Trader Joe’s Virgin Coconut Oil


So I’ve been hearing about Coconut Oil, once considered highly unhealthy, being re-evaluated from a health standpoint.

Coconut Oil has been getting a fair amount of buzz this past year. I had read an interesting piece in the NY Times by Melissa Clark about cooking with it.

I saw this jar of Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in the NEW PRODUCTS shelf at my Trader Joe’s. I thought, I should see what all this is about and made a mental note to pick up a bottle and try it.

Its an interesting product as it has uses both ‘Culinary’ and ‘Health & Beauty’ Or as I think of it – its skin cream you can eat! Or Cooking Oil you can use as Hair Dressing. No really, its good for all these things. In fact, it has so many uses!

English: Coconut oil in solid state.

English: Coconut oil in solid state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I opened the bottle and sniffed it, it was just amazing…WOW! It has an intense smell of COCONUT. I mean you smell it and your mind instantly thinks ‘Tropical Beach’. Just smells yummy and wonderful. I heard it was great in cooking especially good for sauteeing vegetables, as Melissa Clark wrote about. So I peeled and sliced up some Carrots (TJ Organic Carrots) and tossed them in a pan with about a tablespoon of the Coconut Oil. Again, an amazing smell wafted through the kitchen. Tossed in the sliced carrots and let them sauté for about 10 minutes or so. After the carrots were slightly browned I tasted one. It had a wonderful under-note of (yes) Coconut. The sauteed carrots tasted delicious, and I could imagine many vegetables benefitting from being cooked in coconut oil. Melissa Clark mentions roasted sweet potatoes – that sounds great – and she has a number of interesting recipes listed in her piece, which you can try.

Coconut Oil when it’s kept at a cool temperature appears white and in a solid state. If it warms up it, will become clear and liquid.

Traditional bullock-powered coconut oil mill. ...

Traditional bullock-powered coconut oil mill. Dried coconuts are crushed and oil is squeezed out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Additionally of course this is good for other things, like putting on your hair too. And it is wonderful to rub on dry skin as a moisurizer. I even read its a natural antiperspirant (you put a drop or two under your arms).

What a useful product. The question may be Where to keep the jar?! In the Bathroom or the Kitchen?!!

A jar costs $5.99 for 16 ounces. Check it out. I’m just beginning to experiment with using it. And yes, it truly makes your hair beautiful and smell wonderful too.

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TJ’s Smoked Herring Kipper Fillets


RAVE

I saw these on the shelf at Trader Joe’s, where this bright green can beckoned at me among the tuna and other canned fish items shelf. At the time, priced at just 1.99* I thought I’d try them and give a report. Well the report is simply that these are a great product, and immediately  made it into my ‘always buy these things’ category. as these are extremely handy to have on hand at all times in the pantry.

A can of these may easily be the basis for a super easy quick lunch – or even dinner if you added some side dishes. The can was easy to open using the pull tab, and inside were fat, meaty smoky dark-colored fat fillets of herring (aka “kippers”, which are very popular in Britain) packed in Canola oil which in itself had a lot of flavor (don’t just dump it out!). These smoked Herring Fillets taste wonderful. We both went crazy for their  flavor. If you enjoy smoked fish – which I love – these will send you into heaven as they have a nice but not overpowering smokey flavor. I decided they would be good served with a mustard sauce, which I whipped up in a few minutes. I even used a little of the oil they came in my sauce.

To make it into a “dinner”, I made a healthy salad of whole grains, Barley and Wheatberries, with chopped veggies. They were a good combination with the fish. Or just make some boiled potatoes for a very quick easy side. Trader Joes’ Smoked Herring Fillets; A can cost 1.99 the first time I bought them, then a few weeks later they went up to $2.29 (oh well!) Again very handy to have on hand in your pantry. These taste quite “gourmet” like something you would have gotten at “Zabar’s”, or any high end smoked fish emporium. Equally I could see mashing these up with some finely chopped green onions and spreading thickly on some nice whole grain or dark bread smeared with butter, and lemon slices, for a Scandinavian style open faced sandwich.

CANNED SMOKED HERRING FILLETS WITH MUSTARD SAUCE

Dice up a few tablespoons of ONION. Place the onions in a bowl. Mix in 2 tbs of a good MUSTARD (Dijon or other french style mustard, which Trader Joe’s sells) Add a little OLIVE OIL. Add a little vinegar or LEMON juice till the sauce is of a spoonable consistency. Serve the sauce with the Smoked Herring Fillets with some lemon wedges on the side, and perhaps some parsley. Eat with a good whole grained or dark bread.

A kipper is a fish which has been split from t...

A kipper is a fish which has been split from tail to head, eviscerated, salted, and smoked (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*they’ve gone up in price: $2.29 (july 2014)

Trader Joe’s FIG BUTTER


RAVE

OK so this was featured in the current Fearless Flyer, and I saw it yesterday and thought I should buy it and report.  Got home and almost instantly opened it and dug a spoon in to taste. First reaction: OMG, this is some fantastically good stuff, Trader Joe! It is extremely tasty.

It’s a true fruit butter, meaning fruit that has been cooked down till its super concentrated. No, there’s no “butter” in it all all, as the flyer points out. TJ Fig Butter has only a few pure ingredients: figs, water, sugar, lemon juice, pectin; so it is “all natural”. It tastes like very yummy, very ripe figs. After reading the Fig Butter post in the Fearless Flyer, I learned there are three different kinds of figs used to make it and surely this is one of the reasons the flavor profile is so complex. TJ FIG BUTTER

For breakfast the next morning, I made a piece of TJ Tuscan Pane toast with some TJ Peanut Butter and Fig Butter. People, this is a heavenly combination,  you’ve got to try.

In fact the main problem with this fig butter is desire. I just bought it yesterday, and between my wife and myself, the jar seems to be half gone already. Next, I will have to sample the other fruit butters TJ sells – for the sake of this blog of course. Mango, Pumpkin, Lemon, etc…

A 11 oz jar of TJ’s fruit butters costs $2.29*

*I have a feeling it was cheaper last month. Everything at TJ’s seems to be going up in price of late

Stay tuned!

…Working with Maine-based culinary craftsmen, focused on old-fashioned, farmstand goodness and flavor, we created Trader Joe’s Fig Butter. It starts with a medley of fresh, ripe figs: Mission figs for their extreme sweetness, Calimyrna figs for their distinctive nutty flavor and Conadria figs for their nutty-sweet balance. The whole figs are dried, ground and then crushed before being slow-cooked, in small batches, with sugar, lemon and pectin. It’s a simple recipe using only the finest, freshest ingredients, and no preservatives or artificial colors. The result is full fig flavor concentrated in a smooth, spreadable butter.

In some markets a great deal of butter is reta...

In some markets a great deal of butter is retailed from tubs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trader Joe’s Kimchi Fried Rice


 

TJ’s Kimchi Fried Rice

Disclaimer: I only tried this at the Sample Station. In fact I confess the Sample Station is the locus where I usually gravitate to almost immediately after I enter Trader Joe’s. I check out if they have something interesting to taste that day, and of course to grab myself a little cup of free coffee. Don’t you? Truly the Coffee Station is one of the best things about Trader Joe’s, isn’t it? Every supermarket should copy them; going shopping would be much more fun.


Kimchi Fried Rice is a fairly new item and TJ’s seemed to be promoting it quite a bit. Recently it was the product “on sample” 2 or 3 times that I had been to TJ’s of late. What I found funny was they had a sign next to the samples: Its said something like, “Warning: Spicy! Try at your own risk! If you can’t take spicy food, be careful!” Then I tasted it and my first thought was “Huh? This is spicy?”. Seriously to me it was about as spicy as baby food (I can take the heat). I started discussing this disconnect of the “WARNING” sign with the TJ employee who was in charge of the Sample Station at the time. He was of the same opinion – the Kimchi Fried Rice is not spicy at all! He cracked me up when he told me however how many people actually complained “Jeez this is so spicy” after they tasted the Kimchi Fried Rice on sample. So many that they put up the “warning, spicy” sign!

So here is what I thought after tasting the Kimchi Fried Rice. I know me some Kimchi Fried Rice (the authentic Korean kind). I adore it. I can even cook a decent version myself. So if I compare that taste to this stuff, I just have to say this is a pretty bland, insipid version. The two times I tried it was soft and fairly mushy, plus it had barely any kimchi taste; To me, its flavor profile was just weak, which I attribute to an industrial production of such a “homey” dish. For one, truly Kimchi Fried Rice needs real garlic flavor, as well as Kimchi. This barely even had any garlic nor Kimchi flavor for me. The real thing is a fantastic dish, and this? Frankly to my tastes perhaps it would be suitable for babies (ok maybe Korean). Now having said that – Trader Joe’s does have a decent “ethnic” fried rice. TJ’s JAPANESE FRIED RICE is actually quity good (another disclaimer: My wife is Japanese/Korean). I’ve eaten tons of both Kimchi fried rice and Japanese fried rice. I know what these should taste like. I can cook decent versions of both.

So, sorry Trader Joe’s in my opinion your KIMCHI FRIED RICE is a miss! If you try it, try the JAPANESE FRIED RICE next time and see which you prefer.

Pretty much same as your other new “Korean” addition, Trader Joe’s Kimchi, which I found such a poor product I actually “returned” it! Perhaps those who don’t live in a city where you can buy real kimchi sold at a Korean market, might think “so this is kimchi, tasty”.  Actually if you had real Kimchi you would know this stuff is not even close to being as tasty as a real Korean-made kimchi – for example this brand (Tobagi) of Napa cabbage kimchi I get at HanAhReum supermarket on 32nd Street (Manhattan’s Korea Town). If you A/B taste tested this prepared kimchi vs. the Trader Joe’s version? It would be almost a joke, just no comparison! Anyone who’s been to a Korean restaurant will know the real taste. At $1.99 (10 oz) you can try TJ’s version and see for yourself. Let me know what you think.

RANT

Kimchi bokkeumbap, kimchi fried rice in Korean...

Kimchi bokkeumbap, kimchi fried rice in Korean cuisine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uncrystallized CANDIED GINGER – Its Baa-aack!!


STOP THE PRESSES!

 

This is a package of Trader Joe’s ‘Uncrystallized CANDIED GINGER’.

Its back!

Yes, its true. This now almost mythical TJ product is finally back in stock after being MIA and off the shelf at Trader Joe’s for more than one year! 

Possibly due to some labeling issue (I heard some manager mention sulfites), possible due to supply issues, this was off the shelves at Trader Joe’s for a long long time. I mean over a year!  Seems they’ve solved whatever the issue was because its back on the shelf. And the label on the back has only two things on it, ginger and sugar. Pretty natural product.

So I can finally get my fix for this (very) spicy adult candy. (Now should I buy a case?)

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Thanks to one of my readers, Nancy who first sent the alert about this!

TJ’s Candy Cane Coal


Talk about an unusual item.

Trader Joe’s candy lumps of “coal”.

Minty chocolate crunchy bits. You can stuff them into stockings for a fun and unusual gift people WILL talk about. I sent these to my niece and nephew in Japan. I’m sure they are the only ones in Japan with this candy!

Eggnog Almonds


My local Trader Joes had a sign next to these candies, around Christmas-time…
“Oops – We bought too many of these; our mistake is your gain. Reg. price $3.99. Now $1.99”


Who could resist such a come-on? I bought some to try …and they are actually quite tasty.

They are good-size almonds inside with a white chocolate outer coating, and they do taste like “Eggnog”. They have that flavor profile and spices. You can see flecks of nutmeg in the coating.

As I’m a dark chocoholic I normally avoid anything with white chocolate (no cacao? thats not chocolate) as a waste of flavorless calories, but the spices make this into something tasty. Try them if you see them , especially for the overbuy “mistake” price.

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