This weekend is the summer solstice, so live it up and enjoy the longest day
night of the year if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere. Or, flip that around and enjoy the winter solstice if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. I love the start of summer and all of the lovely sunlight. We live really near Regent’s Park and it looks gorgeous right now with all of the roses and flowers blooming and the trees and grass so green and lush. It makes for the perfect morning or evening walk and picnic spot.
Mission Flour Tortillas – When we lived in Austin, I would not have thought of buying the Mission tortillas. There were just so many other options in Austin at all of the supermarkets. Also, Costco always had the very awesome Tortillaland ones (and if you are in the US and can, you really should get these), I never bought anything else. But, we’re in the UK and Mexican foods aren’t really as plentiful here so we have to make due with what we can get. I refuse to get Old El Paso anything and that is the big Mexican brand at the supermarkets, so Mission tortillas at Costco it is. The Mission tortillas are okay, but not great. They don’t have a spectacular taste but it’s satisfactory. The real problem I have with these tortillas is that they are a bit fragile. Pretty much no matter what filling I use or how gentle I am when rolling them, they seem to tear and if the filling is at all moist you’ll certainly get tearing and seeping. I made chicken burritos with them and several of them split when we tried to roll them up, which was really annoying. When they split, you just have a huge mess too with filling spilling and getting all over everything else. So, yeah, that’s not great in a tortilla. After using these, it really made me miss the nice variety of tortillas, both corn and flour, that we could find in our Austin Costco location. Luckily, they are cheap and I’m used to the splitting now so I make my burritos a little less moist now and never overfill. I also pop the in the microwave for a bit longer than suggested on the package to soften them up. I’ve found that makes them a bit more pliable and if we’re careful with how tight we try to roll them we can avoid any big ripping situations. Unfortunately, the taste isn’t as good as the Tortillaland ones, so they’re not really great for eating without a lot of filling, I’d say. I also think the hard nature of them makes them mediocre for a wrap type of sandwich but I have done it. So, they’re not my favourite option, obviously, but they’re kind of the only option I’ve got. Buying these at Costco is about half the price as getting Old El Paso or similar flour tortillas at the supermarket, where a single 8 pack is about the same price at Costco for twice as many tortillas. 2, 8 packs for £1.49. Item #: 0093293.
Nong Shim Fresh Udon Noodle Bowls – These are a nice step up from something like Pot Noodle and make for a quick lunch. The noodles aren’t the usual dry crunchy ones that you soften with water, instead you get a little sealed packet of udon noodles that are soft and moist. Even though the noodles are fresh (they use that to mean moist I think, not freshly made) you do still need to moisten and steam them with hot water for a couple of minutes. The instructions tell you to drain away that water before you add the soup base and flakes and more hot water. The cool thing though is that they have put some thought into this draining step because the lid has little flaps cut in at the edge where you can tip the bowl to the side and the little flaps act as a strainer so you don’t have to do anything tricky to strain the hot water. And they do really work even and because of where they are located your hands are safely out of the way when you dump the steamy water out. The flakes and soup base contain things like anchovy, bonito, dried fish cake, mushrooms, soy sauce, green onion, seaweed, radish, and tempura flakes. Naturally, because it is this type of thing there’s also some less “natural” things too, but at least there’s no MSG in there. The bowls are pretty good sized and are a decent size for lunch. I do hate that the nutritional information acts like there are two servings in this bowl because that is clearly not the case and not how anyone is eating this either. Dave and I have both tried these and find the taste to be good actually and way better than Pot Noodle or any other version of quick noodle bowl that we’ve tried. I think the “fresh” udon noodles make the difference. They are thick and have a nice texture. Plus, the soup tastes like something more than just salt. But they are quite high in sodium, which is always the downfall of these types of noodle bowls, unfortunately. The soup has more flavours going on than just salt though, something more complex and like a real soup. Obviously we don’t eat these very often but they make a good, quick lunch. These are certainly better than the little packets of crunchy noodles, but the price certainly reflects that difference too. The price per bowl is £1.83, so they’re not cheap. That price makes them somewhere around £1.00 per bowl more than you’d pay for the usual noodle bowl. I think they’re probably a bit high but they are considerably more tasty than the usual stuff. 6, 9.73 ounce bowls for £10.99. Item #: 0182140.
Kirkland Signature Golden Sweet Pineapple Chunks, Frozen – We bought these because we both like pineapple a lot but it is much harder to keep fresh pineapple on hand than say, a big bag of frozen chunks. The bag is quite large and will take up a fair amount of space in the freezer but the pineapple is really excellent. The bag is filled with pretty evenly cut pineapple chunks (little pie shaped wedges) that are all ready to eat, except for the thawing of course. We’ve always thawed it and eaten it like that somehow, but this would be perfect for making smoothies too. Since the pieces are not huge it thaws pretty quickly, in 30 to 60 minutes we have found, on the counter. Just make sure it is fully thawed because otherwise you will get that ice cream headache thing because it turns out that even partially frozen pineapple is crazy cold. We’ve grilled the little chunks with a bit of butter and cinnamon, we’ve eaten them just as they are, and I’ve mixed them with yogurt too. No matter what we’ve tried the pineapple has been great. I think it is pretty impressive or amazing that they’ve done such a good job of freezing it that it doesn’t turn to mush when it thaws, because I was a bit worried about that. It looks just like fresh pineapple chunks when it thaws, not all smushy and sad, so you don’t have to hide it away in something where you can’t actually see it. Since it is Kirkland Signature, the quality is there in things like this all being hand harvested and USDA Grade A pineapple, plus there are no preservatives. I was a little reluctant to get this, but I’m really glad I did because it turned out to be a winner. This makes me wonder if the KS frozen strawberries are this nice too. 1.81 kg/4 lbs for £4.59. Item #: 0609091.
Betty Crocker Devils Food Cake Mix Kit – This is a brilliant idea if you like to make cakes or cupcakes. This bundle at Costco comes with three Betty Crocker Devil’s Food cake mixes and three tubs of chocolate fudge icing. The icing is in the regular tubs like you would buy on a regular supermarket shelf, but the cake mixes are just in the bags with all of the instructions on the big box. Each cake mix and tub of icing is enough to make an 8″ cake with two layers, just like normal. We’re a chocolate cake family, so this is perfect for us. I’m a big Betty Crocker cake mix fan and think they are probably the best one you can buy. The Devil’s Food cake mix is particularly nice because it is so moist and has a really great taste too. It comes out perfect every time and you never have to worry about messing it up and ending up with a dry, horrible cake. The Devil’s Food always makes excellent cupcakes. There are a million ways to dress up a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, by adding things to the mix or just adding on to the icing, like almond slivers or pecan pieces or chocolate chips or shavings. My favourite fancy addition is to use Nutella between the two layers like frosting. If you like Nutella, you will really like it. Buying this cake mix kit at Costco is quite a deal. At the regular supermarkets you will pay £2.25 for the cake mix and then another £2.25 for the tub of icing, so £4.50 to make a cake basically. That means that the kit at Costco is £3.51 less overall, or you can think of like making that third cake for just £0.99. Either way, it’s a much better deal to buy it at Costco. Summer seems the perfect time to buy a three pack of cake mixes and icing to me because there’s always a reason during the summer to have a cake or cupcakes. You’d be the hit of any backyard party or picnic with a delicious chocolate cake like this. I’m going to have to make a cake this afternoon now because I’m totally craving one after writing about how delicious they are. 3 pack for £9.99. Item #: 0186538.