This Week at Costco – July 26, 2015

August 1st, 2015 by Kimberly · 2 Comments

There is a whole lot of Kirkland Signature going on in my reviews today, but it really wasn’t my plan.  Thankfully I’ve got the Pringles in there for a bit of non-KS stuff.  Don’t forget that this is the last weekend for the current Costco US coupon book, so if you’ve had your eye on something, you really can’t put it off any longer.  Also, if you’re around Charlottesville, Virginia, there’s a new Costco in town, so go take a look and do a little shopping.

KS Rader Farms Nature's Three Berries

KS Rader Farms Nature’s Three Berries

Kirkland Signature Rader Farms Nature’s Three Berries –  I haven’t gotten this for quite some time, but someone mentioned it to me recently and that reminded me to get some again.  This three berry mix is a nice combination of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  Amazingly they still look like berries when they thaw out too, not just a mushy mixture of what is possibly fruit.  I found that it worked best to let them thaw in the fridge overnight, but I think you could speed up the process a bit by just having them on the counter while they thaw.  This berry mix is great for all kinds of uses, not just smoothies, though of course they are perfect for that too.  I think it is great with plain yogurt to make my own fruity yogurt that has better fruit and less sugar than the stuff you’d normally buy.  I think this mix would also be good for a cobbler or crumble and I imagine you could use them for a fruit pie filling as well, but I haven’t tried any of that.  I have used it for fruit topping with ice cream or custard and that was really delicious.  And it is a great way to sweeten up porridge or oatmeal in the morning.  When you can get a decent quality of frozen fruit it really is nice because it isn’t always convenient to have fresh fruit.  The fruit mix is pretty healthy too because there’s nothing in the mix but the berries, no extra sugar, flavourings, or preservatives, just berries.  The berry mix is a good source of fibre and vitamin C.  The nice thing about this mix, that you don’t always get with fresh berries, is that they all seem sweet.   1.81kg/4 lbs for £8.99.  Item #: 0293223.

Kirkland Signature Wild Caught Hake Loins

Kirkland Signature Wild Caught Hake Loins

Kirkland Signature Wild Caught Hake Loins – Hake is a nice white fish alternative if you’ve had enough cod for a while.  Hake are in the same family as cod, and have a similar texture and firmness but are often said to have a more mild flavour.  I’ve never found cod to be all that assertive taste-wise but hake it very subtle in flavour.  That subtle flavour though makes it a perfect fish if you want to really spice it or pair it with a sauce.  The hake loins are decent sized, though a bit small for Dave so I usually make him two.  I have prepared them in a number of ways but we like them best panfried with a lemony sauce with capers.  They are a firm fish once they cook so panfrying them is okay as they don’t fall apart when you want to flip them over.  Because the hake is so mild, it really is necessary to dress it up with a sauce or a liberal dose of spices.  I think it is a perfect fish for all types of summer recipes, including serving over a salad.  But it’s also great with really robust flavours like tomatoes or a tomato sauce as well.  The firmness also makes it a great choice for fish tacos and it is really good with avocado for some reason.  Anything you would do with cod, you could certainly do with the hake, including use it for fish and chips.  I believe that we had nine of the loins in our bag and they were all quite equal in size or with a difference so small that there is no issue when cooking.  You can’t cook this from frozen, so you do need to thaw it before you want to prepare it.  You can either put it in the fridge over night or at least like 10 hours, or you can do the quick thaw method that takes about 15 minutes.  I’ll be honest, we usually end up using the quick thaw method and I don’t notice a difference in the way the texture or taste once it is cooked.  I like getting the frozen fish from Costco because they do the work of skinning and deboning it and all I’ve got to do is cook and enjoy.  I also really appreciate that they individually vacuum pack each piece so that they don’t get stuck together into a huge frozen fish brick, I also think this protects the delicate flesh from freezer burn too.   1.13 kg/2.5 lbs for £9.39.  Item #: 0695263.

Kirkland Signature Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Kirkland Signature Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Kirkland Signature Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – If you like to make chocolate chip cookies, you will not be disappointed with these.  I used to get the Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, also from Costco, but they don’t have them here so we tried these out and are really happy with them.  The nice thing about these chips is that they are actually a lot of cocoa, 51% to be exact, and that really does make a difference to the taste I think.  I also like that sugar is not the first ingredient but the cocoa is, as it should be, but mostly isn’t in chocolate chips.  I’m not usually a fan of semi-sweet chips because they can be terribly bitter and have a less than great taste (at least to me), plus a lot of them have a waxy texture.  But these are no where near as bitter and the addition of real vanilla gives them a really nice flavour.  I also like that they don’t have the waxy texture at all and I think that makes them melt better when you bake them in cookies.  All of which makes them perfect for your cookies, or anything else you make that requires chocolate chips.  Dave likes the taste so much that sometimes he just has a handful when he’s having a bit of a sweet tooth.  The other nice thing about these chips, is the program set up by Costco to develop a more ethical and sustainable cocoa supply.  The goal of this program is to have cocoa beans that are of a high quality and fully traceable, and grown in a way that is good for the environment and the producers.  The program also helps the farmers by teaching them better growing and harvesting skills and farm management.  So they are tasty and social and environmentally responsible as well.   And I like them even better because they have coaxed Dave into making delicious chocolate chip cookies on several occasions.  And really, the cookies someone else makes for you really are the best kind.  2.04 kg/4.5 lbs for £7.99.  Item #: 0903681.

Pringles Potato Snacks

Pringles Potato Snacks

Pringles Sour Cream & Chive Potato Snacks –  Dave’s got an appreciation for Pringles and even though I’m not all about eating chips/crisps, sometimes I like some too.  They’re a great way to make a lunchtime sandwich seem a little more filling and that’s mostly how we eat them.  Pringles have been around forever, certainly all of my life and they somehow hit a nostalgic note with me.  Though to be fair, I don’t really remember eating them much as a kid.  I think it is something about them coming in a can rather than a bag like everyone else, seems so 70s to me.  Pringles came about from Proctor & Gamble trying to respond to customer complaints about greasy, broken chips and the air in the bags making the chips go stale.  Because no one wants to eat greasy, stale, pieces of chips.  Even though they didn’t actually start selling Pringles until the late 60s they had been working on them since the end of the 50s, to get the right texture and flavour.  Unlike regular chips, they aren’t made from sliced potatoes but from a potato dough that is fried, which you would think would make them seem greasier but they really don’t seem greasy at all.  But because they are made from a dough, instead of a piece of potato, they can’t be referred to as potato chips or crisps, but only as a potato snack.  Did you realize that there are as many chips in a can of Pringles as there are in a regular size bag of chips?  Except there aren’t any crushed chips in your protective can, though sometimes you do get some that are cracked or broken a bit but never to the point where they are dust.  In our house, we like our potato snacks, and don’t discriminate about how whole the potato was that they came from.  At Costco you can get six normal sized cans bundled together, or you can get this twelve can pack that are all sour cream and onion flavour.  I like the sour cream and onion flavour best, that’s always been my favourite chip/crisp/potato snack flavour, so this is perfect for me.   And I really like the little cans because they are a great portable size but also a nice size for lunch and a snack.   I can’t eat a whole one of the little cans, but I still like the smaller size.  With the smaller cans, I also don’t feel like I have to eat Pringles for days until I work my way through the whole can.  The price for these little cans is so much less than at other places.  At Costco each can is £0.27, but at other places you’ll pay somewhere between £0.77 and £0.80 per can.  That is a huge difference that means you will end up paying almost £6.00 too much if you buy these anywhere but Costco.  You can almost buy this twelve pack three times over, as in 36 cans, for the price of just one bunch of twelve cans someplace else.  12, 40 gram cans for £3.29.  Item #: 0185758.

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Random Costco News: July 2015

July 30th, 2015 by Kimberly · 3 Comments

I’ve got a few small news items, that aren’t really enough for a full post, so I thought I’d round them all up in a little news summary.

Costco in Charlottesville, Virginia Opening Today

The new 150,000 square foot Costco at the Shops at Stonefield will be opening today at 8 am!  The 200 employees are ready, the new store is all stocked and the surrounding roads have been widened and traffic lights installed so that hopefully everything goes smoothly for the big day.  They will have local craft beers and food items, as well as University of Virginia apparel.

3171 District Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22901-2784

Costco Photo Center Website Still Down

CostcoPhotoCenter.com is still down as a result of the recent hacking of their third party vendor, PNI Digital Media.  The message on the photo center website says that they are working hard on the situation, but do not expect the site to be up and working again until the middle of August.  They will update the message on the website when more information is available, so you can check it for the latest information on when the site might be back.

Costco in Virginia Cracking Down on Black Market Cigarette Purchases

After a recent investigation by News 4 in DC, Costco has tightened up its checks on people buying large quantities of cigarettes.  Cigarette taxes in Virginia are some of the lowest in the country at just $0.30 per pack, so it can be quite lucrative to buy your cigarettes in bulk at a store like Costco or Sam’s Club in Virginia and then take them across state lines and sell them for a nice profit.  Unfortunately, this little scheme is only viable if you’re not paying all of the required fees and licenses that are required for doing this legally.  Apparently, Costco and other stores were not giving thorough enough checks to people buying huge quantities of cigarettes at their locations in Virginia, but that’s changed now.  Costco has recently posted new signs in their Virginia stores that say they require tobacco purchasers to show additional ID, complete specific IRS forms for cash purchases over three thousand dollars, and provide their license plate for transporting cigarettes.

 

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Costco Announces Quarterly Dividend for Q4 2015

July 28th, 2015 by Kimberly · No Comments

Good news for those of you that own Costco stock, the latest quarterly dividend was announced this week! In May, the board decided to raise the dividend from $0.355 per share to $0.40 per share, or $1.60 per share on an annualized basis.  The current dividend will be payable August 28, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 14, 2015. My guess (based on historical data) is that the dividend amount will remain at $0.40 until May 2016, when it will hopefully get bumped up again.

Shares of Costco (COST) closed yesterday at $144.25, down $0.74 or 0.51%. COST has a 52 week high of $156.85 and a 52 week low of $116.81.

For more information:

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This Week at Costco – July 19, 2015

July 25th, 2015 by Kimberly · No Comments

I don’t know why, but this week seems to have just been dragging, so I’m glad to see the end of it.  But why is it that there is always great weather during the week when I am busy and then on the weekend it wants to rain?  Though I can’t believe that it is already the end of July practically.  This also means that back to school time is just around the corner.  Be sure to check out Costco for all the supplies you need, because they are a great place to buy pens, pencils, paper, glue, etc.   The current Costco US coupon book doesn’t expire until next Sunday, in case you have some things that you’ve been thinking of getting.

KS Grated Grana Padano

KS Grated Grana Padano

Kirkland Signature Grated Grana Padano – If you’ve read my blog for a while you probably know that I love cheese, so we buy it quite often, in all of its forms.  Usually I buy a big block of Parmesan and just grate it myself, but lately my hands have been kind of achy and I wanted something that would be a little easier on them.  So this time I bought the bag of grated Kirkland Signature Grana Padano instead and I love it.  The Grana Padano that Costco uses is aged more than 18 months and has a nice nutty flavour that isn’t as strong as Parmesan but still adds a nice flavour to your dishes.  I also like that the bag is resealable with a handy ziptop so that you can be sure it is properly sealed.   The bag is quite large at 500 grams but there are a lot of ways to use it.  Also, if you keep the bag sealed properly, without air in it, the cheese will last for a long time.  We use this a lot on pasta, but it is also great for adding a little flavour to salads or vegetables, great for mashed potatoes or jacket potatoes, and of course it is good for a pizza topping, or on garlic bread, or to add a bit of thickening and flavour to soup or sauces too.  We really like kind of simple garlic buttered spaghetti and this is perfect on top of that because it adds just a bit of cheesy flavour that works perfectly with the garlic.   The grate on this is quite fine so it actually melts quite well, which means it combines with hot dishes really well.  Costco also has canisters of shredded cheese but I think the grated is better because of how nicely it melts and as a result you use less, I think.  Of course, like Parmesan, this is a semi-hard low fat cheese, so you can actually be a bit more generous with it even and still not feel guilty (or hear your arteries clogging as you eat dinner).  An 8 gram serving of the Grana Padano has just 2 grams of fat, which is quite good for a cheese that gives you so much flavour.  My one tip would be to use a spoon or something to remove it from the bag.  Do NOT just pour it out.  There are two problems with pouring it out of the bag, firstly, it can clump together and then you’ll get a way bigger amount poured out than you wanted or were anticipating.  The other reason is because that will cause the little fine grated particles to clog up the ziptop bag and then you might not be able to seal it up without cleaning that out.  So, on all account, just use a spoon to remove it and everything will be perfect.  As far as price goes, I think Costco is more than competitive with other supermarkets.  At Waitrose and Ocado you’ll pay £2.49 for a little 100 gram bag, which would equate to 12.45 for 500 grams and that is considerably more than at Costco.  500 gram bag for £3.89.  Item #: 0251413.

Aberdeen Angus Meatballs

Aberdeen Angus Meatballs

Aberdeen Angus Meatballs –  As you can probably guess, we eat a fair amount of pasta and one of the favourites is spaghetti and meatballs.  The meatballs at Costco are quite nice because they are all beef and a really good size.  I’d guess they are about 1.25 inches in diameter but I’m just guessing because I didn’t measure them.  I do know that they are bigger by at least 25% than the meatballs I’ve gotten from Waitrose and Ocado, which are similar to what other supermarkets carry.  They have a nice meaty taste but with all that meatiness does come a not insignificant amount of fat that is released when you cook them.  I always cook my meatballs separately and then add then to my sauce, just so that I can avoid getting all of the fat too.  You’ve just got to remember to drain them a bit before you add them to anything.   They have such a nice flavour though, sometimes we eat them with pasta without a red sauce and they are still delicious, especially with a bit of the grated Grana Padano.  They have a bit of seasoning in them, but nothing that makes them particularly Italian, so you could easily use these for other types of meatball dishes too.  The quality meat and the good size are what really sets these apart from regular supermarket meatballs though.  For instance, there is a package of 24 meatballs at Waitrose that has a total weight of just 400 grams, that means each meatball is just 16.7 grams of meat.  But at Costco, their nice sized meatballs are each 36 grams of meat.  That makes a big difference.  Plus, at Costco you get a bonus meatball.  And when you look at it by weight, the meatballs at Waitrose, and other supermarkets, are much more expensive too.  The 24 meatball package is £4.39 and less than half the weight of the 900 gram package at Costco for  £6.99.   If you buy these, it works out really well to just freeze them in the plastic package that they come in because it keeps them all separated and still looking like meatballs.  Then, once they are frozen, you can dump them out into a big Ziploc and take out just the amount that you need without them being stuck together or misshapen.  25, 36 gram meatballs for £6.99; 900 grams total.  Item #: 0095276.

GloriAnn Super Sweet Corn

GloriAnn Super Sweet Corn

GloriAnn Super Sweet Corn – I don’t know what it is about summer that just makes corn on the cob seem so right.  Probably because we’d have it in the summer when I was a kid.  I like corn on the cob, especially grilled or broiled.  These are nice big ears of corn too and they have a really nice taste.  Plus, they’ve done all of the hard work by cleaning it for you, so you just need to cook it and you’re good to go.  Since we live in a flat in the center of London, grilling out isn’t really an option, so I have to use my oven instead.  But I can still get a nice grill-like effect.  I have found that instead of getting all complicated about how I cook my corn, it is easiest to just pop it in a Ziploc with a bit of spices and some olive oil and shake it up and then put it on a cookie sheet in the oven.  I vary the seasonings that I use, but always of course add salt and pepper, but adding ground ancho or chipotle to the mix really makes the corn delicious.  I have found that if I cook it at 200 C/390 F for about 15 – 20 minutes (depending on the size of the ears and what else I’m cooking at the same time) it comes out perfectly.  It gets a little colour on it and the kernels are still tender and moist without losing their flavour at all.  I think the other supermarkets have two ears of corn, cleaned and ready to go, for about £1.00, so the corn at Costco is more.  But I think the ears at Costco are bigger, I know that it is definitely the case in comparison to the corn I’ve gotten from Ocado.  The package of four ears at Costco is 1.1 pounds or .5 kg but I couldn’t find a weight on the corn from Ocado.   If you are like me, you are still using those old fashioned corn on the cob holders that look like little baby ears of corn.  I finally got sick of mine and bought some of these made by Zyliss and they are so much nicer because they are a better size for holding the corn and the little stainless steel prongs go into the corn much easier and won’t rust, plus they snap together for safely storing them so you don’t have to run the risk of poking yourself getting them out of the drawer (here’s a link for the US).  I highly recommend them for anyone that eats corn on the cob.   4 pack for £3.79.  Item #: 0125161.

New World Farms Frozen Mango

New World Farms Frozen Mango

New World Farms Diced Frozen Mango –   The same weekend that I discovered Costco UK now has the glorious Langers Mango Nectar, I also found this nice frozen mango.  I’m glad someone here mentioned that I should be on the lookout for it or I might have missed it.  I love mango but find it hard to get fresh mangoes that will last for very long and not cost a small fortune, so this is a perfect solution.  Plus, it is already cut up into nice sized pieces.  The pieces are good sized and are pretty much just what a mango looks like when I cut it up myself, which makes sense because it is all hand cut.  As well as the mango being cut by hand, it is also picked by hand, which I think accounts for the perfect ripeness.  I’m less successful at always getting the perfectly ripe ones, so this is actually an improvement over what I’d have at home probably.  Buying this big bag means that I can have mango always available, instead of just for a few days after I’ve bought it.  I was worried that the mango might turn mushy when it thawed but it seems remarkably like fresh mango.  There’s maybe a little difference in the texture, but it didn’t put me off when I ate it fresh.  They suggest letting it thaw at room temperature for about thirty minutes, or they say you can try it in the microwave.  We tried the microwave method but I wouldn’t really suggest it or use it again.  I think just leave it at room temperature or put it in the fridge to thaw over night.  I like my mango raw really and found this to be a great substitute.  I like it plain with a little spritz of lime juice or as the big star in mango with coconut rice.  We’re also going to try it in a couple of other Thai dishes, like with panang curry – this is something we had at a restaurant and loved so we’re going to try to replicate it now that we have lots of mango.  And obviously, the frozen mango is perfect for making smoothies or shakes too.   If you’re like me and don’t like oranges or can’t eat them (really my problem), then mangoes are a great alternative way to get some vitamin C, as well as vitamin A.  There’s not quite as much C as in an orange, but that’s just a good excuse to eat a bit more mango.  And with this big bag in your freezer, you won’t have to worry about running out either.  I love mango, it is definitely my favourite fruit, so I hope this and the Langers Mango Nectar stick around at our Costco UK location.  1.81 kilograms for £4.99.  Item #: 0186341.

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Update from American Express about Costco Card Partnership

July 24th, 2015 by Kimberly · 6 Comments

I recently received the following message from American Express that provides a bit of an update on the situation with the American Express Costco card.  I think they could have been a bit more timely in sending this out since it has been six months since the announcement, but better late than never I guess.


 

As you may have learned from recent news coverage, our partnership with Costco will end on March 31st, 2016.

While it’s not easy to see a longstanding partnership end, we remain as committed as ever to providing you with world class service and products that deliver excellent value, rewards and benefits.

Less than a year left to use your American Express Costco TrueEarnings Card

Less than a year left to use your American Express Costco TrueEarnings Card

What You Can Expect Now

Between now and March 31st, 2016 you can continue to use your Card as you do today, including at Costco stores in the U.S., on Costco.com, and everywhere American Express Cards are accepted and you will continue to earn cash back on your eligible purchases.

What’s Next

We have many rewarding products and are committed to earning your business now and in the future. As always, no matter which American Express® Card you carry in your wallet, you can count on American Express’ award winning service and our brand’s 165 year promise of trust and security.

Our Customer Care Professionals are here to serve you with Relationship Care®, our unique brand of customer service. We encourage you to call 1-888-246-1076, or the number on the back of your Card, should you have any questions regarding your account.

We appreciate your business with American Express and thank you for being a loyal Card Member.

Sincerely,

Josh Silverman
President, Consumer Products & Services
American Express
Member Since 1988

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