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Clearly Fresh Produce Storage Bags

I’m always looking for ways to keep my CSA greens from dying. When the manufacturers of Clearly Fresh bags contacted me with claims that they had a bag with BreatheWay® packaging technology that would help my produce last 50% longer I jumped at the chance to try it.

After looking at the bag sample I had some serious reservations that it would work because it was just a regular zip lock bag with a hole covered by a sticker.

I decided to do a side-by-side comparison with two bushels of spinach I received in my CSA delivery.

DAY 1 - Bushel #1 goes into a Clearly Fresh bag, Bushel #2 does not

The BreatheWay membrane (big sticker) acts as an Oxygen/Carbon Dioxide passageway – allowing just the right amount of oxygen in and much more carbon dioxide out permitting produce to naturally create their own ideal atmosphere for storage life extension.

DAY 7 - Clearly Fresh Spinach on left, Non-bagged Spinach on Right

Clearly Fresh Spinach - Lookin' good!

Non-bagged Spinach - Lookin' sad....

There was a clear difference between the two spinach bushels on day 7. The one not in the bag had wilted and became limp and dry. I ended up throwing out a good portion of it.  The Clearly Fresh spinach was crisp and healthy looking. It’s appearance had not not changed much from day 1. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

It really works! Clearly Fresh Bags… I thank you for the sample and so does my produce!

Website: http://www.clearlyfreshbags.com/

For a limited time visit the Clearly Fresh website and get 15% off your purchase. Use offer code: BAF15
Discount ends July 4, 2011.

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5 Minute Focaccia Mix


Mike’s childhood friend, Claudia Pruett, dropped off samples of her new product called 5 Minute Focaccia Mix. We received all 4 flavors (original,rosemary,raisin,choc chip) but decided to go with rosemary for our first time.

only 3 ingredients needed: mix,sparkling water,oil

Here is a video of us making the fragrant and yummy rosemary bread.

The process was fast & easy but the end result although tasty was a little thinner than expected. Along with the mix Claudia gave us some focaccia she had prepared and it was wonderfully thick and spongy. We are attributing the difference to the rising time because she said she lets the dough rise overnight and we only let it sit for 4.5 hours. It probably needs 7-10.

Focaccia can result in a very oily texture. We wanted to try and make it a little less so we used half the amount of oil called for. The dough did soak up a lot of the oil so next time we will probably use a little more than half.

Buy the A Tavola Together 5 minute focaccia mix  here! If you’re local I’ve also seen it at the Los Gatos NapaStyle store.

Check out her cookbook too!

Website: http://www.atavolatogether.com/

Long Meadow Ranch Grass-fed Beef Club


Yes, we like meat!

As stated in my Farmstead post we were impressed with the beef served so we decided to join the Long Meadow Ranch grass-fed meat club. There are many advantages to eating grass-fed meat: lower fat & calories plus it’s rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. We signed up in December and received our first shipment in late January. Since we spend so much time in Napa we actually pick up our shipments to save the $30 shipping fee. Each delivery contains 12+ lbs. of meat and is approx. $100. We feel this is a good price for the quality. When I saw our first shipment I thought there was no way 2 people would be able to eat it all but by the time the second batch arrived 3 months later we had consumed everything.

Shipment #1 - frozen & vacuum sealed

I gotta say there is some getting use to eating grass-fed beef. It is super lean and depending on the cut can be chewy and gamey in flavor. My favorites so far have been the stir fry, lamb shanks and the NY steak (pics to come in future posts). They were delicious. Even though we used the stew meat in a slow cooking Texas chili the meat was a little dry and our bbq’d London broil was a bit tough and gamey. Overall we have been very happy with the beef. I will update this post once we have received all four 2011 shipments.

Note: Grass-fed beef cooks much faster than corn/grain fed on the bbq so shorten the cooking time by like 2-4 minutes or you will overcook it!

2011 Shipments:

January, 2011: Winter: “Stews, Soups, and Comfort”
Stew Meat (4lbs)
Lamb Shanks (4lbs)
London Broils (4 London Broils)
April, 2011: Spring: “Family Packs”
Stir Fry Strips (4 lbs)
NY Steaks (6 Steaks)
June, 2011: Summer: “Summer BBQ “
Ground Beef (6 lbs)
Hot Dogs (5 lbs)
Ranch Hand Filets (8 Filets)
October, 2011: Fall: “Holiday Entertaining”
Chateaubriand (4 Chateaubriands)
Petite Tenderloins (4 Petite Tenderloins)

Things we have made:

Texas chili made with our stew meat

London broil just off the BBQ

Join the club here: http://www.longmeadowranch.com/Clubs/Grazier-Membership

**You can also just order beef from their website without joining the club.

Recchiuti Confections S’mores Kit

We spent Valentine’s day at home again this year but I didn’t mind because we made S’mores from Recchiuti Confections. Mike and I picked up a S’mores kit last time we were at the Ferry building in San Francisco and this was the perfect occasion to break it out.

Inside the fancy box you will find 9 handmade Marshmallows, 8 Recchiuti Grahams and a Recchiuti Bittersweet 85% Chocolate Bar.

It’s a grown up version of the classic dessert that is out of the world. The homemade graham crackers are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and the pillowy marshmallows are made with vanilla beans. You can make them in the oven (like we did since it was rainy and cold out) or you can do it the old fashioned way over an open flame.

Either way, you’ll be super happy with the results.

It’s the perfect little package. I plan on giving these out as birthday/holiday/hostess gifts this year so if you want one… invite me to a party :wink:.

Mike liked the sandwich

I preferred open face

Get yours here: http://www.recchiuti.com/109.html

Susie Q’s Brand – Santa Maria Style Barbeque Products


Just before the end of 2010 I was lucky to receive a sampling of the Susie Q’s Brand product line including the Santa Maria Valley Style Seasoning, Pinquito Beans and Red Oak barbecue chips – everything needed for a traditional Santa Maria feast. Santa Maria California is well know for its BBQ. I’ve been to Santa Maria once and the only thing people said I had to have was the BBQ, and of course due to circumstances out of my control I was unable, so I was excited to finally try the famed offerings.

The suggested cut of meat for an authentic Santa Maria BBQ is Tri-Tip so that’s what we made. First step was to get the oak chips prepped. I was unsure about using them with our gas grill but the instructions said any grill will do.

Mike then liberally seasoned the beef with the provided mixture and tossed everything on the grill. On to the beans…

The packaging on the Pinquito beans did not mention soaking the beans before preparing – so I didn’t. They bubbled away on the stove top for about 3.5 hours before they were soft and to my liking. The directions said they should be done within 2 so I think I may have done something wrong.

The results: the meat was fantastic. The simple mixture of garlic, salt, pepper and parsley was surprisingly flavorful. No A.1. sauce needed. The oak flavor was mild… I have a feeling the chips would work much better using a proper smoker. This was the first time I’d ever made beans that were not out of a can so I expected them to be like sweet Boston baked beans but they were more like a Texas chili flavor – a little smokey & spicy. Tasty and worth the long wait. Oh, and I stirred in some bacon in the end…why not?

Thank you Susie Q’s Brand for providing us with a genuine Santa Maria meal at home.

the beef

the beans

For more information about this family run Santa Maria Valley business or to get your hands on some of their products visit: http://www.susieqbrand.com/

Skillet Bacon Jam

A small sample of skillet bacon jam arrived on my doorstep just before the holidays. What is bacon jam you ask? It’s a gooey mixture of niman ranch bacon, onions, balsamic and brown sugar. Some recommended uses: as a salad dressing base, a substitute in a blt, or with cheese or fish. The product was much sweeter than I expected. You lose some of the saltiness you find in straight bacon but it’s tasty just the same. I decided to spread the bacony goodness on a grilled cheese sandwich. Mike’s response…Rockin’ Grilled Cheese. I think that says it all.

I look forward to slathering it on a burger.

Website: http://skilletstreetfood.com/

Note: I received the product mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies

Momofuko Milk Bar, the super popular bakery in NYC, has started shipping their goods (cookies and pies) just in time for the holidays. We needed to bring a dessert to our annual pre-thanksgiving dinner for 10 and I knew this is what I wanted to get.

I ordered 4 varieties:

blueberry & cream: dried blueberries, white chocolate

compost: pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, chocolate chips

corn: corn powder, corn flour

cornflake: cornflakes, marshmallows, chocolate chips

Here is our critique…

blueberry & cream
flavor – buttery, sugary, mild blueberry
texture – firm but moist (kinda raw dough like)
compost
flavor – oatmeal, chocolate, burnt caramel
texture – dense
corn
flavor –  smelled like corn on the cob, tasted like sugary corn muffin
texture – undercooked (in a good way)
cornflake
flavor – buttery, salty, caramel
texture – chewy with crisp edges

Everyone raved about the cookies… for days. It was hard to choose a favorite because they all have something uniquely delicious about them. So what are you waiting for? Go order some and be ready to salivate upon delivery.

Note: I ordered the cookies on a Thursday night and they arrived the following Wednesday morning using standard shipping and they stayed fresh for a full week! Yes, they did last that long —  they are super rich and need to be eaten in moderation.

Website: http://momofukustore.com/

* We did not buy a pie but I did make one earlier this year. Check it out.

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