Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's for Dinner?

It's the end of the month, and money might be tight.  No need to forego a really tasty meal.  Cooking at home is far less expensive than dining out, and you don't have to be a talented chef to stir fry some beef tips with chopped veggies.  They cook very quickly and are very tender and flavorful.   Here are some menu ideas for the USDA Choice-grade beef sirloin tips that you can pick up here at Homer Village Market in the refrigerated case.

  •  If you like an Oriental-style stir fry, use a heavy frying pan to brown the meat with some tender veggies of your choice (thinly sliced broccoli, zucchini, onions, carrots). Soy sauce and sesame oil make a nice flavor.  If you have black bean sauce, even better (you can buy all three at our store).  Add some mushrooms or chopped veggies of your choice, and serve this over rice.  Deglaze the pan with a little water and thicken with a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with cold water.
  • If you prefer American style, use some savory spices/herbs (paprika, thyme, parsley or just salt and pepper), and serve over any style of potato--baked, mashed, or hash browns.  You don't have to have any special gravy or sauce on hand so long as you have a little bit of flour or corn starch as a thickener.  You could simply "deglaze" your frying pan with a little bit of water or broth to make a sauce.  Beer works nicely too with beef! A nice flavoring to have on hand for beef would be a few drops of worcestershire sauce.
  • You could also season the beef tips with salt and pepper (paprika is nice), then brown them quickly in some olive oil and serve over buttered noodles.  If you like cream sauce, you could make your own (and avoid a lot of extra sodium) or simply open a can of cream-style soup.   Sour cream is a nice addition to a sauce for beef and noodles.  If you like onions, sauté them along with the beef.  If you like peas, add cooked peas to the noodle mixture when ready to serve.  Very pretty with peas....
  • Here's a fun and quick way to use these tender beef tips in a burrito-style sandwich.  Brown the beef in a pan.  If you like onions or green peppers or hot peppers, chop some and add those to the pan first since the meat cooks quickly.  Garlic is a nice seasoning.   Simply warm some burrito-size flour tortillas and use the beef-veggie stir fry as your filling.  Top with your favorite cheese and some chopped tomatoes or lettuce, if you like.  Roll up the filled tortillas and enjoy! If you want it to taste like a Mexican-style burrito, be sure to have some taco or burrito seasoning on hand when you brown the beef (cumin, chili powder, paprika work well together with a little salt and oregano).
  • One last idea.  Get a 2 or 3 quart pot and place some sautéed onions, carrots, and celery in the pot and some diced potatoes.  Cover with water  seasoned with salt and pepper (or broth), and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are almost tender (about 15 minutes).  Meanwhile, season and then brown the beef tips on med-high heat in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Add the browned beef to the soup pot when the veggies are almost tender.  Get the flavorful bits from the frying pan by "deglazing" the pan with a cup of water, and add those pan juices to the soup pot.  Simmer to blend the flavors for about 3-5 minutes, do not boil.   If you like more of a tomato base to your soup, add a spoonful of tomato paste or ketchup when the soup is nearly ready.  If you want a more hearty soup, add some kidney beans (or green beans if you are watching your carbs).
Hope these ideas have inspired you to try some quick meals at home.  These menu ideas work well with chicken also, including leftover chicken.  When working with raw chicken, however, be sure to cook it thoroughly after you brown it (165 degrees in center).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Harvest Time

The frost is on the pumpkin patch, and the area farmers began last week to harvest their corn and soybean crops.   Farming machinery roars by the store on its way to the fields, and trucks overflowing with grain pass by as they head to the local feed mill.

As the sun goes down, look in the direction of a distant hum, and you can see the thrashing dust on the horizon as the harvesters make their way through the rows of corn.   The farmers spend long hours in the fields at harvest time, often well into the night's darkness.

Herds of deer are running for cover during the harvest.  During the pre-dawn hours, they go back to the fields to forage for spilled grain and remnants of crops left behind by the equipment.   Hunters, chilled to the bone, sitting in trees along the field boundaries, are waiting for sunrise to get a good shot with their bows and arrows.   Those poor, unsuspecting deer!

Meanwhile, back at the store, we have hot coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, and of course many cold, refreshing beverages for the weary farmers and their helpers.  Sandwiches, snacks, and a friendly smile await them at the Homer Village Market.

If you are back at the house, waiting for your hungry men to come home for dinner, feel free to stop by the store to see what we have to make a hearty and satisfying meal in a hurry.  And remember to pick up some snacks for his tractor ride tomorrow!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Beer and Wine for Carryout

Did that title get your attention? 

Homer Village Market is located in a "dry" township, Burlington Township, in Licking County, Ohio.  People living in this community have to travel at least 2 miles but usually 4 or more miles to find a place to buy a bottle of wine or a pack of beer.

Burlington Township is a sprawling, rural area covering about 25 square miles.  Homer Village Market is located in the far northwestern edge of the Township, about twenty miles from the county seat, Newark, but only three miles south of the Knox County boundary.  State Route 661, the highway that intersects with the store's Homer Road address,  is a busy road with many commuters between Granville and Mount Vernon and those traveling further north to Interstate 71, Mansfield, Loudenville, or Bellville.

Even with all that traffic, the sparsely populated, unincorporated community of Homer and the surrounding rural neighborhoods do not provide enough business for Homer Village Market to make a profit selling groceries and cold pop.   Over the years, many people have asked for beer and wine and wonder when it will be offered.   Many people state that is the reason they do not shop at the store as much as they would otherwise, because they have to go into town "anyhow" for beer or wine.

Beer and wine is relatively expensive, so this is not something people normally stock in their pantries to last them all month.  Most people who consume beer or wine will shop for it daily or weekly rather than stocking a month's supply.   Homer Village Market is missing all of those taxable sales, and instead customers are taking their business elsewhere and picking up their groceries at the same time.

Maybe I'm hardheaded, but I didn't believe my suppliers when they told me it would not be possible to make a profit in a convenience store without alcohol sales.  After more than seven years in business here, I have to finally admit they were right. That is why I am finally going to the voters to ask for permission to add beer and wine to the shelves and coolers at the Homer Village Market!  I will be very grateful to the voters if the issues pass, so the store can continue operating and serving the people who have come to rely on its convenience!

If you are registered to vote in Burlington Township (Licking County, Ohio), please VOTE YES on the two local ballot questions regarding (1) beer and wine carryout and (2) beer carryout on Sundays.  Thank you!