1THE Water Filter System Review


We all want cleaner water, and we’re all sick of the hassle of buying water bottled, or the expense of having it delivered. And despite what our “benevolent” leaders would have you believe, I don’t think for one second the water that comes straight from the tap is fit to drink. What’s a gal to do?img_20161030_153802

One thing that has gathered steam lately is under-sink filtration systems. None of the expense and installation issues involved with a whole home system, and none of the waste of buying bottled all the time. I thought when this system was offered it was in in-line system, and indeed there no mention of the one thing that stopped me from permanently installing this setup is that as offered, you must drill a hole in your sink or countertop for the dedicated spigot. If you have an undermount sink, or granite countertops, the absolute last thing you want to do is start drilling holes in either. And while I’m certain Hubby has a larger-than-average drill bit that could make a hole large enough to install the spigot, I don’t know that I’d want him to. So we did mickey-mouse the setup to run our household water through the filters temporarily. There was indeed a notable difference in flavor of the water, to our benefit. The multi-stage filtration looks pretty comprehensive, and there was no leaks from the system itself. But I waited for years to have my granite counters put in, there’s no way on this earth I’m going to start putting holes in it for this.

Another thing that gave me pause is that I don’t see where I can order replacement filters. Not on Amazon, and not from their website directly. Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, Osh…Nothing to be found anywhere. That’s troubling because one thing is the initial expense of the system (which at $144.50 is not insignificant), but to be beholden to a company to offer replacement filters at whatever cost they want because they can’t be found elsewhere? Uh-uh. Sorry, that’s not a system I’d want to buy in to and make permanent alterations to my kitchen’s (or any other rooms) stone countertops and then be left with either a hole or a superfluous spigot. The idea has merit, and I’m not opposed to it, but the application, for me, is a non-starter, and I would not have purchased this unit with that information.

img_20161030_153851

Connect with 1The:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from 1The. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Advertisements

Bouchard Chocolates 72% Cacao Fine Belgian Dark Chocolate

We are unabashed chocolate junkies in this house, and we usually don’t discriminate, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t discerning. There’s some really, really good craft chocolates out there, and some really, really bad stuff you can find at the supermarket checkout lane that shouldn’t (and sometimes even can’t) legally be called chocolate. But, in swoops Bouchard Chocolate to show you what’s good about good chocolate. And, sadly, what’s bad about a company looking to increase their presence in the U.S. but shot itself in the foot.

img_20161007_215313

To start, it’s a good chocolate, despite arriving during a now-customary California Fall heatwave. We’re talking 100+ temps in late September. I feared the worst, but most of the Napolitains arrived intact. More than a few were melted and toast, but I’ll use those for baking. The bag I received was simple cellophane, understated and all about the product within. It’s a dark chocolate (72% cacao content), but I can’t find a list of ingredients, nor did I get anything listing them, nor does the website list them…you kind of get where I’m going here. So, tastewise it’s pretty good. It’s comparable, favorably, to Green & Blacks, which is a pricey but good chocolate you can find almost anywhere. It’s smooth, not gritty, melts in your mouth without any lingering sugars after, and slightly bitter to the tongue, but in the way a good chocolate should be. The small morsels in the packet I got were good for a light snack when you’re needing that chocolate fix, but don’t want to gorge (yes, it’s happened here. Too often!).

img_20161007_215543

And that’s it for the good. The bad is that this company is doing a positively lousy job of getting to market. The company name and product has been around in some form or fashion since 1931. It’s roots trace back to the fine chocolatiers  in Ghent, Belgium with an award winning recipe for fine chocolate. But good luck finding a decent web presence, or price point, or e-commerce site for them. I couldn’t, and none was supplied for me to promote with. No ingredient list, no “Where to Buy”, just a lot of pretty pictures and florid prose, but no substance. In this country, we call that “All sizzle and no steak”. It’s a fine product, probably top 5 of all the chocolates I’ve had recently. And while they told me to mention that their product can be found in Costco Warehouses around the country, near weekly visits by Hubby has yet to locate any in the wild. Nothing on Amazon, Costco.com, no way to buy or even price. I can’t even tell you if it’s a value. And that’s a real shame. Since the company was acquired by Halloren Chocolate Group in 2014, they wanted to quickly get the name out there. That’s only a good strategy if you make your product readily available, and as of this writing, they have not. I’d love to recommend the chocolate, because it tastes divine. But I don’t know where to point you other than “Supposedly Costco”, and I can’t tell you how much it costs, what other types of products they have, what they’re made with… Ugh, so frustrating to see a good product doomed by terrible (or non-existent) marketing.

img_20161007_215452

Connect with Bouchard Chocolate:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bouchard Chocolate. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

UpNature: 100% Natural Raw Almonds in a 2.5 lbs. Bag #Review #UpNatureRawAlmonds

dsc_2064

I usually admit that I buy many different types of nuts in whole form but always in bulk. Buying in bulk is great as you get a lower price per ounce/pound because you are buying more product at one time. The factor that can sometimes backfire on me comes to quality. Many producers yield great batches but as the year progresses, you start seeing some add less premium nuts to their batches but here you are paying the same price point or even higher if the weather was an issue. The bargain is lost when you buy less quality nuts in bulk. You are then sort of stuck trying to consume a product you may not be too fond of.

dsc_2065

 

Retail Price Point: $25.99 for a 2.5 pound bag via Amazon

dsc_2066

 

Verdict:
When UpNature had already surprised me in a favorable manner with their raw honey, I though why not when it came to trying their almonds. Again like their honey, this is another product that is left as natural as can be. Raw almonds that are not smoked and actually steamed pasteurized. I love roasted and/or smoked nuts but over time data has stated that the benefits are not the same and actually the oils in the nuts can be harmful, as oxidation and other changes are caused by the high heat they come in contact with. UpNature grows their almonds in California with minimal processing and each nut was flawless when I received it. They also bag their almonds in a brown bag versus a plastic bag, which can inhibit moisture and mold growth. The almonds are kosher certified and have never come in contact with pesticides, irradiation, or any chemicals. Just plain almonds with premium quality but wholesale pricing.  I found the nuts to be pleasant in texture, not mealy and fresh.  The taste I describe as a mild sweetness as the flavors are natural in their raw form.  No salts or anything to get in the way, so it really leaves it up to you and your imagination to enhance the almond, or like I enjoy them…….just as they are.

I received the above product(s) free of charge from UpNature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

UpNature: Raw and Organic 100% Natural Honey #Review #UpNatureHoney

dsc_2122

 

Honey is one of nature’s most simplest products and the applications are endless. Now buying honey was very simple before. You usually picked a jar or a bear shaped bottle and you had honey ready to go. Then the industry decided to get funny but not in a very laughable kind of sense. We had companies add fillers and sell honeys from around the world that were high in price but not quality. You were paying pretty much for sugars and not even the good kind. Some even add enhancements and flavoring, which are not even naturally occurring. So finding a brand you can trust and sells true and honest honey can be a bit of a hunt but so worth it. You will even find if you use the real stuff, like with vanilla extracts, you end up needing less because of the purity.

 

dsc_2124

 

UpNature makes Raw and Organic Honey with zero surprises or fillers. You get the real stuff with zero processing. The good stuff is kept in and no bad stuff added! Simplicity and honesty at it’s finest. UpNature is USDA Organic Certified, Free of GMOs, and even Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified. Free from being heated and literally jarred in the same form it was gathered.

Price Point: $17.99 via Amazon or $19.99 via UpNature’s Website for a 400 gram jar

 

dsc_2123

 

 

Verdict:

The first thing I noticed was that the honey in the jar was not clear like many in the stores that have been processed via heat so other fillers can be added and combined. You have a semi-opaque liquid that tends to run slower than other honeys of like kind. It’s almost the texture of a maple syrup of high grade when you move it in the jar. The color is a brilliant amber! Just beautiful and UpNature gave the bottle a beautiful beehive design on the golden colored lid, so the little details were very much appreciated. The taste test is just amazing. There is thickness to the honey but it’s a creamy texture and very smooth. I tried it on bread first to see how it tasted and I had to stop myself. I had no idea I liked honey so much until I tried UpNature’s honey. The product is from the Ukraine and the bottle states the honey is cultivated from fields that are rich in minerals, so the bees create a honey that is really made from wildflowers. I tried it with tea the second time and just a 1/4 of a teaspoon was more than satisfying and enhanced the flavor of the tea, which was orange/citrus in taste. This honey just brightened that little tea cup and changed the flavor profile completely. I love using less because this means this jar shall last! I have a recipe for blonde brownies where honey is used as a sweetener and I will be using this one because it will definitely create a better texture (moist) to the brownies.

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from UPNature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

The Original Kitchen Cooperative: Straight Wooden Rolling Pin #Review #RollingPin

dsc_2062

I bake on a weekly basis and sometimes even twice. From baked goods that range from sweet to savory, I have come to the point where I rarely even buy baked anything from stores. When I do, I regret it. The one thing I learned over the years, is the tools you use matter. It’s not the cost but how they perform. I have a french style wooden roller that has lasted me over a decade. Simple to care for and I am one of those that if it needs a wash, a wash is something it better handle because this wipe and store idea to make it last…….well, I find it gross. Butters, fats and oils age and if your crust or dough has them, they will oxidize and go rancid on the wood. Not something I exactly wish to share with my next baked creation.

 

dsc_2063

 

Retail Price Point: $13.75 via Amazon with free shipping if you have Prime Membership.

 

dsc_2061

Verdict:

The straight rolling pin from The Original Kitchen Cooperative is made of 100% Beech wood. The roller arrived smooth and with zero imperfections. Has a nice weight that is balanced and easy to roll even when your pie crust is between having cold spots and softer warmer ones. It plays nice with most dough types and because it’s so smooth, it almost acts like if it had a nonstick surface, allowing the dough to softly stretch without tearing. I have used the roller and washed it and what was nice, no split wood or separations the next day, so this roller is not only fairly priced but should last with regular use. I do not have to worry about treating it softly, just as long as I wash it (never fully submerge in water), quickly dry it and then allow it to air dry on the rack before storing. The company also offers a 100% money back guarantee and that means they stand behind the quality of the products they produce. I don’t see myself needing to use the guarantee but there is something to be said about a company standing behind their products.

Connect with The Original Kitchen Cooperative at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Original Kitchen Cooperative. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

William & Douglas 4-Piece Ravioli Maker Set

Few things are as yummy as fresh, home-made ravioli. And while with much practice one can develop the skills to make them at home without specialized tools, many of us, myself included, just don’t have the time to develop that particular skillset. So along comes William & Douglas and their nifty 4-Piece Ravioli Maker Set, looking all cool and begging for me to use them!

dsc_1926

All the tools sport solid hardwood handles and zinc-alloy metal cutting edges. They’re not sharp so they should be safe for the entire family to use! I would have preferred stainless steel, but in the long run unless I use them way too vigorously than I should they should last a good long time. I would advise against dishwashers, because the zinc-alloy can start to oxidize, and the hardwoods can split if that’s where you decide to wash them, but it’s not advisable by me or the company. I love the little rolling pin tool, because a full sized-rolling pin can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth, and can be overkill for a small batch of ravioli and make a disaster on the counter.

dsc_1928

These tools are easy to use and are ergonomic enough that making large batches won’t cramp your hands or be to taxing on the arms. And William & Douglas offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase. I liked them well enough and would recommend them for both the experienced user or novice home chef.

dsc_1927

Connect with William & Douglas:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from William & Douglas. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

MYS Salt and Pepper Grinder Set

It might seem superfluous to have more than one set of grinders on your counter, but in this house, even two sets falls a little short. Because for us, we have 3 different salts and 4 different peppers to grind depending on the meal, so it can get a little crowded on the counter at times. What that also means is I get to compare and contrast MYS’s Grinder set versus, say, the previous set from Q’s Inn. They look alike, but do they perform alike?

DSC_1770

Sadly, no. Not that the MYS set performs badly, it’s just not as butter-smooth as the Q’s Inn set. There’s some binding in the grinding action, as well as a squeal or two. Occasionally they stick a bit. Other than that they function identically. What was absolutely superb was the collapsible silicone pouring spout for refilling. That’s a bonus that has unexpectedly made filling my grinders a joy instead of a chore. The julienne peeler is neat, but I have a few of those, and none of the are as dangerous. This one as sharp blades that are right out there for my soft, pink digits to get sliced and diced on, so have a safe place to store it. The included cleaning brush is also an inspired inclusion that is one of those “Well, duh!” tools that I should have had much sooner. But the meat and potatoes of this set are the grinders, and they’re decent, not great.

DSC_1771

The stainless steel is also slightly thinner, and not as “polished” so I would be wary of putting in salts that have high moisture content. The ceramic burrs are adjustable and should last a while. The glass bases are easy to clean, grip and use. And the included goodies are mostly awesome, but the action on the grinders, which means the most important part of the set, is lacking and problematic on my set, so I have to knock a couple of stars off for that, but I’ll add one back because the silicone funnel for filling? Inspired. And MYS states on the Amazon listing: “100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE; we aim to keep you perfectly happy with our products and want to know if there are any concerns or questions; please contact us as we will make it right!” So it’s up to you, but for my money, Q’s Inn gets my business instead.

DSC_1772

Connect with MYS:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from MYS Homeware. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic Macaroni Casserole #Review #TryNatural

DSC_1430

Next on the list, is Kim’s Simple Meals and this is their Organic Macaroni Casserole. The product again is easy to make and assemble. You simply boil the pasta, which is gluten free and made from organic brown rice. You then mix the contents with water, blend and add it to the cooked elbow shaped noodles. Mix and in the oven the casserole goes. The Mac is soy free and made with GMO free ingredients. Vegan friendly and Kosher too.

Ingredients: Gluten free brown rice elbow macaroni*, oat flour*, sea salt, sugar*, dehydrated vegetables* (onion*, garlic* & tomato*), yeast powder*, natural smoke Torula yeast, annatto powder* (annatto extract*, maltodextrin*), citric acid, lemon peel powder* and natural hickory smoke powder [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)]. *Organic

DSC_1433

Verdict:

The instructions were simple and because I tend to like more bite in my pastas, I did not boil the noodles as long as they suggested. When I blended the “cheese sauce”, it was very watery in texture and had an odd smell that was smoky. Kim suggests you can add your own meatless based meats, like a veggie based bacon. This time I decided to just go as it comes but I can see even adding vegetables. Once the pasta was partially cooked, I added the sauce and it did not thicken. It was more like the texture of a thin juice, versus any bechamel sauce I have made to make a typical Macaroni and Cheese dish. There is no real cheese here but I did notice this box is not labeled dairy free like the burger version. Why not add milk? I have no idea and it was not listed as a suggestion. Not even a nut milk that is unsweetened was not suggested, or even soy milk if you have no issues with it. The burger box had soy…..but I went forward and was thankful walnuts were not suggested like the video shared for the home-style burgers, and no oats! The house smells like something is cooking but it’s not like any Macaroni and Cheese I have had before. Maybe a pasta kind of dish but not Mac and Cheese. It comes out of the oven and it’s like one solid mass. I noticed this in the video also, when the serving was cut. The liquid was absorbed and you still smell something smoky-ish but I could not put my finger on it. Maybe fake bacon bits and along that area. I taste it and it’s not cheese and I have eaten many cheeses in my lifetime. This pretender is more like a rice dish, where the rice is shaped like elbow pasta and a yellow sauce. The sauce creates a pasta cake but no cheese and gooey texture you associate with the original. It was not awful but definitely not super delicious. The only thing that came to mind, is it tasted like that mystery dish where the label fell off the platter, which sat in a buffet/cafeteria line. Surprise-a-Dish! If you like surprises, this may be for you and adding vegetables or other items might spruce it up and make it less surprise-ish casserole.

DSC_1434

Connect with Kim’s Simple Meals at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kim’s Simple Meals and Social Nature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic and Gluten-Free Homestyle Burger #Review

IMAG3768

I celebrate Meatless Mondays, so I am always seeking out meat alternatives being that I do enjoy meat on other days. My goal is always to get 3 days out of the week where my protein source comes from anything else but an animal. This means I have had many hits and sadly many misses. My Husband is a carnivore and there is no bringing him to the lighter side of meatless meals, so I need something that is easy to prepare while I am making two different dinners in one evening. I am all for working and cooking, if the product delivers in texture and taste,

I had seen Kim’s Simple Meals at my local Sprout’s Farmers Market, but it seems the stock never moved. The boxes even began to gather dust, so when I received the invite to try the first of two, of the Kim’s Simple Meals…..I must admit my feelings were mixed. I looked at reviews and Amazon had a 50/50 ratio when it came to positive versus negative reviews. It took a while to get the coupon for the free product, and in that time Amazon dropped all the products and just carried the Breakfast Sausage from Kim’s Simple Meals. Sprout’s continued to support the brand and when the coupon arrived, finding it was a cinch.

IMAG3769

Kim’s Simple Meals differs from other products like it. So many use soy protein heavily and artificial boosters to gather a protein number worthy of advertising. Kim’s Simple Meals are Gluten-Free and Vegan Friendly, so no animal anything in this. Ingredients are also Organic, Kosher and Non-GMO friendly. Then there is other factors like these burgers being Dairy-Free. Lot’s of “free from” products and I worried if this meant free from flavor or even texture. The box states burger, so I expect a burger-like product.

IMAG3770

Ingredients: Oats*, garbanzo bean flour*, flax seed*, yeast flakes* (yeast autolysate* with rice flour* and sea salt), sea salt, tamari powder* [(soybeans*, salt), maltodextrin*, and salt], garlic powder*, spices*, onion powder*, dutched cocoa powder*, tomato powder*, natural smoked torula yeast, natural hickory smoke flavor [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent). *Organic  .  Soy ingredients is listed and I noticed it comes from the Tamari Powder.

IMAG3771

Verdict:
As you can see, this is not a soy filled product that can sometimes cause bloat and discomfort. Yes, you fill full but also uncomfortable. You have oats and a bean as a source of protein listed first. Next, comes other ingredients to even cocoa powder! Everything is familiar and real when it comes to the ingredients I recognize. The idea is just to hydrate the product and then make your burgers. Pretty simple. I notice water was listed and you can add ingredients to both add flavor and texture to the product. The biggest complaints I saw when it came to other reviews, was the lack of flavor and to the product being high in oats. Upon opening the box, I do agree the oats visible is higher than I desire. The video on Kim’s Simple Meals website, shows burgers being made with mushrooms, plus onions and other ingredients. You can even add walnuts it states. Barbecue sauce was another addition I saw too. So, I began to look at Kim’s Simple Meals as “starter meals”. I am not new to this method and think of quick bread boxes to even “starter sauces” you pick-up at the store. Same idea. I added red and green bell peppers, red and yellow onion, plus a medley of mushrooms. I even grated some carrots, added Edamame and I went more with an Asian style base versus an American style Burger. For me, the mix was already very far away from a Veggie Burger you get at the store or are familiar with, so why push the product into something it does not even resemble? I added a soy sauce and miso mix to create a hydrating base (water) that would not only plump the ingredients, but also add flavor. Everything was sauteed first and I then lastly added the Home-style Burger base from Kim’s Simple Meals. Okay, it smelled pleasant. I opted for small meatballs in the oven that I basted with Soy Vay, a marinade/stir fry sauce mixed with sesame oil. The house quickly filled with these smell of these Asian style meatballs and it smelled good. I basted a total of 3 times and this made the meatball move around, so it created a nice round shape versus a one-sided flat meatball. The oil allowed for a crisp exterior to build up when it was baking, and using the convection mode and baking on parchment paper, made the cooking process an easy clean up. The taste test? Well, they tasted very good and have a meaty/oatsy texture. I could not imagine using the box’s contents as-is. Like no way! It’s workable but I have to be frank, this was a boxed meal that I fixed up and these are ingredients I always have in hand, so it’s a great way to use up perishables but I am unsure if I would seek Kim’s Simple Meals burger box again. I found myself not craving it and I consider that a test when it comes liking a product. Yes, I made it work but should a product be worked up so much that it no longer resembles it’s beginning….because in the first place you read it never would? Probably not. It’s a start like I said and it’s a meal from a box that is better ingredient wise than others, but not exactly a yummy Home-style burger like it says on the box.

Connect with Kim’s Simple Meals at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kim’s Simple Meals and Social Nature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Orblue Angled Spatula 3-Pack

I’ve never been one to believe that one always needs specialized tools to do specific jobs. It’s usually after I’ve found that using the right tool for the job makes the job infinitely easier that I become a believer. Such was the case with these quality angled spatulas from Orblue.

DSC_1347

Content in the past to use a cheap-o plastic job I got as part of one of those new homeowner “gotcha” sets that include a plethora of cheap plastic tools for some unbelievably low price. You know the ones, the ones that clutter up the drawer until you break down and buy a quality version? Well, these Orblue angled spatulas are the good versions you’ll use to replace the cheap-o’s. They’re made from durable stainless steel, but with enough flex in them to be useful for more than just icing a cake. Long 5-inch plastic handles fit nicely in the hand but have enough grip to them to keep a secure hold. The offset design will also do wonders to keep fingers and knuckles out of icing. And while they are dishwasher safe, I’ve found that the best way to extend the life of my quality stainless steel kitchen tools is hand washing and either wipe with a towel or air dry.

DSC_1349

At just $15.87 shipped (at the time of this writing), for a three pack?! You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better set for less money delivered right to your door. The set comes with plastic sleeves for drawer storage, and I’m ashamed I took this look to add something so basic, yet so necessary, as these Orblue Angled Spatulas to my kitchen arsenal. You should get a set right away!

DSC_1348

Connect with Orblue:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Orblue. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: