This month has been a month of freebies! Last week I came home from food lab to two HUGE packages, both containing food and all for me!!

But I did share. That’s the kind of person I am.

Anyways, one package contained a Food Buzz sample of two loaves of Nature’s Pride OvenClassics bread – one oatmeal, one honey wheat. I’ll write a full review later, but I’ve tried the oatmeal bread both toasted and fresh and overall I like it! It’s a little soft for my palate (I really like a chewy, textured bread full of different grains), but unlike most whole grain breads, it doesn’t have a sweet hint to it, which means it tastes good with turkey, roast beef and hummus!

The other package was full of raw nut butters from Artisana (not Food Buzz related)! You know, I guess it’s weird that I think a box full of different nut butters is really exciting, but whatever…to each their own. Some people like getting clothes in the mail. I like getting food. So anyways, inside the box I found a small jar of raw almond butter, a huge jar of cashini butter and a box full of nut butter packets like coconut butter, walnut butter, pecan butter, raw cacao butter, etc.

What did I think?

Well, I haven’t tried all of them, but I’m not a HUGE fan of any of them so far. I’ve tried the almond butter, cashini butter, pecan butter and walnut butter. I did really like the pecan butter and I’m digging the walnut (perhaps because I’ve never had anything like them before?), but the almond butter was just too….raw. I guess I like some extra salt and sugar with my nut butters.

Does it make you uncomfortable to read nut butters, by the way? I kind of feel weird typing it, only because someone has pointed out how weird/suggestive “nut butter” sounds…

Anyways, I like salt and sugar with my…nut butter. The almond butter has grown on me, though (it will never trump Barney Butter, though!), but Alexi has been plowing through it! She’s much more tolerant of unseasoned, raw things (low sodium cottage cheese, anyone?)…she’s a better person for it.

And the cashini butter? Bleh! Completely tasteless. It was like that bottled glue second grade teachers use…all goopy and bleh. I will find a use for it though…since it’s part tahini, I’m thinking about using it to make hummus. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Okay, and one final review. Illy Issimo iced coffee drinks! My roommates and I PLOWED through the three boxes. Kayla especially loved them. The general consensus was that cappuccino was the best, but they were all very tasty. The caffe flavor was strong and slightly bitter, but in a refreshing way, if that makes sense. I also liked that it was smaller – the can was cute. The cappuccino was closest to a typical Starbucks mocha frappuccino, just smaller. The drink was very smooth and creamy, but didn’t leave a gross film on my tongue like Starbucks does sometimes. The latte macchiato was good, but it was pretty much a milked down cappuccino. It was my least favorite. Overall the drinks were a fun treat, but I don’t think I’d ever buy them myself on a regular basis. They’re kind of pricey and I’m on a budget! Thanks for the samples, Illy Issimo! PS – I never got to try this, but I’d love to use a cappuccino drink to make a tasty banana coffee milkshake. Someone try it and tell me how it is!

On a different note, you guys know how I LURVE my food lab, right? Well, I thought I’d share the joy and post some pictures from the Batters and Doughs II lab! I finally plucked up the courage and whipped out my camera to take pictures….and yes, some people did ask me why, but they seemed genuinely interested when I said that it was for my food blog. Perhaps I’ll do it again tomorrow during the Crystallization (ie candy) lab…

Okay, this lab was full of yeast breads as well as some chemically leavened products like chocolate pound cake, and some non-leavened cakes like regular pound cake. I made chocolate pound cake. I never realized that you really have to cream the butter and sugar together for ten minutes…and that’s with a stand up mixer! How did people make pound cake in the olden days?!

I also got to shape some yeast dough and top it with goodies. Before the proofer, my dough was shaped like an S. When it came out of the proofer, it looked like this. Kind of like a slug. This is after we baked it (I put parmesan and poppy seeds on mine), but the shape was pretty much the same.

It was SO GOOD! Yeast bread is the bomb. But the yeast was like…living. It kinda weird me out. Yeast should NOT be this intimidating.

I also tasted some neopolitan cake. Pretty, but nothing too special.

We also had, like, six different varieties of shortened plain cake (conventional mixing method, muffin method, half the leavener, with honey, yada yada). The point of this was to compare textures. Here’s one variety made with honey. Honey made the cake darken more, but it was super crumbly and didn’t rise as much since it’s a heavy liquid.

And finally, the BEST plate of the day. Cinnamon rolls, pizza, and s’mores brownies. HEAVEN. The pizza was so flavorful…my first yeast experiment will definitely be pizza dough. Hold me to that. The brownies were fudgy and super chocolatey. The cinnamon rolls, while not as good as PW’s, were an excellent alternative.

So yeah, basically I cook something, then eat a bunch of stuff, write what it looks, smells, feels, and tastes like, then I wash dishes. Yay lab! But really, it’s not quite as breezy as that last sentence makes it sound…it’s mostly that easy because I enjoy it so much! I’ve found that it’s so easy to study and really internalize it when you actually enjoy the stuff you’re learning!

Okay, off to bed for me. This wacky storm system is wreaking havoc on my sinuses (it feels like a sumo wrestler is sitting on my face).

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