From The GM

By David Lester, General Managerbreeze

Well, here we are in the midst of the holiday season. Colder weather is on its way and so are relatives to celebrate with us. End of the year projects at work and at home become more imperative, and we haven’t even done the shopping yet…aarrgghhh!
These days really creep up on me and the lack of sunlight this time of year doesn’t help the matter at all. I feel very lucky to work in a place that offers many comforts to counteract these stressful days. Instead of writing an article in this edition of the SCOOP related to business matters here at the Co-op, I’ve decided to dedicate this column to listening to ourselves and the little comforts that keep us going.

For the “I forgot we were having people over” situation…
We’ve all been there. Two minutes before leaving work, you get a call reminding you to pick up a few things for the dinner party or book group you’re hosting. When I’m in this situation, I like to go to what I call the “Co-op Trifecta.” This involves picking up a small bag of already prepared sourdough pizza dough from Waving Grains Bakery, a small container of bulk olives, and a block of Prairie Breeze cheese.

The already prepared sourdough pizza dough from Waving Grains has saved me many times. I like to take it home, roll it out on a floured board, rub it with olive oil, sprinkle fresh chopped rosemary and top it off with some kosher salt. Roll it up into a long loaf, pop into the oven for about 15-20 minutes at about 400 degrees and you have the most amazing fresh bread that can be sliced into about 20 pieces. (It also works really well in the morning using the same technique, only this time with some cinnamon sugar and butter…yum.)

I never used to like olives before coming to work at the Co-op in 2010. The bulk olives that we have located in the Café grab-n-go cooler are incredible and a unique product that you will not find at any other store in town. The salty, oily flavors range in flavor profile between the Kalamata, Black Cerignola, Partanna Green, and the 5-Type Olive mix. You can’t go wrong with these and they are a real crowd pleaser.

Prairie Breeze cheese is a world-renowned cheddar-like variety made in Milton, IA. This cheese just makes you feel good after the first bite. The creamy, nutty brightness in this cheese along with the little crunchy crystals of flavor make this my “go-to” cheese for almost any occasion. I would have never thought a cheese could brighten a cloudy day in mid-January, but this one does the trick.
For the “I only have how many minutes before you need my SCOOP article?” kind of day…

We all have deadlines to meet in some form or fashion, right? Coffee usually isn’t the best first choice in these types of situations, but sometimes the stress is just too much. I like taking a trip through our Wellness department and going straight to the Aura Cacia essential oil tester smell-buffet-bar. With over 60 different essential oil choices, there is bound to be one that brings you to that calm place. I really like the tried-and-true lavender oil and something in the cedar/juniper/spruce family of scents that quickly brings me to a walk in the tall, piney north woods.

When things get really bad, there is nothing better, in my opinion, than the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. Also found in our Wellness department. The calming properties of this flower essence bring me to my happy place no matter how high the paperwork or snow drifts might get.

For the “I need to tell a co-worker how hard my day has been and share these treats with…” kind of day…

We all do it. We just need someone to listen to us and make us not feel so guilty about the half pound of candy we just purchased. Okay, maybe not everyone goes to this type of coping mechanism, but it works for me. My three favorite treats in our store to share with others are the milk chocolate pecan clusters, sprouted almonds, and those little delicious Satsuma mandarin oranges.

The first two items are located in our bulk section and you can buy as little or as much as you want depending on the kind of day you’re having. The milk chocolate pecan clusters are so good and usually just one or two will satisfy. I especially like putting these in a warm place like a windowsill or a computer monitor for just a few minutes. The caramel melts just enough so you can stretch that gooey layer about 6 to 8 inches before eating it. If you have never had a sprouted almond before, then stop reading this article and head down to the Bulk aisle right now. The crunch has no comparison. They just kind of “pop” between your teeth and the taste is pure almond. These would also go with a nice tapas spread with the olives, bread and cheese that I mentioned before.

Who doesn’t like those Satsuma oranges? They are in the store, and they are one of our Produce department’s best sellers this time of year. For me, it takes me back to being a kid on Christmas morning and reaching down into the stocking to find one of these little gems. Ahh.

I invite you to come visit our store sometime in the near future and take your time to look around and find your own comfort foods and things that make you happy. Our staff is educated to help you with any question you may have and are always eager to help. In the next edition of the SCOOP I promise to write more about sales growth, membership growth and some exciting projects happening in the store. For now, I’m going to finish my half pound of pecan clusters.