A little Meijer Americana

I like history. I love food history. I love hearing stories of the past. I have always believed that the past is the answer to our future. It's easy to see the way when you have the strength of history behind you. 

When Meijer Stores asked me to come to the headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan I thought to myself "Why me? There isn't even a Meijer Store close to my house and the only time I have shopped there is when I am visiting my parents in Sandusky." It was a quick day trip, in and out in 24 hours so I agreed to make the journey. They flew me out to Grand Rapids and I arrived on a Monday evening. I went to my hotel, googled some restaurants, and found myself having dinner at a nice Tapas restaurant called San Chez. I had a few ciders and headed back ready for a full day's schedule of all things Meijer.

The next morning I found myself in a really cool space called Grid70. Grid70 is a shared space between Meijer and some other companies. There is a test kitchen, offices, a lounge, a white board room, and other cool stuff that I didn't get a chance to check out. My day would be spent in the Meijer test kitchen. Throughout the day I would find myself tasting and testing the new Meijer organic line of food called True Goodness. More on that later. 

One of my favorite moments of the day was meeting Hank Meijer, the grandson of Hendrik Meijer, the man who created the first Meijer grocery store.  Within moments of Hank sitting down with a table full of bloggers, I knew we were in for a treat. Turns out Hank is a great storyteller and we were in for a great story, the story of his family business. After a series of failed attempts in the dairy industry, Hendrik Meijer purchased a small space next to his barber shop in hopes of renting it out and becoming a landlord. The Great Depression stepped in and smacked Hendrik's dream down. Hendrik kept on keeping on and after approaching several grocery stores as possible tenants for his space he found himself at a grocery wholesale store. Because they were wholesale they had no interest in leasing Hendrik's building but suggested with his good credit to put in his own grocery store.

Meijer's 1st Grocery

That was in 1934. Eventually the grocery store they opened would grow to be the first ever grocery store super center (i.e. the first store to sell groceries, clothes, lightbulbs, anything else you may find in your modern day Target). Back then people thought they were nuts. 

Today it's a billion dollar empire.

Hank, the grandson and CEO of the stores told this tale beautifully and I must admit it made me that much more interested in shopping at Meijer.

Now if they would only open a store in Cleveland!



Disclosure: I was compensated by Meijer for my time and travel expenses, but all opinions are my own.

Door to Door Organics

We love getting our summer share of veggies every week from Fresh Fork Market so when I was approached by Door to Door Organics to check out their veggie/fruit delivery service I wasn't super into it. Then I check out the website and found out that I could get an all organic fruit delivery. I signed up for the bi-weekly  fruit delivery and last week we got our first box. 

I was extremely pleased.

Our organic fruit box came with all of the above, including the watermelon! Most of the fruit was almost ripe, nothing in the box was bad. The fruit lasted exactly one week so I'm not sure if my bi-weekly delivery will suffice, but for now it works. I love the complement of Door to Door Organics to my weekly veggie box from Fresh Fork and I would love for one of you to try your very own Door to Door grocery delivery service!

Door to Door Organics is giving all of my readers $10 off your first order and one lucky reader a $ gift certificate to use. All you have to do to enter is share this post socially with #chefswidow #doortodoororganics. A winner will be picked on Friday August 1st, 2015! 

Splash Infuser

Over here at Chef's Widow it's no secret we like to imbibe. With the holidays coming closer we find ourselves dreaming of specialty cocktails. Recently we found out about a Midwestern kickstarter campaign for the Splash Infuser:

The Splash Infuser is a patented healthy beverage device that allows you to rapidly customize the flavor of your water. The Splash has a 2-part design, a bottom infusion container and a top muddler lid. Simply drop your ingredients in, twist the muddler lid to blend and release the flavors, and drop the Splash into your favorite drinking container. The Splash was designed to motivate users to skip out on sugary, high-calorie drinks and start creating their own healthy concoctions using natural ingredients like fruit and herbs. With the Splash Infuser, the possibilities to create healthy, tasty beverages are endless!

The kind folks over at Cardboard Helicopter sent me a splash infuser to try out on my own. 

We used the splash infuser with lemon balm and orange peels for some workout water. Our kids enjoyed the naturally flavored water and loved seeing the infuser work it's magic. Next stop, boozeville. With the holidays just around the corners, this Splash Infuser guide will be a handy tool when coming up with my holiday cocktail list.

Check out their kickstarter, with only a week to go this midwestern product is so close to their end goal! Check them out and donate, these Splash Infusers would make great stocking stuffers and holiday gifts.

Homemade Ketchup

It's tomater/ season over here at Casa Sawyer and I can't can/peel/cook fast enough. After making sauce for days on days on days, the girl and I decided to try our hand at Mark Bittman's homemade ketchup recipe. We followed the recipe however after tasting I would lose the red bell pepper. The pepper overtook the tomato's and both kids rejected it. 

I have since made another batch and added a few more tomato's and nixxed the bell pepper. It's much more ketchupyyyyy the minis seem to be cool with it and there are no additives, high fructose corn syrup, or any other unknown ingredient. Homemade for he win!

Here's the adapted recipe:

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté 1 chopped onion in 2 tablespoons neutral oil until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and stir until the paste darkens a bit, 2 or 3 minutes. Add 2 lbs whole tomatoes (roughly chopped and seeded, with their juice), ⅓ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon ground mustard, ⅛ teaspoon each ground allspice, ground cloves, cayenne and cinnamon, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about an hour. Let cool for a few minutes, then purée in a blender until completely smooth. (For supersmooth ketchup, pass it through a fine-mesh strainer.) Taste, adjust the seasoning and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.