Grocery shopping is typically viewed as a chore and not a pleasant experience, but there a few places to do some food shopping that are most delightful indeed. Over the weekend I stopped in at the Yadkin Farmers Market. As soon as you walk up, you are greeted with smiles from the vendors. It’s so refreshing! It’s much more like a visit with friends than a chore.
And then there is all the beautiful produce that is available to you at the market. As I’ve mentioned several times, I love tomatoes. Sadly mine have finished producing for the season but there were some beautiful German Johnsons and Celebrity tomatoes still available at the market so I had to take a few home with me. Okra and beans were also still available as well as fresh herbs and more. Greens will be coming in soon for the fall season.
I was particularly impressed with the variety and beauty of the items at the Enon Meadows booth. There were round zucchini, which I had never seen before, and beautiful little tiny red tomatoes that looked to me like jewels gleaming from a treasure chest. There were also beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers — sunflowers and zinnias. Now, I have a friend who insists that you should buy yourself flowers any chance you get. This is not something I do very often. I had actually even walked away from the booth, but I could hear my friend’s voice in my head telling me I really should buy myself some of those lovely flowers — and so I did! It’s amazing how a simple bundle of fresh flowers can brighten up your day.
If you’ve not made a visit to the Yadkin Farmers Market, I highly recommend it. They are located at 1141 Tennessee Road and are open Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
There are a few other places I like to go for a splendid shopping experience, if you are willing to venture into Winston-Salem. The first is the Fresh Market on Robinhood Road. I remember going here with my mom at a pretty young age. It wasn’t somewhere we shopped often, but it was always a magical experience when we did. They have sample coffee and I remember as a child feeling rather glamorous strolling around the store with my little tiny paper cup of some fanciful flavored coffee. I still like to go here and usually always make a stop here especially if I’m preparing a special meal for guests or holiday celebrations. They have a wonderful candy selection, a great butcher, tons of lovely desserts and plenty of unique food items.
My other new favorite grocery store is Trader Joes. I had heard a lot about Trader Joes before they built the store on Stratford Road in Winston-Salem. I even made a special trip once to Charlotte to visit a Trader Joes. I admit the first time I went I was rather overwhelmed with the entire experience. The store carries many unusual items that you won’t find in any regular grocery store. They have a great produce section, tons of unusual frozen foods as well as some funky fun snacks. They are also known for their good but inexpensive wine selection. As you know, I am a huge supporter of our Yadkin Valley wines and that is what I prefer, but the prices are so good at Trader Joes that I do like to pick up a few bottles of wine there whenever I visit.
The other thing about Trader Joes is that the people are so friendly. There are store employees who walk around the store constantly carrying signs asking if you need help. They will answer any question you have about a product or suggest some of their favorite things if you ask. It is quite special. Even the people shopping in the store always seem to be in a good mood. I can’t decide if the type of people who shop in this unique store are just happy, positive type people or if there is some magic within the store itself that causes people to be friendly and cheerful, but either way, it is a delight. I was there earlier in the summer and purchased a bag of these beautiful sweet red and yellow peppers. I told the cashier that I wasn’t even sure what I was going to make with them, I just bought them cause they were so lovely. The three people in line behind me quickly offered up recipes and suggestions on how I could prepare the peppers. That’s right, instead of being fussy and irritated that they were having to wait in a line, they all just joined in the conversation. As I said, it is just a special place.
If you have a favorite place to shop for food, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at email@example.com or call 336-518-3049.
Here’s a great recipe I found online at www.foodiecrush.com.
Stuffed Bell Peppers (recipe from www.foodiecrush.com)
• 1 pound lean ground beef, 90% lean
• 4 mushrooms, chopped
• 3 ears of fresh corn kernels, or 1½ cups frozen corn
• 2 ribs of celery, chopped thinly
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes with juice
• 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons basil
• 1 tablespoon oregano
• ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1½ cups cooked long grain rice
• ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
• 6 bell peppers
• 1 cup shredded fontina cheese or monterey jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brown the ground beef in a large fry pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until cooked almost through. Add the mushrooms, corn kernels, chopped celery, onion and garlic and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper to taste and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and chopped parsley and cook for another 5 minutes or until the rice is warmed through.
Meanwhile, cut off the tops of the peppers and spoon out the ribs and seeds, then rinse. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the peppers with kosher salt and place in a microwave safe dish with ¼ cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes or until they start to soften.
Transfer to a 3 quart baking dish and fill the peppers with the hot meat and rice mixture. Sprinkle the tops with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is browned. Serve hot.
Kitsey E. Burns is a reporter for The Yadkin Ripple, here she shares her musings on food, life and love. She can be reached at or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.