Friday, November 30, 2012

Costco Angst

Oh Costco. How I love thee and hate thee.

Love. I love the new cookbooks I purchased there, especially Practical Paleo (great book).

I love the prices for organic products, like tomato paste, blueberries, chicken, ground beef, sweet potatoes, carrots, baby kale, celery etc. 

You can get decent pans, knives, small kitchen appliances, and they'll take things back with very little trouble.

Now hate. Maybe hate is strong word, but the latest Costco attitude- I don't like it. Costco employees used to be among the friendliest. Now, I don't know, they always seem slightly irritated, at least they do at the three Costco locations I frequent here in Northern California.

The free samples...both love and hate those. Who doesn't like free food? I DO want to taste the new Greek yogurt. But do I want people crowding the aisles around the sample table like sheep making it impossible for me to effectively navigate when I'm in a hurry? I do not.

And what, may I ask, is going on with the boxes all of the sudden? They used to just box everything for you, and they did it with remarkable speed. Now IF you're lucky they'll ask you if you want a box, and then if you say, "Please box everything, I have to climb stairs with it all," they will box about half it. What is going on? Why are they hoarding boxes? What difference does it make if they go in my recycle bin or theirs? (If anyone actually knows the answer to this I'd like to hear it).

One day my husband asked for boxes and the check-out people actually said (with a straight face and everything), "We're out." 
He eyed them quietly for a moment and then said, "Really?" 
As they stood by, unconcerned, I watched him walk over to the nearest monster sized display of goods (I think it was men's socks and vitamins) and start consolidating items, which enabled him to grab two large empty boxes in about 30 seconds. The employees chatted while they waited for him. I was both vexed and entertained.

Ah, then we wait in the SECOND line, the line to get out of the store, where supposedly the cart gets checked for loss prevention purposes. This line makes me crazy. How do other stores manage to make it without this stupid extra step? Are they all going out of business? I paid for my stuff, just let me go

So having ranted like a looney, I will close with this, I will keep shopping at Costco because I am addicted to cheap organic food and the best price for sparkling water around. But I will grab my own boxes as I shop and as I wait at the door to exit while they look over my receipt, I will say over and over, in a screechy panicked voice, "I didn't steal anything I swear!"

Oh and P.S. to Costco. Eggs are not dairy. Dairy comes from wing-less creatures like cows and sheep. Eggs come from chickens. Chickens do not make milk. When I say "Where are the eggs?" and the Costco employee looks at me like I'm an idiot and says, "In the dairy room of course," well it makes me want to hurl my free sample in his face.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Cooking with's not really an everyday thing. Usually when you think of flowers and cooking, well, you think of them sprinkled over a wedding cake or an over-priced salad. To me squash blossoms really taste more like an herb, or a type of lettuce and they're just the perfect shape for stuffing. If you haven't tried them, give it a shot. Lots of people fry them, or stuff them with cheese, but here's how I like to cook them:


Before Baking



Thank you, farmer's market! I got a bag of squash flowers this past summer for only a few dollars. These beautiful yellow and orange squash blossom babies are good stuffed with almost any mixture of rice or meat and fresh herbs (think dill or mint), but this time I stuffed 15 squash blossoms with:

3/4 pound good quality grass fed ground beef (or choose the best beef at your store)
1 medium egg
5 dried California plums, diced
2 green onions, diced
Two Tablespoons fresh parsley (I'm weird, I like the curly stuff)
2 tablespoons pine nuts (other nuts or seeds are good too, that's just what I have today)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (estimate)
1/4 teaspoon allspice (if you've had your allspice for ages, use double)
1 lemon wedge to squeeze on after
a little olive oil

Clean blossoms if they need it and get rid of the stems. Rub baking dish with good olive oil. Mix ingredients and stuff into squash blossoms. Arrange them on the baking dish and spray or lightly drizzle with more olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes (could be longer depending on your oven) basically cook them until your meat is cooked through. Serve warm or room temp. with olives, cheese, and/or fresh bread.