Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trader Joe's and what is has to do with cooking...and my life.

I love Trader Joe's.  If you happen to be unlucky enough to live in a state without one, I'll enlighten you. (Tina, I'm sorry to tell you the closest one to you is 602 miles away in Santa Fe, NM.  Just tell Robby to gas up the car and take you out there mmm...k? LOL.)

I can't really remember when I discovered Trader Joe's.  However, I've become a fanatic within the past few years.  I would brave the Baltimore Beltway (I don't know which is worse, DC or Balto, but they're both pretty bad - I've lived near both) and drive 21 miles to the one in Reistertown just to get my TJ fix, until they built one in Elkridge, which is a mere 15 minutes from my house.  Just walking into a Trader Joe's you get into a good mood.  Why? Well, I can list a few reasons:

  1. The employees always have a smile on their face.  Seriously.
  2. The employees wear hawaiian shirts - (Now, if they only offered free drinks in a coconut!)
  3. There is not a hint of MSG to be found in any of their products.
  4. Most of the stuff is organic.
  5. It is very reasonably priced for organic/natural food.
  6. They have stuff no one else has (like edamame hummus - Yum OH!)
  7. I love their cheese selection (I am the Imelda Marcos of cheese - unfortunately, my consumption doesn't always equal my purchasing..."ooooh! that looks yummy!" I say, snatch it up, and it's a new science project in my fridge a few months later)
  8. They have some awesomely cute cashiers (I found my daughter's future husband at the local Trader Joe's, but he doesn't know it yet), and the ones that aren't cute, are so friendly you'd swear you were in California - and that makes them cute.
Trader Joe's doesn't have a huge spice selection - but they have Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, and an "everyday seasoning" grinder.

I get my himalayan sea salt there - it's $1.99 for a grinder like this, yet at another organic market, they want $6.99 for the same size jar. holy moly!  The funny thing is, I just figured out what the tops are for - you know those clear, sort of flat lids on top?  I always thought it was to keep the grinder dust free and sanitary.  Well, I'm sure it does that, can also leave the lid on, turn that sucker upside down, and grind your little brains out until you have the amount of seasoning you want (If you are a measuring type of person - which I'm not)  I found this out completely by accident when I wanted about a teaspoon of sea salt to throw on my roasted cauliflower (and omg that is another blog post - but you are in for SUCH a taste sensation!!!!), I grabbed the grinder - and those pink crystals are a little tough to grind...and all of a sudden, a light bulb went off over the top of my head (I swear if you were with me, you would have seen it) and I turned the grinder upside down with the top still on and ground out the amount I needed.  I had to laugh, because after I realized it, it was so obvious!

There you can see some fresh pepper I ground for illustration.  This only works by the way, with those grinders whose tops sort of 'snap' on.   This discovery sort of made my day.  I was very proud of myself for having figured this out - (being the eternal optimist, I chose that route instead of the "omg how blonde can you be to not have known this sooner?!!!" route...)

Any rate, it's a great place to go - if you don't have one near you, go to their website and tell them to get a construction crew out there pronto.  If you DO have one near you - try the goat cheese with cranberries.  If you are hesitant about trying goat cheese, because the name intimidates you, let me assure you, the only part of the goat that's in this cheese is the milk.  It's similar to feta, but when it gets warmed, it gets creamy, which makes it absolutely YUMMY in a seared scallop salad with baby greens and a mustard vinaigrette dressing.  It's a tangy cheese, with a bit more bite than cream cheese.  It's meant to be eaten with a cracker or some fruit, or crumbled over a salad.  This cheese they sell has cranberries around the outside, and is a good choice for someone's first foray into goat cheese, especially if you love cranberries. They also have an onion flavored cheddar which is yummy on hamburgers, apricot stilton, go and have fun trying all the different varieties.  The final thing I will suggest is their edamame hummus

At first I was hesitant to try this, being a hummus purist, but I'm so glad I did.  Paired with pretzel sticks, it's a nice healthy snack alternative to chips and dip!

If you have a Trader Joe's near you, and haven't yet experienced them - what are you waiting for? Hop in your car, stay awhile, have a cuppa joe (on them!) and sample their latest tidbit (free!)  Shop knowing you'll not have to check labels for MSG, the ingredients are natural or organic, and the prices reasonable.  What more could you want?


  1. did you know edamame has chemicals that have the same affect on the female body as estrogen?

  2. awww not fair it sounds so interesting. i want one. *pouts*

  3. I'll send you another care package Tina! <3