What Weird Food Do You Order Online?

by Honolulu Mother

This NYMag article, and the one on cult condiments linked at the bottom, made me think of the various oddball food items I get from Amazon.

I Only Want to Cook With Things in Tubes

We buy the little tubes of hollandaise and bearnaise sauce (the Christian Poitier stuff — it’s pretty good!), curry pastes, sausage casings, fancy maraschino cherries from Tillen Farms, all of them things that if found locally at all will be pricey specialty items.

I’ve also been known to order Irish-style bangers and white and black puddings from some outfit in NJ. And I have to admit, I’m very tempted by a place in Maine that does smoked haddock, if I can ever talk myself into paying the shipping. (It was that year I spent in Ireland way back when that formed these particular tastes.)

What foods do others order online? Any that you’d recommend generally?

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125 thoughts on “What Weird Food Do You Order Online?

  1. I almost ordered tapioca pearls for bubble tea. But I figured it wouldn’t taste the same haha.

  2. Funny enough, I got a package from Amazon yesterday that had a large bottle of smoked paprika (my usual stores do not reliably have any kind but the tin can that is awful to try to actually use), pomegranate molasses, and chinakang vinegar (to make a smashed cucumber recipe). When the HMart by me finally opens, I won’t need to order the last one online. I cannot wait to have more

    I have considered ordering Duke’s mayo online, but Hellman’s is fine so I have not yet done that.

    I would mail-order saffron, but I usually buy it when it pops up at Costco instead.

    I buy tomato paste in a tube, but I just get the Whole Foods brand.

    My parents order a lot of specialty items online since they live in a small town. They are much, much happier living there with the advent of online shopping. When I was a kid, we used to Bring coolers when we visited relatives/bigger cities and would stock up on items that we couldn’t get. Of course, the local grocery store also has changed with the times & carries a lot more “exotic” things than it did in my childhood.

  3. I get vanilla beans online because they are really expensive in the store. And WS croissants. Because there are no decent bakeries around my area.

  4. I get vanilla beans at Costco too. Otherwise those are another good mail order item.

  5. Haven’t ordered food online as like Ivy said, most of what we want is available locally, either in a regular chain, upscale chain, or ethnic grocery. The one thing I did scan Amazon for the other day was spices.

    As you may recall, my DP was told to eat a “heart healthy” diet and to cut back on salt. The problem has been that he says he doesn’t know how to cook with spice and when he brings home a “blend” from the store (without reading it first because he didn’t take his glasses in for the fine print) the first ingredient is always salt. I found a seasoning packet, in theory more of a rub, but used it on baked chicken. Salt was the 9th out of 10 ingredients and he said he liked the taste.

    However, in this area there hasn’t been much selection. I’ve been looking at make your own spice blends and Amazon as result. Haven’t found something I’m excited to try yet.

    Somewhat related – we were gifted a sample of Blue Apron and ended up also purchasing one more week as I didn’t have the timeline to cancel down close enough. I find that they sent ingredients we don’t use very often. I would have hated to have had to purchase a full jar of some of those for one dish.

  6. Hah — I am looking forward to ideas here.

    I don’t order much online, because as Ivy notes, between Wegman’s and HMart, I can now get *so* much more weird/upscale stuff than I used to be able to. I will say, tomato paste in a tube has been a relative godsend, because who can use up the entirety of one of those cans before it goes bad? And I do order my olive oil from a place in Philly — I wait for a free shipping coupon, and then get like 8 bottles.

    My favorite online order was when I was able to find a real porchetta for a holiday dinner. Alas, that company either doesn’t make or doesn’t ship any more.

    Right now I desperately wish I could find real pain au chocolat — we just got back from a short trip to Alsace for the riesling festival, and I had pain au chocolat for breakfast every day, and it was freaking delicious and soooooo much better than you can find here. That, and the real European cheeses that it’s illegal to import here.

    I would love to be able to find the various sausages we have had elsewhere, because those flavors and textures are so location-specific. Prasek’s in TX; the Red and White in Dortches, NC; real bangers from Britain; weisswurst from Bavaria; the generic supermarket sausages in Tuscany; etc. Many, I love sausage. :-) Wegman’s offers some weisswurst that are maybe 90% as good, so I get those — and unbelievably, the Aldi’s near me had Irish bangers for about 2 weeks around St. Patrick’s day, and they were freaking delicious, so the second week I bought basically all of the packs that they had left and put them in my freezer.

  7. Hard to believe, but it was only about 5 years ago that I had to order sriracha from Amazon because it was hard to find locally. Now it’s in all the grocery stores and featured in fast food menus.

    I’m intrigued by those flavor pastes and will look to see what I may want to try. I wish I could order a particular brand of Mexican chorizo sausage but it’s not available except in stores in the southwest. I recently ordered Thai tea mix to make iced tea at home, but I found somehow the restaurant versions taste better.

  8. I actually buy quite a bit of food online. Every few months I’ll place a large order at Vitacost for pantry items like King Arthur organic flour and bread flour, tomato paste, coconut milk, almond flour, and coconut oil potato chips. It’s all usually cheaper there than WF. We usually place orders for our meat from a farm in S. Georgia – they now have a pick up location once a week in Atlanta but they used to ship it in dry ice to our house. One of our local farms has amazing irish bangers and every time the guy has a sale on them I stock up. Ina Garten’s bangers and mash recipe is quite good.

  9. LfB – Try the frozen chocolate croissants from Trader Joes. Either $2 or $3 for a 4-pack. Let them rise overnight and bake in the a.m. Actually pretty good, though certainly not as if in France.

  10. @Birdie: Sigh. Did I mention they were also like $0.75? :-) (And I really, really, really DON’T need them for all sorts of health reasons, but, damn, withdrawal sucks).

  11. Lamberts fruitcake is worth the roughly million dollars it costs to order from zingermans.

  12. We don’t buy too much food online. Nueske’s Corned Beef Hash. Coffee from Hawaii. DW will be gifted baking mixes a couple times/yr and they’re usually good.

    As w/LfB our Wegmans carries pretty much anything we need/want e.g 10 types of Hoisin Sauce, all 8 kinds of Ro-Tel tomatoes. I really can’t think of something that we HAVE to order (except the Nueske’s). And TJs is in the same shopping plaza for things like pine nuts that are a lot cheaper than Wegmans.

  13. I second the TJ’s frozen croissants. They’re good, and especially so because you can eat them warm right out of the oven.

    I’m still looking for a Southern style corn muffin mix available in smaller packages to order online because that’s hard to find around here.

  14. We order a ton of food online but its the regular stuff, not hard to find specialty items. Blue Apron does have a lot of specialized ingredients but that’s why I like them. I get to eat and cook stuff I never would otherwise. I still have no idea. really, what mirin is or how to cook with it (outside of Blue Apron recipes).

    My guys are visiting family this week. Apparently they’re fielding a lot of questions like “You don’t have a car? How do you get around? You really order groceries online? What else do you get delivered?”

  15. Sheepfarmer – are you lurking? DD#1 has been trying to schedule tour plus at WPI and not getting a warm reception. Curious about a few things.

  16. I ordered barley malt syrup online a few months ago because I couldn’t find it in WF or Publix and DH said he needed it to make homemade bagels. I am still waiting for those bagels.

  17. Kerri – it’s basically a sweet rice wine for cooking (don’t drink it!) It’s not interchangeable with sake exactly, but you will see sake and a pinch of sugar playing much the same role as mirin in Japanese recipes.

  18. I love the Goya green olives with the pit still in them, and most stores stopped carrying them, except one which goes out of stock all the time. I don’t want the ones with the pimentos or the pitted ones with nothing in them – I want the ones with the pits. So I saw they offered them on Amazon, so I tried ordering them. You had to order in a pack of 6. When they arrived, every jar but one was smashed. It was the most horrible mess. Never again.

  19. And we have order coffee from Porto Rico Importing since the early 90’s. Before that, my husband or I used to go to the store in the West Village and stand in the line.

  20. McVities plain chocolate Hob Nob cookies. Oatmeal and dark chocolate are a match made in heaven. Local stores carry milk chocolate only, much to my dismay, tho it is much better for my health that the plain chocolate variety are not readily available.

  21. Swim! I was just trying to order those the other day but couldn’t find reasonable shipping! (Prime apparently is no longer shipping them to Hawaii.) You are absolutely right, chocolate Hob Nobs take the prize over regular chocolate digestives any day.

  22. My Illinois burb really has everything in local stores.
    The Woodmans nearby is huge and I can really find everything mentioned, including British specialities.
    Some stores carry a ton of east European variety. For really specialized Asian or Indian items, I go to those local stores.

    Today on my to do list in sichaun peppers chili oil. We all devour it.
    That will come in handy for the wontons I will be making over the weekend.

  23. I order my k-cups from Amazon. They are cheap and convenient. Everything else, I buy from stores.

  24. We order things from Amazon, purely for convenience rather than lack of availablity.

  25. Thanks HM. I once read some article on what everyone must have in their dry goods cabinet – anchovies, fish sauce, capers, and some other stuff, so I stocked up. 6 years later I discovered the rather large bottle of fish sauce, dusty and unopened. I know what it is for, I just don’t cook that style of food, apparently, ever. Same with mirin. The only time I’ve cooked with mirin was because of Blue Apron. It’s yummy, but I still wouldn’t know what to do with it on a regular basis.

    I hate meal planning but like a variety of foods and am a good enough cook to follow most recipes, so Blue Apron is perfect for me.

  26. This is making me realize how spoiled I have become, because almost everything I like I can now find in at least some form. When DH and I were dating, he’d come visit me with a cooler of Hatch green chiles (and stink up the whole plane); now I can order them online, or visit Wegman’s one weekend every August for anywhere between 1 chile and a whole bushel. We used to pick up Vidalia onions at roadside sellers when driving through Georgia at the right time of year; now the stores all have Vidalias for a month or two and Maui Sweets the rest of the year (yes, I know that “real” vidalias come only from that county and that most of what I get in the store doesn’t qualify, but it’s still way better than the plain yellow onions I grew up on). Pimento cheese has slowly made its way north over the course of my lifetime, and I even found Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles to make cheese dip with — something my mom had not seen since we left TX in, oh, 1972. Fresh ricotta: I have had THE most amazing ricotta in Italy (proof: I have never liked ricotta — until I had this); I still can’t find the true equivalent, but every once in a while Wegman’s has homemade ricotta fresh from a farm that I will actually eat and appreciate. Mozzarella di Bufala is now standard in any “nice” grocery store, and Wegman’s has about 3 different kinds of “real” prosciutto, plus various serrano hams and even at one point the jamon iberico de bellota. We have a restaurant downtown that makes the best Italian-style pizza I’ve had this side of Italy, and I have a passable one that I can walk to any time I like. I even had fried cheese curds in a restaurant a couple of weeks ago! It’s all sort of amazing.

    Now if only we could get some good bagels here. :-) Although, again, the ones we have here are still way better than anything I grew up on.

  27. We do get Gluten Free snacks in stores but I look online for more variety. There are some interesting vegan veggie chips but of course the various popcorn flavors in the mixed packs are gone while the veggie chips remain uneaten.

  28. Kerri, if you’d like some suggestions on what to do with the fish sauce and mirin you’re not using, try adding just a little fish sauce whenever you’re making a beef stew or something like that. You don’t want so much that it’ll be detectable so start small, but it ups the umami and you taste the end product as being beefier.

    For the mirin, mix it with equal parts shoyu and water and marinate just-hard-boiled eggs in it (overnight, then you can keep them in the marinade in the fridge till used up / a few more days) and then send them with your kids’ lunches or use them as snacks.

  29. I should have said, the eggs should be already peeled when you marinate them.

  30. All this is making me think back to the David Brooks article. In general the availability of all sorts of foods has exploded. Around 20 years ago, cilantro was not that common. People of my ethnicity would look for it in the grocery store and sometimes mistakenly pick up parsley.

  31. @LFB – You should make your own ricotta. It is dead simple, and SOOOOO good. Better than the “homemade” ones from the Italian delis too. Do NOT, under any circumstances, use ultra-pasteurized milk though. And if you want it to be even better, use cream or half & half for 1/4 of the milk.

    http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/02/how-to-make-fresh-ricotta-fast-easy-homemade-cheese-the-food-lab.html

    @Dell – Woodman’s is a truly insane store. The Asian noodle section alone is as big as the entire ethnic section at a regular store. And who knew there were that many varieties of bacon available? I will stop there sometimes if I’m going to Wisconsin & pick up a few things.

  32. HM – I know we have some leftover spicy Asian sauces. Let me dig up those names and run them by you for suggestions. Check back later tonight/tomorrow.

    And garlic. Holy cow does Blue Apron give you waaayyy too much garlic.

    Again, hate hate hate meal planning. We usually eat the same stuff on repeat until DH gets annoyed. Even our take-out is the same dishes from the same restaurants. That is why Blue Apron has been fantastic for us. My eating style is akin to Steve Jobs’ wardrobe.

  33. “For the mirin, mix it with equal parts shoyu and water and marinate just-hard-boiled eggs in it (overnight, then you can keep them in the marinade in the fridge till used up / a few more days) and then send them with your kids’ lunches or use them as snacks.”

    I wonder if that’s how they do the pickled eggs at ramen shops?

  34. Ivy, yes it is, with the caveat that there are lots of variations on the marinade.

  35. @Ivy — thanks! I can’t wait to try it with my farmhouse milk!

  36. AustinMom,
    My email address is sheepfarm1996 at gmail.com.
    Will try my best to answer your WPI questions. DD is very excited about it. Spent a lot of time (and money) earlier today getting her ready for school.

  37. One unusual (not Asian) ingredient I used recently – buttermilk. I made homemade biscuits. So freakin’ good.

    What are other uses for buttermilk? I cannot drink it straight.

  38. I order a lot of fresh kaffir limes leaves in season via Amazon. They freeze well. Sonetimes i order a particular spice dried herb or chile. Turkish peppercorns. Fenugreek leaf. Chile pasilla powder. But most things are easy enough to find locally. We have a big H mart that has a wide selection of Asian products.

  39. Off topic, I just flew from Boston into Toronto City airport, took the moving sidewalk under the water from the island to the shore, and had a gorgeous walk to my hotel.

  40. “I just don’t cook that style of food, apparently, ever. Same with mirin.

    Ever make sukiyaki, aka hekka? IMO, mirin also gives teriyaki a better taste than just sugar and shoyu.

    More generally, a lot of recipes that combine shoyu and sugar can be enhanced with mirin.

  41. @Kerri: buttermilk is an awesome substitute for milk in things that require a little lift/lightness, like pancakes and biscuits and waffles and muffins and scones and such. It is slightly more acidic than milk, so add a little baking soda, and it will help the batter puff up — but there’s also something about it that makes a texture I just crave, still soft, and not at all dense/thick, but sort of springy, with just a little more something to it. I would not make biscuits without it.

    (Frolic and detour: Shirley Corriher had the best biscuit recipe; I found a variant of hers that Gale Gand created called “killer buttermilk biscuits,” and it has been my go-to for a decade (except I use all butter instead of shortening). All else pales in comparison. Really. I am so spoiled I hardly even like restaurant biscuits any more. The key is you leave the batter very wet and loose, and basically drop scoops into flour, shape lightly, and then pack into a cake pan; all the extra liquid in the dough makes more steam = more puff, and packing them all in the pan allows the biscuits to sort of support each other while they puff instead of just spreading out. OMG. I have not made a rolled biscuit in decades. My cheat when that is too much work: drop the biscuit dough into buttered/floured muffin tins — not quite as good as pulling apart the full cake pan o’ wonderfulness, but close, and without the fuss/mess of the rolling in the flour).

    Buttermilk also gives a very slight tang, which you can leave as is or mellow out with a teensy bit of sugar, as you wish. I also use it to make French toast just because of that little tang (balances out nicely with a little sugar and a little vanilla).

    OH: and use it to soak chicken in it before frying it. Really. It acts as sort of a brine, and the chicken retains its moisture and flavor much better when you cook it. I thought that was a load of crap, and then I tried it, and HOLY crapola is it good. Not as good as Shirley Corriher’s biscuits, of course, but good. :-)

    The dairy that delivers here has THE best buttermilk ever — massively thicker than their regular milk and just totally delicious and luxurious. My kids have NO idea how spoiled they are with good pancakes!

  42. ” Around 20 years ago, cilantro was not that common. People of my ethnicity…”

    Yes. I would always buy cilantro (of course called coriander) at one of the ethnic stores for $1/bunch. Always available. I was pointed there by a good friend of your ethnicity.

  43. “I find there are things that I *can* find locally, but it’s a lot cheaper and easier to order them.”

    I try to buy stuff locally as much as possible, but. . .

    “We order things from Amazon, purely for convenience rather than lack of availablity.”

    Sometimes it is so inconvenient to buy locally, e.g.,

    “fresh kaffir limes leaves in season via Amazon”

    Great to know about this. The one place we know to buy it locally is downtown, where there is no parking, so I need to drop off DW at the store, then circle around a couple times, then pick her up. I imagine it’s even worse now, with new bulbouts recently added to enhance the pedestrian experience, but apparently making it even more difficult to park and drop off.

  44. Finn and HM – no idea what shoyu is. Should I report you to David Brooks? (I also am not up on my cuts of Italian meats.)

  45. Finn, you can get them at the Sunday morning farmer’s market at Manoa Marketplace. (Also the Tues / Fri farmer’s market on Fort Street Mall, but unless your wife works downtown that’s going to be as bad as the Chinatown option.) Probably also at other farmer’s markets, including the Weds. evening one with free parking at Blaisdell.

    I think they also have it at Chefzone near the airport. If you haven’t gone yet, it’s well worth checking out! Members of the public can get a free membership – just stop by the desk when you first go there.

  46. “tomato paste in a tube has been a relative godsend, because who can use up the entirety of one of those cans before it goes bad?”

    Me. I use one or two cans every time I make chili. Those cans are pretty small.

  47. Shoyu is Japanese for soy sauce, but here pretty much everybody calls it shoyu.

    I know some people who grew up here who didn’t know what soy sauce is until they moved to the mainland.

  48. “It’s all usually cheaper there than WF.”

    Is there somewhere more expensive than WF? That’s a pretty low bar.

  49. Re: Shoyu – Thanks! I love learning stuff like that.

    Random fact my colleague just told me – In Ireland the “O'[last name]” is used when your grandfather was someone special and your father wasn’t, whereas “Mc”/”Mac” means “son of”. Both can be used if both father and grandfather were important, as in John MacIntosh O’Neil. I never knew that.

  50. LfB, I read your link about making ricotta, and learned there that it’s usually made from whey. I remembered that whey is a waste product from making Greek yogurt, and that the popularity of Greek yogurt was creating a problem with whey disposal.

    So, I’m wondering a couple things:

    -With all that whey available, it should be really cheap; I’m thinking there’s a great opportunity for people to make and market all kinds of ricotta, including some gourmet versions. I’m wondering if that’s happening, and if not why not?

    -I wonder how hard it is to make Greek yogurt at home. I used to make regular yogurt, and it was really easy. If it’s nearly as easy to make Greek yogurt, I’m wondering how hard it would be to make ricotta out of the leftover whey.

  51. Kerri, if you ever decide to move here, we can help you learn things like what shoyu is that would otherwise keep you out of the UMC.

  52. “Around 20 years ago, cilantro was not that common”

    Really?? We knew it in the 80’s even in KY. My mother always grew some. It was commonplace in even chain TexMex restaurants.

  53. Finn, that is where I get my tomato paste (and diced tomatoes and canned tuna) too. We go once every 3 to 6 months. and pile the cans in the basement.

  54. I think there is buying locally – meaning the store is located in your area – and buying locally – meaning someone in your area actually grew/made the product. If it is the second definition, I may more effort to do so.

  55. “if you ever decide to move here, we can help you learn things like what shoyu is that would otherwise keep you out of the UMC.”

    Let’s just get me there first! =)

  56. And the whey from strained yogurt is kind of thin, so I’ve always wondered if “real” ricotta is really that great.

  57. I freeze the leftover tomato paste in 1 Tablespoon increments. And then when a recipe calls for it I just drop in however many is needed into the hot pan/pot.

  58. “I wonder how hard it is to make Greek yogurt at home.”

    It’s super easy. You make regular yogurt and strain it through cheesecloth in a strainer.

  59. My mother taught me to strain yogurt, especially if making tzatziki. I never heard it called Greek yogurt until about 10 years ago.

  60. “And the whey from strained yogurt is kind of thin, so I’ve always wondered if “real” ricotta is really that great.”

    I found another article that said the whey left from making Greek yogurt isn’t as good as the whey from making cheese.

    Perhaps I should go back to plain yogurt instead of Greek. If Greek yogurt is just strained plain yogurt, don’t I get all the same nutrition from plain yogurt?

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/11/21/165478127/why-greek-yogurt-makers-want-whey-to-go-away

  61. The last outpost of granola crunchiness near us is Earthfare. They stock all kinds of not easy to find items. Often the in laws are looking for natural remedies found in the home country and Earthfare will have it.
    Of course DD loves their scent diffusers and wants one for her room.
    On another note, I introduced my Mom to spiralizers and she is trying out all sorts of things. She will introduce all my aunts to it in the home country.

  62. “My mother taught me to strain yogurt, especially if making tzatziki.”

    What did you do with what was left after straining?

  63. “What did you do with what was left after straining?

    Dump it? You don’t get a ton of it from your standard yogurt container.

  64. ” If Greek yogurt is just strained plain yogurt, don’t I get all the same nutrition from plain yogurt?”

    Well, strained yogurt is just yummier. Especially the fullfat kind.

  65. Generally, whey is the liquid part that is leftover when you separate out the solids to make something else, like cheese or Greek yogurt. So it makes sense that how much “stuff” is left in there would vary with whatever the original processing was making — cheese involves the addition of rennet (an enzyme) that breaks down the milk and cause the proteins to curdle; yogurt-making, OTOH, uses fermentation. So what you are separating out from both of those things will likely have a different chemical composition, because what went into it and how it was processed was different. It also makes sense that when you strain the whey out of regular yogurt to make Greek yogurt, you create a somewhat different nutritional profile, because the whey isn’t just water, but is a collection of proteins and acids and enzymes and other chemical compounds. E.g., IIRC, Greek yogurt has more protein on a per-pound basis, but regular yogurt has more calcium. So that would suggest that the whey contains more calcium than the solids, and the solids contain more protein than the whey (which makes sense, because it is the proteins in the solids that coagulate when you make cheese).

    I believe when they make ricotta after cheesemaking, they add more rennet and heat it up again (“ricotta” = “recooked”) so that any proteins that are left in the whey will coagulate. I would not be at all surprised (but can’t say I remember) whether they also add a little more milk to “richen” the whole thing up — I kind of have this vague recollection that they do, but I might just be making that up or remembering that from something else.

  66. OK – I found all the random leftover sauces and spices I mentioned earlier. Sauces – Sweet Chili, Tonkatsu and Mirin; Spices – Furikake and Gochugaru; random extra – Japanese Black Garlic.

    Of course I could just re-make the Blue Apron dishes if I had the right amounts, but if you have any suggestions for these ingredients, I’d love to hear them.

  67. I order pierogi from Millie’s in Chicopee https://milliespierogi.com/
    and most spices from Penzey’s, and vanilla. I order a bunch of stuff from King Arthur – not the flour since you can get that at the regular store, but “jammy bits” and caramel sugar, the 5 lb block of caramel, the little chocolate bits for melting, etc. In our old town there was a wine store that had 60% and 70% chocolate CHIPS, which was awesome, so sometimes I will stop by there if I am coming out of the city and look if they have some. Still making my way through the 11 lb block of Callebaut that I bought last time I was there – I use it for chunks in cookies.
    Sometimes I will buy pears from Harry & David – always reminds me of Xmas growing up.

  68. Kerri, your spice rack would look pretty typical here.

    Sweet chili sauce can be used directly with lumpia, spring rolls, or summer rolls, or can be used to flavor noodle salads (e.g., somen noodles, cucumber, lettuce, artificial crab, perhaps some avocado).

    Your tonkatsu sauce is probably katsu (cutlet) sauce, and can be used to directly flavor various cutlets, e.g., pork, chicken, beef.

    We’ve discussed mirin and how it can be used for eggs, or to enhance recipes with shoyu and sugar (I suggest reducing the amount of sugar when adding mirin).

    Furikake can be applied to the top of your bed of rice before adding the slice of spam when making spam musubi, especially if using Spam Lite or reduced salt Spam. Regular Spam is salty enough that adding furikake might make it too salty, especially for someone like Austin’s DP. BTW, there are a myriad different flavors of furikake.

    Gochugaru is typically used to make kimchi and other Korean dishes.

    Did you mean black garlic sauce, or black bean garlic sauce? Black bean garlic sauce is used for a lot of dishes, like eggplant and tofu. Does it look like this?

  69. I find some of the local brands of ricotta to be delicious. That may be because we have good local ricotta or because my palate is unsophisticated. I mainly use ricotta for lasagna and my D uses it for a cannoli dip that uses broken up pizzelles for dipping. Sometimes I’ll have it with fruit. You all make many more things from scratch than I do.

    Some of my pinterest pins are now marked TB-approved. :)

  70. Finn – I mean actual black garlic cloves. They came individually wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. No idea how different they are from regular garlic.

    Thanks all for the suggestions!

  71. Ada – I am going to try the Lamberts fruit cake.
    I have bought fruit cakes from Assumption Abbey and liked them.
    My family is a big fan of fruit cake and when in the U.K. will go mad trying different variations.

  72. We used to buy Millie’s pierogi when we lived in MA! At the PriceChopper or the Big Y in Southbridge

  73. So, this has gone decidedly more upscale than me…..though I second the recommendation for WS chocolate croissants. We also have ordered Portillo’s Italian beef sandwiches fixings to make at home (surprisingly good though not inexpensive). I’m about to search for Brooks ketchup online because I’m down to one local store that carries it.

  74. Sauces – Sweet Chili, Tonkatsu and Mirin; Spices – Furikake and Gochugaru; random extra – Japanese Black Garlic.

    Sweet Chili sauce — for things where you’re using BBQ sauce, add some to the grownups’ servings (e.g. BBQ sauce ribs or chicken in the crockpot, put a little on top of your serving). It’s not actually that spicy so maybe your kids would be ok with it too. Or as Finn suggested, dip fried things in it.

    Tonkatsu sauce — similar to steak sauce; have on steaks or hamburgers or with savory fried things. Or give it to your kids to dip their chicken dinos in.

    Mirin — Get your kids started on those eggs and then see how much mirin you have left. But if you’re still having trouble using it up, bear in mind that old recipes for teriyaki sauce and so on will often suggest using sherry in place of the mirin, so you could probably use mirin in place of sherry, like to add to a pureed black bean soup or a cream sauce.

    Furikake — Assuming you’re not eating rice with everything (if you are, put furikake on it), try using it like a spice rub for fish or chicken pieces that you’re going to pan-fry or broil. And put it on your popcorn.

    Gochugaru — like MM and Finn said, just use it where you’d use another red pepper.

    Black garlic — http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/black-garlic . Use it where you’d use regular garlic, but you’ll get a deeper earthier flavor.

  75. Louise — my mother gets the Assumption Abbey fruitcakes for Xmas. They are really good. She also orders kringles from O&H Danish Bakery, having gone to college in Wisconsin (yes, all the way from Hawaii, and she was very cold!) and encountered them there.

  76. I hadn’t tasted hush puppies till I moved here. Some of the best tasting ones were the ones in the Charleston and Savannah restaurants. The beer battered ones are really good. Everywhere else they didn’t quite hit the mark.

  77. HFN — Adluh looks authentic and worth trying! They also have a biscuit mix.

    Another Totebag discovery was Better Than Bouillon, which my H uses all the time. But since we can’t easily find them at local stores, he’s going to order the beef, vegetable, and mushroom varieties from Amazon.

    I don’t think the Wegmans that is near us has opened yet.

  78. kringles from O&H Danish Bakery

    My MIL sends us one every year. Usually some berry flavor which I really like but no one else does (despite DW repeatedly suggesting something more on the chocolate – cinnamon/sugar spectrum).

  79. July, Adluh is so authentically southern its directions to the mill include “our parking lot is between the Old Chicago Pizza and the Hampton Inn.” The only thing that could make it more southern is if the directions said “our parking lot is between where the Old Chicago Pizza and the Hampton Inn used to be.”

  80. They have big jars of the Better than Bouillon at the Costcos I go to. But only chicken flavor.

    July, what do you mean by “Southern” cornbread? When I lived in the South there was a lot of fussing about how “that’s not cornbread, that’s corn cake” if you put in flour. One version of “real Southern cornbread” is just cornmeal and water and shortening and a little leavening. It’s very crumbly and I don’t care that much for it. Corn “cake” (or what I grew up calling cornbread” had approximately equal portions of flour and cornmeal. It’s softer and sweeter. Did you ever have Marie Callendar’s cornbread? That’s corn cake on steroids. Yum.

  81. By Southern cornbread I mean unsweetened. “that’s not cornbread, that’s corn cake” — that’s what I say about the corn muffins you get around here. When I have cornbread with chili I don’t want corn cake! I don’t like crumbly cornbread either. OTOH, I do appreciate sweet corn muffins from Entenmann’s and other local bakeries. I just had a mini-muffin with my coffee.

    Trader Joe’s sells almond kringles from O&H Danish Bakery, usually around Christmas and they sell out fast.

  82. Huh… who knew I was making corn cake… (this is the recipe I use: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/quickbreads/corn-bread/). The cornbread is a big hit with my family and friends (plus I LOVE using cast iron to cook).

    “One version of “real Southern cornbread” is just cornmeal and water and shortening and a little leavening”

    This sounds like a Johnnycake (http://www.kenyonsgristmill.com/johnny_cakes.html). Something I never had until I moved to RI and experimented one weekend.

  83. Given that I grew up in Maryland, I had no idea that buttermilk is weird. I drink the last of the carton, too. If you can drink plain lassi, you can drink buttermilk. My cornbread recipe is made in a cast iron skillet. I use about 2 parts corn meal to 1 part flour. Also, fried chicken or other foods to be battered or breaded and fried are soaked in buttermilk first.

  84. @Rhett: that sounds about right, although I make them more by eye (and I skip the melted butter unless it’s a special occasion).

  85. @Sunshine

    “We also have ordered Portillo’s Italian beef sandwiches fixings to make at home (surprisingly good though not inexpensive).”

    If we ever moved, this would be on the list of things that we would probably mail order along with Vienna Beef hot dogs and polish sausages. I don’t care for Italian Beef sandwiches much, but DH loves them. I am partial to Portillo’s cheeseburgers and chili dogs, myself. We were as excited for the Portillo’s to open just down the street as we are for the HMart! ;)

    @HM
    “She also orders kringles from O&H Danish Bakery”

    These are a family holiday tradition (not Xmas – all holidays/parties). Another thing that you can get a Woodman’s!

    @July-
    “Another Totebag discovery was Better Than Bouillon, which my H uses all the time.”

    I am a convert as well, especially for things where I need 1 cup or so. The chicken kind is stocked at my Costco. It is pretty good & I waste much less broth.

  86. I’m beyond excited to have Portillo’s finally come here. One just opened up nowhere near my house, but we are making the trek there this weekend to get some hotdogs and lemon cake!

  87. Ivy – if you said “Yankee cornbread” folks in this part would look at you funny. It’s a Johnnycake. (I guess it’s like the soda/pop war…).

    I’ll have to find “Better than Bouillon” and give it a whirl. We keep a jar of beef and chicken bouillon in the pantry for when we don’t need a lot or won’t use all the stock we’ve made.

  88. I feel like behind the scenes a lot of adjustment is taking place in growing and milling grain. There is a movement to restore ancient grains.
    I see the Anson Mills name on menus here.

  89. Another vote for Better Than Bouillon.

    Headslap! How could I have forgotten King Arthur Flour’s “Fiori di Sicilia” extract? Bakers, it’s a game-changer. It’s not vanilla, and not orange, but a lovely combination somewhere in between. I first had it at a party with a cheesecake competition, the winner used fiori di sicilia rather than vanilla and his cheesecake swept the field. If you are a fan of orange and chocolate together, you will swoon over what it does to your chocolate chip cookies.

  90. Swim – I cannot STAND that flavoring. Hate orange in my baked goods! Blech! It will never cross my doorstep! :-P They snuck it into a mix that I bought once, and I was INCENSED. ;)

  91. HfN — that kind of directions is not specific to the South! Local directions here are also notorious for including stores and other landmarks that haven’t been there for a decade or more. I think it’s ubiquitous; probably the only places that don’t do it are newly developed exurbs where most people are new to the area.

  92. ” I think it’s ubiquitous; probably the only places that don’t do it are newly developed exurbs where most people are new to the area.”

    Yeah I think so too. It’s definitely common in the small town where my parents live, but I hear people doing it around the city too!

  93. “Local directions here are also notorious for including stores and other landmarks that haven’t been there for a decade or more.”

    That’s one problem with Google maps as a GPS (and probably other GPS systems). It directs by using street/road names, often using names by which locals do not refer to those roads and/or butchering pronunciation of the names.

    Local-style directions that refer to landmarks known by drivers, whether still existing or not, can be so much better. It’s so much easier to look for the golden arches than a street name which you can’t see until you’re right at the street, or to count street lights from one turn to the next.

    If I’m going to an unfamiliar area, I like to use Google maps beforehand to look for landmarks before I leave (e.g., if I reach Zippy’s, I’ve gone too far and need to turn around).

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