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GIFTS OF THE DAY: Rum Cake, Espresso Cake, Bundt Cake, Gift Cake

Rum Cake

Espresso Bundt Cake

Espresso Bundt Cake

[1] Divine rum cakes in 6 flavors from Rum Sisters. [2] This expresso cake from 1812 House: a coffee lover’s dream cake. [3] A duo of small espresso bundt cakes with caramel sauce.

 

GIFT #1: RUM SISTERS, RUM CAKES & MORE

We’ve tried lots of rum cake. But the Rum Sisters make the best we’ve tried in recent memory.

The business was begun by two friends who shared a love of baking, cake and alcohol.

Not to mention the skills to make truly great whiskey-infused cakes.

Not to mention the premium ingredients, including fine rum, bourbon, Irish whiskey and Kahlúa.

These rum cakes are so good, we ate the whole sampler box—6 mini bundts-in two days. When there was not a crumb left, we cried plaintively: More! More!

There’s a tempting selection:

  • Bushwacker: Named after the coastal frozen drink, this rum cake has a delicious infusion of coconut and chocolate..
  • Drunken Monkey: Touted as “the best banana bread ever,” this cake is infused with bourbon.
  • Keel Over: This version of a classic rum cake is infused with dark rum.
  • Spice It Up: Think of the carrot cake with raisin and spiced rum.
  • The Big “O”: Aged Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream distinguish combine in this special flavor.
  • Twisted Sista: This dark chocolate cake is infused with Kahlúa and finished with white chocolate rum, a “twisted” medley of flavors.
  • Gluten Free Cakes: Keel Over and Twisted Sista are both made in GF versions.
  •  
    Cakes are $25 (small) and $50 (large). Get acquainted with all six flavors in the Sumptuous Sampler of mini bundts, $30. (Regular folks might split one with a cup of tea, or eat half at a time.)

    Head to RumSisters.com.
     
    GIFT #2: ESPRESSO CAKE FOR COFFEE LOVERS

    Matthews 1812 House is a second-generation family business. The Matthews family started in 1979 in the family farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut (the house was built in 1812).

    From a line of two fruitcakes, “baking racks in the hallways and people sorting apricots and pecans on the dining room table,” the company now has a dedicated facility a mile away, and a full line of specialty cakes into cookies, bars, and other sweet treats.

     
    The flavor we haven’t seen before is the Espresso Bundt Cake. If a cup of espresso can be transformed into a cake, this is it.

    The moist cake has a bold coffee flavor, a hint of cinnamon, and less sugar than most bundt cakes. That’s why you can easily add caramel sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.

    A large bundt cake is $29.00; two mini-bundts, called Duo Cakes, $15.00, are packaged with espresso caramel sauce that fits nicely in the top wells.

    Order at 1812House.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Coconut Milk & The Different Types Of Soups

    Twenty-five years ago, people who needed an alternative to dairy milk turned to soy milk. Then rice milk arrived.

    Today there’s quite a selection of non-dairy milks: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, hemp, oat, rice and soy.

    Since 1999, according to market research firm Euromonitor, plant-based alternatives milks have grown in annual sales by an average of 10.9%. They are now a $1 billion-plus category in domestic retail sales.

    The trend is based on personal factors: allergies, kosher and vegan diets, lactose intolerance and sustainable lifestyles (the manure and flatulence of dairy animals produce huge amounts of methane, a major greenhouse gas. Here’s more information).

    As with dairy milks*, each plant-based milk has a different flavor and nutritional profile.

    Although we drink a large amount of cow’s milk, we like plant-based milks for different reasons: chocolate and green tea almond or soy milk for a refreshing drink, cashew milk as a delicious newcomer, coconut milk for cooking.

    We especially like coconut in creamy soups. It gives a slight Thai twist; add hot chile slices and lemongrass for the full Thai experience.

    Some of our favorite thai dishes include coconut rice, coconut curried chicken, coconut pumpkin soup, and our beloved tom ka gai, coconut chicken soup. All get their coconut flavor from unsweetened coconut milk.

    But for today, here’s a fusion soup: chowder with coconut milk. It has another popular Thai ingredient too: hot chile slices.

    RECIPE: SPICY SEA BASS CHOWDER WITH COCONUT MILK

    Sea bass is poached in coconut milk for this extra rich and velvety hearty chowder. DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com, which gave us the recipe, suggests that it be paired with California chardonnay or viognier.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon (15g) coconut oil
  • 5 spring onions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds (substitute the slender Thai or birdseye chiles if you can find them)
  • 5 medium Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes (about 1½ pounds/675g), peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
  • 3 cups (720ml) unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred
  • ½ cup (125ml) water
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces/225g), peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
  • 1½ pounds (680g) sea bass fillets, cut into 2-inch (5cm) pieces
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking

    2. ADD the onions, garlic, and jalapeño; cook, stirring for 1 minute.

    3. ADD the potatoes; cook and stir for 1 minute.

    4. STIR in the red bell pepper, coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes

    5. ADD the zucchini and bass. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes.

    6. DIVIDE the chowder among 4 bowls. Squeeze the juice of one lime wedge over each serving.
     
    ________________
    *The list of animal milks drunk worldwide includes camel, cow, donkey, goat, horse, llama, reindeer, sheep, water buffalo and yak.

       

    Sea Bass & Coconut Chowder Recipe

    So Delicious Coconut Milk

    Coconut Banana Smoothie

    Coconut Milk Flan

    [1] Fish chowder with coconut milk (photo courtesy Discover California Wines). The recipe is below. [2] Coconut milk is available in cartons and cans (photo courtesy So Delicious). [3] Try coconut milk in your next banana smoothie (this recipe has pineapple as well, from Makes And Takes). [4] Many desserts can be made with coconut milk, from ice cream to this coconut milk flan (here’s the recipe from Care 2).

     

    Seafood Broth

    Corn & Zucchini Chowder

    Lobster Bisque

    [1] Consommé, clarified into an elegant, clear liquid (photo courtesy Picholine | NYC. [2] Chowder, here the chunkiest soup, packed with goodies. Here’s the recipe for this corn and zucchini chowder from LittleBroken.com. Some, like Manhattan clam chowder, do not contain dairy. [3] Bisque is a creamy seafood soup, pureed into smoothness (photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com).

     

    THE DIFFERENCES: BROTH, CHOWDER, SOUP & MORE

  • Bisque: A thick, creamy soup that traditionally was made from puréed shellfish. Today bisques are also made from fruits, game fish and vegetables.
  • Broth & Stock: Liquids in which meat, fish, grains or vegetables have been simmered. The difference between a broth and a stock is that broth is made from the desirable ingredients; stock is made from “leftovers” such as bones and skin; thus broth is richer and more nourishing than stock. Both are used as a base for soups and gravies.
  • Chowder: Chunky soups thickened with flour. The main ingredient chowder can range widely, including chicken, corn, fish and seafood.
  • Consommé: A broth that has been clarification. This means that egg whites or other ingredients are boiled in the broth to coagulate the sediment, resulting in a clear, elegant-looking soup.
  • Gumbo: A dish that can fall into the soup or stew category, a strong stock of meat and/or fish/seafood, with pieces of the protein and a variety of vegetables, served over rice. Gumbo is traditionally thickened with okra or filé powder (from the sassfras tree) and vegetables. A gumbo is traditionally served over rice.
  • Gravy: Gravy is not a soup, but a sauce; although Americans have often turned canned soups into sauces. Gravies are made from the juices of cooked meat or vegetables after they have been cooked. Almost all gravies start with a roux (ROO), a mixture of flour and butter; and are thickened with starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, etc).
  • Purée: Some soups are puréed into smoothness. A purée can be considered a vegetable or grain/pulse counterpoint to a bisque. The technique also produces smooth apple sauce, whipped potatoes and puréed vegetables (carrot purée, broccoli purée, etc.).
  • Ragout: The French term for a main-dish stew. Note that in Italian, n Italian cuisine, ragù is a meat-based pasta sauce.
  • Soup: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for starters or desserts.
  • Stew: A hearty dish made from proteins, vegetables, pulses, etc., simmered in a liquid (water, broth, stock, wine, beer) and then served in the resulting gravy. Stewing is a technique to cook less tender cuts of meat: The slow cooking method tenderizes the meat and the lower temperature allows the flavors to combine. There is a thin line between soups and chunky soups; generally, stews contain less liquid. Sometimes the name is adopted for a soup. Oyster Stew, for example, is a thick soup with butter and milk or cream, like a bisque.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOUP

    THE HISTORY OF SOUP

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Grandma Hoerner’s Apple Pouches

    Grandma Hoerner’s is a company that makes Big Slice Apples, one of our favorite new snacks and toppings.

    Big Slice Apples were first cooked in Grandma Hoerner’s farm kitchen in Kansas in the late 1800s, made from apples straight from the orchard.

    Grandson, Duane McCoy, rcalling the wonderful big slices of cooked apples from his youth, could find no commercial product like it. In 1987, after experimenting to replicate her recipe, he was ready to bring them to the world.

    Big Slice Juicy Cooked Apples may be the best apple “sauce” you can buy. Thick slices of kettle-cooked apples resting in an a sauce made from reduced apple juice.

    It is the way it was originally made with big slices of fresh apples, slow cooked, with only natural ingredients added. These are chunky apples that can be eaten with a fork, although a spoon will do.

    The Big Apple Slices are all natural, non-GMO, HFCS free and slow cooked, using domestic apples—just as Grandma Hoerner made them. They are both a luxurious dessert or topping and a healthful grab-and-go snack—a great source of vitamin C and naturally gluten free.

    The product, originally (and still) sold in 19.5-ounce jars, is now available in grab-and-go pouches—lots of them—in 4.5-ounce portions, 80 to 90 calories depending on flavor, for $2.50. We found 16-packs on Amazon, but not on the Grandma Hoerner’s website.

    Three flavor lines focus on flavor profiles:

  • Pure Line, simply flavored: Apricot, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chai, Cherry Vanilla, Natural, Orange Ginger
  • Fit Line, with added nutrition: Banana, Mango & Hemp Seed; Peach, Green Tea & Aloe; Honey Berry Chia; Pineapple, Passion Fruit & Fiber, Raspberry Hibiscus & Green Coffee Extract
  • Luxe Line, with indulgent additions: Boysenberry Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon Candy, Cinnamon French Toast, Peach Bellini
  •  
    The only challenge is where to begin. We received samples of each flavor, and can’t decide what to re-order. We may have to proceed alphabetically!
     
    HOW TO ENJOY GRANDMA HOERNER’S BIG SLICE APPLES

    For starters, here’s how we enjoyed the different Big Slice flavors:

  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese, French toast, omelets, porridge, toast, yogurt, pancakes, waffles
  • Lunch & Dinner: as a condiment or side with fried chicken, ham, pork, turkey
  • Dessert: crêpes, ice cream/sorbet, parfait, pound or angel cake, tartlet shells
  • Snack: straight from the pouch, on a rice cake
  •    

    Grandma Hoerner's Big Slice Apples

    Pancakes With Grandma Hoerner's Apples

    Big Slice On Yogurt

    [1] A great grab-and-go snack. [2] A topping for pancakes and other breakfast foods. [3] A yogurt mix-in or topping (photos courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    Apple Tartlets

    [4] Time for dessert or company for tea? Fill tartlet shells for dessert (photo courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    WHERE TO FIND BIG SLICE

    The pouches are available at Costco, H -E-B, Hy-Vee. Kowalski’s, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, and more than 7,000 food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.

    You can buy them online at BigSliceApples.com and in multipacks at Amazon.com.

    A portion of the purchase to the A Sparkle Life, a non-profit organization aiding women in need.

     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION, head to BigSliceApples.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Get Seasonal With Pumpkin-Accented Everyday Foods

    In our childhood, fall meant a choice of pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie. Today, there’s pumpkin everything.

    Walk into your favorite food store: You’ll find pumpkin-themed products in every aisle.

    Start the day with pumpkin yogurt or a bowl of pumpkin granola, toasted Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice English Muffins and bagels. Wash them down with pumpkin coffee or tea. End the day with pumpkin ice cream. And pumpkin-up everything in-between.

    And we haven’t even gotten to the baked goods, from bagels and scones to pumpkin cheesecake.

    Some contain actual pumpkin or closely-related squash; others are simply accented with pumpkin pie spices.

    Yesterday at Whole Foods, we picked up:

  • 365 Everyday Value brand Pumpkin Spice Granola with Cranberries & Apples
  • Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie Gelato (with real pieces of pie crust!)
  • Terra’s Beauregard Sweets & Fairytale Pumpkin Chips
  •  
    Yesterday we covered pumpkin beer. Here are some of our favorite products of the season. Many are limited editions, so don’t dally!
     
    PUMPKIN BEVERAGES

    Tea

    David’s Tea Pumpkin Chai, a black spiced tea, is a customer favorite. It’s fragrant and flavorful, with notes of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and squash pieces, and a hint of caramel.

    David’s recommends stirring in a spoonful of brown sugar and topping it with steamed milk. We drank ours straight.

    It’s also available packed in a tin for gift-giving; and herbal Spiced Pumpkin Tea. Take a sip at DavidsTea.com.

    You can find Celestial Seasoning’s Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Black Tea at many supermarkets.
     
    Coffee

    You’ll find everything from caramel, maple and nutty flavors like almond and hazelnut, along with the fall spice flavors: cinnamon, gingerbread, pumpkin spice, snickerdoodle, etc.

    Looking for K-Cups? You’ll find plenty of them. We’ve been working our way through Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice at a brisk pace. If you can’t find them locally, head to DunkinAtHome.com.
     
    Pumpkin Juice

    Natalie’s, our favorite line of all-natural, fresh-squeezed juices, squeezes apples, pears and real pumpkin, blended with cinnamon, ginger and clove. It’s very special.

    If you can’t find it locally, contact OrchidIslandJuice.com.
     
    PUMPKIN SNACKS & MORE

    Pumpkin Yogurt

    Pumpkin yogurt abounds, with a shout-out to Noosa Pumpkin Yoghurt, one of our favorites. Stonyfield Organic has Pumpkin Oh My Yog, a tri-layer whole milk yogurt: cream top, honey-infused whole milk yogurt middle, and pumpkin bottom.
     
    Salsa & Chips

    Mrs. Renfro’s Pumpkin Salsa is a smooth (as opposed to chunky) salsa that is delicious on anything, starting with a sauce for chicken, fish, tofu, grains, potatoes and other vegetables.

    For the classic American use—with chips—there are seasonal offerings such Food Should Taste Good’s Fall Harvest Chips, Way Better Snacks Punkin’ Cranberry (yes, that’s how they spell it) and other brands.

    We even added it to vodka for an instant Pumpkin Martini.
     
    MORE PUMPKIN PRODUCTS TO COME!

     

    Pumpkin Spice K Cups

    Mrs. Renfro's Pumpkin Salsa

    Natalie's Pumpkin Apple Juice

    Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt

    English Muffins

    [1] Pumpkin Spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts Home. [2] Mrs. Renfro’s Pumpkin Salsa. [3] Pumpkin Apple Spice Juice from Natalie’s. [4] Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt. [5] Thomas Pumpkin English Muffins.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says HealthDay.com, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
  •  
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.
     
    LACTOSE-FREE ICE CREAM FROM LACTAID

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  •  
    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  •  
    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip
  •    

    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy NotQuiteSusie.com). [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.
     
    Now…

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!

     

    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com). [2] Photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com).

     

    MORE LACTOSE-FREE DAIRY FOODS

    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
     
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.
     
    BOTH LACTAID & GREEN VALLEY PRODUCTS ARE DEE-LICIOUS.
     
    LIKE CHEESE?

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.

     

      

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