Holiday Treasures at Trader Joe's
I go grocery shopping every two weeks (going just twice a month helps me stick to our $500 food budget): once at Costco and once at Trader Joe's. TJs is always my favorite. Towards the end of the previous millenium, I worked at the first Trader Joe's in Northern California. It was across the street from my high school, so I answered the call when they came to my hometown (San Rafael), because the idea of being a "cheese girl" sounded glorious. Nor was I disappointed when I landed that position - cutting, wrapping, slicing, tasting, and giving out samples of cheeses from all over the world - that was just over 20 years ago, and if it weren't for the physical aspect (I mean that two ways: mopping floors and putting on pounds), I probably could have done that for forever, but it was actually the rigors of my junior year that forced me into an early retirement from my dream job - turns out working until 10pm isn't such a good fit with learning chemistry, advanced algebra, etc.
Alas, the cheese shop is no more, but thankfully the cheese hasn't moved, so every month is is a trip down memory lane...or should I say aisle (better yet, Ile, as in Ile de France). This past week's excursion was especially exciting because it's the start of the holiday season. Which means more selection of two of my favorite things: cheese and chocolate. My husband is reading Sugar Nation, which I reserved for him at the library after he started reading a copy of the much older Sugar Blues that we found at a thrift shop. I'm kinda wishing we had held off on the sugar research until after Christmas, because it's kind of a downer, what with all the seasonal coffees and baked goods closing in on us. On the other hand (can you hear the music from Fiddler on the Roof?), maybe it will help us to be a little more restrained. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, chocolate and cheese. So I passed on the former and went a little nuts with the latter...so without further ado, here are the new (or new to me) items I tried and have, of course, already tasted, and now will unsuccessfully attempt to make them last throughout the month (especially the cheese):
Tintern Creamy Cheddar with Chives & Shallots ($8.99/lb)
Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah ($7.99/lb)
Port Salut Semi-Soft Cheese ($9.49/lb)
Decaf Candy Cane Green Tea ($1.99)
Dark Morello Cherries from Germany ($2.29)
I made my own "Cherry Garcia" with these sour cherries + other TJs ingredients: Midnight Moo (chocolate syrup), chocolate chips, vanilla ice cream and a splash of brandy (optional).
Who's responsible for all this food in my house? I smell a conspiracy...
Al-Caeka is the mastermind behind the latest bioterror attack on the United States. Their ingenious and insidious strategy can be summed up in three words: Keep America Fat.
They planned the first strike on the national holiday when the digestive systems of Americans were the most vulnerable: Thanksgiving. Al-Caeka's gastronomical operatives slowly reintroduced starches into our diets—mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, rolls--paving the way for the most toxic carbohydrate of all. Millions have been infected with the white granular poison referred to as “dehydrated cane juice” but more commonly known as “sugar.”
U.S. health officials became aware of the situation in early December and the country was put on high alert, but it was apparent that the it could not be contained until after the holiday season. We were hit the hardest on our nation’s most religious celebration—Christmas—and the attacks continued through New Year’s Day. Low-carb experts predicted that our diets would be free of all fattening substances by January 2nd, 2004.
It turns out we underestimated Al-Caeka. In our panic to rid ourselves of cookies, cakes, pies, truffles, candies, and Almond Roca, we have spread the lethal sweet substance from household to household. And in some instances, household to workplace to household. The most extreme cases reported have been in multi-generational families where food is brought in from multiple sources, as well as manufactured in-house.
One household under close surveillance received two portions of cheesecakes in the same day—one from work and another from a parent living outside the household. This is just one of many such incidences plaguing this family over the past three weeks. The person most susceptible to these attacks is a woman who stays home all day blogging (often about food) and caring for her small child (now a chocoholic).
In a desperate attempt to purge her home of these lethal consumables, she has fallen into the terrorist trap of attempting to eat up all the bad food. For every forbidden morsel she consumes, another one appears out of nowhere. It is January 3rd and a tin of assorted candies, as well as a jar of toffee, has been detected in her laundry room, a bag of ghiradelli dark chocolates is perched atop the frig, a piece of cheesecake, a jar of pitted cherries, pumpkin pie filling, and four soft french rolls lie in wait in the refrigerator. Mint chip ice cream hides out in the freezer. Surely more fattening food is surreptitiously lurking nearby.
Her skinny jeans can’t be buttoned and her fat jeans are no longer saggy around her thighs and butt. If she doesn’t recover by the spring, she will attempt a new regimen of exercise known as “sexercise.” Her shapely figure will look great when she suits up for combat in…maternity clothes. Al-Caeka’s strategy will have backfired and a new little army of semi low-carbers, armed with protein, produce and whole grains, will rise up (not out) to defeat him.
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