Friday, June 28, 2013

Louisville Costco

I like to use Costco for gas, snacks, and bathroom breaks during road trips, and the Louisville Costco was an easy stop on my recent trip to Detroit.  The product mix was different.

Two things hit me.  The first was the propane station near the gas station.  I've never noticed propane for sale at another Costco.  Also, Louisville Costco had propane canisters for sale.  I tried to think of possible reasons why propane would be such a good seller in Louisville. I'm guessing barbecue?

My other surprise was fireworks.  West Nashville Costco doesn't have these.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rainier Cherries at Costco

I bought Rainier cherries at Costco yesterday. 

A tag on the package says they were picked on June 17 and are from Yakima, Washington. Not too many packages are left, but lots of Bing cherries are available.  I don't know if the Rainier will be restocked. If you want them, I would buy them now. I've been tempted to buy the Rainier cherries in Costco for several years but haven't.

I am positive I did this because of the fabulous blog post on Teresa Blackburn's "food on fifth" blog. It's worth clicking over to her blog just to see the photos, but the recipe for Rainier cherry galette looks great too.

I don't have plans to cook the cherries, very tasty uncooked - nor super sweet, nor super sour.

Road Trip with Costcos

I've mentioned before that I like to use Costcos as truck stops to fuel up, visit the bathroom, and grab snacks. Gas is always cheaper, restroom is clean, snacks are at a good price. What's not to like?

But planning a road trip, taking advantage of Costcos along the way, is too hard. I do it; but I think it could be simpler. Because there are no signs on the interstate, I'm often past the Costco turn-off before I see the store. 

The Costco app should have a location feature that works with Google maps to let me automatically program Costcos into my itinerary. Maybe Google Maps can already do this. If so, I haven't figured it out. I put them in by hand.  

Road trip!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Diva's Delightful Crisps...Rosemary?

These cookie-like crisps contain dried fruit and nuts and make a nice chewy, low calorie snack. I saw them for the first time last week at the West Nashville Costco, back by the bakery.

When I brought these to the Nashville Food Bloggers' workshop last Saturday, people liked them.  

One young blogger, Melissa Corbin from Corbin in the Dell, said, pointing to the crisps in her hand and mine, "I particularly like this kind, but, then, I like savory."  

Savory? I thought.  

"But the savory ones are supposed to have rosemary?" I said.

"Oh, yes! I can taste the rosemary in this!"


I've eaten many of these crisps by now; and, I can't tell the three varieties apart. 

In the future, I'm warning you, if i start writing about how something tastes....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Food Styling Class with Nashville Food Bloggers

I didn't even know food styling existed. Actually, it's an entire career.  Saturday, Nashville Food Bloggers, a group I've written about before, sponsored a class by Teresa Blackburn, a well-known food stylist who just happens to work from Nashville.  Sixteen current, lapsed or prospective bloggers spent three hours learning secrets of food styling.

A while ago I posted about the stuffed peppers available in the Costco freezer section back by the butchers 

Here's a photo from that blog post, before the workshop:

Here's an attempt using some of the things I learned Satuday:

I can totally understand why Teresa is so sought after by big companies. You can see some of her beautiful photos on Pinterest.

I am going to work on improving this aspect of my blog.  Thank you Nashville Food Bloggers.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blade Tenderized Meat and Costco

I had never heard of blade tenderized meat before I read an article in USA Today  about thisMy first response was that it seemed more natural than chemical tenderizing, so that sounded good.

The process raises some health issues. Because the blades penetrate the meat, it's possible that contamination can be transferred from the blades or the outside of the meat deep into the meat.

Of course, the blades and the meat are clean; nevertheless, it's important that just in case, when cooked, the meat is heated to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria. Blade tenderized meat should be cooked to the same temperature as hamburger; both have the same possible contamination issues. 

It's important to label meat that has been blade tenderized so chefs know that the meat needs to be cooked thoroughly. You can see the labeling on the photo I took yesterday at the West Nashville Costco.  Again, Costco is the good guy.

Kirkland Laundry Pods Rate High with Consumer Reports

I have an admission to make.  I didn't "get" that laundry pods were for high efficiency washers.  I've been using the Kirkland Laundry pods in my standard top loading washer for months and have been very happy with them.

Turns out others agree they're good.. Consumer reports just listed Kirkland laundry pods as a best buy in laundry detergent. 

The article by Consumer Reports says:

Now let's talk pods, the latest thing in laundry detergent. Last year, Tide Pods were the only single-use detergent to earn our recommendation. It's a pick again this year, but behind Costco's Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Pacs, which perform slightly better while costing 8 cents less per load. A word of caution to consumers with young children: poison control centers continue to receive hundreds of calls each month concerning kids 5 years or younger ingesting the pods or spraying them into their eyes. It's imperative to keep pods out of children's reach, and call the poison-control help line immediately at 800-222-1222 if a child comes into contact with them.

I'm not going to switch back to liquid unless I have to.  The pods are just too convenient. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

OMG OMG Thank you, Kimberly!

Kimberly, over at Addicted to Costco blog, wrote a post about this Grandma Fifi blog! I'm so very grateful for her kind words and for encouraging folks to check out my blog.

If you haven't been to her blog, you must. She's very thorough, and her posts are careful, informative and full of useful information.   She's also an international blogger, so she has tips on English and Australian Costcos.  

Thank you, Kimberly!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Green, Costco and the new Knoxville Location

Kimberly, at the Addicted to Costco blog, has an interesting post about Costco's paper towels and the campaign to make them smaller for the environment.  I'm not going to weigh in on this. :x

But I did find a Costco participating in the green movement.  The new Knoxville, Tennessee, Costco is on a greenway.  The photo shows the bike racks.  For me, this conjures up pictures of bicyclists trying to get the paper towels home. 

In May of 2011, the town manager of Farragut, the suburb where the Knoxville Costco was to be located said in a WBIR, Channel 10, interview:

"In Farragut, we require greenway connections for all of our new developments and so it's actually going to be great," Farragut Town Administrator David Smoak explained. "We're going to have a greenway connection from Lovell Road around the backside of the development into Kingston Pike so pedestrians don't have to go down to that busy intersection at the corner of Lovell and Kingston Pike." 

This was my first time in the Knoxville store, and I will definitely be stopping again.  It's a easy reach off Interstate 40 on exit 374. Gas prices were fabulous.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Costco Wine Instant Savings June 10-July 7, 2013

When I visited the Spartanburg, SC, Costco I was given a flyer about a wine promotion going from June 10 to July 7.  (In Tennessee, we don't have wine in Costco.  I'm guessing this is only for those of you with wine in the store.)

The wines on promotion were not Kirkland brand - mostly Chardonnay but some others, varied from $4 to $1.40 off per bottle.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Caper Rich (ratatouille season)

It's caper season. My main, and perhaps only, use of capers is ratatouille. With summer squash and eggplant coming on, it's time to replace my capers. (Capers are with the spices in my Costco.)

I don't use capers fast and end up throwing away the dregs of the Costco-sized jar. But it's still more economical for me to buy the large jar. I love the sour and salt flavors, and, if I have a tiny jar, I skimp.

Now, I'm caper rich.

It occurred to me to include my ratatouille recipe, but it's free form. I use what summer veggies I have, sauté them in lots of olive oil, and cook until tender. The capers get thrown in at the end.  

I serve ratatouille cold or hot, and I have good luck with freezing.  Once frozen, it's best hot, but if never frozen, it's best cold.

Pesto and Amy's Spinach Pizza

There was a time I didn't appreciate pesto; maybe it's an acquired taste. Now, I look forward to pesto every summer and become very irritated when the squirrels get the basil before I do. (Last year.)

Hasn't happened this year. Yet. 

In addition to basil, a standard pesto recipe includes pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan, I buy these at Costco. (Amazon has Kirkland pine nuts for sale at a large markup,) 

In past years, I've blended the cheese in the Cuisinart with the other ingredients, but this year, following an Internet recipe, I stirred in the grated cheese at the end. I liked that better. 

To me, Amy's spinach pizza, now in the Costco freezer section, is missing pesto. I saw the green and expected a pesto taste, but it's a mild spinach flavor.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cast Iron Cooking

I don't shop at Costco exclusively.  I also shop at my favorite thrift store, and yesterday I found a cast iron Griswold frying pan.  I needed a small frying pan, and I didn't have a cast iron skillet. (I'm going to tie this into Costco in a minute.)

It was filthy, and I didn't buy it; but, when I got home, I looked up cast iron on the Internet, and, according to the Internet,(lololol) cast iron could be cleaned in a self cleaning oven.  To make a long and very smoky and stinky story short, that worked.  

One of the first things I relearned about cast iron is how easy it is to burn yourself.  The cast iron holds the heat much longer than stainless steel, requiring a different technique from cooking on gas. You no longer have the ability to easily regulate temperature.

My first effort was a grilled cheese sandwich, using Alpine bread and Kirkland sliced cheddar cheese. Honestly, I was impressed by the taste and crispness, I hadn't cooked with cast iron in almost 40 years, and I had forgotten what great things it can do for food.

My Panko covered eggplant for lunch was a learning experience, in which I learned: when the heat is even, the slices need to be even too.

Today I noticed the West Nashville Costco has the cast iron cookware on sale.  The prices are great, if you want a griddle with ridges or an 8 quart cooker, go quick.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Costco Effect

The Costco Effect.  It got me, and I should know better.

The Costco Effect is when a gigantic item looks normal sized because it's in Costco.  I had some worries about the size of this flip-top trash can, but, since my current can is broken, I've been anxious to get a replacement.

I admit, in the store, this can looked a little larger than my current can, but I had no idea how much larger until I got it home.  I'm going to have to return it.

My current trash bags are 13 gallon bags.  This new trash can is 21 gallons, more than 50% bigger than the bags.

This must be for commercial kitchens or doctors' offices, definitely doesn't fit in my tiny kitchen.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Costco Coupon Book - June 13 to July 7, 2013

Once again Kimberly, over at the Addicted to Costco blog, has the newest US coupon book on PDF.

She warns that you can't print out the coupons and use the pdf copy at Costco.  If you didn't get the original in the mail, check at the Service Desk and get a copy.

I saw a couple things I will probably buy: my moisturiser and maybe the Acuvue Moist Contacts, which I posted about before.  

Bacon. Bacon,bacon,bacon,bacon.

Bacon isn't healthy. I know that. Fifty years ago, I read Adelle Davis about nitrates in processed meats and have tried to stay away.  But there are times....


If bacon is bad for you, and an extreme mess to clean up, the negatives outweigh the positives. But, what if bacon was NO mess to clean up? Food scientists invented pre-cooked bacon for people like me, who were making this exact calculus.

I keep the Costco Kirkland pre-cooked bacon on hand.  It keeps well in the fridge (probably all those nitrates) and cooks perfectly every time in the microwave.  We eat bacon less than once a week, and don't eat much other red meat.  

Everyone deserves a few vices.

It's hard to get an attractive photo of a flat pack of bacon.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cucumber Pickles at Costco

My grandmother, a Pennslyvania Dutch farm girl, the oldest of eight children, was born in 1888. She and my grandfather continued to keep a small cottage in the country with a large garden, even though they lived in town.

My earliest memory is in my grandfather's garden, and I have strong memories of my grandmother canning vegetables. She must have made lots of pickles, because I remember bread and butter, dill, and sour. Now, I realize how prolific cucumbers can be. Making those pickles might have been a chore for her, but a good memory for me. 

My favorite was sour; nowadays those are very hard to find in the grocery. Sometimes a large Kroger will have a few small jars; I buy them when I see them, but I usually compromise and eat dills.

I keep these Mt. Olive Kosher Dills in the fridge. The jar at Costco is huge, 128 fluid ounces (a gallon) and the price at my Costco is under $4.00. The pickles are almost too large for one serving, better to split between two people.

I've tried the small dills that Costco sells, but I don't like those as well. The Famous Dave's spicy pickle chips are great, slightly hot bread and butters.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Beets - Haters Gonna Hate

Beets- some people hate them and some people love them. I'm a lover, and I was excited to come across this product in the refrigerated cases by the butcher in my Costco. 

Each pack contains three different varieties of flavored beets - balsamic, honey and ginger, and sweetfire. All taste similar to the pickled beets my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother used to make, with sweetfire being the most flavorful.  I think beet lovers will like these; I anticipate using them cold in salads and probably using one pack to make Pennsylvania Dutch pickled eggs.  

Beet haters are still gonna hate.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stroopwafels; Lady Walton's at Costco

Lady Walton's cookies were on sale at my Costco.  These very thin cookies have two layers of crispy cookie with a dark chocolate center, made from 61% cacao.  The cookies are crispy and chocolaty and large.  The Costco box contains 32, divided into 4 foil packets of 8 each.

These might work as sides of a very elegant ice cream sandwich, but the ice cream at my house isn't lasting long enough to try this out.

Trying to find the origin of the name, I googled and discovered that these cookies are a version of a stroopwafel, a cookie that originated in the early 19th century in the Netherlands. Traditionally these are placed over a hot drink to warm. After a short time resting on a hot cup, the chocolate melts but the cookie sides stay firm. This is surprisingly different and worth trying. 

The Lady Walton cookie company, located in Dallas, Texas, was formed by two sisters, Susan and Mary Walton, in 1988, and named after their mother, who made stroopwafels at Christmas. The ingredient list is reassuring, with no preservatives; and all ingredients sound familiar.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

iPhone Shopping Lists

I used to have a fabulous memory, seldom made any kind of lists except detailed shopping lists. That was back in the day when I used recipes and shopped once a week for rigorously planned-out dinners.  That was a long time ago.

Now, I make all sorts of general lists, I probably have twenty-five on my iPhone, but they're more suggestions than firm directions.  I walk around Costco consulting the lists on my phone. (I notice I'm not the only person doing this, and lots of them are much younger than I am.) But I'm always ready for inspiration. Being ready to buy things not on the list has worked for me, although I know it's against some financial planners' advice.

Do you make lists? How detailed? Do they work?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Late to the Nutella Party

I've been seeing Nutella in Costco, but for some reason, I thought it was like Ovaltine - slightly chocolaty, but good for you. 

I figured out there is more to Nutella when I came across a great sounding ice cream recipe that required gianduja.  After googling gianduja for five minutes, I finally discovered that gianduja is Nutella.

Nutella, as maybe everyone knew but me, is a chocolate/hazelnut spread, which, if you refrigerate (which you are not supposed to do) and eat directly from a spoon, tastes like home-made chocolate frosting. (Eating directly from the jar with a spoon is considered an off-label use.) I personally can't imagine eating this on toast, which appears to be the manufacturer's recommendation. 

Costco sells two jars together, so I'm looking for recipes.

We enjoyed this ice cream:

3 cups mixture milk and cream.  (I only had 1/2 cup cream, would be better with 2 cups cream.)
1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup sugar 
5 egg yolks

Heat together milk and 1/2 cup sugar until sugar dissolves.

Beat eggs and 1/4 cup sugar with mixer until light.

Slowly add 1/2 cup warm milk/sugar mixture to eggs, then add egg mixture slowly back to milk mixture and cook, stirring until it thickens and coats a wooden spoon.  

This step always takes me forever, or I burn it. 15 minutes at least.

Stir in 1/2 cup Nutella and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Chill and follow ice cream freezer instructions. (Grandma Fifi photobomb in Nutella reflection.)

Thinking, Fast and Slow or Eat Those Samples

What explains the random one-of products scattered through Costco on a busy day? Yesterday (Sunday) I saw a floor sweeper in the dishes, trekking poles in hardware, snacks in the coffee. Costco was wild, full of twelve year olds making Vines and thirty somethings doing booty dances in the freezer section.  I'm sure employees couldn't stay up with all the products abandoned when people had second thoughts. 

I'm reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics. This fascinating book on cognition (unfortunately not currently available from Costco) explains that the mind has two decision-making speeds. Fast is intuition, that way of making decisions that's quick, almost automatic, driving down the road, impulse buying, quick responses that seem right, but unfortunately are often wrong.

The second is deliberate, takes more effort, and uses reasoning.  Slow thinking actually uses up calories and can be improved by glucose intake. Since slow thinking takes actual work, and uses up energy, the human organism tries to conserve energy by choosing fast thinking, if possible. Slow thinking is better. It's checking your work.

When folks abandon items in the aisles; slow thinking is kicking in.  Maybe a free pizza sample has been converted into thinking energy, and the person realizes; "I don't need these trekking poles."

I'm going to eat every sample from now on. Just being careful.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shooting at Sterling, Virginia, Costco

I've been trying to piece together what happened at the Sterling, Virginia, Costco that led two experienced Loudoun County sheriff's deputies to open fire on a knife wielding Filipino woman and kill her on May 29. The Deputies have been put on administrative leave.

As far as I can tell from the reports, the woman became upset while handing out samples and was an employee of the company that provides those workers, not an employee of Costco itself.   

I'm guessing that there could have been language problems involved.  One report said that a taser, tried first, did not stop the woman from advancing with a knife.

The Philippine Embassy has requested an investigation. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Frozen Berry Mix Linked to Hep A Outbreak

USA Today reports that a hepatitis A outbreak in the southwest is linked to Townsend Farms Organic Frozen Berry Mix sold by Costco. According to Townsend Farms, the contamination came from the Turkish pomegranate seeds included in the mix.

So far, all illnesses have been in the southwest US.  I'm pretty sure the frozen berry mix we have in the Nashville Costco has not had pomegranate seeds.

I hope not because I've definitely eaten the frozen berry blend within the affected time period - April 29 - May, 2013.

Kirkland Green Tea

Last week, I was home with a bad cold, during which time I ran out of Lipton's.

This is a major crisis and should never have happened, but it did.  Luckily, I keep Kirkland Green Tea for guests.  I hadn't appreciated the quality of this product.  It comes in individual foil packets, so the tea stays fresh (important if you consume slowly).  The bags are mesh, and the tags have a slot which fits over the cup edge so the bag doesnt get lost down in the tea. This slotted tag is something I've never seen before. (See photo. Cup was a Mother's Day gift of my fabulous son's family.)

I particularly liked Kirkland green tea in iced fruit tea and will keep this around as a staple.