Colorado cookbook recalls the fading era of the independent grocer


Drive through most small cities along Colorado’s Front Range and you’ll see pretty much the same supermarket names: King Soopers, Safeway, Albertson’s, Whole Foods, etc.

Go back just 20 to 30 years and you would have seen a litany of grocery names, often several in each town with their own identity and products. They were almost always operated by a single family.

Anyone growing up in that era would immediately recognize Steele’s Market which was founded in Fort Collins and spread to a number of cities.

Carol Ann Steele Kates grew up working in her family’s market, stocking shelves before she could even read. After the last Steele’s Market closed in 2001, she looked for a way to honor her legacy and ended up publishing “Secret Recipes from the Corner Market.”

More than a nostalgic cookbook, the volume offers ingredient shopping advice with the recipes drawn from a lifetime of practical advice given to shoppers. To stay in the only business she knew, Kates also launched Corner Market Secret Recipes gourmet food products which she sells along with the cookbooks at the weekly farmers market in Fort Collins. For more information on the products or the cookbook visit

Here are two favorite recipes from the book:


French Country Chicken Casserole

4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons butter

8 small pearl onions

1 frying chicken, cut up (2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings)

Sea salt to taste

Large grind black pepper to taste

1/2 pound fresh Hazel Dell mushrooms, quartered

1/2 small eggplant, peeled and cut into1/2-inch strips

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and quartered

1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut in1/2-inch strips

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon fresh basil, slivered

1/2 cup white wine


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove and transfer to a paper towel to dry. Crumble into bite-size pieces and set aside. Add butter to the same skillet and sauté onions in butter and bacon drippings until lightly browned. Remove onions from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste, then brown in the same skillet. Transfer bacon, onion, and chicken pieces to an ovenproof casserole.

Add mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, green bell pepper, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and basil to the same skillet. Sauté over medium heat for three minutes, while slowly adding white wine. Arrange vegetables around and over chicken pieces in the casserole dish. Cover and bake for 60 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve. Makes about four servings.





For the roasted garlic heads:

4 whole heads garlic

1/8 cup dry white wine

Water for roasting

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil


For the tomatillo salsa:

1/2 pound tomatillos, husks removed, cored, and quartered

1/2 small white onion, quartered

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 fresh serrano chile, stemmed and seeded

1/2 fresh anaheim pepper, stemmed and seeded

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed

8 ounces brie cheese, cut into 4 sections

1 sourdough baguette, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To prepare garlic heads, remove excess papery skin, leaving heads whole. Using a knife, cut about 1/2 inch off top of each head, exposing tops of individual cloves. Using a small paring knife, cut a thin sliver off the tops of any cloves where tops are not exposed. Place garlic heads, cut side up, in a deep-sided casserole and add wine and enough water to reach halfway up sides of heads. Drizzle olive oil evenly over garlic heads. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, place in the oven, and bake about 1 hour, or until cloves feel soft when pressed.

To prepare tomatillo salsa: In a blender or food processor, place tomatillos, onion, garlic, serrano and anaheim peppers, and salt. Blend until mixture is smooth and thick. Add cilantro and blend again until thoroughly combined.

To prepare brie: Preheat broiler. Arrange brie on an ovenproof serving platter and place under the broiler until cheese begins to melt, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cheese should not be heated to the point it melts into a puddle. Arrange garlic heads on platter and flood the platter with salsa. Makes about four servings.