At last, someone has come to the rescue of grocery shoppers fed up with those rolls of plastic bags that take two hands to tear off, sometimes tangle and often seem impossible to open. Acme Paper & Supply Co. of Savage is marketing a new line of recyclable plastic bags that slip, already open, off a plastic header. The bags, which the company calls "Easy Open," also hTC are sealed on the sides, so they can hold up to 10 pounds without breaking.
So far the new bag system is being used at Basics, Magruder's chains and at the Seven Mile Market in the Baltimore area, but other groceries are considering switching, Acme says.
The bags have been "a real improvement" for shoppers, according to George Handley, produce merchandiser for the 24-store Basics chain: "It really cuts down on gridlock in the produce department."
Another innovation in grocery bags is taking place at checkout counters. In response to requests from areas that offer curbside recycling, a number of local grocery stores and chains are bagging groceries in blue recycling bags. Customers can reuse the bags to collect recyclable items for curb collection.
Giant Food has the bags in stores in Harford County, Baltimore County and Baltimore city. Mark Roeder, public affairs coordinator for Giant Food Inc., noted that Giant has for some time been providing bins at all stores for customers to return plastic bags for recycling, and that won't change. If you get blue bags and your community doesn't have curbside recycling, you can still collect the bags and return them to the bin at the store.
Robert Santoni Sr. said Santoni's has had the bags at all locations for six to eight weeks.
Among other places where the blue bags are -- or soon will be -- offered are Basics, Eddie's of Roland Park and Farm Fresh.
Fond of a bit of bubbly? How would you like to sample as many as nine champagne-style wines in the stimulating environs of an art gallery? This is the last chance to get in on the series of wine tastings organized by Morton's Wine, Spirits and Elegant Eats to benefit the city's School 33 Art Center. The final tasting, to be held at 6 p.m. April 9 at School 33, 1427 Light St., will feature sparkling wines from California. Most of the wines will be from a San Francisco-based consortium called the Classic Methods Classic Varietals Winemakers Society, a group formed to encourage sparkling wine production in the traditional methode champenoise and to monitor its quality. Some of the wines to be sampled are Maison Deutz, Roederer Estate, Schraffenberger Cellars, and Mumm Napa.
Wine tasters can also sample two shows under way at the school: "New Paintings," by regional artists Joe Herrmann, Mary Beth Muscara and Lisa R. Smith, in the downstairs gallery; and mixed media work by David Gibney and Maria Karametou upstairs.
All the wines are donated by winemakers or distributors, and all proceeds go to School 33, which is administered by the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture. The requested donation is $10. Tickets can be obtained from School 33, from Morton's, 10 W. Eager St., and at the door.
* Kraft foods and U.S. Olympic Training Centers have teamed up create a cookbook, the "Official U.S. Olympic Training Table Cookbook," which features 76 recipes adapted from training center tables at Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo. (Kraft supplies "virtually all" of its products to the centers.) The recipes, which range from "Gold Medal Entrees" to "Opening Parade" (breakfast foods) to "Fabulous Finale" (desserts), are all simple to make; some are almost instant as well. Not surprisingly, all use Kraft products. The book also has nutritional information (both general and recipe-specific) and cooking advice. There are pictures of many of the dishes along with pictures and little biographical blurbs of such Olympic stars as skater Kristi Yamaguchi, runner Joan Benoit Samuelson and speed skater Bonnie Blair. To order, send $8.45 and two proofs-of-purchase from any Kraft product to: Kraft Official U.S. Olympic Training Table Cookbook, P.O. Box 9102, Clinton, Iowa 52736-9102. Kraft will donate $5 from every order to the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team. (The offer is good through Dec. 31, 1992, or while supplies last.) Here's a sample recipe from the book:
Sesame chicken breasts
1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
1 1/2 teaspoons Oriental-style dark sesame oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Heat broiler, if it's electric.
Mix salad dressing and oil.
Place chicken breasts on rack of broiler pan; brush with half of salad dressing mixture.
Broil 5 to 7 inches from heat for 8 minutes. Turn; brush with the remaining salad dressing mixture. Continue broiling 8 to 10 minutes more until tender.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Each serving has 320 calories, 26 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 22 grams of fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol and 230 milligrams of sodium.
Once again the Zagat Survey is giving would-be restaurant critics the chance to belly up to the table and rate the local eateries.
This year, in addition to rating traditional sit-down restaurants in Baltimore, the guide is adding fast-food chains to its listings.
To receive a copy of the questionnaire, wannabe critics should send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to Zagat Survey, 1227 25th St. N.W., Suite 700, Washington , D.C. 20037-1198. Persons sending in completed questionnaire by April 30 get a free copy of the 1992 Zagat guide to Baltimore restaurants.
On the new-product front, there are two new snacks that aim to be healthier versions of old ones: Fat-Free Caramel Corn Cakes, from Quaker, with 50 calories each; and Frozen Yogurt Bars from Haagen-Dazs, in sorbet flavors (raspberry-vanilla and peach) that are 98-percent fat-free and have 100 calories each, and in vanilla oand chocolate coffee crunch, which Haagen-Dazs describes as "more indulgent."