What I Can’t Live Without

KRONNNNNNCH! Yep, it’s Crunch Week at my office (read: end of the production cycle), and most everyone is going a little nuts. We’re all of us sleep-deprived, overcaffeinated, a just a tetch cranky; don’t we sound lovely to chill with? Heh heh heh.

As you’ve probably noticed, my increased workload has really cut into my blogging — a tru bummer, but one that will be reversed soon enough. (I swear!)

I haven’t been cooking at all — the one proper dinner I ate this week was lovingly prepared by Alex, and it was the Most Beautiful Meal. Instead, I’ve been getting weird fast-casual food or eating snack dinners: crackers spread with hummus, small hunks of cheese, Korean pears rinsed quickly and sliced. It’s nourishment, right?

Even though my foodlyfe has been mundane, I want to get back in the blogging saddle, and so I present to you the following list of Trader Joe’s food items I could not live without. The next time you find yourself up shit creek without a paddle (or, like, a granola bar), consult this list. I guarantee you’ll have the best no-cook dinner around.

Trader Joe’s Items I Could Not Live Without

1. Tuscan White Bean Hummus I’m prone to getting myself in food ruts — periods of time during which I’ll eat the same thing over and over and over again until one day, I can’t fathom eating one more bite of the previously revered food. I’ve been in a Tuscan white bean hummus rut for months, which is to say there has been no span of time during which I haven’t had some of this in my fridge. Serious shit, this.

Hummus either blows my mind or turns me off completely. Once in a blue moon, I’ll make my own, but my version inevitably ends up far too garlicky for everyday consumption. Most store-bought hummuses are so pale and mediocre that they don’t warrant a second thought, or glance, or even this mention.

The one exception? Trader Joe’s Tuscan white bean hummus. Ooooh, baby! It’s garlicky but NOT so much so that you can’t eat it at work. It’s unbelievably creamy and spreads like a charm. Unlike its cousins, it’s the perfect shade of ecru — a small advantage, but an advantage nonetheless. Finally, this hummus is cheaper than many of its competitors (and the tub is larger, too). Score, score, score!

2. Apricot Stilton

I became a Stilton convert the weekend of October 15th, 2011. In preparation for our trip to Treasure Island, I hit up TJ’s with instructions to purchase beer, scotch, bread, cheese, more beer, cheese, fruit, and salami. Beyond the standard brie and cheddar, I grabbed a wedge of apricot Stilton. Sure, I hoped for the best; little did I know I’d just discovered a soon-to-become-favorite cheese.

Similar in texture (and pungency) to blue cheese, Stilton is best enjoyed as part of another dish. Let me rephrase: it’s hella crumbly, and you can try to eat it in chunks — just know that cheese crumbles will end up all over your table/counter/desk/other surface. For the most part, I add Stilton to salads; I’m sure it would improve any pasta dish, as well.*

3. Corn Tortilla Flat Breads (Multi-seed edition)Do you like everything bagels? How about snacks that are as crunchy as potato chips but not as greasy as potato chips? Do you like things ostensibly made from other things? Well, you’re in luck: these corn tortilla flat breads are crispy, salty, and perfect for making snackwiches: ramshackle little sandwiches of hummus, arugula, cheese, olives — whatever you might have in your fridge or cupboard.

I’m particularly fond of the flat breads’ size, which makes them ideal for topping with goodies, and their seediness, which adds flavor (and a health halo). Bonus: they’re pretty durable, so far as crackers go; this is to say, they rarely smash into millions of tiny pieces, even if I carry them home in my jostly bike bag.

4. Tempeh Here’s the scoop: TJ’s tempeh looks gnarly (like something you might buy at a community college pottery sale), and it tastes a little gnarly, but give it a chance — it’s packed with protein, slow to perish, and inexpensive. I buy a few bricks to keep on hand for quick dinners: stir-fries and pasta dishes, mostly, but I’d like to try tempeh tacos some night.

My favorite way to prepare tempeh is to 1) cube it; 2) simmer it in coconut milk spiked with spices (cumin, curry powder, smoked paprika, pepper); and 3) serve it with veggies over udon. Naturally bitter, the tempeh is sweetened a bit by the coconut milk.

There are other TJ’s products I LOVE — crack chips, sesame-seed-encrusted cashews, mochi — but these are the ones I’d perish without. And, yes: that’s it, for now. Wish me luck as I head into the final few hours of CRONCH…

***

*Any pasta dish that would benefit from a gentle sweetness, that is.

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

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