bourbon barrel aged maple syrup

If there is one thing I didn’t have enough of as a kid it as maple syrup. I honestly can’t ever recall having the real stuff until I was an adult. I certainly never had it at a restaurant. My favorite thing to order on vacation for breakfast was always french toast, so I had a lot of syrup during those trip, but never the legit stuff. Now as an adult I have come to learn that real maple syrup is a magical elixir that is one of the most tasty things ever created on this planet. I love it all, especially the really dark, grade B stuff – now normally referred to as Grade A Dark Amber. So how can you possibly improve on it? Many maple syrup makers are finding a way – aging the syrup in bourbon barrels!

I first saw this concept at Trader Joe’s. And now I am beginning to see it pop up more and more at different stores all over the place. More and more people are starting to age their maple syrup in bourbon barrels. It is definitely is a new trend, I expect see more of.

How Does Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup Taste Different?
This process of aging the syrup in bourbon barrel really enhances the flavor of the maple syrup. It has a richer, more complex, smoky, butterscotch-like flavor. It is all done without adding any additional ingredients to it, just put the syrup in the barrel.

The first one I ever tried was made by Droscha Farms out of Mason, Michigan. I found their syrup at Whole Foods Market. It was the perfect thing to use a gift card I had on. Besides the Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup they also sell a Vanilla Cinnamon Infused Maple Syrup and a Tahitian Vanilla Maple Syrup. You can purchase their product directly from their website.

I found a wonderful video online that goes more into the process of how this syrup is made. The video was made by Bissell Maple Farm. Their family has been doing maple syrup in Ohio since the 1800s.

It’s more than jut putting maple syrup in a barrel. You need the right barrel. Bissell uses white oak barrels that were used as bourbon barrels. Then they chose a specific maple syrup that has the right strength to create that balance of flavor you get from barrels. You don’t want the maple syrup to have too strong or too weak of a maple flavor. For example, the maple syrup I got from Droscha Farms is a medium syrup. Enough maple flavor to play well with the flavor picked up while in the barrels.

I recommend picking up a bottle if you find it one of your local grocery store. Yes it’s going to be more expensive than your normal maple syrup, I would let the kid just go crazy with it at the breakfast table. The higher cost is to be expected as it takes time for the syrup to age. What they say is true – time is money! In this case, spending more of your money will bring a better product to your table.

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Cocoa Metro Chocolate Milk

Ah chocolate milk. Does it get anymore comforting? Even when it’s not great, it’s still good. But when it actually is great, woah. Mind blowing woah! Before I was adult I had my share of chocolate milk, either store brand, Nestle, or whole milk with syrup added to it. While I liked those things, none of ever blowed my mind. Until I was an adult and sought out the best. This past week, I found one of the best – Cocoa Metro Belgian Chocolate Milk from my local Whole Foods Market.

Who is Cocoa Metro?
The company behind this life changing chocolate treat formed out of a love for chocolate. The company founders, Mike and Lizzy are chocolate fanatics. So much so that they planned vacations around promixity to cocao plantations. That is a serious foodie. I have to admit I have planned vacations around food, actually pretty much every vacation I do has something to do with food (ex. trip to California to eat Ojai Pixies off the tree). At the very root of this company is a love for chocolate. Besides the milk, they also offer drinking chocolate, cocoa powder as well as body care product like lip balm and lotion bars.

Why is Their Milk So Good?
Simple. The chocolate. This isn’t like putting syrup in your mouth, this like drinking chocolate. So rich. So chocolaty. Not too sweet at all. Just perfectly good to the last drop (and when you drink this stuff, that last drop comes way too fast). Loved, loved, loved it!

The milk contains cocoa, vanilla, real sugar – not HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), milk of course. In order to keep the cocoa from not settling in a clump at the bottom of the bottle, carob bean gum is added. It makes up less than 1% of the contents of the milk. Carob bean gum also called locust bean gum is dervied from the seeds of a carob tree. It doesn’t add any flavor to the milk and was chosen as an alternative to carrageenan, which some consumers are concerned about. I found a website that I thought did an excellent job explaining each of these in a non threatening, non alarmist way. Read more about carraggenan and carob bean gum.

Back to the fun stuff. This chocolate milk is worth seeking out especially if you all you ever known is store brand or the popular national brands. Cocoa Metro Belgian Chocolate Milk is so good, that a picture of it should appear to the word decadent in the dictionary.

To find Cocoa Metro Belgian Chocolate Milk in your area, check out their store locator. Stores include Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Gelson’s, Sprouts, Bristol Farms, and more.

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Coconut Secret Amino Sauces

I love sauces. BBQ sauces. Tomato sauce. The orange sauce that costs my favorite orange chicken at my local take out Chinese place. Sauces are a great way to really deliver flavor to the tongue. They are the first thing you taste when you bite into whatever they are coating. I love making my own sauces but am not against of giving others a try, especially when they are unique and hard to make at home. This brings me to a pair of sauces that I tasted at Whole Foods Market made by Coconut Secret. They are known for their many coconut based products – aminos, vingear, oil, and even snack bars. The sauces I am reviewing here today utitlize their coconut aminos.

What are Coconut Aminos?
Coconut aminos are made from the sap of the coconut tree. It is naturally aged and is fermented. Coconut secret adds sun dried sea salt. Coconut aminos can be used as an alternative to soy sauce. It contains no wheat like some soy sauces do, thus it is gluten free. The name aminos comes from the 17 amino acids that are within.

As with a lot of things in the store, soy sauce has been cheapen for the sake of time and most importantly profits. Most commercial soy sauces do not undergo the traditional fermentation process that came them better flavor and more health benefits. Instead mass produce soy sauces is produced quickly and with lots of added salt to make up for the lack of natural flavor. If you buy the generic cheap soy sauce you are no doubt getting exactly what your paying for.

In terms of comparing the flavor of soy sauce to coconut aminos, I find them to be comparable with coconut aminos being more sweet and less salty than most soy sauce. I think that most people wouldn’t be able to tell that you used them over soy sauce unless you told them.

Coconut aminos are the base for the two sauces from Coconut Secret I am about to talk about.

Garlic Sauce
The ingredients for the garlic sauce : Organic Coconut Sap, Organic Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Ginger, Organic Cayenne Pepper. The sauce is very well balanced. It is sweet with plenty of garlic flavor and the spice of the ginger and cayenne. I tried with some sauteed asparagus and mushrooms – a winning combination for sure. Add it at the very end of cooking and let it steam for a moment to slightly reduce, carmelize, and coat the vegetables. Use it to flavor any vegetables or rice.

Teriyaki Sauce
The ingredients for the teriyaki sauce : Organic Coconut Sap, Sea Salt, Organic Onion, Organic Ginger, Organic Garlic, Organic Cayenne Pepper. The difference in this sauce is that it contains onion with less garlic. A wonderful sauce to use on chicken or pork. You could use it as a marinade or just add it at the end or at the table. I have to say that I do like the flavor of the garlic sauce just a hint better, but that doesn’t mean this one isn’t a winner itself.

Both these sauces are uniquely flavorful and since I don’t have any coconut sap I can gather in my backyard this one of the few bottled sauces that’s worth the money. To find them in your area, use Coconut Secret’s store locator. You can also purchase the sauces online, see link below (this is an affiliate link)

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RJ Balson & Son Irish Bangers from Costco

Sausage and I – we are tight. Best buds. I love adding it to stew, pasta, stuffing, bread, even mixing into burgers and meatloaf – yum! I also love using it to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – Bangers and Mash style. The last couple of years I have purchased the Irish style bangers from Trader Joe’s. They were good, but not great. So I have had my eyes opened to try other Irish bangers. Costco offered me that chance when I spotted a pack of Irish bangers from RJ Balson & Son.

St. Patrick's Day Costco Guide Review of RJ Balson & Son Irish Bangers
A word about Balson sausage. The company traces its roots all the way back to 1515! John Balson was a meat trader in England. That is just crazy. RJ Balson and Son butcher shop has been in the same location since 1880. Amazing longevity, especially in the ever changing food/grocery landscape. That testifies to the quality of their product, their business sense, and ability to adapt to the changing times. They began producing bangers for the American market in 2007.

Costco Irish Bangers

Now onto the sausage itself. These Irish bangers are superb. Very well seasoned with great flavor. Meaty without an abundance of filler that you find in cheap sausage. Their passion for great meat really shines through in these bangers. You are definitely getting a bang for your buck. A 2 pound package goes for $7.49 at Costco. That works out to $3.74/pound, a steal for sausage of such high quality. Buy up and freeze them for later use. The perfect reason to forget the corned beef this St. Patrick’s Day and make some bangers and mash instead (see my recipe below).

How to Cook RJ Balson & Son Irish Bangers
Since these bangers are fully cooked, all you need to do is heat them up. Browing them in a frying pan will add depth of flavor.

Costco Irish Bangers

Coat the bottom of your pan with oil. Heat up over medium high heat. Once hot add the bangers. Make sure they have room to move around without touching.

Costco Irish Bangers

Rotate the bangers to brown each side. The whole process should take about 8 to 10 minutes. The bangers will have a nice snap to them.

Costco Irish Bangers

Serve your bangers over mashed potatoes for a traditional bangers & mash. Need some suggestions here are a few mashed potatoes recipes.

{Baked} No Peeling Necessary Mashed Potatoes
Bobby Flay’s Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk
Bobby Flay’s Smoked Paprika Mashed Potatoes
Alton Brown’s Whipped Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes


Irish Style Bangers & Mash
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb RJ Balson & Son Irish Bangers
  • 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • Your favorite mashed potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil or bacon fat
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
For the Mash
  1. Shred the Brussels sprouts in a food processor or with a knife.
  2. Heat up a frying pan over medium high heat. Add oil or bacon fat. Add in the sprouts. Cook the sprouts for a couple minutes to just soften and brown. Remove from heat.
  3. Fold into your favorite mashed potatoes
For the Bangers
  1. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with oil. When hot add the sausages. Brown each side turning regularly for evening browning.. Should take about 8 to 10 minutes to completely brown the sausage.
  2. Serve the sausage right on top of the mashed potatoes.

 

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Shamrock Ravioli from Costco

I can’t say that St. Patrick’s Day was ever that big of a holiday for me as a kid, even into early adulthood. Now it has become one of my favorite times of the year. Mainly because of the food, whether it be authentic Irish or just plain green. Make a holiday into a culinary celebration and you got my full attention (of my stomach). During my last trip to Costco I was thrilled to see a good selection of St. Patrick’s Day products that I couldn’t wait to try out. It lifted my spirits on a day I was struggling with a massive toothache.

Now for the benefit of all my readers, I didn’t wait for St. Patty’s day to try these products out. I plan on doing a review of a couple of the things I picked up – starting with Shamrock Ravioli!

St. Patrick's Day Costco Guide Nuovo Shamrock Ravioli from Costco
Since 1989, Nuovo pasta has been pumping out colorful and unique Ravoli, Tortelloni, Sacchetti, and more. The company is based out of Stratford, CT. They created a special Shamrock Ravoli for St. Patrick’s Day. The Ravoli is filled with imported artisan Irish cheese blended with aged white cheddar and Parmesan. The flavor of the filling is nicely balanced, rich and creamy. The pasta is the perfect thickness, not too soft that it falls apart and not too thick that is overwhelms the filling inside. It comes in a 2 pound double pack. Use one pack today, save another for tomorrow. Each pack contains 1 pound of pasta. Overall cost at Costco is $9.79, which works out to $4.89 per pound. Our household was able to make 4 meals out of it, if you have hungrier older children, might be more like 3.

Shamrock Ravoli Up Close How to Cook Nuovo Shamrock Ravioli
For maximum flavor I use a two step cooking process – boiling and pan frying.

Shamrock Ravioli Boiling

A quick boil of abut 3 minutes is all you need. This is a fresh pasta, so its not hard like what you would find in a rectangular box. Don’t overcook it or it could end up falling apart with the filling spilling out. If you don’t use the Ravioli right away, then I suggest pouring a little bit of oil onto it so that they don’t stick together because trust me they will. Just a small coating is needed. Make sure to gently toss it around so that each piece is evenly coated.

Shamrock Ravioli Frying Pan

Step 2 is the pan frying process. This will really add a lot of flavor, so it’s worth your time. This will add a little crunch to the outside of the pasta giving a beautiful contrast to the soft cheese inside. The browning of the outside adds flavor. You just need to pan fry it at medium heat with your favorite oil in the bottom of a frying pan. No more than 30 seconds per side is enough to caramelize the outside of the pasta. Only do a few at a time. Don’t crowd the pan or they won’t brown as fast and as evenly.

Now all that is left is to serve them warm with your favorite sauce (tomato, Alfredo, etc). There are some sauce ideas on the back of the package. I have a recipe for a really easy to make creamy tomato sauce below.

My 3 year old son absolutely loved the Ravioli. He ate quite a bit. My 5 year old daughter ate them alright, but my oldest daughter wasn’t a fan. 2 out of 3 kids isn’t bad, especially when it’s the younger ones! I didn’t fry any for my kids because they seem to not like anything that is too caramelized (see roasted vegetables), so I just saved the frying for the parents’ pleasure.

Shamrock Ravioli with Sauce

Nuovo Shamrock Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Nuovo Shamrock Ravioli
  • cooking oil (grape seed, canola, vegetable, sunflower)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • water or chicken stock
Instructions
To make the Ravioli
  1. Bring a gallon of heavily salted water to a boil. When it reaches a boil add the Ravioli.
  2. Cook for 3 minutes until the Ravioli is tender.
  3. Drain. Add enough oil to coat the Ravioli to keep them from sticking.
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium heat with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  5. Once hot place the Ravioli on the bottom of the pan and cook until browned about 30 seconds, then flip and cook the other side. Work in batches without overcrowding the pan.
To make the sauce
  1. Empty a can of tomato paste into a saucepan.
  2. Add enough water (or chicken stock) to thin the paste to your desired consistency.
  3. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
  4. Add the dried herbs and garlic powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of your Ravioli.

 

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Terra Adirondack Red Chips

If I am going to review a bag of potato chips on this blog you know it’s got to be something special. This is more than all that a bag of chips. In this case it definitely is. It’s not everyday you have a red potato chips created from a potato that is red inside and out. Big thanks to Terra for creating these beautiful and tasty chips.

A Little About Terra
Terra is know for their unique styles of chips made from all sorts of vegetables. They have chips made from potatoes, sweet potatoes, Taro root, carrots, Kabocha squash, Chioggia Beets, Parsnips, Batata (also called Boniato, a tropical sweet potato), Yuca, Coconut, Celery Root and Plantains. They can pretty much make a chip out of any root vegetable. There chips contain nothing but the veggies, some salt, and oil.

My favorite thing about this company and what really got my attention their support for the Seed Savers Exchange. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to saving heirloom varieties of seeds. They have an amazing selection of seeds to buy, even more so if you become a member. I buy seeds from them every single year for my garden. They have varieties that are hard or impossible to find elsewhere.

Review of Terra Adirondack Reds Potato Chips
About a month ago or so I noticed a new variety of Terra chips show up at Whole Foods Market. I was surprised to see that the chips were made from Adirondack Red potatoes.
I have seen the Adirondack Red variety of potato in several seed catalogs over the year. I have fascinated by it’s unique color. Red on the inside as well as on the outside. I have grown the Adirondack Blue before, which actually I would call purple. Never expect to the Adirondack Red name on a bag of potato chips. Varietal potato chips. Does it get any better for a foodie like me?

The color of the chip is so unique and so beautiful. The color seems to be more vivid than when the potato is raw. The color of the potato means it contains anthocyanin which is an antioxdiant. There is more health benefits to this potato chip, not that I am ready to call a potato chip a health food, I can at least be more comfortable with eating these ones.

Flavor wise – it doesn’t have any kind of crazy flavor to it, just tastes like a high quality potato. The size of the chips were on the smaller size, not the best option for dipping but these are so good by themselves it would be a shame to smear them with some fattening goo. My son was a huge fan of them. Who wouldn’t be. They are so fun! He couldn’t wait for daddy to go get more.

Interested in growing these potato yourself. Visit the Maine Potato Lady’s website for ordering information.

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Kirkland Master Carve Boneless Ham Review

No bones about it, I am not a fan of boneless hams. In fact, for the past 5 years ago I have been telling people reasons not to buy a boneless ham. So why in the world am I reviewing a boneless? This ham is not the same boneless I am accustom to. What I think of boneless ham, I think of this below –

Sparatan Boneless Ham

That is a ham that has been pressed, formed, modeled into a log shape. Very unnatural. Nothing I want to be a part of. Now take a look at this boneless ham from Costco’s Kirkland brand.

Kirkland Master Carve Boneless Ham Review

Doesn’t look like your grandma’s boneless ham now does it. Instead of taking the meat and pressing it into a log shape, the boneless is just cut out and what you have a is almost heart-shaped thin piece of meat. This shape is great for several reasons:

1. More surface area to apply a glaze to.
2. This shape allows for more even cooking. The temperature of the inner most meat and the temperature of the outer most most is closer – more perfectly cooked meat.

Kirkland Master Carve Boneless Ham Review

3. Super easy to carve. No bone, and the thickness is perfect serving size.
4. In fits in the fridge easily. Due to it’s flat shape, you can easily fit it in your fridge with all of your other holiday foods.

Kirkland Master Carve Boneless Ham Review

6 More Reasons to Buy this Ham
1. Besides the advantages of the shape, I also like this this ham has been smoked using applewood. I find that the flavor of applewood is more complex than that of hickory, which I find one most packages of smoked meats (some don’t tell you). Applewood brings a sweet, fruity, smoky flavor to the meat. It is my second favorite, next to cherrywood.

2. The ham goes for $2.49/per pound. Not very expensive – but not your rock bottom price either. After carving it we had more usable meat than we ever did with the cheap 99 cent a pound bone-in hams we have bought in the past.

3. This ham is marked as “ham in natural juices”. Your cheap hams are labeled as “ham and water product”. These ones have water added to them that does not but increase the costs of the ham as you are paying for water weight. Also water does nothing but delute the flavor of the ham. A ham in natural juices is required to be at least 18.5% protein where as a ham and water product can contain any amount of water. A Cook’s brand ham contains 23% added ingredients!

Cook's Ham Label

4. One of the tastiest hams I have had. It has less added water than the cheap hams I normally buy the flavor shines stronger. Also I found that the ham itself wasn’t overly salty. I have had hams that after eating I had to drink a gallon of water to stay hydrated.

5. The texture was melt in your mouth good and the ham had plenty of moisture.

6. Usually I opt for making my own glaze – Eat Like No One Else style – I decided as a far review to use the glaze that came with the ham. The glaze is a red currant glaze. It contains red currant juice and also whole dried zante currants (which actually aren’t currants but dried champagne grapes). The flavor was sweet and tangy. It had Worcestershire in it as well. Very well done glaze. The only ingredient in the glaze that I didn’t like was the modified food starch, other than that I knew and could pronounce everything else in it.

Kirkland Master Carve Boneless Ham Review

How to Cook this Ham
More often than not I find myself disagreeing with the instructions given on a piece of meat. But this time I had no complaints. Roast it in a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees, then allow the ham to rest until it reaches 140 degrees. They say that should take 10 minutes, but in my case it was more like 15 to 20 minutes to carryover those last 10 degrees. Overall cooking time was about 2 hours. If you have plenty of time to cook your ham I would even roast it at a lower temperature for a longer period. A longer temperature allows the ham to re-heat (yes it has already been cooked) more evenly.

In order to get the temperature right, you need a thermometer. I recommend a probe thermometer that remains in the meat the entire cooking time. Just stick it in the most center part of the ham. Since there are no bones to worry about, it is rather easy to find the sweet spot.

I cooked the ham in my roasting pan. I placed it on the rack in the pan so that there could be airflow all around the ham.

Kirkland Master Carve Boneless Ham Review

Applying the Glaze

The instructions said to apply the glaze with in last 20 minutes of cooking. When the ham was at 120 degrees, I took it out and applied the glaze. I brushed it on with my Oxo Silicone Basting Brush. One of the best kitchen tools I have. Easy to brush things on and it actually comes off the brush and it easy to clean. Can’t say enough good things about this brush.

Buy a Boneless Ham
After years of telling my readers to never buy a boneless ham, I can actually change my tune (sort of). Avoid all boneless hams if they look like a log or a football. If the boneless ham has a natural shape, especially if it’s a the Kirkland Master Carve Ham, feel free to fork over your money for a delicious piece of meat where every pond you pay for is edible.

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What Salt Is Best for Popcorn

It does not get much easier snacking when it comes to popcorn. It’s easy to make. It’s cheap. And of course delicious. As long as you know how to dress your popcorn. It’s not the butter that makes the popcorn or any special fancy topping. No, it all begins with the salt. Without salt, popcorn has the same flavor as the “popcorn” you find in a package you received. You can’t just pick any popcorn and expect to have great results.

non-GMO Popcorn

When it comes to salting popcorn you want to think small. You want the salt to be able to get into the little nooks and crannies of the popped kernel. There is not the time for kosher salt. It’s flakes are just too big. I have found that when it was the only salt I had one hand that it did not do a good job of sticking to the kernels. I ended up having to use more salt and still ended up with unseasoned popcorn – something very unsatisfying.

My Favorite Popcorn Salt

Real Salt Shaker

Real Salt Shaker

My favorite popcorn salt for years is called “Real Salt”. I bought it for a foodie friend on a whim for Christmas one year. I was intrigued by the different colors in the container (hues of brown and pink). The friend told me how great the salt was on popcorn – it adheres really well to each kernel. He certainly was correct in his assessment. The salt brought life to my popcorn that was never there before. The flavor had more depth to it. It would be like having only 1 key on your piano that worked. It still makes a sound. Get the piano fixed and you can create something special.

Why is it called “Real Salt”? The salt has nothing added to it or removed from it. Table salt has all the trace minerals removed while Real Salt contains more than 60 trace minerals. It is these unique minerals that contribute to the salt’s flavor and nutrition content. They are removed in some salts, so they look uniformly white. To me table salt has a undesirable after taste. Real Salt has ever so slight sweetness to it, with no added sugar.

Real Salt Shaker Top

Real Salt Shaker Top

It comes in container with a shaker lid. I love the lid because it has three different “settings” to control the amount of salt that comes out. Makes it easier to not over-salt. To save money you can also buy it in a 26 ounce bag and re-fill the shaker.

Real Salt Refill Pouch

Real Salt Refill Pouch

Other Salts to Choose From
If you can’t find Real Salt in your area or your just looking for other options, then look for salt that is finely ground. It should look like the grains of sand you find on the beach. I never recommend regular old table salt. The flavor is more bland and it is more pure sodium without the trace minerals that make other salts worth unique and delicious.

Salt Grinders

Salt Grinders

You can buy salt labeled as popcorn salt, I have never found out that I liked. Often those don’t say exactly what salt you are getting. What you could do buy a salt that comes in container with a grinder on top. Grind it yourself for a fine grind for popcorn. Beware some of these salt grinders are cheaply and may not work as well you would like. What be a better option is use a pepper mill or grinder and fill it with salt instead.

You can also make your own popcorn salt using a food processor or coffee grinder – check out my post on How to Make Your Own Popcorn Salt.

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TJ Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce

It’s summer time, also known as grill season. The time of year where we Americans like taking our kitchens outdoors and spending some serious time in front of the grill. Eventually when we get talking about grilling, the topic of barbeque sauce is naturally going to arise. Who has the best? What style do you prefer. To kick off this season right, we here at Eat Like No One Else are committing to studying barbeque sauces – lot of great content to come. One of the best things about this sauce is that is it different based on where you are on the map. For a foodie with a Geography degree this is super exciting stuff. I am going to taking you on a tour across this country looking at different styles of sauces, reviews of what you can buy in the store, as well as my very own recipes. Get ready to come along for the ride as we start off with the inspiration for this exploration into barbeque sauce – Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold.

Many months ago as I was looking in the condiment section at my local Trader Joe’s, I spotted this gold colored sauce – called Carolina Gold. Not having much knowledge of sauces at the time I was intrigued by a barbeque sauce that is gold in color. Grabbed the bottle and went to reading – the bottle says “Every pat of the U.S. has its own special way of preparing barbecue. In some parts of the country, you might even find multiple styles of barbecue in the same town! We’re fans of all kinds of barbecue and Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce is a blend that reminds us of some of the best grilled meats we’ve enjoyed in the Carolinas. It’s a golden-hue mustard-based sauce that’s sweet and smoky with a hint of molasses and just the right blend of spices. Use it as a glaze near the end of barbeucing, as a sauce for burgers and sandwiches , or as a dipping sauce for chicken or veggies.” Mustard base you say. This is my first time hearing of a mustard based barbeque sauce. I always associate barbeque with ketchup. Why not mustard? I love mustard. I was really intrigued by this sauce, and noticed it on several visits without buying it. Finally when I decided to write some features on barbeque sauce I knew the first sauce I needed to try.

What is all in this sauce:
Cane sugar, Yellow mustard (distilled vinegar, water, mustard seed), distilled vinegar, tomato puree (water, tomato past), sea salt, corn starch, Worcestershire sauce (distilled vinegar, molasses, sea salt, sugar, spices, tamarind), molasses, spices, garlic, onion, natural smoke flavor, xanthan gum

My first thought as I open the bottle, even though it doesn’t look like barbeque sauce I am use to, it sure does smell like it. It has a distinct smoky smell. It’s sweet, maybe a little more than it needs to be. That is the first thing that hits you. Then I get a smokey flavor. What I have left with is some spice on the tongue. It has a nice warmth to it that leaves a little something but not super hot where you need to down a gallon of milk afterward. All along I am tasting mustard, yet I still feel like this is barbeque. I love it. Nice work Carolina!

Other thoughts: The texture of the sauce is perfect, not too thick and too runny – thanks in part to the added corn starch and xanthan gum I am sure. Easy to pour.

If you like me looking to expand your barbeque horizons you can do well for yourself buying Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold. I am going to attempt to re-create this sauce from scratch myself, since I can improve upon with homemade mustard, fresh from the garden tomatoes, carmelized onions, and roasted garlic to add more natural sweet flavors so I can use less sugar. The TJ’s sauce is a good one when you can’t make your own.

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Wallaby Sour Cream

Have you ever been in this situation – it’s Taco Tuesday, you have worked your butt off to make some of the tastiest tacos you ever made. You did it all the right way. You used grass fed beef. Instead of grabbing an overpriced pack of taco seasoning, you used spices you collect from the bulk section at Whole Foods. You even toasted your cumin seeds before grinding them in your spice grinder, a.k.a. your coffee grinder. You purchased the best local tortillas. You bought heirloom tomatoes that you diced to perfection. Instead of boring old iceberg lettuce, you are using a mix of arugula and baby kale. Bring your creation to the table where some freshly grated Mexican cheeses await. And as you put it altogether, you top it all off with some generic store bought sour cream that has more ingredients in it than the rest of your entire meal. All your hard work just to be topped with an inferior product that leaves you with an artificial greasy taste in your mouth. We can’t have that!

How can one assure that this situation never happens in their home. That leads me to the next installment in my series “Whole Foods Finds”. These are great products that you need to seek out at your local Whole Foods. Today I want to share with you the best sour cream I ever had – Wallaby Organic Sour Cream. It’s time to add a little bit of Australian to your tacos (ok, actually the company is American, but they were inspired by time spend in Australia, just roll with it).

What’s Makes Wallaby Organic Sour Cream So Good?
It all begins with the texture. Velvet is the first word to come to mind. This sour cream is smooth and thick. The thickest sour cream I have ever seen. Not runny in the least bit. It is rich in flavor and not too tangy. The sour cream contains just two ingredients – Organic Cultured Pasteurized Cream and live active cultures (L. acidophilus, bifidus, L. cremoris, L. lactis, L. paracasei.) A lot of sour creams are “watered down” with nonfat milk such as Organic Valley sour cream that has Organic Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk as it’s first ingredient. Of course that makes it cheaper to make and it has less fat, but I want the best sour cream and Wallaby is that.

More Reasons to Buy this Sour Cream
1. The sour cream is also made from cream from cows that meat the USDA standards for being raised organic.

2. Wallaby sources local, small family farms for their milk – so your are supporting these families when you buy Wallaby products. Check out their website to learn more about these farms.

Why is it called European Style?
Again it goes back to the culture used to make the sour cream. Other styles of sour cream use acidifiers to make sour cream. Your cheap store brand sour creams are this style. It’s a quicker process that is cheaper but don’t produces a sour cream with the depth of flavor of the European style.

Wallaby Sour Cream Sale Whole Foods Market

How Does It Cost?
The everyday price of this sour cream is $2.99 . But the good news is that it is often on sale at least in my region. It seems like once a month or every other month. The sale price is typically around $2.39 for the 16 ounce tub. That’s not a bad price considering that you are getting a sour cream that is organic and made of pure cream. Look for at your local Whole Foods and make sure to check out some Wallaby’s other products – I especially think their Kefir is the best as well.

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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