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Archive for November 22, 2016

GIFT OF THE DAY: Just Spices, Extra-Fresh Spice Blends

Usually THE NIBBLE doesn’t review spices, salad dressings and other categories where it’s difficult to describe the differences or superiority of one brand over another.

After all, if you tried garlic powder from three different producers, what would you say? Once the garlic is cooked in the recipe, any brand will taste good.

But when we met up with Just Spices, and the contents were so fresh, beautiful and aromatic (see photo #1) that we couldn’t resist them, both for our own kitchen and as stocking stuffers.

There’s something for everyone on our list—not just spices, but herbs, too:

  • BBQ Popcorn Seasoning
  • BBQ Seasoning
  • Extra Spicy Seasoning
  • Flavors Of Italy
  • Flavors Of Mexico
  • Guacamole Seasoning
  • Hickory Rub
  • Murray River Salt (beautiful apricot-hued crystals)
  • Oatmeal Spice Blend
  • Pancake Blend
  • Pizza Seasoning
  • Pork Rub
  • Savory Eggs Blend
  • Seafood Rub
  • Smoothie Boost
  • Spicy Garlic Blend
  • Spicy Popcorn Seasoning
  • Steak Rub
  • Sweet Potato Seasoning
  • Tellicherry Pepper
  • Texas BBQ Dip
  • Vegetable Broth Seasoning
  •  

    Just Spices Savory Eggs Blend

    Just Spices BBQ Popcorn Seasoning

    Just Spices Gift Box

    [1] Savory Eggs Blend, a beautiful selection of aromas, flavors and colors. [2] There are two popcorn seasoning blends: BBQ and Spicy. [3] Give individual spices or a box of six Kitchen Essentials (all photos courtesy Just Spices).

     
    Prices range from $5.49 to $6.99.

    A Kitchen Essentials gift box of six spices is $34.49, and includes BBQ Seasoning, Flavors of Italy, Murray River Salt, Spicy Garlic Seasoning, Tellicherry Pepper and Vegetable Broth Seasoning.
     
    WHAT TO GIVE

    We’re giving Oatmeal Spice Blend to our oatmeal-eating friends, BBQ and Spicy Popcorn Seasonings to our popcorn-popping friends, Spicy Garlic Blend to our garlic-loving friends, and so on.

    Just scan the list above to pick what will be loved by your family, friends and colleagues (and don’t forget to buy your own).

    The bright, hip packaging is terrific: “a gift waiting to happen” we thought, the first time we saw them. The color and aroma of the contents are unmatched by other brands we’ve purchased.

    In fact, the brand was started by three college friends who couldn’t find what they wanted at the supermarket.

    Take advantage of their inspiration and travels around the world to buy from the best small growers. Because they buy and produce in small batches, the spices are so vibrant and fragrant, we spent quite some time inhaling each one.
     
    Order yours at JustSpices.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Cranberry Wreath…And A Mistletoe Ball

    Christmas Wreath With Cranberries

    Mistletoe Ball

    Bowl Of Cranberries

    Ocean Spray Cranberries Package

    [1] Make a cranberry wreath for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or [2] a cranberry and mistletoe “kissing ball” for Christmas (photos 1, 2 and 4 courtesy Ocean Spray). [3] Were cranberries served at the first Thanksgiving? No one knows* (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Sure, you can buy evergreen wreaths galore during the holiday season. But you can also have fun making your own, or as a gift for holiday hosts.

    A fresh cranberry wreath or mistletoe ball will last approximately one week. Replace the cranberries when they begin to soften.

    To extend the life of the cranberries, you can spray them with an even coating of shellac. Caution: For the safety of wildlife and birds, do not use shellac if you plan to hang wreath outdoors.

    To avoid staining, do not place fresh cranberries directly on lightly-painted surfaces or linens.

    CRANBERRY WREATH

    Ingredients

    For The Wreath

  • 1 12-inch evergreen wreath
  • 1 thin needle
  • 5 yards of strong cord or waxed dental floss, cut into five 36″ lengths
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • Hook for hanging
  • Optional: shellac
  •  
    For The Cranberry Ball

  • 1 five-inch Styrofoam® ball (or other size of preference)
  • Dark red acrylic craft paint (or other suitable for painting styrofoam)
  • 1-2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
  • 1 box metal pins with small flat heads, approx. 1″ long (approx 300 quantity)
  • 1 12-18″ length of 3/4″ wide red ribbon
  • 1 48″ length of 3/4″ wide red ribbon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the wreath. Start with one 36″ length of thread and a thin needle. Knot one end of the thread and string the cranberries one at a time by piercing through the center with the needle. Secure the end of the thread with a large knot.

    2. REPEAT with the 4 remaining lengths of thread. To make stringing cranberries easier, use waxed dental floss or try waxing the needle and thread with beeswax.

    3. WRAP each strand around the wreath 3-4 times.

    4. MAKE the ball: Paint the Styrofoam ball with red paint and set aside to dry. Painting the Styrofoam ensures that any spaces between the cranberries will be less noticeable.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Lay the wide red ribbon over the top of the wreath with the ends hanging down into the middle. Pin each end of the ribbon to the ball so it hangs in the middle of the wreath. To complete, attach the 48″ ribbon at the top of the ball and tie a bow.
    ________________
    *There is no complete record of the food at the feast shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag in 1621. Two letters written near that time mention wheat, corn, barley, waterfowl, deer, fish and wild turkey. The Wampanoag ate cranberries and they may have brought some, but there is no direct evidence that they did so.

    HOLIDAY KISSING BALL

    Ingredients

  • 5” Styrofoam ball
  • Dark red acrylic craft paint (or other suitable for painting styrofoam)
  • 24-gauge beading wire
  • Hot glue gun/glue sticks OR wooden toothpicks
  • 1-2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
  • Holiday trim of choice: ribbon, mistletoe, holly, ivy, bells
  • Hook for hanging
  • Optional: shellac
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PAINT the ball with red craft paint. Set aside to dry.

    2. CUT an 18″ piece of wire and fold it in half. Push the folded wire all the way through the center of foam ball, leaving a 1” wire loop extending at bottom of ball and 3” of wire extending at top.

    3. ATTACH the cranberries to ball with the hot glue gun or toothpicks, covering the ball completely. Twist the wires at the top of the ball into a simple hook for hanging. Use ribbon to tie the mistletoe and other trim to the wire above and below the ball. Hang with a hook.

    4. INSERT a pin through each cranberry and press into the styrofoam, placing the berries as closely together as possible. Continue until all areas of the ball are covered with cranberries. TIP: Completing a section of berries close together is easier than continuing a single row all the way around the ball.

    ABOUT OCEAN SPRAY

    Cranberries are native to America, and first cultivated on Cape Cod around 1816.

    Ocean Spray was formed in 1930 by by lawyer and grower Marcus L. Urann and two other growers. Since then, the Ocean Spray cooperative has grown to more than 700 grower families all across North America.

    The cooperative’s first product was jellied cranberry sauce, followed by original Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail, hitting the shelves a few years later.

    Since 1995, Wisconsin has produced the largest crop of cranberries, currently about 57% of the U.S. total production. Massachusetts, originally the largest producer, fell to second that year, and currently produces another 23%-30% of the crop. The remaining U.S. cranberry crop comes mainly from New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

    The U.S. is the largest producer of cranberries, followed by Canada, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania, Macedonia, Tunisia and Spain.

    Here’s more cranberry history and details of the different product introductions from Ocean Spray, and great details from the University Of Wisconsin (for example, where does white cranberry juice come from).

      

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