Thursday, May 19, 2016


The folks at Dreamfarm have a quirky way of naming their products. Supoons are yet another in the quirky name category. They're spoons. Or spoon-like spatulas.

The Supoon is a "sit-up scraping spoon" and comes in two sizes and a pretty big array of colors. Yay, colors! The end is flat and square so you can scrape or squeegee food in a pan. The sides are fairly soft so you can squeeze, mush, and fit the spoon to the surface you're working with. And there are measuring marks, so you can use them for measuring ingredients.

The measuring is a really nice touch. I wouldn't rely on it if I needed a precise amount, since you can't level inside a spoon. But it's great if you need a rough teaspoon of oregano or something like that.

The Supoons also have a bent handle so when you sit the Supoon on a counter, the head of the spoon stays off the counter. Sure, it can still drip a little bit, but at least you're not setting the spoon on the counter and then sticking it back into the pot, right?

I really kind of loved the little Suppon. I'm finding more and more uses for small flexible spoons when I cook.

Who's it for: Pretty much anyone who cooks. They'd be nice gifts, too.

Pros: Hey, they're spoons. They do spoon-like things very well.

Cons: More expensive than cheap spoons.

Wishes: More colors! Hah. Colors are so cool.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Novis Vita Juicer

I've reviewed a whole lot of juicers. Some are slow, some are fast. Some eject the pulp. some don't.

But most juicers are for juicing vegetables, pit-free fruits, and greens. Until now, juicers weren't of much use for citrus fruit.

I mean, you could certainly peel an orange and toss it into the maw of a regular juicer. But that's kind of troublesome. And messy.

So, if you wanted to juice lemons, limes, oranges, or the rest of their relatives, you had to press or ream them manually, right?

I have squeeze-type juicers and several types of reamers, and they work fine. Or let's say that they're fine when I only need a few limes or lemons. When I'm making key lime pie or I need a lot of juice for curd, manually juicing citrus isn't a lot of fun.

But now ... NOW! There's a juicer that does that regular juicing, but quickly switches to let you power through citrus - the Novis Vita Juicer. Well, it doesn't switch - you switch a few parts and you can juice citrus - and you can control whether you want your juice pulpy or not.

This is kind of a game-changer. Well, it's a game changer if citrus-juicing is something you do. Lemon curd is soooo much easier with this machine. So much. I'll probably juice more citrus just because it's easier to do.

Juicer with citrus attachment.

I tormented a bunch of different fruits and vegetables, and I was really pleased with the juicing results. I was also very pleased when it came time to clean the juicer. Unlike similar juicers that have a bowl-like centrifuge-thing (I have no idea how else to describe it!) this bowl-thing has a bottom that comes out, which makes it a LOT easier to clean. A lot. It's genius.

Citrus reamer attachment.

When it came to citrus, I was surprised at how little was left behind in the skin. This is great when you want a pulpy juice, but also when you want just the juice without the pulp, since you can let the machine strain the juice for you.

Best thing, though, was that when I was juicing a lot of oranges, I got a LOT more juice than if I just squeezed them by hand.

Nothing left here - all the juice and pulp is gone!

Who's it for: People who juice and want a better way to handle citrus, too.

Pros: Works well, Juices pretty much anything I want to juice. Lots of colors to choose from.

Cons: Pricey. But all high-end juicers are, so ...

Wishes: I keep thinking, well, what else could it do? But I'm stuck. It's a juicer. It juices.

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

Friday, May 13, 2016

Barbarian Bar Tool

If you ever happen to need to squeeze a lime at the same time you're fighting off a bear in the woods, the Barbarian Bar Tool is for you.

Okay, just kidding.

The Barbarian Bar Tool is a citrus squeezer with other tools attached - opener, corkscrew, zester, knives, can opener - pretty much everything you'd need to make cocktails.

Well, except the glass and ingredients. You need those, too.

While it might be easier to pick up a knife to cut a lemon, if you've got limited space for tools or you're taking this with on a picnic or camping, or you want to show off a fancy cocktail tool at a home party, this is definitely for you. It just looks mean.

The citrus squeezer itself is sturdy and works well. I haven't used all of the other tools, but I've fiddled around with them and they all seem appropriate for their tasks.

Who's it for:
Cocktail makers.

Pros: It does pretty much everything.

Cons: It's a tad expensive.

Wishes: What! No grater? Just kidding. I think it does enough.

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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lily and Val Keepsake Recipe Book

What do you do with your family recipes?

If you're a blogger, you probably post them online. But if you're a normal human, what do you do with them?

My mom had a lot of recipes that she made regularly - oxtails in a zesty tomato sauce, pork shoulder steaks with bell peppers, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup ... lot of them. She made them from memory and adjusted by taste.

As she got older and didn't cook as much, she started forgetting how she made some things. As she got grumpier, she refused to give me any of the recipes. So I had to recreate them from memory.

Moms who want to keep their favorite recipes might want a pretty place to put them. Like the Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val.

It would also be nice as a gift for a new bride, with recipes from different family members. Or just a good way to collect personal recipes for personal use. Or a way to collect recipes from friends.

Recipe pages are on the left, and the facing pages are for collecting memories - where you first tasted it, when you first made it, and a list of other times the recipe was made.

There are tabbed pages to separate categories of recipes, and there are pages with useful information, like volume conversions.

But mostly, it's a nice place to write down recipes that you want to keep. Or give away.

Who's it for: Recipe savers.

Pros: It's nice for saving or for giving away.

Cons: No way to add or move pages from one section or another

Wishes: It would be great if extra pages were available to add to the book.

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Perfect Drink and Perfect Bake

Perfect Drink Pro scale, cocktail shaker, and device stand.
I went to the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago in March, and after I got back, I had a lot of new friends who contacted me to see if I wanted to try their products.

One of the companies that I was particularly interested in was the Perfect Company.

I mean, how can you not love a perfect company, hmmmmm?

This particular company was not at all on my list of places to visit at the show, but they were in the booth next to a company that was on my list. And when I saw the product, it was a "wow" moment. I wanted one.

Perfect Bake and Perfect Drink are kits for making baked goods and drinks using an app-enabled scale.

The kits also include a little stand for your phone or tablet. It seems like a little thing, but it made my phone much easier to read and use in the kitchen. The Bake kit includes a set of three color-coded mixing bowls and the Drink kit includes a cocktail shaker.

There are two different current Bake and Drink kits - a Pro version and the standard one. The scale in the pro version has an integrated a timer, which is handy if you're using the scale independent of the app. The pro scale is more accurate (.1 gram instead of .5) and can handle a little more weight. It is made from stainless steel and has an LCD display.

The other difference between pro and standard is that the pro Bake kit includes a thermometer, and the pro Drink kit includes a larger cocktail shaker.

Note that the newest version of the kits is the 2.0 version - there are older ones still for sale in some places. Older scales were wired and plugged into your audio jack. All the new models are bluetooth.

Once you have a scale, you download the app. And here's the first great thing. You can download BOTH apps, no matter which kit you buy. So you only need one kit and one scale to have all the recipes.

Corn Muffins made from Perfect bake recipe.
But wait, there's more! This is the most accurate scale I've ever used. If you blow on the scale, the scale detects. It needs to be that accurate because you weigh every single ingredient, including teaspoons of baking soda or salt.

The scale reads in grams or ounces, your choice. I preferred using it in grams. But you don't really need to watch the scale, because the scale connects with your smart phone or tablet. There are little ... hmmm ... boxes in the app that fill up with color for each ingredient as the weight increases on the scale. When the amount is complete, the app beeps and the box turns red. Boom! Done measuring!

It's really cool. It works well. You can tell how quickly you're pouring as you watch the little box fill with color. It even warns you in advance if the amounts are very small so you don't accidentally dump in a cup of baking soda instead of a teaspoon.

But what if you totally screw up an add too much of an ingredient? Oops! Two eggs instead of one? The app scales the rest of the ingredients so that you simply make more of whatever you were making.

So maybe you end up with 14 cupcakes instead of 12 if you over-measured by a little bit. Or you have two dozen cookies instead of one dozen if you doubled an ingredient. You need to go back to previous ingredients to adjust, but it's pretty simple to see that. And then it also adjusts the servings to match your "overpour errors." So it will tell you that you made 1 1/2 cocktails instead of the one you intended.

If you purposely want to overpour an ingredient - like if you want more rum in your drink - the best thing to do is add it last. You can add items in the order you want to in the app. Needless to say, for some recipes, the order you add things is important. For others, it's not going to make any difference.

Perfect Bake Pro
Oh, and the app lets you scale the recipe for however much you want to make. There are minimums and maximums, but there's a pretty big range.

For cookies, you can specify the number of cookies. For pie, you can scale the size of the pie, so you can make a standard 9-inch pie, or you can make a tiny 3-inch pie. For drinks, I saw quantities as small as 1/2 drink or as large as 27 drinks, if you're planning a party.

The app also includes a timer, so if you're supposed to mix or shake for 2 minutes, it times that for you. If you're using the baking app, of course it times the baking. And the cooling time. It's a step-by-step guide for everything that needs to be done.

If you adapt a recipe, you can save the adapted version. You can also create recipes and save them in the app, including a photo of your awesome creations. And the recipe database gets updated. I'm not sure how often, but there was an update available right after I downloaded.

You can search by ingredient or recipe name, and the recipes are also categorized different ways, so you can search for blended recipes, hot drinks, or holiday-themed, if you prefer.

You can also tick off items you have in your "pantry" so you can limit the search to things you can make without going shopping. And if you're planning ahead, you can add ingredients from the app to a shopping list, so you can pick up those extra bananas you're going to need.

Oh! And if you happen to have an ingredient that isn't in the app's list, you can add it. It has a LOT of ingredients, but you can for sure add more.

If that's not enough to entice you to take a closer look at these products, there's a new app coming out later this year - the Perfect Blend - that you will also be able to download and use.

To test the drink app ... well, I made a bunch of drinks. Adapted some. Added some. For the baking app, I decided to make corn muffins.

What I really liked was that although the scale weighed everything as it was added, it also estimated volumes for things. So it told me I needed 1 egg or about 1 cup of buttermilk or whatever. That's particularly handy if you're checking in the fridge to see if you have enough of something.

To test the baking app, I made corn muffins. Not only was the app really cool to work with - no need for measuring cups or spoons at all - but the muffins were really really really good. I thought it was interesting that not only did the app weigh all my ingredients, it also told me to put muffin cups on the scale one at a time to portion them evenly.

Who's it for: I can see several different audiences for these. First, people who aren't as adept at cooking, but like technology. The app tells them step by step what to do, and the recipes I tried and the others I read were really easy to understand.

Second, people who like to cook and like technology might like this app. I'm already thinking about the different recipes of my own that I could add so I don't have to look up them up every time I make them.

As far as the cocktail app, I've been having fun playing with it, so it's fine for making one drink at a time. And nice to be able to make drinks without using jiggers and measuring cups. I also think it would be great for parties. People could make their own drinks using the app, working from the recipes where ingredients are in the pantry. Or a designated bartender could make drinks using the app, without having to know a whole lot of drink recipes. How cool is that?

Pros: The apps work well. The scale is awesome. You can add your own ingredients and recipes to the app.

Cons: The pro version is a little pricey, but the scale is more accurate - I think it's worth it, but you might be just as happy with the regular. Details about the differences are on the company website.

Wishes: I'm pretty excited about this product ... I think the only thing I'd like is a way to run the app on a Windows device.

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thermapen and Cookbook #Giveaway

Thanks to the great folks at Thermoworks, I have a Thermapen to give away, plus I am supplying an autographed copy of Make Ahead Bread.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Salton Easy Bread

If your pod-style coffee maker and your bread machine romanced each other, the result might be something like the Salton Easy Bread. It's a bread machine for people who want the easiest process possible.

It couldn't possibly be easier than this, unless your neighbor baked a loaf of bread and delivered it to you.

The concept is just like coffee machines, where you have your pre-measured coffee in a capsule or pod.

But in this case, you have capsules that contain bread ingredients - flour, yeast, salt, flavors - that you insert into the machine.

The machine pierces the capsule and the ingredients fall into the machine's mixing/baking bowl. There's a water container at the back of the machine - just like on your coffee machine - and it dispenses measured water into the bowl.

Buttons on the front of the machine let you select a few basic things - like whether you want a light, dark, or medium crust - but other than that, it's all pretty automatic. When the bread is done, you open a tray in front, remove the bowl, and flip the bread out. Just like a regular bread machine.

There are quite a few different types of bread mixes available, ranging from a basic loaf to one that's super-seedy and rustic. I've tried most of them, and they're all good.

The loaves aren't as large as my other bread machine, but that's really not a problem. These are easy enough to make that folks could make a new loaf every day, if they wanted to.

Who's it for: People who want a really easy way to bake bread.

Pros: Easy. Very easy.

Cons: While there are a number of different types of bread, it's not infinite.

Wishes: Make-your-own pods would be awesome. I could assemble my own recipes, store them, and when I want to bake it would just be really simple.

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