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Archive for February, 2013

Jersey Fresh Shoppes

JFS pic
The road to success is wherever people need another road. ~Robert Brault

The road, in this case, happens to travel through New Jersey, the Garden State. However, it is not a road designed by civil engineers or formed through layers of asphalt, though these modes of transit will help the Jersey Fresh Shoppe concept succeed.

The roads I speak about are a collection of ideas routed toward solutions and financial profits for the state of NJ and our agricultural community; farmers through fisheries, artists through scholars.

The Jersey Fresh Shoppes concept was reviewed by Lieutenant Governor Guadagno and forwarded to the Secretary of Agriculture. Douglas Fischer saw the possibilities and a meeting followed. Last September, pre Hurricane Sandy, I met with the DOA and talked through the concept’s options, potential hurdles as well as the many benefits this endeavor could bring to our state and agri community. Separately, I met with the largest retailer owned cooperative in the United States, Wakefern Corporation. Their input was invaluable. The attributes of JF Shoppe’s multi-faceted concept were validated through these meetings.

Though originally intended as a state initiative, after thoughtful review, the man-power and start-up capital needed to implement the Jersey Fresh Shoppes’ brand was deemed unmanageable by the State of New Jersey. This determination, though understood, was regrettable as the long term benefits are expansive.

Post Sandy, putting initiatives into motion that have the ability to secure revenue for NJ and our agricultural communities, by expanding the Jersey Fresh brand into greater markets, is even more important.

I am now seeking help from the private sector, parties who will take a look at the various aspects of my idea to see if my vision can be ‘our’ vision. I do not have the financial resources, nor the full scope of business knowledge needed to execute this concept alone, but, what I do have is the belief in an idea and an affinity for my New Jersey. In the right hands the Jersey Fresh Shoppes could be a successful business venture, and simultaneously, a helpful hand extended to New Jersey.

If you would like to learn more, please contact me at NJFShoppes@yahoo.com. Feel free to forward this to other persons you believe may have an interest.

I thank you for your time-
Kathleen

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The Market Experiment

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I’m a sucker for farmers markets and was happy to learn that a winter operation exists nearby. http://stocktonfarmmarket.com/. My husband suggested we take the kids and check it out. Perusing my dormant garden from the kitchen window, all ash grey and crunchy with just a hint of green lettuce and kale poking through the soil, I was elated. Oh, to walk amongst fresh and locally sourced products and not in a mass market setting. Joy.

We entered the building and were each engaged. The kids went right to the chocolatier counter where superior quality dark chocolate was blended with milk and offered in samples. We visited the local meats and cheese counters, were intrigued by the mushrooms and tasted and sniffed our way through an herb and spice section. Samples of freshly made tortillas and salsa were tried and I salivated over the healthy focaccia, eggplant and other delectable concoctions baked up by two talented ladies.

Without overwhelming the space with tables and wares, there were just enough local artisans selling a myriad of products to keep it interesting; hand knitted clothing, jewelry, truly beautiful wood work and letterpress services, to name a few. After some walking around, my youngest, ever hungry and relentless when he wants something to eat, pushed us toward the café section. We agreed to a hot chocolate and a scone for the boys, while we grabbed a coffee. When rounding the bend my husband and older son were met with a surprise. Their favorite show is a new Travel Channel series called, Dangerous Grounds. Wouldn’t you know the coffee was from http://www.lacolombe.com/. It tasted pretty darn good and resulted in our watching the two most recent episodes when we arrived home.

However, before that happened, I had an idea. Everyone seemed excited about the foods available though I knew many of these items would not typically make it to our table. I for one was eyeing up the mushroom display and longed to work some into a future dinner. I suggested we pick out a little bit of our favorite items within the marketplace and I would create a meal the next night from our selections. My husband and older son jumped earnestly on board. My youngest pointed at the mushroom display, said flatly, ‘I am NOT eating that,’and headed toward the chocolate counter.

We selected fresh smoked bacon, a nicely aged asiago cheese and two types of mushrooms. Wonderful mushroom lady informed me of the medicinal benefits of mushrooms which was fungilicious news to me. My older son’s favorite detail was in learning that the maitaki was pulled off an oak tree, ‘That’s cool’.

We traveled through the spices and I settled on dry cilantro. The family picked out ricciarelle pasta, though I didn’t realize until we arrived home that it was an import from Italy. I could live with that as well as the Tunisian extra virgin olive oil I sampled. The creamy flavor it left in my mouth was truly notable. With the help of some ingredients I had at home; tomatoes, sea salt and cracked pepper, my dinner project was ready for take off.

The next night I cooked up the bacon and dropped the smoky crumple into a pan with olive oil and mushrooms. After sautéing for a bit I threw in chopped tomato, a few pinches of dried cilantro, sea salt and black pepper. I spooned this on top of the pasta, shaved the asiago overtop, and with another pinch of cilantro and ground pepper, fingers crossed I served the experiment.

My youngest received his portion, less the mushrooms, finished his plate and had seconds of the pasta. My middle son tried the mushrooms, thoughtfully stated they weren’t for him, and ate the remainder of his meal. Still, an attempt was made and with that kind of open mind I’m sure he’ll grow into new tastes. However, should you believe ‘project eat new foods’ didn’t go well, think again. My husband, who has turned up his nose to mushrooms since he was a wee little boy, loved his meal. We discussed the consistency of two different mushrooms. Between mouthfuls we agreed that the smoky flavor intermingled with the tomato’s sweetness and creamy bite from the cheese were great combinations. My culinary future had hope thanks to this little experiment.

Next weekend we plan to head back to the Stockton Market and select options for another meal. Dinner could end up being pasta with dark chocolate sauce…but for the sake of the market experiment, even mommies have to keep an open mind.

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