An evening in photos, The Amsterdam, Rhinebeck, NY

I visit a friend in the Rhinebeck/Dutchess County area at least once a year.

Previously, we would spoil ourselves and have a nice meal at Another Fork In The Road.  That restaurant closed unexpectedly during the spring.  However, when one door closes, another one opens.  We had a wonderful meal at The Amsterdam last weekend, when I was in Rhinebeck.

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Housemade rosemary chips.  Very crispy and perfectly addicitive.

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Mushrooms with a soft egg.

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Arctic char with fingerling potatoes, grilled bok choy, grilled scallions and green goddess dressing.  In my previous post, I mentioned grilled scallions.  This is what I was referencing.  I could find no faults with this dish.

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Someone at my table ordered from the specials menu, short ribs braised in red wine.  Overall flavor was well received, but there was a comment that the ribs were not as fork tender as it should have been.

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Honey cakes for dessert.  They were delicious and not a monstrous size.

The photos aren’t even everything that was ordered for our table.  We ended up with some leftovers, which I in turn used to make a posh breakfast: toast with grilled green beans, mushrooms, and mixed nuts.  I am determined to make something like this again in my home kitchen on a weekend where I am feeling decadent.

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If you ever find yourself in Rhinebeck, NY, you should swing by The Amsterdam for a bite or two or ten.  (^_~)

https://www.lovetheamsterdam.com/

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Cherry Bombe, The Cookbook, a cookbook review

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When I first saw the cover for Cherry Bombe, The Cookbook, my first thought was “is this just a collection of cherry recipes?”  A quick look proved me very, very wrong.

From its website:

Cherry Bombe celebrates women and food through our biannual magazine, the weekly Radio Cherry Bombe podcast, and our Jubilee conference. What rocks our world? Sharing the stories of everyone from industry icons to notable newcomers, encouraging creativity in the kitchen, and bringing the Bombesquad together whenever possible. Our first cookbook, featuring 100+ recipes from 100+ of the most inspiring women around, will be out this October from Clarkson Potter.

Oh.

And per the book’s index, there only appears to be six recipes with cherries in them.  (Just in case you were dying to know.)

So then… what is in this book?  That’s the real question, isn’t it?  I’m happy to report that I literally got the last review copy available from Blogging for Books to satisfy my curiosity and yours.

The thing about this book:  It’s pretty diverse in terms of recipe selection and sophistication.  It makes me really look forward to cooking from this book.  (No recipe testing yet at this time.  My attention is still held by Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker book.)

The chapters are standard: Mains, Soups and Salads, Sides, Apps/Snacks/Sips, Cookies/Cakes/Pies, and Sweet Treats.

Here’s a sampling of what I’m looking forward to and why:

  • Pink Spaghetti with Beet and Ricotta Sauce – I like beets but rarely cook them.  Plus, this recipes has only 10 ingredients, two of which are salt and boiling water.  It seems very approachable.
  • Filipino Vinegar Chicken – What Filipino food I have, has always been pretty delicious.  I would love to become more familiar with it.
  • Shroomy Cheeseburgers with Maple Thyme Caramelized Onions – Just the title alone sounds amazing.  While more complicated than the burgers I normally make, nothing immediately looks scary or impossible.
  • Chicken Meatballs in Roasted Lemon Broth – The broth is nothing that readily makes sense to me.  Broth ingredients are lemons, olive oil, shallot, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, chicken broth, dried mint, potatoes, cipollini onions, and spinach.  I can’t imagine how this tastes, so I feel the need to make it.
  • Roasted Asparagus and Scallions with Burrata – I recently had dinner at The Amsterdam in Rhinebeck, NY.  My plate was fish with grilled bok choy, grilled scallions, and green goddess dressing.  I was surprised at how mild the grilled scallions were.  I imagine that roasted scallions will the same, and I bet it’s delicious with asparagus and burrata.
  • Best Friend Cheesecake – Overall, it’s a straightforward and basic cheesecake recipe.  That’s not a bad thing.  It’s also the submission from Christina Ha, and I loved her when she was on Masterchef.
  • Dad’s Perfect Sweet Potato Pie – Submitted by Joy Wilson, aka Joy the Baker.  Also, sweet potato pie will always be my favorite pie ever.
  • Irish Soda Bread – Interestingly, this falls into the Sweet Treats chapter.  I think it appeals to me just because this recipe is baked in a 9×5 pan.  I like baking in my loaf pan.  I bake a lot of recipes in it that were meant to be muffins and such.

#cherrybombe #cookbook

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Other comments about the physical book, and not the content:  I suspect that the cover will be prone to wear and tear.  I haven’t even owned this book for 24 hours yet, but the corners of the front look like they’ve seen better days.

Every recipe has an accompanying photo.  The general style of the photography reminds me of current day Bon Appetite – a bit more HDR looking, a bit too brightly lit.  It’s not my favorite style, but I know it appeals to others.

As I ponder which cookbooks to cull from my collection, I feel confident that Cherry Bombe will stay in it.  There’s just too many recipes I legitimately want to try.

Related Links:

https://cherrybombe.com/

https://cherrybombe.com/cherry-bombe-the-cookbook/

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.  

Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, a cookbook review

My most recent cookbook acquisition is Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, which I was pretty dang excited about.  I appreciate a good slow cooker recipe, but the only other slow cooker cookbook I have is America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution.  I have used the ATK book, but probably not as often as I should.  Amazingly, I feel like the recipes in each book are different enough that the books complement each other in my cookbook collection.

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The good things about Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker:

  • Good variety of recipes.  The book is divided into these sections: meat, poultry, seafood, meatless, side dishes, breakfast, sweets, and stocks/sauces.  There is a decent global feel to each of the sections.  For example, chicken section includes the following recipes: chicken tagine, Tex-Mex chicken and beans, chicken mole, Hainanese Chicken, and Ethiopian Chicken Stew.
  • Every recipe comes with a photograph.
  • Most of the recipes are not intimidating.

The (possibly) bad things about this book:

  • Some of the recipes require stove top cooking as part of the prep work.  In the boullabaisse recipe, you have to soften in a skillet the vegetables, aromatics, and then cook down diced tomatoes.  After all that, then you get to load up the slow cooker.
  • This might just be me being greedy, but I’d prefer if most of the sections had a few more recipes.  The meat section has a little over 30 recipes.  The poultry section has 18 recipes, 4 of them are duck recipes, and only 1 recipe is turkey related.  The breakfast section only has about 9 recipes.

Whee! What to make first? #slowcooker #marthastewart #newcookbook

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Honestly though, I have high hopes for this book.  I made the chicken korma recipe this past weekend.  Overall, I was very pleased with the results.  It was a little unusual for a chicken korma recipe since it involves cashew butter and almond butter (it does mention that you can blend up nuts instead of getting the nut butters), but I think it does add to the texture of the korma sauce.

My attempt at chicken korma #marthastewart #slowcooker

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Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.  

Reference Link:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/215168/martha-stewarts-slow-cooker-by-from-the-kitchens-of-martha-stewart/

A dinner worthy of waxing poetry, an Urban Hearth review

Well, no.  I’m not actually going to write poetry about dinner.  But I am happy to report that I finally got to eat dinner at Urban Hearth, a cute little restaurant found in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  *does a happy dance*

I was there back in the winter for the first time to try out their breakfast/lunch menu, and really enjoyed it.  I meant to attend dinner there for my birthday some time ago, but I had trouble planning it when one of my friends headed off to Europe for vacation.  Instead of another food-truck-adventure-staycation this summer, my sister suggested that we meet up and have dinner at Urban Hearth.

While Urban Hearth is a cafe with an a la carte menu during the day, it is a fixed price multi-course restaurant when the evening rolls around.  You have your choice between 3 course and 5 courses, and you can add a wine option as well.  We just did the 3 courses without wine.

Supper club dinner at #urbanhearth

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Our meal started with an aperol spritz aperitif.  Their version of aperol spritz had cava instead of prosecco.  I don’t drink much at all, but I did like this cocktail.

Then, the starters came out.  Technically, the starters are complimentary bites not listed on the menu.  Both my sister and I should have gotten the same starter, but my sister has trouble digesting corn products, so she got an heirloom tomato and mozzarella plate.  My plate was a tostada, it was really good and sign of the food to come:  elegant and seasonal, but familiar.  It had sweet corn kernels, avocado cream, zucchini, tomatoes, cheese, bell peppers, a natursium leaf, and probably cilantro too but very little.  (For which I am grateful for as I am anti-cilantro.  Sorry, cilantro fans.)

Aperol and cava aperitif #aperitif #aperolspritz

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Tostada for a starter #urbanhearth #tostada

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My sister's starter #urbanhearth #heirloomtomatoes

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For our official first course, I went with the peach panzanella with seared halloumi, fresh greens, and olive emulsion.  It wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  It was well styled, and the halloumi was easily my favorite part of the plate, but the peaches weren’t as sweet as I had hoped, and the olive emulsion tasted like a puckerish vinaigrette.  The bread part of the panzanella was really torn pieces from a nice loaf of bread that still tasted fresh.  I guess I’m more accustomed to toasting cubes of old bread when I make panzanella.

My sister had the seared pork belly with English peas, kimchi, and radish.  It was really gorgeous, and the pork had an amazingly dark sear that was probably just seconds away from being burnt.  If I hadn’t chosen a meat heavy dish for my main course, I would have picked the pork belly for myself too.  I will say that I don’t know where the kimchi was.  Looking at the photo now, it looks like the plate had fresh and pickled radish.  I guess the pickled radish was the kimchi.

Peach panzanella with halloumi #peaches #halloumi

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Roasted pork belly with pea puree #porkbelly

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When the first course was done, my sister and I were just chatting and sipping on our aperol spritz (we’re very slow drinkers when it comes to booze as our entire family just really isn’t inclined to any variety of alcohol in general).  And then, the kitchen whipped out some steaming shishito peppers that had been seared in generous amounts of oil and topped with salt.  Normally, I’m not wowed by shishito peppers (meanwhile my friends love them lots) but these were pretty good.

By the time the entree dish came to the table, I was already nearly full of good food, but I was determined to see the evening to the end.  My second course was the beef tenderloin with chanterelles, kohlrabi dumplings, creme fraiche, greens, and blueberry sauce.  I wouldn’t have thought to pair beef with creme fraiche and blueberries, but it doesn’t seem strange to me at all.  I just never thought to do it.  It was fabulous.  And the kohrabi dumplings?  I loved that too.  The dumplings were basically like a potato gnudi except made from kohlrabi.  I’m very tempted to try making it at home.

Meanwhile, my sister had the pan seared striped bass with grilled shrimp.  She was also supposed to get spoonbread, but since that had cornmeal in it, the kitchen replaced it with kohlrabi dumplings (she also loved them).  Not a bad word was had about the dish.

Pan seared striped bass and grilled shrimp. @hongkongeatz all your favorites! #fish #shrimp

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After the entree, we got our last palate cleanser:  a little digestive/sugar cookie with elderberry jam fruit.  This delicious.  The cookie portion was a little sweeter than I personally like but not disgustingly so.  I guess the only bad thing about this palate cleanser was that I couldn’t really savor it.  It was the size of a two bite cookie, but you really had to one-shot it because the cookie crumbled the minute you bit into it.  (Not that I speaking from experience or anything…)

But the dessert plate?  That was something I got to savor as slowly as I wanted to.

Starting with my sister’s dessert, she got the chocolate bark.  Visually, it was beautiful.  I didn’t get to taste the chocolate, but I’m sure that it was good.  I did get to taste the olive oil sorbetto, on the other hand.  It was a little jarring at how savory it was, especially after the digestive cookie.  It was made with a good quality oil, but extra virgin olive oil is a very distinctive flavor.  My sister was confused when she first ate it because she forgot that it was listed as olive oil on the menu.

Chocolate bark and olive oil sorbetto #chocolate #oliveoil

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My sister may have picked the better first course, but we agreed that my dessert was the better of the two, which was the huckleberry pie with ginger whipped cream and basil oil garnish.

Huckleberry pie with ginger cream and basil oil garnish #awesomedesserts

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It was less elegant looking dessert, but the huckleberry mini pie tasted amazing with the ginger hints in the cream.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about the basil oil but I eventually found myself wanting a bit more of it on my plate.  Right now, I want to try infusing some ginger into some heavy cream (oooh, and I can too, I have some heavy cream in the fridge this very moment), just so that I can whip it up and served it on a pie.  Or a galette.  Whatever you want to call it, I don’t care.  (puts ginger whipped cream on the to-do-list)

If you are in the area, or ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend stopping by Urban Hearth.  Whether you just want to stop for coffee and breakfast, or whether you’ve got plans to spoil yourself for dinner.  My sister and I are already planning our next visit.

https://www.urbanhearth.net/

Mighty Salads, a cookbook review

Wow, this post is a long time coming.  And by a long time, I mean an entire month because of shipping issues that were out of my control.  My Instagram account gets more regular activity than my blog (in case someone is interested), but that’s because it’s easier to post a photo than to collect my thoughts and try my best to jot it down in a manner that doesn’t make me sound like a rambling idiot. (Note, I am not always sure I succeed.)

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But about two weeks ago, my review copy of Food52’s Mighty Salads finally arrived at my doorstep.  People who know me best know that I don’t make salads much at home.  When I do make them, they are very simplistic.  My usual salad is arugula, tomatoes, and salad dressing.  This is not a joke.  My cooking in the last year has become about simple and functional recipes since I’m pretty much cooking every meal in advance.  In the last two months though, I’ve started to play the macro game.  (I’m trying to count my protein, carb, and fat amounts.)  And in playing the macro game, I’ve found that I’m terrible at it and often need inspiration.

I almost didn’t get Mighty Salads, but I found that other reviewer comments made me curious.  And I don’t refer to the positive reviews.  I wanted to know if I agreed or disagreed with the few negative reviews I found.  

The summation of the negative reviews I found is basically that the recipes were too complicated or used less common ingredients.  Really?

Here’s a sampling of recipes:

  • Grilled Peach and Apricot Salad with Kale and Prosciutto
  • Petits Pois a la Francaise Redux
  • Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Tomato-Cucumber Salad
  • Slow Roasted Duck and Apple Salad

Admittedly, I’m picking on the recipes that might sound less accessible based on title.  But here’s the thing: every recipe has a simplified subheading.

Food52 mighty salads

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Grilled Peach and Apricot salad with Kale and Prosciutto is essentially a six ingredient recipe if I don’t count salt, oil, and some bread to serve with.  The subheading is “sturdy greens + cured meat + grilled fruit + crumbly cheese”.  Petits Pois a la Francaise Redux?  It’s “charred greens + charred alliums + bacon + cream dressing”.  But what if you don’t want to pick out your own greens and alliums to brown?  Looking at the ingredients list, we’re talking about bacon, sugar, paprika, romaine lettuce, and green peas for the salad portion.  The accompanying creme fraiche dressing is mayo, creme fraiche OR sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice.  Creme fraiche could be difficult to get a hold of depending on your location, but, in the US, mayo/sour cream/buttermilk/lemons are pretty standard items at your local market.

Meanwhile, the lamb salad is broken down as “kebabs + vegetable chunks + herbs + yogurt dressing.”  And the duck?  “Fall apart tender meat + warm fruit + hearty greens + nuts + vinegar.”

When simplified to its basic building blocks, none of these salads sound that exotic.

What about in practice, how do these recipes turn out?

Well, that’s harder for me to answer.  I did “cook” from the book.  I say cook in quotes because I was strict about keeping to the amounts and ingredients for the Grilled Mushroom and Fig Salad recipe.  Here’s what I actually used:

  • 1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • About half a bag of Trader Joe’s semi-dried green figs
  • About 4 cups of baby arugula
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, amount unknown
  • Possibly two handfuls of regular almonds that I toasted

For the dressing, I actually kept to the recipe except for the minced shallots.  1) I got lazy.  2) I didn’t want onion breath while at work.

The original recipe was meant to serve 4, but my version was good for two lunches.  Overall reaction?  I liked this.  I should not have used Parmesan but I didn’t have time to pick up ricotta salata which was the cheese my heart really wanted to use.  (It was supposed to be Pecorino Romano but that’s not a cheese I use much.)  It was filling and good.  I wish I had marinated the mushrooms for longer than 30 minutes but I was assembling this salad at around 9pm.  And for a 9pm “OH MY GOD I NEED TO ASSEMBLE LUNCH FOR WORK TOMORROW” session, it wasn’t difficult or too time consuming at all.  (To be fair, I made the dressing earlier that day.)  Another plus for me personally?  Portabello mushrooms and cheese are decent sources of protein.

I will say that I have one issue with Mighty Salads.  I found some of the tips to be random.  For example, on the page for Freekeh, Fennel, and Smoked Fish Salad, there’s a “genius tip” regarding crunchy crumbled tempeh.  It give a gives a quick blurb on what tempeh is, and one method of cooking it.  It has absolutely no relation to the recipe on the page.  I’m mystified as to why the tempeh note is on this page.  And then I was mystified as to why there wasn’t at least one recipe that used tempeh, or at least mention in a recipe as a good substitution.

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So is this a perfect book?  No.  But I will get some use out of the recipes this summer.  It also doesn’t hurt that the photos in this cookbook are gorgeous.

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.  

Reference Links:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/536117/food52-mighty-salads-by-editors-of-food52-foreword-by-amanda-hesser-and-merrill-stubbs/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/2114326/editors-of-food52/

 

 

Having a little seltzer fun

I learned at the last Gastropod live event at the Museum of Science that Polar is 1) a Massachusetts company, and 2) releases five limited edition flavors every season.

This led me to go looking for this seasons flavors.

(They also have super limited edition flavors sometimes, ie. the infamous “unicorn kisses” but I’m not that crazy.)

I found the last summer flavor! #polar #limitededition #summer

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I can smell the mango, but I really only taste berries.

I like the watermelon one. Haven't tried the strawberry one yet. #polar

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Watermelon margarita I like.  Strawberry Sunrise… just tastes like some generic fruit to me?

Not sure what i think of this one

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Strong on the pineapple flavor.  I decided in the end that I wasn’t into it.

I've recently turned into a Polar girl #polar #seltzer

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Raspberry Rose just tastes like raspberry to me.  Oh well.

Long story short, I suspect I’m drinking the watermelon one all summer.  (^_^)

Nüssli118° day tote unboxing and review

First of all, what?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re asking yourself right now.

Nüssli118° is a raw foods store in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They sell a variety of snacks, smoothies, and juices.  It’s not fancy shmancy (or is the correct description “celebrity hip”?) like Sakara Life.  Their website isn’t filled with slick sounding product descriptions like Splendid Spoon (which I might try some day because they do make their soups sound very tasty!).

Now, I’m not vegan or a raw foodist (I’m not even vegetarian) in any way, but I do get curious about the raw food culture.   I guess it’s because I do like diversity in my meals, and healthy is always appreciated.

I’ve had a some Nüssli118° products in the past.   There was some sort of ginger round, chocolate pecan squares, and their chocolate cashew smoothie.  All of which were delicious.  So, I’ve been really curious about the Nüssli118° day tote for a few months now.

From their website:

The Nüssli118° Kitchen Share Day Tote is a day’s worth of delicious meals, drinks, and snacks delivered to your home or office once a week.  The products are ready-to-eat right out of the mason jar or to be gently warmed, served, and savored.  Either way, they will nourish, satisfy, and energize you throughout your day.  Each Kitchen Share Day Tote includes 2 drinks, 3 meals, 1 savory, and 2 sweets.  We look at what’s in season, combine fresh, great tasting, high quality ingredients, and create delicious nutrient-dense meals.  They are all organic, plant-based, and ready-to-eat, just enjoy!

Oooooh

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Note, you can save money on the delivery fee by picking up the tote yourself.  The tote I picked up was this:

Week of April 10, 2017  Kitchen Share Day Tote:

Pineapple Turmeric Fresca
Vanilla Chai Smoothie
Chia Pudding Topped with Kiwi, Orange, and Apple
Butternut Squash Soup
Taco Salad
Garlic & Herb Crackers
Super Dark Chocolate Rounds
Lemon Ginger Square

Unboxing

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If you go through my photos, you’ll notice that I didn’t get the taco salad.  That’s because I’m allergic to raw celery and raw carrots.  So, the store provided their mango kale salad as a substitute.

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Overall, I liked this salad.  I just wished that there had been a bit more of it.  Besides kale and mango, there was jicama, lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup and red pepper flakes.  And since I was still hungry, I went ahead and had the soup.  (Afterward, I remembered that each jar in my tote was technically a meal. Oh well.)

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You can have the soup hot or cold.  It was a really nice warm spring day in Boston, so I went for it cold.  I liked this meal too.  The cranberries and parsley helped to jazz up the otherwise plain tasting squash soup.  I might have forgotten that cashews were in the soup and topped it with a tablespoon of hemp seed from my pantry.

Regarding the snacks, this is where Nüssli118° really shines.

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No surprise, the super dark chocolate rounds were my favorite from the tote.  The rosemary crackers were a close second.  The lemon ginger squares were my least favorite only because it’s a little too sweet for my personal preference.  But the texture is great.  It’s got crunch from the nuts but it’s not hard on the teeth.  The brightness of the lemon flavor shines through, but I’m not sure I could taste ginger much.  At the end of the day though, I’m always pro-chocolate.  The rounds are quite dense, but the chocolate flavor satisfies quite nicely.

Finally, I had the chia pudding for breakfast the morning after I picked up the tote.  I was unsure if I was going to like it.  Generally, I stay away from chia seeds because they get stuck in my teeth too easily.  Maybe because I had let the chia pudding sit for so long, I didn’t really have an issue.  It would have been boring if it hadn’t been for the fruit topping – apples, kiwi, and oranges – even though the pudding says it was spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg.  I could tell that the pudding wasn’t just chia, cashews, and water.  However, the spices were really muted.

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As for the drinks?  The cashew vanilla smoothie was good.  Not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly not the worst.  It’s just a basic cashew smoothie.  The tote list says vanilla chai, but the bottle I had was just vanilla.  The ingredients were water, cashews, dates, coconut oil, vanilla, and Himalayan salt.  The pineapple turmeric was probably my least favorite thing in the whole tote, and that’s just personal preference.  I found the turmeric flavor to overpower every other flavor.  The ingredient list is pineapple, water, mango, orange, lemon, maple syrup, turmeric, and cayenne.  I could barely taste the pineapple.  I really couldn’t taste any mango or orange.

So, would I do this again?  Quite possibly.  It’s not cheap.  It’s $65 and then there’s a $10 deposit for the tote and the mason jars.  If you return the tote and mason jars, you can get a $10 credit toward your next purchase.  I like that the packaging is reusable, and am not against the deposit.  Overall, the quality of everything is great.  (And it had better be!  Everything is organic, and some ingredients have been sprouted.)  The experience has definitely given me ideas on things to make at home.  It also makes me want to work on snack recipes.  But chances are pretty high that I’ll probably be lazy and swing by Nüssli118° when I’m hankering for healthy crisps and sweets.  (^_^)

Links:
http://nussli118.com/

Disclaimer – This post was not sponsored in any way.  A family member purchased the tote for me as a gift.  I just wanted to share my excitement.