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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Trader Joe's Multigrain Crackers

Well, here's yet another installment in our somewhat occasional series which I casually call "Oh-Crud-It's-Late-and-I-Need-To-Write-Something-But-We've-Had-Nothing-New-or-Exciting-Recently-That-Hasn't-Been-Reviewed-And-I'm-Too-Tired-And/or-Full-To-Go-to-TJ's-And-I-Could-Do-That-Hot-Truffle-Sauce-Except-I-Never-Want-To-Touch-It-Again-Except-To-Pitch-It-and-That's-Not-It's-Fault-It-Makes-Me-Ill-I'm-Sure-It's-Actually-Quite-Good-But-Not-For-Me-Thanks-Body-What-Else-Do-I-Have-OOOOOOO-Pantry-Staples-FTW."

Clearly it's still a work in progress. 

I'm not particularly amped to write up a review of Trader Joe's Multigrain Crackers. I mean...multigrain crackers. Appreciably, they're without hyphen between multi and grain, unlike my intro there. But what is there to really say?

Well, here goes. With a bunch of young kids cramped up in the house, gotta feed them, continually, except not after midnight, like gremlins. They all love what we call "snacky lunch" which is basically deli meat, sliced cheese, crackers, milk, and fruit/veggies. They DEVOUR that. And sometimes that's just our dinner option too for low effort/everyone happy nights. And of course, snacks all day long. Our youngest one munches her way from alarm clock turning green to night night tuck in. other words, we eat a lot of crackers around here, and always need a box on call. 

Is it always TJ"s multigrain crackers? Likely nah, but to be honest I couldn't tell you for sure. I feel like we always have them around, though, ready to go. So maybe? 

And if not maybe we should. I just had a few, actually trying to taste them and not just take them for granted. And (un)surprisingly, they're actually pretty good! There's a lot of earthy grainy goodness, with a touch of onion and salt, sweetened a smidge with added sugar (could do without that), all wrapped up in a light, crispy, crunchy, perfectly snacky cracker. I can see why my kids like them by the handful, and why we're always pairing with some cheddar or dip or even some peanut butter. It's a pretty delicious, vaguely healthyish little disc that serves enough purpose on its own but will happy be a vehicle for whatever else you want to cram on in. 

Couldn't tell you the precise price but I doubt it's more than $3. Inexpensive, high quality, healthyish and tasty - yeah there's no little "Trader Joe's-y" twist to them, but those mentioned values are always at the top of TJ's priorities, and my family's as well when it comes to noshing. So, good work once again, TJ's. The crackers aren't world changing, but keep a box around as we do. You should never take a classic for granted. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Multigrain Crackers: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Trader Joe's Misal Curry

I've always been fascinated with maps and geography. It's also interesting how places and groups of people got their names. I'm in awe that we can still refer to islands in the Caribbean as "the West Indies" based on the erroneous assumption that 15th and 16th century explorers found an alternate route from Europe to India.

"Man, I'm jonesin' for some authentic Indian curry. Let's try going in the opposite direction and see if we get to India faster." Great work, guys. You were only off by literally 15,000 miles.

Nowadays, we take frozen Indian food at the grocery store completely for granted, along with myriad other international cuisines. We truly don't know how good we have it. And I'm not saying that this dish or any of Trader Joe's other frozen selections are quite as good as anything you'd actually be served in India, or even a half decent Indian restaurant here in the states—what I'm saying is the accessibility factor along with the relatively authentic taste is something I'm truly grateful for, and it seems petty and frivolous to file any complaints at all about this miracle of modern convenience.

So for that reason, let's start with everything positive about this dish. It's vegan. That's good. I'm not vegan, but it's nice to not have to eat animals or animal products at each and every meal. It's actually spicy. Heck yes. So many curry products are totally lacking in the heat department. We're not talking five alarm fire type heat in this case, but there's definitely some kick to this curry. I'd put it just above half way on a spice-o-meter.

Finally, it's super easy to prepare. Six minutes in the microwave and you're good to go. It's not super fattening or calorific in the grand scheme of things, either. A lot of curry dishes can really pack a punch in that department.

The "brown rice" is kinda purple. I don't know if I've seen purple rice before. It tasted fine, although the texture was just a bit spongy. If you're not into beans, then the texture of the misal might not be your thing, either. Sonia thought the curry itself had too many "al dente" beans. Spongy rice and both squishy and firm beans made the texture my least favorite aspect of this curry. That might be a function of the beans used. There are "sprouted moth beans" and "white peas," neither of which I'm familiar with.

Some curries can be kind of sweet. This one isn't at all. It's earthy, beany, and spicy. Although there are multiple coconut ingredients in the product, I didn't taste much coconut at all.

It's actually a "product of India." I guess that makes it more authentic...? But also I'm not sure how we don't have the ingredients to make it in this country, or you know, at least in this hemisphere. For $2.29, it doesn't seem like the meal's cost has been influenced much by its trip around the globe. 

Score-wise, I think we're looking at something like double 3.5's.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Trader Joe's Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend

There's no other way to say it, except that 2020 was very much a mixed bag for us. In retrospect, and even now, it's apparent how fortunate my family and I were amidst everything going on, as we remained pretty much at home, pretty much safe. It was definitely not an easy time to be parents of young kids, as my lovely bride and I are, with the myriad of challenges presented, with little outlet. The pool we swam at every day last summer? Not open. Vacations and trips to our favorite amusement park? Not happening. Heck, even going and getting ice cream presents some challenges. 

One good thing I'll take from last year is the revelation that not only I can cook, but it's actually pretty easy and I enjoy it. Lots of time at home gave a lot of time for smoking, grilling, fermenting, baking. Got a lot of new kitchen goodies, too, and finally figured out how to effectively use the cast iron. 

It's January now, of course, and a new year and quite a bit colder out, with some of the same challenges in place. But we still need to eat, and I still like cooking, and it gives me a lot of joy when I have a new inspiration to work with. Sounds cheesy but true, and it's what I got. 

So when there's something like Trader Joe's Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend debuting, I'm all in. And that's a good thing...

...'cause man, this stuff is legit. I don't mean legit as in 100% authentic to Cuban cuisine, because I'll be honest and admit I haven't ever had the real deal. Hope that changes someday soon. 

Back to the seasoning. Just open it up and waft some of the aroma on over. It's vibrant and bright and alluring, with a little depth that makes it clear it can back up its promises. I sprinkled some on my hand to take an unadulterated taste and it tastes like all of that  - so much lime and orange, and garlic, and with some cumin and black pepper to add just a little bit of spice. Other herbs like bay leaf and cilantro add a bit of body without trying to steal the show. it's a bit complex, but vibrant and delicious, without too much spices and scarcely any salt. See, I told you - it's legit. 

Made a "Cuban-style bowl" the other night that you can see - chicken thighs, avocado, fried plantains, black beans, spinach and rice. My lovely bride mixed in a hearty dose of the TJ Cuban spice with the rice, and then I added a good dose atop with some fresh squeezed lime. Oh man. Easy and delicious. And that's just our first foray with the spice - I can imagine more chicken, rice, fish and pork dishes I can make with the spice. I don't think the experience would translate as well to red meat, but I'm willing to be wrong if you know for sure otherwise. 

"It tastes like sunshine," says my lovely bride. Not sure I could say it better myself, and thankful for every aspect of that sentence and sentiment and source on a cold January day. And heck, even our kiddos liked it. Go on out and give it a try for $1.99. Sure to have no regrets. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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