Be Sure To Enjoy: Picnic Season!

The summer weather is in full swing and many of us know that here in Wisconsin, summer sadly won’t last long. Winter will be here before you know it, [cue Alfred Hitchcock’s, “Psycho”, shower scene music].What does that mean for us? It means to not miss a minute of the summer weather. This is an important time of year to get out and spend time reconnecting with friends and family.

One way to do that involves our specialty, great food! In particular, having a picnic. Sharing a meal has traditionally been a way to show trust, friendship and love to those you care for and a picnic combines a delightful meal with the great outdoors. You can’t really go wrong there.

As we wrap up July and head into August, remember to enjoy this last stretch of the picnic season. Here are some of HCM’s favorite basket picks to help get those wheels turning.



We hope you utilize the rest of the summer and slow down, enjoy great company and of course, some great food never hurts.

Looking for more food ideas for planning a great outing? Stop by HCM and talk with our friendly staff. They’ll help you find just what you need.

Thanks for following!


P.S. For a super recipe for fun, add some lawn games to the picnic.

Fresh Start: Salsa-Braised Kale Recipe

Some fresh ideas are always welcome at the New Year. Here’s a tasty, (and healthy), Salsa-Braised Kale recipe to enjoy. Not into kale? Give it a try! You may be surprised.

Nutritional Value: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium.

Yum Value: Extremely Tasty.


If you’d like to read our other “Fresh Start” posts they are listed below:

Fresh Start: New Year’s Resolutions

Fresh Start: Food for the Mind

Fresh Start: “Making a Change”, Interview with Turning Leaf Acupuncture

Fresh Start: Care for Your Body

Fresh Start: Nutritious Black Bean Soup Recipe

Have a recipe you’d like to share? Please do! We’d love to hear from you.

 Thanks for following!


Tea 101

Pouring Healthy TeaWe’d like to take a moment to focus on tea, the benefits of tea, and how to prepare tea. While we more commonly focus on coffee here in the U.S., tea is the second most popular drink in the world, (second only to water), and has long been known as one of the healthiest beverage options.

Preparing tea can be done in 3 simple steps:

1.Choose your tea

2. Heat Water

3. Steep your tea (using either bagged tea or a tea infuser)

While preparing tea is simple, there is also a wealth of fascinating information about tea and how to make a great cup of tea. Below, we’ve answered several common questions about tea:

“I’ve Tried Tea and it was Like Drinking Slightly Flavored Water.” Is this True of Tea? This statement is probably the most common we hear about tea by a non tea-drinker. But many who are not familiar with tea forget that there are thousands of varieties of tea, ranging from calm and mild tasting to bold and intense. Another factor for lack of flavor could be incorrect steeping time, or the use of a cheaper tea. Even replacing bagged tea with loose leaf tea can make all the difference. Of course, some people simply don’t enjoy tea just as some people don’t enjoy coffee.

What Tea Varieties are There? Tea originates from the plant Camella sinensis. From this single plant there are thousands of varieties of tea. The tea varies based on what region and soil it was grown in, the time of year it was picked, and how it was processed. The primary tea groupings include: green tea, white tea, oolong tea, black tea and herbal tea. Within each of these tea groupings are thousands of variations. Be aware that herbal teas, which include roobois teas, and mate teas are not made with the Camella sinensis plant. Herbal teas are blends of herbs, fruit, and flowers.  Roobois teas are made from a South African red bush and mate teas are made from the twigs and leaves of the yerba mate plant.

I’ve Heated Up My Hot Water, Now How Do I Brew My Tea? After you’ve heated up your water, you can pour it into your cup or pot with your tea. If you’re using a bagged tea, simply add your tea bag to the cup of hot water. If you’re using loose leaf tea, spoon approximately 1 tablespoon, (per 8 oz. of water), of loose tea into your infuser and set your infuser into your cup of hot water. Keep in mind that with softer teas such as green or white you do not want to use too hot of water. With softer teas, too hot of water can often create a bitter taste to the tea. Once you’ve added your hot water, allow the tea to steep. The term ‘steep’ refers to allowing the tea to sit in the cup of hot water for the necessary amount of time. The amount of time for steeping tea commonly depends on the type of tea. Many tea brands will actually provide an estimated steeping time on the packaging or online for the tea. After trying the recommended time, you can also learn your preferred steeping time for different teas by experience. Allow your tea to steep a bit longer or shorter and see what you prefer. Keep in mind that with most teas, the longer you steep the tea the stronger and more bitter it can taste. Likewise, if you steep the tea for too short a time, you often get a weak taste. Commonly, loose leaf teas can steep a bit longer than a tea bag.

What is the Benefit of Loose Leaf Teas? Often, beginners in tea are uncertain of loose leaf teas as opposed to bagged teas. While bagged teas are quick and easy, the taste difference between the two is  noticeable and the reason why so many choose loose leaf over bagged teas. The difference in taste comes from the amount and size of tea leaves used.  When you purchase loose leaf tea, larger portions of tea leaves are used, providing a richer, fuller flavor. In tea bags, the tea leaf is often ground much smaller, which creates a less flavorful taste. Bagged teas can also increase the release of tannins, which gives the tea a harsher taste.  An easy alternative to the tea bag is to purchase an infuser. To make loose leaf tea you will need either an infuser or tea bags that you can hand fill with your loose tea. Tea infusers come in many varieties with some for a single serving of tea and others for pots. With a tea infuser or two around the house, making loose leaf tea is just as efficient as using a bagged tea.

What are the Health Benefits to Drinking Tea? Tea has been known for its many health benefits for thousands of years and each tea can have different benefits. For example, most green teas are known for boosting your metabolism while black teas have been known to lower blood pressure. If you go even deeper into the tea variations, a green tea such as a peppermint green tea has been known to help calm stomach troubles.

Thankfully, the internet is also littered with helpful visuals on benefits of teas, steeping times and more. Here are a few we hunted down that we found to be beneficial.

The first image is a generalized chart about white tea, green, tea, etc. and their health benefits. The second chart focuses more on specific variations of tea.



Tea Health


This third chart we made as a great little companion for steeping tea:

Tea Steeping Time


We hope this tea 101 was helpful for those of you who already enjoy tea as well as those of you who are just becoming interested in the fascinating benefits of tea.

At Hill Country Market we offer a selection of high-quality tea provided by Wisconsin local, Rishi Tea. If you have more questions about tea and where to get started, stop in and visit us and our experienced staff can help answer your questions.

And for the coffee lovers out there, no worries, we will be discussing coffee soon as well.

Thanks for following!


Celebrating the Earth

Planting PeppersAs many of you know, this week had two major Earth celebration days. Earth Day, which was this past Tuesday, and Arbor Day, which takes place on the last Friday in April, (today!).  These two days allow us to focus on the Earth and all that it provides. In our busy lives we often forget to stop and think about how everything we use, draw energy from, and consume comes from the resources on our planet. Also, we forget that without conscious care and moderation, these resources could become a scarcity. So, this week really got us thinking about our environmental stewardship as a company.

Hill Country Market is located next to Breezy Hill Nursery, who partnered with local area schools this week to plant trees and discuss the importance of Arbor Day with the students. We know Breezy Hill is always invested in the care of the environment, but what are some things Hill Country Market does?

At Hill Country Market we feature a variety of organic products. Not only that, but our produce, meat, tea and coffee come from environmentally conscious companies that we are proud to partner with. We are constantly considering what we can do as a store to minimize waste and run cleanly. The product we bring in and make, seeks to call attention to the Earth and what it provides by featuring more natural ingredients.

While we can always improve, we appreciate that Earth Day and Arbor Day serve as reminders to continue being environmentally conscious.

Have a great weekend!

-Hill Country Market

St. Patrick’s Day Recipes and Festive Ideas!

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this Monday and it is the perfect time of year to get some friends together and have tasty and festive food. Here are a couple great recipes and some fun party options to get you started.

St. Patty Pinwheel

Party Ideas

Reuben Dip

Hill Country Market wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks for following!

Endangered Species Chocolate Has A Lot Of Heart

With all the Valentine’s Day buzz this month, we decided it was the perfect time to feature one of the chocolate products we carry here at Hill Country Market, Endangered Species Chocolate. Not only is their product sweet and delicious, but it also has a lot of heart behind it.

Endangered Species Chocolate is natural and ethically traded chocolate that supports plant and animal endangered species. “Every time you purchase a bar, you raise support for species and habitats worldwide. Each year, Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of net profits to environmental non-profits that are focused on wildlife conservation and habitat preservation” (Endangered Species Chocolate, Every three years they partner with new conservation non-profits. The current conservation non-profits include the American Wildlife Foundation and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

To make their mission even sweeter, their product is created ethically and with a focus on sustaining the communities, habitats, and species where their cacao is sourced.

To learn more about Endangered Species Chocolate, visit their site at where you can read about their mission and story, environmental stewardship, and even about the health benefits of dark chocolate.

Endangered Species Chocolate bars for Valentines day

We hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day! Happy Monday!

-Hill Country Market

Introducing Hill Country Market

Since we opened on December 21st, 2013 many of you have come through our doors excited about the Hill Country Market vision and it has been wonderful to meet you! For those of you who haven’t gotten a chance to stop in yet, or have and are curious about Hill Country Market’s mission here in the Salem, WI area, here is a more in-depth look at our store’s vision.

HCM Cheese selectionAt Hill Country Market we believe that Wisconsin has a lot to offer. While we sell products from around the country, we believe in the local products crafted and developed right here at home. We offer local meats, cheese, microbrews, coffee, tea, and fresh-baked goods.

We also believe in natural products and providing you with access to not only organic products, but gluten-free and vegan items as well. We have organic wines, vegan cheese, and gluten-free pasta just to name a few.

Our deli features high quality meat and cheese from Boars Head Meats as well as Wilson’s Meats. Meanwhile our kitchen provides our deli with a variety of freshly made pasta and vegetable salads.

Everything from our kitchen features natural ingredients and great flavor. If you’re looking for a tasty meal, stop by and enjoy a unique sandwich, soup, salad or wrap. Don’t forget to try our coffee, flavored lattes, tea, and more. Cookies, Oatmeal, Treats

And what goes better with coffee and tea than freshly baked treats. We offer delicious baked goods. Our cookies, granola, coffee cake and more are fresh from our kitchen and always a fantastic treat.

We hope this provides you with more insight about what we do at Hill Country Market! We look forward to seeing you soon!

Hill Country Market Mission

Looking for more information on specific products we carry? We will occasionally be featuring some of our organic and local products here on our blog to better serve you and your food purchases.

Welcome to the Hill Country Market Blog!

Welcome to the new Hill Country Market blog! Hill Country Market is a specialty grocery store that offers premium quality and local meat, cheese, produce, wine, beer and more. Our mission is to provide our community with access to fresh, local, and healthy options. We carry local, organic, as well as gluten free products in a unique setting that is sure to be a great experience.

Our deli serves Boars Head meats and cheeses, deli salads, and offers fantastic soups, sandwiches, tea, and coffee.

This blog is where we’ll be sharing recipes, ideas, news and happenings to connect you with everything that’s going on at Hill Country Market.

Thanks for following!

-The Hill Country Market team

Hill Country Market Deli