As I had mentioned in one or two of my recent posts, I spent the last couple of weeks in the US. Our first stop was in Kansas to see my mom, and her two local Costco warehouses. And then we went to Austin for a few days where we got the chance to visit our old Austin Costco store. It was fun to be back in the US since it’s been about a year since we’ve been back. And it was really kind of surreal almost to be in Austin, everything seemed so familiar yet strange somehow. That was especially true when we stopped by our old house to visit our renters – their furniture but our huose…crazy. I also feel like I should apologize for taking a whole week and a couple of days off from posting. I normally prepare posts ahead of time when we are going out of town but thought I’d have some time to post and wanted to post about being in the US. Unfortunately, I was way more busy than I thought I would be, and most of it was shopping. My mom and I spent every day I was visiting her running around and shopping. I’m so tired this week from all that activity that it’s taken me three days to recover.
Dorot Frozen Garlic & Herb Cubes – This is such a clever idea! I know you can make these on your own, clearly. But I’ve known that for years and I’ve never done it. It could also be a little difficult to get the nice little teaspoon sized cubes like they have done so nicely for you too. In the pack at Costco you get four different types of cubes: garlic, basil, cilantro, and parsley. The garlic is crushed but the other herbs are all chopped. But no matter which one, they are all chopped or crushed then fast frozen when fresh and still fragrant to retain their flavour and nutritional value. The best part though, is that the herbs and garlic are just like if you prepared them at home from fresh because they have no preservatives, cholesterol, trans fat acids, or food coloring. They all taste fresh and flavourful too. The convenience is really great and probably the biggest draw though. You can keep the little frozen cubes in your freezer for up to 24 months and they’ll taste just as good as when you first purchased them. All you have to do is pop them out of the little tray when you need a punch of herbs in your favourite recipe and you are good to go; no cutting or chopping and no shopping either. It’s always better to have that fresh herb or garlic taste, instead of dried, and this way you don’t have to worry about buying a big bunch of basil or something that will mostly go to waste in your fridge before you use it all. These herbs and garlic are great for any recipe from soup to sauces or dressing to just about anything else that you might need an herby punch to make complete. Oh yeah, they’re Kosher too (to all levels). I’m really hoping that these find their way to the UK. And it would even be better if they would start carrying some of the other herb trays like ginger, chilli, dill, and their herb mixes. If you’ve bought these, or even if you haven’t, you can find some great recipes on the Dorot website. 120 cubes (120 teaspoons) for $7.99 (UK: £5.14). Item #: 800208.
Marie Morin Crème Brûlée – I really like crème brûlée but I don’t always want to take the time to whip it up. My mom and I ran across these while we were wandering through one of her Costco locations and decided to try them out. You get six healthy sized portions in little glass ramekins in the package in the refrigerated section at Costco. These are portions like you would make at home but hardly ever find in a restaurant, which makes these a great deal too. These would be a great addition to your dinner party menu though because all you have to do is caramelize the sugar on top and you are ready to serve; very low on the prep and aggravation scale. But really, I know you all want to know what the taste and texture are like, right? I’ve had in a wide variety of restaurants because it is one of my favourites, and I’ve also made my own. While this might not quite compare with the very, very best I’ve had or made, it far exceeds the quality of most of the crème brûlée that I’ve paid nearly the same price for in a restaurant. But of course, in a restaurant I wouldn’t get six servings and not even one would be this size. The texture is very creamy and light and the taste is not too sweet with a very nice vanilla taste. You also get little packets of sugar to spread on the top and then caramelize. To do this, they suggest you can use your small blow torch, the broiler in your oven, or in a pinch a microwave. We used the kitchen torch and got pretty good results. I don’t think the sugar was as hard and crackingly pleasing as it could have been but that was probably down to how long we used the torch and let it cool and harden. But really, for crème brûlée that you’ve whipped together in about two minutes, it would be impossible to quibble with the results. I don’t think that I would suggest using the microwave because I would think that would make the custardy part hot and somewhat runnier and I don’t even know if you would get the right texture to the sugar coating on top. And hey, once you’re done with the crème brûlée, you’ve got the nice little ramekins left over too, it’s a shame they don’t have lids. Seriously, you could pay this much for just a set of six glass ramekins. 6 count for $9.99 (UK: £6.43). Item #: 473086.
Honeywell CoolMoisture Humidifier – With winter and the cold, dry weather that it brings you might be in need of a little bit of added moisture in the air around your house. If so, I would definitely suggest this humidifier. This isn’t like the ones that you used to get that always wanted you to use distilled water and constantly replace the filter. Not to mention, the old ones were always so loud they could certainly keep you up at night. This has a whole bunch of features that you can really appreciate if you’ve used a humidifier before. For one, this has a UV light that keeps the bacteria, viruses, mold, and funguses out of the misted air, so you’re not going to catch anything creepy from your humidifier. This is also what allows you to put in tap water, which is apparently where the bad stuff really comes from. This UV light treatment kills 99.9% of all the bad things that can be hanging out in the water, that’s what they claim anyway. Of course, you can also clean the water tank and the tray in your dishwasher so you can keep both of those things very clean with minimal annoyance too. Since the water is treated with the UV light before it goes through the filter, you don’t seem to have to change the filter as often as you normally would either. The instruction book doesn’t mention changing it unless you let it get dry. The tank is 1.1 gallons and should allow you to run the humidifier for at least 24 hours, depending on your dryness and the setting that you choose. The humidifier has three different settings for its evaporative humidification. The highest setting is something you probably won’t need to use unless your air is really dry or you have a really big area to humidify. My mom tried that setting first and ended up with moisture on the inside of her windows; they mention in the instruction manual that if that happens to turn it down. When she turned it to the normal or everyday setting, she didn’t have that problem anymore and just had all of the benefits of better air quality. There’s also a third, even lower setting, which I guess would be appropriate if you just need a wee bit of moisture in your air to keep it comfy. The humidifier is so so quiet on the normal setting that you can hardly tell it is running. Of course you can tell the difference in the quality of the air. The little bit of added extra moisture in the air keeps your mucous membranes happy so you won’t have that congested, painful nose thing going on or sore throats from super dry air. My guess is that it is also better for your skin to not be exposed to such dry air all the time and you might avoid some of that dry, itchy skin this winter with one of these humming away in the corner. Plus, you won’t have to worry about wearing socks around the house and shocking yourself from all the static electricity either. $40.99 ($47.99 – $7.00 coupon) (UK: £26.38). Item #: 420540.
Kirkland Signature Yoga Pants – I wrote about the Kirkland Signature yoga wear in a previous post after I purchased the crop pants and tank tops. I really liked them and have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of long workout pants here in the UK since it turned cold. But they still haven’t gotten them in (maybe they never will), so when we were in the US I decided I should pick up a pair if I ever wanted to try them out. I had expected them to be pretty much exactly like the crop pants, just longer. And that is pretty much the case, though the fabric feels slightly different but I can’t figure out if it really is or the crop pants just feels softer because I’ve washed them a lot. The fabric is thick and a blend of nylon and spandex, so they are stretchy but also maintain their shape after you wear them a while. Despite the all un-natural fiber make up of the material, the really do have a breathable quality and seem to manage to wick away moisture while you’re working out. Much like the shorter version they have a wide waistband that had a strip of color to give them a little pizzazz too. The wideness though makes the pants really comfortable for any type of exercise or even just lounging around. These are also reversible for those days when you just want plain black pants too. The bottom of the legs seems really wide since they flare out to be quite a bit wider than the thickest part of the thigh area and that is my only gripe with the pants. That just makes them really flop around and isn’t my favourite look. It makes me feel like I look more clumsy or sloppy somehow. I guess i prefer a straight leg or a slight boot cut leg in my exercise pants. But I can get over that since these are some of the better exercise pants that I have (my favorites are from Lands’ End). They fully cover my bum no matter what kind of exercises I’m doing and don’t pull down no matter how much I’m stretching around (I’m looking at you Nike Dri-Fit pants). However, I love, love the hidden key pocket in the waistband. I don’t ever put my keys in there, though clearly you could, but it is the perfect size for me to tuck my phone into when I’m running or walking in the park. I like having my phone there too because it is much more convenient than whipping around in my jackets zip up pockets, plus I don’t have to worry about my keys scratching the face of the phone when it is tucked away in its own little pocket. $19.99 (UK: £12.87). Item #: 559035.