Monday, September 18, 2017

Degustabox - September

+*You know how this goes, right? Degustbox sends me one of their monthly boxes and I tell you all about the goodies in the box.

This month's box had quite a few things that I gave away - not that the products were undesirable, but just my personal taste.

Actually, that's kind of a nice thing about these boxes. I can always pull out a few things and set them aside for little gifts.

And then I hoard the rest for me. Because that's how I am.

King Arthur Flour Essential Goodness Lemon Bars - I've tried a number of different of these mixes, and I've liked all of them a lot. When this box arrived, I had no interesting sweets, so I baked this right away. It was the perfect mix of sweet and tart, and didn't need a whole lot of extra ingredients. Definitely recommended.

Reese Fruit Quinoa Cups - When quinoa first started appearing in stores, I went overboard a little bit with it. Quinoa everything. Since then, my love for it has waned a bit. This quinoa-mango fruit mix sounded and looked interesting, but I decided to pass it along to someone else who would appreciate it more.

Natural Sins Fruit and Vegetable Chips - The idea is good, but I got coconut chips, and that's one food I don't like at all. So ... off it went to a coconut lover who appreciated it very much.

SunRype Fruit-to-Go Bars - I packed these up in a little gift basket where they looked quite welcome. SunRype makes a bunch of different bars, so there's something for everyone. Take a look at 'em!

Lee Kum Kee Korean BBQ Stir Fry Sauce - Oh yeah! I've bought other Lee Kum Kee products, but I hadn't noticed this one in the store. This is a super-easy way to make a quick meal that isn't just a peanut butter sandwich. Have some rice on the side and you're the kitchen rock star.

Wild Planet Tuna - I've used this tuna before and it's really good. And there are a bunch of different varieties, unlike when I was a kid and the only options were oil and water - no big differences in the tuna itself. The Albacore tuna is line-caught and hand packed. They suggest you don't drain the tuna, but save the liquid for whatever it is you're cooking.

Post Shredded Wheat Mixed Berry - I'm currently full-up with cereal, so I handed this off to some friends who absolutely love cereal. They were pretty excited about this new variety.

Angelic Bakehouse Bread Crisps - These are cracker-sized slices of crisp bread. While I don't think I'd snack on them as-is, they're perfect for making little snacks and appetizers. I thought they were a tiny bit salty, so that's something to keep in mind when deciding on the toppings. Choose something that's not over-salted, and you'll be fine.

Mutti Passata (tomato puree) - Tomato puree is the secret ingredient in the tomato soup that my mom made, and so I was really happy to get this, since the other Mutti products I got were really good. Degustabox provided a recipe for using the puree, and it was pretty darned close to mom's soup recipe. There were a few differences, but I'm sure it would be really good.

Goya Rice Pilaf - I've been buying Goya products for years, but I've never tried this rice pilaf. What's not to love, though? Rice. tiny pasta, and seasonings. I'm going to hunt down the other flavors and see which other ones I might want to try. Perfect when I've grilled a steak, I want a side, and I don't want anything too complicated so I can get back to the rerun marathon that I'm amusing myself with.

I receive a monthly box from Degustabox at no cost to me, so I can write about it for you.

Monday, September 11, 2017

New Foods!

As much as I love testing new gadgets and small appliances, the food samples I get are a whole lot of fun, too. The things I get to sample are often new, improved, or updated items, and maybe not yet available in my local grocery store.

And, seriously, even if they are available at my local stores, most of the time they're foods that I might not pick up. There are plenty of shopping days when I'm pretty narrowly focused on getting exactly what I need for recipes, so I might not notice the new items even when they're right in front of me.

A lot of the samples I'm offered are sweets and snacks, which is great. Snacks are handy to have on hand for when I'm feeling particularly peckish. But the savory foods can be even more fun, since those are most likely to end up in recipes.

Here's a roundup of what showed up here recently!

Pereg Gourmet Freekeh


Pereg Gourmet sent me both Freekeh and Farro. I'm familiar with farro - it's a tasty grain that's a little bit hard to find. The farro they sent me was the basic grain with no added seasonings, so it was ready for any recipe or side dish. I actually like it fairly plain, with a little salt and a touch of butter or olive oil. If you think of it as a grain like rice or barley, you'll probably have a lot of ideas for how to use it.

The Freekeh they sent me was in a mix that included dried vegetables and spices including carrots, peppers, currants. onions, and mustard seeds, so it was a pretty complete side dish.


When I emptied it into a pot to cook it, the scent of the dried vegetables reminded me of a dried soup mix that I've used on occasion, probably because of the dried vegetables. The flavor was good once it was cooked and the bits of vegetables added some color. I thought it needed a touch of salt. But that was easy to adjust.

Fatworks


So ... it's fairly easy to render fat from chicken. Just about as easy as making butter. Heh. It's not hard to do, but there are other things I'd rather do. It's nice to know these fats are available for times when I want some clean chicken fat for a recipe and I don't want to start by rendering the fat myself.

Fatworks sent me a nice selection of their products. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with the tallow, but that chicken schmaltz was perfect for cooking potatoes (and freaking delicious). Goose fat is good for that, too. The leaf lard has a lot of uses, but I haven't yet opened it.

Before these arrived, I'd never seen them in a store, but recently I spotted them. I'm definitely going to be putting these on the list for when I need some really pure fat.

When you buy these, make sure you look at storage instructions. Some need to be refrigerated while others should be stored at room temperature.

Kettle & Fire Bone Broth


I'm generally opposed to the term "bone broth" because it's really just a good stock. But, hey, I can't blame a company for jumping on a trend. Ignoring that word on the label, this actually is a good stock. The containers hold slightly more than 16 ounces, which is a nice amount for me. Most of the stocks in the store are either a quart or a liter, and sometimes that's just too much for what I need.

I used one of the flavors to cook rice and the other to make soup. I'll be looking for these again because of the deep flavor and the convenient size. That's not to say that I won't make my own stock any more. But I like to have a container on hand for the times when I don't have any in the fridge or freezer.



Nutz. Er ..... nuts. I've tried a lot of different flavored nuts, and usually they have spices, salt and flavorings adhering to the nuts. A coating, if you will. The difference with these was that the flavor was infused into the nuts, so there wasn't really a coating.

I haven't tried all of them (there were a freaking lot of packages of different flavors!), so I guess it's possible some do have a coating, but it says on the package that they're infused, so ...

Anyway, the flavor on the ones I tried was in the nuts rather than on them, so I'm thinking they'd be interesting for baking. Also good for snacking without making a mess. The texture of these was slightly different than typical roasted nuts ... I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. Softer, maybe. Not actually soft, but not quite as crunchy as other nuts I've eaten. You'll see when you try them. They're interesting. And with the huge variety of flavors, there's something for everyone.



I've done a couple of posts using products from Honey Ridge Farms, and recently they sent me an email and said, "we're going to send you some stuff." They sure did. That honey balsamic vinegar is really stellar. I like it drizzled on fresh ripe tomatoes. It's also good on green salads or on asparagus.

The Blure is one of my favorite things ever. I've used it in a couple different cocktail recipes. I'm glad to have a refill. The tea is lovely and the honey is really nice. And who says no to fancy salts?

Overall, there's a lot of great stuff here. Something for everyone. Check 'em out!



I wrote about the Land O Lakes soft butter quite some time ago and I've been buying it ever since I ran out of the free stuff. Mostly I buy the version with olive oil, but I've also bought other versions. Now there's a new version that has 25% less sodium.

The nice buttery folks sent me a sample, and although I can taste a slight difference in saltiness when I try both versions next to each other, it's not so pronounced that I'd miss the salt in regular use. It's definitely not unsalted - although now that I think of it, and unsalted version would actually be kind of nice, too. I hope they decide to make that.

I mostly use this for spreading on toast, bread, or English muffins, but I've also used it for cooking when I don't need an exact measurement - because in that case, cutting a tablespoon or more off a stick is easier than measuring the soft butter.

So there ya go. Lots of fun food.

What new food products have you tried lately?

These were provided at no cost to me by the respective manufacturers.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Paula Deen Speckled Bakeware (and King Arthur Flour cookies)

Let's be honest here. It's hard for me not to fall in love with new bakeware. I've been known to ogle new cake pans, pie plates, and Bundt pans whenever I see them in a store.

So when I saw a photo of the new Paula Deen speckled bakeware in dark blue, I had to ask for a sample.

Reminiscent of the old-school granite ware that my mom had when I was still using an Easy Bake Oven, this has random white speckles on a very dark blue background.

Unlike that ancient cookware, this stuff is super-slippy nonstick, as I found out when I baked some cookies.

It took me a while to decide exactly what I wanted to make on my new baking sheet. I thought maybe a loaf of free-form rustic bread would be nice.

But then I decided I needed some dessert, and I remembered that I had a box of King Arthur Flour chocolate chip cookie mix in the pantry. They had send me samples of a few different mixes a while back, and this one was still waiting for me.

So the cookies had to be baked. Had to.

The cookie mix was super simple to put together, and the cookies were pretty darned good. The bakeware was very very nonstick ... much better than I expected. The baked cookies slipped around the pan easily, leaving very little trace of their presence on the pan when they were removed.

While I only received the cookie sheet, I'm sure the other bakeware is just as good - there are round cake pans and 9x13 cake pans available, as well.


Purty, isn't it?

And here's the cookie mix box:



FYI, King Arthur Flour donates money to Feeding America when you buy their Essential Goodness mixes. Check out their website for details.

Who's the bakeware for: People who bake. Also nice for food photos.

Pros: Pretty. Nonstick.

Cons: The baking sheet is 10x15, which is slightly smaller than a half-sheet pan which measures 11x16. This isn't going to make a difference to most people, but it's something to keep in mind.

Wishes: I'm hoping they add a pie plate to this collection. Not that I need one, but a speckled pie plate would look awesome in photos.

Source: I received the cookie sheet and cookie mix from their respective manufacturers at no cost to me.