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Archive for the ‘Experiments’ Category

How Many Licks Does It Take: Ambiguity Still Exists No Thanks To Owls.

August 5th, 2013 No comments

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Why do some ask Owls that question?  Hoo cares and STFU already says all owls – I read that.

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I’m still confused — Is that a decimal point or comma above?  The world may never know.

Greatest Food Mystery Soon To Be Solved: We Keep Chicken The Mail.

July 29th, 2013 No comments

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Pretty In Purple Deviled Eggs: It’s All About The Beet Juice Baby.

June 19th, 2013 No comments

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Pretty in Purple Deviled Eggs — Any Deviled Egg recipe will do.  It’s the addition of Beet Juice that makes them pretty in purple.  Once boiled the Eggs were peeled, and then soaked in Beet Juice in the fridge for a day, way longer than necessary to give them a striking color.

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It only takes minutes to give the Eggs color – Less time in Beet Juice yields more of a contrast between the purple and white (a purple ring), and more time in makes ‘em mostly purple.

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The Beet Juice imparts a sweet, earthy flavor into the Eggs adding a tasty dimension.

Ever Wonder What A Raw, Frozen Egg Looks Like Inside?

May 12th, 2013 No comments

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Have you ever wondered what a raw, frozen Egg looks like underneath its shell?

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We wanted to know, thus froze an Egg and dropped it on the concrete to see what happens.

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It didn’t crack, shatter or peel, like I hoped — We had to peel it, but it wasn’t hard to do.

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Our frozen Egg looked like this (below) underneath its shell.

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It was somewhat clear with an opaque cloudy line running through it.

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We threw it down (shell-less) a couple more times, but it wouldn’t crack.

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So we power washed it until it mostly disappeared onto now smelly grass — Hhmmmm.

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The Yolk became more and more visible.

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We won’t have to wonder what it looks like anymore — Check :) .

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Ta-da!  The Yolk wouldn’t disappear fast enough, so we gave it to the Dog.  He’s still alive.

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We probably should of cut it in half, but it’s too late now and our curiosity is satisfied.

What To Make With All Those Avocados: Several Ideas To Consider.

March 22nd, 2013 No comments

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THANKS to the California Avocado Commission for all this goodness — Since we had so many Avocados, we ate a lot of Avocado dishes/meals.  You name it, we made almost everything.

Veggie Sandwich with Avocado

Most are familiar Avocado favorites and some ideas came from others linked throughout.

Egg Baked in Avocado

We made them all from top down — Starting with Snow Crab Stuffed Avocados made with Mayo, Lemon Juice and Zest, Red Bell Pepper, Dill and Red Onion.  Simple, rich and amazing.

Avocado with Italian Dressing

Continuing with a Veggie Croissant Sandwich made with Salad Bar Vegetables, Avocado, and Cream Cheese instead of Mayo.  An Egg Baked in an Avocado — Have you seen that one before?  It’s different and not bad.  And I could eat an Avocado with Good Seasons Italian Dressing (above) everyday.  It’s ready in minutes and always satisfies.  On to Mango Salsa.

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Mango Salsa ingredients, plus Jalapeno are pictured above and combined below.

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BLT Sandwich, plus A+, minus the L & T on this day.

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Open-faced BLT, plus A, minus L — Avocado was mashed with a little Mayo.

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Avocado Pizza (if you will) made with a Flour Tortilla, mashed Avocado drizzled with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice, topped with a Fried Egg, Cumin and Salt & Pepper.  I overcooked this Egg.

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It could be better next time — The original is much more impressive.

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Black Beans, Corn, Red Bell Peppers, Avocado, Red Onions, Jalapeno and Lime w/EVOO.

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Cucumber Avocado Salad with Tomatoes, Green Onions, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.

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Avocado on Toast with Sriracha and Olive Oil — An unexpected new favorite.

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Avocado with Grapefruit — Many say how well it goes together.  It’s okay.

Avocado and Grapefruit

And would you believe Avocado Ice Cream?

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Ours was made with Avocados, Coconut Milk, Milk, Lime Juice and Lime Zest.

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I didn’t think I’d like the Avocado Ice Cream, but did and would make it again.

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Ahhhhhh Avocados, they’re wonderful to eat and moisturize well — Cheers to Avocados!

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Dogs apparently love them too — I can’t believe we ate ‘em all and still want more.

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You Say Posole, I Say Pozolé: Let’s Call The Whole Thing Game On.

October 8th, 2012 No comments

You can’t make it as good as this he said.  Purposeful reverse psychology or not, I’m going to try.  It’s what I do and part of the reason why I started Nibbles of Tidbits.  We’re talking about Posole and the one we had here was good, but the Broth was a little flat.  The challenge now is to make a Posole that’s better than the one pictured.  Coming soon my friend (hopefully).  I’m not sayin’ it’ll be great, but it’s possible, thank God.  Check back to see if you get any. ;)

Posole aka Pozolé aka Pozolli is a Mexican Stew that’s most often made with Pork and Hominy.

I’m currently reviewing recipes to incorporate the best authentic and common themes.

Garnishes will be included, but no human meat — Pozolé has a bizarre history.

Update 10/20/12: First attempt at making Pozole shown here – Second attempt in order.

SJ’s Now In Watermelon: Best Naturally Flavored Jelly Candies Around.

October 5th, 2012 No comments

It’s Watermelon LOVE, what a surprise since it’s generally not one of my favorite flavors, though I always like it as Fresh Fruit and 100% Juice.  Inspired by the request of Kids in the Kitchen, I discovered Shelly’s Jellies are superb when made from pureed Watermelon.

At first I didn’t think it was possible to create an intensely flavored Candy without using Citrus Juice and Zest — Since I’d made all available citrus flavors, I took a chance with Strawberry and Watermelon and both couldn’t have turned out better.  Lexi and Hannah (pictured) loved the Watermelon and Bailee liked the Strawberry ones better.  Blackberry Jellies are next.

None can say they’ve tasted a better, naturally flavored Jelly Candy. Thanks for the ideas kids!

It’s Called The 100 X 100 On The Secret In-N-Out Burger Menu.

April 11th, 2012 No comments

Though the MENU is limited at In-N-Out Burger, their secret (up to you with what’s on hand), and Not-So-Secret MENU can seem unlimited.  Forget the Double Double, opt for a 100 X 100.  Can you imagine how long it would take in the drive-thru, which usually takes long enough?!

Best Not Ask Me To Bring Deviled Eggs To Your Party.

March 21st, 2012 3 comments

What’s the trick for consistent easy shell removal from a hard boiled Egg?  I’ve read and tried many different processes, but (obviously) haven’t found one that consistently works.

Sometimes it’s really bad and sadly not exaggerated above, but…

They still taste good with the perfect blend of Mayo, Mustard, Vinegar and S & P.  I’ll have to research all again and officially test and document the processes — Only venting about it now.  Who is the authority on this?  I want easy shell removal every time.  Is it too much to ask?

Orange Guy Wanting On The Loose: Try To Peel Him Alive.

January 19th, 2012 No comments

Hi there said the Orange.  He/she/it sure looks friendly and it’s only an Orange Peel.  It’s funny how things come alive with eyes.  Does it look easy to create?  We’re going to give it a try.  I have the feeling it’s going to be harder than it looks.  We’ll see how it turns out and report in an update.  Check back to see if we’ve got the knack to create this Cracker Jack.  Try it too.

The camera took this photo on its own — Oranges and Tomatoes on the counter, a start.

Classic What Not To Do: Boiling Lobster And Prematurely Diving In.

December 17th, 2011 No comments

You can lead a Lobster Claw to Butter and Lemon, but you can’t make it taste good.   Well, it appears I can’t.  Maybe you can.  Lobster Claws often seem rubbery and too bland to me.  I’d been craving Lobster for some time now and was told it’s on sale at Gelsons.  It was time.

On the way home from work with nothing planned, I decided to treat myself, so I thought.

That all sounds terrific, but I gotta kill it.  Oh crap, I’m having a flashback.  First in ten, don’t do it again – In other words, I bought my first Live Lobster over ten years ago, but had someone else prepare it.  I just couldn’t do it.  And it didn’t help that a friend was holding it up like a puppet saying…”Don’t kill me.”  I now remember it’s not an enjoyable process.

Just Do It — I was fairly prepared to cook it this time, but discovered new issues.

I followed the boiling instructions above, though think steaming Lobster is probably better.

Unfortunately this process did not yield the generous, tender, sweet meat I was hoping for.

This Lobster’s meat was tough, semi-sweet, watery and sparse — Not good.

And then there’s the Lobster Roe in the middle of the tail, which appears to run parallel to the Lobster’s waste/vein/poop, I don’t know.  I removed both before eating the tail meat.  Not fun.  And the worst part is prematurely diving into a cross-section of the Lobster Tail, before discovering the roe-poo — Yuck.  Though some consider it a gourmet treat, I don’t.

After all was cut out, there was hardly any meat — My Lobster naivety is gone, I think?!

I learned a lot, and firmly prefer that a grilled, cleaned, fat Lobster Tail (only) be served to me.

Gelsons will steam the Whole Lobster for you at no extra charge — I was tempted, but had to prepare it (at least once) myself.  Check, done.  It’s not as easy and fruitful as it seems.

Get Fresh And Last Up To 50% Longer: Is That True Clearly Fresh?

July 10th, 2011 No comments

Testing out Clearly Fresh Bags to see what happens (left the slightly greener Banana out).

Will the bagged Banana last longer, as shown to do?  If so, will it taste like an older Banana, though still looking spry?  Stay tuned to learn the results of our experiment.

Quick Dip Mickey Moused Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies.

April 14th, 2011 No comments

Quick Dip — Is that an oxymoron?  Chocolate was melted in the microwave and Oreo Cookies were being dipped 5 minutes from commencement.  And Mickey Moused, because Chocolate wasn’t tempered, nor mixed with wax, cream or butter.  Instead, Milk and White Chocolate Chips were separately melted at 50% power, in approx. 50 second intervals and stirred in between.  It was fast and turned out good, but not as great as those you buy, or the ones my friend Loretta makes.  I don’t think she’d approve of these, but we’re always experimenting.

I was most proud of the design I created on the White Chocolate Dipped Oreo above.

Dippin’ leftover Oreos in Chocolate, from the Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes we made.

Haphazard about thickness and decoration, but wanted to make ‘em quick.

All was made in about 10 minutes, which is obvious looking at some.  Next time I’ll pipe the Chocolate through a baggie tip rather than use a spoon — Better design control, less sloppy.

Funny thing, growing up I wasn’t an Oreo Cookie fan and when I did have them, I’d eat the outsides and throw away the middle.  I hadn’t purchased them in years and this time didn’t need to ditch the middle.  Is there less than there used to be, like too many things?

Quick Tender Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs & A Preparation Experiment.

April 12th, 2011 No comments

Have you tried Houston’s BBQ Pork Ribs aka Knife & Fork Ribs?  They’re some of the best I’ve had and a model for how I want my Baby Back Ribs to be.  And I’m content knowing I’ve previously accomplished it, BUT sometimes there’s not the time, nor grill, then what?

The above Baby Back Ribs were baked in the oven at 400° for 1 hour wrapped in foil (fat/meat side down), then unwrapped, turned over and lathered with BBQ Sauce and cooked 20 – 30 minutes longer unwrapped.  Below is how they looked, prior to turning to sauce.

And separately below we experimented with a Dry Rub on a different slab of Baby Back Ribs.

Last year at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco, I was given a Brown Sugar Pork Rub developed by Tyler Florence.  I finally tried it on this second slab of Ribs.  And to compound the test, we cooked them as described above, but at 225° for 3 hours.

The consensus, the slower cooked Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs fell apart while cutting, not attractive for serving, and unnecessary since the top Ribs cooked in half the time and were perfectly tender.  That recipe is from Delicious House.  It’s a keeper happily collected, posted and linked here for future use.

And I’m sorry to report that I wasn’t excited by Tyler’s Brown Sugar Pork Rub, and it sounded so good too, but Salt and Pepper worked better on the first slab of Baby Backs, a winner.

Improvised Mini Tongs: Another Use For Clothes Pins, Not Just A Chip Clip.

April 2nd, 2011 No comments

   

Somehow I ended up with several wooden clothes pins that come in handy as Chip Clips and various bag sealers.  And I’ve recently discovered a new use — They work well as Improvised Mini Tongs, while cooking Tortillas in the toaster oven.  Can you think of another kitchen use?

How About Some Chocolate Covered Insects For April Fools’ Day?

April 1st, 2011 No comments

Happy April Fools’ Day!  You better stay away from me today.  How about some Chocolate Covered Insects?  Perhaps you may want to add them to a bowl of Chocolates and step back and watch the unsuspecting.  Just kidding — Don’t do that.  I wouldn’t, anymore. ;)

I still feel bad about the Dog Beef Jerky joke I played on someone years ago.  Moving on to the suspecting… Our friend Ray volunteered to try the pictured Chocolate Covered Worms and Crickets, as I just couldn’t.  He described them as follows… 

They had no actual taste for the most part.  They were not slimy.  Kind of had the texture and taste of Chocolate Covered Pretzels!

Thanks for the report Ray!  You’re a trooper and certainly no fool.

Homemade Flour Tortillas: Conquered With A Bad Recipe.

March 24th, 2011 No comments

I made Flour Tortillas for the first time, but chose the wrong recipe, which seems to have a bad Flour to Vegetable Shortening/Lard ratio.  Not enough Flour (2 1/2 Cups) for the (10 Tbsps) of Shortening noted.  After comparison to other Flour Tortilla recipes, it’s obvious they would turn out too greasy.  I’m not sure how/why the recipe worked so well for the esteemed blogger, because it didn’t work for me, aside from how it may look posted here. 

It was recommended that I use Lard instead of Vegetable Shortening, but after visiting three stores that didn’t carry it, I opted for Crisco.  I don’t think the use of Lard would have improved this recipe, but next time I’ll give it a fair try using less tablespoons.  Although the noted measurements didn’t work well, the ingredients and steps to create future Flour Tortillas are generally the same as posted.

Start with Flour.

Add Baking Powder and Salt.

Add Vegetable Shortening or Lard.

Cut Shortening/Lard into Flour, Baking Powder and Salt combination.

Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Gettin’ there.

Add Hot Water to mixture.

Stir mixture together, then knead Dough until it becomes a cohesive ball that’s less sticky.

Let Dough rest for about an hour, then divide into ping pong size balls and let rest again.

Roll out each between two sheets of plastic to form Flour Tortillas.

Cook each in a dry skillet for about 50 seconds per side.  The recipe notes to cook the Tortillas for 20 – 30 seconds each side, but it wasn’t long enough to obtain the desired brown specks.

Doesn’t the above Tortilla look like a fish?

They look good, but didn’t taste that great.

Our homemade Corn Tortillas turned out better, but we’ll try to make the Flour Tortillas again.

Homemade Corn Tortillas: Easier To Make Than You Might Think.

March 21st, 2011 No comments

‘Make Homemade Tortillas’ has been on my To Do List for years.  After tackling Homemade Pasta, it was finally time.  I started with Corn Tortillas, posted here, and then moved on to Flour Tortillas (a little more complicated), which shall be posted soon.  This is the Corn report…

After reviewing several recipes online, I opted to make the one posted on the back of the Maseca Masa bag, which was easy to follow and the Corn Tortillas turned out well.

Only three ingredients went into their creation — Masa, Salt and Water.

Start by combining the Salt and Masa.

Then add Water to the Masa/Salt combination and mix to form a fairly stiff Dough.

Once the Dough is satisfactorily formed, divide into targeted amount of Tortilla balls.

We formed 18 balls to ultimately create 18 Corn Tortillas.

Roll out each Tortilla ball in between plastic sheets — We used the inside of a baggie, which worked well.  The Tortillas are easy to separate from the plastic before hitting the skillet.

Once the Tortillas are formed, each is heated in a dry, medium-hot skillet for approximately 50 seconds per side, then set aside under a towel and/or bowl to keep them warm and soft.

As you can see, the hardest thing was to roll ‘em out into perfect circles, which we didn’t do.  We could have used a large Cookie cutter, but opted for the rustic look this first time.

As noted, before opting to make the simple Maseca Masa Corn Tortilla recipe, I collected several others from around the web — And for future reference/use, they are all linked here:  Gourmet Sleuth, All Recipes, In Jennie’s Kitchen, Cooking Mexican Recipes, Simply Recipes, Eating Cleveland and What’s Cooking America.  All their Tortillas look better than ours.  You’ll find everything you need to make good Homemade Corn Tortillas.  Good luck to you!

Cheez-It Wants You To Choose The Cheese: Which Do You Like Best?

March 14th, 2011 No comments

Cheez-It wants YOU to choose the next Cheez-It flavor.  They recently introduced Baby Swiss and are now looking to add another flavor – Asiago, Colby or Romano.  Which sounds best to you?  We’re still unsure.  Six of us tried ‘em all, but couldn’t agree.  Our votes were split between all three.  That’s not very helpful to Kelloggs, but we enjoyed eating them all.

You may still be able to obtain free samples to try the same.  Here’s the link.  Voting ends March 31, 2011.  If you already know which Cheez-It to vote for, you may vote here now.

Homemade Pasta: Check It Off Your List Of Things To Make.

March 8th, 2011 No comments

I’ve had this Pasta Maker for way too many years and it’s not even mine.  Isn’t that terrible?!  And to make it worse, this is my first time using it.  I’ve periodically reminded my friend that I still have it and did intend to use it someday.  Since she hasn’t been ready to use it, my confiscation was overlooked.  Thanks Nora — I’m finally making Pasta.  I’ll try to save you some Fettuccine, Linguine or Spaghetti.  This Marcato Atlas Pasta Maker works really well.

Two cups of Flour, two large Eggs and a little water was used to make all that’s pictured.

Make a well of Flour.

Add the Eggs to the center.

Stir the Eggs before or after adding to the Flour well.

Slowly start to bring the Flour into the Eggs.

Add a little water, enough necessary to arrive at a Dough consistency.

Ta – Dough… My very first Pasta Sheet.

How exciting — It’s easy when you work with a little Pasta Dough at a time.

Making the Pasta Sheet longer and thinner – A little tricky, but fun.

I was very impressed with the quality of this Pasta Maker — It was still shiny too.

I believe Fettuccine is being made, but unsure of Pasta’s subtle name/size variations.

Turning Pasta Sheets into Noodles.

Separating the Noodles.

It’s Fettuccine graffiti in the hood.

And Spaghetti graffiti in the house.

Straightening out our act. :)

‘Make Homemade Pasta’ can finally be checked off the list.  Next it’ll be Tortillas.

Boiling Water was awaiting the Spaghetti.

And a pre-made Marinara Sauce was heated and ready.

I boiled the Noodles a couple minutes, drained ‘em and added Sauce and shaved Parmesan.

All went so well!  I pre-laid parchment everywhere before starting, which helped.

Noodles ready for future Sauce action — An Ala Limone from Cook’s Illustrated stands by.

Here’s the recipe used to make the above and here’s how to freeze the leftovers.

What To Do With A Leftover Vegetable Platter And Bar Garnishes.

January 7th, 2011 No comments

After a party, I’m often left with a fair amount of washed and trimmed vegetables — I love it because it’s a convenient, healthy snack to have ready, but after a few days it gets a little boring, thus I hunt for other ways to use ‘em.  I TRY to make something different each time.

This time with Iceberg Lettuce and an abundance of Cucumbers on hand, I made a simple Salad with a Cucumber Dressing — I’d link the recipe, if it was good, but it wasn’t.  I’ve yet to master the flavor I’m searching for in a Cucumber Dressing.

After the latest party inspiring this batch of ideas, I cooked Eggs over leftover Salsa, which I loved having (over and over again) with a side of Sour Cream.  I’ve since made and purchased more Salsa to make the same.  I can’t stop eating Eggs Over Salsa for breakfast and dinner.  It’s simple and fabulous with or without Tortillas, Chips or Toast.

This time I roasted the Carrots with a little Olive Oil and Spice Blend I found locally.  Carrots are always good roasted in the oven, but were better last time with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and S & P – Past ideas are linked here.

A tasty Artichoke Heart, Olive and Tomato Bruschetta Dip that was leftover from the same party was cooked and served over Angel Hair Pasta — Why not?

And then there’s Celery, which always stumps me — The best thing I’ve made thus far is Cream of Celery Soup and this time I made a Braised Celery and don’t see its appeal.  I followed a highly ranked recipe, but yawn was the consensus.

If not in a Soup or a mirepoix, I might prefer good old-fashioned Celery with Peanut Butter.

Peppers roasted in the oven with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and S & P.

Asian Cucumber Salad made with Rice Wine Vinegar, Canola and Sesame Oil, Honey, Soy Sauce, fresh grated (or powdered) Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes and S & P.

And with the leftover sliced Oranges, bar garnishes from the night before, I made Candied Orange Slices.  I’ve always wanted to make them — What better time?

Here’s the recipe I used from The Repressed Pastry Chef — Candied Orange Slices

Candied Oranges – I’ll use this recipe again.  They turned out great and weren’t bitter at all, as some are reported to be.  I think one key is to cook them for a fair amount of time.

Until the next leftovers…

Our Thoughts About One Costco Gift Basket.

December 29th, 2010 No comments

It’s fun to try a variety of new food items in one sitting — A bite (or more) of each, from savory to sweet, to see what you go back to the most and finish first.  In this instance, the favorite of the basket was the Sofiato Cream Filled Crepe Bites aka Cafe Mocha Pillows.  I’m still missing them.  And the California Pantry Rosemary & Olive Oil Baked Crackers were excellent too, super crispy and flavorful.

All else was fine, except for the Cheese Straws — Yuck, none could finish one.  The taste and texture was bad.  And surprisingly the Godiva Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel wasn’t good either, as the Pretzel was too fat, thick and dry for the Chocolate that crumbled off it after the first bite.  Overall, I appreciate the gift and the basket is a keeper for attractive organization.

Effective Marketing: The Oil Vs. Cream Campaign Changed A Few Minds.

December 9th, 2010 No comments

Have you seen that Reddi-wip commercial, whereas Reddi-wip is offered as “Cream” for a slice of Pie and generic Cool Whip is offered as “Oil” for the same?  Oil or Cream says the waitress.  Cream of course.  Who wants Oil on a slice of Pie?!  If Cool Whip is truly made of Oil, I don’t know.  You may want to research that yourself.  For fun on Thanksgiving, Chef Lexi and I tested Reddi-wip’s marketing campaign by asking each guest if he/she wanted Oil or Cream on their Pumpkin Pie. 

And interestingly some who usually opt for Cool Whip on Pumpkin Pie, chose the Reddi-wip this year.  Hhmmmmm, effective marketing?  It’s not like Cream is tremendously better for you than Oil, but at least it’s what you think you’re getting.  Cream obviously sounds more desirable on Pie (or any dessert) than Oil.  Regardless, our final position is this… Reddi-wip and Cool Whip are fine on occasion, but real Whipping Cream is so much better than both.  Know that it’s convenient too, in that it only takes a few minutes to whip up and can be stored in the fridge a few days.