The day started out mostly as an idle web search. I searched on the phrase ‘heirloom beans’ and found this book (now on order).  In the process of poking around links related to that book, I ran into a discussion of beluga lentils. And after finding this very enjoyable article discussing ways to cook lentils, I just had to stop by the closest Whole Foods and see what they had. And yes, Whole Foods is very much out of the way and not a typical place for me to shop, but when looking for exotic goods, you go where you have to.

After I was there, I took stock of the grains available there. A store clerk told me there were no beluga lentils.  But there was amaranth, at least six different brands of quinoa – quinoa pasta even. For the first time since I’ve been looking in Atlanta, I found farro:

Inexpensive quinoa and farro can be found at Whole Foods.

Inexpensive quinoa and farro can be found at Whole Foods.

Afterwards I bought odds and ends for my wife and left.  Trader Joe’s is on the way home, I needed something to eat and I like shopping Trader Joe’s.  I was kind of wanting their baklava collection, and of course, once I was there, I couldn’t find it. I did find beluga lentils. They were cooked, so I wasn’t interested (I want dried legumes). I found some nice baby broccoli, and there was a well priced cut of steak (under $5). On the way out, the clerk found the baklava for me. I had just walked past it.

A price comparison: 1 lb box of Trader Joe’s quinoa is 3.99. The 1 pound bag of ’365′ brand Whole Foods quinoa was $2.99.

Third stop was Publix, to check out what N. K. Hurst products they had, get a feel for prices, etc.  N. K. Hurst is an American company located in Indianapolis that sells bean based soups. They have recently started a blog, which posts recipes of their products (and potential products). It is currently undervisited, and if you like the “HamBeens” line of soups, drop by their site and give them a try.

Hurst has a 15 bean soup, which has not gone unnoticed in the blogosphere.  They sell other soups as well – lentil and split pea based, northern bean based, etc. In comparison to the store brands (when they existed — the 15 bean soup was unique at my Publix), the Hurst products were priced anywhere from 50 cents to 80 cents more. The value added is in the recipes on the back, and a spice pack included in the product itself. It’s just my feeling mind you, but if the package had the url of the new blog on it, it might do their customers even more good. The blog has pictures of the things that can be done with Hurst beans, more so than just boiling them and tossing in the flavor packet.

Take home? It’s nice to see an established brick and mortar American company try new and innovative ways to reach their customers. Kudos to N. K. Hurst.

In terms of availability, I wish their combination lentil product were for sale at Publix. I didn’t see it there.

Back to food. Dinner was going to be pan seared steak, along with snow peas and some version of the baby broccoli. I wanted a fast, simple way to prepare the broccoli and I found this recipe.  In My Box’s use of just half a cup of water to ‘steam’ the broccoli, combined with ~ 6 cloves of garlic and 2 tsp soy, looked really good. I tried it. I only had 3 cloves of garlic and I guessed on the amount of soy sauce but it still came out nicely. Once done, my daughter insisted on having some.

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