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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Trader Joe's Hibiscus Lemongrass Sparkling Beverage

Both Sonia and I have "black thumbs." We've attempted growing plants throughout the years both inside and outside, large plants and small, flowers and vegetables, succulents and cacti, and each and every time, we manage to kill them in short order.

We actually had some lemongrass when we lived in New Jersey to help mitigate the out-of-control mosquito population in our backyard. We'd read that it's best to dig up the lemongrass by the root and put them in planters and bring them inside for the winter, although alternatively, you could trim them back and put some kind of covering over them to protect them from frost. They actually do the same thing with palm trees at the shore. Not that there are many reasons to go there in the offseason, but if you ever find yourself in Wildwood in the winter, you'll see random skinny tropical trees with big plastic bags on the tops lining the vacant beaches and empty boardwalks.

Anyway, since we lacked the space to house multiple large lemongrass plants inside, we opted for the method where you leave them outside. The bags we put on them blew away and they were thoroughly exposed to frost for months on end and they never came back in the spring. Byebye, lemongrass.

But while we had the plants, they did seem to keep the mosquitoes at bay to a certain extent, and they provided a lovely citrusy fragrance that would waft through the yard on summer evenings. When I'd clip the lemongrass with the weed whacker inadvertently while doing yard work, the lemony smell was even more pleasant and powerful. 

I often wondered if I could grab a handful of their long skinny leaves and grind them into a pulp and use them as a seasoning for food or flavoring for a beverage. That's almost the notion I get from this interesting sparkling drink from TJ's—that some dude just wandered into his backyard and snagged some leaves and flowers and stuck it in his Soda Stream water and made a unique homemade thirst-quencher.

It tastes very non-commercial, if that makes sense. It's barely sweet at all and tastes quite planty. There's just a hint of that lemony lemongrass essence and a whole lot of hibiscus flavor. I mean, I guess that's misleading to say it has "a whole lot" of any flavor. The taste is quite mellow. It just errs on the side of flowery rather than lemony or grassy.

I wonder if I couldn't achieve something similar by just grabbing some dandelions and ivy from the local park and mixing them with fizzy water. All in all, it's unusual and refreshing, but the flavor isn't something that I'd seek out in the future. Sonia enjoys the taste much more than I do, but then she generally likes hibiscus, and I generally don't.

$4.99 for four 12oz cans. It makes an interesting adult beverage when mixed with gin, so I'll be kind and give it two and a half stars. Sonia will go with four this time.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Thins

Cauliflower thins...cauliflower thins....cauliflower thins...need to get the cauliflower thins....TJ's didn't have the cauilflower thins...cauliflower thins....

Despite my lovely bride's insistence that I don't listen all the time, that's something I kept hearing the past few weeks. Need to try the Trader Joe's Cauliflower Thins. I will admit I never looked them up either, so I kinda presumed they were a like a cracker-type deal. We've had cauliflower-based snackers like those before, and our kids love 'em and we don't mind them, so it was plausible to me.

Nah. Cauiflower thins are "a delicious & versatile bread substitute," so it's something along the lines of cauliflower crust pizza, except in smaller form.

One thing to get outta the way: I strongly dislike the the word thins as a plural. To me, the word "thin" will always be more of an adjective than a noun. If I ever slip a -g on the end, and my admittedly lazy editing process doesn't catch it, I apologize in advance.

Anyways, as far as these non-carb breadlike discs go, the thins are okay. The ingredients state, in order, that they're mainly comprised of cauliflower, eggs and Parmesan cheese, yet somehow the cauli-coasters don't taste like any of them, really. Granted, cauliflower doesn't really taste like anything, and the other two may be more binding agents than anything, I guess...? Instead, its vaguely bread-like matter that seems a bit dense but kinda doughy, and pretty vaguely flavored. Nutritious, though. In some ways, I kinda imagine that this is what manna would be like. I'd get sick of it within 40 days, for sure, much less 40 years. Hard to describe. They're...there, but not much else can easily be described.

As far as versatility goes, I'd imagine there would be some. Sandy and I toasted ours up for an egg sandwich, and instead of breaking, the thins happily bent and curved like a taco. It'd be hard to imagine them getting crispy, but then again, anything's possible. See: 2020.

I'd love more time to experiment, but alas, an issue: Out of the four pack, even though we were several days before the best by date, two of them got slightly moldy, so into the trash. Not happy about that, but it happens, and something to watch for. On the bright side, that gives you, our reader, plenty of opportunity to chime in with how you've enjoyed yours. Hit us up.

There ya have it. TJ's cauli-thinny-things. I'm sure if we were going keto or back to paleo they may be higher on the list, but as a guy who generally prefers to drink and not eat his carbs, I can have a little appreciation for what they are. Somewhere around a three from both of us sounds right.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cauliflower Thins: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

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