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Moving to Andover / Salem area, need guidance from locals please!

There's a big, new Wegman's in Burlington MA. Not at all close to Andover, but you probably will find yourself in the inner western burbs from time to time.

You are in luck when it comes to German food. Karl's Sausage Kitchen in Peabody is in Peabody, not very far from Andover. (Both towns are on the North Shore, that is, basically everything in MA that is up the coast north of Boston.) There is a very nice German/Scandinavian grocery selection, heavenly wursts and cured meats, and a small cafe.

About Market Basket. There are old MBs and a bunch of brand new MBs. Do not be put off by the low prices. If you have an opportunity, stop by one of the new, large stores, poke around and you will find all sorts of amazing things that you might expect to find only in specialty stores. For example, the new store near me stocks items such as Italian 00 flour and Nielsen-Massey vanilla powder. I get my organic King Arthur Flour at MB. Market Basket is a very good choice for quality seafood. Just wait a few months and check out their prices for lobster.

For Mexican groceries, I do not know the North Shore well enough to give an example there, but if you are driving into Boston, you could try the Chelsea Market Basket, which stocks a large selection of Mexican and Central American foods.

about 7 hours ago
PinchOfSalt in Greater Boston Area

How long do I boil/simmer pork sausages before browning them?

The white stuff is protein. It may look strange but it is harmless.

Mar 19, 2015
PinchOfSalt in Home Cooking

Blood Farm is back!

Just heard a story about Blood Farm on WBUR. They have rebuilt and are open for business again. This is great news for local agriculture and for their customers.

More here:

February 2015 Openings and Closings

At the risk of driving the discussion OT, the Belmontonian actually is Belmont's only news source (not a paper since it is online only) that actually has a reporter based in Belmont. The reporter (who is also the publisher) has a wry sense of humor that reflected here and there in his reporting. There's been some excellent in-depth reporting on some issues of concern to the town. I am not concerned about the photo in that article when I can also read an in-depth article about, say, what is going on with the long-delayed Cushing Village development project.

Meat CSA 2015

More about the Pete and Jen's situation here:

Changes at Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds

I recently received the following letter from Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds, a wonderful source of locally raised chicken, pork, lamb, beef, eggs (and other assorted item) in the Concord / Sudbury area. For reasons outlined in the letter, they are looking for a new location, hopefully not too far away from where they currently farm. Perhaps someone here might have a good lead for them. More generally, it is an interesting tale about the nitty gritty of local agribusiness.


As it is said, all good things must come to an end...or at least a fork in the (farm) road! After many years of growing our farm in Concord, and more recently in Sudbury, it is with mixed emotions that we convey the news that Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds is in the beginning stages of a transition. As many folks may or may not know, Backyard Birds has, since its inception, been rooted on land and in infrastructure owned by Verrill Farm. Pete has been employed as the Assistant Farm Manager at Verrill Farm since March of 2003. As we began raising raising our first few lovely hens way back then, it has mostly all taken place on property owned by the Verrills (we are typical of young/new beginning farmers, most commonly leasing land rather than owning it).

As we have slowly expanded our business over the years and accelerated our growth (a bit) in the last few to meet the ever growing demand for our tasty products, the demands on Pete's time have grown as well. Managing our farm and our new helpers became an increasingly difficult balancing act and the Verrill's now believe that our business has "become a conflict" and have asked us to move on. So...the time has come for us to go our own way. We remain forever grateful to the Verrill's who have "incubated" our business all these years and allowed us access to all their abundant land and critical infrastructure.

On March 31st, Pete will officially end his employment with Verrill Farm after 12 productive years, and with that, the end of an era! At this time, we have been told we may remain on the land and in our home until the end of 2015, but we will need to leave our current housing and remove all our assets from the farm property by December 31, 2015. It is a tremendous disappointment to be asked to leave the Sudbury homestead we have worked extremely hard to improve and where we created a more comprehensive "farmstead" the past 2 1/2 years. We had been working on a longer-term lease agreement for the property with the Verrill's and we have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars clearing the land and renewing the property to transform unused, overgrown and marginal land into a vibrant farm. It was never our expectation that our departure might need to be so swift. Despite our efforts and overtures, unfortunately, the Verrill's are not interested in leasing us the house/property after this growing season.

OUR PLANS ARE EVOLVING and are in flux.

THE MINI-STORE IS MOVING! As part of this transition, the mini-store will be moving to the Sudbury farm location March 31st, 2015. We will miss our little funky space on Wheeler Road, as we are sure many of you will! We will transition the mini-store to a lovely little green shed at the base of our driveway at 101 North Road in Sudbury (right on Rte 117, just a mile down the street from the existing mini-store) and never fear - there will be no disruption in your ability to get tasty goodies anytime! Our freezers, fridge, and all our tasty products will still be for sale at this location (same spot as the monthly chicken pickups). The NEW Mini-store "Deux" will be open 24/7 until at least early December 2015. We hope to find another location or locations(s) in town to retail our products after this year. We will continue to sell our eggs to Debra's Natural Gourmet and Hutchin's Farm. We will no longer be retailing eggs at Verrill Farm.

HELP us FIND a new home farm! We are actively seeking a new, local, home base for our farm! At this time, we are proactively exploring several options in the area and we hope to leave no stone unturned! We need a home to live in and approximately 5+ acres of dry land to house an unheated greenhouse for our laying hens in winter, a small pasture, our orchard, and space for our equipment, rabbitry, brooder, and to store our mobile chicken coops. We would love to reside in Concord, but we are very open to moving our home farm to surrounding towns and continuing to serve the local area. We are speaking with other farms in the area to explore potential synergies and share existing farmland. It is and always has been our plan to partner with vegetable farms to share the wonderful fertility of our beasts and to improve the beautiful and productive soils of Concord.

We welcome any leads or possibilities as time is of the essence! We recognize that many of the best situations are often not advertised publicly, but rather sourced through local networks, word of mouth, and good fortune, so we hope that many of you may have connections or ideas you could introduce us to. We would like to find a nice home to live in, even if it cannot be on the same property as our equipment/home farm. If we cannot find a local property to call our new farmstead within reasonable proximity to farm fields in town, we will have to face the harsh reality of relocating our farm to a more affordable farming community in neighboring states or to central/western Massachusetts. We really hope you can help us discover local opportunities to stay in the area as we would like to continue to grow our business here, but we cannot do it without your help and support!

Farm Volunteer Days! We also want to plant a seed now that we will be organizing several volunteer work days on the farm this year to help us break down and pack up our farm infrastructure. Most fun will be dismantling our two high tunnels (greenhouses), digging up our perennial plants and removing all the fruit trees, trellis, and fencing in the orchard we just planted, loading farm supplies in portable trailers, and more! We hope you can join us for a few big projects and we always appreciate our helpers by sharing in community meals with some farm-grown tastiness!

Lastly, we want to assure folks...

YES - We are growing great food as always....Expect to continue to get the high quality, tasty products you expect from us.

AND YES - we plan to continue being your innovative, sustainably-minded farmers well into the future...hopefully nearby!

This season, we plan on growing all our great meats, eggs, and other items just as we always have. We will be updating our online store over the next week and will soon begin accepting 2015 pre-orders for chicken, pork, and turkeys! In fact, we plan to expand production for 2015 and provide more fresh veggies, fresh chickens every 2 weeks (some cut-up in addition to whole birds), along with regular availability of fresh pork! Since Pete will be focusing 100% of his efforts on Backyard Birds going forward, it will surely be an amazing growing season! The one big challenge being...where we will be moving to at the end of the year. So, please stay tuned, and send us your ideas, suggestions, contacts, and good vibes! It is a trying and stressful time for us, but we are keeping our heads held high and taking a giant leap forward with the hope and trust that our future will be brighter and tastier than ever with your continued support!

Meat CSA 2015

In case Snow Farm does not turn out to be the right choice for someone, here are some other local (Massachusetts) farms with which I am familiar and can recommend:

Signal Rock Farm - lamb only. In the winter they come to various locations in the Boston area so people can pick up items they have pre-ordered. (Not a CSA.)

Wheelview Farm - specializes in beef. They make periodic trips to the Boston area so people can pick up items they have pre-ordered. (My favorite beef comes from here.)

Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds (Concord). You go to their mini-store whenever you like and purchase whatever you need (pork, lamb, beef, eggs...) Their stock is seasonal. Their beef is from Wheelview Farm. My favorite pork is from Pete and Jen's. They also raise chickens, which you must pre-order for pickup during summer and fall.

Finally, I will put in a word for my meat CSA, Chestnut Farms. They deliver monthly to various locations in the Boston area. Great people.

Costco - looking for Kirkland Signature EVOO (Toscano) at a local branch

It has been at the Waltham Costco for several weeks now.


Actually, Thai cooking uses Kaffir lime leaves. Kaffir limes are different from key limes (or Persian limes for that matter).

Jan 27, 2015
PinchOfSalt in General Topics

Info on Market Basket new locations?

That article could also have been written to describe the Waltham store, which I believe is somewhat larger. Sounds like the latest rev of the standard MB design includes a butcher counter and a demo area. Relatively recent stores, such as Chelsea and Burlington, do not have them.

Anyone tried the Sugarbells at Wilson Farms? Or other outstanding sweet citrus elsewhere?

Thanks for the confirmation about honeybells at Russo's. I am due for a trip there soon and will certainly check them out. The season is short and I cannot get too many!

Anyone tried the Sugarbells at Wilson Farms? Or other outstanding sweet citrus elsewhere?

Bought some "sugarbells" (sure look like honeybells to me!) today and tried one this evening. Sweet and juicy. Yum. My only complaint is that they were pretty small compared to the ones I have purchased at Wilsons in previous years.

Apropos Russo's, I have not been there this month, but in previous years I have seen California mineolas there but nothing from Florida that might be called a honeybell. Have I been missing them due to bad timing or something?

FWIW, I also look out for oro blancos around this time of year. They are a low-acid citrus that is sweet and just plain yummy. Costco usually gets a shipment labeled "sweeties". Last year I saw them at Russo's too ("oro blancos"). They look like extra large grapefruit and may be green or yellow on the outside. (I go for the yellow ones, on the theory that they may be more ripe and therefore sweeter.)

Seasoned Market Basket shoppers

I was at the Waltham MB early on Tuesday afternoon. There were a few things out of stock (the half-gallon-size organic pasteurized milk from Vermont) or low (fresh ginger) but otherwise it seemed in good shape. The Monday after the Christmas/New Year holiday season is always bad in just about every supermarket. So many people are restocking their fridges. I cannot speak to the potatoes, but in general I have been pretty happy with the Waltham MB in my three visits since it opened. Early weekday afternoons (if you can swing that) are working well for me. A friend reports that Saturdays at the Waltham MB are a mob scene.

Help I accidentally pre stuffed my turkey!

The warnings about refrigerating stuffing along with the bird refer to doing that AFTER cooking. It is fine to stuff, refrigerate, then roast. Just remember to remove the cooked stuffing from the bird before storing the leftovers. Your bird is fine and it would have been fine to roast it with that stuffing in it.

Dec 25, 2014
PinchOfSalt in General Topics

What can i substitute for gruyere?

Actually, there are Trader Joes all over the country! There are four within a 15 minute drive from my home here in Massachusetts.

Dec 23, 2014
PinchOfSalt in Cheese

Chinese lobster sauce

Please share it here! Gratefulness will certainly follow.

Dec 22, 2014
PinchOfSalt in Home Cooking

Grassfed beef taste test

I get grass-fed beef from my meat CSA. The flavor definitely is different - more assertive - and the meat itself is leaner. (Grain fattens up the cattle.) The hamburgers I make from my CSA's ground beef are head and shoulders tastier than the ones I have made from supermarket beef. As for the raw grass fed meat from Target smelling different than the regular kind, I haven't noticed anything like that. Perhaps what you experienced was due to the differences in the age of the packages or their sources or how they had been stored.

Dec 19, 2014
PinchOfSalt in General Topics

Belmont: Mark and Toni's Coal Fired Pizza

Thanks for the report, Chris. Trapelo Road between Cushing and Waverly is home territory for me. My favorite pizza along that stretch is Belmont Pizza. It was good 30+ years ago when I first moved into the neighborhood, still is now. (Full disclosure: during that 30 year period the boy who lived across the street and shoveled my sidewalk for a few bucks got a job at Belmont Pizza and later became a co-owner.) It is not gourmet pizza, but when you want a decent old-style (not Greek-style) pie, the large hits the spot (the small has always been too doughy).

FWIW, the place across the street from Belmont Pizza has Greek-style pies and Thyagos (at the end of the block) is its own kind of place. The family that runs it is Brazilian. Really nice folks and a somewhat more varied menu than the other two places.

Grand Opening of the Waltham Market Basket

Yes, I have been happily contemplating combined Costco/MB runs. Thanks for confirming that doing that will be easy.

ISO saurkraut for choucroute garni

Karl's Sausages (North Shore) has several different brands of high-quality German sauerkraut. They also make their own. Delicious!

Polar Seltzer Limited Winter Edition 2014

I've tried all of them. My favorites are the Cranberry Clementine and the Blackberry Bergamot. The Ginger Apple is pretty good, and when I am in the mood the Toasted Coconut Creme can be nice. Both of my thumbs are down on the Strawberry Champagne. Just not my thing.

FWIW, I saw all these flavors at the Waltham MB today and a couple of weeks ago at the Burlington Wegmans.

Grand Opening of the Waltham Market Basket

Hey bear, it was hard-to-park busy but short of being a madhouse. In fact, one of the associates told me that they really wanted to do the opening this weekend because, as he said, it is the slowest weekend of the year for supermarkets, what with people's fridges being full and the start of the holiday shopping season.

I made a full tour of the store, so am happy to answer questions. Seafood is in the back of the store and its inventory/size is essentially like Burlington - maybe a little better, thinking of the pile of frozen pre-cooked crabs at $3.49/pound - but alas, falls markedly short of Chelsea.

About the entrance(s), the one I used (on the north side of Main Street/route 117) was clearly marked. There is a big perma-sign that says "1265 Main Street". There also was a smaller temporary sign for Market Basket. This entrance is NOT what Google Maps suggests you do. Google Maps shows an entrance that is right next to route 128. I can't confirm whether that works. Traveling west on Main Street, the entrance I used was the right turn BEFORE the one that Google Maps showed.

One of the more fun/happy things about my shopping trip was the store manager coming onto the PA system every so often, so informal and enthusiastic and with a marked Boston accent, telling us about give-aways and bargains around the store. As always, shopping at Market Basket is a neighbor-to-neighbor experience. Love it.

Grand Opening of the Waltham Market Basket

Market Basket opened a new store in Waltham today. Artie T was there!

Info on Market Basket new locations?

Thanks for the heads-up! I am gonna check it out. I usually shop at the Burlington MB - about the same distance - but the product mix in Waltham might be a bit different due to the different ethnic mix.

Christmas blessing

A local grocery chain around here (the ever-wonderful Market Basket) offers small packages of deli ends (ham, cheese, beef, cold cuts) at a deeply discounted price. If the OP has something similar nearby, that could be an inexpensive source for casserole ingredients.

Nov 20, 2014
PinchOfSalt in Home Cooking

Rye bread?

Just ran across this image over on Facebook. Like I mentioned above, when I came to Boston I found there was a food-like substance called pastromi which was definitely NOT to be confused with real pastrami. Buzzy's Roast Beef sold pastromi, among other things.

Christmas blessing

Blessings unto YOU for serving those in need when you might be at home enjoying Christmas morning with your family.

How about a casserole with bread, eggs, cheese, and ham? Day old bread would be perfect and you only need a little ham, so this might fit your budget. There are many recipes around for this. You assemble everything the day before. All you have to do in the morning is bake it. If the budget allows, perhaps you can serve some sausage or bacon on the side.

Declining quality at Costco?

This is sounding more and more to me as if the problem is right there in your Costco - the manager who spoke with you. Maybe the employees laughed because they knew that was what is going on.

I suggest you get back in touch with corporate. I've never seen anything like what you describe at my Costco (Waltham, MA). If there is some other Costco within a reasonable drive, perhaps you could try that one.

Nov 18, 2014
PinchOfSalt in Chains

Declining quality at Costco?

Which Costco do you shop at? Given all the problems with so many produce items, the root cause may be with refrigerated storage at that store (or perhaps the distribution center that serves it).

Nov 18, 2014
PinchOfSalt in Chains

Rye bread?

Ha ha, yes, Greenfield is a bit far, even for that very excellent price.

Yes, that is the recipe. I can't really comment on the other two you are considering, as I have never made pastrami before.

When I first came to Boston (quite a long time ago) it sometimes seemed that the only pastrami that you could buy was spelled "pastromi" and had only a passing resemblance to the pastrami I had grown up with. The closest I could get to what I craved was sold by Elsie's in Harvard Square, Cambridge (long gone). Their hand-carved Romanian pastrami really hit the spot. It's been so long since I had a really good pastrami sandwich! With all the tremendous variety of good ethnic food around Boston, it is amazing that good Jewish deli is so underrepresented.