I seldom recommend something I haven’t tried, but the woman in the beauty parlor assured me that these were the best mashed potatoes she has had in her whole life. And guess where? Not Whole Foods but Costco.

All prepared, but you get quite a lot. She was trying to figure out what to do with all the leftovers and we were suggesting mashed potato patties made with some chopped up onion and an egg, and a little matzo meal or flour.

I would probably add some chopped green onion and some parmesan cheese too. Then dip in flour or cornstarch, egg and then some panko bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and maybe paprika or garlic powder.

Sort of like a crab cake, without the crab. (But you could add some crab and then you would really have something).

I always thought I made great mashed potatoes. My ‘secret’ ingredient being Best Foods mayonaise. That’s it. Of course there are very few food items that are not enhanced by the addition of Best Foods mayonaise. For those of you on the East coast, this is called Hellmans.

I am getting a little lazy in my ‘old age’ and more and more I am finding things that are already made and just as good or almost as good as homemade. Here are a few things I buy at Costco which are really pretty good.

Their croissants are excellent. At $5.49 here in Hawaii for twelve, that is a bargain. These make a great sandwich with tuna etc. or left over turkey and swiss cheese. Best Foods mayo of course. I keep these in the freezer and take one, wrap it in a paper towel and micro for 20 or 30 seconds.

They have good salsa. It comes in a big plastic container but it is only $5 or so. All of their cheeses are great. My latest favorite comes in a huge block. Tillamook white cheddar. If you wrap the opened cheese in aluminum foil it will stay nice and fresh for a long long time. This cheese is good plain, or a little shredded can be added to veggies or salad.

Another good cheese is the Laughing Cow light. Costco sells a four pack for around $10. This keeps very well and is a great substitue for cream cheese or a nice easy way to make a cream sauce. This is good melted onto an egg or muffin.  Each little serving has only 35 calories.

I just discovered that Costco sells guacamole all made. Holy Moly Guacamole it is called. You get three tubs and you can freeze these. Each one serves quite a few so there you go for three parties.

Now all these former items were from Costco and sort of a bargain. These next ones are from Whole Foods and some of their best.

First of all, any of their oats and cereals and beans that come in the self serve bins are very good. It is nice that you can get just the amount you want. So many times I am the only one eating something and I hate to get the five pound size.

All of their sandwiches and pizzas are very good. They have a cheese and gourmet department to die for. If money is no object, you could have a ball just in this one section.

All of their turkeys are Free Range or Organic and while they cost ten times more than the almost free ones at Safeway, they seem to always sell out.

Please don’t get me started on bagels. As far as I am concerned there are no great bagels in Hawaii. Maybe it’s the water. Probably too soft. Bagels used to just be for Jewish people, but it seems everyone has discovered these tasty rolls and now even Costco sells them.

The best ones at Costco are the raisin bagels. But some of the others aren’t bad. If you slice them in half when you get home and freeze them, you can toast them as needed and they come out perfect. I keep a Ziplock bag of these in my freezer.

If you are a bagel fan be sure to invest in a bagel guillotine or bagel cutter. This is a must and will keep you from slicing your hand. Most kitchen stores and all deli’s sell them. It is hard to slice a bagel when it is too fresh, so wait a few hours after you unwrap them. On the mainland, the deli owner would do this for you.

There are two bagel bakeries in Honolulu. One is called This is It and it is on Cooke Street across from Fisher Hawaii. They have strange hours and days. I think they close at two pm. On Fridays they have challah bread, which is egg bread and used for the sabbath.

The other bagel bakery is in a really strange place, Sand Island Access Road. It is called The Bagel Box and the parking is terrrible. Both these places are very small and out of the way, but probably have better tasting bagels than Costco.

If any of you readers have any suggestions as to where to get a good New York or Chicago style bagel in Honolulu, please send me a comment.

p.s. if you want another good tip on how to make great mashed potatoes, read the comment by Diane. Her suggestion is to add melted lard to the potatoes for an out of this world taste. Somehow, I think I would have a hard time selling that idea to my kosher son in law or my cholesterol conscious boyfriend. (As it is he prefers Best Food Light mayonaise)

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