Friday, November 9, 2018

Davidson's Organic Tea: Chai

Want chai?

Davidson's Organic Tea recently sent me samples of three of their chai teas, along with a sweet mug. Yes, that's a ginormous mug. And there's a fox inside. Yup.

But back to the chai.

To be honest, I'm not sure what makes tea chai or not chai, but I'm okay with that. They called these chai. I drank. Job done.

They sent Cardamom Macchiato, S'mores Chai, and Pumpkin Chai. All three were quite different from the usual teas that are, well, tea leaves or "tea" that is actually herbs and stuff.

The Cardamom Macciato included coffee beans, among other things; the S'mores Chai included marshmallow and chocolate, and the Pumpkin Chai included pumpkin flakes and caramel.

Which was the best? Yeah, that's personal taste, but I think the S'mores might have been the winner for me, although I wouldn't turn down any of 'em.

These would be great stocking stuffers for anyone you know who likes tea and who has already tried all the ones at the grocery store. Or, you know, grab yourself a ginormous mug and settle in on a cool evening to enjoy some chai.

Why, yes, I did get these from Davidson't Tea at no cost to me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

American Heritage Chocolate

Seriously, if someone asks me if I want samples of their chocolate, there's only one sane answer.

Yes, I want to sample your chocolate. Send it now.

I'm not exactly sure why this chocolate is historic or heritage, but the website says it's made from authentic heritage recipes. So there you go.

This wasn't just plain chocolate, there was a bit of a spice component - maybe cinnamon? Some kind of warm spices were in there, for sure.

While these are great as-is, if you want to cook with them, I think they'd work well in Mexican recipes where you want the earthy spices but not the chile flavors. Or, you know, just snack on them. Or chop them up and use them like chocolate chips in cookies. Or use the drink mix as a substitute for cocoa in recipes.

These would also be nice stocking stuffers for people who like to try different types of chocolate. Yup, it's that time of year. Stuff the stockings!

Did I mention that I got these at no cost? Yup.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Goya Olive Oil

Them: Do you want to sample our olive oils?

Me: Yup.

The company was Goya, who I'm very familiar with, and I've used their olive oils before. I'm a fiend for olive oil, and I love sampling different ones, so I was curious about what they were sending.

The clear bottle with extra virgin olive oil is readily available at my grocery store, so it was a good baseline oil. This is the one I'd use mostly for cooking. Not over super-high heat, but for pretty much everything else.

Then there was an organic premium and an ultra premium.

I have to say that none of these were bad, but they were all different from each other. Yes, I actually did sample all of them. The ultra premium was my favorite of the three. This is the oil you use when you want to taste the oil. Like when you're drizzling it over fresh tomatoes or using it for dipping bread.

The premium was nice, too. I'd be happy to use it on salads or drizzled over vegetables and in other situations where the oil is a flavor component, but it's not the primary focus of the dish.

Yup, three nice Goya olive oils. One of the bottles is already empty. Did I mention that I use a lot of olive oil?

I received these at no cost to me.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Zoku Jack

Yeah, you're wondering about that title, right?

Zoku, known for their ice pop freezing gadgets, recently sent me a sweet ice cube maker set. It makes giant cubes that are so popular these days because they melt slower in drinks.

Or not cubes, actually. We seriously need a better name for ice that's frozen into small pieces for drinks, don't we?

Anyhoo, this was a set of two ice molds that were supposed to look like the jacks that kids play with. To be honest, I thought they looked more like molecules, which I think is much cooler than a jack. Bonus for me.

These were super-easy to fill, and the two halves held together tightly, so I didn't need to worry about water spillage in my overcrowded freezer. I hate when that happens!

They were also easy to pull apart when the ice was frozen and it was easy to get the ice out of the mold half. Easy, easy, easy. I mean, ice should be easy.

What I thought was funny was that the first glass I wanted to put ice in had a narrow top, so the fancy ice jack didn't fit. Yup, these are pretty big, so they're not going to fit in your teeny tiny glasses.

On the other hand, I think they'd be awesome floating around in a punch bowl, like a bunch of molecules wandering the universe. Or something like that.

I received these at no cost to me.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Work Sharp Culinary E5 Sharpener

Folks who sharpen knives professionally will sometimes use a belt sander sort of setup. My dad actually used that type of thing for sharpening drill bits and other machine tools. That method of sharpening requires a whole lot of experience, lest you grind off more blade than you mean to.

Until I saw the Work Sharp Culinary E5 Sharpener, I had no idea there was a belt system for sharpening knives at home. Unlike my dad's machine that was about the size of a human, this is a little machine, no larger than other styles of home electric sharpeners. Easy to tuck into the pantry when it's not in use.

When you're using it, this feels a lot like other electric sharpeners, possibly a little softer because the belts have a little flexibility, but the action against the knife is different. More like sanding/polishing than grinding.

Guides on both sides of the machine make sure you're holding the knife at the right angle, which is the hard part about sharpening knives at home. It's just plain difficult to eyeball a precise angle. Here, you just snuggle the knife against the guide, and slide it against the belt.

Lights on the front of the sharpener let you know whether you're in shape, sharpen, or refine mode, so you can sharpen you knife aggressively if it requires it, or you can just give it a gentle touch to maintain it.

For basic maintenance, the sharpener also includes a steel. Which is actually ceramic. But anyway, it's the thing that you use between actual sharpenings.

Along with the sharpener kit, the company sent me some dull knives along with a knife roll, so I could practice sharpening, and then have a place to store my knives.

I also touched up some of my own knives that were due for a little care.

I have to say that the whole process was easy, and the machine is much quieter than those that use grinding stones.

The really cool thing about this cutting system is that while the basic model is designed for the most common knife styles with a 17-degree angle, you can buy an upgrade kit that includes both east and west guides (15 and 20 degrees) as well as a selection of different belts. It's all pretty easy to set up, too, so you can swap from one angle to another without a lot of grumbling.

Extra belts are also available for purchase, so you won't need to replace the whole machine if the belts are worn.

I received this at no cost to me.