Monday, June 26, 2017

Geoffrey Zakarian's Pro Home Food Storage by Tarhong

When I went to the Housewares Show in Chicago this past March, one of the coolest things was when I met Geoffrey Zakarian and he showed me his new line of kitchen storage products. He was friendly and warm and really enthusiastic about the products.

Well, of course he was enthusiastic about the products, because he designed them. He said that after working in restaurants for years and seeing and understanding the proper way to store food, he was disappointed that there weren't similar storage products sized for home kitchens.

So he decided to create them.

The containers are clear, so you can see what's in them. They seal well, and have a tab on the corner that makes it easy to remove the lid. They are dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe. And there are removable trays so food doesn't sit in liquid, if it's not supposed to. Obviously, if you're marinating, you want it in liquid. But if you're storing fresh strawberries, you don't want them sitting in any sort of moisture that could cause rotting.

The containers nest for storage and they stack when they're full. They also include a pen that can be used to write on the containers to label them, and it wipes off nicely so you can re-label again cleanly.

I only got one container at the show (which was plenty, because there's only so much stuff that can be stuffed into a suitcase) so I haven't used it a lot, but it's really a nice container. Sturdy, solid, well made. If I was tossing out all my current containers and starting over, I'd definitely be looking at a set of these.

He also has some other products that are in the design stage that aren't for sale yet that looked interesting. I'll be curious to see how well his new product line does, considering there are w whole lot of storage containers on the market. Right now, I'm not finding them widely distributed, but I hope we'll be seeing more of them.

As a side note ... my one regret about meeting Geoffrey Zakarian at the show was that after I walked away, I realized it would have been totally cool to get a video of him telling me that I'd been chopped. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Who's it for: People who store food in the refrigerator.

Pros: Nice containers, made similar to professional storage.

Cons: Limited distribution right now.

Wishes: I'd love to be able to just buy the sizes I need at the grocery store.

Source: I received this as a sample at no cost when I was at the Housewares Show.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Degustabox - June

Another month, another mystery box of goodies from Degustabox. I get these boxes for free so I can tell you all about them.

This month's had some items I liked a lot, along with a few I passed along to some very appreciative friends and neighbors. (Don't you want to be my neighbor?)

I get a lot of free samples (ain't it great to be a food blogger?) and I know it makes no sense for me to sample things that I know I won't like (for example, anything with coconut) or things that I know that someone else would appreciate much more than I would (gluten-free or high-caffeine foods, for example).

If I know I won't like something (hello, coconut), there's no way I could honestly say nice things about it. It would be a waste to open it. And in the case of gluten free products or others that just don't fit my food agenda, it simply makes more sense to give them to someone who will love them, instead of me eating a bite and saying, "yeah, it's okay but just not my thing."

There were quite a few things in this box that I like, a few I tried before ... and some that I passed along to other deserving folks.

So ... here we go. 

Amazon links are included for products or companies, where available, so you can find more information on individual items.

Nativas Naturals
This is another nutrition bar, this time minimally processed, organic, and plant based. Since I work from home, there really aren't a whole lot of times when I want an energy bar to fill the food gap. There's pretty much always something here I can eat. So ... this one I passed along.

Briannas Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
Honestly, I don't buy a lot of bottled dressings, but I might seek this one out. It was good on salad, but I also drizzled some on half of an avocado that I devoured. This would also make a lovely sauce on top of poached or roasted chicken.

Ritz Crisp & Thins
Sort of like a cracker and sort of like a chip, these were great for snacking. Or they'd be good next to a bowl of soup. These are good as-is, but they'd be great with a dip or some cheese. Since they're baked rather than fried, they're lower in calorie that fried chips and crisps.

Hodgson Mills gluten free muffin mix
I passed these along to a gluten-free friend. I've tried a lot of Hodgson Mills products and they've all been high quality. I'm betting these are darned good, too. The mix can also be used to make pancakes, so it's not a one-trick pony.'

Brooklyn Organics ginger ale
I'm a sucker for ginger ale, so I liked this. It's sweetened with stevia and organic. There are several different flavors of this ginger soda. I got to sample one of them, but I'm sure they're all pretty tasty.

Julian's Recipe Waffle Thins
These are cracker-like waffle-textured snacks that come in both sweet and savory flavors. I got the meyer lemon, but there are also cheese-flavored and herby ones. I'm going to look for the cheesy variety because I love cheesy crackers. The lemon was good, but wouldn't be my first choice if a cheesy one was within reach.

Popcorners Salt of the Earth Bean Crisps
I loved Popcorners snacks that tasted like popcorn, so I was pretty interested in this version with beans along with the corn. I haven't actually opened it yet since I had other open snack foods and there's only so many crispy snacks I can shove into my maw in a given week. But if you're looking for a new snack, I think this one would be a good bet.

Entenmann's mini apple snacks
I used to work near an Entenmann's bakery and the smells coming from that place were intoxicating. I had a few favorites among their offerings, but this seems to be a new one. They're little hand pies, about the size of the bottom half of a slider bun. I loved these. They'd be too sweet for me if they were larger, but this was a perfect little dessert.

Bibigo Go-Chu-Jang Barbecue sauce
I haven't opened this one yet because I had two other kinds of barbecue sauce already opened, but I'm seriously looking forward to trying it. It's described as bold, smoky, and spicy. I'm betting it would be awesome on wings, which are now on the shopping list.

Sir Kensington's Ketchup
Another interesting ketchup. If your idea of ketchup is the sweet stuff we all grew up with, maybe it's time to venture into new ketchup territory. I suggest slathering this on a burger or using it as a topping on a meatloaf.

Viter Energy Mints
This was an added "gift" in the box. These are little breath mints with 40mg of caffeine and B vitamins. While I tend to keep my caffeine intake fairly low these days, these would be awesome to tuck into a purse for those time when someone is out and about and feeling a little tired, particularly when there's a boring drive home on the agenda. Probably also good before a test at school or a before a business meeting.

Thanks to Degustabox for supplying these fun boxes (at no cost to me).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Red's Natural Foods Burritos

Let me be perfectly honest.

Since I've been living alone, I've been buying more heat-and-eat foods. I still cook from scratch, and I still like making some more complicated dishes, but there are days when I get busy, I'm past hungry, and all I want is a quick lunch.

So, when the folks at Red's Natural Foods sent me a bunch of coupons, I stocked up. (Red's also makes "bowls" but they didn't have them at the store I went to.

I tossed the burritos in the freezer and munched on them when I had one of those day. Home from shopping and too hungry to make something else. Saving the leftovers for dinner. Whatever.

I've tried frozen burritos before, and the one thing I remembered was that they were pretty much all the same, no matter if you got chicken, beef, or pork. Same flavors. Nothing to see here.

I bought a bunch of different Red's burritos, and every one was different. It tasted like what the label said it was. There was cilantro and lime flavor in the one that was supposed to have those flavors, and there was steak in the steak burrito. And they were super-easy. Just microwave and eat.

The burritos were the perfect size for a lunch for me, but they'd be a little small for someone with a larger appetite. Or maybe serve them with sides and toppings. But really, the whole point for me was to have a super-quick and easy meal. So I didn't serve them with any sides or toppings.

If it's important, these are natural, non-GMO, and organic.

Who's it for: Hungry people who like burritos.

Pros: Easy, tasty.

Cons: A little more expensive than the non-natural brands.

Wishes: I wish I could find their other products at my local store. I'll be looking.

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Organic Mahatma and Organic Carolina

I am a rice fiend. I'm always trying new brands, new types, new recipes, and new gadgets for cooking the rice.

So, when a company asked if I wanted samples of their white and brown rice to try, I said yes. They sent me Mahatma Organic Brown Rice ...

 ... and Carolina Organic Long Grain White Rice.

I tried both of them, in both of my rice cookers, and in different recipes. The result? To be honest, the white rice was pretty similar to the rice I had been using. Which is a very good thing. It was a nice rice with good flavor when I cooked it very plainly, and it was perfectly happy to have flavor added to it.

The brown rice, though, was a little different. It seemed to cook better, and had a better texture. When I cooked it until it was "just done" the rice had nice chew and the grains stayed separate. When I cooked it further with more water (not quite risotto, but a softer texture) the grains still stayed separate rather than going pasty, which sometimes happens. This was really nice.

Overall, I like both of them, and I'll look for them in stores.

Who's it for:  People who like rice.

Pros: Good flavor, good quality.

Cons: Let's face it; rice isn't very exciting.

Wishes: I'd love to see these in 5-pound bags. Did I mention that I eat a lot of rice?

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