United Fresh workshops 2


Ceiling Security cameras — who knew the mining of data that groceries stores can get from their ceiling cameras? I know now–

Data+metrics= insight

  • Store Traffic
  • Shopping time from store entry to exit
  • Store “hot” zones Like end caps and aisle “blockers”
  • navigation time
  • Time spent in each store zone i.e dairy, floral, bakery etc
  • traffic flow direction
  • security
  • employee theft
  • shopper leakage ( those who come in to buy but leave without buying anything)
  • timeliness of fresh produce to the shelf for customer purchase
  • How often freezer doors are opened or do they just look though glass
  • customers using tastings, store flyers, coupons, fancier kiddie carts, etc.
  • and more….


United Fresh 2012 workshops


Some other food retailing events happened concurrently with United Fresh–FMI2012 where I had an opportunity to attend this enlightening  workshop –

Know Your Customer

The Business Side of Social Media
Dallas Ballroom, Omni Hotel
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

The world of Facebook and Twitter goes far beyond simple messages between friends. Increasingly it is becoming a fantastic communication and relationship-building tool for both customers and associates. Learn how businesses like yours can create strategies to build stronger bonds and selling opportunities with shoppers through a new in-depth study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council. This session will outline steps a company of any size must consider to build a robust and useful social media strategy that can lead to sales, customer loyalty and even improved associate communication.

Moderator: Michael Sansolo, President, Sansolo Solutions, and Research Director, Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America
Panelists: Jerry Golub, President and CEO, Price Chopper Supermarkets
J.K. Symancyk, Chief Operating Officer, Meijer, Inc.
Jesse Spencer, Social Media Manager, The Integer Group
Catherine Green Burns, President, Food Lion, Harveys and Reid’s

Some of the interesting points and comments I heard from panelists at this event:

  • You can’t control what customers say on Twitter, It’s like a window or a megaphone right in the soul of your brand
  • You can end up competing with your own .com
  •  Those who manage you social media, need to be the best “truest” version of your brand, who is that spokesperson and what are the implications for your content?
  • Decide how you will interact with real time incidents and and feedback, positive e and negative
  • Amazing how powerful it is when your customers want to build your brands
  • The challenge is keeping up with the ever evolving expanding platforms
  • Understanding the persona of the social media communicator/facilitator

Lots of great free marketing trend/networking advice  from CocaCola researchers…..click on their graphic–



How often will I write a review of a restroom stop? Buc-ees is a gas station, gift shop, cookbook store, fudgery, deli, etc. They have lots of jerky, they also have a lot of vegetarian options, salads, popcorn, fruits, pickles, sodas etc. But they are on the main drive between Dallas and Houston (Madisonville on HWY 45)  and have the cleanest bathrooms with the most stalls, really, it is just an experience and a relief destination. We stop every time we drive to Houston, Both directions!


As they say ” You can wait, until you get to Buc-ees”


Dallas Downtown Farmers Market Review


Folks kept asking, ” Why don’t you go down to the really BIG farmer’s market in downtown Dallas?” We went to buy three things, some really fabulous tomatoes, ripe peaches and get some kale. Our local Walmart decided to stop carrying kale. Even the little tag to show it’s spot was gone, Boo hoo! It was the cheapest kale around. Since it is a major component of our morning green smoothies we needed to get some more.

Road trip, on Saturday morning! We went at 8 a.m. The farmers market is located on:

Dallas Farmers Market  1010 S. Pearl Expressway  Dallas, TX 75201

(At the corner of Harwood and Marilla Streets, in the southeast corner of Downtown Dallas.)

Information: 214-939-2808

Open seven-days-a-week from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, 362 days a year.
The Market is CLOSED on New Years Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day

The fresh tomatoes from this stand were amazing! We asked a local farmer who grew mushrooms to point us to the best tomatoes and she pointed out Lemley’s. We bought a small bag of about 8. Turns out that would never be enough! We had friends over and they raved about these tomatoes, just like home grown and what they remembered tomatoes should taste like. The pico we made with these and the fresh Texas sweet onions was so flavorful we used it as salad dressing.

We ended up buying the peaches from them too. They were equally yummy, and we bought some yellow and zucchini squash from another farmer and they were tasty ( but it is hard to ruin squash if the are not too large and seedy). The only disappointment was the watermelon we purchased, it was just OK.

Then we decided to go to the produce wholesalers and buy some corn for corn on the cob with friends, we found a box of 48 ears. Wow, that is a lot of corn, even after friends ate with us for several nights, we still ended up freezing some. The case of kale had like 30 big bunches in it. At 16 dollars a case it’s a great price, I just do not know how to use it before it spoils. I guess I will cook some down and freeze for soups.

The market is open air with covering overhead. The parking was right in front of the stands. There were aisles of local only, then aisles with some additional outside product (like pineapples and Mexican mangoes). They were clearly marked. Lots of selection, Farmers and workers very willing to sample anything . Nice people, everywhere. I will go back often. A lady I met said they have a neighborhood co-op group of 4 ladies who alternate going once a week. That seem like a nice idea, But I am so picky!

St Catherines Downtown Farm Market


Pretty stuff on display at the local covered open air market, but in late May not a lot was truly local, just the honey, soaps, bread bakers, food vendors etc. I was looking for the fiddle head ferns, one of my favorite spring treats in Canada, but did not see any. I wonder if it was already too late for them? Here is a picture of the fiddle heads. Cooked up with garlic and butter or olive oil, these are so amazing! A taste combination like asparagus and touch of bitterness like chard. Plus, they just look really cool. We used to get them at the Market in Kingston every week when in season.

Ethnic Markets- 99 Ranch Asian Market


99 Market Dallas #1102  131 Spring Creek Parkway, Plano,  75023   972-943-8999

With a name like 99 Ranch  you could be a little surprised that this is an Asian market! We used to drive by and see this grocery from 75 on our way to Costco.  One Saturday we stopped in.

Part of the difficulty in making these diet and health changes is where to shop? Also how to change it up so you do not get bored and how to make it easier? Many of our friends have asked where we buy our interesting vegetables and rice wrappers. Where we get snacks and frozen stuff, where do we eat out?

I like the 99 Ranch website which has their flyers and coupons easy to see and use for planning your week. They even have some vegetarian recipes on their website, though they could sure use me to write them some better ones– Lots of very fresh produce, nice prices, sometimes it has the Asian Market “fishy smell”. I think they try very hard to keep it super clean. It can be very crowded on the weekends.

They have 4 types of mangoes, 3 types of papayas and countless greens and mushrooms.They have all kinds of fresh, frozen and dried noodles made of everything: rice, buckwheat, wheat, yam, mung beans, etc. Lots of great produce. I love all the selections of pre-made Thai and Vietnamese curry pastes in pkgs. and cans too, and all the pickles and condiments. How to use a 4 lb. container of kimchee?

They have a large frozen section , with entrees and specialty tropical fruits that do not travel so well, and also egg roll and dumpling wrappers of all types.  There are steamed buns both fresh and also in the freezer that are vegetarian. All this with in an appealing market style atmosphere like we saw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have 4 extra seats in my car, if y’all would like to carpool down to Plano for a visit!






Mckinney Farmer’s Market, we love it!


Every Saturday morning during the fresh vegetable season you’ll find us at our local farmer’s market.

Chestnut Square Historic Village  315 S. Chestnut St. McKinney, TX 75069


Buying our veggie stash and shaking the hand of the person who grew the food is a Saturday pleasure! Often the Mckinney farmer’s market even has live music and living history demos to accompany the experience. Stroll through the old time buildings in dappled shaded pathways, enjoy a fresh baked pastry, and best of all there are so many wonderful fresh vegetables from local farmers.

I always buy the fresh mushrooms from the mushroom guy. If you have never had a mushroom cut straight from the growing log that morning,  then you have never had the crispest, juiciest of mushrooms. He usually brings at least 5 types, he is such a nice man, happy to share storing and cooking tips with all.

If you have never seen fresh hulled pinto beans or purple crowder or field peas, this was the first place I’d seen them. My family never grew pintos at home. There are also lots of turnips and beet with the greens attached. most of the produce is stuff you will recognize.

Some farmers just bring seasonal stuff. I remember with delight the one time I bought the amazing blueberries. They seemed pricey so I only bought a small bucket. Well, they were the best blueberries ever. I buy peaches for the several weeks that farmer is there with his different peach varieties. Great for snacking and pies.

The market also has local honey, pasta, plants, baked goods, olive oil, and of course, the fruit and veggie Farmers! There is an entire section of local craftsmen too.

I bring lots of shopping bags, and sometimes ride with Richard on our vespa, It is supposed to be lovely this Saturday, why not try it out? It is a lovely family outing and a great place to bring out of town company. Then all y’all go home and make a meal together.

Costco buy- Veggie burger Patties!


I like the veggie burger patties served at the Blimpies inside of Mckinney’s Walmart, It does not appear to be the cleanest place, but I have never been sick there. Imagine my surprise when they had veggie burgers in the freezers at our Plano Costco! Richard loves burgers so we bought these. 5.99 for 12, The look brownish and say vegan on the pkg. appear to be made of lots of ground up vegetables. They taste great, we will buy them again.

California Burger

So for me a burger is really all about the dill pickles, when I was a schoogirl I used to eat just the dill pickles on white bread in my lunchbox. My mom used to say,” Don’t you want cheese? Don’t you want bologna?” Nope, just pickles. So here is my veggie burger  with Tomato, guldens spicy brown mustrd and A healthy glo of dill relish on both sides of the bread. and the veggie pattie!

Marian Veggy Burger

For Richard a burger is all about Onions and Ketchup.  So here is his: Onions, ketchup, tomatoes, vegenaise (vegan Mayonnaise) the mustard, some Wickles (the hot spicy pickle) and the pattie!

Richard Veggy Burger

The most disappointing part was the Costco hamburger buns, kind of stale.  This is a fast evening fix just pan-fry on either side and all the other stuff we usually have. I threatened to gob these up with avocado slices, radish sprouts and black olive tapenade, but Richard would have none of it. You won’t miss the meat with these, really, REALLY! When I am out of town, Richard lives on easy stuff like this and refried beans. when he is out of town I live on Veggie soup and fruit.


Ethnic Markets: Bismallah


Went with my friends Rosie and Jessie to the Bismallah market.

1409 Shiloh Rd , Ste 200
Plano, TX 75074
Phone: (972) 578-0260

The owner’s sister Shazia, made the whole visit! I cannot emphasize enough, what a warm and gracious lady, very open to answering all our questions about products and even showed us her lovely artistic henna work on her hands.  Many times I just accept that wandering around in these ethnic markets trying to figure out what the stuff is will just be part of the awkwardness.  People do not say much of anything to me until the 4th or 5th time I have come and then I am a “regular”. At a different market a man working there asked if I owned a restaurant.

Back To Shazia, It was very reasonable to have her do our hands or feet sometime. They have a cafe in the back of this tiny spot. Next time we will do the henna and eat samosas for ladies lunch, while the henna designs on our feet cure. They also have fun inexpensive bangles and jewelry.

They have lots of the Indian and Middle Eastern staples of spices, canned goods, sweets, cookies,  flour, etc. a small  selection of produce and a larger choice of nuts. But the ladies made it special. They have a big freezer area and an awesome selection of mango juices and purees.

I will go back with my cooking questions to visit this market again. Let me know if you want to come with us!

The Magical Fruit Pantry (guess what that means)



Magical Beans

Part of our success has been the variety of legumes we are eating to help with our protein.

We have the following dried beans in our pantry ready to be hydrated and cooked up: Black beans, pintos, white beans, kidney beans, small red beans, chick peas, lentils ( brown, green, red), Urad dal, Split peas, Mung Beans, canary beans, broan, fava and even the 16 bean soup mix.

Canned and ready to go:

Pintos, refried both black and pinto, kidney beans, white northern, black beans, chick peas, fava, broad, mixed beans,

All these are wonderful in stews, curries or soups, chili or salads.

Beans are a common staple and many varieties can be found in local supermarkets, if you head over to some of the ethnic markets there will be even more selection. We often buy bulk in 25 lb bags or more and seal them into small airtight portions with our food sealer.

If the zombie apocalypse arrives we will be OK!