This week, I’m writing up reviews for some items that my mom has recently purchased on her Costco shopping trips. Since she’s in the US, I figured it would be a nice change for all of my US readers. She shops in the Costco stores around Kansas City, mostly the Lenexa location though. And even though, she’s a household of just one, she still loves to shop at Costco and buys plenty of stuff there too.
Kirkland Signature Salt or Pepper with Grinder – I am quite sure that everyone reading this post uses salt and pepper, so it is a pretty safe bet that you buy it fairly regularly. But if you haven’t tried the KS versions with the grinder, you really should. This is a great idea and the fact that they are decent sized (as in, big enough for an adult hand to hold) is even better. The attached grinder mechanism works quite well and this keeps you from having to refill your grinder at home that is probably as big a pain to fill as the ones in my kitchen. The salt of choice for the KS grinder is Mediterranean Sea Salt which has a more delicate taste than regular table salt. The pepper grinder is filled with Tellicherry Peppercorns that have a fragrant and powerful peppery taste. I’ve been grinding my salt and pepper for years because it seems to produce nicer results. This is especially true for pepper, where grinding up the whole peppercorns yourself will yield a much fresher, stronger peppery flavor. I also think that grinding your salt, whether it is a psychological thing or really true, seems to lead to using less salt. Possibly because when you grind it, it incorporates to your cooking better, I don’t know. I just think that I use far less salt when I grind it, instead of when I just add a pinch or two to things. We’re totally a salt and pepper shaker free household. Salt, 13 ounces for $3.99 or Pepper, 6.3 ounces for $3.99. Item #: 261105.
Oroweat Multi-Grain Sandwich Thins – I think these are my mom’s new favorite sandwich bread. And who can blame her because they are such a great idea. I first bought these back in 2009 only because they were doing a demo of them at my Costco, otherwise, I never, ever would have given them a second glance. I’d seen them laying there in the bread area for a couple of weeks and just thought they looked like sad little English muffins. My mistake. They are delicious! So, what they are is like a cross between a pita and a very, very flat bun. They are quite thin, like a thin pita and you split them apart (even though it doesn’t look like it when you pull them from the package). But they are softer than a pita and more like a bun in that respect. I like that they’re not huge, which is really nice because you can get more flavor from your sandwich fillings instead of the bread. At Costco they served them with tuna salad and that was delicious. At home, I’ve tried them with deli turkey and cheese and they were a pleasant change from two slices of bread. I’ve also made some little grilled cheese sandwiches on them. Any kind of sandwich my mom makes now, uses the sandwich thins instead of regular slices of bread. I’ll bet they’d make a great breakfast sandwich, like your own version of an Egg McMuffin. And they are pretty healthy too with 100 calories per thin, plus they have 5 grams of fiber and 5 of protein with just 1 little gram of fat. So, if you’re like me and just keep passing them by, you should give them a try. 24 count for $5.69. Item #: 506046.
Italian Volcano Lemon Juice – I use a lot of lemon juice, and apparently so does my mom since she bought this big jar of it. It’s a bit like salt in its ability to perk up the flavors in various dishes when you add just a touch of lemon. But, it’s not always convenient to have fresh lemons on hand, especially at this time of year. So a jar of this can really come in handy. Also, if you’re making something that requires a lot of lemon juice, your hands can go numb before you squeeze enough lemons. Without a doubt fresh lemons are always the best place to get your juice, this is a great alternative. Honestly, if you’ve had that other stuff from the Real Lemon people, you probably won’t believe that this could be so good and fresh tasting. I don’t know if it is because they use the organic lemons, or because it is definitely not from concentrate, or perhaps it is down to it having absolutely no preservatives in it. Though, most likely it is because of the quality of lemons, which all come from Sicily and the juice is bottled near Mt. Etna; maybe the volcanic soil makes the lemons just that much better. But whatever it is, this stuff is outstanding. It could definitely fool you into thinking that it was fresh squeezed lemon juice; none of that funky taste. My mom even makes lemonade out it, and it is delicious! Every 1 litre bottle of the Italian Volcano lemon juice, is the equivalent of juice from 40 fresh lemons. All of the lemons are picked and processed by hand, and they bottle the juice quickly so that they can retain the juices freshness. I’ve bought the other stuff before because that is what they sold at the Costco location in Austin, but it was only good if you were cleaning with it or really going to cook it for a while, not a great thing to spritz on your salad in place of dressing (though we did sometimes out of desperation). I’m glad there’s a better alternative for all of us that love the taste of fresh lemon juice, without the squeezing! 33.6 fluid ounces for $3.89. Item #: 211895.
Traditional Cheddar Cheese Straws – These come from the Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory, like the cheesecake factory but just for straws. My mom got these around Christmas, for serving when everyone was at her house celebrating. As I think you can guess from my blog, we’re a big cheese loving family (there must be a gene for that), so my mom was really pleased to find these at her Costco. The straws are made with real Wisconsin cheddar and a dash of cayenne pepper to give a little bit of heat to them. In the box at Costco, you get four individual packets, which is great if you don’t want to make them all at once. According to my mom they were ‘okay’, not great, not spectacular, and not something she’s going to rush out and buy again; probably because I think she still has some in her freezer now. The biggest problem was that they seemed very greasy and not super flavorful. So, that’s not a winning combination. It’s a bit of a shame because not only would they make a great little finger food for parties, they would be a nice little addition to a big dinner salad or a bowl of soup. 20 ounces for $3.89. Item #: 525826.
Honest Earth All Natural Creamy Mashed Potatoes – I just wrote about these a couple of weeks ago, so if you want my full review, take a second to read through that post. This week, I wanted to share with everyone how totally awesome these potatoes are for making a creamy potato soup with way, way less work. I made some incredibly delicious leek and potato soup this week using these and just had to share with everyone. If you haven’t thought about doing this, but you like potato soup, you should give it a try. I also think that you could use a smidgen of the potato flakes to add some body to any soup or stew and I certainly plan on trying that the next time I make stew; it’s like adding corn or potato starch just with less hassle. So, what I did to make my soup was sauté the garlic (3 big cloves) and leek (4 good sized leeks) a bit with a slice of bacon to give the soup some extra flavor. After that, I added about 5.5 cups of chicken stock and cooked the leeks until they were quite tender; about 30 minutes on simmer. Then I added the potato flakes: I added a bit and then stirred and let them sit the necessary 10 seconds or so for them to gain their full consistency, and then I just added a little bit more at a time until I achieved the desired thickness that I wanted. I ended up using about 3/4 of one of the packets for 5.5-ish cups of stock. After I had them as thick as I wanted, I did add a bit of butter to just enhance the flavor a bit and also a splash of milk because I decided that I wanted a slightly creamier texture. But obviously, you can play with that to get the desired texture and thickness that you want for your soup. But wow, it was so much easier than how I would normally make a creamy soup like this! And it was delicious too, which is even better! I just had to share that with everyone that says they love and buy these potatoes. 8 packets with 6 servings each for £5.19 (US: $8.04). Item #: 0495210.