Thursday, June 23, 2011

Weekend's almost here!

I wasn't going to start this post by pointing out that it is raining again, but it is a bit incredible, isn't it?

In spite of the weather, we have tons of fresh, organic produce arriving tomorrow!  In addition to fresh lettuce and spinach, Swiss chard and sugar snaps from Kropp's Crops, Steve Kenney, from the infamous White Knuckle Farm, plans to bring us down some special stuff, too.  (It's a secret till he gets here, though.)  Albert's Organics is sending us fresh California avocado, as well as fair trade bananas from Ecuador.  We have cases of Driscoll's strawberries coming in, plus fabulously in-season Valencia oranges from California.  We have broccoli, celery, onions and green bell peppers coming in, too, as well as .... are you sitting down?...fresh peaches!  Yum. 

And though deeply saddened that the much beloved Pineland Farms cheese curds aren't in (do we love our food, or what?!), I was talked into trying Maplebrook Farms Cheddar Bites.  They complement our Gourmet Artisan blue, feta and gorgonzola cheese crumbles that are arriving tomorrow, too.  Oh, and by popular demand, we are getting the Tribe Origins hummus back in - spicy red pepper and classic.  It's like double churned hummus - delightfully smooth without the graininess of the usual hummus.  Sweet Josh, our rep at Albert's even hooked us up with some Bolthouse Berry Boost Smoothie to try out this week.  So if your grocery list includes fresh stuff, drop by Medusa!

We also have an abundance of United Natural products coming in tomorrow.  We're restocking many of our most popular Tazo teas, as well as reigniting the craving for chocolate covered pretzels in bulk.  By request, we will have a new case of frozen Annie Chun's Chicken PotStickers - and heads up - Annie Chun's has a bunch of stuff coming up on special in July. 

Lots of soy, rice and almond milk coming in - as well as (finally!) Parmalat for my amazing part-timers and campers.  Tons of Blue Sky beverages, by popular demand and in preparation for our Medusa Cruise-In on Tuesday at 6pm. 

Lots of Bob's products getting restocked - mostly flours, and even a few gluten free.  We're trying the amaranth this time, for example.  (By the way, if you are interested in baking a bit, especially during these chilly rainy days - I make a lot of breads for the store based loosely on Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's recipes.) We've also got Gillian's french rolls back in, as well as Food For Life Millet bread.

Clearly, the Cascade yogurts were a total flop, even though they are cheaper than the Brown Cow, so we've got 32oz containers as well as strawberry and maple single serve.  I'd still love to convince someone to open a local dairy - especially if we could figure out a way to make our own yogurts and cheeses.

We're trying a new marshmallow, because we think the last ones weren't so hot - this time the Dandie brand will grace our aisles.  (And remember - we've got decadent chocolate, Midel graham crackers and marshmallows - smores to your heart's content!) 

We eat a lot of chips around here - so I've got more Kettle for tomorrow, as well as Michael Season's chips.  There was a special price on "hummus chips", so I ordered us a few kinds to try them out.  Mary's Gone Crackers (an amazing name for the most versatile snack cracker thing ever) sea salt sticks are back in, too.  We've also got a bunch more of the Natural Nectar (where are my gluten free folks?) cracklebred - this time we're trying tomato and oregano, in addition to the original. 

For those who've been asking - and you will go unnamed - YES!, we now have prune juice.  Next week, I'll try to get us caught back up on the rest of our juices.

Another request was Purely Decadent's non-dairy frozen dessert - we chose chocolate obsession.  Of course.

I ordered lots of Woodstock charcoal, at a pretty reasonable price, I think, so you all will be all set for grilling.  And also for grilling, we have Heather Ridge's amazing chicken, in the freezer waiting - both halves and wholes.  We also have a sweet deal on Morning Fog Farm hotdogs and kielbasa - $7.99 per for the hotdogs and $8.49 each for the kielbasa. 

Ignore the rain, it's going to be amazing by the weekend.  Really, the mist out there now is kinda cool - plenty warm and no bugs!

I have a hot sheet order going in on Monday - I'll post some specials here tomorrow!  
Much love,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Council meets...

First, nothing like a controversial blog post to spice up the weekend - thank you to everyone who gathered these last few days, with support and with feedback.  It's been a whirlwind of a weekend!

Last night was equally exceptional - the Medusa Council met, with vigor and tremendous plans.  I plan to publish, sometime in the next few days, a complete calendar of upcoming summer events.  But for now, a preview:

We're planning several cruise-ins over the next few months.  This Tuesday, the 28th, we're having a cruise-in - Dan Yolin and Bruce Barker will be playing on the porch for us, and the Medusa Firehouse has generously offered their parking lot and field.  Morning Fog Farm will be offering their home raised hotdogs and hamburgers - grass fed, local grain finished amazingness - for a sweet price.  We're planning another one for July 12th, and we're hoping that the GreyFox crowd might want to join us then for a bit of bluegrass - you know how we locals just love music.

We've got a gallery opening on the 2nd of July - this time Angela Cappetta is showing her photography, hopefully with a bit of music, too.  We were originally planning a barbecue that day, but the Council overwhelmingly decided that we'd rather hold a local foods event towards the end of August, in the hope that we can have more of our local vendors join us - in sort of an open air market that day - and to sponsor some local dishes for the public.

We have Community Walks to combat cancer in July and September as well, and the Medusa Firehouse is planning their Horseshoe Tournament on the first Saturday in August, and the village yard sales is on the second Saturday.

Lots coming up - lots of good reasons to visit Medusa.  With a little luck, we might get into Eco-Local this summer, too!

Love to all,

Friday, June 17, 2011

Making better choices

It's rainy again - and I'm not in a terribly good mood, so hopefully you'll forgive me if this sounds a bit more strident than usual.

When we opened the store, we assumed that we could make it through the early years by relying on the support of our fairly large extended families and network of local friends.  That turned out to be a huge miscalculation, as we rarely see family or old friends shop at our store.  A few drop by for an occasional loaf of bread or quart of milk, but it's infrequent, at best.  The upside to this is that we have met an astounding array of folks, from all walks of life, full time residents and not, who are committed to the idea of localism, and support what we are trying to do in Medusa.  Their influence has shaped the kind of place the store has become, and continues to guide us as we plan for the future.  Most days, to be lucky enough to be a part of this, is exhilarating.

Still, on the heels of a pretty rough week, I'm feeling like it won't offend too many if I point out some hard truths.

How this place exists, how we get by from day to day, remains a bit of a miracle, if you can picture a miracle in my agnostic, fuzzy way.  When you ask me how the business is going, I usually smile and cheerfully report some good news.  The truth is, which doesn't come to any surprise to our closest friends and supporters, is that it is a daily struggle.  One of us is here every day, every hour we are open, which is pretty close to being every waking hour.  Frankly, I think Jason and I can count on one hand the times our whole, little family has been together, not at the store, in the past year.  The Medusa General Store has meant a lot of sacrifices, and sometimes it is just plain hard.

I am telling you this because when I insist that you shop local, it isn't because I think it is some vague idea - it is reality to us.  And I am not so much complaining, as trying to explain that this is a labor of love, a public service more than a profit yielding enterprise.  I have a PhD - and not a mail order one; one that took me 11 long years, through the births of three children, to complete, in a competitive, high-demand program - and Jason is skilled in a number of technical fields, and has been involved in a dizzying array of projects and ventures for many years.  We could be doing lots of other things - and it wouldn't be hard to make more money than what we're making here.

And what we are doing is as important as how and why we are doing it - I don't call us western Albany County's whole foods corner store for nothing.  We are trying to be your source for local and organic fresh, frozen, and dry goods groceries in the Hilltowns, filling a gap left by the Rensselaerville co-op.  So when I hear local folks insisting that they can only get good quality organic products by driving into Albany, I admit to finding it deeply frustrating.  Do you know that the Albany whole foods stores get their products from the very same distributor (and often on the very same truck!) that we get ours from?  And really, you have a much better deal here - not only do I happily pass along any sale prices I can get, I also am willing to try any product you request, and we'll do 15% over cost for case orders through United Natural.  It's a bit hard to beat that.

Moreover, supporting my store does a whole lot more than just provide high quality groceries and deli items to your family - we employ local folks and we support a number of local vendors.  So when you purchase something in my store, odds are good that a good portion of those dollars are staying right here on the hill.  I sell chicken from Heather Ridge Farm in Potter Hollow, and beef and pork from Morning Fog Farm in Berne, for example.  In my 20 minute drive in this morning, I heard at least two different commercials for stores that promise you the lowest price at the highest quality.  My vendors open their farms to me - we can visit their animals, consider the quality of their operation - choose to support them with our dollars.  You aren't getting that from the Deli Warehouse, nor are you getting it from Price Chopper.  Is the price higher?  Absolutely.  The quality is incomparable, though.

And sometimes, yes, I have to also insist that you take the higher ground.  You can buy milk and beer cheaper at Rite Aid, in Greenville.  Probably cheaper at lots of other places.  But did you know that Rite Aid, in particular, sells milk and beer for just over cost, because they take such a high margin on their pharmaceutical products?  This hurts small businesses, encourages folks to needlessly drive, and highlights the overpriced nature of drugs in our country.

Localism is all about choices.  I don't think it's always easy - there's probably lots of times that I won't have exactly what you were hoping for - but I do go out of my way to help you find an alternative.  I am not a huge co-op, nor am I a department store.  But when you come through my door, I'll greet you with a smile, and remember your kid's names.  I know what kind of beer you like best and try to get your favorite gluten-free muffin.  And unlike the big places, it really has little to do with your money - I do this because you are my neighbor, and together, I think we are building something amazing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A few things

The briefest of updates...

We have another Community Cancer Walk - seriously, for lack of a better name - on Saturday morning.  Temps are promising to moderate by then, although there might be a few showers.  I'd love to see you all - bikers are welcome as well!

United Natural is in on Friday, with lots of fresh produce from Albert's - if you have a request, give me a shout!  We'll have fresh chicken in from Heather Ridge, as well as more Kropp's Crops lettuces as well.

More soon.  Promise.  Maybe we'll have convinced Metroland to do an article on the gallery by then, you never know.

It's been a rough week for a lot of us - much love to everyone...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lazy days of summer?

Not yet.  And with this rain, perhaps not ever.  But that didn't stop us from having an amazing opening last Saturday, and cooking up a bunch of plans for the coming month.  Jessie Mann's work will be here all month - and Angela's documentary photography will be up for a July 2nd opening.

While I don't have any kid workshops in the works (yet!), we are going to start taking pre-orders for Independence Day chicken dinners soon.  So far, we're planning to sell halves of Heather Ridge Farm chickens, with several side dishes.  I think we'll give folks an option of several different Wild Thymes barbecue sauces - think about your favorite and I'll have a pre-order sign-up available, starting this weekend.

I'd like to introduce several more specialty sandwiches this early summer - one that has been short-listed is a grilled barbecue chicken with shaved celery and blue cheese dressing.  As soon as we get an oven here, it would be great on some lightly toasted artisan bread.  We're also adding another vegetarian sandwich - we've been experimenting with some sprouts.  It's screaming for the perfect Wild Thymes chutney...

In fresh news, our own local Kropp's Crops is back!  We got our first delivery of lovely red and green leaf lettuces on Tuesday, and another one is coming today, in preparation for a lovely June weekend.  They inform me that they've got more specialty lettuce mixes coming soon, as well as snow peas and sugar snap peas.  Albert's has a huge order coming in tomorrow as well - Braeburn apples, fair trade bananas (from Ecuador), organic blueberries and strawberries, carrots, green peppers, cauliflower and celery, watermelon and cantaloupe, tomatoes and more Olivia's salad greens.  Oh, and an amazing sprout mixes!

Lots of UNFI products in tomorrow as well.  Although it did just occur to me that I should have ordered more ground Cafe Altura, we are stocking back up on our teas, and there's some nice new selections from Traditional Medicinals coming in tomorrow.  And, back by popular demand, and I suspect a vigorous summer crowd, we're getting Brown Cow yogurts in 32oz as well as the snack size.  We are also trying out some Organicville low fat ice cream and bringing some of the Julie's back, too.  Oh, and ice cream cones and waffle cones and SPRINKLES, just in time for ice cream!

Speaking of snacks - we're getting the infamous chocolate covered pretzels and almost-as-good chocolate covered raisins are back in tomorrow.  AND our long-forgotten Tamari almonds are back tomorrow as well.  And, why not?, we ordered some walnuts, too.  Can never have too many nuts in Medusa, right?

Because my amazing sister-in-law and I have recently decided that we should start naming the years like the Chinese, and this year has become the Year of the Tick, I have a lot of All-Terrain herbal repellents and itch sprays coming in.  Sunblock, too, for kids and adults.  (We think last year was the year of the tick, too - and are thinking next year might be as well.  As it could be the year of the bear - and there's isn't a whole lot of repellent that works in that case - we think it could be worse.)

Mustn't end a post without a taste of the crazy that's coming up:

*  We think that a float in next year's Greenville Memorial Day parade is a must!  Brenda Hansson-Orr, one of our amazing Medusa villagers (and mom to our amazing Danny!) has offered to help us out with design and construction.  We are envisioning a giant head of Medusa, snakes and all.  Wouldn't that be incredible?

*  We want more kid funshops - I've had tons of people asking for more.  I'm working on it...

*  We'd like to do cruise-in's - we think the Tuesday after GNH, so the fourth Tuesday of every month.  I need some feedback, though - cars aren't really my thing.

*  Oh, and mark your calendars - our June Walk for Ovarian Cancer Research is on Saturday, June 11th.  We're starting at the diner in Rensselaerville again, but I think we've got a different route planned, so stay tuned.

*We are always, always, always looking for musicians, either for our gallery openings, or just for fun.  We have a lot of folks around on Fridays and Saturdays - and nearly all of them would love to hear live music.  So come hang out on the porch, put out a hat, and play for us!

Lots of love, friends...