Tag Archives: grocery

The Siren Call of Costco

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The Siren Call of Costco

Yes, that’s an obscure reference to “The Odyssey.” Sometimes you have to show off that liberal arts education, right?

After a five-month hiatus, I renewed my Costco membership this week, lured by their new shiny Visa. Gotta love a credit card application process that takes five minutes and gives you $2,100 to spend immediately. Just think how many paper products that could buy! And while I did love hoisting those 30 rolls of Charmin Ultra Soft into the mammoth cart, meat was my primary objective.

So I now have approximately 7 lbs. of assorted meaties marinating to grill out later. One problem – 16 mph winds out here on the prairie. Grill + big wind gust = possibly setting my shed on fire. I will definitely proceed with caution. Okay, back to my Costco love fest…

While I resisted the urge to spend up to that $2,100 limit on the new card, I managed to grab an impressive array of goods.

  • Toothpaste – a 4-pack of what turns out NOT to be my Colgate whitening usual style.
  • Generic Benadryl – the dog takes it.
  • A “luxurious Sherpa” throw – The dog and I go through a couple of these cheapies every winter.
  • MEAT! – 5 lbs. of pork tenderloin, 4 lbs. of organic chicken, 3 lbs. of apple/Gouda chicken sausages. (About half of that will get the grill treatment later, hopefully not with the optional shed sacrifice.)
  • Tissues – Yes, I’m aware of my thing about paper. 10 big boxes of Kleenex with goofy designs.
  • More stuff I can’t remember.

Total: $120.00

So, readers do you forgive the two-year plus hiatus I’ve taken from posting on this blog? If so, I’ll try to be more prolific. Thanks for coming back!

 

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Single Wanderers in the Grocery Desert

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shopperLately, I’ve started to pay more attention to my kin at the grocery store – those of us who wander in single-shopping mode, often perplexed by things like the overwhelming choices in the orange juice section. Pulp? Some Pulp? No Pulp with Calcium? Good Lord.

We don’t often make eye contact, we solo shoppers. We’re on a mission. In my case, it’s get it done and get out fast. But a recent mailing of $1 off coupons from Giant Eagle had me all over the damn store. I normally buy store brands, but w/ a buck off, I bought Kellogg’s Mini Wheats in Cinnamon Roll flavor. Seriously. But I’m digressing. (Hey, I saved nine bucks.)

There is a certain camaraderie between the singles when confronted w/couples who are not only arguing about some unresolved issue and taking it out on innocent produce, but also blocking any passage in their self-absorbed oblivion. I’ve caught many an eye-roll and exasperated sigh from fellow singletons when trying to negotiate around these folks. I’m fairly certain I recently had a silent communion w/ a guy as we said in our thought bubbles, “Thank God I don’t have to deal w/ that cra*anymore!”

We do peek in each other’s carts. I’ve learned to bite my tongue when about to comment on another single person’s items. Early on in fresh post-divorce mode, I talked to anyone and didn’t have much of a filter. I’d point out my 20 cans of Fancy Feast and case of wine and laugh while gazing at their head of lettuce, light bulb and cheese singles. It usually didn’t go over well.

I continue to chat w/ people in the wine department, advising them on a good red or nice Chenin Blanc. Most people like to talk about wine and some look petrified they’ll make a wrong choice, elevating a wine purchase to that of a new vehicle. So perhaps I offer them some comfort. I certainly enjoy myself.

Maybe we should have a secret handshake or club? Single People’s Grocery List Outpost #35. Come and share your grocery list and pet peeves. I’ll pour you a glass of wine.

Trader Joe’s Field Trip

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I know I talk a lot about Trader Joe’s. I don’t have any vested interest in the company other than buying their goodies. But I promised a Facebook pal I’d post some of my fave things from there, including wine. Duh. Wine is one of the main reasons to make a TJ’s field trip. No permission slip needed.

Late last week, I headed over there forgetting that it was both Fri. and a holiday. Teeny parking lot and an F-150 do not a cute couple make. I bought a case of wine and some essentials like smoked salmon…Some of the items are TJ faves.

Wine:

  • Three bottles of Tres Pinos white – it’s a nice white blend w/ fruit forward, dry, but not too – $6.49/ea.
  • Three bottles of  Green Fin – similar to the 3 Pines, but less fruit – $4.99/ea. (This is where the TBC – Two Buck Chuck crowd gets it wrong. TBC is actually close to $4 in my store and not very good.)
  • Found Object Malbec – I like all the Found Objects I’ve had – Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc and this one – $7.49
  • Trader Joe’s Coastal Zinfandel – I don’t usually buy Zin, but this is a nice, inexpensive one – $6.99
  • La Finca Tempranillo – Same as Found Object, the Malbec and others are good, too – $5.99
  • 3 new reds I can’t recall, one was a Coppola. If you’ve not tried this vineyard, most are great. And yes, it’s the director of GodFather fame. I’ll let you know how they are.

Food:

  • TJ’s Maple Frosted Shredded Wheat – this is a new one for me but I could possibly live on it.
  • Crumbly gorgonzola
  • Honey-flavored Greek yogurt
  • Dixie Peach juice – I love all their juices
  • Dark chocolate covered ginger – a fave
  • Frozen pizzas and flatbreads – These are amazing. If someone served this to you after hiding the box, you’d swear it was from an upscale eatery. Try the ham, gruyere and carmelized onion flatbread. Ignore the portion suggestions of 1/3 of the flatbread and eat the whole thing. It’s small. I tried a new pizza – BBQ chicken, red onion and smoked gouda. Wow!
  • Seltzer – plain. It’s .79 here and .99 at reg. grocery store
  • Organic chicken breasts – Pricier than the pale versions at the big grocery stores, but flavor is better. Probably the absence of formaldehyde or something.
  • Maple syrup – What a difference the real deal is from that pseudo syrup stuff!
  • Spanish extra virgin olive oil – I like TJ’s prices on oils, salad dressings, etc., although I usually make my own dressing.

I bought a bunch more stuff I can’t recall, but my total was $168. Not bad if you consider that includes a case of wine!

I’m Not Cat-Food Munching Lady…Yet

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I bought the pup some new, fancy treats when I went to Whole Foods. They’re natural, organic peanut-butter flavored cookies. I realized as I was doling out a couple that they are made “for you to share w/ your buddy.” Uh, no, I don’t think so. I’ll admit the cookies look kind of tasty compared to the liver-flavored blobs I use for training, but I’m not going to eat them. I’m trying to raise my dog to not eat or beg for human food, so why would I encourage us sitting down and enjoying a treat together? It’s weird enough that we’re sharing a bottle of fish oil caps.

Grilling Out

As I sit here hoping blizzard-y winds don’t blow my house down, it’s amazing that just four days ago, it was in the 60s and I grilled out. Before you say, “Well, I grill out all winter!” I can assure you that out here on the tundra you wouldn’t get a charcoal grill lit, take the time to let it burn down and then attend to it while the food cooks. Your nasty bits would freeze off.  Trust me.

Here’s what I grilled:

Parboiled redskin potatoes ahead. Sliced them in thick slices and added leftover roasted carrots. Later I took the onion slices from the marinade on the pork and sautéed them. Took a sheet of foil, sprayed it w/ olive oil spray and made a packet w/ the vegetables. Placed it on the cooler side of the grill.

I marinated a pork tenderloin in:

  • soy sauce
  • 6 oz. of chocolate stout (drank the rest while grilling)
  • lemon slices
  • thyme (still had some in my herb bed)
  • 3 lg. smashed garlic cloves
  • onion sliced into thick rings
  • honey

I wish I’d been able to marinate the meat overnight, but I did it for about 6 hours. Then poured out the marinade and grilled it. I like to get a good seared crust on all sides and then move it to a cooler spot. It’s usually a bit underdone, but I don’t have a problem w/ pink pork.

Grocery List Oddities

It’s been forever since I did a big trip to the store since I was sick for three weeks. I mostly ran out to Dollar General to grab o.j. or some take-out somewhere. I have filled in some of the gaps, like creamer, tomatoes, fruit, etc. But I really need to buy tons of stuff.

Some of the odder items on the list include:

  • Milk-Bones (always!)
  • 9V batteries – I’ve been in chirping, dying smoke alarm battery hell for several days. I know I should have replaced them all at once, but only had a couple on hand. Don’t run out and have one go nuts at 4 a.m. Just don’t. Stock up.
  • Shoelaces for running shoes – my shoes look like something I found in a dumpster.
  • Pepto-Bismol tabs
  • frozen stuff – Supposed to get a big work assignment the last two weeks and I need to have frozen meals on hand because I usually don’t have time to cook.
  • unscented baby wipes – No, no surprise baby announcement. I use them on the dog’s feet after she rearranges my mulch in the flower beds.
  • parchment paper – I’ve transferred this item to five successive grocery lists. Can’t find it at a couple of the usual places. I mostly use it for homemade pizza.

OK, that’s enough minutiae for all of us. The dog is even rolling her eyes about my lack of a life…

Super Bowl, Party of One

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Vera JamsOh please, don’t think for one minute that headline is sad! That poor woman – alone on Super Bowl night… Seriously, since when is Super Bowl Sunday a romantic holiday for couples? I suppose maybe it could be if your idea of date night is crap beer and some sad nachos. If so, you might want to set the bar higher.

 

(This is a pic of the fab Vera Wang jams I wore to my own Super Bowl party. What can I say, I have innate style.)

I really didn’t mind watching the Super Bowl alone. Didn’t have to clean my house, make food for anyone, worry about people having enough to drink or too much (or drinking all my GOOD beer). These events are especially easy without “He Who No Longer Inhabits” who felt the need to reinvent chicken wings or foof up some simple appetizer. Very tiring. Not a chance. The pup got a couple extra Milk-Bones and I had a plate of Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp pot stickers w/ their bottled goyza sauce. (Highly recommend!)

Since it seems I’ve gotten away from listing GROCERY LISTS on here, I’ll share a combo of two I’ve carried around lately. A two-week work project left zero shopping time so I didn’t get to any stores until last Fri. Then I forgot to buy most things on the list except wine, of course.

Here’s the list:

  • Drain cleaner – My puppy, Shedding Sister, has the potential to clog every drain pipe in my county. This pup never shed until about 3 weeks ago and then it was insane. Fortunately, it seems to have slowed down a bit.
  • 3-way light bulbs – Is it just me or do you blow out one setting on a 3-way bulb all the time? I use the 50 watt and 100 watt settings on different lamps. I’ve had this item on a list for 2 months
  • Wine – Although my normal cold weather choice is red, I also buy whites. I just don’t want wimpy whites that I might drink in the summer. Finding interesting, full-bodied, affordable whites is tough.
  • Frozen – That’s my shorthand for “lazy-ass food” I buy so when I’m working 10/11- hour days, I just heat the oven or throw in micro.
  • Creamer – Again with the “fat-free” half and half – such a concept!

So, did you notice there’s really nothing to eat on that list except for the frozen category? That’s right. It’s why I call this “single people’s grocery lists.”

Cheers.

Is Peanut Brittle a Vegetable?

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I got an unexpected check this week (from what I assumed was a deadbeat client) which facilitated a long overdue TJ’s trip for staples like dark chocolate peanut butter salty caramel truffles. I also went to the reg. grocery store and stocked up. It’s amazing how much your menu-planning becomes more creative when you have actual food.

Holiday Food

I used to look forward to making holiday food like peanut brittle, lemon pound cake w/ lemon glaze, cheese balls, etc. Not really up for it this year, but I did find some raw peanuts from last year. Evidently, I wasn’t up to it then either. Still w/i the use-by date, I think I’ll make some.

My grandmother taught me how to make peanut brittle the old-fashioned way – cooking on the stove and spreading it out on a marble slab to cool. I make it in the microwave. I know how to make other candy-type things like caramels, but it’s a tricky process. You can end up w/ mortar if you don’t watch that thermometer. So, microwave it is.

Shopping Spree

Here’s the Trader Joe’s bounty:

  • case of wine – haven’t been able to afford that in a while. It makes sense because essentially you get a free bottle w/ the 10% discount. BTW, try a Gruner Veltliner if you can find one. Don’t worry if people scoff at your pronunciation.
  • gorgonzola – the real Italian version
  • smoked salmon – I swear I could live on it
  • sea salt pita chips
  • fig butter – for that apple pizza I’ve talked about
  • garlic hummus
  • spinach and kale dip – better than it sounds and low-fat
  • rosemary and raisin crackers – ditto
  • other stuff I can’t remember

At the reg. grocery I bought:

  • 2 lbs. of frozen E-Z peel shrimp – like the salmon, I could live on this.
  • brownie bites
  • green beans – I steamed them for me and the pup. Maybe eventually we’ll just eat the same diet. No comments, I’m kidding, people.
  • booze – I’m not a booze drinker, but I wanted a coffee liqueur for the occasional after-dinner drink and rum for a hot-buttered rum recipe I love. (see above holiday “food”)
  • other veggies and fruit
  • almond milk – it’s better than soy and I had a coupon
  • other boring stuff I can’t remember

Design-a-Tote

Hey, if anyone is interested (and why wouldn’t you be? I’m an artist, too!), I’ll design you a SPGL tote like the one below. Just send me your nutty grocery list (leave a comment and we’ll go from there) and I’ll design a tote for you. How fun is that? Well, you probably have more fun than I do, so it’s relative. This isn’t about trying to monetize my blog, I just like to tote cp (240x240)make the totes and they’re really affordable.

People Actually Get Work Done at Starbucks?

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Today I was congratulating myself on dressing like a grown-up (even put on MAC eyeliner!), packing the laptop, dropping the pup at Doggie Day Camp, treating myself to lunch and finally making it to Starbucks to get some work done.

“Medium” Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

Seriously? Do people really get work done at Starbucks? Folks next to me are earnestly discussing Jesus, some not-great blues is playing and I haven’t done a lick of work. I am, however, enjoying my medium $4.55 Pumpkin Latte ( I don’t call it “grande,” it sounds so pretentious). So I’m not even breaking even – spent $34 ($14.00 for pup care) and have not written a single income-producing word.

I’ll head to Trader Joe’s in a bit and pick up some goodies and report in later. Watch my deficit column grow…

Essentials from Trader Joe’s

I always think I will just pick up a few things at TJ’s. That never happens. This was the list:

  • maple syrup
  • honey
  • goat cheese
  • wine (1-2 bottles of red)
  • tea
  • fig jam

Here’s what I threw in my cart in addition to the above:

  • 5 bottles of wine, total
  • frozen pumpkin pie
  • coconut milk (that WAS on my list for another grocery store)
  • coffee (since when has coffee gone to less than 12 oz. bags? It was bad enough that there is no longer a 1 lb. choice)

Grand total: $78. Did not see that coming.

Kid Foodies’ Grocery Lists…and Gross Stuff

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I recently learned that a writer pal’s kids are total foodies and have some definitive opinions when it comes to eating. Instead of just being bored or trying to pop wheelies w/ a grocery cart when accompanying Mom to the store, these boys are into the experience. They agreed to be interviewed for SPGL. Dylan is 9 and Liam is 6 and 10/12.

Dylan and Liam raid the pantry

SPGL: Which one of you is most willing to experiment with new foods? What have you tried recently that was cool and you liked?

Dylan: “I am. New stuff that I like would be hard boiled eggs, asparagus, abalone.”

Liam: “Dylan is the experimenter. I tried Ostrich and it was pretty good.”

SPGL: When my brother was little, he would combine things kids don’t usually like – blue cheese and olives, for example. (BTW – he became a professional chef when he grew up!) Tell me about interesting combos of food you’ve tried.

 Dylan: “Vanilla wafers in milk until soggy; blue cheese on steak; blue cheese dressing on french bread instead of butter; my pie of mashed potatoes, ketchup, steak sauce, peas and meat. Oh, and dipping Skittles candy and jelly beans in milk.”

Liam: “I don’t know.”

SPGL: If you could manage a grocery-store trip by yourselves, you had your parent’s wallet and you could spend as much as you wanted, what stuff would you buy?

Liam: “Grocery store would be – cookies of all types, tortillas, beans (refried – clarification from mom), cheese, milk, strawberries, orange and green melon, raspberries, bacon, laffy taffy, and sour cream and onion pringles.”

Dylan: “Grocery list would be – candy like red vines, ice cream, horseradish, donuts, blue cheese (like 10 packs), other cheeses, tomatoes, tackys, hot cheetos, soda, hamburger buns and meat for mom to grind up and make yummy burgers, and beer for dad but they may not let me buy that I’m not sure.”

SPGL: As kids, my friends and I would mix up things like eggs, mud, bird poop, etc. just to see what it looked like. What totally disgusting stuff have you mixed together just to see how gross it is?

Dylan: “My friend put hot cheetos in strawberry chunk yogurt at school and it was so gross.”

Liam: “Anything mixed together is gross!”

SPGL: What are your favorite foods?

Liam: “Favorite foods are bacon, beans (refried), vanilla oreo ice cream, and that turkey lasagna from costco.”

Dylan: “My favorite foods are spaghetti with butter, blue cheese, tomatoes, coffee ice cream, any candy, ostrich, duck, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe.”

SPGL: At the risk of creating “Kitchen Ninjas,” if you could bring any toys and/or tools into the kitchen to fix food or make interesting “sculptures,” what would you use? No chainsaws, please. 😉 (Although both boys checked first w/ mom to see if it was cool to answer this one, they did come up w/ some ideas.)

Liam: “Oh, I would love to use my Legos to make Lego cookies and Lego cake! I don’t know how that would work as they are kind of small.”

Dylan: “I would like to bring markers and paint but those probably won’t make anything taste very good.” (Mom told him you can buy markers and food paints. His eyes lit up and then he said, “Can you buy some, Mom?”) I also would like to use a hammer but I’m not sure for what, but Mom beats up the chicken sometimes.” (Mom says it’s a mallet to pound chicken and steak thin.)

SPGL thanks Liam and Dylan for playing along w/ me and thanks to Mom for facilitating. It’s great that you guys like to try new things and appreciate new tastes. Here’s to filling those grocery carts w/ even more new stuff!

50 lbs. of Dog Food, Beer and Soda – The Essentials

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I think we need to mix it up a bit here at SPGL. After all, how many times do you want to read the words “cookie butter” and “wine” on my blog? Today, I have a guest blog from pal and fellow writer Thelma Michael. She obviously understands the intricacies of single-hood shopping and shares her astute observations below.

I am purposefully single.  That’s right boys and girls – it is a choice.  No, I’m not Hunchback of Notre Dame’s twin sister making this statement because I haven’t been asked out on a date in the last decade – I’m single because I refuse to be with an idiot.

There are a lot of idiots out there.  Which makes me wonder when we can pass an ordinance that there must be a stupidity test before one can procreate – but that is a whole different line of thought.

I am also a big people-watcher and the grocery store is chock full of entertainment for me.  Not just the people, but their carts!  Holy mother of god can you learn a lot from someone by their shopping cart.

But those observations can also bite me in the butt.  To come clean I have no butt because too many things have come back and bit me in the butt.  I really hope karma doesn’t start coming after the boobs next because I don’t have that much and if it takes those I will be left with the body of a pre-pubescent 12-year-old boy.   But that’s another story.

So I am a cart observer – I like to look in other people’s grocery carts.  I can pick out the single dad, the husband who was sent with a specific list and fellow single people. Like the angry gal who just broke up with her boyfriend. She’s easy to spot – two dozen cartons of Ben and Jerry’s, five bottles of wine and the super saver pack of Kleenex are dead give aways. Then there’s the frat boy living in a grown man’s body single-handedly keeping Frito-Lay in business, as well as the local brewery.

I recently went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, enjoyed my people/cart watching then ran a couple more errands before I went home. It was after one of these errands that I stunned my fellow patrons in the parking lot by literally laughing out loud once I reached my car.

I glanced in the backseat and all I saw was a fifty pound bag of dog food, a case of beer and two cases of soda pop! If it had been someone else I would have designated them the lonely dog person.  I swear I could hear my grandmother in my ear, “See what happens when you make assumptions about others…” Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I am a dog person.  After years of singleness on and off,  I much prefer the company of my dogs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love men – they are such simple creatures.  But my tolerance for them and their crap is pretty low whereas my dogs at least crap in my yard, not in my psyche.

Dogs don’t have to figure out who they are – they are a dog.  They don’t have a pendulum that swings from wanting to be in a monogamous relationship to wanting to hump everything in the neighborhood.   They don’t play hot and cold, they don’t care if you get fat or put green goop on your face to get rid of age spots.

And you normally only have to train a dog once, as with a man it is a continual process.  So yes, I am the crazy dog lady with the big bag of dog food so I make sure my dogs are always taken care of. And me? I get the soda pop to get me through the day and the beer for a toast to me at the end of the day.

Don’t judge me.

Thanks, Thelma. As soon as she stows that bag of dog food away, she’ll have time to launch her new blog and we’ll do linkies. It’s what cool, single chicks do.

Just Running in for Some Coffee and Torilla Chips…

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You may remember I’m a coffee snob (“Am I in the Chemex Cult Now?”). I’ve succumbed to the belief that I must buy coffee that was roasted w/i the last 24 hours. Anything less is blasphemous to my elaborate coffee-making set-up. So after getting my hair cut yesterday, I planned to go to Whole Foods. I don’t know if they are a national chain of grocery stores, but I’m lucky enough to have one a short 35 miles away. I was in the ‘hood after all.

Coffee Choices

I still pretend that I am doing the healthier thing by mixing decaf and reg. – less caffeine and all. But in the higher echelon of coffee snobbery, the types I buy aren’t just cranked out in a reg. and decaf version. So I mix it up. Yesterday I bought Bel Canto reg. and a Mexican decaf something. (I always mean to write the name on the bags, but forget.)

Tortilla Chips from God

One day, my friend Rhonda brought these over from Whole Foods (WF). I thought, okay, tortilla chips, that’s cool. She said to try one. I did and it changed my view of the lowly tortilla chip. These are homemade in-store and totally amazing – not greasy, not too salty. Next to TJ’s Cookie Butter, these are like meth.

Having completed my short list of  the two items, I intended to leave because this store is pricey. Mainly because I gravitate toward the World of Cheese That’s the Cost Per Pound of a Bentley. I resisted cheese world but took a detour to Wine World. Here’s what else I bought:

  • 3 bottles of wine – These were affordable. The most expensive was $7.99
  • Brownie bites – My rationale is that they are “two-bite” treats with fewer calories and fat. Right.
  • Smoked salmon salad – This is right up there w/ CB and the chips. I wasn’t going to cave, but the guy told me they had just smoked the salmon yesterday and he was making a fresh batch. OK, I’m in.
  • Beer – When it’s 90+ out and I’ve tried to die by working in my yard, I need a cold beer when I’m done. I bought Brooklyn Summer Ale on sale. I don’t usually like summer ales because they’re often Belgians/wheat, which I don’t like, but this looked good.
  • Arugula – I’m growing some, but I don’t want to deplete the crop.
  • Organic lemonade – It was $1.50.
  • Strawberries – I don’t usually spring for organic fruit, but these were $2.50.
  • Some other stuff I don’t remember.

Total was $68.00 which should not be a surprise. I go in there w/ the best intentions of grabbing just one or two items, but I’m weak.