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Trump admits he fears nuclear attack if he brings up rights violations in North Korea

In "Summit," a biting cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of The Arizona Daily Star, President Trump wears blinders as he wades i...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Check first for excessive salt and sugar, then enjoy the poetry of some food labels

Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon from Costco Wholesale with organic sunny side up eggs, also from Costco, and brown rice.
Along with organic salsa and low-fat Swiss cheese, the same smoked wild salmon makes a delicious filling in an egg-white omelet.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Did you know those silken, pleasantly salty slices of smoked wild salmon from Costco Wholesale were previously frozen?

Or that the wedge of crumbly Parmigiano Reggiano, which is cut and packed in Italy for Costco, is a hard cheese "made today as it was centuries ago"?

You can find this and other information about some of the best items at Costco on the same labels that list sugar and sodium content.

And all of the Kirkland Signature items I discuss today are a much better value than national brands sold in supermarkets.

Frozen whole

The Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon, for example, is from fish that are immediately frozen whole after they are caught "in the ice-cold waters off the coast of Alaska."

Then, the salmon are "cold smoked using time-honored traditions and minimal ingredients: salt, brown sugar and natural wood smoke." 

"Sockeye Salmon are a natural source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids."

A 2-ounce serving of the smoked salmon, which is sliced, contains 650 milligrams of sodium or 27% of the recommended daily limit.

I usually use about that or less with eggs or in an omelet or sandwich. 

I also like to roll up slices of salmon and reduced fat-Swiss cheese with organic mixed greens and a little Dijon mustard for a breadless snack.

Avoid smoked salmon from farmed fish, which are usually raised with harmful antibiotics and colored artificially.

Costco Wholesale's price of $18.89 for 1 pound of Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon is lower than at any other store in northern New Jersey.

Italian geography

The wrapper for the Parmigiano Reggiano -- often called "the King of Cheeses" -- offers a geography lesson:

The cheese "uses the highest quality milk from provinces located between the Po River and Apennine Mountains" in the north of Italy.

"Only premium wheels are selected and aged for 24 months, allowing the intense, fruity, nutty flavor and grainy hard texture to develop.

"Each wedge of Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano is carved from a wheel that has passed Italy's rigorous maturation standards...."

And the wrapper offers tips on how to enjoy this wonderful cheese, which has less fat because it's made from part-skimmed cow's milk:

"Freshly grate, shred or shave on traditional pasta dishes, salads and rustic soups. 

"Chunk and serve with fresh pear slices and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Use the rind when cooking to add a burst of flavor to stews, stocks and risotto.

"Pair with a Chianti Classico or Chardonnay."

A 1-inch cube contains 180 milligrams of sodium or  7% of the recommended daily limit for an individual.

Formaggi Zanetti in Italy supplies the cheese to Costco, which pledges:

"Every Kirkland Signature product is guaranteed to meet or exceed the quality standards of the leading national brands.

"If you are not completely satisfied, your money will be refunded."

Kirkland Signature Organic Quinoa is grown in the mountains of Peru.

Say "keen-wah"

With fewer carbs than rice or pasta, Kirkland Signature Organic Quinoa is one of my favorite weight-watching bread substitutes.

"From Andean farmers to your table" is the message on the front of the 4.5-pound bag.

On the back, you can read the story of this easy to cook, gluten-free quinoa, which is pronounced "keen-wah."

"Quinoa -- known as the 'Mother Grain' in South American culture -- dates back to the Incan Empire and is actually a seed, not a grain.

"Today, we enjoy quinoa for its great taste and nutritional properties. Quinoa is one of nature's complete plant proteins.

"Our quinoa is cultivated by small-holder farmers in the Andean Mountains, who remain committed to sustainably grown, organic quinoa and continue to honor the farming techniques of their ancestors."

How to cook

You'll also find cooking instructions for this pre-washed quinoa from Peru (no need to rinse):

Listed as optional: "Toast quinoa in a dry skillet before cooking for an authentic South American flavor."

I'll have to try that. 

I prepare mine in an electric rice cooker, adding 2 cups of organic chicken broth for each cup of quinoa.

I also add whole garlic cloves or a can of organic diced tomatoes or chickpeas or all three, plus some olive oil and salt, and cook them on the "white rice" setting.

Costco's Organic Quinoa contains no salt. 

A quarter cup dry has 3 grams of "sugars," 3 grams of dietary fiber and 6 grams of protein.

Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto used as a spread on Dave's Killer Bread, an organic loaf with 21 grains or seeds that also is available at Costco.

Red wine, pesto

Kirkland Signature's delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from California in the 1.5-liter bottle ($7.99) offers great value. Check out the tasting notes on the label:

"...Vibrant, juicy flavors of black currant with broad, red fruit notes that linger on the palate, and are surrounded by hints of spice and sweet smoke with a graceful finish of cherry and mocha."

So, both the wine and the label are a mouthful.

Kirkland Signature's wonderful Basil Pesto is a refrigerated product that doesn't need to be heated when dressing pasta or when used as a sandwich spread.

You also can try it with scrambled eggs.

According to the label, the Basil Pesto contains only Genovese basil grown "in the Liguria region of Italy, which is a narrow strip of mountainous land bordering the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding the city of Genoa" [where pesto originated].

"Liguria is the only approved D.O.P. [an Italian acronym for Protected Designation of Origin] basil-growing region in Italy, because its unique soil, sea air, mild climate and soft spring ran create a pure, sweet basil."

However, a quarter-cup contains 26% of the recommended daily limit of sodium for an individual.

Of course, you wouldn't find that much pesto on a portion of pasta or if you use it as a sandwich spread.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Trump admits he fears nuclear attack if he brings up rights violations in North Korea

In "Summit," a biting cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of The Arizona Daily Star, President Trump wears blinders as he wades into a pool of blood to shake the hand of North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim Jong Un.
In "Seat of Power," cartoonist Pat Bagley of The Salt Lake Tribune satirizes Trump's habit of tweeting early in the day, reportedly from his toilet. Thus, the expression about Trump, "Brain farts."


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- What is Donald J. Trump doing for Father's Day? 

Lying, as usual.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, a TV reporter asked President Trump how he can defend Kim Jong Un's human-rights record after speaking "passionately" about the death of an American detained for 17 months in North Korea.

"You know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family," Trump told CBS Correspondent Weijia Jiang.

So, even after the summit in Singapore, Trump actually fears a nuclear attack from North Korea unless he continues to play nice with the brutal North Korean dictator and salute his generals, as he did last week.

Later, he told the female CBS reporter to be "quiet" more than once, and referred to her as "so obnoxious."

'Justin and Donald'

On Friday night, in a bit called "Justin and Donald," comedian Bill Maher showed illustrations, contrasting the behavior of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Trump:

"Justin waits politely for women to get on the elevator first.

"Donald grabs their pussies," the satirist said on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."

"Justin separates paper and glass. Donald separates parents and children.

"Justin researches an issue and consults experts before making a decision.

"Donald vomits brain farts and leaves his staff to clean up the mess."

A North Korean general puts his hand out in Singapore, but President Trump salutes him, as Kim Jong Un looks on, in this image from state media. 
Cartoonist Dave Granlund refers to Trump's treatment of Canadian Prime Minister and other allies during the G7 summit when he quotes Kim Jong Un: "My biggest worry is that Trump will treat North Korea the way he treats U.S. allies." Below, in "MAGA Double Standard," Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News notes Trump supporters were outraged when Barack Obama negotiated with Iran ["our enemies"], but have been silent on the president saluting a North Korean general.

Images of Trump and Un wearing the other's hair style appeared on the Internet months ago, when a possible meeting between the two dictators was first announced.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

An ethnic-food run for fish tacos, ceviche, yuca, spinach pies and stuffed grape leaves

An order of Fish Tacos at Taqueria Los Gueros on Main Avenue and Jefferson Street in the city of Passaic. The grilled fish, on two warm corn tortillas, was topped with Pico de Gallo (chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chile pepper and lime juice) and avocado ($8.49).
Two salsas, lime sections and a tangle of spicy onions came with the tacos. The green salsa, bottom, is mildly spicy, but the red is tongue-searing hot and obliterates the taste of the taco.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Northern New Jersey is a rich stew of ethnic groups.

And each one of them offers an array of specialities that lure food lovers into their cars for an ethnic-food run to one or more towns or cities in Passaic,  Bergen and Hudson counties.

This past Saturday we stopped for Fish Tacos on Main Avenue in Passaic, then walked a block or so to a Peruvian restaurant on Washington Street for rotisserie chicken, ceviche, empanadas and other takeout.

On the trip home -- when we found ourselves taking local streets to avoid Route 20 traffic congestion -- we made a quick stop in Paterson to pick up Syrian food at Fattal's.

Driving and parking

Driving in Passaic and Paterson has always been a challenge, and you'll find drivers on side streets with stop signs like to play chicken with you, if you are on the main street and have the right of way.

You can find parking in Passaic on Main Avenue's median, where you pay at a central meter, and then walk to Taqueria Los Gueros and Pollos El Chevere.

Fattal's, an emporium of Syrian food and spices at 975 Main St. in Paterson, has its own parking lot.

At Taqueria Los Gueros, my wife loved the taste of her Tacos al Pastor, but we had to send them back for pieces of fresh pineapple. And for some reason, they were made with only one corn tortilla instead of two, as they are in Mexico City ($6.49).
The pork for her Tacos al Pastor was roasted on a vertical spit, which was inspired by Lebanese Christian immigrants to Mexico. At one taqueria in Mexico City, a whole peeled pineapple is placed on top of the skewered pork, and the taco maker shaves the meat and fruit onto tortillas in one motion.
Taqueria Los Gueros is at 692 Main Ave. (Jefferson Street) in Passaic; 1-973-377-0755. Open 7 days.
A folksy saying appears on the Jefferson Street side of Taqueria Los Gueros: "A taco a day brings pure happiness."
A second Taqueria Los Gueros is at 231 Monroe St. in Passaic, but doesn't look as welcoming as the one on Main Avenue. You can also find a Taqueria Los Gueros at 46 W. Palisade Ave. in Englewood. The chain's website: Taqueria Los Gueros

Pollos El Chevere

When we walked into Pollos El Chevere on Washington Street in Passaic, the Peruvian restaurant appeared much the same as it did on our last visit 5 long years ago.

We grabbed a takeout menu and ordered a Pollo Entero Solo, a whole rotisserie chicken, which comes with either french fries, rice, tostones, maduros or yuca ($12, only $2 more than in 2013).

Our choice, the tostones -- twice-smashed and fried green plantain sections -- were enormous. 

You also get a surprisingly spicy, pale-green chili-cheese sauce to use as a dip or to pour over everything.

We also ordered two Empanadas de Carne, patties stuffed with ground beef and half of a hard-boiled egg ($3 each); Yuca a la Huancaina, a starchy root vegetable with a milder chili-cheese sauce ($7); and Ceviche Mixto, a lime-marinated fish and seafood medley ($16).

Pollos El Chevere has a full menu of soups, pork chops and steaks, spaghettis, and rice and seafood dishes at moderate prices.

The Tallarin Verde I've had in the past reminded me of spaghetti dressed with basil pesto.

The restaurant was opened more than a dozen year ago by two Japanese-Peruvian men, but I don't know whether they still own and operate this and another El Chevere on Monroe Street in Passaic.

The counter where you order and pay for takeout was unchanged from our visit 5 years ago, but the wooden benches where customers wait have been replaced by metal seating. 
Pollos El Chevere is at 228 Washington Place, steps from Main Avenue, in Passaic; 1-973-249-6330. Open 7 days.
We loved the mildly spicy chili-cheese sauce with the Yuca a la Huancaina, but the we prefer the yuca much softer than it was.
A whole rotisserie chicken with tostones is $12, only $2 more than 5 years ago. The bonus is a pale green but spicy chili-cheese sauce that comes with the chicken. Photos below, plating the Mixed Seafood Ceviche with sweet potato, red onion and popped corn kernels, and Fattal's Vegetable Grape Leaves for a light dinner at home.


Fattal's -- a baker, grocer and butcher with a cafe serving the Syrian specialties I ate growing up in Brooklyn -- makes it easy to stop for takeout by having a parking lot right in front of the building, which is set back from Main Street.

I picked up eight fat Grape Leaves, stuffed with rice and vegetables ($7.99 a pound); and 6 Spinach & Cheese Pies wrapped in dough ($10.19 for 2 pounds).

Ingredients in the latter include spinach, feta cheese, onions, lemon juice, sumac and sesame seeds. 

From June 2013: 

Store-made items at Fatal's include both savory and sweet items. Besides Spinach & Cheese Pies, you can get Date Bread, Fig & Walnut Roll and Mini Vegetable Pies.
At Fattal's you'll also find jewelry, including 24-karat gold; a wide array of spices and such store-made pastry as baklava. The store is at 975-77 Main St., Paterson, in the heart of the city's bustling Middle Eastern shopping district, and not far from the Farmers Market on the border with Clifton.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Electronic news media are letting Trump get away with murdering our democracy

After President Trump forgot the words to "God Bless America" at a White House event, Cartoonist Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina has him making up words, including "God bless America, land that I rule" and concluding with, "It's all about me!"



HACKENSACK, N.J. -- The Liar-In-Chief of the United States left the G7 summit early and flew to Singapore on Saturday.

He is scheduled to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on the night of June 11 -- a date that might live in infamy.

Last week, President Trump forgot the words to "God Bless America" at a White House event he staged after the Philadelphia Eagles stood him up.

In his first 500-plus days in the Oval Office, he's fulfilled few of the promises he made on the campaign trail in 2016, except for an enormous tax break for the rich and wealthy corporations that will saddle all of us with a $1.5 trillion in debt.

The massive giveaway will keep millions in campaign funds flowing to Trump and Republicans in Congress as they try to hold onto control of the House and Senate in the November midterm elections.

Endless lies

I'm still waiting for the courageous White House reporter who will tell Trump to his face, "Please stop lying to the American people."

Or, when the president starts making it up as he goes along or takes credit for the 9-year economic recovery, simply confront him or refuse to quote him in their stories.

Trump and his corrupt Cabinet have spent most of their time and energy trying to undo every one of predecessor Barack Obama's major accomplishments in office.

Unfortunately, the electronic news media can't resist capturing every lie, false claim and preposterous tweet in those annoying sound bites, and sending them winging around the world with no pushback or rebuttal.

On HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday night, the satirist discussed the merger of Bayer, a German company, and Monsanto, noting the former manufactured Zyklon B, a cyanide-based pesticide that was the preferred killing tool of the Nazis for use in extermination camps during the Holocaust.

Print media

I'm so tired of The Washington Post's Fact Checker or the thunderous editorials from The New York Times.

The damage of those TV and radio sound bites can't be undone. 

They have to be addressed on the spot by reporters confronting Trump.

Until that happens, the president controls the discussion and damages our democracy in so many ways.

He's the fake

When Trump shouts "fake news," the reporters should shout back, "You're the ultimate fake."

I just came across a site called PolitiFact.com, which summarizes "all false statements concerning Donald Trump."

Here are a couple of recent ones:

On June 5, Trump claimed Philadelphia Eagle players "stayed in the locker room for the playing of our National Anthem" or "were kneeling."

"No. The Eagles didn't kneel,"says PolitiFact.

On May 31, Trump claimed, "We got $6 billion for opioid and getting rid of that scourge that's taking over our country. And the numbers are way down."

"Deaths are up," PolitiFact says.


But unless reporters confront him on the spot or simply refuse to include his lies, half-truths and outrageously false claims in their stories, Trump will get away with murdering our democracy, our free press and other institutions.

Pardons, etc.

Trump claims he can pardon himself, if he is charged and convicted in the Russia investigation, or appoint himself president for life or call off the November elections.

I've heard these claims many times, but, of course, they are nonsense.

No one, not even the president, is above the law.

Cartoonist Joe Heller commenting on the suicides by hanging last week of celebrities Kate Spade, the fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, the chef and CNN host, who grew up on Orchard Place in Leonia, a suburb near the George Washington Bridge. You can find this and other cartoons on The Cagle Post.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lovers of fresh, wild salmon from Alaska won't find any at Costco or most markets

The first days of June is when Costco Wholesale in Teterboro usually gets beautiful fillets of fresh, wild sockeye salmon from Alaska. This year, those shipments have been delayed. Above, Kirkland Signature frozen Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, which is available year-round, but doesn't compare in any way to the fresh fish.


TETERBORO, N.J. -- Costco Wholesale's fresh seafood buyer says New Jersey members shouldn't expect to find any fresh, wild sockeye salmon until Father's Day weekend.

"It is rough," Lyle French said from Costco headquarters in Issaquah, Wash.

He noted the mouth of the famed Copper River, which supplies the first fillets of fresh, wild sockeye salmon sold in Costco warehouses on the East Coast, hasn't been open for fishing consistently.

On June 2, a newspaper is Kenai, Alaska, reported, "Several major river systems are seeing paltry returns [of Pacific salmon]."

"The poor numbers have led to closures and cutbacks to sport and commercial fisheries," according to the Peninsula Clarion.

In Alaska, the salmon-harvest season began on May 18.

Whole Foods Market

If you can't wait for fresh, wild salmon to arrive at Costco, head over to Whole Foods Market in Paramus, where you'll find the best seafood counter in North Jersey.

On Thursday afternoon, I saw a single fresh, wild Sockeye Salmon fillet ($39.99 a pound) and several pieces of fresh, wild King Salmon ($49.99 a pound), both from the Copper River.

The fishmonger explained the price is so high because it includes airfare that brings the wild salmon to the store the day after they are caught.

My trip wasn't a total loss: I picked up Organic Grapes for $2.49 a pound and Organic Fuji Apples for $1.99 a pound -- lower prices thanks to the Amazon takeover.

CONSOLATION PRIZE: At Costco on Thursday, I bought a fillet of fresh, wild Pacific Halibut ($17.99 a pound), which I prepared with organic spinach, pitted olives, Campari Tomatoes, capers, grated cheese, lemon juice and fresh herbs from my garden. See a how-to video on preparing another Fish & Vegetable Medley, below:

Teterboro Costco

On Thursday morning, the Costco warehouse in the Teterboro Landing shopping center off of Route 46 offered  artificially colored farmed Atlantic salmon raised with harmful antibiotics, some of it marked "kosher."

Other farmed salmon fillets from Norway were antibiotic-free, though still artificially colored. 

Instead, I purchased a fillet of fresh, wild-caught Pacific Halibut for dinner tonight ($17.99 a pound).

Last year, sockeye fillets from the Copper River arrived at the Teterboro Costco on June 5.

I grilled them on the stovetop, and served them with fresh herbs and a reduction of organic diced tomatoes.


BRAND NEW BAGS: Earthbound Farm has reverted to using plastic bags to package Organic Mixed Greens sold at Costco, but splits the pound of triple-washed salad between two 8-ounce bags ($4.79). The hard plastic clamshell, which  held 1 pound and replaced a single plastic bag a few years ago, took up a lot of space in the refrigerator. The old name was "Organic Spring Mix."
INSTANT SAVINGS: I took advantage of instant savings on Season-brand Sardines in Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Twelve cans were $9.49 or about 79 cents a can. Six Glide Dental Floss dispensers were $8.99 after instant savings of $4.
ORGANIC PASTA: In Teterboro, I saw this variety pack of Garofalo Organic Penne and other pasta shapes, but not the Garofalo Organic Spaghetti sold at the Costco Business Center in Hackensack.
MUSICAL MELONS: Costco members thumped and slapped large watermelons like drums before finding one with a pleasing sound and placing them in their carts ($5.99 each). My strategy is to find the biggest and heaviest one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Gannett admits circulation of The Record dropped dramatically after 2016 takeover

The front page of The Record of Woodland Park on Monday.

Editor's note: I rewrote this post to add details, and make clear in the lead paragraph that both The Record and NorthJersey.com lost a significant number of readers.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Circulation of The Record -- the once-great daily newspaper founded in Hackensack -- and the number of visitors to its website plunged to 91,032 daily and 97,149 on Sundays in December 2017.

A year earlier, at the end of 2016, the circulation of The Record and NorthJersey.com was 235,681 daily and 147,609 on Sundays, according to annual reports issued by Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper chain.

That's a dramatic decline of more than 144,000 daily and more than 50,000 on Sundays.

Those reports said daily and Sunday combined average circulation "is print, digital replica, digital non-replica and affiliated publications, according to the Alliance for Audited Media," a nonprofit industry group. 

The amount of circulation is the primary factor in the pricing of advertising space, meaning Gannett likely had to reduce how much it charges for ads in The Record, Herald News and North Jersey.com.

Strategic purchase

The 2016 annual report for Gannett and the USA Today Network hailed as a "strategic acquisition" purchase of North Jersey Media Group, the Borg family company that published The Record, Herald News, (201) magazine, NorthJersey.com and about 50 weeklies (not 30, as I wrote earlier).

"In July 2016, we completed the acquisition of certain assets of North Jersey Media Group for approximately $39.3 million," Gannett said. "We financed the transaction with available cash."

The Borg family held onto nearly 20 acres along River Street in Hackensack, former headquarters of The Record and NJMG, and plan to develop the site with partners, building more than 700 apartments.

NJMG and The Record moved out of 150 River St. in 2009, and settled into cramped offices overlooking Route 80 in Woodland Park. 

Drops to 6th

The 2016 annual report placed The Record and NorthJersey.com third among major Gannett publications after USA Today and the Detroit Free Press.

The 2017 annual report dropped The Record and its digital platform to sixth after The Indianapolis Star.

Gannett is comprised of USA Today and more than 100 "local media organizations" in 34 states and Guam, according to the 2017 annual report.

Revenues were $3.1 billion, an increase of 3.2% over 2016.

On Monday, a Page 1 column in The Record tried to panic riders of NJ Transit's Morris & Essex rail lines into fearing delays this summer. The Record's lack of focus on Bergen County, where a majority of readers live, is believed to be a factor in the dramatic loss of circulation since the Gannett takeover.

Bergen County news?

Gannett's annual reports don't discuss reasons for the dramatic circulation decline, but readers have complained repeatedly about the small number of stories from Hackensack and other Bergen County towns, citing cuts in local coverage as a factor in their decision to drop the print edition.

Monday's Local section contained only two stories about towns in Bergen County, where most readers live, including a news story about an unidentified Wallington woman killed in a one-car crash.

Gannett took over NJMG in July 2016 and by the end of March 2017, more than 350 employees of the company had been laid off.

The final round of layoffs included about 50 reporters and editors.

Since then, The Record and NorthJersey.com have been limping along, weighed down by burned-out veteran columnists and a bunch of inexperienced reporters.