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The Secret Behind Perfectly Seared Scallops

By Erin McGuire  •  Friday, February 5th, 2016

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Scallops tend to be one of those dishes most of us only think about when we go out to eat. After all, they’re so sophisticated, seemingly obscure even within the wide world of seafood, and the taste and texture can be sublime to the point of convincing us it that it must take a culinary degree to cook them properly.

Not so, friends! YOU can make exquisite seared scallops right in your very own kitchen: all you need is a skillet, a little time (and we mean “little” ‘cause these little oceanic jewels cook up quickly!), and some high quality scallops. We can’t emphasize this last point enough because beginning with good scallops goes a long way toward a good searing. In fact, if you’ve tried making these at home before with less-than-stellar results, think back to what kind of scallops you used- were they previously frozen? Were they soaked in tri-polyphosphate chemicals? Both of these practices are VERY common in the seafood industry and they present huge hurdles in the kitchen; if your scallops contain chemicals, you simply won’t achieve the glorious brown sear you’re aiming for because the one prevents the other. These kinds of scallops are known as “wet scallops”.

We source our sea scallops, which are called “dry scallops” because they’re not exposed to chemicals, from Foley Fish in Massachusetts, who in turn source them from highly reputable fisherman. These particular scallops are harvested from the Georges Bank, right off the New England coastline, and are NEVER frozen/NEVER treated to chemicals (which make them very rare and very delicious). They are, in fact, the best scallops you can get and the perfect way to start your searing adventure!

Ready to dive in? Stop by our Seafood Department, grab yourself some Georges Bank Dry Sea Scallops, and give this recipe a whirl. We bet the outcome will be fabulous!

Seared Scallops with Sesame and Scallions
1 lb sea scallops
2-3 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic; minced
3 inches gingerroot; minced
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1-2 scallions; cut thin
Chili oil, if desired

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, and oil and set aside. Heat a straight-sided pan to medium heat and add half the butter. Once butter is hot, add scallops and sear for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Flip, add remaining butter, and cook until brown. Remove scallops from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add garlic and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant, stirring constantly. Add soy mixture and simmer for 1-2 minutes until mixture thickens slightly. Add scallops and turn off heat. Sprinkle with scallions and serve. Add chili oil if desired.

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Juice Up Your Nutrition

By Erin McGuire  •  Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Thinking about making juice a regular part of your health routine? Congratulations! You’re in for a delicious, nutritious, and effective way of getting your body the healthy boost it needs! Fresh, healthy juices made up of diverse fruits and veggies (and ONLY fruits and veggies- no sugars, corn syrups, etc.) support digestive functioning while providing vitamins and minerals in a way which is easy for your body to absorb. In fact, if you’re a juicing rock star and going all-out with a juice cleanse, here are some of the benefits you’ll reap:

1- You’ll be giving your digestive system a much-needed rest; when your intestinal tract isn’t using its time and energy digesting solid food, it’s detoxifying itself and re-building beneficial bacterial colonies

2- You’ll be giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to begin the regeneration process and support its self-healing

3- You’ll be helping break the “sugar cycle” and hitting a kind of reset button for your body; you’ll essentially be kicking cravings for carb-heavy foods to the curb.

Ready to get started? Yes, we bet you are, but there’s something important to consider: how you’ll actually get your juices. You could always stop by our Café and grab a fresh, made-to-order blend (which is very, very tasty, fast, and always a good option) but if you’re more of a DIY kind of person, you might just want to consider getting your own home juicer. Plus, in the long run, you’ll probably end up saving some cash (and who doesn’t love that?)!

When we were researching which juicer to sell in our store, we took our time and we took the search seriously because we wanted to provide the best option available. The result: the Hurom Slow Juicer. This little bad boy is getting a lot of attention in the juicing world and after a couple of in-store demonstrations, we understand why! It’s called a “slow juicer” because its motor runs at a decidedly less-than-brisk 80 rpm. This slow motor speed eliminates the oxidation and separation that often occur with traditional juicers and preserves enzymes and nutrients that are harmed by the friction generated by faster motors. Now before you start thinking that a slow motor means slow juicing, we can tell you that isn’t the case: this baby is fast! It actually extracts juice more rapidly than many other juices and the yield is phenomenal. Plus, the juices it makes are delicious and taste fresher than anything we’ve had before!

The Hurom Slow Juicer is our top-pick for home juicing and we think you’ll love it as much as we do. We’re also in love with these juice glasses by Luminarc. Available in three sizes, they come with tight-fitting lids so you can pack your freshly made juice in your bag and drink it on the go!

Happy Juicing!

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Front End Fundraiser: Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program

By Erin McGuire  •  Monday, February 1st, 2016

We’re proud to support the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program this February and March as our Front End Fundraiser!

Moving is never easy. At best it’s a stressful inconvenience and a hassle, even if you’re only moving down the block, and it always seems to take so much time to unpack and make your new home feel like home. (But once it does, man does it feel good, right?)

Now imagine moving to a new country. Imagine you’re leaving the only place you’ve ever called “home” because it has become inhospitable, possibly even dangerous, and all of your belongings can fit into just a couple of bags. Imagine what it must take to make this new place feel like home.

This is the unpleasant reality many refugees and new Americans experience. Thankfully, there are organizations like Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program which work for the health and betterment of living conditions for refugees and new Americans, helping them reach their new home faster. Their organization works with individuals and families, providing them with necessary assistance as they settle in Vermont, offering furnishings for apartments and things like basic kitchen, bathroom, cleaning, and personal supplies to get them started. How can they provide their clients with these essential items? ENTIRELY through the generous donations of people like you! So now imagine this: being the person responsible for providing that home feeling to an individual or family who so urgently needs it!

Here are three ways you can help:

Register Donations: We will be accepting cash donations at our registers throughout February 2016. Just tell your friendly cashier that you want to help! Donate $1, $5, or whatever amount you can afford- every dollar helps!

Product Donations: The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program is always looking for donations of essential household items. These include everything from shower curtains to laundry baskets to telephones to blankets to can openers, and pretty much everything in-between.

Volunteer: The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program is also always looking for volunteers! Opportunities abound for mentoring, teaching, providing transportation, setting up homes, and more!

For more information on the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, including a complete list of household items to donate and ways to volunteer, check out their website at RefugeesVermont.org and thank you for your help!

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Importer Spotlight: Indigenous Selections

By Wine Manager  •  Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Indigenous Selections is a specialized importer of Italian wines with a mission of showcasing captivating winemakers who produce outstanding, terroir-driven wines. All their producers employ traditional farming and harvesting methods, beautifully illustrating the potential and uniqueness of each grape variety. The wines they import are authentic expressions of Italian wines, and represent some great values.

0202001000892-1La Spinetta makes wines that reflect the magic of the terrain and vineyard, not the hand of the winemaker. They are dedicated to their vineyards, and treat them with the utmost care, attention, and respect. This means farming according to biodynamic principles, keeping yields extremely low, and harvesting all fruit by hand. This hard work and dedication shows in the depth and quality of their wines. We carry several of their wines, from both their properties in Piedmont and Tuscany.

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By using traditional methods in the vineyard and modern technology in the cellar, Bianca Vigna makes Prosecco and other sparkling wines that reflects the beauty and true representation of the Glera grape. The winery was founded in 2004 by the Moschetta and Cuzziol families who bonded over their passion for quality wine and food. Their sparkling wines are elegant, pure, and full of personality. We carry both their Prosecco and Spumante Rosa.

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The history of the Ciacci Piccolomini estate dates back to the 17th century. It is located in the village of Castelnuovo del Abate in the southeastern part of the Montalcino appellation. They own 200 hectares of land, 40 of which are planted to vines. They believe being good stewards of the land is not only good for the environment, but also results in the finest wines. They farm organically, all vineyard work is done by hand, yields are kept low, and cover crops are planted. They primarily grow Sangiovese, but they also have international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

If you are a lover of Italian wines, it is imperative that you pick up some of the fantastic wines imported by Indigenous Selections. Look for any of the wines featured here, or ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members to show you the full line of wines we carry from their portfolio. Salute!

 

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5 Recipes That Will Rock On Game Day!

By Erin McGuire  •  Thursday, January 28th, 2016

It’s time for the big game! Whether you’ve been watching the season avidly for months or you’re only tuning in to watch this one game (or even just have your TV on to catch those amazing commercials), it’s guaranteed you’ll be wanting something tasty to snack on. But before you reach for a bag of potato chips and a jar of pre-made French onion dip, think about this: wouldn’t you want to serve something epic for the most epic game of the year? Check out these football-friendly recipes that were inspired by the classics but are so very far from ordinary. (We even have hands-down the world’s best vegan answer to buffalo chicken. Seriously. It’s incredible.)

Cobb Salad Bites
1 package of bacon
2 eggs; hard-boiled, peeled, and diced
3 oz blue cheese; crumbled
1 small tomato; diced
3 oz grilled chicken; diced
½ cup lettuce; cut into small ribbons
¼ cup corn kernels
½ cup avocado
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Special Equipment: small cupcake pan tin foil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Take the small cupcake pan and spin a piece of bacon around the outer edge of each cup. Tuck the excess bacon left hanging down to cover the bottom, creating a cup. Use scraps of bacon to cover any holes in the base of each cup. Take a 6×6″ piece of tinfoil and crumple into a ball to fit cup. Place in center of bacon cup to prevent caving. Repeat for all cups. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Allow bacon cups to cool completely. Once cool assemble bites by adding lettuce, chicken, blue cheese, tomato, avocado, corn, and eggs into each cup. Make dressing by slowing pouring oil over Dijon in a small bowl, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until ingredients begin to emulsify and top the salad bites with the finished dressing.

 

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Pineapple & Mint Salsa Fresca
1 fresh pineapple; cored, peeled, and finely chopped
2 jalapenos; seeded and finely diced
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Can be made one day ahead and kept chilled. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Shawn’s Buffalo Cauliflower with Homemade Ranch
1 cup vegan mayo
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp each minced fresh dill and chives
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1 garlic clove
Pinch of cayenne
Black pepper, to taste
1 large cauliflower head; cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder
Non-stick spray
1 tsp vegan butter spread; melted
1/2 cup hot sauce

Preheat oven to 450°F. Make the ranch sauce by mixing the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, fresh herbs, garlic, cayenne and black pepper together in a small bowl and keep in refrigerator while you make the cauliflower. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, mix brown rice flour, water, salt and garlic powder together with a whisk. Dip cauliflower pieces into batter, evenly coating all sides, and place pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until batter has hardened, then flip with a spatula and bake for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make the buffalo sauce by mixing the vegan butter with hot sauce. Once the cauliflower is done, remove from oven and brush each piece with buffalo sauce. Bake cauliflower for another 8 10 minutes or until it’s crispy and the sauce looks absorbed. Remove from oven, let cool and serve with ranch.

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Guaca-Hummus Dip
2 ripe avocados; chopped
1 15-oz can chickpeas; rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 oz bacon; cooked & chopped (optional)
Red onion; finely diced (optional)

In a food processor, combine avocados, chickpeas, lime or lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin and coriander. Blend until combined. Continue blending and drizzle olive oil in until smooth and the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with bacon bits and red onion, if desired. Serve with pita chips, cucumber slices or sliced tomatoes.

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Heady Topper Chicken Wings
1.5- 2 lbs chicken wings
1/2 stick butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp habanero hot sauce
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup Heady Topper (or your favorite IPA)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place wings in a single layer on baking rack. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes or until crisp. Melt butter in sauce pan on medium-low. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, hot sauce, honey and beer and mix well. Salt to taste. Toss wings in sauce in a large bowl.

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Desserts for a Foolproof Valentine’s Day!

By Katy Kent  •  Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

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Want to do something special for your loved one this Valentine’s Day but short on time, energy, and/or ideas? Our Bake Shop is here for you! With an array of simply stunning professional-quality desserts that will be the cherry on top of your love-filled day, all you need to do is choose what you want, place your order, and pick it up! Valentine’s Day has never been easier (or more foolproof)! Pre-ordering is available through February 12th.

Pre-order online here, or give us a call at 518.306.4900.

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Desserts for a Foolproof Valentine’s Day!

By Katy Kent  •  Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

valentinesdaybake

Want to do something special for your loved one this Valentine’s Day but short on time, energy, and/or ideas? Our Bake Shop is here for you! With an array of simply stunning professional-quality desserts that will be the cherry on top of your love-filled day, all you need to do is choose what you want, place your order, and pick it up! Valentine’s Day has never been easier (or more foolproof)! Pre-ordering is available through February 12th.

Pre-order online here, or give us a call at 802.863.2569.

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Saratoga Beer Week!

By Saratoga Beer and Wine Manager  •  Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Saratoga Beer Week

 

Saratoga Beer Week is slowly creeping up on us! This year we have packed the week (besides Saturday, we know you’ll be at the Beer Summit!) with demos from breweries and cideries near and far! We’re excited to share our plans for the week with you.

-On Thursday, February 18th, Tina from Founders will be here pouring all Founders beers from 1pm to 3pm!
-On Friday, February 19th, we’ve got quite the amount of demos for you!
-Heidi from Browns Brewery will be here from 12pm-2pm
-Rich from Brooklyn Brewery will be here from 2pm-4pm
-Tyler from Citizen Cider will be here from 2pm-5pm
-Joe Turco from Bells Brewery will be here from 4pm-6pm
-Marc from Long Trail Brewing will be here from 4pm-6pm
 These are events not to miss out on! We’ll see you during Beer Week!

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Nose-to-Tail Butchery: The Return of an (Almost) Lost Art

By Erin McGuire  •  Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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Whole animal butchery is making a comeback nationwide and we couldn’t be happier about it. Butchers and chefs in restaurants and grocery stores alike (including yours truly) are bringing in whole pigs, sides of beef, venison, lamb, and more and then putting their prodigious knowledge, skill, and talent to work- with the assistance of some very sharp knives and saws- to separate and parcel out, a.k.a. “fabricate”, the different parts of the animals. It’s a lot of work (okay, that’s something of an understatement: hauling around and deconstructing a whole pig is a task that requires a huge amount of time, muscle, sweat, and patience) but the results are simply amazing.

One of the most wonderful aspects of nose-to-tail butchery is the minimal waste it produces: it is absolutely the most environmentally-friendly way to approach working with meat. After all, there is so much more to a pig (or lamb, etc.) than its muscles and there are so many ways to use all of the muscles, not just the ones deemed “prime”- there are organs and skin and bones and fat, all of which are useful ingredients that don’t need to be thrown away. Through whole-animal butchery, we’re able to make our own chicken and beef stocks, a variety of delicious fresh sausages, pâté, and other charcuterie because we’re following a no-waste model. In doing so, we’re doing our best to respect the animals, our farmers, our community, and our environment.

Another laudable feature of this kind of meat processing is its transparency. Our butchers are able to see as clearly as possible the quality of the meat we’re receiving because it’s still part of the animal’s anatomy when it comes in. Because of this, we’re able to pass on that transparency to you and can tell you all sorts of details about our products that your typical grocery store simply can’t. If knowing as much as possible about your food is important to you, this is the kind of meat you’ll want to purchase. We tour the farms, know the folks raising their animals, and frequent the slaughter houses where we have the chance to meet with USDA inspectors as well.

Here’s one more benefit of whole animal butchery: variety. In conventional grocery stores and restaurants, you can usually only choose from among the most common- and most expensive- cuts (think pork tenderloin, ribeye, etc.) With nose-to-tail processing, you can either stick with these or go home with a lesser-known cut (such as pork shoulder, oxtails, lamb shanks, etc.) and create something delicious for less money. You might need to use slightly different techniques (like braising or marinating) to achieve the flavor and texture you want, but you’ll still end up with something delectable.

If you don’t feel like trying your hand at anticuchos (grilled heart) yet, there’s no need to worry: we still offer traditional cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and more. But if you’re ready to join in the nose-to-tail revival, call us any time to special order whichever part of the animal you desire: our fantastic butchers will have it fabricated, wrapped, and ready to go for your new cooking adventures!

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What’s “Pro” About Probiotics?

By Erin McGuire  •  Friday, January 15th, 2016

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Have you ever wondered about all the fuss surrounding probiotics? They’ve been receiving A LOT of attention over the past decade and it looks like they’ll be sticking around, but what exactly are they and how do they work?  And let’s just cut to the chase: are they something you should be including in your diet?

Here’s a little crash course on probiotics to answer all those questions!

First off, what they are. Probiotics are live bacteria/microorganisms which benefit our bodies (“probiotic” refers to “promoting life”) by keeping our intestines’ naturally-occurring microorganisms in balance.  Although we tend to immediately assign a negative connotation to the word “bacteria”, they’re not all bad; in fact, probiotics are often referred to as “good” or even “friendly” bacteria!  (Awww.)  Our guts contain about 100 trillion intestinal microflora in a wide and complicated web made up of over 400 different bacterial species and they help keep us going strong.  Unfortunately, the balance of the bacterial communities (the good vs. the bad) in our intestines sometimes isn’t so hot: sometimes the bacteria which aren’t doing us any good outweigh the ones which are and sometimes, especially if we’ve taken a round of antibiotics, there are hardly any bacteria in there at all.  In either case, probiotics either replace or add to the levels of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Now, how they work. Probiotics support our bodies in two ways: they aid in digesting food effectively and efficiently and they help healthy immune responses.   When your digestive tract is healthy, it’s doing a good job of moving things along and removing anything that’s potentially harmful from your body (like toxins, chemicals, or bad bacteria) along with other waste products.  Good bacteria play a critical role in regulating these processes so when you take a probiotic, you add to the communities of good bacteria which help your body reap what it needs and get rid of what it doesn’t.  Probiotics also play a huge role in our immune system, which is responsible for protecting us against disease- and infection-causing pathogens (a.k.a. germs, a.k.a. bad microorganisms).  When your body doesn’t have enough of the goodies to respond to the invading baddies, your immune system can’t function properly and provide the protection you want.

So to sum this all up, probiotics are helpful bacteria which keep your gut in line and help your immune system and if they sound like something you want to incorporate into your life (and really, why wouldn’t you?), read on!

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There are two ways to get the probiotics you need: either taking them as a supplement or receiving them through foods which are probiotic. Probiotics in supplement form are available as either capsules or liquids and they are simply a strong, healthy dose of the beneficial microorganisms.  Many people choose to consume probiotics as a supplement because it’s fantastically easy: with just a couple seconds set aside in your daily routine to take a capsule or swig an ounce of liquid, you’re providing your body with a powerful dose (we’re talking billions of bacteria)!

Which is better: capsule or liquid? Then again, which among each category is the best?  There’s not a clear answer.  As any probiotic maker worth his salt will tell you, you should find the product that works best for you.  Everybody can benefit from probiotics but every body is different, so you might end up trying several out before you find the one that suits your system best.  This may even boil down to finding the one which you actually take because any probiotic is better than no probiotic.  One general  tip: aim for diversity.  The more different cultures you have, the better.  (True for probiotics, true for the world.)

If the idea of taking a supplement doesn’t work for you, we have good news: many delicious foods- which you might already be eating!- are naturally probiotic! Take a look at this list for some tasty options, ranging from beverages to condiments, you could add to your meal plan…

yogurt (we especially like local favorites Butterworks Farm, Maple Hill Creamery, & Rogers Farmstead)
kefir
kimchi (with tons of local options from which to choose including Flack Family Farm, Vermont Probiotics, Sunja’s, and the Healthy Living Foodie Pitch Competition winner: Sobremesa!)
sauerkraut
miso (if you’ve never tried the mellow red variety crafted by VT’s own Rhapsody Natural Foods, it would be a fantastic place to start)
sour cream
kombucha (you can’t go wrong with local legend Aqua Vitea, available in both bottles and bulk!)

Try adding miso to a homemade salad dressing and tossing it with shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions, and peanuts for a delicious Asian salad. Looking for an extraordinary way to enjoy kimchi?  Check out this recipe for kimchi pancakes.  If you like Reuben sandwiches, ask for extra sauerkraut to up the probiotic content!

There are so many easy ways to give your body a probiotic boost and the benefits of these beneficial bacteria are just too good to pass up. We highly recommend making them part of your happy, healthy new year!

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Try some probiotic-filled foods that are on sale now!

LOCAL! Aqua Vitea Kombucha: 2 for $6 *through 1/26
Kevita Kombuch: 2 for $5
Lifeway Kefir: Save $.50
Wallaby Greek Yogurt: Save $.49
Liberte Yogurt: Save $.40
Sales good through 2/2/16

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