Countdown to Thanksgiving…

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The sun came up today and revealed a lovely crisp autumn morning. My husband I went to early Mass and we stopped at the Orange Cat afterward, as is our custom. I hung out with Dorothy, Tim and my other buddies for a while then decided to get a head start on my a thanksgiving preparation.

I headed over to Tops to pick up some of the things that will not perish prior to their use Wednesday and Thursday.

Today I’m going to make my cranberry compote. This year I am going to double the recipe and preserve some for myself and friends. The house will soon smell so good. I walked around the produce department twice and could not locate the cranberries. I was slightly panicked so I asked Mike Fland, one of my favorite grocers if there were any. He jokingly told me no as he walked to the display and revealed many bags. Phew. Crisis averted.20121118-114619.jpgOne of the key ingredients in the compote are oranges. The pickin’s were slim and I asked Mike about that. He said they were expecting some this morning but my time restraints prevented me from waiting. As I was chatting with my friend Annie, Mike wheeled a cart toward us filled with oranges. How cool is that? That is great customer service and why you never lose when you shop locally. Mike has been with the store for 22 years, starting in 1990. Thanks again Mike!

Sometimes it can take an hour to pick up one thing…you see all kinds of people and catch up between aisles. I saw my friend Annie and she told me she was thinking of making the stuffing recipe I posted yesterday. She asked me a few questions and I showed her the stuffing I was talking about. It is croutons seasoned (or not) in bags.

20121118-114310.jpgIt makes a completely different consistency dressing than one made with bread. It’s the one I was raised on so it’s what I know.

I am never more flattered than when someone tells me they read my column. What blows me away is when they tell me they use my recipes. Please let me know if you ever have any questions about any of the original (or family) recipes I publish. If you can’t make them then what’s the point, you know what I mean?

Have a yummy day!!

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Youngstown’s new market a perfect fit

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A large group gathers for the ribbon cutting of the new Melloni’s Market Place in Youngstown on Saturday (Photo courtesy Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce)

When Diane Melloni couldn’t get her husband Lou to find out more information about the sale of Market Place in Youngstown, she decided to take drastic measures.

She went to the local bank where the owner’s wife worked and appealed to her.

That is what they needed to strike the deal that will lead to Melloni’s Market Place grand opening this weekend.

Diane was comfortably retired, showing dogs with her friend when the opportunity arose. While Lou may complain about wanting to slow down, he has always dreamed of owning a grocery store. And, make no mistake; this is a grocery store, not a convenience store. Folks can do their regular shopping here. Melloni’s products will be competitively priced, like the large footprint chains, not like the higher “convenience” store models.

You can hear the excitement in Diane’s voice when she describes their plans. In addition to fresh meat (a Melloni specialty known in Lewiston for many years), produce and dairy, she will have a café in front where she will be serving Italian cookies and freshly filled cannoli. National brands will be available, along with the ShurFine store brand. Lou insists ShurFine gets a bad rap. He says it’s a great, high quality store brand with pricing which complements the store’s other products.

Buying the store has had many surprises. They were surprised by the condition of the property, causing a great deal of sweat equity and money to clean it up and make it their own. They were surprised by the amount of paperwork it takes to take out a small loan. Diane says this is the worst part of the renovation.

The greatest surprise, however, has been that of the community. When Lou first thought about buying the store he thought it would be a gold mine. Now, Lou says that whenever he is out and about town, having coffee or grabbing a bite to eat, people stop him and thank him for buying the store and bringing back an opportunity to shop in town. He has seen their sincerity and has been overwhelmed by the welcome.

What started out as a great business opportunity has turned into a wish for the community. Lou and Diane want the people of Youngstown to know they have their grocery store back. As a nearly 30-year resident of this wonderful town below the falls, I’m here to say it is way better than I ever remember. Mission accomplished.