Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nibbles and Bits

So what's new on Planet Cookistry? It's been pretty busy around here. I got some freebies, I won some stuff, and I bought some stuff. And I ate and drank and cooked, too.

Crispy crunchy chips

Tyrrell's Potato Chips

The nice folks at Tyrrell's sent me a big box of potato chips and we've crunched our way through most of them. Interesting flavors and really funny old-time photos on the bags.

Speaking of which, they hold a caption contest on their blog where you can win stuff for coming up with good captions.

We've been indulging in more snack foods around here lately, and I have to say that it's nice that we can have snacks that aren't full of chemicals, goo, and preservatives, like these potato chips.

I haven't opened the bag of veggie chips yet, but that's probably next on the list, but we liked all the potato chip flavors we've tried so far.

The one with Worcestershire sauce was one of the more unusual ones, that's for sure. And WHAT is that woman on the bag wearing?

Got cocoa?

Ingredient Supply Company

I was sent samples of several different types of cocoa from Ingredient Supply company, and I've been trying to figure out a sane way to taste-test compare the three and describe them adequately.

I've used the cocoas in hot chocolate, in smoothies, in baking, and in ice cream. And every time I taste them, I notice different things. Sometimes a hint of cinnamon or vanilla in one, or a deeper chocolate in another. But as much fun as I had testing and tasting, I can't say that I have a favorite among the three - they were all really good.

The three I received were the Grand Guyacan, Royal Mahogany, and Colonial Rosewood, along with some cocoa nibs and cocoa butter.

My suggestion, if you're a chocolate fiend, is to buy two or three (or four!) different cocoas and test them yourself. The 4-ounce samples are really affordable, so you can buy a variety and see which ones you like best. And then if you fall in love with one, you can buy a 5-pound bag.

If you're really crazy, you can buy a 55.11-pound bag.

Meanwhile, you'll be seeing more of these cocoas (and the nibs and cocoa butter) showing up in recipes soon.

One that I already posted was a smoothie with banana and chocolate. Highly recommended.

Making hot cocoa

I found that one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of cocoa was just about right for a mug of cocoa. If I wasn't doing a taste-test, I might have added a splash of vanilla, a teeny pinch of salt, and maybe a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg.

I didn't win the tortilla contest, but ...

Mission Soft Tortillas

The nice folks at Mission sent me a box of tortillas to encourage me to enter a contest they were having. Well, I never got around to entering the contest, but I did enjoy the new soft tortillas. They're not soft in terms of being squishy or spongy, but they're more pliable than regular tortillas, and less apt to crack or break.

I have to say I liked the tortillas, and it's too bad I didn't get around to entering the contest, but my friend Nelly from Cooking with Books took home one of the prizes for her Asian Shrimp Tacos, so that's pretty cool.

Now that summer grilling season is here (mostly), I'll probably be making some grilled foods that fit well into tortilla. Too late for the contest (sigh) but that's okay.

Tummy troubles?


As I was recovering from a migraine (which is always accompanied by tummy trouble) the nice folks at Tummydrops sent me an email and asked if I wanted to try their tummy-soothing drops. Yes, desperately.

Since then, I've been lucky enough not to have had any tummy troubles of that sort, so I can't tell you how effective these things are. But they taste pretty good. There are two flavors - mint and ginger - both of which are generally known to be tummy-soothing.

What I liked about the ginger was that it wasn't too strong. I've tried ginger candies that are way too strong to be pleasant. These were a lot milder.

I was going to wait to review these until I had an actual tummy episode, but they've been waiting around long enough. If you've tried them yourself, let me know what you think of them.

Eat your vegetables!

Purple sweet potatoes.
Frieda's Specialty Produce

You might have noticed some posts about the "Year of Purple" and a few references to Frieda's Specialty Produce. We're now BFFs, and I'll be writing about their products now and then.

The Year of Purple box I got included purple potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, purple passion fruit, purple artichokes, baby purple artichokes, and some purple juice.

I have to say that Frieda's is a perfect fit for my blog, since I'm always looking for interesting fruits and vegetables, and they've got them. I'm really looking forward to working with them on a regular basis.

Tummy troubles ... again?

Good Belly

A cocktail recipe with Good Belly.
Good Belly is a local company, and I have to say that they're some of the nicest people I know. When my husband got out of the hospital and I mentioned that he was still having digestive issues, they were quick to offer (but not push) some coupons for free Good Belly products.

Every morning, Bob had his glass of Good Belly, and when I ran out of coupons, I bought more. And then I tried to foist some regular juice on him, and he said that he likes Good Belly better. Well, okay then.

Meanwhile, I made some Good Belly cocktails and smoothies, too. It really is good stuff.

Speaking of Bob, he's feeling MUCH better and although he's not quite back to completely normal, he's able to do just about everything he wants to do. Luckily, he doesn't want to wrestle alligators or become an Olympic weight-lifter, because he's pretty far from that. But otherwise, things are pretty close to normal again.

Sweet and spicy!

Busy Ds

Busy Ds is a local company - I found them at the farmer's market and I absolutely had to try their Bread and Butter Jalapenos. I'm familiar with bread and butter pickles, and of course I know pickled jalapenos, and I like both of them. But I've never had jalapenos made like bread and butter pickles.

So I picked up a jar, and I've got to say that they're different. The sweet-mustard-tart flavor of the bread and butter pickles is there, but the peppers still have their kick. Totally different and really interesting.

There's also a relish that's basically the bread and butter jalapenos chopped up into a relish. I couldn't find the sliced jalapenos on their website, but they did have the relish. If you really want the sliced ones, they've got a contact form on the site.

Or just browse and see what looks good to you. The ghost pepper garlic sounds interesting, too.

Bread + Heat = burned toasted bread

Magimix Toaster

My previous toaster had just started to misbehave. Here's me, baking my own bread from scratch, then burning it to charcoal in the toaster. Yay, me. Way to go.

I knew it was inevitable that I would be buying a new toaster soon, but then fate intervened and I entered a contest on the blog Damned Delicious and I won this very delicious (and expensive) toaster.

This may be the toaster of my dreams. I can SEE the toast toasting, so I can stop the process if the toast gets too sunburned. It's big enough to fit the bread I make. And that was a serious gripe about the old toaster. I had to cut bread before toasting, or flip it over halfway through, or live with toast with an untoasted strip.

Now, the bread fits and the toast toasts evenly, and I can watch it. Which is actually a little bit silly, but also cool.

The toasting elements are above and below the toast, but somehow it works. And the toast seems different than what I was getting from my old toaster. Now, the bread is crisp and toasted on the outside, but still sort of soft and warm on the inside. In the old toaster, the toast emerged mostly dried out.

Maybe there's some magic in the way the Magimix toasts. I don't know. But so far I'm really pleased with it.

Instagram Contest

Chuao Chocolates

Chuao Chocolatier is holding an "I Spy Chuao" Instagram sweepstakes, with the grand prize of a $250 gift card.

To enter, follow Chuao’s Instagram feed @chuaochocolatier and:
  1. Post a photograph of a Chuao chocolate bar on the shelf at a local retailer with the hashtag #ispy
  2. Tag @chuaochocolatier
  3. Use hashtags for the name of the #retailer, #city and #street.
The I Spy Chuao sweepstakes ends on May 24, and with a winner every day of a gourmet Chuao Chocolatier chocolate bar. The grand prize winner will win a $250 gift card to the retailer tagged in their entry.

Get the complete details at Chuao’s website.

Contest STILL going!

You still have time to enter to win one of the batter bowls I'm giving away (through May 21). AND to hunt for as many codes as you can find in the HUNT sponsored by Good Cook.

Details here.

Special offer for FOOD BLOGGERS!

If you are a food blogger, OR you're some other blogger who is running a food-related giveaway, please feel free to post a link to your giveaway over on my Facebook page. They'll usually land in the "posts by others" section and I will share them to my page as I have time.

Sometimes they land in my Facebook spam, so if your comment and link vanishes and I don't dig it out in a day or two, just leave a comment for me without a link and I'll go hunt down the link.

You don't need to ask first before you post a link, just post. If you want to include a photo, that's cool, too. I've gotten so much support from so many bloggers that the least I can do is promote a few contests on my page. And I like contests (see winning of toaster, above) so I might enter yours!

Please, though, food, kitchen and cooking-related only. 

I do believe in unicorns, I do believe in unicorns.
Oh, wait, I mean FAIRIES!

This was the most mythical-looking creature I could find.
I was recently visited by a critter called the Fairy Hobmother, who apparently flits around to blogs and bestows Amazon gift certificates.

Not entirely a magical creature, the Fairy Hobmother finds new blogs in a very human way - by searching through the comments on blogs he/she/it has already visited.

Some time ago, I commented on a blog the Hobmother had visited and that's how I was discovered.

So, if you've got a blog and you leave a comment here, make sure you leave a link to your blog (it should be automatic in CommentLuv). Maybe the Hobmother will visit you, too.

So, I'm fairly certain that some fairies do exist, I'm pretty sure there are no unicorns, and I'm holding out hope for dragons and house-cleaning elves. You?