Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Town Talk

Now I'm what you might call 'particular' about food. I can be weird about texture, or if I have the memory associated with a particular food it affect me tremendously. I remember 12 years ago a guy told me about the FDA guidelines concerning insect parts in cereal. I didn't eat the drop of cereal for almost 8 years after that. And thanks to Food, Inc I haven't set foot inside a McDonald's for over a year and a half.

I am also weird about sell by dates and brand names I've never heard of. So when I first learned about Town Talk I was extremely skeptical that it would be a place for me.

A while back my mother-in-law asked me if I would meet her there so she could take some of my kiddos for the day. It's a good halfway point between my house and hers. So I wandered inside and meandered through the aisles. It definitely has a warehouse kind of feel with it's cement floors and industrial shelves. It's not the bright inviting Central Market experience. But I was a little surprised at some of the things I found inside. Yes, there were the obscure brands I'd never heard of and the strange items that appeared to be a failed 'new product' attempt, but there were also some items and brands I recognized. And not only were they things I recognized but some of them were actually really good items, some even the pricey stuff I'd previously purchased at Whole Foods or Central Market. Now granted, some of the frozen foods were past date, some WAY past and some of the dairy items were very close to their date, but I was intrigued. I purchased an item or two and decided I wasn't ready to completely discount this establishment yet.

I'd been back a time or two to meet her again and each time I've found an item or let the kids pick out a snack but that's been about it. While having a playdate at my friend Stephanie's a few weeks back she had some Hummus from Town Talk that was really good. So last week I decided to go there first before hitting up the regular supermarket to see what I might find. Boy, am I glad I did. I took my time and looked through EVERYTHING. My objective going in was to find some inexpensive munchies for the kids. They have been going through snacks like crazy lately and I found a lot of good deals. The end result was 2 bags FULL of good, quality, in date stuff for only $20. What did I find? Some of items I know off hand have the regular retail price in ( ).

  • a bag of Frontera (Rick Bayless) tortilla Chips   79¢ ($3.50)
  • a bag of Boulder Canyon potato chips   59¢  ($1 is a good sale price)
  • a box of Uncle Sam cereal   $1.59  (around $3)
  • a qt of Oregon Chai Vegan Tea Latte mix   59¢ ($4 a box)
  • 2 boxes of Cheez-its (I know, not healthy)   $1.50 each ($2.50 @ Walmart)
  • 2 bags of elderberry & zinc lozenges   99¢ each
  • Pure vanilla extract   $2.50
  • A bag of Stacy's pita chips 59¢
  • 2 boxes of Annie's white cheddar Mac-n-cheese $1 each ($2 something @ WF)
  • 4 boxes of Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous 79¢ each ($1.50 @ Walmart)
  • a box of Back to Nature fudge rounds $1.59
  • a bottle of Bragg's (the ACV people) organic Hawaiian Marinade & Dressing $1.59 
I know I'm missing a few items and I wrote down a list that has mysteriously disappeared but you get the idea. As I was checking out they were starting to shelve some Muir Glen organic canned diced tomatoes for 79¢. That's a good price! Everything I purchased was half-price or better. Who could argue with that. And then of course I turned around and spent $40 bucks on two bags not nearly as full at the regular grocery store.
Town Talk's inventory changes daily so you never know what you're going to find but I'm definitely adding this stop to my regular grocery rotation. If you haven't already then you should check it out. 
Town Talk Foods
121 North Beach Street  
Fort Worth, TX 76111-7054

Saturday, January 07, 2012

12 Days of Holiday Recipes - How the Wheels Fell Off

I don't know what I was thinking. Lately every plan I've made has fallen apart. I think it's just the season of life I'm in. Our days got super busy, the baby became super needy, and lots of things succumbed to neglect. I had purposed to make some goodie baskets for our neighbors and then some for my kiddos to give to my siblings for Christmas. I figured the best way to attack this was to just do it all on one day. One LONG, stressful, messy day, and then it would be done. I should have known better.

My first clue should have been when I turned on the oven to preheat. After a few minutes I smelled a horribly familiar smell and opened the door to find this:

When my brother was little he used to stick all kinds of things in the oven too, like my Dad's tape measure. So while this was a frustrating start, the memory of childhood made me smile.... and we trudged forward.

See... everyone was so happy... er...uh...well, almost everyone. See Black-Eyed Bart there? It was nap time. Shortly after I took this he went down and things went much smoother. 

We used some of this....

And some of this....

to make our goodies. 
The girls helped make some dark chocolate and peppermint cake balls and some peanut butter thumb print cookies for the baskets.

We also made a batch of butterscotch goodness to take to Grandy's house for our celebration with them.
I love Izzie's face here. Totally captures her little goof-ball personality.
I had mixed up the hot chocolate mix a few days before so we bagged everything up in cute holiday sacks. And while we were baking away we enjoyed a wonderful holiday fragrance filling the air from this... A simmer pot recipe I got on Pinterest. My mom made it a few days before and it made her house smell so welcoming for our church's Mother/Daughter Christmas Party. So simple, it was just an orange, quartered, a few sticks of cinnamon, a few whole cloves, and a good handful of cranberries. Cover it with water and simmer on low making sure not to burst the berries. You can leave this on your stove for a week or two. Seriously. Just add a little water to it occasionally. You'll know when it's time to throw it out because everything starts to look extra mushy and turns the same brownish/gray color. It smells AMAZING! In fact, I have a few cranberries left in the fridge so I picked up an orange at the store to make one last batch of this. 

So I didn't complete the full 12 days. I'm not going to sweat it. Heck, I just took my Christmas decorations down today.... almost 2 weeks later. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Memories were made and lessons were learned (i.e. check the oven before turning it on). Maybe we'll try again next year. :)