Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Valley Mango Chunks in Light Syrup

When I saw these Happy Valley Mango Chunks in Light Syrup, 8 oz. cups, I had to try them.  I often wish I had a technique for purchasing perfect fresh mangos because I don't seem to be able to pick ripe ones out at the grocery store.  (I haven't tried the Costco mangoes - too many in a pack.)

I hoped these canned mangoes were the perfect solution.

Well...are canned peaches a good substitute for fresh? I don't know why I thought mangoes would be different from any other canned fruit.

Don't get me wrong, these were perfectly good canned mangoes. I ate them and used them in cooking (see the French toast photo below), but I probably won't buy them again.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kirkland Deli Meats

Within the past year, we've discovered Costco Kirkland deli meats in the cold cases, back with the bacon and shrimp.  This thinly-sliced lunch meat comes in three packages of 14 ounces each. We freeze two packs and keep one open. 

Bob likes the smoked honey ham and makes ham and cheese sandwiches for his evening snack.  I use chopped ham in omelets and on pizzas.

In addition to the sliced ham, Costco uses this style packaging for both sliced deli turkey and a variety pack that includes one container each of chicken, roast beef, and ham.

We like this "shaved deli thin" style better than the thick slices that we used to buy. Sandwiches use less meat, which seems healthier. 

I took this picture, and realized later that I should have tried to get rid of those shadows. Too late; I already ate the sandwich.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hello Kitty Art and Activity Set

The Hello Kitty Art and Activity Set, currently on sale at my Costco, is full of great activities for older preschoolers.

I bought this last week for Detroit Granddaughter's amusement while visiting Greatgrandpa, and it worked. Glue, wavy scissors, stickers, blank books, markers, crayons, stencils, gave us at least an extra hour of adult socializing - well worth the twelve dollar cost of the kit, and she has lots of fun things to take back home.

It's hard to tell from the list on the package the exact contents and quality of items in these heavily sealed kits at Costco, I think that's why some of them end up on sale.  I've always been pleased and surprised when they're opened.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Princess Dress Revisited

Similar to many three year olds, my Brooklyn granddaughter has firm opinions on what to wear.  I am not sure what the rules are, sometime they seem to involve color (the same Hanna Andersson outfit in a different color is NOT OK). Sometimes the rules involve not having scratchy things like seams or labels on the inside. Sometimes matching pants are, or are not, preferred.  Confusing rules exist about sleeves.

I was amazed when my daughter sent me this photo of my granddaughter at school yesterday. This is the fancy dress from Costco that I was hoping to pass off as a princess dress.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, Disney princess dresses can cost $50, so this dress at Costco, under $20, was worth a try.  

My daughter reported that on the walk to school, a little girl zipped by them on a scooter, stopped short, turned around and said, "You have a very beautiful dress."

Granddaughter was very pleased.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Photos, Cameras, Blog Posts

I've mentioned before the wonderful food styling workshop sponsored by Nashville Food Bloggers. Since then, I've become more and more sensitive to the beautiful photos on many blogs and the less than stellar iphone photos on mine.

Costco has several fairly expensive (to me) cameras for sale right now, so I thought I would do some research on whether a new camera was what I needed.

First, while the good cameras at Costco are expensive, they might not be expensive enough.  People seem to agree for $5,000 you can get a camera that takes beautiful photographs.  None of the cameras at Costco approach this figure.

I wish I had been paying more attention or understood better what the bloggers around me were using for their pictures at the workshop. I can't believe (well, I can, but I don't want to) that they all have thousands of dollars invested in their cameras.

Unless you're going to buy a top camera, photographers seem to agree, stick with the iphone.  You have it, it's small, it works;e dit photos with Instagram and get them on-line.

I'm not sure I need a new camera, maybe I just need more styling (lights, use a few other techniques that Teresa Blackburn taught us).  More styling is definitely the cheaper option, so maybe
I'll start with that.

Problem is, I kind of want to take a photo class; and, for that, I need the single lens reflex.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Costco Fresh Crab Meat

I remember when Costco came to Brentwood, must have been around 2000, my friend Carol said, "You have to belong, just for the crab meat!"

Carol has excellent taste, but it has taken me this long to try the crab.

The crab comes in one pound tubs in the cold cases back by the butchers. And it's wonderful.

I've put this off because I've never cooked with crab, and to be totally honest, because I'm a Cancer, it seemed like cooking my totem animal. But I'm getting over things.  (See future pimiento cheese post.) 

Here's the recipe I used, which is a combination of several that I found on-line adapted to what I had on hand.  Bob said, "delicious," which is the highest praise.

Crab cakes 

I pound crab meat (the entire tub)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix together, dredge in Panko and fry about 4 minutes per side. You can add onions, garlic, green pepper to taste - I wanted mostly crab taste so mine were plain.  I served with ketchup but cocktail sauce or a mild Alfredo would be good, too.  Yep, delicious.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Brussels Sprouts in Bagna Cauda (Olive Oil, Garlic, Anchovy Sauce)

I've been looking for anchovy recipes ever since receiving The Perfect Protein by Andy Sharpless, CEO of Oceana.

This great book about "saving the oceans and feeding the world" explains that anchovies are a more renewable source of protein than larger fish because they mature quicker.  For instance, while orange roughy cannot reproduce until around age 30; anchovy schools can double in size in 15 months.  (This makes orange roughy seem unpleasantly close to my own offspring, and I'm going to have trouble eating orange roughy in the near future.)

Anchovies haven't been a regular part of my cooking, but, because I was impressed by Perfect Protein, I bought anchovies at Costco (which ended up being lots of anchovies). I've been ready, waiting for the right recipe.

While reading anchovy recipes, I realized that a pot I had seen at the thrift store was a traditional bagna cauda serving pot. I hustled back to get it, if it was still there, which of course it was not. Since I didn't have the dipping pot, I needed a recipe that didn't require a separate utensil.

I liked these recipes from Amateur Gourmet and the Food Network and based my recipe on those. 

Brussels Sprouts with Bagna Cauda

Brussels Sprouts (Of course, from Costco)

1/2 tin Crown Prince flat anchovies drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic mashed
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Stir over medium heat until anchovies dissolve.  Cut Brussels sprouts in quarters, saute in bagna cauda until soft, about 20 minutes.

Serve warm with warm quartered hard boiled eggs and good bread. 

I liked it better than Bob did. I'm definitely going to be experimenting with variations of bagna cauda, maybe for lunch when Bob's not here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Animal Crackers

These Costco Kirkland animal crackers are good - organic, tasty; but I'm still mystified by the gentleman who was in front of me at the checkout about a year ago.  He had these and started a conversation.

"My wife loves these."

Me:  "Oh, really?"

"She just loves these. These are wonderful."

It took me a year, but I decided I had to try.

Don't get me wrong.  These are fine animal crackers. Good animal crackers, but...animal crackers.  These are not Lady Walton's, not even close.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lime Sherbet

I liked the lime curd so much that I decided to try lime sherbet. Of course, since I purchased the limes at Costco, I have plenty.

I adapted a Southern Living lime sherbet recipe to what I had on hand.  Here's mine:

1 cup sugar
2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups 2% milk 
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/8 tsp. salt 

Mix together and freeze for 20-25 minutes in ice-cream maker.  Pack into containers and freeze for several hours.

So simple, no cooking, and we both liked it.

Lime Season?

When is lime season?

According to the Internet, lime season is June through August.  Not sure that's so, but the limes are especially good at Costco right now.  

Bob likes lime juice squeezed in water, but I prefer higher calorie uses. I found a wonderful lime curd recipe over at Spinach Tiger blog that combines lime curd with whipped cream and Pavlovas, little maringue shells. 

I had never made curd before, and this recipe turned out much easier than I expected (I skipped the Pavlovas and the whipped cream). 

I urge you to check out the Spinach Tiger website for the entire recipe. 

Lime Curd

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbs lime juice
4 tbs butter

Whisk 3 egg yolks with 1/2 cup white sugar until frothy.  Pour into double boiler, water simmering, add 6 tbs. lime juice and 4 tbs. butter in chunks. Stir constantly until mixture coats a wooden spoon.  Cool in fridge and use as curd.

To me, this lime curd cries out for dark chocolate, and I will be trying a variation of a lime curd and dark chocolate recipe that I found at Former Chef blog

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Simply Asia Sweet Ginger Garlic Seasoning

Last week, I tried the Simply Asia Sweet Ginger Garlic Seasoning at Costco on the chance it might be as good as the Johnny's Garlic Spread. I needed recipes and was slightly disappointed by not having any included with the bottle; but, the website, address printed on the label, has plenty of recipes.

Stir-fry was first. I used this in place of my regular sauce.

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbs turbinado sugar
2 tbs Simply Asia spice mix

Bob complimented the sauce without being asked.  I will make that again. 

I wanted to see what else the mix could do. This time of year, since we have so many cucumbers from the garden, I'm looking for cucumber recipes. 

I tried marinating cucumbers in a variation of the Simply Asia coleslaw dressing recipe. With a few tweaks, due to what was on hand, here's my variation:

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Simply Asia spice mix
1/4 cup olive oil

Salt cucumbers and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Wisk together dressing recipe, pour over cucumbers. Marinate in fridge for a couple hours before serving - good, slightly spicy, but refreshing as a side dish.

I tried this dressing on chopped cabbage and liked that too.

Can You Hear Me Now? Hearing Aids at Costco

You may have seen the hearing aid station in your Costco and wondered about it.  In my Costco, it used to be deserted, but, now, appears to be staffed.

Costco's venture into hearing aids came up on the recent (July 11, 2013) earnings call. As a strategy, selling hearing aids is working for Costco.

If you don't know any old people, you may have no idea that hearing aids are unbelievably expensive. I'm talking thousands of dollars. With the current baby boomers moving into hearing-loss age, this seems like a perfect growth market, and Costco has figured this out.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek on line, Costco is now one of the largest hearing aid retailers, if not the largest.  Costco prices are very competitive. Business has grown 24% in each of the last four years, and is on track to grow 19% this year.

I had my hearing tested recently (not at Costco) and was told I didn't need a hearing aid, yet. I hope, when I do, I go ahead and get one.  The article said people who need a hearing aid usually wait 7 years before they actually buy one.  Costco is hoping to close that gap.

When I need one, mine will be from Costco.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Costco & Michael Kors Lawsuit

I had some sympathy for Costco in the Tiffany setting controversy.  After all, a Tiffany setting IS a well known style of ring that many jewelers make.  It seems pretty dumb to use the name Tiffany in advertising, when you mean a setting style and not actual Tiffany, but I gave Costco the benefit of the doubt on that one.

It is harder to understand how Costco could use a photo in an email ad of a product that was never actually for sale at Costco.  This is what Michael Kors is claiming in a current law suit filed in federal court in New York which accuses Costco of false advertising.  Michael Kors, the fashion retailer, contends that it has never sold handbags to Costco and that Costco's advertisement uses an illegal "bait and switch" technique by using a photo of a product that is not available..

Below is part of an email that I received last spring from Costco advertising potential Mother's Day Gifts. I believe this is the email that is the focus of the Michael Kors lawsuit.
It clearly shows a Michael Kors bag.

Friday, July 12, 2013


My Dad had a neighbor in Santee, South Carolina, who gave him fresh figs.  Now that my Dad is here in Tennessee, and having terrible back pain, I thought he needed cheering up, so I bought these beautiful figs at West Nashville Costco.

After eating a few (several) myself and taking my Dad a few, I considered what to do with the remainder.

While Googling fig jam, I discovered something previously completely unknown.  FIGJAM is an acronym for F*** I'm Good, Just Ask Me!  

Who knew? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kirkland Sahale Snacks

If you haven't tried Sahale snacks, they're great - a mixture of sweet and savory. Costco started carrying these in the last few years; but, even at Costco, they were expensive.

Now, Costco has a newly developed Kirkland Sahale mixture, more reasonably priced - $9.99 for 16 ounces. This new pecan, cashew, apple, peach blend has the sweet and savory taste characteristic of the brand. 

I've always eaten these as snacks, but the package suggests sprinkling on salads, which I agree would be perfect.

Costco Coupon Book July 11- August 4, 2013 Starts Today

The new Costco coupons start today.  Again, Kimberley over at Addicted to Costco has posted the coupon book PDF.  Don't print these out; copies don't work.  If you didn't get this in the mail, ask at the service desk.

I'm tempted by the Haagen Dazs ice cream bars and the Starbucks frappuccino. I definitely will take advantage of the Palermo Pizza offer.  Most of the coupons are for brand name items; and, since I try to use Kirkland, most of this is not for me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hanna Andersson Dresses at Costco

My Brooklyn granddaughter likes the Costco Hanna Andersson dresses.  Easy to get on because they pull over the head, 100% cotton means these are perfect for extraordinary heat in NYC this past weekend.  We grabbed a couple on sale at the Brooklyn Costco; problem was granddaughter decided she ONLY wanted to wear the blue one which was dirty after the extreme heat and ice cream eating.

If you Google Hanna Andersson, you will see what a great deal these dresses are, even at full Costco price.

In the Costco children's clothing, my granddaughter fell in love with the mermaid top and skirt set - not Hanna Andersson and maybe not to my daughter's and my taste.  This set is 100% polyester, and my daughter thought it was too hot for Monday. After extended negotiations, my daughter let the granddaughter wear the top, with a different cotton skirt on the bottom.  The mermaid skirt, a fancy 100% polyester tutu, has been saved for another day.

July 2013 Visit to Brooklyn Costco

Made another visit to Brooklyn Costco, Saturday afternoon, July 4th weekend. It was insane - hundreds of people, all speaking different languages, all with little kids, including us. 

We grabbed the required paper products, crackers, meat, presents for my granddaughter and son-in-law.  

After we left, my daughter said,  "That's the time to go, late Saturday on a holiday weekend, when no one is in town." 

At first, I thought she was kidding. To her it wasn't busy; I thought it was crazily, insanely busy.  I had visited before on a Friday morning.  I honestly cannot picture it any busier than it was on Saturday.

If you have a choice when to visit this Costco, go during the week.

Another difference with West Nashville Costco, West Nashville doesn't have a halal section, at least I've never noticed it:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

This Really Happened

At a playground in Brooklyn, I was introduced to the mother of a friend of my granddaughter. She asked us where we were going during my visit, and my daughter explained that we had to go to Costco. 

Mother of friend, "I was disappointed in the quality of things, last time I shopped at Costco."

Me: "Really? What was it?"

"Toilet paper. It was so much flimsier than I'm used to."

"That is surprising!  Kirkland brand?"

"No. I usually buy Kirkland, but I got 'famous-national-brand,' because I was returning some I borrowed from my neighbor, and I didn't want her to think I was being cheap." 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Good buy or not? Printer ink at Costco.

Trying to figure out if the printer ink at Costco is a good buy isn't easy.

First, I couldn't find the exact pack I bought at Costco for sale from another source.  The closest I could find was the standard, non-XL, ink cartridge. The price for two of the regular cartridges on the HP site is $39.99; I paid $47.98 for two XL.  According to a write-up on the HP site, the XL ink cartridge will print 1,000 pages, compared to 660 the regular ink cartridge can print.  So I ended up paying 17% more for 33% more pages.  ( If my math is correct.)  Even more confusing, the package says "now 50% more," so it's possible that the pack I purchased is a redesign and an even better deal. 

I stopped at the local big-box office supply store, and the price and selection was the same as the HP website.  The black ink XL, available at Costco, was not available at either the website or the store.

I am almost always happy making the Costco choice. When I make purchases elsewhere, I'm usually sorry.   

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Interactive Books and Ace the Talking Dog at Costco

I gave my three year old grandchild one of these interactive book sets from Educational Insights last year.  The "pen," Ace the Talking Dog, talks when you put it on the workbook and lets you know if you've chosen the correct answer.  She liked it, and her little friends have liked playing with it so much that my daugther-in-law has wanted to use it as a birthday gift.

The Costco in Detroit has been sold out for a long time; we looked again this past weekend, and I haven't seen them in West Nashville Costco until Monday.

This one is for my three year old grandchild in Brooklyn.  I hope she'll enjoy it as much.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Turkey Provalone Sandwich at the Costco Food Court

I stopped at the Cincinnati Costco on my return drive from Detroit.  I didn't want a hot dog or pizza, so I tried the new turkey, provolone sandwich from the food court..

It was wonderful. OK, I have to admit I was starving, but I'm not the only person who liked it. Some food bloggers, including Real Mom Kitchen, liked it so much they figured out how to recreate it at home. The blogger's recipe includes pesto, mayo, tomato, and onion, as well as turkey and provolone. That sounds about right to me. 

According to the nutritional information, there are 730 calories in the sandwich, which seems like a lot. 

The sandwich could be split and shared...if you weren't driving...and starving...and bored....

I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

Little Miracles Toy and Blanket

These Little Miracle stuffed animals with separate blanket were on sale at West Nashville Costco. I was going to buy one for the 1 year old granddaughter, but, instead, remembering sibling stuff, bought one for each girl.

The 4 year-old granddaughter picked the lamb, leaving the owl for her 1 year-old sister.

Later, the 4 year-old told me: "I love it!"

Sometimes, we all need to be babied. 

On the Internet, I saw these sets offered for as much as $85.00 (ridiculous). I paid just under $10.00 each.