Friday, May 31, 2013

Costco Earnings Call-May 30, 2013

First, let me say, I'm no stock analyst, no expert in retail, and have no relationship with Costco other than as an unpaid blogger.

Even with no particular expertise, the Costco investors call with Richard Galanti yesterday was fascinating.

Currently, there are 636 stores, with 452 of those in the US.  80% of sales are in the US; 90% of Executive Members are in the US.  It sounded to me as if Executive Membership is an option in the US only (and perhaps Canada), but that this may change in the future.

Of the marketing, ultimately, it's an art form, with Costco finding it's usually worse to have too many choices than too few.  Costco has found it better to have one choice (for instance, in portable phones) than six.

The % of SKU (product) that are Kirkland store brand is in the 20's and growing.  Costco plans to grow that segment of the business by picking low hanging fruit-for instance the women's athletic wear I blogged about earlier, which has been very successful. They have no plans to sell their own brand of consumer electronics at this time.

You will eventually be able to hear the entire call by going to the Costco webpage and clicking on investor relations on the lower left side.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

No Pink Salt in Nashville?

Recently both Costcotuu and Addicted to Costco blogs have had posts about Costco spices, and, in both those blogs, they mentioned Himalayan Pink Salt.  Having never heard of this before, I decided to check it out. My Costco (unless I missed it) does not have Himalayan Pink Salt.  I saw a couple kinds of sea salt, which I use occasionally, and regular table salt.  So, since I can't weigh in on the pink salt, I decided to write about my favorite Costco salt - the garlic salt, or Johnny's Great Caeser Garlic Spread and Seasoning.

Even though salt is not the first ingredient (that's garlic), or the second (that's parmisan cheese), the product is quite salty, with 60 mg sodium in 1/4 teaspoon. I'm glad salt isn't bad for you any more.

I remember right after Costco moved to Brentwood, Tennessee, (around 2000?) my friend Jerry Martin told me that this was the best stuff ever invented - good on meat, on vegetables and for garlic bread.  I figured it was worth a try. I liked it, and I don't even like garlic bread. Most frequently, I use it to pre-salt salmon, beef, and chicken before grilling.

I'm recommending.

Thanks, Jerry.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mini Eggplants and Panko Bread Crumbs (Thanks, Kimberly)

I just checked to see if this deal on Panko breadcrumbs mentioned by Kimberly in the Addicted to Costco blog is in our Nashville Costcos.  It is!

She's right about the great price.  I usually make my own breadcrumbs, which seems better than buying a huge amount, but, honestly, making them is a hassle. I've never tried Panko, but I'm taking Kimberly's recommendation. (If you're a regular Costco shopper, her blog is a must!)

I'm going to try them tonight on Costco mini-eggplants dredged in eggwhites left over from the ice cream experiment.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chocolate Ice Cream; Another Cuisinart Test

I wanted to test the Cuisinart on another ice cream recipe. The recipes in the book that came with the maker were all a little too exotic, so I turned to the handy Internet and found a very highly rated chocolate ice cream.

A cooked custard ice cream has always intimidated me.  I have memories of pudding not setting or being lumpy, plus I worried that the eggs wouldn't be heated enough to kill salmonella.  (At least this is what I told myself when choosing the easier uncooked recipes.)

I found this egg-containing recipe worked great, and the ice cream was much better than the 'non-egg' variety.  

The cocoa, chocolate chips, vanilla, and all other ingredients came from Costco, and all were on-hand.

Here's a link to the recipe.  I won't copy it, because that might be some kind of infringement.

Very Good Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Friday, May 24, 2013

Costco American Flag

I've been waiting until Memorial Day weekend to put out my new American flag, purchased at Costco this spring.

I thought it was expensive; but, when compared to others, the quality made the price OK. 

This flag, made in America (which only seems right), has embroidered stars and sewn stripes. The bracket can be used  for straight up as well as the way I'm using it. 

The pole is heavy aluminum and the attachment system for the flag seems sturdy. 

This is Phase One of my patriotic porch change out, for which I am blaming Pinterest.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mayonnaise: Hellmann's, Duke's and #mayogate

I don't like mayonnaise.  It's necessary in some things - potato salad, tuna fish; there's probably something else, but I can't think of it right now.

Bob, on the other hand, uses mayonnaise as a condiment like mustard, putting it on sandwiches.  So, we keep it in the house.  

Costco has both Duke's and Hellmann's mayonnaise.  Last year, never having tried it before, I bought Duke's to try.

Nashville twitter and other media have been having a mayonnaise argument  (#mayogate), with folks strongly committed to their mayonnaise of choice,

I'm NOT saying there is anything wrong with Duke's, and you can definitely get it at Costco.  I'm just saying, I will be buying and eating Hellmann's in the future, and so will Bob.

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

Last year I almost  purchased this Cuisinart Ice Cream maker at Costco; and, yesterday, I gave in to temptation.  I have a hand-powered ice cream maker which seemed more politically correct, since it conserves energy, but I wasn't using it.  Not using an ice cream maker was a good thing, I decided, because ice cream isn't that good for you anyway, I thought.

But watching my 93 year old healthy Dad eat ice cream every day, and hearing a diet guru say, "Stop with the low fat thing!  Obesity rates have been going up steadily every year since the 'low fat' movement!" made me rethink the health question.

One unexpected benefit is that the Cuisinart makes twice as much ice cream. One disadvantage, the hand powered was much quieter; the Cuisinart has a motor sound for the 25 or 30 minutes that it's churning.

In my freezer, which is cold, the churning container was ready in go in six hours. For the first try, I made a half batch of an eggless vanilla ice cream from the included recipe book.  We liked it, could not have been easier- cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, freeze.

The Costco price was better than any other I could find.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alpine Valley Bread

Great new product at my Costco - Alpine Valley organic sliced bread.

I've tested most of the packaged whole wheat sliced breads available at Costco, and the others have either been too sweet, too airy or too bland.

Alpine Valley is a very dense, wheat and sunflower seed bread - the kind of bread that I love and Bob calls "cardboard". (But he's teasing. I think.)

Calories are 89 per slice which is low for a health food bread.  These are the ingredients:  
Organic Whole Grain Wheat Four, Organic Wheat Flour, Water, Organic Honey, Organic Oat Bran, Organic Oats, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Flaxseed, Organic Cultured Wheat Flour, Organic Vinegar, Sea Salt, Yeast, Natural Enzymes.

I definitely will be buying this again. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Strawberry Jam Adventure, Part Two

Well…some things went right with the jam, some things went…less right….

1. I had many more strawberries than I realized. My idea that I was going to make only one batch of jam was wrong. I'm going to have to figure out something for all these berries -maybe ice cream, but my ice cream maker is pretty old, I saw nice ones at Costco last week and pretty sure I need one.

2. My 93 year old Dad announced that he doesn't like strawberry jam, he only likes strawberry preserves with whole berries.  The recipe called for mashed berries.  My Dad specifically said no mashed berries.  I compromised by using halved and quartered berries. This threw all the measurements off, so I had to estimate.  (I was trying so hard to be good and follow the recipe.)

3. The recipe specified careful solid measurement (scraping off the top with a knife). I didn't have a solid metal measuring cup - only a glass cup measure, which didn't matter that much, because the berry measurement was already off. 

4. When I bought canning supplies this year, I thought, "you only need the flat lids, not the screw tops".  Wrong. I finally found enough screw tops scattered around the kitchen, but it wasn't easy. 

I wish my Costco carried canning supplies, I think I've seen jars in a Costco either in SC, Michigan or New York, but I can't remember where.

What went right: 

the jam is pretty good.

Strawberry Jam Adventure, Part One

According to blogs, strawberries are a crop treated with lots of pesticides/chemicals.  In fact, these blogs say that along with celery, strawberries are one of the crops that should be purchased organic. 

In Michigan, Costco often has organic strawberries, but  I've never seen them in my local Nashville Costco.

So, for making jam this spring, I bought berries at the farmer's market. The sugar, of course, comes from Costco, which I was happy has the 10 pound size (I was afraid the only sizes would be larger). I'm glad to have white sugar, underestimated how much I would miss it when I chose turbinado.

This year, food blogs have lots of interesting strawberry jam recipes with additions such as hibiscus syrup or basalmic vinegar; but, since I'm planning on making only one batch of strawberry jam, I don't want to experiment. 

Boring. I'm planning to use the recipe that comes with the Sure-Jell.

Friday, May 17, 2013

ICYMI (in case you missed it)

In case you missed it (in Internet speak ICYMI) the almond butter at Costco is now in a glass jar!

I can't remember if the almond butter was in plastic when it first started out in Costco, but it has been in plastic for a couple years. And I don't like the plastic jar at all. 

I was willing to overlook the container because of my unwavering loyalty (dependence) on almond butter for breakfast, but I'm very happy now that it's in glass, and I hope it stays that way.

I guess plastic isn't full of poisonous chemicals. I guess.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Capri Yoga Pants

I've fallen away from yoga, even though my son gave me prepaid classes at the local yoga studio.  In fact I've been away from yoga class so long that I realized Ididn't  have any clothes appropriate for spring or summer yoga.

Luckily, my local Costco still has the reversible Kirkland Capri yoga pants - although stock is getting low.

I have the Kirkland long yoga pants and the quality is very good, but the full length are too hot for summer. 

Since I've got the duds, now I HAVE to go to yoga.

Comedian Brian Donovan Blogs About Costco

Comedian Brian Donovan has a funny blog article about relationship advice one can learn from shopping at Costco:

In his article he talks about running into a little old lady's shins with his cart.  I would claim this was me, but I'm more likely to be the one running over of a nice young man's shins with my cart.

I guess Costco daze happens to all ages.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and Costco

In May, the local Costcos are raising money for the Children's Miracle Network of Hospitals (CMNH). The individual Costco sites are competing to see which stores can raise the most money. You may be asked to add a dollar at check out to purchase the paper balloon.

According to the CMNH website, Costco has donated more than 137 million dollars since 1988.

In middle Tennessee, Monroe-Carell Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt benefits. 

I feel bad about not contributing last time I feel bad about not contributing the last time I went, but I fixed that.

Deck Box

I realized I wanted a deck box to go under my deck last fall; but, by then, Costco was sold out.

The Costco on-line prices and prices other than Costco were too high, so I grabbed a deck box as soon as they came back into stock this spring.  

Dave said it just snaps together and is easily assembled.

I'm using a carabiner instead of a lock, so I won't have to worry about not having the key for spur of the moment gardening urges.

Since I'm keeping bird food with the gardening tools in the box, I really hope the squirrels don't figure out the carabiner.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dinner Napkins - More good current coupons

The current Costco US coupon book has a coupon for my favorite napkins.  I like these Vanity Fair napkins for all paper napkin uses.  For the small difference in price, the other napkins are too small and flimsy.

For special occasions we use cloth napkins, but not for everyday. To me, cloth napkins aren't sanitary if they're reused; and if they're not, the constant washing is a drag. 

Frozen Fudge Bars at Costco

I've posted about the Banana Dippers, and the Magnum Bars, and the Frozen Fruit Bars, and the ice cream filled fruit cups, but I haven't posted yet about the frozen fudge bars, which are great.

These low calorie (100) bars taste more chocolatety and creamy than they could possibly be for the low calorie count.  We keep the fridge stocked year round.  

This is probably the lowest calorie chocolate treat we have on hand and will work for an emergency chocolate fix.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coupon for Magnum Bars

In the current coupon book you will find a coupon for Magnum Bars.  These are the best ice cream bars you will ever taste  - dream ice cream bars - what ice cream bars taste like in your imagination.  

A box of 12 is too many for the two of us. I had to give some to my neighbor for our health.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Baked Stuffed Peppers

These Costco stuffed peppers appeared recently in the entree section near the butchers (where the chicken pot pies are located).  I believe these are assembled fresh at the local Costco.

The stuffed peppers come six to a pack; filling is beef, rice, cheese and seasonings.  The flavor is not "meatloafy" or overwhelmingly Mexican. We thought they were good enough that I've repurchased.  I've tried stuffed peppers from scratch before and never been happy with the result, so I'm even more impressed with these.

For the two of us, we made two complete dinners from the pack of six.  I cooked the entire pack and froze half for the second meal.

Hard to get a good photo.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Costco Coupons May 9- June 2, 2013

Over at Addicted to Costco Kimberley has a PDF of the new Costco coupon book.

Coupons are for May 9 through June 2, 2013.

I need the Vanity Fair dinner napkins, the aluminum foil, the facial tissues and the ziplock bags; but I'm afraid I'm going to have to get the Magnum ice cream bars too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Baked Asparagus (Spring)

Last week I saw a woman at Costco with a cart entirely full of asparagus, which got me thinking.

I like the Costco asparagus year round; but, now, being asparagus season, the taste is best.  (An entire cart?)

I wanted an asparagus recipe that would preserve the fresh spring taste, and this one turned out pretty well:

Snap off the woody asparagus bottoms and place asparagus in single layer on a baking dish (I used a cookie sheet with a lip and lined it with foil). 

Drizzle asparagus with good olive oil.  

Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bake asparagus at 400 for 10 minutes.  

Rearrange spears, cook a few minutes more.  

I served with rice, chicken and fresh bread. 

Baking this way preserved the fresh taste - I'm going to be cooking this again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Who eats that many green beans?

Have you ever wondered who buys those huge cans of green beans at Costco? I have, and none of my hypotheses were even close to the truth I've discovered.

It's dog owners - more particularly dog owners with fat dogs, or at least dogs that need to drop a few pounds. Apparently, this is a well-known technique for helping your dog trim down.

And to show I really know what I'm talking about, I'll put a link to Fox News:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Finally, they're back!

We love these frozen fruit bars made out of real fruit or fruit juice and have been waiting and hoping they would return to Costco this summer. Last year they disappeared around September.

Besides being tasty, they're reasonably healthy and low calorie.

May the 4th be with you!

Posted by CostcoToday on Twitter.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wishing and waiting and hoping

I was hoping to wait until this hose pot went on sale at Costco, but I couldn't. I bought it today. This is certainly the best looking hose setup that I've ever had.

Hopefully, the hose won't get terminally tangled when I start to water.

Nashville is about to get a very wet weekend so I'll test it next week. Right now, it's just looking pretty.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Hose Already Tangled

I treated myself to a new Flexon water hose at Costco, mostly because my turquoise hose clashed with the grass and looked tacky in my front yard. I didn't have a nozzle so I purchased the Power-nozzle too.

This hose is high quality and the nozzle delivers an adjustable stream that makes mini-pressure washing almost possible.

But, I've already tangled it hopelessly. Well, hopefully, not hopelessly, but it's pretty tangled. I blame myself for this, but, if you're not handy, it might happen to you.

Still trying to justify that copper hose pot Costco is selling; I'm not totally sure I can make it work, but I might try.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Graduation and Costco

At my friend's birthday celebration, Costco came up. (I didn't do it.).

Everyone there had a favorite Costco product to recommend to a friend who is having a huge gathering for a college graduation. She's rented a house in her son's college town and will have numerous family coming.

Some strong suggestions were the three loaves of breakfast breads, the chocolate cake, the spiral cut ham, the hummus.