I give you the very obedient and extremely well behaved Toby.
I also give you Rudy. Rudy likes runs a lot.
So while I'm entertaining my guests, there will be no cooking or shooting of food, because Goldens can't bear to be less than 6 inches from any human at any time and the Irish Setter believes he's a small lap dog.
Which means it's time for Plan B, better known as What The Heck is All the Love for Trader Joe's???
Kansas City just became home to two brand spanking new Trader Joe's stores. I thought some of the Trader Joe Junkies were going to blockade the city limits from any bbq from going out into the world until their demands for a Trader Joe's of their own were met.
Last week it finally happened, one on the Missouri side of the city and another deep in the Golden Ghetto. And despite a heat wave of pavement parching proportions, the Junkies gathered to battle over parking spots close to the source of their desires.
I decided to venture forth this weekend and investigate all the hubbub and I am back to report that I am thoroughly confused. First of all, when compared to regular grocery stores, TJ's are not very big. Their produce is ok, their dried fruits and nuts are really nice, they have a decent variety of frozen choices and some meat. As I stood in the midst of the milling crowd, suffering from a wee bit of agoraphobia, I realized that it wasn't a store meant for me. By "me" I mean someone who takes the time to buy fresh ingredients and cooks a dish, either from a recipe or totally pulled out from my.....imagination. No, TJ's is a godsend to those folks who want to buy eight different frozen meals to stick in the freezer and not worry about what to make when they get home from a long day at work. I'm guessing that the Trader Joe's line of ready made meals is a step above a Stouffer's Chicken Pot Pie. But is it really better than making it yourself and freezing your own? I decided to give one of their meals a try.
I love a good eggplant parm but already I was having some misgivings. They grilled the eggplant? Really? My skepticism comes not from the fact that it's a healthy way to cook the eggplant, it's that the flavor has to be really pronounced for it to come through the tomato sauce and the cheese. However the label is a bit misleading. Unless in Trader Joe's land, grilling means hold over a weak flame for 15 seconds because the eggplant I got was floppy and full of liquid. No grill marks were evident after my CSI-like examination. I appreciate that there were no preservatives or artificial flavors but c'mon people, a flavorful eggplant parmesan is not that hard to make. It's also not like Kansas City isn't home to some incredible shopping options. We have a Dean and Deluca. We have Whole Foods. We have a ton of other organic full featured grocery stores popping up. Not to mention some excellent home grown regular grocery stores who buy and promote local produce and proteins. So while the Junkies are happy (and still fighting over that parking spot 10 feet away from the front door) I'll be hitting the farmer's markets and enjoying the Karmic Kitchen line of fresh and frozen foods.
That's not to say I didn't also pick up some dark chocolate covered cherries to stash back home. If there was a silver lining to the my little dark TJ cloud it was THIS!!!
A store of just Le Creuset. Next to the Apple Store, across from the parking lot of the Crate and Barrel. This shopping center would be perfect if they would just open up a Nikon Store and the Just Bacon Butcher.