The Local Grocer

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Posted 11/4/2015 6:06pm by Erin Caudell.

By now everyone knows that greens are good for you. And the media has drilled into our heads the knowledge that any lettuce or green is more nutritious than iceberg lettuce. Greens are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. They are great at improving digestion and keeping blood sugar low too.

There are lots of different salad mixes available out there for discriminating palates, like spring mixes, herb mixes and blends with sturdier greens. By adding herbs and greens other than lettuce to the mix, even more nutritional health benefits can be added to our dinner salad. The Local Grocer is carrying a new salad blend called Detox Mix. Fall, like spring, is a good time to cleanse the body. By adding sorrel, dandelion greens, parsley and cilantro to the regular salad mix of cress, red romaine, tat soi and arugula, your body is receiving some extra detox help. Dandelion supports cleansing of the liver, parsley is a blood purifier, and cilantro has compounds that bind to heavy metals so your body can more easily release them. Adding all of these greens together makes for a delicious and healthful food to serve with any meal.

Posted 10/27/2015 8:24pm by Erin Caudell.

It's winter squash time! The ever popular butternut, acorn and spaghetti squashes pair so well with spices that taste just like autumn. There are dozens of other varieties and they all have their subtle differences. Delicata Squash is definitely worth trying, especially if you dislike dealing with the tough outer layer of a butternut squash. The delicata's name is a clue to the fact that its skin is more delicate and easier to manage.  It's smaller than most varieties of squash and is oblong and best when the rind is yellow with green stripes, and it also has the similar sweet flavor of butternut or sweet potato. Some recipes suggest it's alright to leave the rind on and eat after cooking. This squash can be microwaved for a quick side dish, as well as roasted or sautéed. If you want to cut the delicata squash before cooking you can even scrape out the seeds and roast them like you would pumpkin seeds.  It's loaded with beta carotene to help boost your immune system and ward off any winter colds too. If you like low effort and big flavor food, this squash is for you.  


Microwave Delicata Squash


Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds.  Place in microwave safe container and add 1/4 cup water before covering.  Microwave for 10 minutes on high.


When done slather with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon or brown sugar and enjoy!

Posted 10/14/2015 10:37am by Erin Caudell.

Food fads have a way of redefining things that have been around for a long time. For those currently test driving the paleo diet, bone broth is a staple and there are lots of different recipes. So what's the difference between broth, stock, and bone broth? defines the differences from a culinary education perspective noting that broth is the simmering of meat and vegetables, stock is the simmering of bones and vegetables for a longer time than broth, bone broth can be a hybrid of broth and stock using meat and bones to simmer for an even longer period of time to extract collagen and minerals. The vegetables used are the classic mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion) and herbs are often tossed in too. There is very little difference in store bought broths and stocks. Making it is so easy and affordable that it's worth giving it a try.

Albert Burneko at Foodspin reminds us that historically broth is the food of the poor that need to extract every last bit of nutrition from what food is available to them. Even if we are using what we have available on hand to make stock, Alton Brown emphasizes that the stock pot is not a garbage can.

Margie, of Margie's Gluten Free Pantry in Fenton, gave me my first bone broth recipe. Her recommendation to include the sea vegetable kombu not only enhances the umami of the recipe but adds loads of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and iodine. Iodine helps remove heavy metals from the body, and fucoidan in kombu protects us from radiation. In addition to the healing properties of "grandma's chicken soup", kombu seems to be a beneficial addition.

Here is one way very simple way to make chicken stock in your crock pot. Endless tinkering with this recipe is completely up to you.

Crock Pot Chicken Stock

1 - whole roasted chicken's bones and carcass

1 - 4 inch piece of kombu Sprinkle of your favorite no salt seasoning

Enough water to cover chicken

Place chicken, kombu and no salt seasoning in crock pot. Cover completely with water by an extra 2 inches. Set crock pot to high for one hour, then turn down to low for at least 3 hours. Can be heated for 8 hours or more. The longer it cooks the richer the stock will be. Stop cooking if bones disintegrate. Strain solids out liquid. Throw away solids. Cool stock in refrigerator, keeps for up to a week. Freezes well.



Posted 10/9/2015 10:31am by Erin Caudell.

When you rely on a mix or starter to get your dinner going, it can throw you into a tailspin when it’s sold out or no longer available.  This week I had a craving for pho, a popular Vietnamese street food consisting of broth, noodles and meat.  I had some leftover rotisserie chicken and lots of veggies and herbs on hand, so I went in search of Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Pho Soup Starter (they also have a vegetarian version).  Every store I frequent didn’t have it.  I didn’t want to order it, because I had the ingredients and wanted to make it now. 

A quick web search for pho recipes yielded a nice match for my on hand ingredients at thekitchn. The best part of cooking is the freedom to improvise.  Using what spices I had on hand, switching from beef to chicken, and replacing noodles with kale to have a grain free dinner resulted in exactly the flavors I was searching for in a ready made box.  Sometimes it really feels good to do it yourself. 

Pho Soup Base 

2 Tbsp. sesame or sunflower oil

2 small onions diced

4 inches of ginger minced

2 whole star anises

3 whole cinnamon sticks

3 whole cloves

1 – 32oz box chicken, beef or veggie stock

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 carrots cut into thin coins 

Dry roast the star anise, cinnamon and cloves in pan over medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes, set aside.  In stock pot, or very large sauté pan, sauté onions and ginger on medium heat in oil for 5 – 7 minutes. Add star anises, cinnamon and cloves to mixture for 1 minute.  Then add broth and carrots. If adding left over rotisserie chicken add it now. Simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Strain out whole spices before serving. (You can also strain out the onions and ginger, but I like to eat them in my soup.) 

If adding noodles, prepare them separately according to package’s instructions. Add cooked noodles after broth is finished cooking. Or replace noodles with sturdy greens, like kale, and add to last 10 minutes of broth simmering. 

Pho is usually served with some combination of toppings at the table that include scallions, lime, cilantro, bean sprouts or chili peppers. 

Posted 10/2/2015 8:36pm by Erin Caudell.

We’ve just finished 16 glorious weeks of nature’s harvest in a box ready to pick up each Thursday with little decision making other than what recipe to use when making dinner.  When CSA season ends, our shopping habits go through a major shift.  We don’t eat what we have on hand, instead we go get what we need to prepare our meals.  For some of us it means a shift back to the grocery store, but it is still possible to eat plenty of fresh local produce and other Michigan made products this fall and winter.  

If you noticed the last few weeks at our shop in the market, there are a greater variety of greens again.  Those grow great in cooler weather and some greens taste even sweeter after a few nights of frost.  With our hoop houses it is possible to have greens throughout the fall and into winter. Some of the things that people love best about fall, like apples and pumpkins are coming into market now.  Even the ultimate fall feast, Thanksgiving, highlights the bounty of local fall produce: potatoes, pumpkin pie, cranberries, winter squashes and yams.  CSA may be over until next June (check out our website in March to sign up), but The Local Grocer is open all year long inside The Flint Farmer’s Market.

Posted 9/25/2015 8:13pm by Erin Caudell.

Mean Mr. Mustard is seriously misunderstood. This hot, spicy, sharp and bitter tasting green is a soul food staple and also popular with Asian cuisine. It looks a bit like kale but with brilliant and crispy leaves. Mustard greens not only have a potent flavor, they are potent sources of beta carotene, vitamins B, C, and E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Only the tender baby leaves are eaten raw in salads, the larger leaves are best braised or sautéed. Store mustards in the fridge in a plastic bag, and rinse them like other greens changing the water until no grit settles to the bottom of the bowl.

Soy-Braised Mustard Greens

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)

1 pound mustard greens

2 tbsp. peanut oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger

Combine soy sauce and mirin in a bowl and set aside. Wash greens, strip off the leafy green portion from the tough stalk. Discard stalks and rip leaves into small pieces. Heat oil in large sauté pan. Add garlic and ginger and sauté over medium high heat for about 30 seconds. Add greens and stir to coat with oil for about 30 seconds. Add soy mixture, cover pan, reduce heat and cook, stirring once, until greens are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove cover and simmer briskly until excess liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Jack Bishop's Vegetables Everday

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)