BERRIES and CHERRIES 🍒🍒🍒 6/22/2021

Quick things:

  • Want to receive this newsletter via email? Sign up here.
  • We’re open for pre-orders/curbside pickup AND in-person shopping. Click here for more info, or here to start shopping!
  • New & noteworthy: BERRIES: raspberries, blueberries, mulberries. Not a berry: cherries. Fresh garlic. Cukes and zukes (big zuke price drop happening with Wednesday’s delivery). Cherry tomatoes. Celery. Fennel. If I list everything here it makes the “noteworthy” assertion kind of meaningless, right? (This isn’t anywhere near everything.)
  • This week’s soups: Chicken Noodle and a brand new vegan Roasted Broccoli with Cracked Pepper.
  • Not everything I listed above is physically on site yet (and even less is on the website), so click here to view our current(ish) availability and when we expect various deliveries to arrive. (Updated mostly daily; no guarantees it’s perfect; see below for more discussion of this.)
  • Masks continue to be required until PA does away with its mandates (looks like just through this week).


Tuesday! What’s even going on?

I realize you might not be so tuned in to realize that a Tuesday newsletter is weird, but you may have noticed that I’ve been a little…sporadic….recently. In my head, the newsletter happens on Wednesdays. In reality, Wednesdays often get away from me, and so I aim for Thursday but Thursdays are usually even crazier, and then, well, it’s the weekend, and it feels like, what’s even the point? and so lately it’s not been so much “Wednesdays” as “every other Thursday”.

So I figured I’d stop fighting with myself to find time on Wednesdays and Thursdays and try something new — Tuesdays are fairly calm around here, so maybe a good option. But I’ve had this idea that I can’t write the newsletter until all the deliveries of new stuff are actually here, because it seems too confusing to try to explain that this thing I’m extra excited about (FRESH GARLIC) has not actually arrived yet and maybe there are several things that aren’t here yet and we get deliveries pretty much every day and maybe it’d be a lot of work to make a list showing when everything’s going to be here and excuses excuses excuses.

Anyway, Dusty and I have this new plan (a last ditch effort to preserve what sanity I have remaining) that involves me working from home for the first couple of hours three days a week, and this morning was the first real day of that. I’m going to use this time to write the newsletter! I thought.

But all that worry about how to explain what we’d actually have on what days got the better of me, and so what I actually did was use that time to pull together a new report, which combines the inventory data from the POS with the pending order data from my little (not so little) internal database, and tells us what’s currently in stock and what items aren’t currently in stock but are actively expected to arrive any day now. It’s going to be useful to us internally, and it resolves some of my newsletter-timing dilemma.

You can find it, any time, at I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but the page covers bread, our kitchen items, and produce (the categories with the most flux from week to week). On the left you can see the specific items, listed by category and sub-category, and on the right it says, “In stock now!” if we have it (or at least if the POS thinks we have it) or “Arrives <date>” if we’ve got a pending order for it. Sometimes you might see an “Arrives <date>” for a <date> in the past. That means that either a) I haven’t yet marked the delivery as received in the POS, or b) it didn’t show up as expected. I try to stay on top of the deliveries for the categories listed here, so if you’re feeling it’s critical that you know whether or not something has actually arrived, feel free to give us a call.

I expect to be updating this report and the associated page daily-ish, as I process receivals and place orders, but who knows. Assuming I’ve got all my ducks in a row (which I need for a number of other reasons anyway), I can export it with just a couple of clicks and it’ll automatically upload to the website, so the version there will always be the most recent version that exists.

One important note — the POS doesn’t subtract the day’s sales from inventory until midnight, and I won’t do anything with that update until at least 6am (more like 7 or 8), so there is a possibility that something “In stock now!” as of the morning won’t be by the end of the day. My future dreams for this particular report include indicators like, “Low stock!” and “ABUNDANT”, but the data required to determine where those numbers are for various things isn’t part of my existing stream, or at least not in a super ready-to-use form, so it’s a little ways off. What I mean is, if we have six units of marjoram, that’s, like, a week’s worth of inventory; but if we have six units of raspberries, that’s, like, five minutes of inventory. So I need to either write a formula for comparing quantity on hand to average weekly sales or manually set par levels for each item, or something else. In the meantime, if you see something you want, you should probably just come in ASAP. And then again the next day for the next delivery of goodies. And so on. 🙂

Building tools like this is one of my favorite parts of the job, so I think those extra stock indicators will happen eventually, just not today. I’m already pretty stunned that I somehow spent pretty much all of my “free time” today building this report that as of yesterday I didn’t even know we needed. But! it feels really good to have it done, and I think it’ll be helpful to the crew on the floor in determining when we need an “Out of Stock” sign on a display versus just making the display go away, and in planning ahead for the next day, etc. Progress!

A huge amount of the rest of my time these days has been devoted to continuing development of our fledgling training program, which also feels like progress. I’ve written little modules for all of our most fundamental functions, and one of our not-so-recent-but-still-recent newbies (who, it occurs to me, is due for an “Introducing” post) has completed his training in all those fundamentals and has begun getting “certified proficient” in several. I’m pretty excited about this whole thing, though also a little intimidated when I see that the “Trainers’ Manual” — one outline (not full-blown text) for each training module — already totals 50 pages and I feel like I’ve only just begun. One topic at a time, though, eventually we’ll get there. Progress! (I just have to stay at least one step ahead of our current newbies.)

And a smaller amount of some of my time these days has been devoted to trying to regain something that looks like a work/life balance, though I’m very aware that even my ideal scenario might not look as balanced as is commonly thought of as ideal. A huge part of that is trying to make some of the foods I’ve been fantasizing about. On Friday, we scored a major victory with simple pasta dish that didn’t taste simple at all — Canadian bacon, shell peas, and a boatload of herbs (mint, dill, and parsley) tossed with cascatelli pasta. It. was. awesome.

Sidenote: do you know about cascatelli? It’s a brand new pasta shape invented by the the host of The Sporkful, one of Dusty’s favorite podcasts. I haven’t listened to the series about creating this new pasta shape, but Dusty gets a little choked up when he talks about it so it must be something special. The pasta sure is.

Anyway, on that dinner — other than shelling the peas (which I did while watching TV), it was very fast — put some water on the stove for the pasta; chop up the Canadian bacon; wash and chop the herbs; start cooking the bacon when the pasta goes into the water; add the peas to the pan just before the pasta is done; transfer the pasta to the pan with the bacon and peas, along with a decent amount of its cooking liquid; drizzle some olive oil in; stir to combine; turn off the heat, and stir in half+ of the herbs; transfer to bowls; top with additional herbs and grated Oldwick Shepherd. If you’ve got a lemon, or a little bit of rhubarb juice, a little squeeze of acid would be nice, but not necessary. Enjoy the tastes of early summer. Relish how well the land treats us. Marvel at the invention of a new pasta shape. (Or, um, since apparently it’s pre-order only, just use some fusilli or something and hope tomatoes are still around when your box of cascatelli arrives?)

Of course, even that is not as simple as the other great eating pleasure this week — pork chops and broccoli on the grill, a baguette on the side. The last (😥) of the season’s strawberries in a bowl of cream for dessert.

It’s a wonderful season for eating.