Product Review Special: Trader Joe’s

I buy a number of random items from Trader Joe’s specialty market to stock my pantry. The prices are gentle and we like a number of their products. Here’s what’s currently in my larder from them…

Chicken Potstickers: There used to be a really good vegetarian potsticker, packed with goodness like corn and cabbage. They no longer seem to have them; instead there’s some Thai-ish gyoza with an unsatisfying filling. Fortunately, the chicken potstickers are nice and juicy and meaty, and I often eat them for lunch or dinner when I’m on my own. I defrost in the microwave and then pan-fry with some pan spray until browned on all 3 sides before dunking them in sweet chili sauce from the Asian market.

Maple syrup: Massive wine bottle of the good stuff for low prices. I am only interested in real maple syrup, and I buy this stuff for my famous maple-mustard glaze, as well as for the usual pancake- and waffle-dousing needs.

Sweet and Hot Mustard: Makes even a boring turkey sandwich on whole wheat interesting and tasty. I also smear a little on the bun when I eat a veggie burger.

Plugra butter: I got hooked on it back when it was $3/lb. I still buy it for special baking, even though it’s more like $4.49/lb nowadays. Extra butterfat = creamier mouthfeel and better structure in a baked good. Plus it’s got a little cultured flavor to it.

Pizza dough and fat-free pizza sauce: I usually make my own dough, but can’t be bothered with the sauce, and their is pretty good and cheap enough to be worth the shortcut. I like that they sell a 100% whole-wheat pizza dough, and it’s only 99 cents, so it’s nice for a last-minute dinner every so often.

Vermont Butter and Cheese Company Chevre: The best of the widely-available commercial chevres on the market, with a fresh tangy aroma and flavor. Cheaper here than elsewhere.

Dried fruit, especially dried cranberries that unlike Craisins are not artificially sweetened. Very fresh, doesn’t desperately need rehydration like the stuff on the shelf seems to. I like the Golden Berry Blend, with yellow raisins and blueberries in the mix, for my oatmeal.

Fage 0% yogurt, the best in the world, although it’s now available much closer to home for me since two of my local chains have added it to their inventory. I remember when Greek yogurt only came from TJs, Whole Foods or a Middle Eastern market! The little cup with the spicy Greek honey is a special treat I pick up periodically.

Soup and Oyster Crackers: Yeasty, crisp, creamy and salty crackers. All of us love them, especially little Colin, who asks for “cwakahs” whenever he spies them in the pantry. The perfect size for soup or snacks.

My dad is hooked on the Cat cookies, while Mom is into the lemon cookies with chocolate drizzle. I often buy them some when I stop in.

Charles Shaw wines, which are not really $2 but are still cheap enough that they are my go-to choice for cooking wines. I usually keep a couple bottles of each variety in the pantry for boeuf bourguignon, risotto, vin blanc, and all my other wine-cooking needs. I’ll even stoop to quaffing a small glass when I think nobody is looking, not because I am ashamed to drink (ha!) but because I think they’re okay as an everyday sort of wine.

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