Natural Cat Treats (Bench & Field)

Bench & Field – Holistic Natural Feline Treats


OK, so while I can’t really write a taste test review of these cat treats, I can say I buy these treats for my two cats regularly, and they go bonkers for them.

The photo above shows my “guest reviewer”, my Siamese cat, Aspen, taste testing the treats and I can only say they get his 100% seal of approval. I tried many times to get a good, clear shot of him eating one of these natural treats as I held one out to him but it was almost impossible, as Aspen kept tugging and pulling my hand holding the treat with his massive paws as soon as I took one out of the jar. So let’s just say these treats certainly pass the taste test.

These treats are not made or sold under TJ’s brand but are sold there under the original brand called “Bench & Field”  and are labeled as “HOLISTIC NATURAL FELINE TREATS with Added Vitamins and Minerals.”

They’re shaped like a little fish, and have fish listed as the first ingredient (anchovy and sardine) and a bunch of natural ingredients. Chewy sells them for $6 a jar. TJ’s sells them for $3! Go figure. Of course I buy them when I am at Trader Joe’s.

I’m pretty sure your cats will enjoy these. More info can be found at Bench and Field’s own site:


High Protein Organic Super Firm Tofu



Let me begin with saying the regular Firm Organic Tofu from Trader Joe’s is very good… that one comes packaged in a container floating in water. This tofu does not come in water, it’s packaged in a tight fitting plastic wrapper. 

Anyway I saw this different product (“High Protein Tofu”) and thought I’d give it a try for the blog.

Big Mistake, folks!

So here’s the shortest review I’ve ever given – High Protein Organic Tofu – its horrible!




Super firm? They are not kidding about that. Picture in your mind, what “Shoe Leather made of Tofu” might be like…. then you will have some idea of the texture of this tofu product. Have you ever cut Tofu? Sure, your knife glides right through it.. Well this stuff, your knife has to be pushed with some pressure to cut it. It’s the texture of a soft tofu rock. 

“Super Firm”? The label should read “HARD & TOUGH”. I guess thats the “High Protein” at work? This stuff is so tough and chewy that its inedible. Its sounds kinda good when you look at it and think “oh it’s high protein, that must be better” but the reality is this extra protein must make it hard and tough and sucky. When I cooked it for dinner, and we ate it, we found it nearly inedible. We only choked it down because we were starving at the time.

If you buy this stuff, you will also be sorry as I was. So you’ve been warned. Avoid this.



PS The regular Firm Organic Tofu is very good and I highly recommend that! 

PPS This Tofu product (ORGANIC BAKED TOFU) they sell is fantastic.

Trader Joe’s Organic French Baguette

I truly love a good, crispy authentic French Baguette and am always on the look out for a good one. In my search around NYC, I’ve bought and tried many a baguette from many bakeries around town, especially those I’ve seen listed as “Best in NYC”. While some are better than others, really almost none I thought lived up to the “Best Baguette” title (and lets face it compared to what you might buy at almost any bakery in Paris, we’re at a severe disadvantage).

My own personal quest finally came to a “aha” moment when I tasted the baguette from the bakery “MAISON KAYSER” which opened up in NYC a year or two back. Now this is what a baguette should be and I’m always amazed at how amazing MAISON KAYSER’S breads are (if you make bread you will understand: they use a very long ferment time and special traditional “levain” which produces a far superior taste and structure). If you have a chance to try a MAISON KAYSER baguette, you must. You too may have an “Aha!” moment, and get an idea that a really good Baguette is possible to make in the U.S. after all.

That said as good as it is, I do have to make a special trip there plus its a bit pricey, a baguette from MAISON KEYSER commands a premium price, currently $3.25 for a baguette and $3.50 for one if their “Epi” baguettes. So when I saw a “FRENCH BAGUETTE” at Trader Joe’s for $1.69 I thought I’d give it a try, not expecting too much frankly. This baguette was pretty good,  it was crispy and well baked. However in flavor and texture this baguette is just about on par with many bakeries that produce a similar baguette, albeit for usually double the price. So I give the regular French Baguette from TJ hardly a rave review, its “not bad”.

However the very next day, when I happened again to be at Trader Joe’s, by chance the Sample Station happened to be serving a sample of a different bread: TRADER JOE’S ORGANIC FRENCH BAGUETTE. The sample they were giving out was the organic baguette baked with cheese to crispy (yes please!) Man, was this sample of baguette and baked cheese TASTY (It was so good I do confess I went back for a second one!)

The package is different from the one I had gotten the day before ((the Organic one is White and sealed, the other brown & green and open). The package also says “ARTISAN STYLE“. I could instantly tell this bread was a way improved and better version of the “normal” (non-organic) French Baguette (one is $1.69 vs. $1.99 for the Organic/Artisan/White package). The slightly more pricey ORGANIC BAGUETTE has a much more profound flavor plus a better, chewier interior texture or crumb  (In French, called “Mie”, interior of bread). One reason is the bag states they use a 3 hour rise (fermentation) probably twice as long or more as the other one, plus I’m betting the organic flour used is a better quality flour compared to the $1.69 baguette. In short, the extra 30 cents you will spend for the upgraded version Baguette is well worth it.

The ARTISAN ORGANIC FRENCH BAGUETTE bread is sold a little bit under baked as the package states that you should bake this bread in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes or so for its full effect. If you don’t, its still not bad, but  you won’t really taste it at its prime and the way its intended to end up. In an pinch at least toast it in your toaster or broiler. If you do bake it, you will get a really really tasty baguette! I can’t say the TJ Organic French Baguette is  the equal to one from Maison Keyser but its not terribly far away either and one of the better commercial breads I’ve bought. This especially goes if you eat it with some really good butter like TJ’s “CULTURED FRENCH BUTTER” (I will review this in another post in future).  This butter and the baguette make a remarkably good combo, worth trying.

This is a very good TJ product and for $2 is an excellent value. Worth trying out if you see it. 



“Trader Joe’s Organic Cane Sugar contains only one ingredient: pure, natural, organic evaporated cane juice…”

…Grown in plantations in Paraguay, the sugar cane is cut by hand…. and delivered to a facility where the cane juice is extracted and evaporated into pure sugar crystals. The evaporation process produces perfect sugar crystals, rich in flavor and molasses.”

EXACTLY. Keep It Natural! The less you do (process) to food products, generally the better it is. For this sugar, the result is a high quality sugar with sugar crystals that have a distinct flavor and slight crunch to the tooth (crystals of this sugar are bigger than refined white “regular” Domino sugar). Its very similar to some sugar I usually look for in Hispanic grocery stores called AZUCAR MORENO (Blond Sugar) which is a “special” sugar that I find especially delicious in coffee. Its kind of hard for me to find Azucar Moreno consistently and this TJ product is almost an exact match for just a tiny bit more per bag, so its a good find for me.

What does this taste like? Very good. It has a very subtle taste of brown sugar but it’s lighter in flavor and color than say “light brown sugar” – which is actually regular refined “white sugar” that has had molasses added back to it. It is molasses, a by product of sugar refinery that has the taste we think of as “brown sugar”.

TJ’s ORGANIC SUGAR has more flavor than regular (white) sugar, but its not strong. It will add just a bit more flavor but not overpower the ingredient it is added to. I think this is especially excellent in coffee, and I also like it sprinkled on plain yogurt, or oatmeal. On yogurt, I like the way it crunches a little bit, not melt immediately into the liquid

A 2 lb. bag of ORGANIC SUGAR costs $3.49, ($1.75/lb) So compared to Domino sugar its not cheap (Domino or other regular sugar usually costs about 50-60 cents a pound). So I personally don’t use this to replace all regular sugar. I still use regular sugar in some things, but I use this stuff in my coffee for example, on my yogurt in the morning, my tea… whenever I want to really taste good sugar. So you can use this perhaps as an “affordable luxury” where a little bit kind of goes a long way.

PS – Trader Joe’s does sells molasses, the leftover product that is what is normally extracted in the sugar making process. It has a very strong flavor, and is frequently used in baking. A little molasses also goes a long way. It’s delicious, especially used in baking

UPDATE:When I bought this recently the back of the bag no longer says its “Grown on sugar farms in Paraguay”. It says something more generic. the bag had “PRODUCT OF ARGENTINA” electronically printed on it. This sugar compared to my last bag was noticeably a lighter shade in color than the previous bag I had. So it’s a bit different now.