Thursday, July 27, 2017

Delicious & Sons

Photo courtesy of Delicious & Sons
Mmm. Delicious.

And sons.

Okay, so Delicious & Sons is a company that sells sauces, spreads, and condiments. Not long ago, they sent me a few products to sample.

'Tis true. They're delicious.

Garlic aioli with saffron and orange was lovely on some shrimp that I served with rice.

Served? Who am I kidding? I plopped it on a plate and blobbed the aioli onto some of the shrimp and enjoyed it. There was no fancy plating, although I did use utensils.

I brought the aioli to a friend's house and we used it as a base for a spinach and feta pizza, where it also worked really well. I still have quite a bit left, because a little aioli goes a long way. Maybe next, I'll try it in potato salad.

Note to self. Put potatoes on the shopping list.

Sundried tomato pesto rosso also became part of a pizza. I brought home leftovers and used it for a impromptu pasta sauce, along with some jarred antipasto that I chopped up. Just those two and pasta, and I had dinner.


There is also a black olive spread roaming around my kitchen. I haven't yet decided what I'll do with it, but I'm sure it will find a good home. Maybe on some crusty bread. Or IN some crusty bread - yes! Olive loaf!

Who's it for: People who like pestos and stuff. This would also be nice if you're putting together a gift basket for someone, or for a little housewarming present.

Pros: Yum.

Cons: You'll probably need to order this online.

Wishes: I wish it was available in the stores where I shop. It would be a perfect impulse buy.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Degustabox - July

Whoop! Whoop! Another month, another free delivery from Degustabox so I can tell you all about the products in the shipment.

This one had a few things I was very familiar with, and a few others that were completely new to me. Here's the whole lot of 'em:

Karma Wellness Water - a special cap keeps the vitamins separate from the water until you peel, push, and shake introduce the good stuff to the water. It's only 20 calories and has 110 percent of 7 vitamins. I haven't actually tried this yet, but it sounds like a good supplement.

Vermont Smoke & Cure sticks - Mmm, beef sticks. I love smoked sausage products, and these make a nice little snack. No need to buy larger sausages that need to be refrigerated - these can hang out in the snack bowl for a quick nosh whenever I'm in the mood.

Kala beans - these little darlings are dried crunchy beans that look a little like peanuts. They don't actually taste nutty, but they scratch that same itch. The ones I got were curry flavored, but they weren't in-your-face curry - just nicely seasoned and perfect for snacking.

King Arthur Flour Essential Goodness baking mix - this is funny. They sent a box of the chocolate chip cookie mix, but I had just made a batch of the coffee cake from the same product line. If you don't like the sometimes-artificial flavors of many inexpensive baking mixes, this mix is different. It tastes much more home made. I haven't yet baked the cookies (it's been pretty warm here) but I know this will be as good as other mixes that I've tried. Even better, for every box of mix that's purchased, King Arthur Flour donates a meal to Feeding America.

Goya olive oil - made from Spanish olives, this is a relatively bold flavored oil. I go through a whole lot of olive oil, and this is one of the brands I buy, depending on where I'm shopping and what my mood is.

Mutti Tomato Sauce - I got a Mutti tomato product in a previous box. I use a lot of canned tomato products, so it's nice to know there's another brand that I like. I'm not sure I've seen this one sold locally, but I'll look for it.

Wise popcorn - I make a lot of popcorn, but when I do, it's practically a mean. Okay, sometimes it is a meal.I got little single serve bags of popped Wise popcorn and thought that a single bag was a perfect snack. I was skeptical about the Cinnabon flavor, but it was actually really good. Totally fun.

Mrs. Thinsters - Thin,crunchy cookies. What's not to like? These are made from the same sort of ingredients you'd use in your kitchen, so they're great for people who want an indulgence but also want to avoid preservatives and other additives that are common in commercially baked products.

Waffle Waffle - it's a little waffle! I set this one aside for a morning when I want something sweet with my coffee, but I haven't had that urge yet. Maybe I'll have it for dessert, instead. It's meant to be portable, and they say no syrup is needed. Sounds good to me!

RXBAR (coupon) - the box contained a coupon for a full-size RXBAR protein bar. I haven't shopped for it yet, so I can't tell you what it's like. But it's nice to have a coupon handy in case I want a snack on the run.

So there ya go. Lots of tasty stuff this month. For more info, check out Degustabox,who sends a box to me at no charge every month so I can describe 'em to you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Tonnino Tuna

As a blogger (and particularly because I have this review blog along with my recipe blog) I get a lot of offers for products to review.

The gadgets are fun, and the small appliances are always a blast. But food products are very cool, too. For one thing, they cut down on my actual food budget. For another, I get to try things I might never buy on my own. And last, I don't need to find a place to store them.

Well, sometimes they need storage before they're used up. But once I've done my job by sampling them, I have nothing left but the packaging (which is often recyclable!)

When the folks at Tonnino Tuna contacted me, I didn't hesitate. I grew up in love with tuna casserole and since then I've learned that canned and jarred tuna can be pretty darned high quality. Not like the stuff mom used for that beloved casserole. That stuff belonged in that casserole. High quality tuna can be used for soooo many things.

Not only are there different types of tuna in the Tonnino jars (the photo is just some of the tunas), there are also different flavors.

Tuna with lemon and pepper was perfect for a cold pasta salad.

Tuna with jalapeno is perfect on tacos. Add some avocado and shredded lettuce or cabbage, and dinner is done. Perfect on a hot night when you don't want to cook anything.

The garlic-flavored and the tuna with oregano are both recipe-ready, as well. Perhaps a hot pasta or a fancy tuna sandwich. Maybe mixed with some cucumber and red bell pepper and stuffed into a tomato. A jar of one of these, and you really don't need to do a lot to have a super-flavorful meal on the table.

The unflavored tunas are perfect for pretty much any tuna recipe you like, whether it's a more traditional salad or something a little more unusual. I've kind of fallen in love with tuna tacos, to be honest.

I haven't made my way through every variety they sent me yet, but I'm working on it. So far, they've all been winners. Of course I have favorites, but I don't think you could go wrong with any of them.

Who's it for: People who don't want their mama's tuna casserole.

Pros: Good quality.

Cons: Might not be easy to find at your local store. Oh, if only there was a place to shop online for Tonnino Tuna!

Wishes: I really wish this was carried in the stores I usually shop at.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Does an electric appliance save you money over using your stove and/or oven?

I've seen the argument numerous times that using a small electric appliance (electric pressure cooker, countertop oven, slow cooker, etc.) saves electricity compared to heating up that huuuuuge stove.

I'm guessing that a lot of people think that because a stove is sooooo big, it consumes a lot of power.

But does it?

I decided to do a little research, and I was pretty surprised at the results.

I found a site that compared the cost of gas and electric ranges, with normal usage of each, and using both the cooktop and oven on a somewhat normal schedule. A modern gas stove with electric ignition would cost about $18 per year to operate. If the oven is not included, it goes down to $15 per year.

With the same usage, an all-electric stove would cost $45 to operate per year. If the oven is convection, the cost would go down to $43 per year. If the oven is not included at all, the cost goes down to $39 per year.

Since an electric pressure cooker is more likely to replace stovetop cooking than oven use, I was most interested in the cost that didn't include oven use. But I have to say I was surprised that my stove wasn't costing me more. Like other folks, I assumed that the big thing was costing me a lot of money. In comparison, the other big thing in the kitchen - the refrigerator - costs about $16 per month. So my refrigerator costs me as much in a month as my stove does in a whole year.

Of course, costs ultimately depend on gas and electric costs in your area, which can vary seasonally. But we're just doing comparisons for giggles, not trying to create the national budget.

I found one manufacturer that had specifications on the kilowatts used for an average cooking session in their pressure cooking appliance. I did some math using the same kw/h price from the stove comparison site, and if the electric pressure cooker was used for that amount of time every single day would cost about $15 per year to operate.

Of course, that's not how people use that sort of appliance. Some weeks they might make a batch of yogurt that takes 8 hours. Another week they might use it for 20 minutes every day. Or they might skip a week when they're cooking on the grill. Just like not everyone uses their stove for the same amount of time every week of every year. It's all about the averages.

The $15 per year assumes an average use of the electric pressure cooker for 4 hours per week.

There are other financial considerations. 

An electric pressure cooker throws off less heat than cooking on the stove or in the oven.

In the summer, this means you'd save on air conditioning, so that's one point for the pressure cooker.

But in winter, that extra warmth in the kitchen is a good thing, and depending on the configuration of the house it can also warm adjoining rooms. So the stove gets one point there for cutting down on heating costs in winter.

No one wins this battle.

Of course, all these numbers are estimates and averages. Different electric pressure cookers draw different amounts of power, as do different stoves. Cooking habits and local power costs will make a difference. People who have electric pressure cookers will probably continue to use their stoves for some things. Some people will opt to cook on a grill in the summer and do a lot of baking and roasting in the winter.

My own personal experience (which somehow I forget until I'm reminded) is that a stove does not consume enough power to make a noticeable difference in my utilities, even though I cook a lot. I was without a stove for a significant amount of time on three separate occasions. Twice, I did the majority of my cooking on my outdoor grill, and the third time (winter, ya know) I relied on electric appliances for my cooking. I saw no significant change in utilities any of those times. When I was working on my cookbook, my oven was on nonstop from the time I woke up until I went to bed at night. The utility bills weren't any higher than normal during that time.

If you like your electric pressure cooker, toaster oven, microwave, rice cooker, slow cooker, or other appliances, they're fine tools to have. But if you're looking for money savings, you're probably not going to move that needle by filling up your counter with things that plug in, simply because your stove isn't costing you a whole lot to operate if you use gas or electric. (I've heard that propane is higher, but I don't have numbers on that.)

On the other hand, next time you need a new stove, gas will save you a little money over electric. Not enough to make it worthwhile to buy a stove before it's necessary, though.

Bottom line: use what you like.