Saturday, October 31, 2015

Paradox at Costco: Walk through the entire warehouse to save energy

GOOD EXERCISE: The most efficient way to shop at the bigger Costco Wholesale in Teterboro is to walk each and every aisle, picking up items on your list as you see them, instead of going on individual searches, which takes more time and energy.

HOT AND COLD: After walking aisles with packaged, canned and bottled goods, turn your attention to the section of the store with fresh food in refrigerated cases and rooms, such as seafood and salads, and again, walk each and every aisle, picking up items on your list. Then, it's time to check out.


I've conquered Costco Wholesale's huge new warehouse in Teterboro.

I returned to the Teterboro warehouse on Friday, eight days after a previous visit that exhausted me as I tried to track down items on my shopping list in a totally unfamiliar setting.

Then, I gave up without finding a bouquet of flowers my wife wanted, and when I asked another customer for directions to the bottled water, he pointed to the farthest corner of the huge warehouse.

This time, I walked every aisle and picked up items as I saw them.
Once a week

This year, we reduced our Costco shopping trips to once a week.

We can make the most of those visits by getting in and out as quickly as possible, with a minimum of effort, but we still rely on Costco for most of our food purchases.

On Friday, I spent 1 hour and 15 minutes in the Teterboro warehouse, stopping first at Optical just inside the entrance to pick up two pairs of new glasses I had ordered.

Then, I started to walk the aisles of packaged, bottled and canned goods until I got to Pharmacy at the other end of the warehouse.

There, I picked up a prescription I had called into the smaller Hackensack warehouse before it closed on Oct. 13, about 21 years after it first opened.

Fresh fish

I left the section of the Teterboro warehouse with refrigerated fresh food for last on Friday. 

A highlight was picking up two fresh whole red snappers, which were wild caught in Nicaragua and scaled ($6.59 a pound).

At home, my wife seasoned the fish, rubbed minced fresh garlic inside the body and head, and cut them in half to fit into a pan with hot olive oil.

She fried them for about 7 minutes on each side, and they made a delicious dinner with a splash of fresh lime juice. 

Other purchases

On my stroll through the aisles, I picked up my favorite snack, one that allows me to skip lunch, Nature's Bakery Fig Bar, 36 2-ounce twin packs that are non-GMO, dairy free, kosher and made without high-fructose corn syrup ($10.99).

A 1-pound package of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix was a low $4.29, compared to $6.99 in a supermarket.

A 96-ounce jug of Lactaid 2% lactose-free milk was $4.99, a dollar less than at ShopRite.

I returned a grinder of Kirkland Signature Sea Salt ($2.79), because it didn't contain iodide (an important nutrient), but the label on the shaker of Kirkland Signature Mediterranean Sea Salt I bought doesn't indicate whether it does or doesn't ($3.49).  

Limited parking

The new Costco opened on Oct. 14 in Teterboro Landing, a shopping center off of Route 46 that hasn't been completed, and parking is tight.

On Friday, I arrived a little after 10 in the morning, and parked at the back of the lot, which had plenty of empty spaces.

An hour and 15 minutes later, when I rolled my shopping cart to my car, the lot appeared to be full.

One big improvement is that lazy shoppers waiting for spaces nearest the warehouse door in Teterboro don't block the parking lot's entrance road, as they often did in Hackensack.

Costco Wholesale, warehouse and gas station, 2 Teterboro Landing Drive, Teterboro, across from Teterboro Airport; 201-596-7001.

NEW IN TETERBORO: Costco's oversized shopping carts are sheltered at the new warehouse in Teterboro, as well as stored outside in parking-lot corrals.

WE SHALL RETURN: The Teterboro warehouse has a separate entrance for returns. There was no such thing at the old Hackensack warehouse, where the line for returns often blocked the exit.

GROWING SELECTION: Among items I didn't see in the smaller Hackensack warehouse are these Chanterelle Mushrooms from Canada. The woman whose head is visible in the photo methodically examined more than a dozen containers of berries before selecting one. 

BIGGER IS BETTER: California Pomegranates are back in 9 pound boxes for $14.99. At 1.5 pounds each, they are much bigger than pomegranates sold at ShopRite and other supermarkets.

OH SAY CAN YOU SEE: A view of the Teterboro warehouse from the Pharmacy. In the distance is Optical, which is near the entrance.

I'LL PASS: These previously frozen Farmed Black Tiger Prawn are from Vietnam, but Costco provides no information on where or how the large shrimp are raised. I stopped buying them more than a year ago, and wait until I can find wild-caught shrimp at other stores, including H Mart and Whole Foods Market.

Costco also has sold bigger Farmed Black Tiger Prawn for about $15 a pound.

GO APE: Organic bananas ($1.99 for 3 pounds) are a better deal than the conventional bananas sold at Costco ($1.39 for 3 pounds).

SAY CHEESE: Costco is still selling aged Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy, one of the world's greatest cheeses, for a low $8.49 a pound, a few dollars less per pound than before. 

CLEAN BREAK: With Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs, you get more for less money than Cascade Complete Acton Pacs, even with an instant coupon, below. And they do a better job.

With Cascade Action Pacs, I would sometimes find grit on the back of plates, a problem I don't have with the dishwasher packs from Kirkland Signature, Costco's private label.

NAME THAT EGG: The sign says Pete and Gerry's Free Range Brown Eggs, but the package label says Nellie's Free Range Eggs. Anyway, at two dozen for $6.49, it makes more sense to buy 24 Kirkland Signature Organic Brown Eggs, also free range, for $6.99. Costco still sells white eggs from caged chickens years after the company pledged to stop doing so.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

At Lodi warehouse, a good buy on wild jumbo shrimp from Argentina

Fish First Inc. operates the seafood counter inside the International Food Wine & Liquor Warehouse in Lodi.


When it comes to seafood, wild-caught is your best choice, especially in shrimp.

That's why I jumped at the chance to buy a 4.4-pound box of wild Langostino from Argentina at the International Food Warehouse in Lodi this morning.

The seafood counter is operated by a friendly South Korean fishmonger under the name Fish First Inc., and his motto is, "Eat Fish, Live Well!"

You could argue with describing these head-on jumbo shrimp as langostino, a type of lobster.

But you can't argue with the price, $10 a pound. A 2-kilo box was $44.

At Costco Wholesale, farmed Tiger Shrimp from Southeast Asia run about $15 a pound, and there is no information on what they are fed or where they are raised.

I just bought wild-caught Gulf Shrimp on sale for $15.99 a pound at Whole Foods Market in Paramus.

Good until 2017

The Argentine Red Shrimp I bought today were caught in July and frozen, and they have a use-by date of July 2017, according to the box.

I'll probably thaw some for dinner soon, rubbing them with fresh lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil and a little sea salt, and grill them on my stove top, head and all.

They were listed in a flier that came with today's newspaper, and prices are supposed to be good through Nov. 10.

The colorful carton is in several languages. 

Another good buy are 5-ounce packages of non-organic and organic greens and salads at $1.99 each. But look carefully at expiration dates. I bought Fresh Attitude Arugula with a use-by date of Nov. 2 and an Organic Girl Salad with a use-by date of  Oct. 30.

Olive oil 

Despite the name, the International Food Wine & Liquor Warehouse has few, if any, bargains on wine, beer or spirits.

The store does stock tins or bottles of extra-virgin olive oil from Italy, Greece, Spain, Lebanon and other countries.

But often price signs are missing, and tins don't provide any information on whether the oil is from one country or a blend from several Mediterranean sources.

Today, I saw one 3-liter tin for under $20 that was called "Mediterranean Jewels," but also said, "Product of Italy."


Fish First Inc., 370 Essex St., Lodi; 201-291-2320. Call for hours.

International Food Wine & Liquor Warehouse, 370 Essex St., Lodi; 201-368-9511. Open 7 days.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Now, it's easier than ever to keep unhealthy red meat off of your table

Wild-Caught Gulf Shrimp were on sale last Friday at Whole Foods Market in Paramus, where you'll find the best seafood counter in all of northern New Jersey. An employee deveined the shrimp for me, and at home, they cooked in minutes in olive oil, fresh lime juice and seasonings.

For a delicious and healthy dinner, I added the wild shrimp to leftover antibiotic-free farmed salmon from the new Costco Wholesale in Teterboro.


There is no end to reports on just how bad red meat is for you, and 95% of the time, the animals are raised under horrific conditions on antibiotics and hormones that are harmful to humans.

But if you stop eating meat and poultry, as I did more than five years ago, there are so many great alternatives, including an abundance of heart-healthy shrimp, salmon and other seafood.

My two main sources for fresh fish, both whole and fillets, are Costco Wholesale and H Mart, a chain of Korean supermarkets.

But I don't hesitate to buy wild shrimp or other seafood when it is on sale at Whole Foods Market, usually at prices that are near or equal to the others.

Not at Costco

For one thing, you can't buy wild-caught shrimp at Costco, and at H Mart, finding wild shrimp from Mexico is hit or miss. 

Last week, 16-20 count previously frozen wild-caught U.S. shrimp at Whole Foods in Paramus were on sale for $15.99 a pound (that's $5 off per pound).

You can't minimize the value of a seafood counter with workers willing to devein your shrimp, a difficult job. 

Even with the right knife, it's easy to cut your fingers. 

The shrimp at Whole Foods were 16 to 20 per pound, so I purchased 1.5 pounds, and after cooking them, they were as tender as could be. 

And if you do eat poultry, Whole Foods is a terrific source for such soup ingredients as antibiotic-free turkey necks and backs, which you'll find in the freezer case near the butcher counter ($1.99 a pound).

Skinless-and-boneless Atlantic Salmon fillets are from farmed fish raised in Norway without antibiotics. The fillets, from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, poach in under 10 minutes in Mexican-style salsa with fresh lime juice ($8.99 a pound).

In a simple dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a salad of butter lettuce and organic spring mix, both from Costco, is a nice way to end a meal.

'Greenest of the Green'

If you're concerned about contaminants in fish, you should take a look at a new list of seafood that is sustainable, low in mercury and rich in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.

The Safina Center at Stony Brook University calls the list "Greenest of the Green".

Wild Alaskan salmon and sardines, two of my favorites, are on the list.

You can find wild Alaskan salmon -- fresh, frozen or smoked -- at Costco Wholesale. 

We prepare organic whole wheat pasta with sardines every week or two.

All the dessert I need: Honey Crisp Apple, sodium-free almonds I roast at home and dust with cinnamon, and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese from Italy.

Antibiotic-free farmed Atlantic Salmon served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, Kabocha squash and peeled garlic cloves.

After boiling, draining and mashing white-fleshed sweet potatoes and squash, both with their skin, I added more extra-virgin olive.

I used an unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil from Spain to mash the potatoes and squash, plus as many seasonings as I had on hand, including curry powder, cinnamon, red-pepper flakes, black pepper, cumin, garam masala and a little sea salt.
Organic Chopped Vegetable & Barley Soup from CedarLane is so thick you can stand up a spoon in it. I buy it at Costco Wholesale.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

$29.99 rice cooker is better than one that costs three times the price

CHEAPER AND BETTER: The Aroma Professional Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker and Steamer, left, was $29.99 last week at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, compared to the Panasonic 10-cup Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker, which I bought in April 2013, when it listed for $89.99.


In 2013, I ordered a new Panasonic rice cooker with lots of bells and whistles from, and my wife refused to use it.

She remained loyal to my first electric rice cooker, also from Panasonic, even though it was more than a dozen years old and the inner pot often burned the bottom of white rice.

On top of that, the inner pot was cracked, and Panasonic no longer stocked a new one.

She felt the new Panasonic cooker was slow, and didn't like all the condensation that accumulated in the U-shaped channel under the lid.

The new cooker also took nearly two hours to cook organic brown rice, which is all I prepare at home. 

I smell a bargain

Last week, I walked into Costco Wholesale in Teterboro and an Aroma Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker and Steamer immediately caught my eye, especially the low price, only $29.99.

The Panasonic cooker I got from cost $67.99, but listed for $89.99.

The Aroma 3000SB cooker is nearly 30 minutes faster than the newer Panasonic cooker when preparing brown rice, and it has a neat feature to catch and drain condensation.

My wife used it to make white rice on the regular setting; it also has a "quick rice" setting that does the job in 10 minutes.

FASTER BROWN RICE: The Aroma cooker is faster when it comes to brown rice. Here, I added grated Pecorino Romano Cheese before I reheated leftover organic brown rice, prepared with red kidney beans, organic diced tomatoes, and peeled garlic cloves, for breakfast with two cage-free organic eggs.

MORE CHOICES: The 20-cup Aroma 3000SB rice cooker, above, has more functions than the more expensive Panasonic cooker, below.

OOPS: The Panasonic rice cooker is the first I've ever seen with a spatula server that doesn't fit inside.

LONGER WARRANTY: The Aroma rice cooker has a 5-year warranty, compared to 1-year warranty for the Panasonic cooker.

FOR CONDENSATION: This plastic collector, which catches condensation from inside the Aroma rice cooker, can be removed to throw the water into the sink.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On day trip to a farm, we ran into the crowds we hoped to leave behind

Israeli-born cheese maker Eran Wajswol of Valley Shepherd Creamery in Morris County has resisted the bigger-is-better philosophy of nearby farms. Milk from his grass-fed goats, sheep and cows go into artisan cheeses, rich yogurts and other products sold out of a retail store, below.

Valley Shepherd Creamery's Sheep Shoppe is pretty much the way we remember it from our last visit in November 2010.


The Garden State is getting a lot more crowded, and I'm not talking about the suburbs.

On our first visit to Alstede Farms in about five years, we were shocked to see how many visitors were poring in for hay rides and other activities, and how many fields had been converted into unpaved parking lots.

On a normally quiet, two-lane country road, hundreds of traffic cones were set up, with police and farm employees directing visitors' cars to open spaces.

Then, a short drive away, we were pleased to see that Valley Shepherd Creamery, which specializes in artisan cheeses, was pretty much the same as we remembered it.

The two farms are in neighboring townships in New Jersey's Morris County, a round trip of about 100 miles from our home in North Jersey.

Valley Shepherd Creamery is a 120-acre working sheep dairy, and most of it is off-limits to visitors, as this sign indicates. But visitors do have the opportunity to see how cheese is made and, in spring and summer, watch newborn lambs.

Inside the Sheep Shoppe, visitors can purchase small cups of Jersey Fresh sheep's milk yogurt, authentic churn buttermilk, whey-fed prok and grass-fed lamb, below.

You can sample any of the artisan, cave-aged cheeses before you buy.

The road to Valley Shepherd Creamery takes you through Long Valley, a hamlet in Washington Township.

Bringing the farm home

At Valley Shepherd, we purchased a 3.2 ounce wedge of Red Goat, a hard cheese made from raw goat's milk ($4.40).

We also picked up four 6-ounce cups of Ewegurt, a rich yogurt made from Jersey Fresh sheep's milk ($2.50 each).

A 12-ounce container of Authentic Churn Buttermilk was labeled "no fat" ($2).

Valley Shepherd Creamery, 50 Fairmount Road, Long Valley; 908-876-3200. Open Thursdays to Sundays. Web site: 

Alstede Farms in Chester is a magnet for families with children, especially on the weekends. There is room for hundreds of cars in fields marked with white lines.

I overheard a boy ask whether this horse, which is available for rides, was "trained." A bored staff member, who appeared to be a male high school student, said yes, the horse is "trained to kill." I had a good laugh. 

A few purchases

At Alstede Farms, you'll find cider and produce outside the farm store, and home-made pies, preserves, fruit salsas and other items inside.

We bought a gallon of farm-made, preservative-free apple cider ($6.99), a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes with white flesh, sweet peppers and shallots.

I didn't get an itemized receipt with prices per pound, but they weren't that far above what you'd pay in a supermarket.

Alstede Farms, 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester; 1-908-879-7189. Open 7 days. Web site:

You can buy plenty of freshly pressed, preservative-free apple cider and non-GMO produce at Alstede Farms, above, but if you want a bite to eat, you won't be able to order a salad or other food that is good for you, below.

Donuts and other sugary treats also are available.

Uncrowded, two-lane country roads and fall colors are part of the payoff when you visit Morris County farms.

On the first leg of the trip on Route 80 west, I briefly set my Tesla Model S to Autopilot and Autosteer, and let the car drive itself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Costco Visa with 'generous rebate package' will replace Amex in 2016

How big is the new Costco Wholesale in Teterboro? Too big, in the opinion of many shoppers, including me, who couldn't find items on their list, and tramped back and forth looking for them and asking others for directions. In the distance, you can barely see the food court photos, which are just beyond the checkout lanes.

Editor's note: The bigger Costco Wholesale warehouse in Teterboro signed up more than 1,000 new members since a preview party on Oct. 13. Meanwhile, Costco announced the end of its relationship with American Express by next April.


Costco Wholesale has begun preparing members for the transition to a Visa credit card from longtime partner American Express.

In a letter to members, Costco said the warehouse giant "will stop accepting American Express credit cards, including the co-branded Costco American Express Cards," sometime after March 31, 2016.

"As part of our continuing commitment to provide members with the best value possible, we have partnered with Citi and Visa to develop new credit cards ... that will provide you with the opportunity to earn generous rewards ....," the company said.

Costco American Express Card holders won't have to apply for new cards or take any other immediate action.

Details of the new Costco Visa Card's "very generous rebate package" will be provided in early 2016.

Now, the Costco American Express Cards give members cash rebates on their purchases in the warehouse store, as well as at outside gas stations, restaurants and other businesses.

Many members easily recoup their membership fee of $55 or $110, and hundreds of dollars more.

Today, I couldn't find Kirkland Signature Himalayan Pink Salt, said to be the purest salt on earth. Instead, Costco is offering a grinder of Kirkland Signature Mediterranean Sea Salt ($3.49), left, or Pure Sea Salt from Brazil ($2.79), but the latter doesn't provide iodide.

Another Kirkland Signature item that was missing was 2% Lactose Free Milk in three 64-ounce cartons. Instead, I had to buy a 96-ounce container of 2% Lactaid Lactose Free Milk for a pricey $4.99, compared to three half-gallons of Costco's product for $7.99.

Shopping in Teterboro

On my second visit to the bigger Teterboro Costco, which opened on Oct. 14, I had a longer list than I did last Friday, and had trouble finding several items.

But just inside the door today, I was delighted to see an Aroma-brand 10-cup combination electric rice cooker, slow cooker and food steamer, just what I needed to replace my 15-year-old Panasonic cooker with a chipped inner pot.

The cooker, with a "quick rice" setting for white rice in 10 minutes, was only $29.99.

I picked up my usual 1-pound package of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix for $4.59, as well as three heads of Butter Lettuce hydroponically greenhouse grown in Quebec, Canada, for $4.79.

A 4-pound bag of Nature's Intent Organic Quinoa is $14.79, and Kirkland Signature Organic Diced Tomatoes are $6.49 (eight 14.5-ounce cans).

The Poland Springs water pack is bigger than before, with 40 16.9-ounce bottles for $4.99 or about 12.5 cents each. 

And the price of six wonderful frozen Maryland-style jumbo lump crab cakes from Phillips Seafood Restaurants dropped to $15.99 from $18.99.

Another shopper walked away in a huff when I told her about Fresh Atlantic Salmon from Norway, where the farmed fish are raised without harmful antibiotics, for $8.99 a pound, above and below, or $2 more a pound than the enormous hunk of fresh farmed salmon from Chile she had put in her cart. Chilean fish farmers are said to use a tremendous amount of antibiotics to prevent disease and promote growth.

I wanted to buy wild-caught whole red snapper from Nicaragua for $6.59 a pound, but wasn't sure the fish were scaled.

Buying Legal Sea Foods Alaskan King Crab & Sweet Corn Chowder at Costco is a lot cheaper than having lunch at the upscale chain restaurant in Paramus.

Tonight, I used my remaining Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto with a use by or freeze date of Oct. 25 to dress a full pound of Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Linguine ($1.25 from ShopRite), and added Chinese pignoli nuts. I had less than half of the 22-ounce jar left, and added a little hot pasta water as I mixed the rich sauce into the linguine.

Costco's pesto, which uses basil from Italy, extra-virgin olive oil and imported cheese, also complements the fresh tomato slices in a frittata, served here with organic quinoa, black beans and organic diced tomatoes prepared in a rice cooker.

I started the egg mixture, which included minced garlic, and chopped sweet peppers and onions, on top of the stove, above, and finished it under the broiler. The pesto is added when the pan comes out of the oven.