If you read my About Me page you’ll see that I’m not entirely PR-friendly. But, like I say on that page, I’ll bend my “no reviews” rules if something is particularly awesome or particularly stupid. I’ll review something without question if I received it as a gift from someone I know or if I bought it myself – those are unbiased and fair. Reviewing free stuff is tough, though, and I turn down a ton of free stuff because I always want to be honest with you guys.
So if I do say yes to a sample of something it has to be something I really think you guys would want to read about or something I’ve always been curious about. That means I say no to a lot of gourmet cake mixes, cocktail mixers and beef jerky samples. Yep. Beef jerky. No idea how I ended up on that mailing list.
That being said, I’ve been sitting on a handful of reviews for a while and figured I’d put them all together in one post that you can easily ignore if you have no interest in it. If you bear with me, though, I have a prize for one of you that makes almost as little sense as this post does.
First of all I was not going to accept these samples because I remember reading that this company tests on animals. I read a little more to discover that they have stopped such practices in recent years, but it’s still yuck. This was one case, however, when Tony was really excited to try something I was offered so I gave the OK to ship me some samples. I should have trusted my instincts, however, that a juice tested on animals was going to be many things – delicious not being one of them. I try to avoid disposable plastic drink containers and of course, that’s what these are packaged in. I prefer to make my own juice or buy it in larger containers and then pour it into small reusable containers. Tony and I had plans to reduce this stuff and use it on a savory recipe but after trying it we decided it tasted like sweet dirt. I would say that’s my juvenile taste buds at fault, but Tony likes almost everything and he didn’t like it either. So thumbs down on that one.
Here’s a case where my curiosity got the best of me. I had no idea what Malva pudding was, it sounded weird, and I wanted to check it out so I said yes. I received a cooler with two Malva puddings inside – chocolate and original. Apparently Malva pudding is a South African pudding cake named for the woman who made them best – Malva. Kari is a South African import, now living in California and making these traditional treats for lucky folks in the states. I followed the heating directions, cooking the chocolate pudding for about 30 minutes and topping it with a scoop of Trader Joe’s coffee ice cream. Holy man. Yes. I love Malva pudding. It’s kind of like tres leches cake – very, very moist and almost liquid in the middle. Thumbs up to Kari’s Malva Pudding.
This is all Tony wanted for Christmas so he was pretty stoked when my mom bought it for him. I had to include this thing in my round up of reviews because it’s my official favorite appliance in the house. Tony prefers the heating disk, which warms and fluffs the milk with only enough of foam for a perfect latte. I go big or go home with the frothing disk which produces a big, fluffy pile of foamy milk every time. It works just as well with soy and coconut milk, by the way. Paired with the awesome (but wasteful) Tassimo my grandma gave us in January we are hella caffeinated at all times. Thumbs up to the Capresso Froth Pro.
I did the happy dance when I got an email offering me samples of the new Twix Coconut candy cars. Twix are among my favorite candies and I love all things coconut and caramel. I’m always a little shocked when PR companies overnight non-perishable things to me – it’s so expensive and so environmentally unfriendly, but I was willing to over look the 2nd Day Air packaging waiting for me when I got home yesterday knowing that Twix Coconut would be inside. I opened the relatively big box, excited to pre-game my dinner with a Twix and suffered a major boner-killer when I saw the contents. A big, plastic coconut cup and straw, a non-woven polypropylene Twix shopping bag, a Twix thumb drive and ONE Twix Coconut bar.
What the fancy fuck am I supposed to do with a plastic coconut cup? I shared the ONE candy sample with Teno and Tony, and we all liked it. Actually, it tasted a lot like my favorite Girl Scout cookie, Samoas. So mixed emotions on this one – thumbs up for the candy itself, thumbs down for all the extra weird stuff that came with it.
I actually received this sample after making fun of it on Twitter. I’ve been a longtime skeptic of energy drinks. Have you ever seen the people who drink them? In my experience they’re normally slouching on the couch or in front of a computer, throwing back their fourth Monster and not exerting a whole lot of energy. So when I saw an ad for Drank, I (ironically) loved the name and the concept. “Slow your role.” People are so lazy and stupid, it really is awesome.
However, the girl who reps this company happens to be a Bake and Destroy reader and she was nice enough to send me some to check out. I decided not to give it a try after seeing how much high fructose corn syrup was on the ingredients list (seems like a bad idea right before bed) but Tony chugged one at about 7pm. I warned him that the other ingredients - valerian root, melatonin, and rose hips – have been known to knock me out on occasion but he weighs over 100 lbs more than me and of course, always knows best. Dude was out cold by 9pm, after spending an hour complaining that he was tired and didn’t know why. I stayed up watching The Soup re-runs until about 11 and then made fun of him in the morning for getting wasted on Drank. We won’t be buying it anytime soon, but if you’re looking for an anti-energy drink, I’m going to have to say thumbs up on this one.
And now for some other stuff…
BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair
If you happen to live on this planet and have eyeballs, you may have noticed my recent excitement about being one of the food bloggers featured in Bust magazine’s Food Issue. Well, the ladies at Bust are getting ready for the BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair in May, and have asked me to get the word out that they’re looking for over 100 total vendors and that they’ve love to include more food artisans and specialty foods. I know Bake and Destroy readers are the most delicious ladies and gents out there, so you should probably apply now.
Baseball T’s and other things
I recently used my Mamapedia points to make some custom Bake and Destroy stuff over at Cafe Press. After posting a picture of my baseball T on Facebook I received a lot of requests to make more. If I had to screen print them here in Chicago like the stuff in my shop it would be mighty pricy and time-consuming, so I opened up a Cafe Press shop to make affordable stuff quickly for you guys. Check it out at http://www.cafepress.com/bakeanddestroy Of course I still have screen printed stuff, stickers, and other things in my shop. Update: Please visit my new new shop here: http://bakeanddestroy.spreadshirt.com/
I realize this was a weird post. Look, the recipe I made this week didn’t turn out so hot and it wasn’t funny enough to even post as a fail. To reward you for making it all the way through, I have a package of nonsense to send one of you. Leave me a comment below about anything you please – the stuff I reviewed, something else I should review, whatever is in your pocket, what you had for breakfast, song lyrics…whatever – and one of you will receive roasted peanut soap, a beer-scented tea light, an assortment of Seibei 1″ buttons, a whole bunch of Bake and Destroy stickers, oh… and a Twix thumb drive. The other stuff I include depends on who wins. I’m not sending a dude funny hair clips from China Town, but I might send him a fart machine from Uncle Fun. This is all weird stuff I’ve collected over the past few weeks just for this purpose, I’m not just emptying my junk drawer and sending it to you.
With that, I’m going to go finish reading Fargo Rock City, which I believe may be the best book I read all year. (Nerd.)
Casey Ann, you win! Thanks!