ToT 1 Food 1

It requires a ginormous bag to carry home some of the 4,000 items Costco stocks.
PHOTOS BY DEBBIE DICKSON

Talk Of The Table

That’s what I’m talking about—Costco!

By Debbie Dickson

Because this food column is aptly entitled “Talk of the Table,” it got me thinking about what we discuss when my friends gather for a meal. While we chat about a variety of topics, there is one subject that always emerges somewhere in the conversation: Costco.

Everyone wants to share new products they have discovered, what they ate at the food court and who they saw. I know, it is a little sad that the generation that espoused sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll has come to this, but there you have it.

I have to admit, however, I am a big fan and a large portion of my grocery budget supports Costco. Apparently I am not alone. As of February 2017, Costco had 729 warehouses spread throughout the United States and internationally, including Spain, South Korea and the United Kingdom. It is the second largest retailer in the world after Walmart, with total sales of $116.1 billion in 2016.

While I love Costco, there are definitely some pitfalls, resulting in some important and expensive lessons learned.

Make a list and try to stick to it. Too often I have been swayed by a sweet little lady promoting a new product and arrive home with an item, which is never used and has to be thrown away. By the way, is there anyone who would like the 4-pound bag of organic quinoa in my pantry? I only used a pound. That being said, this does not mean I don’t go wild periodically and try something new, especially if it’s wine.

Tot 3 Food 3

A Caprese salad is the perfect dish for cooks in a hurry.

Try to purchase items that have a long shelf life or can be frozen. Steaks, pork tenderloins, seasonal wild salmon and bread freeze beautifully. When you get home, simply repackage everything into smaller portions and freeze until ready to use.

Shop for more perishable items when you are having a party, a family gathering or weekend guests and you know you will need a lot of food that won’t be wasted. Fresh fruit, lettuce, potatoes and Humboldt Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream—my new favorite Costco find—are bound to find their way into some recipe.

Do a lot of baking during the holidays? You can’t beat Costco’s prices on chocolate chips, pecans and butter, all of which can be frozen should there be unused ingredients.

One of the best things about Costco is its introduction of more organic products. In fact, with $4 billion in annual sales from organic produce, they have eclipsed Whole Foods. To ensure meeting demand for organic produce, Costco has begun to invest in organic farming enterprises. Because of the affordability, organic milk, blueberries, eggs and chicken are always on my Costco list.

There is no question Baby Boomers love Costco, based on “the talk around my table,” but will that same affection extend to Millennials? We shall see. Until then this big box store has my loyalty to the bitter end. Did I mention you could purchase coffins at Costco online? I guess a marketing strategist decided it wasn’t a good idea to put them by the front door.

Happy shopping!

ToT 2 food 2

These crab cakes are all about the pure indulgence of crab without spending too
much money.

KINKEAD’S CRAB CAKES

Servings: 6

This crab cake recipe uses fresh, refrigerated Phillip Jumbo Lump Crab Meat (16 ounces) sold at Costco, of course. Because the recipe contains very little filler and is almost all crab, it is delicious, but it is a little tricky when you are preparing the patties. Make sure you chill them for at least one hour or more and be very careful when you are handling them, as they tend to fall apart.

Pair the crab cakes with a simple Italian Caprese salad, using sliced fresh mozzarella (Belgiloloso Mozzarella) available at Costco. Top the mozzarella with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for a heavenly meal.

+ 1 small red bell pepper, diced

+ 1/4 cup diced onion

+ 1 large shallot, minced

+ 1 garlic clove, minced

+ 3 tablespoons peanut oil

+ 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, drained

+ 1 cup soft breadcrumbs

+ 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

+ 1 large egg, lightly beaten

+ 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

+ 4 dashes hot sauce

+ 1/4 teaspoon salt

+ 1/4 teaspoon pepper

+ 1/4 cup butter

Sauté first four ingredients in hot oil in a large skillet until tender; cool. Stir together vegetable mixture, crabmeat, 1 cup soft breadcrumbs and next five ingredients. Shape into six patties. Dredge patties in 1 cup panko breadcrumbs; chill for one hour. When you are ready to prepare, melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat; add patties and fry 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with mustard sauce.

MUSTARD SAUCE

Yield: 1 cup

+ 3/4 cup mayonnaise

+ 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

+ 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

+ 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

+ 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

+ 2 tablespoons honey

+ 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

+ 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients and store in refrigerator.

(Adapted from Home for the Holidays issue of Southern Living Magazine.)

Debbie Dickson is not the chef/owner of a restaurant, has not written any cookbooks (even though she owns way too many) and has no professional training. She does, however, love everything associated with food—reading about it, writing about it, preparing it and, most importantly, eating it.

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