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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Good Banker and My Favorite Store

Here's one of my favorite stores










2nd entry for the olivejuicebags.com contest


Here is my second attempt to win for the olivejuicebags.com contest. You remember I showed you my favorite bag and this is my second favorite.:) I think it will go very well with my favorite outfit - jeans.:) I love the dark color and hope that you too will go there too and find your favorite bag. All you need to do is post about the contest on your blog and send them an email every time you do at: olivejuicebags@comcast.net. They're holding this contest until August 31, 2009.

No, I didn't get to the movies today and probably won't get there tomorrow. It's very frustrating when you are only one in a group and no one wants to go to the movies. I could probably go every weekend, but the movies out there just don't entice us enough to make the trip and hand over the $10 for the ticket and buy the popcorn and soda. By the time three or four people go to the movies you could spend almost $50. When you're making money that isn't that much to spend, but when nothing is coming in except a piddly little retirement check that is half of what you thought you would get and your husband is running around trying to get money from his clients to keep us alive, somehow movies become a luxury and not a need.

What did we do instead? We went to Stew Leonard's my favorite food store up here, next to Whole Foods. Why do I love this store? When we walked into the store they had samples of two kinds of soup, clam chowder and vegetable minestrone. You all saw my vegetable soup so I tried theirs and it was almost as good as mine!:) As we walked around picking up different cheeses and rolls we got to the produce section, which takes up about a fourth of the store. They wind you around the aisles so you can't really know, but it's pretty big. We found some fresh herbs and not only did I have a question about which herb it was, but I wanted fresher sage. A produce guy came over after one of the behind the scenes kitchen people went out of her way to ask him. He immediately told me what the name of the herb was and went into the back to get me some fresh sage! In Stew Leonard's you get service like you were paying a much higher price.

Here's an example of what they will do for you in Stew Leonard's. One time this summer we wanted cole slaw to go with our meal. There was no cole slaw there and I went to ask the kitchen help if there was any in the back. The woman, who was just about to go off duty, told me she was going to make more tomorrow, but if I really wanted it she would make it tonight! So she made an entire batch right there on the spot just because I wanted it. This is the norm at Stew Leonard's. It's the reason why people come from New York to Connecticut to go there. Sure the prices are great and the quality is outstanding, but the service is the reason, I think!

As we went around the produce area we found a sample of salad with dressing, and there are juice machines set up where you can get a drink of juice - as much as you want. Usually on Sundays they have samples of cookies and cakes. Today they had a sample of apple pie. But we've had everything from sausage on a pretzel to slices of filet mignon as samples. You never know what you will find there. Plus we love their dairy products. Stew Leonard's has their own dairy farms and they show you the cows on video when you're in the dairy aisle. They also offer what they call "naked" chicken, pork, and beef. No hormones or antibiotics are fed to the animals like organic and it's delicious. Besides that their cooked food is fantastic. Tonight we had BBQ ribs and fried chicken. Yummy!!! You can also get food from steam tables and we added a container of mashed potatoes that we scooped ourselves.

To leave the store you have to pass the candy area and they have a scoop where you can get your own jelly beans. The help never checks on whether you have taken a nibble or not. In times past they had a large table filled with undyed pistachio nuts, the non-red kind and you could stand there and eat as many as you wanted as you put them into the plastic bag. Now they still have it, but they've made it much smaller. But the best part of Stew Leonard's is that after you check out you can get a free ice cream or coffee for every $100 you spend.:) They have an ice cream place and a coffee place too. In the summer it's cooling, and it's also good if you're starving and have to face the trip home. It's probably about forty-five minutes to an hour away from us. There is one closer in New York State, but we don't like it as much. Also, in Connecticut you pay less sales tax.:)

I was looking at my husband's copy of The Forward, and I started reading the Editorial. It's called The Good Banker, and it's about Leonard Abess the banker who gave away $60 million to his employees. This took place about a week ago, but with the economy the way it is, highlighting this amazing feat doesn't sound insane. Mr. Abess seems to be that rare person who is a genuinely kind human being. Instead of keeping the extra money and adding it to the millions he already has, he gave it all away to his employees without being there to bring any publicity to it. As it says in the article that I hope you will read, he had a video shown to the employees after he sold the bank where he told them to expect a "windfall" and that they shouldn't worry that they were going to lose their jobs. Then he had the checks distributed to everyone without his being there for the hugging and kissing.:) This was just a bonus to pay them back for years of service. Go read the article to see how it has affected these people.

As the editor of The Forward says, Mr. Abess is doing what President Obama is doing on a smaller scale. He is redistributing his wealth to people who deserve it and need it. He is not going to horde it as greedy corporation CEO's have done in the past. He is graciously giving his employees his surplus money. He has just become my second favorite person in the news with Sully Sullenberger being the first one. Michelle Obama sat with Mr. Abess on Tuesday night when President Obama gave his Not State of the Union address. This is how someone who doesn't need the money can help people who really need the money or would greatly benefit from the money. I would hope that more people will follow this model and that our country will become generous enough to share its wealth with deserving people who don't have enough. I would love your comments on this. Would you give away money if you could afford it?

Now for something completely different, as Monty Python used to say. We bought a whole "naked" chicken today and I'm going to roast it tomorrow. Roasting a chicken is a little tricky, because it seems so simple, but it has to taste good and not be too dry. Ina Garten has a great recipe for roast chicken where you barely have to do anything, but it's delicious. I added a few of my own ingredients to this, but you can find hers in the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. She only uses thyme and she doesn't use the other vegetables. But she does have a note in the margin to use vegetables. I have cooked this for my family before and it was a big hit. But you can improvise and add or subtract ingredients. The important thing is the cooking time and make sure it's done. The juices need to run clear. I use a thermometer, though to be sure.:)
Here is the recipe:
Serves 4 w/leftovers

1 whole roasting chicken about 4lbs or more (Ina uses a 5 lb one)
4 stalks of celery - cut in thirds - eyeball it. You might need more as you go.
baby carrots - as many as you need. Buy a whole bag. I like the organic for flavor and just because I like organic vegetables.:)
2 whole heads of garlic
1 lemon
sprigs of sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano
extra virgin olive oil - about 1/3 cup
salt and pepper
roasting pan - 13"x9" -- You can line this or use non-stick surface
1 large sweet onion - cut in half and then slice one half. Cut the other half into quarters
aluminum foil
kitchen twine to tie the legs
low sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
You start with a great chicken and of course it's cleaned and washed and dried. Once it is ready you need to put it in a pan. The pan shouldn't be too large, but it should fit your chicken with space around it. You want to keep the chicken off the surface of the pan so you can put vegetables underneath it. I use celery, carrots and sliced onions. You are building a little shelf for your chicken to sit upon. So season it well with salt and pepper all over including inside the cavity. Rub the seasonings into the chicken. Then take at least eight to ten cloves of garlic - peeled and flatten them a little. Take a small knife and make sure it can slide under the skin on top of the breast. Start placing the cloves of garlic underneath the skin. You want to space them so they are evenly distributed. Put some under the skin of the drumsticks and the wings too. Next is the stuffing. Then take the other whole garlic clove and cut off the top. Cut an x on top of it. Stuff it with the skin on into the cavity. Then take the onion quarters and stuff them in too. Stuff in the whole lemon too. Then take a few sprigs of each herb and place them into the cavity too. It doesn't matter if they stick out. When it is all stuffed then tie the legs with kitchen twine so they cover the stuffed cavity. Take the oil and rub it all over the chicken top and bottom. (You can also use butter, but I have found that it will brown better with the oil.) Pour the chicken broth into the pan until it covers the vegetables - about 2 inches. Cover with a tent of aluminum foil. Roast for an hour covered. Then take off aluminum foil and roast for another half hour or more. Juices should run clear. It should be at least 165 degrees. Use a thermometer in the breast and the drumstick to make sure it is evenly done. You may need to leave it in longer than a half hour until it gets to the desired temperature. While it is cooking check to see if the vegetables are getting too browned. If they are then add more broth. You can also baste the chicken every twenty minutes or so. Then take it out and recover with the aluminum foil for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes take off aluminum foil. This chicken does not need any gravy. Before you serve it take as much of the stuffing out of the cavity as you can. If you want to make gravy you only need to pour off the fat and warm the liquid with flour. You can strain the liquid and then pour it back and cook until it gets thicker and gravy-like. I guarantee you will love this chicken!!!

I'm all set to make it tomorrow. The best is that this is all chicken and great for someone who is watching their weight. I'm going to serve it with the largest baked potatoes I have ever seen . You can pop the potatoes into the oven as the chicken is cooking and they will be done at the same time. We usually put sour cream and chives in ours and I bought fresh chives that I will snip to put into the sour cream. Also add a salad and a vegetable, but you really don't need the vegetable. Serve the roasted ones with the chicken.

Okay, never expected to give you my roast chicken recipe, but enjoy it and until the next time, welcome to my new readers and I hope that if you posted a comment that I got to answer it. I try to answer all comments and will try to get a way to see if there are comments so I can answer in a more timely way. I'm not looking forward to more snow. They're predicting it on Monday and starting tomorrow. Hope you have a great rest of the weekend.:) Monday I will highlight a new blog. Could it be yours?:)


2 comments:

  1. As soon as I saw your Stew Leonard's pic I knew you were in CT! My friends and relatives in Fairfield go crazy over the store. I haven't been there myself, but you can bet that the next time I visit, I'll be checking it out.

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  2. Hi Suzanne,
    Actually I live close to the border in North White Plains, NY. We used to live even closer to the border and got into the habit of going there. No one should leave without visiting Stew Leonard's. it's what all stores should be!

    Thanks for reading and commenting.:)

    Barbara

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