I am finally going to Costco this weekend. Phew! It’s been far, far too long. We are running out of things left and right, so are in need of a Costco fill up. Unfortunately, some football (soccer) player is going to be at the Watford location on Saturday signing stuff and I’m hoping that doesn’t mean the store is going to be crazy busy. If you’re in the US, don’t forget that Monday is Memorial Day and that means that Costco will be totally closed. And if you’re in the UK, Costco will be opening different hours from 10 am to 6 pm for the bank holiday.
Flora Sunflower Oil with Vitamin E – We stir fry quite a bit and to do that you really need oil with a very high smoke point. We used to always use peanut oil for our stir fry needs, but we decided that we would try something else since we can’t get it at Costco here (in a reasonably sized container) and it is rather expensive at regular stores; supermarkets have a higher price for about 12% of this sunflower oil. But we also thought that we might be able to find something healthier but with a similarly high smoke point. As our luck would have it, what Costco does have is sunflower oil which has exactly the same smoke point as peanut oil, but a very light taste which won’t change the flavour of anything you cook in it. Plus, as an added bonus the sunflower oil they have comes with added vitamin E, which is good for your heart. Not to mention, aside from stir frying, this is great for making salad dressings and marinades too. And peanut oil definitely isn’t good for either of those because it has a stronger taste, and it also isn’t healthy in any way. Sunflower oil actually has one of the lowest saturated fat levels of the main cooking oils, second only to canola oil, which wouldn’t have worked for us because it doesn’t have as high a smoke point. If you store it well, away from light and heat, it should be good for quite some time without any problems, ours has a best buy date that is a year out. While we bought it to use for stir frying, we have also found it good for salad dressing if we want a change from olive oil. It has a very light flavour, pretty much non-existant really, so it is perfect for dressings and the texture and viscosity is also quite light so it pours nicely too. Of course, if you start thinking what else can I use this for, your skin would love it because of all of the vitamin E. Costco is certainly the best price in town on the Flora sunflower oil too, since a single litre of this at any of the other supermarkets will cost £1.98 – £2.25. Whereas at Costco you pay just £1.40 per litre. 2 litres for £2.79 (US: $4.70). Item #: 0133776.
Rowse Clear Honey – I make a fair bit of stuff with honey, so I find it easier and cheaper to buy it at Costco. But if you’re not going to use it a lot you might want to skip the giant container of it there because it will probably crystallize beyond redemption before you can use it all. Though if it does crystallize, you can gently heat it in a bowl of hot water or heat it in the microwave even (though slow is better I think) and it will go back to normal, though sometimes it will recrystallize afterwards when it cools down fully, sometimes it takes a while and sometimes it forms crystals again right away. Of course, if you can get it out of the container, you could still use it depending on what your using it in, not sure I’d try it in baking but it would be fine to sweeten tea. You can store honey in your freezer to avoid it crystallizing (it won’t form crystals below 5 C/41 F) but I’ve never tried it. Because of the properties of honey, it won’t actually freeze solid but will become increasingly viscous at low temperatures, so it will take a while to get any out of the container perhaps. Honey is great because you can use it to replace sugar in all kinds of recipes and end up using less sweetener. Of course, a shot of it is great in a cup of hot tea, however, it’s also great for sweetening things like smoothies, spritzer type drinks, and even lemonade. Honey’s usefulness doesn’t even remotely stop with drinks or even desserts though, it’s great for salad dressing, dips, or sauces, breads, and as part of a marinade for beef, pork, or chicken. You can also brush a little on shrimp that you pan sear or grill to get a nice caramelization. My favorite honey heavy item is baklava though; I make it a few times a year even though my hips tells me I shouldn’t. Despite the fact that this is a big thing of honey, you do have around 1.5 to 2 years to consume it if you store it properly in a dark, dry place because moisture is not a friend to honey. Just don’t ever feed it to your baby because it can be very dangerous, as in fatal, to infants! Cool honey fact of the day: it has great antiseptic and antibacterial properties that make it useful for a variety of medical purposes. I’m not suggesting everyone buy this big bottle of honey, because for most people it would just be way too much. However, if you re going to buy it, Costco is the place to do it since a bottle that is only 630 grams at Ocado or Tesco will cost you £4.00, that isn’t even half of the amount you will get at Costco for just £1.29 more. 1.36 kilograms for £5.29 (US: $8.91). Item #: 0107624.
Scan Original Swedish Meatballs – Dave and I love meatballs of all varieties, so when we saw these at Costco we knew we had to get them. These look just like real Swedish meatballs, with their small size of only about 1″ in diameter. They are made with a mixture of chicken, pork and beef (real ones I think would just be beef or beef and pork) and just a few other ingredients. The people at Scan pride themselves on their simple recipe for the meatballs which contain no colourings, additives, or preservatives; they are also gluten free. Plus, they only use ethically reared animals. They just have the meat, a bit of onion and potato, as well as spices. They don’t specify what the spices are, though I know that Swedish meatballs often contain white pepper and allspice. They have a nice taste, which I enjoyed but Dave was the real fan. I thought they seemed actually a little oily, and we didn’t cook them in oil in any way, but Dave didn’t seem to notice that. They were excellent though with some lingonberry jam and potatoes, just like we have had in Sweden. They are super easy to prepare because they are already cooked, so all you have to do is reheat them. They have all types of serving suggestions, including Italian style with pasta, on a pizza, in a salad, in an omelette, in a pita, in a Thai curry, or in couscous. Some of those are a bit odd, I think, but the meatballs are good and don’t really have a particularly ethnic taste to them like some Italian meatballs, and with their small size, you could use them in a lot of different ways. They also have hot and spicy Swedish meatballs, but we didn’t see those at Costco, unfortunately, because I’d love to try them. You can find these in a 350 gram package at a lot of the other supermarkets where they are £2 – 2.25. That price for a package that is roughly 1/3 of that at Costco is really not a good deal in comparison to the price at Costco. So, if you love your Swedish meatballs, you should go to Costco to get your fix. 1 kilogram for £3.69 (US: $6.22). Item #: 0048721.
Elizabeth Arden Original Eight Hour Cream – Whenever I have super dry skin problems I used to turn to Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream, however, it has a scent (I’ll call it that but really I mean bad odour) that is intrusive and doesn’t seem to dissipate, not to mention it kind of sits on your skin and leaves you feeling more greasy than soft like Vaseline. I’ve also tried other things like YuBe cream, but that’s also got an unpleasant smell due to the camphor, though it does absorb well in the skin and the smell dissipates after a bit. However, both of them work really well on dry skin, cuts and scrapes, and all kinds of skin needs. But now, I’ve found the lovely Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and I won’t be going back. This works just as well as either of those two but it absorbs into the skin much better and even though the scent is pretty potent right out of the tube, it dissipates quicker than the other things I’ve tried. The thing that I really like is how quickly it absorbs into the skin and leaves your skin feeling soft and lovely, not sticky and greasy. Plus, it really does keep your skin protected and happy for the whole day, even after you wash your hands. You can use this for all types of skin problems from dry or chapped skin or lips, to burns, or even things like shaping your brows, adding a bit of shine to your hair, and keeping your nails and cuticles in top shape. This is also the perfect companion for long flights (or short ones) to keep your skin hydrated and happy despite the dry airplane air. I have also heard that this is great to use when skin is really irritated with anything from bug bites to post-waxing or hair removal. I’ve been using this on my hands for a few weeks now and they have never felt or looked so well hydrated, I think. I have a little rash problem with a lot of lotions and creams due to a touch of eczema, but this hasn’t irritated my skin at all and has actually worked to heal it very nicely and keep me from needing to use the topical steroid cream. The tube seems really small since it is just 50 ml, however, I find that I need just a little tiny dab to keep my hands good for the day, like not even a pea sized amount, probably about 1/3 of that size. Sometimes, especially at night, I put this on and then follow it up with the L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream for when I need a lot of extra moisturizing. This also works great as a lip balm to keep your lips protected and chap-free, or just to give them a bit of shine. The price of this is really amazing at Costco because it is just £11.99, but at most places I’ve seen this it is £22 – 26.00 for the same size tube! Yeah, it’s like half price at Costco! So that is awesome! And at that price it is reasonable enough that I will always keep some of this on hand (no pun intended). 50 ml for £11.99 (US: $20.19). Item #: 0158863.