FYI = No Pink Slime at TJ’s


FYI –

—–Original Message—–
From: (trader joes rants)
Sent: March 23, 2012 4:34 PM
To:  Trader Joe’s Web Customer Relations
Subject: Trader Joe’s Product Information Form

Your Trader Joe’s: NYC, Bway, 72 St
Product Name:     Ground Beef

Your Comments:   I read that 70% of all supermarket ground beef now contains ‘pink slime’ as filler. What about TJ’s ground beef ?

———–

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us. Our ground beef is 100% pure beef with nothing added. Please be reassured that this is not something that would be permitted in our products– NO pink slime in any of our meat. We only work with reputable suppliers, many of which are actually generally much smaller in comparison to other markets, just so that we can ensure the quality and integrity of our products. We also have third party audits of our products and vendor facilities to ensure that our standards are met.

At Trader Joe’s, food safety is of the utmost importance, and we take seriously the work done to ensure our products are wholesome and safe; after all, we’re customers, too – and we would not sell anything we would not eat, drink, or use ourselves!

Kind regards,
Kerry
Trader Joe’s Customer Relations

Raw Ground beef

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Easy Home-Made Pizza using TJ’s Pizza Dough (Re-Visited!)


Yesterday I noticed that the all-useful TRADER JOE’S PIZZA DOUGH had undergone a price hike. It had cost 99 cents for as long as I can remember, ever since our TJ’s opened. Yesterday I noticed TJs raised its price to $1.19 (thats in NY area) Does not seem much you say, true, but if I told you they raised its price 20% you might think “thats a bit steep”. OK rant over, now here’s the good part of this post!

The pizza recipe” post I did before seems to be one of the more popular posts here, so I’m re-visiting the topic of PIZZA (Yeah Baby!)

Pictured below is yet another pizza I made for dinner recently using TJ’s ever useful bag of Pizza Dough. To make this I used some homemade spaghetti sauce, with some extra veggies I had leftover from another dinner (eggplant, peppers, and onions). Mozzarella, and some hot Italian sausage. At the end I put on some cooked Kale with garlic I had made another night too. See, part of the “pizza night” ethos is to use up whatever one can in the fridge!


Seriously, doesn’t this home-made pizza look so damn yummy and delicious that you wish you could eat it right now?! Well guess what, you canMake your own pizza at home. Its EASY! No, really, it is pretty dam easy. Do you need to use home-made sauce? Of course not, a jar or canned sauce like TJ’s Marinara would be fine.

Making your own pizza is easy, fun, super delicious and is of course generally way cheaper than buying one. There is *nothing* like eating a pizza you just pulled fresh out of the oven a few minutes before. If you have never made pizza at home before, you absolutely must try making one yourself at least once, and promise, once you do make one, you’ll want to make a pizza every week. Every time I go to Trader Joe’s I buy a package of dough to keep in my freezer to always have it on hand for these occasions. It will defrost on the counter in about 3 hours (or leave to defrost in the fridge overnight). Is a Recipe needed to inspire you? OK then heres one:

pizza5HOMEMADE PIZZA

Ingredients needed: 1 package of TJ’s Pizza Dough, about 8 ozs of some SAUCE (Marinara, etc),  about 1/2 lb Cheese (Mozzerella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano, Jack, etc ) and using more than one cheese is even better, Fresh Garlic, (optional: diced tomato, onion, parsley, cooked mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, kale, etc) and of course, Italian Spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, red pepper, black pepper….)

1) Take your (defrosted) package of TRADER JOE”S PIZZA DOUGH out of the fridge –  leave it out at room temperature for at least one hour (the package says ’20 minutes’ but longer is better). Room temperature dough will be easier to work and press out.  (around the 1/2 hour point, you can turn on, pre-heat oven to 450-500)

2) Prepare a clean work surface thats large enough to work on and lightly dust it with FLOUR. Remove the dough from the package (I invert the plastic bag to remove and just pull till it all comes out). Dust the dough with flour so you can work it. Now you shape it. With your hands well floured and adding a little extra flour (or cornmeal) on the surface of the dough as needed, start to press out the dough using your fingers. Keep working and turning it until it is your desired size and shape. I used a square non-stick “half-sheet pan” to cook my pizza. Its a little trickier to make the dough into a square shape instead of a round shape but I like it like this. If using this kind of square pan, put a little olive oil in the pan on the bottom, put some on top of the dough and work it with your fingers…keep pressing it out gently. The oil will help you to stretch it out and work the dough into shape. Let the dough rest five minutes if you find its not ‘listening’ to you and keeping the shape you want and pulling back in (thats normal, let it rest a bit then do some more work). Be careful not to make the pizza “too thin” (or rip it!) if you can. Or too thick. Get it just right. Build up the edges to make your crust. You can gently brush the edges with some olive oil if you want -this is optional.

Shaping your dough is the only “hard part” of this project and the more you do this, the more you will get the hang of handling pizza dough. If its not perfectly shaped your first time dont fret! I promise it will still taste mighty good! Don’t give up. Check YouTube for some videos on making pizza, study a bit and practice and keep doing it. You will get the hang of it and find it getting much easier in future.

Now that you have your pizza dough base ready, its time for the ingredients
3) Spread your tomato sauce out with a large spoon. Do not oversauce – that will make the pizza harder to cook evenly and soggy. Add sauce as a thin sparse layer. Now add your other ingredients, again in moderation, and spaced out. Don’t place too much stuff on it. Sprinkle on grated mozzerella or other cheese as desired. I like to use more than one cheese (Parmesan is great as well as Grana Padano) If using sausage, pre-cook a bit just till you can slice easily (I cooked mine covered for 5-6 minutes, let it cool in the pan, then sliced it up and added it) Add extra spices as desired (Oregano, Rosemary, Basil, Red Pepper flakes….). Add fresh cracked pepper. Drizzle a bit of Olive Oil all over just before baking (Are you vegetarian? Vegan? Adjust the ingredients as needed. I’m sure you know how. Soy cheese perhaps?)

4) BAKING: When its ready to bake, place the pizza in pre-heated 450-500 degree oven. Ie, very hot (real pizza ovens are even hotter). Bake on middle or top oven rack. Check pizza after 15-18 minutes (ROTATE the pizza, if your oven bakes unevenly after 10 minutes). The pizza will probably need a total of around 20-25 minutes to bake, but your mileage may vary, as every oven is different. Check it frequently until you think its done. When it is done, I think you will know; it should be bubbly and slightly browned on top (as well as the bottom) However be careful not to over-cook your pizza or it may be a bit tough. Real pizza ovens are 600-900 degrees or hotter, so a pizza bakes in mere minutes….we just do our best with our regular home ovens. When your beautiful pizza looks – and smells – like its done, it probably is, so remove it from the oven. Check it. If its finished, you should let it rest 2 minutes before cutting as it will be easier to slice. Yes, waiting is the hardest part. SLICE it up with your favorite tool. I’ve got a pizza cutter from a 99 cents store, and it works fine. Believe it or not I even use kitchen shears to cut pizza, and that works fairly well. If you have fresh Basil, now is the time to add it – use kitchen shears as I learned to do watching master pizza maker Dom DeMarco at the legendary DiFara’s Pizza in Brooklyn)! Dom’s pizza’s are to die for.

The hardest part in the above may be waiting 20 minutes or so for the pizza to come out of the oven. The thing is, once you get the hang of making a pizza yourself a few times you will find its really that not hard to do, nor takes that much time. You must try making pizza yourself. Please leave some feedback on your successes (or failures)

Buona Fortuna (good luck!) and Enjoy…

Gently remove dough from bag and place on lightly floured work surface. Let dough rest for 20 minutes, then, for best results, stretch by hand or roll out with rolling pin to 12-inch diameter. Top with your favorite toppings and bake in a preheated 450 degrees oven or BBQ grill for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese begins to boil and the bottom of crust is golden brown.Use a hot pizza stone or lightly oiled pan for optimum results. Mangia!

AND YET MORE PHOTOS OF MAKING OF A PIZZA USING HOMEMADE DOUGH

HALF ZUCCHINI / HALF TOMATO

TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts)


RAVE

These can easily be on any Trader Joe’s Top 10 List. Easily best “first try” of a TJ product in a while. I was quite impressed. These are in the Frozen section, and are extremely good quality French Haricots Verts “(translation: green beans”). They say clearly “IMPORTED FROM FRANCE”. 

“Haricot Verts” are better than the standard green beans you probably know and buy. Haricots Verts are the skinnier French variety, more tender green beans than we have in U.S…the kind of green beans you see on your plate in a very nice restaurant next to that $30 entree you ordered.

When I see fresh HARICOTS VERTS, imported from France, at a top produce green grocer like Fairway for example, they are always expensively priced, something like $6-8 per lb?… vs. $2/lb for “normal green beans” so about 4x what good old regular fresh green beans cost? I usually think ‘who can afford to buy these things? Those with money to burn.’ Well thanks to Trader Joe’s all of us can afford to buy these wonderful vegetables. TJ’s sells a package of HARICOT VERTS in a 24 oz bag. (1.5 lbs) for $1.99! Jeez do the math people, thats about 1.50 /lb? Thats about the same price (or LESS!) than I might buy some regular fresh green beans at the market. (a price check followup in April 2012 show the same price!) 

These are the the wonderful thin, haricots verts, all prepped ready to use, which have been flash frozen. Dark, nice green color. I‘m pretty sure they’ve been blanched for a few seconds prior to being flash frozen. Certainly easy to use: they are all prepped! (ie, tip and tailed) This is a big time saver as prepping beans is the one thing I don’t like about when I buy fresh green beans. they do take a bit of work to prepare (tip and tail). These are trimmed and cut into bite size lengths, ready to use.

To cook, either throw them in boiling water, or do as I usually do, toss the beans into a hot sauté pan with some butter and oil. Cook for perhaps 1-2 mins. Don’t overcook these, you will ruin them. Throw in minced garlic and you have a nice French side dish of haricots verts, ready in minutes. Salads? Yes! I threw them into a salad after boiling them for about 45 seconds, dumping them in a colander and running cold water to cool them, and they were really good tossed with some TJ’s Virgin Olive Oil and White Balsamic vinegar! Delicious. Toss in some diced hard boiled eggs, and parsley, and you have a nice “salade composé”. I also just add them to any dish I’m making that would be good at the last five minutes, generally breaking them in half first as I add them (stews, soups, etc).

haricots verts cocoCategory:Green beans

haricots verts cocoCategory:Green beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To sell at this price, I can only imagine these are one of those items TJ’s makes a huge deal with the vendor for. TJ’s purchases in such huge quantity, directly from the vendor, then as they say, pays in cash. Thats how TJ’s makes deals so they can sell products at such bargains (case in point is Olive Oil, right? They buy HUGE massive quantities from vendors all over the world)

Anyway TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts) are my new favorite vegetable, and are now on my “always these have on hand” Trader Joe’s List. Pretty sure there will always be a package in my freezer from now on. Right next to TJ’s frozen peas and edamame. These are very versatile things to have on hand at all times. Definitely always have a bag in the freezer of these things. Try them, you won’t be sorry.

RECIPEHaricots Verts With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

(If you make this remember the recipe assumes using fresh haricots verts so adjust the cooking time down)

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

TJ’s Uncrystallized Candied Ginger M.I.A. for months and months!


ginger

Uncrystallized Candied Ginger 8 oz bag $1.49 (if you can buy it)

TJ’s Uncrystallized Candied Ginger has been M.I.A. for months now!

When I first tried this product, it was love at first bite.

I love ginger and most any candied ginger is a real favorite of mine. Trader Joe’s candied ginger is quite different from most of these, its not hard and tough like some candied ginger. Its is much softer, chewier, nice sweet spicy morsels made from “just” pure natural ginger. Its naturally very very spicy, and well, ginger-y. This product is made with good quality natural ginger and it has just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the heat. This is yet another TJ product I tried just once, and was instantly hooked on! It is delicious eaten on its own but I can tell you it is even more delicious eaten with a bite of dark chocolate (eaten together this is better than most chocolate covered ginger candy sold). You can dice it up and add add it to various things (like yogurt, cereal…). I use it in cooking too, even in a pinch adding it to dishes I’m making that need ginger. If you like ginger spiciness, this is so so good. They sell it for a great price, compared to rock hard stuff you might find that is the more “crystallized” version – hence why TJ specifically calls this ‘uncrystallized’.

Unfortunately though I haven’t seen it on the shelves in months now! Its gone Missing In Action!

When I’ve inquired about it at the front desk, they’ve told me they are “expecting to get more next month”.  I’ve heard this same thing for the last four-five months. Has it been (shudder) Discontinued, added to that infamous list of TJ’s products?! I hope not. This is a great product. If you like ginger candy and ever see this again, its a must try.

Uncrystallized Candied Ginger: PLEASE COME BACK!

A SPLIT DECISION:  a RAVE for the product / a RANT for being missing in action

UPDATE-1 (June 1 2011) I’M STILL WAITING; Just checked with TJ staff and they confirm, its not discontinued; they can’t get the product. Out Of Stock.

UPDATE-2 – (July 2011) I asked Manager; She said they finally got it in. It was on the shelves for one day before they were told to remove it because of some “label issue” WTF!!

UPDATE -3 (Oct 2011) I spoke with the Front Desk manager at my local TJ’s. She said officially “the product has NOT been discontinued” and that’s its one of the most requested items to get back on the shelf. According to her the problem is Trader Joe’s can’t get the ginger! She told me TJ’s has had trouble with their regular source’s ginger crop (in Indonesia?). Oh well. It can’t hurt to “pester” them! There can’t be only one source for ginger in the entire world, can there?

UPDATE-4  (Dec. 2011) Interesting update – Again spoke with another manager at Front Desk. This guy time told me. a) Confirmed again Product NOT discontinued; b) The Product has had an issue with its formulation. He said something like “Sulfites” and that it needed to be reformulated by the producers. Hmm… see update-2 above, right?

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE 3/16/12 – ITS BACK in stock. Check this post

TJ’s Chocolate Minis


Notice anything different?

choc

(RANT)


TJ’s Mini Chocolate Bars: 99 cents. Yeah TJ’s!

HOWEVER there is a little fishy story here. The original version of this product (left) recently ‘vanished’ from my Trader Joes’s (NYC/72nd St). I basically got hooked on these little mini chocolate bars. I used to pick up a bag of them every time I went shopping there (hey, they’re strategically placed right near the end of the checkout line to encourage this behavior, so why fight it?) Even my Checkout Guy bagging me tells me he buys a bag of these daily.  Says he goes through a bag a day. Me, I tried to control myself so the bag of 28 chocolates lasts almost a week. Well guess what? They simply vanished. Out of Stock. No. Even the sign vanished…which I’ve now learned from experience generally means bye-bye to a product.

So a week or two later I see there are once again bags of mini chocolate bars on the shelf. BUT they look different. They don’t look like they are for little kids anymore (OK by me) But the“old version” (left) seems to have been replaced by the new version (right). Notice the difference in quantity? Now yes before, they only came as milk chocolate; now you have a choice of milk or semi-sweet chocolate (which I greatly prefer). BUT other than that, the new version of this product seems exactly the same. Both say “Made In Columbia” on the package. The bars are the same size as they were in the yellow package. So WTF, Trader Joes ?! You used to give us 28 bars for 99 cents, but now you give us 12 for the same price?!

Do the math, and you will see TJ’s has more than doubled the price of these chocolate bars. Look, for the price its still pretty good. Never the less I find this a bit fishy on Trader Joe’s part. Does TJ’s think we’re not going to notice this kind of STEEP price increase – or downsizng in product quantity? Don’t they have a motto about how they only raise prices as their costs go up? So did the wholesale price of chocolate in Columbia go up 70 per cent? I’d find that hard to believe.

This is akin to the old “Hersheys effect” going way back in Marketing. How Hershey’s kept the price of their chocolate bar 5 cents for years and years but kept decreasing the size of the bar. The customer is not supposed to notice.

UPDATE: AUG 2011

They 12 bar chocolates appeared erratically on the shelves. Gone, then I’d seen them again. Went on for weeks. Finally, I see them in a tub with a sign “99 cents” literally at the head of the Checkout Line at my local TJ’s. I bought some but had a feeling that tub was the last of them. I was right. I inquired about the “12 pack 99 cents chocolates” status and the Captain told me “They’ve been discontinued”

BUMMER TRADER JOE! What is it with this product? Its fantastic.Don’t tell me they weren’t selling.  I bought one or two bags every time I shopped at Trader Joe’s. So why DISCONTINUED??!!

RANT