Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sourdough Starter, Part 2

My sourdough starter has begun to properly separate into lighter colored dough vs the alcohol smelling liquid. Took long enough. Must be the cold weather that delayed the process.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sourdough Starter, Part 1

A few months ago, I ordered a package of sourdough bread mix on Amazon. When I received a few teaspoons of powdered sourdough starter instead, I contacted the vendor. He said "Amazon must have put up the wrong title. Not my fault. Not taking it back from you, either, since it's a food product." Amazon was kind enough to refund my money, though, and I tossed the starter in the back of my pantry. I thought "Well, I'll give it to someone else down the road. No sense in wasting food."

This month, I was cleaning out the pantry. I came across the powdered sourdough starter. I decided to give it a try and see if I could make sourdough bread from it. I wasn't sure how long you could keep that stuff around before it goes bad, so why not ?

The home printed instructions from the vendor were vague and not very helpful. He said the starter was enough for two starts. Each start was supposed to be one teaspoon of powder plus one teaspoon of water. Which was to be followed by feeding one tablespoons of flour and one tablespoons of water 2x daily. Just one problem: there were nine teaspoons of starter in the packet. Could nine starters be made from this ? Was two a typo ? I just thought "Oh forget it, I'll dump all nine teaspoons of starter + nine teaspoons of water in this plastic tub, then feed it the recommended amount daily."

Things became more confusing once I started checking my cookbooks and googling "how to take care of my sourdough starter." Among the advice I'm wading through:
- "You can use white flour" vs "It must be whole wheat or rye flour"
- "Add one cup of water + one cup of flour 2x a day" vs "Add two cups of water + two cups of flour 2x a day"
- "Throw out your starter if it bubbles and rises but fails to separate into brown goo and light goo" vs "As long as your starter bubbles and rises daily, don't worry about separation"
- "You only need flour and water to get started" vs "You need flour, yeast, sugar" vs "Use flour, baking soda, sugar, water"
- "If your starter isn't growing fast enough, add yeast in" vs "Don't add yeast, you'll ruin the starter" vs "You can fix it with raisin sugar / pineapple / other natural method"
- "You can use starter after three days of fermenting" vs "Never use starter before it's two weeks old. You'll get blech results."

This is what I've gotten done so far:
- Week 1, Day 1-4: Starter, flour and water in plastic tub + 2x daily feedings of one tablespoon of flour and one tablespoon of water
- Week 1, Day 5: I read online "Don't put starter in plastic or metal. The flavor will leech into the starter. Always use glass to store starter. And only bake it in a glass baking dish." Oops. Switched over to glass for storage.
- Week 1 Day 6: I read online "Switch to a different, clean glass containers every four days. You don't want a cruddy, gross mixture." Check, will keep doing that.
- Week 2, Day 1: Maybe I should switch to feeding one cup of flour and one cup of water daily. Everyone is doing such a large amount, so it must be correct, right ?
- Week 2, Day 2: Huh, my cookbook says to use yeast. Let's add yeast. Oh great, this website says that a bad idea. I HOPE YOU DON'T DIE ON ME, STARTER!

I'm basically winging it as I go along at this point. More about my sourdough starter later.
*ETA: I have been using self rising flour.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carmex Blog Squad: Healing Lotion & Cream

Where I live in Florida, the winters are a bit odd. We have sunny, humid weather in the daytime and cooler, windy weather at night. Weeks of both extremes wreak havoc on my skin. This kind of weather requires something different than simply a sunscreen or the usual nightly face cream. The Carmex Blog Squad sent me a product that fits the bill, just in time for Florida's whacky winter weather.

My package from The Carmex Blog Squad contained Carmex Healing Lotion and Carmex Healing Cream. The distinct red and yellow squeezable tubes were in a mesh gift bag, tied with a ribbon. Too cute!

5.5 oz Carmex Healing Lotion
4 oz Carmex Healing Cream
1 oz Carmex Healing Lotion
.75 oz Carmex Healing Cream

5.5 oz Carmex Healing Lotion
4 oz Carmex Healing Cream
1 oz Carmex Healing Lotion

1 oz Carmex Healing Lotion
.75 oz Carmex Healing Cream

You're probably wondering how Carmex Healing Lotion and Carmex Healing Cream compare to each other. Take a walk down the virtual beauty aisle with me:

Carmex Healing Cream (purple label)
"Use to help repair your driest rough skin"
"Non greasy pleasant scent"
"9 Healing ingredients"

- Carmex Healing Cream smells like vanilla frosting when you open the tube.
- When you squeeze a dab on your skin, the scent changes to vanilla mixed with either lemon or lime (lemon and lime are not on the ingredient list). I am a sucker for vanilla mixed with citrus, however they managed to make that scent happen *happy sigh*
- Some of the ingredients include lanolin, bees wax, cocoa seed butter, mineral oil, vanillin. That explains the vanilla scent!
- Carmex Healing lotion is not sticky or waxy when applied to skin. It dried fast on my arms, hands, legs and elbows. My skin became noticably softer within a few minutes. Many other creams take a large glob of cream or long amount of time to notice a difference. I know some of you wear gloves or socks to bed to make your lotion work, ala Miranda Hobbes from Sex and The City. Let's do away with that routine. Treat yourself to a tube of Carmex Healing Cream instead.
- The handwashing test: The true test of skin care is washing your hands. There's nothing more gross than washing your hands and having a gluey wave of skin care product slide right off. And then your hands are suddenly not soft again. It's one of my pet peeves. Carmex Healing Cream did not glop off when I washed my hands. My hands are still velvety smooth, too. Yay!

Carmex Healing Lotion (teal label)
"Use daily to soothe and protect dry skin"
"Non greasy pleasant scent"
"Aloe and vitaman E"

-Carmex Healing Lotion has a scent of honey and vanilla. The lotion takes on a light sunscreen-ish fragrance when it comes in contact with skin.(I do not know if Carmex Healing Lotion has any ingredients in common with suncreen) The smell is fainter than that of the Carmex Healing Cream (purple label); but neither product has an overpowering aroma
-A few ingredients in Carmex Healing Lotion: vitamin E linoleate, aloe leaf juice, beeswax, cocoa seed butter, mineral oil, camphor, menthol and vanillin
- The lotion feels thicker and waxier than the cream when it touches your skin. The only thing I disliked was that initial texture; it gave me the impression Carmex Healing Lotion was going to stay sticky, which fortunately was incorrect. It does dry fairly quickly. The healing lotion also made my hands as equally soft as the healing cream.
- The healing lotion passed the handwashing test, too

I was left with a very positive impression of both the Carmex Healing Lotion and the Carmex Healing Cream. The purple label Healing Cream is fantastic for repairing dry skin, especially in harsh winter weather. The teal label Healing Lotion is a must have for daily skin protection. And with a variety of package sizes to choose from, you can pick up a full size tube for your beside table and some mini tubes for stocking stuffers, holiday travel and your purse. Carmex Healing Lotion and the Carmex Healing Cream will make people take notice of your fabulous skin!

The Carmex Blog Squad will send one lucky duck AMW reader a kit like the one I received. The contest rules are simple: post who you will be gifting Carmex Healing Lotion and Carmex Healing Cream to this holiday season. The contest begins on November 30, 2011 at 2:50 PM EST. One name will be chosen at random on December 6, 2011 at 8 PM EST. The winner's prize will be shipped by the Carmex Blog Squad. One entry per person and per household, please.

*Update 1: Congrats to T! You are the winner. Email me by 8 PM on December 7th with your address. Otherwise the prize goes to the runner up.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lesson Of The Day: Black Friday

If you're like me and (1) have a huge sweet tooth and (2) usually refuse to venture out on Black Friday, learn from my mistakes. I really should have stocked up on sweets, drinks and junk food before today, which is Black Friday. I was down to a little bit of milk and a boxed cake mix with peppermint frosting that did not taste like the package promised (blech!). So I convinced myself that, yes, a carton of ice cream was worth a trip out. Bought the lowest price ice cream, took it home and went "Ugh, this tastes nasty. Why did I buy a cheapo brand ? I should have splurged on a better brand of ice cream." The only saving grace was that I'd also picked up decaff tea, a Fannie May Mint Meltaway and a Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cream Santa. Not gonna let this happen again next year.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Carmex: Ultra Moisturizing & Moisture Plus

How I love September! It's a mix of back to school shopping, elegant fall weddings and getting in those last beach days before the weather changes. All three events are very different, but they have one thing in common that makes of all them a hit: Carmex Lip Balms. The Carmex Blog Squad sent AMW a fabulous package that proves autumn + Carmex = a great way to kick off the season.

Carmex Moisture Plus Satin Gloss Finish, Carmex Ultra Moisurizing Vanilla Stick, Carmex Ultra Moisturizing Lime Twist Stick, Carmex picnic blanket

Carmex Vanilla Stick

Carmex Lime Twist Stick

The first two products I tested were the Carmex Vanilla Stick and the Carmex Lime Twist Stick.

- Ingredients (partial list): Cocoa seed butter, meadowfoam, camphor and beeswax. The camphor adds a nice cooling sensation to the lip balm

- Ease of use: Simply twist the round bottom of the tube to raise the lip balm. The down side is that the twisting mechanism is super loud. It's like winding a noisy watch. I'm one of those women who likes to discretely add a little lip balm on the go (and not have 10 people stare), so hopefully the twisting piece can be made less noisy in the future.

- Scent: I honestly couldn't detect a vanilla scent with the Carmex Vanilla Stick. What I smelled was a pleasant lemon aroma. However, other people told me "Smells like vanilla to me...What scent is it ?...I thought it was vanilla." The Carmex Lime Twist Stick, however, had a beautiful, tropical lime scent.

- Taste: Carmex Vanilla Stick tasted like a lemon lollipop. Not vanilla to my lips, but delicious none the less. Who doesn't love lemon lollipops ?
Carmex Lime Twist Stick brought to mind lime lollipops. Definitely a craveable flavor!

- The water bottle test: I applied the Carmex Vanilla Stick. I then drank from a water bottle several times, over an extended period of time. Not once did I need to reapply my lip balm or wipe off the top of the water bottle (although the package does say to reapply after swimming). Carmex Lime Twist Stick held up equally well.

- Bonus points: For being SPF 15, availability at three well known stores (Walgreens, Walmart and CVS) and having three extra moisturizers. Also of note is the safety seal on the tube. Obviously the outer package is sealed; but it is comforting to know there's a second safety barrier between my cosmetics purchase and the outside world.


The third product I tested was the Carmex Moisture Plus Satin Gloss Finish

- Ingredients (partial list): Vitamin E, aloe butter, beeswax, shea butter fruit, camphor and avocado butter. It's like treating yourself to a day of pampering at the spa!

- Ease of use: Twist the top of the tube to extend or retract the lip balm. Carmex Moisture Plus Satin Gloss Finish can be used, according to the package, "under or over lipstick" or by itself. You know how I've often griped about putting sticky lip balm on over lipstick ? No more, my friends.

- Scent: Random lime scent (lime isn't listed on the package). Lightly sweet but not cloying or overpowering

- Taste: A cooling and soothing lime taste. Definitely not sticky or gloppy, as many lip balms tend to be.

- The water bottle test: Passed with flying colors. Carmex Satin Gloss smoothly rolls onto your lips smoothly and stays put for a long time.

- Bonus points: Containing sunscreen / SPF 15, having a thin slanted tip, not falling apart or melting after a few uses and not being tested on animals

I loved the Carmex Moisture Plus Satin Gloss Finish, Carmex Vanilla Stick and the Carmex Lime Twist Stick. Each lip balm is long lasting, smells divine and is a must have for fashionable women this fall. This trio of lip balms makes a great bridesmaid gift for fall weddings. Especially since bridal party pictures are taken outdoors for at least an hour every time, in sun, wind or cold. Carmex is also perfect to send to the busy college girl in your life. College students need that Carmex lip care for their 24/7, always on the go life. But don't forget about pampering yourself. Pack Carmex lip balms for your Labor Day beach trip. Your lips will thank you!


I have a surprise for all of you. The Carmex Blog Squad will provide one lucky AMW reader with the same kit I received (the lip balms + the cozy blanket pictured below). The Carmex blanket is reversible, with fleece on one side and a smooth, flat surface on the other. It has a handle and a velcro strip to hold the folded blanket. There's also a cute pouch attached to the blanket. Carmex lip balms can be tucked into the pouch for beach outings.

To enter the contest, post which flavor of the twist sticks you want to try. Be sure to include your name and email in your post. If you aren't comfortable posting your email address, please email AMW and let me know which entry belongs to you. One entry per person, please. The contest will run from 9:30 PM EST on 9/4/2011 and ends at 4 PM EST on 9/5/2011. The winner will be randomly chosen on 9/4/2011 at 4:10 PM EST. Carmex will mail the prize kit to the winner. Good luck, everyone!

*Update #1: Congrats to L.K. You are the winner of a Carmex kit. Please email me your address by 8 PM tonight. Otherwise the prize will go to the runner up.
*Update #2: Thank you, L.K. Expect your prize from Carmex in a few weeks.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden update

My garden is coming up nicely. Very excited to have fresh produce in my own yard!

Organic brandywine red tomatoes
Picklebush cucumbers
Yellow summer squash

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Freschetta By The Slice & Simply Inspired Pizza

My favorite meal on a busy, hectic day is pizza. But who has time to make pizza from scratch or wait for the pizza delivery guy, when you're hungry and there's a million things on your to-do list ? If you're anything like me, you've already thought ahead and bought some Freschetta Pizzas on a previous shopping trip, for just such a day.

Speaking of time savers: This week, the Freschetta Fresh Connection bloggers panel sent me an awesome package: a Freschetta storage set (six pieces) and coupons to try Freschetta By The Slice Pizza and Freschetta Simply Inspired Pizza. The box arrived when I was bustling around the house, getting ready for work the next day. I had been thinking "What on earth will I fix everyone for dinner tonight ? And why don't we have any more tupperware for my lunch box tomorrow ? Did you guys eat my tupperware when you ate all my dinner ingredients ?" So after finding the package at the door, I made a quick Freschetta run to the store, came home to cook the pizzas and packed lunches in the wicked cool storage set. I was one happy lady that day!

Freschetta Simply Inspired Pizza

"Bringing vibrant flavors to life, this pizza offers a creamy tomato and garlic pesto sauce, roma tomatoes and roasted garlic topped by a blend of premium cheeses (provolone, sharp parmesan and smoky asiago)"

Freschetta coupon

Variety tasted: Classic Bruschetta

Cooked in: 20 minutes in an oven

Serving size: 8 slices

Toppings: The tomatoes were very fresh, plump and juicy.

The first flavors that hit me: asiago and parmesan.

Sauce: is creamy, but there isn't enough of it. Gets absorbed into cheese. Tomato sauce flavor kicks in after bites of cheese and the pesto sauce.

Overall flavor: Definite garlic taste. Just the right amount

Crust: is perfect amount of crisp and flaky. Not cardboardy. Is buttery and indulgent! Underside of crust looks like pita bread.Has the right amount of cheese to crust ratio

Bonus points for: Fresch Taste Seal packaging. It locks in flavor, requires less packing and peels open easily. No more yanking at plastic shrink wrap to open a pizza and great for the environment!

Overall opinion: A+ for a pizza with rich, bold flavors, fresh ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. Definitely buying 2 or 3 pizzas next times, because everyone over here took two slices and there weren't leftovers.

Other flavors available:
Harvest Supreme
Chicken Bianco
Farmers Market Veggie
Rustic Pepperoni Pomodoro
Southern BBQ Recipe Chicken
Tuscan Farmhouse
Hawaiian Style

"FRESCHETTA® By The Slice – One Perfect Slice of Pizza
The fresh taste you love in FRESCHETTA® pizza is now available in FRESCHETTA® By The Slice. A single slice cut from a whole pizza, FRESCHETTA® By The Slice delivers one perfect slice of pizza in minutes with the same premium ingredients and oven-baked taste right out of the microwave."

"Take a few moments out of a busy day and enjoy a slice of pizza topped with generous chunks of white meat chicken, savory mushrooms and spinach on a creamy white sauce. Perfect for a little quiet time."

Freschetta coupon

Freschetta By The Slice Pizza

Variety tasted: Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom

Serving size: 1 large, filling slice of pizza that can be microwaved

Dominant scent while pizza baked: Parmesan

Dominant taste: Mozzarella and basil

Roasted mushroom topping: Delicious, fresh and buttery taste. Tastes like home roasted mushrooms and not the canned variety one normally finds on frozen pizza

Chicken topping: Is moist and juicy, but pieces are too small. Unfortunately, the chicken gets lost behind the rich mushroom. It would be better if the chicken pieces were either larger or left off all together.

Spinach topping: Generous amount. Cooked perfectly with the pizza and wasn't soggy or too finely shredded.

Sauce: Tastes similar to alfredo sauce. Slice has a small amount of sauce, but the small amount works for this pizza variety better than with the Simply Inspired pizza.

Crust: Top of crust is soft and thick. Bottom of the crust is flaky and delicious, with a cheddar after taste. This crust is thicker than that of the Simply Inspired pizza

Overall opinion: A+ for being full of flavor and tasting like fresh from the oven gourmet pizza.

Other flavors available:
BBQ Recipe Chicken
Six Cheese Medley
Vegetable Medley
Here's the storage set. Every piece is very sturdy, easy to clean & doesn't pop open if jostled around in your lunch bag.

LaCuisine Locking Storage Containers
Set Includes:
204 oz Container with Handle on Lid
64 oz Container with Lid
2 pc 25 oz Containers with Lids
17 oz Container with Lid
12 oz Container with Lid

"Silicone Seals Up to 280 F. Refrigerator Safe. FDA Certified"

One lucky reader will receive a smaller version of this storage set (3 pieces) and a coupon to try Freschetta By The Slice. The giveaway rules are simple:
- Leave a comment below telling me which By The Slice variety and Simply Inspired variety you want to try. Entries that do not include both answers will be disqualified
- One entry per person and per household, please
- Please include your name and email address in your entry. I will need to contact the winner for his / her address so Freschetta can mail the prize. If you don't wish to leave your email address, please send me a private message letting know what your email address is and which your entry was your's.
- A random drawing will take place on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 1:15 PM EST. All entries must be received by Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 1 PM EST.

*Update #1: Congrats to Chloe! You are the winner. Please send me your email address and home address to AMW by April 27 at 11:59 PM EST. If I haven't heard from you by then, a runner up will be chosen.
*Update #2: Chloe, received your email. Your prize will arrive in a few weeks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carmex Moisture Plus: Orange Lip Balm

Living in Florida, you know I love oranges. But it's definitely a challenge finding orange flavored lip balms out here that aren't waxy, glitter coated or aimed at the 12 and under crowd. The Carmex Blog Squad has a great solution, though. They sent me a tube of Carmex Moisture Plus lip balm in orange flavor. And it rocks!

Orange Carmex Moisture Plus comes in a cute, retractable tube. It fits perfectly in a purse or a beach tote. And trust me, ladies, you'll be glad you've brought orange Carmex Moisture Plus to the beach. Protecting your lips with orange Carmex Moisture Plus' SPF 15, aloe and vitamin E is just good sense. A day in the sun and surf can leave your lips in need of TLC if you don't take preventive action.

Orange Carmex Moisture Plus has a light, heavenly taste of homemade orange creamsicles. I also detected yummy notes of lime in the lip balm for some reason. Even better, orange Carmex Moisture Plus glides on smooth and doesn't have an artificial taste or leave your lips waxy, sticky or glitter covered. Yep, we have found lip balm with a great taste and no glitter. Can I get an amen ?

I can't wait till the orange flavor of Carmex Moisture Plus hits the stores. It'll make a great Mother's Day present!

Side note: Other Carmex Mositure Plus Lip Balms are available exclusively at Walgreens and

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Spring Garden

February in North East Florida means two things: We can ditch the heavy winter coats and long pants (yes, it gets cold out here). And spring planting can begin! This is what my garden consists of this year:

Bleeding hearts
Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins
Big Max competition size pumpkins
Picklebush cucumbers
Green Fordhook zucchini / summer squash
Ambrosia hybrid cantaloupe
Dark seeded early perfection green peas
Green goliath broccoli
Evergreen long white bunching onion / mild scallion flavor
Hot peppers mixture (Hungarian Wax, Anaheim, Large Cherry, Long Red Cayenne and Jalapeno)
Small sugar pumpkins
Cool green melon
Danvers half long carrots
Early and often hybrid sweet corn
Yellow summer squash / early prolific straight neck
Super sweet 100 hybrid tomato / extra prolific cherry type
Sweet carnival peppers hybrid mix (Early Sunsation, Purple Beauty, Orange Sun, Big Red and Diamond)
Sugar snap peas
Organic brandywine red tomatoes
Crimson sweet watermelon
Fordhook giant swiss chard

What is everyone else planting / planning to plant this spring ? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Martha White Cornbread Cook-Off

I've been wracking my brain for several weeks thinking of a recipe for the Martha White Cornbread Cook-Off. I am having recipe writer's block. So annoying! Anyone else entering the contest ?

"How to Enter
To qualify for the contest, an entry must be an original main dish recipe and prepared with at least one package of Martha White Cornbread Mix and must be cooked in Lodge® Cast Iron cookware. Entries must also include contestant's complete name, complete mailing address, daytime phone number, and date of birth. Each recipe must include U.S. standard measurements, complete preparation instructions, cooking time and temperatures, number of servings, size of pans and any special utensils or cookware."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DiGiorno Pizza & Cookies / Boneless Wyngz

"It's Not Delivery, It's DiGiorno"

I was in the pizza aisle of Super Wal-Mart today. I was surprised to see this in the freezer case and took out my camera:

DiGiorno Supreme Pizza + Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

"Full Size Supreme Pizza"
"Makes 12 Cookies"
"Do Not Consume Raw Cookie Dough"
"Keep Frozen. Not Ready To Eat. Cook Thoroughly"

Shown on the back of the box:
"DiGiorno Supreme Pizza + 7-8 Honey BBQ Boneless Wyngz"

I don't see mention of the cookies or Wyngz on DiGiorno's official website yet. However, their Facebook page has pictures and a small amount of information.

From DiGiorno's FB wall, dated January 14:
"Here's a sneak peek just for you. Starting Monday, our new Pizza & Boneless Wyngz and Pizza & Cookies combos will begin arriving on store shelves across the country. Be on the lookout for our delicious new combinations and be sure to tell us what you think!"

From DiGiorno's FB photo album:
"Boneless Wyngz* White Meat Chicken Fritters
*With No Wing Meat"
"Hand Tossed Style Crust"

-Three Meat Pizza + 7-8 Honey BBQ Boneless Wyngz
-Pepperoni Pizza + 7-8 Buffalo Style Boneless Wyngz
-Supreme Pizza + 7-8 Honey BBQ Boneless Wyngz
-Pepperoni Pizza + Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
-Supreme Pizza + Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
-Four Cheese Pizza + Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

I can't wait to try DiGiorno Pizza + Cookies & DiGiorno Pizza + Boneless Wyngz. How can you go wrong with pizza plus snacks or dessert ? I'll try to buy a package of it on another shopping trip.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Contest Alert: Bea's Gift Baskets & Gifts, Part 2

As a follow up to this post yesterday post: If you make a purchase at Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts, please list Allison Meets World in the comments section as a referral when you check out. It is part of my entry for this Bea's contest.

Side note: This post is my entry in a Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts contest.

Weight Watchers Ad

I saw this Weight Watchers ad on another website:

Just by a show of hands, ladies: how many of you normally pose for pictures leaning sideways,one hand on your behind and the other in a "pregnant woman protects stomach" position ? Yeah, I didn't think so. Also, who photoshopped the man hand into the picture? Notice that Jennifer Hudson has one huge left hand in the pic and no elbow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Contest Alert: Bea's Gift Baskets & Gifts

If you're looking for a great Valentine's Day gift, head over to Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts. They offer everything from a love and romance hamper to chocolate dipped Oreos. Right now, Bea's is offering free ground shipping on orders of $50 or more. You can also receive 10% off any order when you use the promo code ROBIN. What are you waiting for ? Get something nice for your sweetheart tonight from Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts.

Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts website
Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts on Facebook
Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts on Twitter
Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts Blog

Side note: This blog post is my entry in the Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts Blogging Program. I am trying to win one of their amazing gift baskets :) If you'd like to participate, check out the Bea's Gift Baskets and Gifts blog for more information.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Partique Party: Cascal All-Natural Soda

"Fermented For A 'Grown-Up' Taste"

There's one thing I look forward to every holiday season: uniquely flavored sodas. I don't want plain cola or kiddie punch with my Christmas dinner. I crave something bold, flavorful and grown up. The downside, though, is not being able to find those awesome sodas the rest of the year.

Fortunately, there is a solution to that post-holiday soda hunt. Partique and Cascal All Natural Soda offered me the opportunity to host a Cascal taste test party over the Christmas holiday. Their five flavors of soda are fermented yet non-alcoholic, all natural and no sugar added. Plus Cascal is available year round at Whole Foods. Which makes me very happy! In addition, Partique and Cascal sent super nice favors (a cookbook, t-shirt and coupons) for my party guests.

Cascal Fine Dry Fermented Soda, With Notes of Apple and Anise
37% Juice and 80 Calories Per Bottle

The Apple-Anise soda was quite refreshing. The scent upon opening the bottle was similar to a good beer. The slight apple taste was pleasant, too. I recommend serving this variety at a cookout with a good steak.

Cascal Light Red Fermented Natural Soda, With Notes of Black Currant and Mirabelle
19% Juice and 60 Calories Per Bottle

The one variety that everyone rated so-so. A slightly meek pear flavor with a pinch of pomegranate was the closest any of us could detect (pear and pomegranate were on the ingredient label). Black currant didn't shine through. I wasn't sure what Mirabelle was, until I googled it.

Cascal Fine Dark Fermented Natural Soda, With Notes of Honey And Malt
38% Juice and 80 Calories Per Bottle

A+ for Honey and Malt, the hands down favorite with the AMW family. This beverage was similar to molasses flavored ginger ale. Pair this variety with a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and stuffing. You can't go wrong with that!

Cascal Crisp White Fermented Natural Soda, With Notes of Pear, Apricot and Magnolia
31% Juice and 70 Calories Per Bottle

The dominant flavor was peach first (it's on the ingredient list) and pear second. Apricot was not noticeable. I'm unsure how magnolia is supposed to taste. Aside from that confusion, I would definitely buy Pear, Apricot and Magnolia. I love the dry, slightly sweet taste. The best pairing, in my opinion, is a salad of grilled chicken and mandarin oranges.

Cascal Ripe Rouge Fermented Natural Soda, With Notes of Cherry, Chocolate and Rose
34% Juice and 60 Calories Per Bottle

The first sip will remind of you of high quality cherry soda. The aftertaste is reminiscent of rich, dark cocoa nibs. Rose is hard to detect. Overall, a splendid flavor. A perfect beverage to serve with a light dessert, after a hearty German meal.

I was very impressed with the flavors of Cascal All Natural Soda. I'll definitely pick up a couple cases for my next party. And probably a few to go with dinner, too!

I'm unable to fit all of my party photos into one post. Visit Partique to view the rest of the pictures. You can also apply to host upcoming Partique parties of your own, when applications are posted over there.