, but flavors of each that come bundled in a unique package. That brings us to the question of what part of the ramp is edible? First, let’s take an anatomy lesson.

What Part of a Ramp Do You Eat

As you see in the lovely diagram above, I have divided the ramp into three parts – the leaf, the stem, and the bulb. All three of these parts can be used and I do my best to utilize them all.

The Bulb
This is what most people are use to using. It kind of looks like a really, really small onion. The end of these things are full of little roots that trap dirt, so I cut off the roots as close to the end of the bulbs as possible. Then I dice them up like I would garlic. Saute them just as you would garlic. I tossed them in at the beginning of a Ramp/Asparagus risotto dish I made last night.

The Leaf
If you are lucky you will get a nice bunch of bright green leaves with a red vein down the middle. These are completely edible. I like to use them like an herb. I rolled them up, like a carpet. Then slice them into ribbons or what fancy chefs call a chiffonade. Here is an excellent video I found on YouTube that shows you how to chiffondade like a pro.

I add the leaves at the end of cooking. Like when I making the previously mentioned risotto, I threw them in at the last minute, just to heat them through. You could also just throw them in a pan with some butter and cook them until they wilt and eat them like you would spinach, chard, or kale. Or you can make pesto from the leaves (toss in the bulbs too). When you got ramps, you can really ramp up the possibilities!

The Stems
This is where the most waste happens. The stems between the leaves and the bulb can be a little tough, a little fibrous. You can cook ramps whole and eat them just fine. Here is my preference. Cut off the leaves and bulbs. I then take the stems and throw them in the freezer along with my other veggie scraps for the next time I want to make homemade vegetable broth. When I made that risotto I included roasted asparagus (if you aren’t in a risotto mode after this post, you must hate rice!) and save the ends I cut off the asparagus. I will make my Asparagus End soup with them soon, and include the ramp stems. Won’t that really ramp up the flavor! (I know I did the twice in one post, but ramps are only available for a short time, so I only have a few chances).

Jump aboard the spring time veggie bandwagon and find yourself some ramps or wild leeks if you prefer. They are a wonderful way to start getting excited about another year full of fresh and tasty produce. Share with us your ramp experience in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.

By the way, if I have pressured you into making risotto, check out Alton Brown’s recipe. It’s what I used minus the mushrooms and plus the ramps.


Wallaby Sour Cream

Have you ever been in this situation – it’s Taco Tuesday, you have worked your butt off to make some of the tastiest tacos you ever made. You did it all the right way. You used grass fed beef. Instead of grabbing an overpriced pack of taco seasoning, you used spices you collect from the bulk section at Whole Foods. You even toasted your cumin seeds before grinding them in your spice grinder, a.k.a. your coffee grinder. You purchased the best local tortillas. You bought heirloom tomatoes that you diced to perfection. Instead of boring old iceberg lettuce, you are using a mix of arugula and baby kale. Bring your creation to the table where some freshly grated Mexican cheeses await. And as you put it altogether, you top it all off with some generic store bought sour cream that has more ingredients in it than the rest of your entire meal. All your hard work just to be topped with an inferior product that leaves you with an artificial greasy taste in your mouth. We can’t have that!

How can one assure that this situation never happens in their home. That leads me to the next installment in my series “Whole Foods Finds”. These are great products that you need to seek out at your local Whole Foods. Today I want to share with you the best sour cream I ever had – Wallaby Organic Sour Cream. It’s time to add a little bit of Australian to your tacos (ok, actually the company is American, but they were inspired by time spend in Australia, just roll with it).

What’s Makes Wallaby Organic Sour Cream So Good?
It all begins with the texture. Velvet is the first word to come to mind. This sour cream is smooth and thick. The thickest sour cream I have ever seen. Not runny in the least bit. It is rich in flavor and not too tangy. The sour cream contains just two ingredients – Organic Cultured Pasteurized Cream and live active cultures (L. acidophilus, bifidus, L. cremoris, L. lactis, L. paracasei.) A lot of sour creams are “watered down” with nonfat milk such as Organic Valley sour cream that has Organic Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk as it’s first ingredient. Of course that makes it cheaper to make and it has less fat, but I want the best sour cream and Wallaby is that.

More Reasons to Buy this Sour Cream
1. The sour cream is also made from cream from cows that meat the USDA standards for being raised organic.

2. Wallaby sources local, small family farms for their milk – so your are supporting these families when you buy Wallaby products. Check out their website to learn more about these farms.

Why is it called European Style?
Again it goes back to the culture used to make the sour cream. Other styles of sour cream use acidifiers to make sour cream. Your cheap store brand sour creams are this style. It’s a quicker process that is cheaper but don’t produces a sour cream with the depth of flavor of the European style.

Wallaby Sour Cream Sale Whole Foods Market

How Does It Cost?
The everyday price of this sour cream is $2.99 . But the good news is that it is often on sale at least in my region. It seems like once a month or every other month. The sale price is typically around $2.39 for the 16 ounce tub. That’s not a bad price considering that you are getting a sour cream that is organic and made of pure cream. Look for at your local Whole Foods and make sure to check out some Wallaby’s other products – I especially think their Kefir is the best as well.


Catamount Hills Cheese

Let’s welcome back a series of my blog, dedicated to things that I find at Whole Foods Market. These items are special items that I either encountered there for the first time or are exclusives to Whole Foods. Today I am going to talk about one of those exclusives. Many of you have probably heard of Cabot. Their cheeses can be found all over the country in stores like Walmart, Kroger, Meijer, etc.

What’s So Special About Catamount Hill Cheese
Even thought Cabot cheese is sold all over, their Catamount Hills cheese is an exclusive to Whole Foods Market. The sticker describes the cheese as “A hand-selected, hard Italian-type cheese with notes of swiss and Parmesan flavors.” It is a type of cheddar cheese. When I offered a sample up to my wife, the first thing she said is that is tastes like swiss and Parmesan together. The milk that this cheese comes from was produced by cows that are never given artificial growth hormones. The cheese also contains 0 grams of lactose.

How Much Did This Cheese Cost?
Is it a regular part of their rotation of 3 day sales cheese. Every Friday to Sunday, you will find some cheese in their cheese department on sale. I have seen Catamount Hills make a couple apperance in that rotation. Normally the cheese is priced at $8.99/pound. For this 3 day sale it was $4.99/lb – which is a fantastic value.

Does Catamount Hills Cheese Melt Well?
This cheese is a wonderful melter. Grilled cheese fan? Totally go for it.

Kid Approved Mac & Cheese
My 7 year old daughter was not really feeling mac & cheese that night, but after she ate it said it was the best mac & cheese. My other daughter asked for 3 helpings of it. To say it was a hit with the kids would be underestimate. I know it’s not hard to get kids to like mac & cheese, but I have turned mine into mac & cheese snobs. I can’t just throw any cheese in the sauce and call it a day (and just try and serve them the blue boxed stuff, you don’t even want to go there). They usually really go for a gouda & cheddar combo, but Cabot Catamount Hills did the work that it normally takes two cheeses to do. It’s aformentioned swiss & parmesan like flavor, really shines in the mac & cheese. I was absolutely floored at what one cheese could accomplish all on it’s own.


Black Sesame Seeds

Are you a sesame seed fan? Do you like them other than on top of your fast food burger? Do you throw them into your salads or your dressings? They you must be a sesame seed fan. Have you ever tried black sesame seeds? A couple weeks back, I wrote about the differences between the white and black sesame seeds (see What is the Difference Between Black and White Sesame Seeds?). The black sesame seeds have a stronger flavor than the white counterparts. It’s a reason why people seek them out. They often have more of crunch as they are not hulled like most white sesame you find are (although you can get unhulled white sesame seeds at Whole Foods Market).

How to Find Black Sesame Seeds
Typically black sesame seeds are harder to find, hence the motivation for writing this post. If you look in the spice section of most large supermarket chains you won’t find them there. If they have them they are most likely in an international section. When I see them they tend to be in large containers, too large unless you are a serious sesame user. I did however locate a small package (which is featured in the photo at the top of this post) at Hiller’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The store is known for having a great international selection. You also should be able to find them in any good Asian market. Do a Google search of your area. A lot of those markets are “hole in the wall” places that many of us overlook. They might be hidden gems. Or also look for a bulk food or spice specialty store. Don’t forget if all else fails you can find them on the world wide web.

What Sesame Seed Flowers Look Like

Flowering black sesame plant (photo from rareseeds.com)

Grow Your Own Black Sesame Seeds
As I was pursing through the Whole Seed Catalog from the Baker Creek Seed Company I came across their grains & cover crops section. I discovered that they sell black sesame seeds. You could grow your own! It is what Thomas Jefferson did! Story goes he received sesame oil and fell in love with it (see for more info on the Monticello website). He decided he wanted to grow them. They still grow on site today. And they can grow at your house as well. I myself am going to grow them. I am further north than in Virginia where Jefferson grew them, I have heard of people being successful here Michigan. Even if I don’t get a lot of or any seeds, there are still the leaves. The leaves are edible. You may see them sold at Asian stores as perilla leaves. They can be used in salads and are popular to wrap rice, veggies, or meat in. One of the benefits to growing something yourself is experiencing the plant in new ways that you may have not experienced if you just go to the store and buy the seeds. Not to mention they produce pretty white flowers that will beautify your yard.

Stay tune to my gardening blog, the Pea Project, for updates on how my sesame seed crop does.

You can order white or black sesame seeds from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Here are the links to order them:

Sesame, Light Seeded
Black Seeded Sesame



In sports you hear talk of a game changer. Either it’s a moment in a game where an event takes place that instantly changes the momentum of the game, or it could be a trade or free agent signing that takes a team to the next level of competition. In the produce world, you also have your game changers. A few years back, when Sumo mandarins first hit the stores, the game was changed. Never has there been a piece of citrus that comes in such a huge package that is so easy to peel, and so rich in flavor. Everything else has to try and measure up. For diehard fans like me their annual arrival in stores has now become the pinnacle moment of the entire citrus season. None of this happens overnight. There is a story to tell about how Sumos get from the tree to your hands. Today I am going to tell you that story.

Sumos being harvested (Courtesy of the Official Sumo Facebook Page)

Sumos being harvested (Courtesy of the Official Sumo Facebook Page)

Brief Sumo History Lesson
There is a wonderful article published in the LA Times that gives a detailed background on the Sumo, make sure to check that out. To give a summary – the Sumo, whose name overseas is the Dekopan was developed in Japan in 1972. It made it’s way into South Korea, China, and Brazil. Imports weren’t allowed into the United States. In the late 1990s, a man by the name of Brad Stark Jr. brought budwood branches to the U.S. in order to graft new trees. Still it took years for the first trees to be planted. The fruit couldn’t be imported due to real concern about spreading citrus diseases foreign to U.S. soil. So the branches brought to the U.S. went through a process that took several years to cleanse the tree of these potentially harmful diseases. In the meantime, another company secretly brought in their own budwood and planted trees in the San Joaquin Valley that were infected with disease. They were discovered and were seriously fined and ordered to destroy the trees. If those diseases spread to other citrus trees who knows what kind of damage it would have caused the California citrus industry. Brad Stark Jr’s company eventually went bankrupt, but his disease free trees eventually ended up in the hands of the Griffith family owners of TreeSource Citrus Nursery and Suntreat Packing & Shipping. They enlisted growers who had to grow the fruit in secret until 2011, when the first commercial crop was ready.

I am amazed by all the hard work and time spent just to begin growing the fruit in the U.S. The story is fascinating, it could be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster. I can envision Nicholas Cage with guns blazing as he takes the disease free budwood away from the evil, rich villains.

The Passionate Sumo Growers
When the fruit was finally able to be grown it wasn’t just given to any citrus grower. These people were sought out and selected to grow it. I recently had the opportunity to communicate directly with two of the Sumo Citrus growers (Jonelle George and Guy Wollenman). In those conversations I could really feel their passion for citrus and their role in the industry. It just jumped right off my computer screen. These people are truly excited to be growing Sumos and even through all the challenges, it was well worth it, no doubt about it. I got excited just hearing about their excitement. These are the kind of people I want to buy my fruit from. They care, they desire to do a good job, and they are loving it along the way. I have seen many a farmer that looks like all the life was sucked out of them and they had no passion for what they were doing. Talking to these two growers shows that farming, whether it be fruit or vegetable, is still something people are passionate about. It makes me smile…ear to ear!

Photo of the 2015 Sumo Harvest in the Central San Joaquin Valley

Photo of the 2015 Sumo Harvest in the Central San Joaquin Valley

The Challenges of Growing Sumos
Not only was it challenging to get the fruit to the point where it could grow in the U.S. without spreading disease, growing the fruit itself was a new challenge to even seasoned citrus growers. The standard citrus horticultural techniques do not work with Sumo. The fruit must be pruned in a certain way so that areas of the tree that produce sub-quality fruit are removed. They also must prune them more like a peach tree, so that the sun can shine upon the fruit itself, which helps sweeten it. The neck on the fruit that gives the Sumo it’s name is susceptible to damage by wind and rain. When the fruit is ready to be picked it has to be done so careful. They go into totes until they make it the packing house. You won’t see big bins of Sumos like you do oranges. Even then the cases they go into are flat and wide single layer cases.

Sumos in boxes, ready for shipment (Courtesy of the Official Sumo Facebook page)

Sumos in boxes, ready for shipment (Courtesy of the Official Sumo Facebook page)

The Fruit Picked for Quality
When the fruit is ready to be picked, it’s not done so all at once. The fruit is carefully selected. Different parts of the citrus grove are picked when ready. Due to slight different micro climates in the San Joaquin Valley, they are ready at different times. You don’t just send people in to pick the trees bare. And like I mentioned above they have to be delicately handled. The LA Times report also mentions that at the start of the harvest the fruit goes through a curing process that utilizes a secret Japanese storing method that reduced the tartness of the fruit.

The Reason for the High Price
After reading this story you can see all the work that has been put into growing Sumos. It’s a more labor intensive piece of citrus. So when you head to the grocery store, you can expect to pay more money for them. Last year they were going for $3.99 a pound at my local Whole Foods markets – one of the top carriers of Sumo Citrus. They cost more to produce and they are still a new crop, they are going to be among the more expensive pieces of citrus in your produce aisle. What you are paying for it is top of the line quality fruit grown by passionate growers, who work their tails off to bring you an amazing taste experience that is worth every single penny you pay. Even though I may not be buying them by the case or bag full, I will manage to squeak some money out of the food budget to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

For more infomration on where to find Sumos this season, check out my post – Where to Buy Sumo Citrus Mandarins in 2015?

SUMO Citrus Recipes
Here are a couple recipes I came up with that utilize this amazing fruit.
Sumo Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Sugar Cookies


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