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Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY Thread - April 2015

Chicago? Get babka at the Tel Aviv Bakery on Devon. Apple, cinnamon, or chocolate.

about 15 hours ago
Querencia in Chains

My Aldi experience!

Well, first of all, Aldi's carries little, if anything, in the way of American name brands like Heinz and Hershey---they sell their own brands, and you have to decide for yourself if those are up to your standard. Second, Aldi's is owned by a German company so once in a while---for Oktoberfest I know but I'm not sure when else---they ship in a lot of German products that can be a good bargain, for example Spaetzel noodles, sauerkraut, German cookies, chocolate. Third, if you get there on the first day of their weekly sale prices, their fresh fruit can be a deal (blueberries, blackberries). I am not a regular Aldi shopper but I can see that they do have something unique to offer (and I really like those Jaffa-cake type cookies that show up in October).

about 15 hours ago
Querencia in Chains

low carb, low salt for kidney disease

I just mentioned this product in another post but in years of cooking for a heart patient husband this is the single most useful commercial product I ever found. Trader Joe's has an organic marinara sauce that has only around 35 mg sodium (as opposed to the 300-700 mg in name brands). You can use it in dozens of different ways. It is very tomato-y and good.

Also, you need a session with a registered dietitian and if your MD refers you, your insurance should pay for it. In my experience, physicians know a lot of things but very little about diet. And beware of "nutritionists" as no education requirements and no state registration apply to them. The hospital where your husband (is, was) treated has a registered dietitian on staff---ask for an appointment.

One more thing. A really useful website is USDA Nutrients Database. It is searchable and includes not just the usual (calories, fat etc) but everything (for example, Potassium may become important to know about in kidney disease).

PS Lemon juice is your friend. It replaces salt on a lot of foods, for example cooked green vegetables.

about 15 hours ago
Querencia in Special Diets

Low carb Lean protein - need some suggestions...

Doing low-carb for health reasons I have found the following helpful: 1) Jar spaghetti sauce is surprisingly good on zucchini rather than pasta. If sodium is an issue, Trader Joe sells an organic marinara sauce that has only around 35 mg Na per 1/2 cup vs the 400-700 mg in name brands. 2) You can easily make about half a gallon of tasty gazpacho if you have a food processor. Process until coarsely chopped 4 peeled tomatoes, 1 green pepper, 1 onion, and 1 cucumber. Add to a 46-oz jar of tomato juice. Add 2-4 tablespoons each of olive oil and wine vinegar and season to taste using salt, cumin, and garlic powder. Keeps in refrig for a week. 3) Keep some protein handy (tuna salad, cooked chicken breast) to add to a carb-ish breakfast---slows down metabolism of carb you ate.

about 15 hours ago
Querencia in Special Diets

What is considered unsweetened peanut butter.

If you have a food processor eg Cuisinart et al making your own "natural" peanut butter is worth considering. 1) Put peanuts in processor. 2) Turn it on. 3) Turn off machine after peanuts have turned to peanut butter (2-3 minutes). 4) Taste, and add anything you please (salt, sugar), or not. With the machine running, it is impossible for peanuts NOT to become peanut butter, and you can control any additions.

about 15 hours ago
Querencia in General Topics

Tips to cut grocery bill

Another poster has suggested that you might be able cut back on some of your organic purchases. See what you can be comfortable about replacing with products from a chain supermarket and be sure to check the weekly ads (they're online now so it's convenient to do this) and plan your meals using what's on sale. Price differential can be huge. You are pretty busy with toddler and job but if you can conveniently get to an ethnic supermarket you may be pleasantly surprised at how much lower produce prices are there. You mention that you cook vegetarian---I have seen eggplant 29 cents lb at an ethnic supermarket while it is $2.49 lb at a fashionable organic market; tomatoes may range from 49 cents lb to $3.99 lb (and I too am in a pricey big city). Several factors are driving up your food costs---1)shopping organic 2) including liquor with food costs 3) using a CSA 4) need for more spontaneous, creative setting for meal preparation. I understand that doing so may not fit your lifestyle, but shopping at chain markets and ethnic produce markets and making a rough weekly meal plan using weekly specials can significantly cut your food costs.

about 16 hours ago
Querencia in General Topics

Halibut Scraps

I have used both whole and 1% milk and happened on using the instant mashed potato as a slight thickener when cooking with 1% only was a health requisite. It improves the mouth-feel (a little, at least) that you lose by not using cream in cooking.
Canned oysters are standard it in my chain supermarkets, no big deal---reliable brands---I have bought Bumblebee, Chicken of the Sea, Geisha, and Roland. You might try an Asian market. I see online oysters run about $6 a can and I'm sure I don't pay anything like that locally.

1 day ago
Querencia in Home Cooking

Questions about the the legality of selling relaxation drinks

My husband was an FDA scientist for 30 years and this I know from frequent hearsay: a health claim is anything you say will do anything good for your body or any of its functions. You can say "Enjoy our delicious lemonade" but as soon as you say "Our delicious lemonade will enhance your muscular performance" or "Our lemonade will fix up that nasty cold" you move into a whole new area where you need multiple approvals, beginning with being able to prove your claim, which, by law, must be supported by evidence from scientific study and not by testimonial.

2 days ago
Querencia in Not About Food

As a foodie, what do you do for lunch during the week?

They probably never saw homemade food before and don't recognize it as anything edible.

Halibut Scraps

I start with the chowder recipe on canned chopped clams and take it from there: melt butter, saute' onion in it, add the liquid from a couple of cans of chopped clams and maybe a can of oysters, and a couple of raw potatoes, diced. Simmer this slowly until the potato is done then add the canned clams and oysters, the halibut trimmings, and maybe some bay scallops and/or shrimp. At this point the 2 cups milk called for in the recipe won't be enough so add what you think IS enough milk, bring it slowly toward a boil but don't let it boil, but keep it just below a boil long enough to poach the raw seafood, and thicken to taste with a spoonful or two of instant mashed potato. Salt to taste. If you like bacon in your chowder, use that instead of butter. If you make it a day ahead, the flavor improves, also, it freezes well. This makes an unbelievably good chowder with any available combination of fish and shellfish. I am certain that if they let my husband come back from the dead for one meal, this chowder is what he would request.

2 days ago
Querencia in Home Cooking

Uses for about to spoil milk?

I am in this situation every week and for the same reason. Melt 1 stick butter, stir in 1/2 cup flour, whisk in 1 quart milk. When white sauce has formed, add an 8-oz envelope of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Freeze in plastic margarine tubs. Good with cooked vegetables---cabbage, broccoli, potatoes---or macaroni, or to use up leftover ham (on toast or in crepes or on biscuits) or make Hot Brown sandwiches. Makes anything into a quick au gratin.

2 days ago
Querencia in General Topics

What to do with leftover onions and sauce?

My first thought was to freeze this and later have it over big baked Idaho potatoes.

Apr 18, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

recipes for extra bacon

Or, my favorite post of all time, "Oh my God, our tree is loaded with ripe mangos and we are just going crazy with so many...whatever shall we do" or words to that effect.

Apr 15, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

recipes for extra bacon

I always cook bacon a pound at a time only I bake it, not quite done, then when I want some I zap it for 30 seconds wrapped in a paper towel. You can freeze cooked bacon---just put it in a plastic bag in the freezer.

Apr 15, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Shrimp w/ shell-on recipes

In Italy when we ordered a Frito Misto we always got shell-on shrimp fried up with everything else. And when I make Shrimp Bisque I boil the shrimp (very briefly) with shells on and let them sit in the water until it is cold then use it for part of the liquid in the Bisque---doesn't take that long to shell them---just put some good music on and do it.

Apr 14, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Faster Than Cookies

I thought everyone on earth knew this trick but today encountered a neighbor who did not so will post it just in case. To save time when making chocolate chip cookies, don't put the chocolate chips in the cookie dough. Grease a pan, spread the cookie dough in it, and put the chocolate chips on top. Put the pan in the heated oven for 3-5 minutes just to soften the chocolate then take a knife and swirl the chocolate through the dough to marbleize it. Complete baking. Cut into squares. Thus, Chocolate Chip Brownies.

Apr 14, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking
1

Retire where?

Don't laugh, but I vote for urban retirement. Nothing beats it for shopping, walking, eating out, all kinds of markets and neighborhoods, access to airports and major train stations, and an infinity of cultural and volunteer opportunities. Winters, who cares---you don't have to get up and drive to work---let those be the days you snuggle indoors reading and drinking cocoa. Think outside the box. We few, we happy few who have urban-retired think it's a sleeper. BTW--- world-class medical care within five minutes of home gets more important as you grow older, also. And if the time comes that you can't drive, there is such a thing as public transportation. And taxis cruising past your building at all hours of day and night. You posted on chowhound so if this is about food shopping---think San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia. Doesn't get better. Great food shopping is often in immigrant neighborhoods, and where do new immigrants go? Cities.

Apr 13, 2015
Querencia in Not About Food
1

Indian/Pakistani mangoes in Chicago yet?

I have seen only Mexican but if I were seriously looking for anything imported from India or Pakistan I would go to Devon Avenue. Try Pa tel's and the produce place on the NW corner of that block, with the green awning out front.

Apr 13, 2015
Querencia in Chicago Area

Need recommendations for bakeries with fantastic Quiche

Try Treasure Island at Clark & Elm. If they don't already make quiche they will probably make it to order. Their prepared food section is pretty big since they remodeled. Or, if there is a restaurant where you especially like the quiche, see if they will sell you one.

Apr 05, 2015
Querencia in Chicago Area

Anybody trying to start eating dinner? I haven't for years.

1) Buy a slow cooker. You come home to lovely stews, curries, goulash, chili, etc. Variously: 2) In the evening, put something (quick & easy) together that tomorrow night when you come home all you have to do is put in the oven, and do that right after you come home--do not wait until you are hungry. In the 60-90 minutes dinner takes in the oven, you are relaxing, having a drink, reading the mail, etc. My objective is to get the feeling that somebody else cooked the dinner, and these methods approximate that. You can further the illusion by setting the table the night before and making the salad (sans tomatoes or dressing) the night before. There are people who like to come home from work and wind down by cooking. I am not one of them and, believe me, you can fool yourself a lot by doing things ahead of time.

Apr 04, 2015
Querencia in General Topics
1

I bought this vegetable (???) at the grocery, but I cannot identify it

At Hispanic and Middle-Easterm markets in Chicago, opol is sold as a squash similar to zucchini. I find it has a little firmer texture than zucchini. I use it to bake in a tomato sauce with lemon juice, cinnamon, garlic, and dill, and meatballs made of ground lamb. It bakes nicely without falling apart.

Apr 04, 2015
Querencia in General Topics

Spiral Sliced Ham Questions

I bought a Cook's spiral-sliced and heated it according to directions (face down in a pan, covered with foil, two hours at 275*). I also wanted it just for sandwiches + miscellaneous and also could not see why I needed to cook it as the ham was already cooked. However, it came out super-tender that way, which is fine with me. Flavor, eh, Honey-Baked would have been better but I got a deal on it and it was handy. Also, when you bake it, you finish it by painting on the included glaze and that gives a little extra flavor to your sandwich.

Apr 04, 2015
Querencia in General Topics

Homemade "dessert shells" for strawberry shortcake

Consider baking a pound cake in a 9 x 13 pan, cutting it squares the size you want, cutting each square across so it is two little layers, and making mini-shortcakes that way. You can either use pound cake mix or whomp one up in five minutes using your food processor. The recipe I adore is Almond Paste Pound Cake because it stays so moist: 1 cup butter, 8 oz almond paste, 1 cup sugar, 4 large eggs, 1 tsp almond extract (process all of that VERY thoroughly as you add each ingredient) then 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 cup milk (just pulse processor on and off to mix). In the 9 x 13 pan it bakes until golden in half an hour. This is a lot easier than making individual cakes.

Can I get a job as a wait staff person? What do I need to know?

I have never done restaurant work but have worked in human service professions all my life and it looks the same to me in that you need to be running all the time on a double track: intuition plus organization. You need to have the knack of assessing where people are and what they need, pretty quick, while at the same time having a big mental file of what you can do for them, and how, and why, and when, and on what terms.

Apr 04, 2015
Querencia in Not About Food

The easiest possible cherry dessert

You can make a cherry cobbler or crisp. We used to grow our own Montmorency cherries and I always had a freezer full and used them this way: Fill up a deep baking dish about 3/4 full. Put in as much sugar as you want and just a little flour, maybe 1/4 cup to a quart of cherries. Now take just about anything (Bisquick, Streusel, oatmeal and flour and sugar, leftover bits of pie crust, some flour and sugar and oil and a little milk, etc etc) and put it on top of the cherries, then bake. You can't go wrong.

Also, a hot sauce for pancakes, waffles, or French toast: Put cherries in saucepan with as much sugar as you like, bring to boil, thicken with a few spoonfuls of cornstarch dissolved in cold water, serve hot as a sauce. This also freezes for later use.

Apr 03, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

QUICHE! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (April 2015)

My favorite thing to do with quiche is freeze it in individual slices that can be zapped in 2 minutes for a substantial breakfast on the way out the door. Some mornings you just don't want something sweet.

QUICHE! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (April 2015)

When I beat the eggs, I take a teaspoonful of the beaten egg and rub it on the crust before I bake it, to form a shield so the filling doesn't soak into the crust so much.

Fresh Kielbasa

Look at the Bobak website. This small sausage factory is on South Archer, inconvenient from River North but you can order for delivery and you can call them to discuss the products. If you do decide to go there, the 62 Archer bus heading south on State Street will take you to Bobak's door in about 45 minutes. If you are driving, also hit Shop & Save (S Archer at Linder) 5 minutes from Bobak---huge supermarket with full line of Eastern European products, worth the trip and fun vicarious travel.

Apr 03, 2015
Querencia in Chicago Area

perking up rice

Melt a stick of butter. In it, saute' sliced onions, a handful of golden raisins, and 2 tsp curry powder. Mix this with a panful of hot salted rice. Cashew nuts or peanuts optional.

Apr 03, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking
1

Bottled Key Lime juice

You can order it from amazon.com---"Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice". I keep a bottle in my refrigerator---it's good.