Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grocery Update

Back in November I wrote a blog about things I had trouble finding here in SMA. One of the things was canned tomatoes.

Canned Tomatoes - Up until the last year or two I couldn't find canned tomatoes at all but now I'm seeing some Spanish or Italian brands. So far I haven't found one that has the flavor and texture that I want.

That situation has been overcome. First I found about a 5 pound can of S&W canned tomatoes at La Cava. I bought them and used what I needed and put the rest in the fridge. Of course that means you gotta think up some more stuff to do with tomatoes before they go bad or freeze them. But at least I knew when I wanted tasty canned tomatoes I could find them. Just imagine my excitement when I found a box of eight small cans (you know the regular 14-16 oz cans) of chopped tomatoes at Costco AND they were canned by S&W so I knew that the quality would be good. Cook's Illustrated rated them as 'Highly Recommended.' The cost for eight cans was about $7. Less than a $1 a can. I only bought one box of chopped tomatoes so I could try them out. I made a tomato sauce with Italian sausage this week and the tomatoes were wonderful. Now I probably should go back and buy another box or two because you never know if Costco will have them the next the boxes of chicken broth. Chicken broth has disappeared from their shelves never to appear again.

The next story is about mantequilla (butter). I don't like Mexican butter. It reminds me of the stuff that we used during WWII. Yeah, I'm old enough to remember back in the old days. My mother would buy a lump of white grease (I guess it was lard) and then mix a packet of orange powder in it and we called it butter....but even as a kid, I knew it was NOT butter. The Mexican butter makes me think of that WWII butter. So I've been buying 'foreign' butter.

When we first came it was New Zealand butter but that disappeared from the shelves at Espinos and Bonanza. Then came the Danish butter. I look at the price and at the grams and decided that the cost was about $4 a pound. Almost double what I would pay for butter in the USA. So I used it sparingly but sometimes you just need the silkiness of a little real butter added to a recipe. A few weeks ago I bought Danish Lurpak butter again and when I was putting it away I noticed the price 32.50 pesos for 200 grams....About $3.25 for 7 ounces of butter. WHOA.....more than $7 for a pound of butter.

I had seen Kirkland butter at Costco for less than $4 a pound but you had to buy four or six pounds at a time. With our little fridge, I didn't want to have to store butter but now I would figure out a way to do it. Guess what.....when we were at Costco last week, they didn't have any of the Kirkland butter.

When will I learn, buy it when you see it even if you don't need it at that time.


Brenda said...

I agree that the mexican butter leaves much to be desired; but is still better than margarine.
I use La Costeña brand diced tomatoes in a small tetra pack (12.3 oz./350 gms.) as that is all I can find and I was very happy to find them.

John W said...

The package white grease with the red dye was margarine! The dairy lobby managed to keep margarine off grocery store shelves for years. Then the war came along and butter became a strategic food item. Selling margarine became legal, but dairy farmers managed to include a restriction: it couldn't be colored. Hence, the dye packets you had to mix in yourself.

Cynthia said...

First, I want to say I love the photo in your previous post and I agree on the butter.

La Cava has American brand tomato paste, I think. My husband wanted some and I couldn't remember where I saw it. I knew it wasn't that place that sooooo expensive where I bought the $7.50 bag of Fritos, but I couldn't remember where.

Thanks for the reminder.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I was curious as to why Mexican butter tastes so bad, I mean butter is made of cream that is beaten and nothing else. Well, most Mexican butter has suero de leche (milk serum) and emulsifiers, as far as I can figure suero must mean whey,I think those things keep it from melting as fast as the foreign stuff. I did find a Mexican butter without the additives, it comes in a tube (like sausage or ground chicken does somtimes) and it's not bad, just odd looking.
The alternative is to make ghee, then all you have left is the fat.

Steve Cotton said...

Billie -- I am happy to hear that the first Costco rule of shopping applies in Mexico: Buy it when you see it. How about the second rule: You cannot leave the store without spending at least $100?

Billie said...

Theresa, I'll look for the tube butter. Thanks for the heads-up.

Steve, The second rule applies as well. We only go to Costco about once every 4 to 6 weeks. Otherwise our budget would be blown.

Babs said...

Well and wonder of wonders! Costco has tomato paste now and Pop Tarts! Now I don't EVEN eat Pop Tarts, but it just shows that more and more things are coming to Costco.......I never use butter so I can't comment on that....don't even cook with it!

pitchertaker said...

The thing about butter and storage -- it freezes well. I buy at Sam's Club the four, 1-lb packages that are cello'd together, and so long as you remember to leave it overnight in the frig section, it keeps just fine frozen.


Billie said...

Pitchertaker, you have seen my freezer....I might have to decide on having either butter or ice cubes or meat in there it is so small.

Babs, if you want tomato paste, you better buy it when you see it. You never know if they will ever get it again.

islagringo said...

I was brought up on margarine and never knew the taste of butter until I was an adult. And, not surprisingly, I don't like it. The closest thing I can eat to it is "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"! Did I just gross you out or what!