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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Trader Joe's English Butter Fudge

Ah, there's nothing more American than the Superbowl. And there's nothing like a classic American snack such as English Butter Fudge to pop in your mouth while watching the big game. Amirite?

Had we consumed the entire box of candy during the course of the game, we wouldn't have slept Sunday night, nursing massive sugar buzzes, and we'd have necessarily sought out urgent dental care Monday morning.

Fortunately, we stopped after just two pieces each. 

It's not that the candy tastes bad. Not at all. It just sits a little heavy in the stomach, what with the two main ingredients being "sugar" and "salted butter." It's like the British equivalent of maple candy, except instead of maple syrup there's salty, sugary butter. The overall effect is pretty smooth, but there's just the slightest hint of grittiness from the granules of salt and sugar. 

Sonia says they're similar in texture to De La Rosa Mazapan, and she's not wrong. Taste-wise, they're similar to the marzipan/mazapan too, although there's nothing peanutty about this Anglo-confection. And in case you were wondering, yes, this product is actually imported from Merry Olde England.

You can really taste butter here. And if you like butter, that's a good thing. Butterrific. 

Brits apparently really like butter. And I like Brits. So polite, those English folk. By now I'm sure my artistic rendering of Butterfudgehenge has caught your eye. That's for you, Great Britain. Hope you guys get that NFL team soon. Then maybe I'll cross the Atlantic to see my Redskins lose to your Monarchs or whatever they'll be called some day.

Sonia gives this candy four stars. I'll go with three and a half.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables

Ladies and gentlemen, from the team that last Friday brought you Organic Tricolor Quinoa, this Friday we present...Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend!

...with Vegetables!

Man, do we know how to get our audience primed for the weekend or what?

All kidding aside, have you tried Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables? Is this new? Newish? No idea. But it's never been on our menu until this past week, and if it's been around for a while, I really, truly regret not discovering it sooner.

It's a ridiculously simple concept. Even easier to make. And it's gooo-ooo-oood. 

Take a smattering of some different grains - barley, corn, wheat. Add in some assorted rices - ermes, ribe and venus (or in layman's terms, red, Italian long grain, and black). Logically, what this creates is a solid, hearty base, a real stick-to-your-ribs concoction that's earthy and nutty with different pockets of texture here and there, yet seem generally cohesive in the end. It's a pretty delectable hodgepodge in its own right, especially with a little salt and EVOO added giving a slightly buttery taste.

The veggies mixed in are of the typical freezer variety - peas, carrots, zucchini, onion - which help lighten and freshen up the overall vibe some. It's all good quality stuff, for the most part, and goes well with the aforementioned grains.

It comes fully cooked as is, so all you gotta do is let it defrost for a while. Just leave something on the counter? I usually get yelled at for stuff like that....but that's the actual dinner prep! Nice!

We neglected to take a picture of the actual product, most unfortunately, but save for the cilantro/parsley spring depicted, the final dish looks pretty exactly like what's on the picture on the bag. Which points to my one, smallish complaint: Instead of salt for flavoring, I'd prefer something more herbal. Do you really need added sodium to make things taste good? Na!

Regardless, I loved it. I scraped my plate clean, then unabashedly devoured what my kids left on their plate too. My wife Sandy enjoyed as well. The grain blend is definitely going into our dinner rotation. For my enjoyment, I'm going 4.5 while Sandy slides in a little lower at a 4. Now do we know how to party or what?

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trader Joe's Raspberry Hearts

In general, I've always disliked Valentine's Day—or as a friend of mine always referred to it,  "V.D." I hated the shallow sentimentality of the season, the kitschy cupid cut-outs on doors, and the mandatory mass consumption of mediocre candies and chocolates. It didn't help that, until I got married, I spent the majority of my Valentine's Days without a significant other. Sonia was the same way. And she's most definitely NOT a candy/stuffed animal/red rose kind of gal. So when we married, we merged our mutual disdain for the "Hallmark Holiday" and scarcely celebrated it except for a meal and a movie, mostly out of a misplaced sense of obligation to one another—it was basically just a decent excuse to splurge on some special food and drinks. So...in general, we've never been Valentine's people. 

But my absolute least favorite thing about the holiday has always been the anatomically-inaccurate and ridiculously clichéed abundance of hearts. Pink and red hearts everywhere. Blah.

However, this year I'm trying to look at Valentine's hearts with new eyes. After seven and a half years of marriage and more than our fair share of challenges, I'm trying to see hearts as emblems of that soulful dedication to one another rather than the hollow symbols of romantic love (read: lust) that I always took them for in the past. So...I won't hold their silly shape against these Valentine's confections.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that they are indeed highly noshable. It's not immediately apparent, but they're actually sandwich cookies made with bakery-quality shortbread and sweet raspberry jelly in the middle. The shortbread is soft and crumbly, and there's a nice rich, almost buttery quality to them, but they're not oily as some shortbread can be. The jelly is more stiff than an actual raspberry jam, but not as stiff as, say...taffy...or most chewy candy. The two elements work well together, and at least in our case, everything tasted remarkably fresh.

I think there were 18 cookies in the box. They weren't marked with a price on the baked goods table, so I just blindly threw them into my basket. I wasn't thrilled when they came up at $4.99, but I figured, "What the heck? We can always try them and return them if they're not worth the money." But since Sonia liked them at least as much as I did, I'd have to say they were worth the money. 

February is here. It's one of the coldest months of the year. But if you look up, you'll see the sun's much higher in the sky and the hope of spring is just around the corner. It's the perfect time for lovers to cling to one another to survive that final winter storm. When rations are running low and faith comes at a premium, what else do we have to pull ourselves through but each other?

That is to say: it's all about soul. And when I say soul, I mean heart.

Matching fours.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.