FreshJax: Set of 5 Gourmet Handcrafted Spices (Grilling Spices) #Review #FreshJaxSpices

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One of the delights of Summer, is the grilling weather. Being in California, this means that we grill most parts of the year and even during Winter. If it’s raining we can easily bring the grill under the tall awning from the patio, so again no limitations. Finding spices and especially blends is something I must admit I do not usually purchase. I have a large array of individual spices, dried herbs, chilies, in powdered to granulated, and even whole form. I just avoid blends because I found early on, they were just mostly blended products with 75% being salts or sugars. Not my kind of thing, so when FreshJax reached out and I looked into the company…..well, I gave them a try.

FreshJax is a family owned company and they started their company in 2011. They advertised something I use commonly, being “clean” about what you make. This is not just limited to sanitary conditions, but to using real products, no fillers and having pride in what you make. You got to love cooking to a certain degree to make things work and one thing FreshJax loves, is their spice mixes!

 

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I selected the Grilling Spices because the selection looked like one I can actually use. Like all 5 bottles sounded like great mixes and close to ingredients we use on a weekly basis, but I am always looking how people add their own twist to ingredients I use. The grilling mix comes with:

  • GRILL MASTER: Think about an all purpose blend and this mix is it. It goes well with any protein to vegetables and seafood. Serves all well with herbs like organic fennel, garlic, rosemary and smoked black peppercorns. I use smoked salts on almost a daily basis but the smoked peppercorns really made this mix unique and addicting.
  • SMOKEY SOUTHWEST: Not just spice but flavor! This one was great to add to beans and even inside a quesadilla. It made every cheesy quesadilla amazing with just one sprinkle of this blend. You have smoked salts and pepper, to cumin to give it that recognizable Tex-Mex kick.
  • CITRUS PEPPER: I have a lemon pepper blend I use and it’s also made with organic herbs and spices. FreshJax, laughed at my lemon pepper blend! This bottle is a citrus bonanza when it comes to flavor. You have a blend here of lemon, orange, lime with a zest you get from white peppercorns. They also use a pepper medley blend, which means you get the red and even the green that tend to be milder in flavor. A great combination and perfect for vegetables and I made a Citrus Pepper compound butter for salmon that was grilled on planks and oh my, just delicious!
  • FRESH BAY: There is a reason the other is called “Old” Bay. This mix revamps the old by using organic mace, cardamon, mustard seeds to your familiar celery seed and bay leaves. I found even cinnamon in this blend but I could not taste it. Like not one ingredient fought with each other, so it’s a peaceful bay ūüôā that will play well with shrimps to even chicken.
  • PEPPERED HABANERO: I was afraid this one would just mimic the Smokey Southwest but thankfully this one was totally different. You get heat and I find habanero peppers not only provide heat but more flavor than a jalapeno. I don’t find the pepper to be crazy hot. This blend is peppery and you get a zing but again FreshJax delivers taste. They also blended in Bird’s Eye Chili, which is an Asian variety. I love that this one plays well with braised beef because you don’t have to always taco everything! When I braised the beef, it was ready in 1 hour and the tortillas were on the side to help scoop up the peppery sauce this blend created!

 

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Final Verdict:

I recall now what ease it is to pick-up a bottle and go! I kind of forgot that when I am so use to getting out the items I need to grind peppercorns, seeds, and pods, to then mixing in dry herbs, spices and salts. FreshJax, made this a positive experience just from one simple bottle with no clean-up needed. Easy and I was not cheating the dishes I made either. Flavor was present and I still had to salt some a little bit because these seasonings add taste, not just pickle the meats and vegetables you add them to. The herbs and spices are fresh and you not only see them on the meats you rubbed them on, marinated with but even the vegetables I used the spices on were well received.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from FreshJax. 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.

HouseParty: Kikkoman Grilling House Party #Review #KikkomanParty #Sponsored

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We have been a Kikkoman family for several generations now. No other soy sauce has ever come through the door and my father always treated the brand like the one and only when it came to his soy sauce selections. From original to low sodium versions (red top or green top), the soy sauce sat by on the table with the everyday condiments. Kikkoman over the years has expanded their brand and products greatly. I recently found a Kung Pao recipe and needed Chinese Rice Wine……Kikkoman again was there for me.

Hosting a party for brand you are already familiar with, enjoy and trust is super simple. I already know where to hunt for what items and my only con is that all stores carry a Kikkoman product but not all carry a decent selection of the items they make. I even resorted to Amazon when I could not find what I wanted and knew Kikkoman made it. Heck, I have the bottle with 1/4 left of Ponzu sauce and I knew there was a lime version because I had the bottle in the fridge. Then I found out they also make a chili version, so the hunt begins again.

My Kikkoman Houseparty kit was phenomenal:

  • 11 Kikkoman Shirts with the Kikkoman logo
  • 11 Free Item Coupons
  • 11 Kikkoman Ready, Set, Grill! Booklets
  • 11 Washoku (Issue #13) Culinary Insiders Booklets
  • Receipe cards
  • 1 Set of Kikkoman branded Tongs
  • 1 Kikkoman branded Shopping Bag
  • An AMEX gift card to help with costs associated (i.e. supplies) with the Party

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I was super excited when I saw the shirts! Yeah, I have this thing about brand logo shirts and sort of unintentionally collect them. Due to Kikkoman being so generous with the party pack and including a gift card, this means I can make this party rock. I even bought shrimps to make a shrimp lo-mein. I went with the easy route of making beef short ribs and chicken sesame thighs. When choosing your short ribs, just make sure they have a decent thickness, as you will be grilling them and you also want your guests to get a good amount of meat from each rib. I was able to find beautiful ones at Sprout’s Farmers Market, which also carries the Teriyaki Takumi line of Kikkoman products. Chicken thighs remain juicy and because again we are grilling, I opted for skin on and they are usually priced economically. The shrimps were on sale the week of my party and because I was making the lo-mein that same day, I went with a mini cooking class on how to make the most from everything and even used celery leaves versus stalks for my entree.

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We started the night before by marinating the chicken thighs.  I simply mixed the sauces from Ponzu Lime to Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce and Soy Sauce.  I also added a few dashes of a Schezwan spice mix and big dollop of sriracha paste.  You simply mix the ingredients to taste and then add the meat of your choice.  Allow the meat to marinate over night and this means no prepping the following night.  You simple just grill the thighs until fully cooked and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds while they rest.  The sugars from the sauces allow the seeds to stay in place.

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Then came the Lo-mein.  I first cleaned the shrimps and then made a quick marinade.  I made a medley of vegetables from green and red bell peppers, onions, some chopped fresh ginger and garlic.  The marinade was a dollop of Teriyaki Takumi, Garlic & Green Onion, some fresh onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  I found some Schezwan whole peppercorns and was able to add a small dash to the mix too.  You start by heating up your wok and cooking the fragrant (harder) vegetables.  I like a crunch still left, so I do not allow them to fully soften.  I then add the shrimps and celery leaves, then the lo-mein noodles.  Quickly toss and done!

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The beef short ribs were a cinch to make to.  The night before I marinated them in the Roasted Garlic Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce and that was all.  Next day, simple grill and you want you can glaze them with the sauce again but we opted not to, as the Kikkoman flavor was perfect with just the marinade.

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You have simply meals full of flavor and that equals enjoyment! ¬†Thank you Kikkoman and HouseParty for another super event. ¬†Don’t forget to pick-up some pot stickers!

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Get your Kikkoman Party on started at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from . 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.

 

Top Mates Aussie Finishing Sauces

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We do a fair amount of grilling around here, especially since the weather tends to lend it self to extended outdoor times. And while our usual standby’s are always top-notch, one never wants to end up in a rut. When I got a chance to try Top Mates’ Aussie Finishing Sauces, I said you betcha!

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A finishing sauce is a thing that can make a mediocre cut of meat into a masterpiece. Different from a marinade or grilling sauce, it’s best to use them right at the end of cooking to not burn them, and be a “top-note” flavor that compliments the dish as opposed to really permeating it. The good ones are like magic, and Top Mates makes some of the best I’ve ever tried. We got to try our choice of two flavors, and I chose Caramelized Garlic and Onion and Shiraz. And the are both 100% awesome. The Caramelized Garlic flavor right away knocks down your expectations by being at once herby, tangy, and rich. Want simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredients? How about this: Sugar, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Onion, Water, Olive Oil, Sundried Tomatoes, Canola Oil, Lemon Peel, Pectin, Spices, Salt, Citric Acid.That’s it. No science experiments, just real stuff, real food, real good. We used it to top a freshly grilled tri-tip roast, by brushing it on the top and closing the lid for about 5 minutes on a Weber Kettle. After that, we let it rest for another 7 minutes and sliced to serve with a little more sauce on top, and the compliments we got we stellar. The Onion and Shiraz¬† (Ingredient list: Red Onion, Sugar, Onion, Shiraz Wine, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Port Wine, Pectin, Green Peppercorns, Mushrooms, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt, Spices. So simple!!) went on top of a grilled leg of lamb in place of our usual pomegranate reduction. With just the right amount of sweet with a rich, bold onion finish, this made our usual lamb a mouth-watering masterpiece. I can’t wait to mix it up and try these sauces on other foods. I’ve been told they pair well with cheeses on an appetizer platter, but so far, as a finishing sauce, we haven’t messed with perfection. I want to try every flavor!

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Made from top-quality ingredients and easily paired with a variety of dishes, a little of these sauces go a very long way, because they are just packed chock-a-block full of flavor! Available directly from Top Mates shipped for free or even on Amazon (Free shipping for a limited time!), and only $11.99 per 10.2 ounce jar, I can see myself picking up the entire line and taking all our usual dishes from familiar to “Yowza!”. Top Mates even has a special running where you can mix and match two jars of their amazing finishing sauces, shipped to your door, for only $19.99. There’s literally no excuse to not give them a try. And Top Mates believes in their product so much, they offer a 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee. Not to worry, I’m satisfied!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Top Mates. 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.

X-Chef 100% Silicone Basting Brushes, 4-Pack

There are some kitchen tools you can never have enough of. Spatulas. Spoons. Bowls. And basting brushes. When I got offered the opportunity to test out a four pack of 100% food-grade silicone basting brushes from X-Chef, you better believe I said yes with a quickness! And am I ever so glad I did.

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You see, despite the advertisements to the contrary, silicone does¬†hold scents and can transfer them between dishes. And up until recently, I’d been keeping my one smaller silicone brush especially for sweet and neutral dishes, or for egg washes, and a separate one for my savory dishes in a separate drawer so they never got confused. Now, thanks to X-Chef, my brushes can all go in the same drawer because they came in four bright colors to easily tell one from another. The clear lucite handles means I can even label them with a Sharpie if I so desire. The handles are long and sturdy, and the heads can slip right off for easy washing. And being that the silicone brushes are dishwasher safe, I can just toss them right in after use. They’re also temperature safe for foods up to 500¬į, so basting right out the over or right off the grill is no problem. What I especially liked was that the silicone on these brushes was softer than my other brushes, which means I no longer had to brush very slowly or just dab, because the silicone bristles won’t whip or fling marinades or sauces all over the counter, stovetop or oven door.

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As if all that wasn’t enough, X-Chef guarantees their silicone brushes with a 1-year, “No-Hassle” money back guarantee. It’s not just convenient, it’s essential to have multiples of some tools in your kitchen. A silicone basting brush in and of itself is very essential, but having a few on hand at all times will make a day’s worth of cooking and baking a little less of a mess and hassle. At $8.99 shipped from Amazon, I don’t see any reason for your kitchen to be without them!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from X-Chef.  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.

 

Chefsperience 56-Blade Meat Tenderizer

 

Every now and again, despite my best efforts, I end up with a cut of meat that’s tough. Chewy. No so “choice”, even if the label says otherwise. And when that happens, I used to wish I had a meat tenderizer. I know, I know…how could I not, right? Thankfully, the folks at¬†Chefsperience went and remedied that for me by offering up their 56-Blade Tenderizer. And I’m super glad they did.

See, what can make meat tough is connective tissues. The stuff that hold the muscles together. Everything from age to environment to feed affects these tissues in animals. And you usually have a choice: Extended cooking times to break down these tissues, or take the shortcut and use a product like the Chefsperience 56-blade Meat Tenderizer. Since Chefsperience send it, I’ve chosen the latter option. And it’s no shortcut. I punches through even frozen meats with ease, though particularly dense meats have had the blades stick in a bit. The blades are made from stainless steel, so rusting shouldn’t ever be an issue. So far, all the times I’ve used mine and let it air dry after, not a spot of rust. And beyond making meats more tender, beyond the quicker cooking times, you can now marinade your foods and get deep penetration of flavors, instead of things having a tasty crust on the outside and being bland on the inside. The tenderizer has a locking ring on it to keep hands and fingers safe from accidental deployment of the blades, and a clear acrylic storage cap as well.

I think this is a product that should really be a staple in every kitchen. And while i think I’m still partial to the longer rectangle shape of traditional meat tenderizers, the Chefsperience 56-Blade Meat Tenderizer is round and perfect for irregularly shaped cuts of meat, so it becomes a matter of personal preference. At around $15 shipped, it’s on par price wise with other, similar products, so I think it’s worth a try!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Chefsperience.  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.

 

Cornucopia Brands: Pack of 2 Clear Glass Bottles, with Sprayers and Labels #Review #CBClearGlassBottles

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I have always made my own mixtures when it comes to cleaning products, to stain removers, and even weed killers. The one thing that always fails me is not the mixes I create, but the bottles themselves. I have had bottles that constantly drip because the sprayers are cheap. They drip even when not in use to the point they empty and have even damaged a shelf in the garage. ¬†This not only wastes product but also creates another mess I need to clean up. My last bottle had a sprayer that was so cheaply made, that if you filled the bottle to it’s highest level, the sprayer would pop off because the weight was too much. Infuriating!! I love also when companies label them “pro” as in professional and heavy-duty when they could not even spray simple water out successfully. ¬†Most even clog or half-spray after a few uses.

In comes CB (Cornucopia Brands) with a duo pack of crystal clear glass bottles. They also include labels and each bottle comes with a sprayer advertised as heavy duty and with a stream or spray pattern option when used.

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Retail Price Point: $13.89 for two bottles, two sprayers, plus labels.  Free shipping with Prime membership via Amazon.

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Verdict:

I was already familiar with Cornucopia’s Brand of the cobalt blue bottle with sprayer, and I rank it as my number one favorite sprayer from anything I have tried in the past. I have purchased spray bottles from Industrial stores to hardware stores and none are as good in performance and long lasting as the Cornucopia Brands bottles. The clear glass makes it easy to identify what the bottles contain and if you have doubts, the easy stick on labels not only give the bottles an adorable look, but you can write what is in the sprayers, plus the label is large enough if you want to include contents of the mixes you made. These are great for anyone from people who just buy refill solutions, make their own, or just want to transfer contents from ready-made mixtures, but desire a better sprayer. I am 100% satisfied with everything from looks, spray and how they continuously spray without a hiccup. I used one bottle to make my own salt water spray to use for my hair and the other I mixed a weed killer solution of white vinegar, salt and a few squirts of soap. The bottles are clear, so it was easy to know when the mixture of salt had fully dissolved and I could begin spraying. I save money and at the same time get rid of those pesky weeds without harming the surroundings for the animals that visit us like the squirrels, raccoon and birds. It’s a win-win product in my book!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Cornucopia Brands.  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.

Hooley Dooley Extendable Roasting Forks for Grilling

Now that summer is coming to a close as a season, everyone is looking to try to squeeze the most out of the season’s waning days and create lasting memories. Bonfires on the beach and barbeques in the backyard are the orders of the day. And a staple of all those things are hot dogs, sausages, roasted marshmallows, peppers, onions, squash, and corn on the cob. And one thing all those delicious goodies has in common with each other are the roasting sticks you’d use to cook, grill and toast them. And Hooley Dooley sent me a set of skewers to end all skewers, all full of chrome and hardwood handles and a nifty little carry pouch to go from the BBQ to the beach and make you the belle of the ball.

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Skewers and kabobs are regular fare in this house, regardless of the season. In California, the weather is usually fair enough that we can have a BBQ all year round, so these Hooley Dooley Roasting Sticks will see a lot of action. From kielbasa, sausages, hot dogs, or just hunks of seasoned meats, these forks are by far the most useful BBQ skewer we own. See, our old stainless steel skewers were durable, and usable, but being as they were skewers and not forks (an important distinction), food tended to turn, slide and sometimes even fall off. They got very hot, and were awkward to hold being steel from top to bottom. But Hooley Dooley put a nice, big hardwood handle that’s easy to grab and easy to hold. But that’s not even the best part. Our old skewers were about 16″ which put your hand in very close the fire. Hooley Dooley solved that issue with an extendable fork that starts at 20″ and extends to a whopping 28″. So whether it’s a bonfire or a Weber kettle, your food gets cooked and your hand doesn’t. And the build quality will ensure these will last for many, many years.

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But there’s one issue I had, and it makes me feel like a broken record, because at $37.50 for four BBQ forks, it’s very, very expensive. I think they’re well made, and useful, and would make a great gift, but at almost $40 for the set it’s, for me, a deal breaker. I don’t see the value there, especially when similar sets run half that price. Hooley Dooley says that a portion of the proceeds goes to “Relay for Life Fundraising”, but they don’t say how much of any other documentation to support it. There’s also a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but again doesn’t say for how long or if return shipping is your responsibility. There’s a lot to like about Hooley Dooley’s Roasting Forks, but not enough to overlook the super high price. I like them, but I don’t know if I “$40” like them.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Hooley Dooley.  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.

Nubee: Temperature Gun Non-contact Infrared Thermometer #Review #IRThermometer

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A Infrared thermometer is one of those items that you use more than you plan to. I have purchased several and have reviewed a few brands in the past, and I don’t let go of any of them. I make sure to store some in the garage, kitchen to the craft room.

Nubee is the non-contact thermometer business. This is what they do and they do it well. The company offers several models with different options to serve anyone’s needs. I was sent Model No.¬†Nub8500H, Item #700819593013 to review by the company.

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The Nubee Temperature gun Thermometer offers:

  • Non-contact reading
  • Saves Data collected
  • The Thermometer can take the highest temperature of the area tested and also save the degrees at the bottom of the screen, so it’s easy to access.
  • Reads degrees in Celsius or Fahrenheit
  • Takes Accurate temperature readings with this laser-sighted infrared gun-style thermometer
  • There’s also a switch to turn on or off the laser sight and adjust the emissivity on different objects

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Emissivity (as listed on-line) is a measure of the efficiency in which a surface emits thermal energy. It is defined as the fraction of energy being emitted relative to that emitted by a thermally black surface (a black body). A black body is a material that is a perfect emitter of heat energy and has an emissivity value of 1.

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Retail Price Point: $19.88 via Amazon and qualifies for Amazon Prime free shipping. ¬†The product requires a 9-volt battery and it’s also included.

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Verdict:
What I love about non-contact thermometers is their versatility. If I am baking bread, I can easily read the temperature in the oven at 110 degrees, which is the proofing setting I need and my new oven will unfortunately not read temperatures this low. When Grilling, you can read the temperature of the grates so you can guarantee you are at the correct setting for the best cooking. When it comes to crafting, I can test the surface temperature before painting. This comes in handy when you are painting and staining wrought-iron lawn furniture, as objects get hot in the sun and some of the paints I use will only level out and cure properly between certain degrees. I have also been able to use them when I wanted to upgrade the insulation in both the ceiling and walls in the home. I had cold and hot spots that affected the home’s overall temperature, making our air conditioner click on because the thermometer in the hall was reading hot when it was really not hot in the rest of the home. I was able to use the thermometer and it would accurately tell where I was losing energy. An easy fix using spray insulation and where we could, we applied the blanket/roll-out type. An easy DIY fix! The Nubee thermometer did not fail ever. I was able to get accurate readings and pass objects and it would accurately re-adjust the reading every time. Completing tasks are easy when the tools work as they should and Nubee is that tool that will continue to perform as expected every single time you use it!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Nubee.  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.

 

Hudson Essentials Premium XL Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber

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Nothing beats cooking with cast iron. The even heating, the high temps, the bullet-proof nature of the iron, the flavors the sear produces…I could go on and on. If I were forced to pick something about it that I didn’t absolutely love, it’s cleaning it up. Nothing beats a burger from a cast iron grill pan. Until it dribbles fat and cheese that sizzles to a faretheewell and good luck getting off without a blowtorch or some horribly caustic acid. And that’s where Hudson’s Premium Xl Cast Iron Cleaning Chainmail Scrubber comes in.

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See, one thing about cast iron is it needs to be seasoned to be “bulletproof” cookware. Seasoning involves coating the pan, pot or dutch oven with a high-heat fat (I use lard), and baking in an over for about an hour. After that, the use of soaps or acids to clean tend to strip away the seasoning and flavors that build up on good cast iron. So, in order to clean it off completely you’re constantly starting over from square one. Unless you a have a good, large bit of chainmail around to scrub with. Think of it as a big, flat stainless steel sponge that never goes bad, falls apart, or gets covered in germs. And because it’s 316L food-grade stainless steel, it won’t rust. At 9″x 9″, it’s 40% larger than the standard 7″ x 7″, and covers the cook base of most standard 10″ pans perfectly.

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The things I did not love about this was that I tend to use a grill pan more often than my cast iron skillet. A grill pan has a raised grill, with narrow channels to carry away fats as you cook. The narrow channels are just narrow enough that the small stainless rings that make up the chain mail don’t quite fit in the channels, which means the pan I’d need it for the most doesn’t play nice with the Hudson Premium XL Chainmail Scrubber. Bummer. That’s a problem exclusive to folks like me who have a Lodge brand 12″ grill pan. All my other cast iron pieces clean up like a dream. The other is the size. It’s not a true 9″ x 9″, more like 8″ x 7″ at best. And since I don’t have a lot of experience with chain mail cleaners, I don’t know how accurate their explanation for the short measurement is. The upside is, it’s a one time cost, so no chemicals to buy, no fancy cleaners, no sponges or brushes. And Hudson guarantees it for the life of the product.¬†So you need to decide if this is for you, but I’m a fan.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Hudson Essentials.  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.

 

Gourmet Living: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Review #IGPInitialPromo #GourmetLivingBalsamic

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Some things are beautiful and I always admire a gorgeous looking bottle. Presentation matters and especially when purchasing a product that retails higher than it’s counterparts but that is if you look at vinegar as plainly an acid, disregarding origin, grape used in production, to aging. This can get blurred and sometimes on purpose by the manufacture. We all want what we pay for and that is something I was critical of when I had the opportunity to review Gourmet Living’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. I love Balsamic and use it almost on a daily basis in it’s “raw form” or to enhance the taste of sauces to meats. Nothing tastes like it and it may look like wine but a good tasting Balsamic will make you forget about wine all together.

When I received the parcel from Gourmet Living, the box was beautiful with gold colored foil highlights and it almost felt like suede when touched. I open it and I see a beautiful red wax seal on top, and the bottle is as noteworthy as the rest. Every detail has been thought of but in the end I seek what is inside the bottle. Does the vinegar have a pleasant taste and will it play well with the others, meaning I don’t want an acidic pungent base that overpowers all the other flavor notes and even the smallest drop makes me just taste vinegar.

I figured the best test was trying it as-is and making a simple at home Vinaigrette. I never buy dressings and just make my own because as much as I want the dressing in the bottle to last, everything a manufacture adds to make it long living also makes it poor tasting. I save money and fridge space, plus I can adjust my dressings by the meals I am serving that day. A Vinaigrette made at home will always be friendly to a waist-line too.

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Retail Price Point: $36.95 for a 8.5 fluid ounce bottle via Amazon

You will look and notice years and size of bottles fluctuate drastically when it comes to Balsamic. I thought the more the ounces combined with greater years, makes the price tag higher, but that did not remain factual. Some expensive brands had poor ratings along with the low quantity of ounces they gave. I get it that aging takes storing, time and care. This is not even what it takes to make the initial fluid in the first place. Boiling a product down reduces the quantity and intensifies the flavor but it depends on the cook and the “starter product”, if even the final product will be worthy. Balsamic may look thick and smell sometimes strong but it delivers sweet notes when done well. As it ages the flavor matures and the wood that is used for storage will also affect the vinegar. The Balsamic from Gourmet Living also has an IGP certification that has certain criteria that must be met for a bottle to pass and reach the seal. Think of it like a diamond and how certain outside agencies will only certify if certain standards are met, down to origin of the stone. The vinegar from Gourmet Living is from Modena and had the proper labeling I have seen with products of this kind, so they passed the visual test and now to how it tastes.

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Taste Test:
I made my dressing and I always taste before adding salt. The Balsamic had a pleasant sweet taste without bitter after notes. You could pick up what the wood had added a distinct flavor to the vinegar, and it just intensifies that aroma you get when using the product and tasting it. I actually found this vinegar very pleasant and for the price, it was a fair price point. I have only been able to get a better price point at Whole Foods on 2 bottles that were being cleared out and that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. A bottle of Balsamic lasts because you use a small amount. Think of when you use demi glace and how a little goes a long way. The same applies here and that makes it a worthy purchase in my book!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Gourmet Living.  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.

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