Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

We're catching our breath today after a busy Thanksgiving week. It was encouraging to see so many people shopping for their fresh produce and turkeys at Findlay Market. Wednesday was the biggest day of the week---comparable to our normal Saturday, but Tuesday was really good, too. Biggest sellers for us were sweet potatoes---We sold well over a half ton!
We're regrouping tomorrow and planning for the next 3 weeks leading up to Christmas. We'll have all of your holiday needs including cranberries, brussel sprouts, parsnips, cabbage, oranges, and pears, as well as all of our normal stock like several varieties of onions and potatoes. If you don't see something you need, just ask and we'll do our best to fulfill your requests.
Don't forget we have our covered tents now so we're open rain or shine. Also we'll be adding side panels and heaters to the tents as the weather gets colder so don't let cooler temps discourage you from shopping at Findlay Market.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Great Grapes!

As we try to find our niche at Findlay Market, we've quickly determined that we have two kinds of customers. We have the neighborhood folks that buy in small quantities, shop often, and look for a good deal. We also have the "foodies" that seem to buy more items at one time, might only shop once a week or so, and look for specialty foods for a certain recipe they are preparing.
At Daisy Mae's, we're trying to fill both needs. For instance, we usually stock several kinds of grapes. The "everyday" grape we have today is small, red, and seedless and currently sells for $1.50/lb. We also have "Holiday" grapes today. These grapes are also red and seedless, but they are almost as round as a quarter and extra-delicious. They sell today for $2.50/lb. Both grapes are good and each serve their purpose depending on budget and personal preference.
Grapes, like all produce, are perishable. At Daisy Mae's, when we feel a product is not up to our quality standards, we move it to our "Bargain Bin." There, it's priced accordingly, and someone will find it fits their budget and needs. At Daisy Mae's, there's something for everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

We've got some nice things stocked for the pre-Thanksgiving rush. Tomorrow should be an absolutely beautiful fall day so we're gearing up for big crowds at Findlay Market. We've got plenty of sweet potatoes (regular and jumbo) for those folks getting a head start on cooking. We've also got several kinds of squash including butternut squash and spaghetti squash for special seasonal dishes. We've got plenty of peppers as usual---red, yellow, green, orange...not to mention the hot peppers like the poblanos and the jalapenos. We also have some less common items like pomegranates, kiwi, fingerling potatoes, and flat-leaf parsley...and some gorgeous eggplant. Of course, we always have all the regular items like several kinds of apples, celery, onions, lemons and limes, and more.
Stop by for all your Thanksgiving produce. Don't forget we're open on Sunday, too...
Special hours for Thanksgiving week are listed below:
Monday: 9-3:30
Tuesday: 9-dark
Wednesday: 9-dark
Thursday and Friday: Closed to be with family.
Saturday: 8-dark
Sunday 10-4
Daisy Mae's is open rain or shine. Come see our new covered tents!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little Rain Never Hurt Us

Today was our first rainy day since we opened at Findlay Market. Due to some excellent planning by Barry and Jeff, they set up our tents yesterday. We got lots of compliments about the bright colors and the cool effect. Barry thought people tended to linger longer and walk around the whole stand because the tents give you a "finished" almost-indoor feel. Traffic, in general, was down because of the rain...but I'm anxious to see how the weekend crowd takes to the new look.
No matter what, we're keeping our rainbow umbrellas...They've become our "signature."

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Tell If a Melon is Ripe?

Everyone wants to know how to choose a honeydew melon or a cantaloupe. The best clues to ripeness are color and fragrance. A cantaloupe that is ready to eat will be a golden color. A honeydew melon will be a light yellow, cream, or even whitish in color when it is ripe. If either melon has a greenish tint, it's probably not yet ripe. Both fruits will have a distinct sweet fragrance at room temperature.
Both cantaloupe and honeydew should give a little when pressed gently with your fingers. The honeydew, in particular, should be slightly soft at the end away from where the stem was attached. It's also possible to shake a melon when testing for ripeness. If you hear the rattle of seeds, the melon is ready.
Most melons are picked several weeks before they appear at market so that the timing is right for consumers to take home and eat. If you think your melon may not be quite ripe, just leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days, but remember that once you cut the melon open, it will not ripen anymore.
For some more tips on melons, watch this video.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Portobello Mushrooms are Popular

We've had a lot of interest in Portobello mushrooms. In fact, yesterday we ran out for a short while, and Jeff had to make a run for more. Portobellos are more expensive than other kinds of mushrooms, but since you can actually make a meal out of them, they're worth it. Here's an easy recipe if Portobellos are new to you.

Grilled Portobellos with Olive Oil & Garlic

4 Portobellos, Olive Oil, Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, 4 garlic

cloves, minced chopped fresh parsley.

Preheat the broiler or start your grill.

Wipe mushrooms clean and remove stems. Drizzle all over with olive oil and

season with salt and pepper. Broil or grill about 4 inches from flame, gill side

up, 2 minutes. Turn over, sprinkle tops with garlic and a bit more oil, and

cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, being careful not to burn the garlic. Sprinkle

with parsley and serve.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's the Difference between a Plantain and a Banana?

Yesterday Barry had a long conversation with a customer about plantains. The man had never heard of a plantain and couldn't believe it wasn't just another banana. For those of you who may not be familiar with plantains, they are nutritious and delicious like bananas but totally different.
Whereas a banana is a sweet fruit, a plantain is more starchy and is often treated as a vegetable. Native to India, plantains are very popular in Western Africa and Caribbean countries where they are often used like potatoes.
Plantains need to be cooked before eating. They are usually fried or baked, but the taste varies with ripeness. The less ripe plantains are greener in color and contain more starch. As the plantain ripens, it darkens to black and takes on a sweeter flavor.
Pick up some plantains next time you're at the market. Dare to be different and try something new.

Here's a simple recipe to get you started with plantains. "Tostones" make a great snack or side dish.

Recipe for Tostones
Serves 3-4

Need: 2 green plantains, oil for frying, and salt
1. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
2. Peel plantains and cut into 3/4" slices.
3. Fry in hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be light golden and semi-soft.
4. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Maintain the oil temperature. After plantains cool (about 1 minute), smash them into flat rounds.
6. Fry the rounds in the oil for 3 minutes. They'll turn crisp and golden brown.
7. Remove plantains with slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
8. Salt to taste.

Taste great in garlic dip!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day Salute

In honor of all veterans and active military personnel, Daisy Mae's Market is donating 11% of today's sales to the Friends of the National World War II Memorial. The World War II Memorial holds a special place in my heart as my father proudly served in the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion.
It's great to see so much recognition for "The Greatest Generation" these days. There are fewer of these WW II veterans around to thank personally so it's wonderful that we have places like the Memorial in Washington, DC. If you haven't been there, make the effort to go. All Americans need to learn about what these brave soldiers did and to show our appreciation and respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Thanks, Dad.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recipes, Anyone?

It's fun talking to customers about what they're going do to with the fruits and vegetables they purchase. Some people come to shop for a specific item; others just look at what's available and then start imagining what they might cook. One young woman told me she was going to try to make Apple Cinnamon Cookies. She had never made them before but thought they sounded good for a nice autumn day. She was looking for recommendations on which type of apple to buy and ended up with some Empire apples.
Another friend bought potatoes and leeks. She was planning to make soup, but ran short on time and ended up making a version of home-fried potatoes with leeks and bacon. Sounds yummy!
We're hoping some of our customers start sharing recipes. If you've found a good use for our produce, please reply to this blog and post a link to a recipe, or tell us about your latest cooking creations.
See you at Findlay Market!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Saturday

What a great Saturday at Findlay Market! The bright sun and warm temperatures brought out the shoppers. Everyone was so nice to us. We met so many people---probably won't remember all the names, but we'll remember the faces. We ran out of business cards so I expect we'll have lots of new followers on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter...There was a "TweetUp" at the market today. It was really amazing. If you're not familiar with the concept, someone organizes a meeting place and sends out a Tweet via their Twitter account. In this case, it was to meet at high noon at Taste of Belgium at Findlay Market. Several vendors got involved and offered 10% off to anyone who mentioned the TweetUp. We offered free Stoplight Peppers, but unfortunately we were so busy we ran out of those before the tweeters arrived. We substituted with another "lovely parting gift" (as one of my new twitter friends said), and everyone went away happy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Need More Hours in the Day

It didn't take us long to learn time flies when you're having fun. When we're setting up by 8:00 am and driving home at 6:00, there aren't too many hours left for taking care of the accounts, picking up produce, making signage, etc...not to mention laundry, meals, and normal stuff here at home. Good thing we've got a pretty good team.
We quickly found out the EBT (food stamp machine) is critical. We have applied for the machine, but it still could be a few weeks before we get approval. So many people are using food stamps these days, and if they don't see our "Sorry, EBT machine coming soon" sign, they sometimes have everything in their bags and are ready to pay before they find out we don't take the "card" yet. People are pretty understanding though and promise to come hopefully we can build the "cash only" business so that once we get the machine that will feel like icing on the cake.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More About Opening Week

This is all pretty exciting. Barry said he met quite a few young professionals today who regularly shop at Findlay Market. He's made a point of asking people where they live...Clifton, Price Hill, Walnut Hills, the Findlay Market neighborhood...It will be interesting to see if things change on the weekend and more suburbanites make the trip downtown.
Barry and Jeff are really enjoying talking to the customers. Most of the time the conversation turns to cooking and recipes. Barry has a great idea---We're going to encourage customers to contribute to this blog by submitting their favorite recipes. I'm making some flyers to distribute with our contact information and a reminder to share some cooking tips. Could be fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First Day at Findlay Market

The weather cooperated beautifully. It was a crisp, clear fall morning so set-up went smoothly. We arrived about 7:00 am for the 9:00 am opening, and since it was the first day, it took us most of that time to arrange the items and set the prices. Most of the produce was already on the carts in the trailer so all Jeff had to do was roll the carts down the ramps. We actually had about 65 items today---a few more than we had room for on the carts. But the Findlay Market folks were very welcoming and offered us the use of several rolling tables as well.
A few customers stopped by before we were actually opened including our first customer--a woman named Rosa. She was thrilled with the sweet potatoes so I thought I'd share her picture.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Who Wants Mushrooms?

Barry and Jeff have spent the day on a buying spree. We have an extensive inventory for tomorrow's opening. For starters, we hit the jackpot with mushrooms. Besides white mushrooms, we'll have maitake, beech, oyster, trumpet, and porcini mushrooms! We also have some great looking apples, grapes, greens, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, oranges, and squash. It looks like we'll have over 70 items this week. The first few weeks will be a bit of a learning experience. We really will make an effort to stock what our customers want and need...some for the everyday buyer and some for the gourmet cooks. When we get a good deal or a specialty item, we'll try to tweet about it. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For Immediate Release

Just wrote our first press release. I got some input from Emily since she's taking a Sports Marketing class and has had to learn how to write one correctly. I made sure to include the "who, what, when, and where" as she suggested. I also got some good tips from my friend Teresa who is a professional publicity writer. She was generous enough to give me some email contacts so I'll be submitting the press release to all kinds of targets in the next week or so. Check it out and let me know what you think.