Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkin Season at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's used to be a mysterious place to me. I'd never even seen one until a few years ago, but occasionally my grandma would send care packages and holiday packages with treats from Trader Joe's. It seemed to be a place to buy chocolate covered nuts and dried fruits and unique varieties of cookies that you couldn't find in a "normal" grocery store. I didn't quite get it. And then the pumpkins came…

For some reason of which I will not complain, Mr. Trader Joe seems to have taken upon himself the mission of bringing all things pumpkin to the grocery shopping public, at least for a short couple of months out of the year. My first realization of this came when we received their "Fearless Flier" last year in the mail, detailing all the items I ought to be rushing in for. It even comes with it's own "shopping list" so you can check everything off. In the fall, the flier is overflowing with pumpkin goodness, everything from pancake and bread mixes to cookies and ice cream. I just got this year's flier a week ago, as I went through the ads and circled the things I wanted, I felt a little like I was making my list for Santa, or the Halloween equivalent, I suppose. My boys and I made the trip to Trader Joe's on a breezy autumn afternoon last week and kind went pumpkin crazy, as you can see (and I even forgot to put the pumpkin butter in the picture):

Here's a quick review of the pumpkin things we got:

Pumpkin Bread Mix: I tried this last year, and it was awesome. Normally I like to bake sweetbreads from scratch, but I thought I'd give it a try and was so impressed I have no qualms about suppressing my inner Julia Child and buying more. I like to use it to make muffins and toss in a cup of mini chocolate chips to make them even tastier (if that's possible). The bread is very moist and flavorful.

Pumpkin Ice Cream: My favorite way to eat this is on top of a warm Ghirardelli brownie with butterscotch syrup, whip cream, and some candied nuts! To die for!

Mini Ginger Pumpkin Ice Cream Mouthfuls: Oh. My. Wow. I didn't want to share these ones with the kids at first, but my heart has melted and I just have to share the goodness, even though it means less for me. They took their already awesome pumpkin ice cream and sandwiched it between two soft and spicy gingerbread cookies. Amazingly good.

Pumpkin Butter: A little too sweet for my liking, but still a great spread on homemade bread, or english muffins or an apple cinnamon bagel…Anything really.

Pumpkin O's: Pumpkin flavored puffed O's. Think fruit loops without the dyes, less sugar, and lightly pumpkin flavored. Not bad. I rather liked them.

Pumpkin Granola: My husband has been eating this one a lot, and I've left it to him since it's rare to find a cereal he likes so much. I really liked the bowl I had, too. Only problem is, he's been picking out the raisins like a little kid. So if you are a raisin hater, just be warned, it has 'em.

Iced Pumpkin Scones: When we couldn't find the legendary Pumpkin Joe Joe's, a clerk recommended these instead, and I have to admit, they are incredible. The packaging is not so environmentally friendly (maybe it's just me, but I thought this store leaned towards the tree-hugging conservationist side of retail, but sadly lots of their packages are huge for the small portions they contain. What gives?) There are only a few scones in the box and a lot of plastic between them, but I guess that keeps them really safe from getting squished. They are pretty soft, but oh-so-yummy!

There are a lot more pumpkin items available, but that's the extent of what we got. I haven't tried the Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix we got yet, but I expect it to be pretty good. And then there are the elusive Pumpkin Joe Joe's which I read about in the flier and tried to find at the store. Joe Joe's, if you didn't know, are Trader Joe's version of the Oreo, and to be honest, they are far superior. They don't taste quite so much like Crisco and the cookie part is delightfully crispy. (On a side note, Cookies and Cream is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, and my very favorite brand is Trader Joe's because it has great big chunks of Joe Joe's in it). In December they make a peppermint Joe Joe that is really good. I was intrigued by the thought of a pumpkin flavored one, but sadly when I got to the store, they were gone. They said another shipment was coming in the following Friday. I didn't make it in until Monday and they were gone again, this time permanently for the season! Sigh. Pumpkin season is all too short. So if you want to see any of these other items, don't waste time!

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