Thursday, May 31, 2018

Turbo Pot Cookware

Many years ago, I acquired a piece of cookware called the Turbo Cooker. Or something like that.
This is NOT that. At all.

This cookware - called Turbo Pot Cookware - has an aluminum ... er ... radiator-like-surface on the bottom that makes the pot heat faster and more efficiently on gas cooktops.

Or I guess it's more like a heat sink. But anyway, it doesn't look like the bottom of your normal pots. Take a look at the second photo for a better view.

This is NOT some kind of made-for-TV questionable infomercial thing. This is MAGIC.

Okay, it's not actually magic. It's science. The deep ridges on the bottom of the pot create a greater surface area and let me tell you, this pot heats up a LOT faster. You want boiling water? Don't walk too far away!

It also uses less energy to stay hot. Which means that you can maintain a lively simmer on a low setting. On your small burner. Or a candle.

Okay, not a candle. You might need more than one. But seriously (I keep saying that, don't I?) seriously, this is a thing that actually works the way they say it does. It heats up faster, uses less energy, and is kind of cool to look at.

They gave me my choice of cookware to try, and I opted for the 3.5 quart casserole because I already have too much cookware around here, and it looked small enough that I could find a place for it. But there are other pieces where this fast heating could be really handy.

Decisions, decisions.

The teakettle would be great for rapid heating of water for tea or whatever else you heat coffee for. Right? You wouldn't have to wait nearly as long!

And the frying pan would be awesome for heating to high temperatures to sear a steak, and then because it heats so fast, the pan would be right back up to temperature after the steak cooled it down.

And of course saucepans and stockpots and whatnot could all benefit from heating faster.

The one downside is that if you know how to set your stove for a low simmer using your regular cookware, you might have to readjust that thinking, since this will likely be simmering a lot faster - or even boiling - at that same setting.

Who's it for: People who cook!

Pros: Heats quickly and efficiently. Uses less energy.

Cons: You'll need to learn how low you should set the heat for slower, lower cooking. Also, this is designed for gas cooktops.

Wishes: More, please. I don't really need a kettle, but I desire one.

Source: I was sent a sample at no cost to me. And I've been using it regularly.

Murder on the Orient Express Tea

I usually refuse offers to review tea, mostly because I have an insane amount of tea on hand. And I tend to drink tea in binges. I'll go crazy for iced tea for a while, then get tired of it. I'll drink mint tea in the evening, then stop for no reason. I'll brew herbal teas or green teas, and then forget about them for a while.

But when I got an offer to sample a tea called Murder on the Orient Express, the name intrigued me so much that I had to say yes. What does a murder mystery taste like?

It turns out, this tea is very aptly named, and I can't quite explain why. But the scent is ... hmmm ... mysterious and old fashioned and exotic all at once.

I can imagine sipping this in the elegant but somewhat worn dining car while a passenger in a nearby car succumbs to some bad oysters.

But is that really what happened? Was it really bad oysters, or was it a here-to-for undisclosed shellfish allergy that the murderer was privy to? And who is this gallant but somewhat odd stranger who wants to escort me back to my car, so I won't be perturbed by the sudden flurry of activity surrounding the mysterious death?

These are questions that might never be answered.

But the tea is pretty darned good.

The teabags are cute mesh pyramid-like devices that also amused the hell out of me.

If murderous tea isn't your thing, Harney & Sons has a mind-boggling array of others to choose from.

I got this sample at no cost to me. Unfortunately, train tickets were not included.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Amped Wireless Smart Plug

I am a total geek. I love computers and wireless gadgets and remote control stuff. So when I got an offer to review the Amped Wireless Smart Plug, I immediately started brainstorming what I could plug into it. It works with Alexa, so it turns analog devices into super-smart ones that can be controlled by voice.

It was suggested that it could be used for a slow cooker or any other kitchen device that's not so smart. It would need to be a thing that turns on when it's plugged in, rather than something that has a bunch of smart settings.

I knew that my slow cooker was way too smart for it, but I decided to test it with some lights that are frankly a bit annoying to turn on and off.

I have to say that this was super-easy to set up compared to a few other devices that were a little quirky. And it works every time. Whoop, whoop.

Anywhere in the house, you could control anything that plugs into an outlet. Turn on a lamp in the living room or turn off the bedroom lamp without lifting your head from the pillow. In the kitchen, it could certain control that slow cooker, but after brainstorming a bit, I thought that it would be genius for an electric water kettle. You could turn it on from the bedroom and the water would be piping hot for your tea by the time you got to the kitchen.

I have a feeling that most folks who've adopted Alexa also have smart appliances, so they might not actually need this in the kitchen. On the other hand, we all have lamps, lights, and other things that plug into non-smart outlets all over the house.

I received this at no cost.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Degustabox May 2018

Another month, another fun box of goodies from Degustabox. They send me their monthly boxes at no cost to me, so I can describe the contents to you.

This month's box didn't seem to have a theme, but there was still plenty of fun.

Karma Probiotics is a drink that includes ... well, probiotics. This is a little different, though, since the active cultures are kept separate from the liquid until you release them and shake the bottle. I guess that makes sense for stocking up. Unlike yogurt, that can get a little fuzzy if it's in the fridge too long.

Goya Maria Cookies are from Spain and are apparently quite popular. There and here. I see variations of these at most of the stores around here that sell Mexican food. Yum, cookies.

Zaffi Taffy, the clean teeth taffy. These are a sweet treat that's supposed to be good for your teeth. Interesting idea, yes? These are sugar-free and a lot of other -frees as well, so they'd be safe for kids with the most common allergies. Tasty and good for you? Yeah, I'm down with that. Although this was the first time I tried the taffy, I have sampled some of the other candies from this candy.

Goya green salsa is worth checking out at your local grocery store. I've bought a whole lot of Goya products over the years, and I've always been happy with them. There are soooo many salsas, and it's a bit of a personal preference, but I have to say I liked this one, particularly with eggs. Like ... egg tacos.

Cello Whisps have come in these boxes before, and the info on this said "Back by popular demand." I'm not surprised. I can polish off a bag of these in no time. They're crispy cheese, and the one I got this time was cheddar. You can eat them like a cracker or add them to the top of a salad, or just snack on them. I wouldn't mind if someone sent me a whole case of these. Yeah, they're good.

Rufus Teague barbecue sauce is pretty good stuff. There are a couple sauces that I return to for recipes, but when it comes to sauces for chicken or ribs, I tend to try different ones, so I was pretty happy to get this sample. There were two possible flavors that came randomly in boxes, either Honey Sweet or Smoky Apple. Now I just need some ribs. And chicken.

Post Grape Nuts Trail Mix Crunch is a granola with Grape Nuts, cranberries, and puffed barley. I passed this one along to someone else since I have more snacks around here than I can eat. It's an interesting idea, though. I like cereals as a snack, so it makes sense to granola-ize it.

Deep River Snacks thick cut potato chips arrived just as I was having a chip craving. The little bag disappeared pretty quickly. Munch, munch. These are thick cut, so they stand up to dips without crumbling into bits.

Indiana Kettlecorn Popcorn is sweet and salty and the little bag was just enough of a snack to ward off the grumpies. There were two bags of these in the box, so I got a chance to have a second sample.

Explore Cuisine chickpea pasta is a protein-rich alternative to wheat pasta. I'm fascinated by the wide variety of non-wheat pastas on the market these days. Although I'm not gluten-free, I still think it's a great idea to offer options, and since chickpeas have a relatively mild flavor, this makes a lot of sense. I'm actually saving these for a pasta salad ... and I might even add chickpeas to it. Because I'm crazy like that.

So there you go. A month's work of snacking and savoring. In case you missed it, I get these shipments at no cost from Degustabox.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Degustabox April 2018

Every month, Degustabox sends me a box full of goodies so I can tell you all about them. These are the same boxes you'd get if you subscribed. Most of the products are full-size products, although some small free samples are also included.

This is April's box, which they called a "Roadtrip" box. It makes sense, since there are a lot of items you'd take with you on a road trip.

Alo Spring aloe juice
Hey, it's aloe juice with fruits! This would be great for a road trip, right? You absolutely need to bring along some tasty beverages. This one was blended with cranberry, mulberry, and blackberry juice.

Popchips Nutter Puffs
Hmmm. How to describe? Like those puffy cheese snacks, but with peanut butter flavor instead of cheese. These would be really interesting to mix with other snacks ... pretzels, cheese crackers, nuts. It would be fun on a trip. Or of course they're good on their own, too.

Amazin' Raisins
We agree that I don't like raisins, right? Okay, so I tried the lemon-flavored ones, and they were REALLY lemony. They were interesting. Now that I'm thinking about it, they could be fun baked into blueberry muffins. I'm still not sold on raisins in general, but these have potential.

Fini Sweets
Fini Shock Tongues Chewy Candy, Kollisions Chewy Candy, Tornadoes Fizzy Chewy Candy
For sure you need candy on a road trip, and Fini Sweets sent along an interesting selection of gummy candies. I haven't tried all of them because I'm opening one bag at a time, but I'd definitely like to take them on a trip. Okay, maybe I should plan a trip.

La Tortilla Factory tortillas
The tortillas I got are a blend of corn and wheat. I've bought these many times. They have the flavor or corn tortillas, but they're more flexible and less prone to breaking and crumbling because of the wheat. I'm more than happy to get more because these are really good.

Ah, popcorn. When I make popcorn, it's usually a pretty big bowl, but it's nice to have snack-sized bags for a little nosh when I've just gotten home and I need a little something to tide me over until I can cobble together a real meal. These would be great for a trip, too. Hey, add them to the snack mix!

Zeigler's Fruit & Veggie Juices
This sounded interesting, but unfortunately it arrived with a leak and I decided not to risk it. It smelled really good though. I'm sure I would have sent me a replacement if I asked, but I didn't ask. These are shelf-stable which is great for a trip - no need to keep them on ice, so you can just chill the ones you want to drink.

Country Archer Jerky
Jerky seems like a natural for a road trip since its packed with protein and very portable. This one was mango habanero, which would certainly wake everyone up. And then you've got drinks handy!

Torie and Howard chewy candy
Ooooh, more chewy candies for the road trip! These are vegan, free of the eight major allergens, gluten free, and they don't have any artificial colors or flavors. It must be tough to travel if your family members have allergies. At home, you know what you're cooking, and you probably know what local restaurants are safe. But on the road ...? It's nice to have a snack that everyone can share.

La Tortilla Factory barbacoa slow cooker sauce
I don't think this would go on the road, but it would make a nice, easy meal if you're heading towards a cabin with a slow cooker, or if the road trip is in an RV. Cook the beef, shred, make tacos with those tortillas you brought along, and dinner's ready. Okay, maybe add some condiments, if you must.

Goya plantain chips
Definitely road trip food since these are thin, crunchy, and tasty. Plaintains are like starchy, potato-y bananas, if you haven't had them. So it makes sense someone has turned them into chips. And hey, if you like the idea of peanut butter and bananas, you could eat these with the peanut butter puffy things! Or, they'd be a nice side dish with those barbacoa tacos, right?

In case you missed it up there at the top, I get these boxes from Degustabox for free every month.