Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blue Mountain Foods Enters a New Age.


Blue Mountain Foods

64 West Center Street
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone: (435) 587-2727 or 2451


Hours of Operation:  Monday thru Saturday  8am – 9pm, Closed Sundays


In June 2017, the owner of Blue Mountain Foods, and former mayor of Monticello, Doug Allen, heard the call of retirement.  He heeded that call by handing the reins and ownership over to his daughter, Stacy, and her husband, Jeremy Young.  The Youngs are no strangers to Monticello or Blue Mountain Foods, as they grew up in this small town, and worked at the store.  As Jeremy puts it, “food markets are in their blood”.

By the way, Jeff Allen, Stacy's brother, is the third partner in the new ownership.  He is sort of the "silent partner" and enjoys being behind the scenes.

They weren’t always in Monticello and prior to moving back, had resided in the Lone Star State of Texas for 13 years.  However, Monticello was calling and it was, and always will be, home.  This hometown couple, married 22 years, raising a family, found another need to be “food aware”, food allergies affected, not only themselves, but family and friends.  As they talked more and more with, not just locals, but tourists visiting the area, food allergies and illnesses seemed to be becoming a major issue.  Label reading and researching became a must; as Jeremy states, “Blue Mountain Foods is a fun place to be a foodie”.  So no wonder, during my interview with this friendly, lovely couple, we hit if off so well, we were foodies!

Jeremy and Stacy also believe that listening to their customers is a key factor for a successful business.  New items and brands were introduced to Blue Mountain Food’s shelves, many gluten free and vegetarian/vegan friendly.  Jeremy acknowledges that, “In this time where online food shopping is easy, less costly and more convenient; it is hurting the supermarket industry which have to now find ways to compete to stay in business.”





































Another huge change is the loss of the Western Family brand that had been on the shelves for over 50 years.  This brand pulled out of Associated Foods, the main supplier to Blue Mountain Foods, prior brand was Best Way, and it would have been too costly to switch suppliers to keep Western Family.  So the Youngs stayed with Associated Foods and have switched to the Food Club brand, which has been on supermarket shelves for over 100 years!  Beginning April 4th, a two week case lot sale of Western Family brand will be the ending of an over half century relationship.  Food Club brand will then be adorning the shelves with their green labeled products.

 















But wait, there’s more change in store (yes, pun was intended) for Blue Mountain Food’s loyal customers.  Online meal kits (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and others) have become a huge seller, not just for guaranteed freshness, but ease of preparation.  Blue Mountain Foods has teamed up with Home Table to offer 3-4 weekly choices for your evening meal pleasure.  These meals can be ordered in advance or simply walk-in, make your choice and buy to try.  A few examples are: Chicken Fajitas, Chicken Pot Pie, Pork Yakisoba or Salmon Quinoa.  Currently the meals offered only offer a service of two at $15/kit.  Unlike the online meal kits that lock in consumers to a mandatory weekly delivery, Home Table will be buy as you need.

This foodie will definitely be trying out a couple of kits and will be reporting about the experience at a later date.

The Youngs are very interested in the “Shop Small, Shop Local” movement, especially the introduction of “cottage businesses” to San Juan County.  At home cooks will be licensed to prepare, package and sell to individuals, as well as small shops within the area.  For example, wouldn’t you rather have pure, delicious, locally produced honey than something shipped in from China?  Guess what, that product from China isn’t even real honey, it’s flavored syrup!  Another reason to join us foodies in reading labels and knowing for certain what you are truly consuming.

Expansion for Blue Mountain Foods is looming on the horizon, either for the current location on West Center Street, or the purchase of a larger property in Monticello.  For the Youngs, they are focused on hometown roots and loyalty; on bringing in products locally sourced, fresh and healthy; helping people deal with food allergies and illnesses; and most important of all, listening to their customers, whether local or visitor. 























Best wishes to Stacy, Jeremy and Jeff; let’s all of us help them achieve their goals!

Mary Cokenour






Sunday, April 8, 2018

Who Offed the Ham and Beans?


March came in like a lion, roaring with fierce winds; covering the landscape with snow that turned to ice under the hot rays of the sun.  Mid-month, March became a bipolar version of Mother Nature; some days warm enough to go without a jacket or long sleeved shirt; some days making us wonder if we could ever turn off the furnaces in our homes.  The question now is, with the end of March, will it end like a meek little lamb lying in a field scented with blossoming wild flowers?

So, it’s no wonder that on a wind chilled weekend, I would find myself prepping beans for an overnight soaking.  The next day pouring them into a crock pot with water, vegetables and chopped up, baked ham to make a hearty ham and bean soup.   During the long wait, my mind began to wander over the origin of this soup.  Warning, my mind is a huge game of trivial pursuit; constantly full of questions and the gathering of answers.  Is it any wonder that my favorite genre of reading is mysteries?  The gathering up of clues to answer the questions of “Who Done It?”, “Why?”, “How?” before the reveal in the final chapters.

John Egerton, a historian and writer of Southern foods, based the origin on the African slaves in the Appalachian Mountain states of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.  To survive, they made due with whatever foods their “owners” grudgingly bestowed on them, namely white beans, ham hocks, collard greens, onions.  After the Civil War and the freeing of all slaves, many fled to the northern states, finding employment as cleaning and cooking staff.  On the menu of the United States Senate, even served today, is a ham and bean soup credited to the black Southerners.  Of course, the House of Representatives could not be outdone, so have their own version, without onions.

There you go, through brilliant deduction (Sherlock Holmes would be so proud!) the mystery of “Who Offed the Ham and Beans?” has been solved, and now for the recipe.  I chose to make this soup in a crock pot for convenience; that way it could cook, I could get chores and assignments done, and not worry over the pot.  I soaked the beans in cold water overnight which would allow them to cook up nice and tender, but also make them less gassy.  Now that’s a good thing!



 Ham and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

Ingredients:
 
1 and ½ cups white beans (aka Great Northern)
1 and ½ cups pinto beans
Cold water to cover
8 additional cups cold water for cooking. (see note)
1 cup each chopped onions, carrots, celery and potatoes
1 tsp. salt (see note)
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. each dried basil and oregano
2 cups chopped cooked ham (leftover spiral sliced ham is what I used)

Preparation:

Place beans in a large bowl, add water to cover them, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let soak overnight (minimum 12 hours).

Next day, drain beans and add to 6-quart crock pot; add in all other listed ingredients.  Cover, set on low for 8- 10 hours (beans are tender), or high for 4-6 hours.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper is needed.






Note:  if using vegetable broth instead of water to cook, do not add in 1 teaspoon of salt; taste after cooking and add if needed.

Makes 10 servings.

Mary Cokenour

















Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Make Mine a Pop’s Burrito.


Pop's Burritos

148 South Main Street (Hwy 191 South)
Blanding, Utah, 84511

Phone: (435) 678-2413

Website: http://popsburritos.com/

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday 6AM–8PM
Friday - Saturday 6AM–9PM
Sunday Closed
























In 2016, David E. Seiter opened up Pop’s Burritos with the idea of bringing fresh flavors and tastes of Mexico to San Juan County, namely in Blanding.  Now his small shop, Pop’s Burritos, has become the go to place for “Good Food – Good Friends – Good Times” as one of his many plaques read.













Stepping inside gets you an immediate “Welcome, and How can we help you?” from the friendly staff.   Breakfast offers up tasty burritos and bowls of meat, eggs and potatoes; or that all-time favorite, biscuits and gravy.  Lunch and dinner is a, what else, burrito; made any way you like it with a variety of meats, rice, vegetables and condiments.  The most popular with the locals are chicken and sweet pork, so we tried both and fully understand why.  The burritos are packed, and I’m talking loaded, with yummy goodness; succulent meats, a fresh assortment of vegetables, white or brown rice and beans.  Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you…let’s leave the ending to the imagination, shall we?



Smothered Chicken Burrito


Sweet Pork Burrito

We had a luncheon threesome with our buddy, Andy Platt, and he says when he’s needing a burrito, he’ll drive on down from Monticello to Pop’s.  Why not!?!  The sweet pork, chicken and steak are so tender, juicy and full of flavor; combined with a variety of fixings makes the eating experience out of this county!  Seating is available at tables, or counter and stools by the windows; we people watched as we, literally, stuffed our mouths.

The shop was busy with diners eating in, or taking out; while we decided on meals, a long line formed behind us.  Does Pop’s only offer up burritos?  Oh no, cheesy quesadillas, salads with your choice of ingredients, nachos and even a menu for the kids.  Vegans don’t distress, you will also enjoy the offerings available. 





Owner, David is a hands on guy in the kitchen and prep areas, but also makes the rounds with customers.  He is quite proud of his accomplishment and kudos to him on the success of Pop’s Burritos.  So, stop on by and pick one up, but be careful, they can be quite a handful.

Mary Cokenour














Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Yummy Mediterranean at Yummy Town.

Yummy Town Food Truck
83 S. Main Street
Moab, UT 84532

Phone: (970) 799-3720

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/yummytownfoodtruck/






There’s nothing like a meat/veggie packed pita dripping with tzatziki sauce, but where to purchase one?  Answer is solved, and so is the craving for Mediterranean food at Yummy Town Food Truck.  Primarily located in Moab (parking lot next to Eddie McStiff Plaza), it is the pride and joy of owners Joelle Riddle and Max Schon.  They opened up July 2017, have developed a loyal following, often traveling to events within San Juan County and the entire 4 Corners region as well.


Yummy Town caters to, and yes, they do catering, carnivores as well as vegetarians with recipes spanning Greece to Spain.  The food products used are locally sourced from farms; meats are hormone and antibiotic free.  Joelle and Max love what they do; making fresh foods daily for breakfast and lunch; yes, it’s all homemade! 


Tzatziki sauce and hummus smooth and creamy, full of rich flavor that every drop is licked up.  Pork shoulder is the primary meat used for gyro making; roasted for tender meat and crispy edges.  Falafel are pureed and seasoned garbanzo beans, fried (olive oil only) to crispy perfection and so tantalizingly good dipped in hummus.  Are you drooling yet!?!





Still skeptical that Mediterranean food is to your taste?  Besides being amazingly delicious, it’s healthy and heart friendly.  Don’t just take my word on this, the Mayo Clinic endorses it, “The Mediterranean diet emphasizes: Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.”  With any food culture/diet, it’s all a matter of balance and moderation for the most part.  Therefore…

Thinking the sweet tooth will get jilted, not so!  Breakfast offers a coffee cake made with Greek yogurt, cardamom spice, walnuts and pistachios; lightly sweet and moist.  Baklava for a lunch time dessert is buttered filo (also spelled phyllo) dough, walnuts, pistachios, orange lavender syrup.





Yummy Town also offers a unique drink called a “Shrub”, and here is the description from their website (https://www.yummytownfoodtruck.com/): “Shrubs are an ancient method of preserving abundant harvests of fruit and vegetables by macerating them with sugar, adding vinegar, and letting the mixture develop with time. Yummy Town uses organic cane sugar, high quality vinegar, and local produce, mixed with carbonated water and lots of ice, to create refreshing combinations like raspberry and golden beet, kumquat and mint, or peach and basil; and our shrubs pair wonderfully with the bold flavors of the Mediterranean.”
We wondered what a fruit drink made with vinegar would be like and were surprised that it was actually quite refreshing.



Whether you’re in, or visiting Moab, make sure to take a Yummy Town food break; look for them around the 4 Corners area and especially at the Founders Day and Fry Bread Festival in Bluff, Utah this April.

Mary Cokenour







Sunday, March 11, 2018

No More Egg Peeling.


Hard boiled eggs are versatile little foods; snacks; cutting up to place in a salad; chop up, add mayonnaise and wallah, lunch sandwich; and most especially delicious, Deviled Eggs.  Oh, but the peeling of the shell off the eggs, what a chore!  Either they come off easily, or the eggs end up looking like Freddy Krueger peeled them with his claws.  I know, I know, rinse them in cool water; no, peel them while still hot; no, wait an hour before peeling; no, prick a hole at the ends and release the air before boiling; no…well you get it, everyone has a method.

Occasionally I do product reviews, either I’m truly impressed by something new, or it’s truly a rip-off.  When I saw the “As Seen on TV” commercial for Egglettes, I knew immediately I would have to buy and try.  Egglettes are silicon cups with hard plastic, screw on lids; crack open the eggs, drop into the cups (one per cup), screw the lids on tightly, drop into boiling water and let cook designated times for the type of egg you like  - soft, medium or hard boiled.  There are recipes for making Eggs Benedict, Frittata, Egg Salad and those beloved Deviled Eggs.

Seems like more work than boiling the eggs in water?  Eggs are made up of a lot of protein; when exposed to heat from boiling water, the molecular bonds of the amino acids inside these proteins change shape.  This thermodynamic process causes the egg white and yolk to harden.  If you have ever boiled eggs in their shells, this chemical change can cause the egg white to stick to the inside of the shell, making it tough to remove without wasting time and creating a heck of a mess.

  
It took two weeks, but I received my set of 6 Egglettes, plus free microwave cooking bowl for omelets; first step was to thoroughly wash in hot soapy water.  Then came play time, while water was beginning to boil in a pot on the stovetop, each Egglettes interior got a light spray of nonstick cooking spray, butter flavored.  Each large egg was cracked open, deposited into a cup, tightly sealed and placed into, by now, boiling water.  Timer was set for 12 minutes for medium boiled, pot covered and a bowl of cold water sat waiting.  After the timer dinged, the Egglettes went into the cold water, just like most folks would do with eggs in a shell.  Ah, but now for the easy opening; untwist the cap, run the tip of a knife around the egg’s top edge and squeeze the bottom of the cup…POP, goes the eggy! 





Medium boiled, no peeling, ready to eat and clean-up is hot, soapy water; hubby made a breakfast of toasted English muffin, cheese and eggs on top.  Just a little salt and pepper on top and I was happy just munching on these luscious morsels of eggy goodness.  Now an issue that some reviewers have is that the eggs are flat on one side.  So, if you want those pretty Deviled Eggs with rounded points at both ends, don’t rely on this product for that dish; or put a garnish at the flat end and pretty it up.

Store Cooked Eggs Up to 2 Days in Refrigerator.

So, how much did this want of convenience cost me?  One set of six Egglettes is priced at $14.99, plus $3.99 S&H. Each order comes with a bonus microwave egg sandwich/omelet cooker, free recipe booklet and 60-day refund policy, less S&H, which you can request by calling customer service at (855) 355-0416. To order online, go to: www.getegglettes.com/

The company that offers this product is Idea Village, based out of Wayne, NJ and has been manufacturing “As Seen on TV” products since 2009.  Some of their top-reviewed products include Copper Fit, Yes! by Finishing Touch, Micro Touch One Razor, and Snackeez.  Idea Village held an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, based on four consumer reviews and nearly 100 closed complaints, as of 1/22/18.  Most of these appeared to revolve around products that didn’t meet expectations, along with difficulty obtaining refunds. A representative responded in each instance with positive results though.  Now while the company is based in New Jersey, the products they sell are made in China.  I contacted Idea Village to find out why they do not manufacture in the United States, but no one could give me an answer; no matter how many times I got switched to another department.  So much for a positive result.

There you have it, a review on a product which makes dealing with hard boiled eggs easier for me.  …and as I watch the snow, for the entire winter, falling today on Monticello, Utah; an egg salad sandwich is sounding good about now.

Mary Cokenour