Monday, October 27, 2008

Homage to Stewart's Shops. (Stewart's Egg Nog Pie Recipe too)

I have spoke of my love for Stewart's Shops before, but I thought that I would devote a little more time evangelizing about the deep feelings I have for these stores. If you do not know, Stewart's Shops are a chain of indigenous convenience markets of Upstate New York. I work in Troy, so I can drive easily to 3 different stores within about 5 minutes. My favorite is the one on Hoosick Street. You get a nice mix of construction workers getting eggwiches and meth addicts eating candy hangin' out around 0730 when I am usually there. Also, there will invariably be a cute old person eating a hard roll with coffee and reading the Times Union at one of the couple booths. This is the kind of old timey, upstate New York, river-town Americana that I eat up with a spoon. This is aside from the fact that the place is dirt cheap, locally owned and operated, and produces its own in-store brands. The signs and adverts are delightfully dated and campy looking which only adds to the general charm of the place.

I love the beginning of the holiday season, it is when you begin to see signs at Stewart's heralding the return of Nog!

I am eggnog mad and this stuff does not disappoint! Stewart's eggnog, simply stated, kicks some serious ass. It is thick, creamy, sweet, and deliciously eggy. The quality of Stewart's milk products is generally high and this stuff is no different. They use real cream and egg yolks and although the flavor is a little on the cloyingly sweet side, it somehow comforts me and makes me smile.

People watching their weights break out your shot glasses, because this stuff packs a caloric wallop and should be enjoyed in moderation. I suck down a whole bottle when I buy it without guilt, but each small bottle contains 960 delicious calories! There are other delicious, thick and creamy dairy treats available year round. My other favorite is the Vanilla Dairy Shake.

It cracks me up how all of their Stewart's brand drinks are called "Refreshers." I would not call the eggnog or dairy shake especially refreshing, it is more like eating a meal when you drink one of these bad boys. A new "refresher" that they came out with recently that is in fact very refreshing is the snazzily monikered Green Buzz.

This is Stewart's attempt to delve into the energy drink market and I find it endearing. No fancy packaging or slick marketing here. The same old packaging and label is used and I love it and have bought 2 every day for a week.

Stewart's prides itself in their milk. It is from actual New York dairies (New York is the best dairyland in the country, pipe down Wisconsin) and is renown for tastiness, as Stewart's is not afraid to remind you.

They also have a milk card wherein you get a free gallon after you purchase several other gallons of milk. You can't go wrong with bonus milk.

Are you a member of the Milk Club? Afraid of losing your milk card? No worries, Stewart's has thought of this already-

Keep your card right there, next to the condoms.

Now on to the eggwich. I eat at least 2 or 3 eggwiches every work week. I go for the hard roll with bacon, egg, and cheese. The bacon is that weird stuff they somehow form into a circle whilst maintaining the wrinkly nature of the bacon. I don't know what kind of mad bacon scientists Stewart's has, but they do it somehow. The hard rolls are soft inside and delightfully chewy outside and you can't beat the price with a stick.

If I am not eating an eggwich for my breakfast, I generally go for a hard roll with either butter or peanut butter. They come pre-made with a little sticker telling what is inside and the butter/peanut butter to bread ratio is usually perfect. Although, I will have to say that the recent addition of rolls with both peanut butter and butter at the same time are a little to decadent for my tastes, I simply can't live at that speed. The toasting station is another good option, various breakfast items are labeled "Toast Me" and you can help yourself to jelly, butter, cream cheese, etc...

Where else can you get all of these culinary delights and some prepaid airtime too?

One last thing that made me smile was their "Pay at the Pump" campaign. A couple months ago you started seeing signs wildly proclaiming that you could now pay at the pump (exclamation point, exclamation point) at Stewart's as if this was one of the latest innovations in gas dispensing science. They are probably the last gas pushers around to jump on this band wagon, but this is what I like about Stewart's. They cling to the old ways and refuse to change into some slick operation. This is why they maintain my (and countless others) fierce loyalty, I can't walk into one of these places without being punched in the stomach by a sense of nostalgia. Memories of childhood ice cream dishes (I loved the toppings bar, marshmallow sauce...mmm...) and visions of much younger versions of myself and my parents rush into my brain.

Ok, now for the recipe. This is a down and dirty, no frills recipe that is perfect for the fall season. First, rustle up a pie crust. I make my own (pate brisee), but a store bought crust will do perfectly fine in this case. The 'Nilla wafer ones they sell now might even be superior to the buttery crust I usually make by default for pie.

Next, take one bottle of Stewart's eggnog and whisk in 6 egg yolks. That is it folks, that is the filling. Simple, delicious and smacking of comforting holiday flavors.

If you are using a homemade crust you are going to want to blind bake it for a while before you pour in the filling. Then the whole thing goes in the oven at 350 for around 30-40 minute or until golden brown.

There you have it, a nice, simple Stewart's eggnog pie. This benefits from a night in the fridge before serving. If you want to gild the lily a little, throw some cool whip on top too.

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