Trader Joe’s IRISH BREAKFAST TEA


 

If you enjoy having a nice “cuppa”- and I really do – I think you will like TJ’s IRISH BREAKFAST TEA.

Trader Joe’s ORIGINAL IRISH BREAKFAST TEA BAGS is a newer incarnation from a previous version of “Irish Tea” they sold till they “revamped” it a year or two back? That previous Irish Tea packaging looked a bit different and tasted different too. This newer version is better than the previous version. Its has more flavor and is a stronger blend, which is what you definitely want in a cup of “Irish Tea” as Irish tea should be strong enough to stand up to milk and sugar, the way most people probably drink it there, as well as the UK.

TJ’s gave the box a new look and the tea which was in a square bag, now comes as round tea bags (tagless, no string). They’re packaged inside in 2 foil wrapped packages with 40 tea bags each, which is great way to sell tea, as the foil wrapper keeps the tea totally fresh and airtight until you need to open the second little package of 40 bags. When you rip open the foil pack you will smell the tea easily, its got a very nice earthy (boggy?) deep tea aroma. To me this smells like good tea. According to the info on the box, the tea comes from 5 countries: India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malawi, and Kenya. A box of this is 80 teabags with a Net Wt. of 8 ounces, which translates basically to mean each tea bag contains a decent amount of tea inside, enough to make a strong “cuppa”. When you see cheap tea that has 100 tea bags and says “6 oz” you already know that means there’s simply not enough tea in each bag to make a strong cup of tea.

This is a black tea and properly steeped (4-5 minutes) the tea gives you a nice very strong, dark cuppa tea, with a deep reddish color. It is strong enough to stand up to a splash of milk and maybe sugar, if you take it that way. I do.

A box of 80 tea bags is $3 (or $6/lb) which is a very good deal compared to TJ’s own ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA (which comes in a box of 48 bags for the same price)

As the box says, “The Irish love their tea”. Us Yanks who do as well, can easily enjoy this brand of tea easily and affordably gotten at TJ’s to make their daily “cuppa”.

RAVE

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Trader Joe’s ORGANIC BAKED TOFU


 

 

Here’s another Tofu product… a very good one (as opposed to my previous post on High Protein Tofu…)

 

ORGANIC BAKED TOFU is a tofu that’s already been prepared, flavored in a marinade and baked. Baking tofu gets out a lot of water and it gives the tofu a firm texture, that is pleasantly chewy and well, “meaty”. It would be a very good substitute for say chicken in fact, and could be used as a ingredient in a dish like a stir fry or can be eaten on its own as the Main ingredient. As you can see from what I did with it, it can still be cooked (I grilled it up) which I think improves it’s flavor even more.

There are two versions at Trader Joe’s, a TERIYAKI flavor version and a SRIRACHA version. Though I am a big fan of Sriracha, I find the Teriyaki version has a better overall flavor profile and if you are trying this for the first time, suggest trying the Teriyaki version. But both are good, so do try both and see which you like.

What I did with it here (as pictured below) is just cut it into slices and sautéed it in a non-stick pan with some Toasted Sesame Oil for about 5 minutes a side until it was golden brown. I added Soy Sauce and a little Sugar (two elements of Teriyaki sauce) and a good deal of fresh black pepper and cooked that for a few minutes more until the sauce has cooked in and thickened a bit. Garlic (and fresh ginger) would be great to add too, of course.

This can be served with even some more sauce on the side (Sriracha, Green Dragon Sauce, or even Sriracha Ranch Dressing on the side! Serve up along with some rice, a vegetable, and salad and you have a great tasty and healthy dinner. I would say the package serves 2 (with other stuff). A package is 7 oz. and costs $2.70

You could also use this or the Sriracha version as the main protein plus veggies, with THAI CURRY SIMMER SAUCE. As the package says “be creative”.

 

RAVE

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.

RANT

 

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 RICE CRACKER MEDLEY snacks


These are very tasty, very crunchy cracker type snacks. I would say these are one of my very top Trader Joe’s products. I usually buy a bag whenever I am there.

A favorite snack food in Japan are SENBEI (pronouced Sen-bay).

Senbei are a variety of snacks made from rice which is baked into a crunchy cracker and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. In Japan there are probably hundreds of kinds. I’ve been to special Senbei shops in Kyoto that are over 150 years old (the shop, not the snacks!)

These “Rice Crackers” that TJ sells are a mixed variety of typical Japanese Senbei snacks. The package says that they are Made in Thailand. If I didn’t see this I would swear these were made in Japan as they are exactly like Japanese Senbei, of which I am really fond of and have tasted plenty!

In the bag are a mixed variety of shapes and sizes as you can see in the photo here. There are both the flat cracker style ones, some short stick type ones, some plain and some coated with “nori” (seaweed). You don’t get more Japanese than these! There are even some of the typical spicy “Wasabi Peas” you probably have tasted, in this Rice Cracker Medley. Every different kind is tasty. My favorite ones are the biggest round crackers, which are a little thick and SUPER crunchy.  Trust me, when I say “super crunchy” you may not believe how “crunchy”, crunchy can be until you eat these. I’m talking LOUD, noises going off inside your head, you can barely hear, turn up the tv 10 notches, that crunchy, dig?

These rice crackers have a great deal of “umami“, the “5th flavor” that Japanese covet, and which every chef in America is currently interested in. These crackers go great with beer, they match well with cheese, or you can just eat them on their own. To me, they’re so good, I classify these as a “dangerous” TJ product – meaning a bag in my house can go really FAST between myself and my wife (who’s Japanese, aha!). I could almost eat a whole bag (but I don’t). If you try these you will probably also love them, and want to buy them every time you visit TJ’s. A bag costs $2.29, not a bad deal.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC SUGAR


“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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Trader Joe’s FIG BUTTER


RAVE

So this product was featured in a current “Fearless Flyer” then I saw it yesterday on the shelf, and thought I should buy it and report. When I got home I confess I almost instantly dug a spoon into the jar to taste it.

First reaction: OMG, this is some fantastically good stuff, Trader Joe!

TJ FIG BUTTER 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. Fearless Flyer: TJ FIG BUTTER

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

In fact the main problem with this fig butter is well, 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)

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