May 17, 2011

Gimbal's Sour Lovers

Gimbal's comes so close to getting it right for today's discerning parent- they use real sugar and natural fruit juices in their gummies and jelly candies and their sweets are free of 8 major allergens, but I really wish they would lose the artificial food dyes in favor of natural ones.
Image borrowed from the Gimbal's website

I received a sample of Gimbal's new Sour Lovers, which are tasty enough. They offer a tart zap of one of 12 flavors, and hooray for the natural fruit juice flavors, but those too bright colors and the dyes that make them are a turn-off.

This year as I head to the Sweets and Snacks Expo, I'm on the lookout for items that are made with real sugar and use natural food dyes. I'll be sharing my thoughts about the best of them over at Feed Our Families.

Disclosure: Gimbal's sent me three bags of Sour Lovers, but did not ask for or require a product review.

May 09, 2011

Gamer Grub Performance Snacks

With the Sweets and Snacks Expo just weeks away, I'm receiving all sort of interesting notices. I found an intriguing postcard in my mailbox this morning for Gamer Grub. It doesn't say much about the product other than these lines, which are sure to excite as many moms as gamers:

No keyboard crumbs
No greasy fingers

Could it be true?!

According to their site, Gamer Grub snack foods are also fortified with vitamins and neurotransmitters to keep gamers sharp. Though, ironically, their snail mail piece has a typo.

Still, the lack of crumbs and promise of clean fingers intrigues me; I'll have to look for them at the Show.

September 08, 2010

Cricut Cake Decorator

The Cricut folks now offer personal cutting machines that help you design fabulous cakes.

This looks amazing! Many years ago when I worked in an ice cream shop, my favorite task was decorating cakes. I even bought myself a lovely set of Wilton tips when I finished graduate school, though, they've sat mostly unused. But this Cricut Cake Machine. Oh. My.

August 30, 2010

Campfire Marshmallows Giant Roasters

These giant marshmallows are sure to elicit squeals of excitement. They are huge! And fluffy! And not listed on Campfire's website. Huh?

I was at a BBQ last weekend where the host broke these out and OMG did everyone go wild. I'd love to give the full scoop on the product size and such, but that info isn't available online at the moment.

So you'll have to trust me they are big! And fun!

But the Giant Roaster are the kind of thing I'd only buy once.

Although they are a great novelty, roasting marshmallows over a camp fire is half the fun of eating them. And with a Giant Roaster Marshmallow, you kind of blow the whole wad with one roasting, unless you do what I did, which was to gently brown the outside and peel it off and eat it, and then re-toast the remains and so on until your fingers are impossibly sticky and your hair is matted with gooey marshmallow guts. But that method doesn't work well with kids.

I also found that the Giant Roaster threw off the marshmallow:chocolate:graham cracker ratio in my s'more. The marshmallow overwhelmed everything.

And I also worry about a young child (or even an older one) choking to death on one of the giant beasts of a marshmallow. (Really, click the link.)

So I guess it's regular ole' marshmallows for us from now on.

Breyer's YoCrunch Fruit Parfait

Knowing how much my preteen son's Starbucks granola yogurt parfait habit cost me over the summer, I happily accepted when the folks at Breyer's offered to send me a sample pack of their granola-topped Yo Crunch Fruit Parfait.

The four-pack they sent me was gobbled up before I could say, "Yo!" Seriously, I did even get to try it.

I like that the product is HFCS-free and lowfat, though I'm not pleased about the artificial dyes. Still, these are a good size for him and easy to tote along. I'm happy that he's eager to bring these as part of his lunch.

August 02, 2010

Purple Asparagus Corks and Crayons Fundraiser

From the press release with a bit of editing:

Purple Asparagus, Chicago’s non-profit organization at the forefront of promoting healthful eating for children at home and at school, holds its Sixth Annual Corks & Crayons Benefit at Uncommon Ground, 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, on Sunday, August 29th from 4-7pm. Foodies old and young will come together once again to celebrate the joys of family meals and healthy eating.

The event, run by Pivotal Chicago, will include a mini farmers’ market sponsored by Harvest Moon Organics farm, kids fun on the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation's StoryBus, music from Old Town School of Folk Music artists, a raffle, and a silent auction for bidding on gourmet treats, getaways, and more.

Guests will enjoy selections from Uncommon Ground’s kitchen (ed. note: Yum!), Candid Wines, Templeton Rye cocktails and craft beers from Three Floyds. Attendees will also be able to tour the certified-organic green roof atop Uncommon Ground where the restaurant grows some of the produce on its menu.

Tickets for “Corks & Crayons” are $55 for member adults (non members $60), $22 for young adults ages 13 through 21 (non members $25) and $12 for ages 5-12 (non members $15). Kids under 5 are free.

Tickets can be purchased via credit card at or by check payable to Purple Asparagus sent in care of Melissa Graham, 1824 W Newport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657.

Purple Asparagus is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization at the forefront of promoting healthful eating for children at home and at school. Founded in 2005 to bring families back to the table by promoting all the things associated with good eating, Purple Asparagus is currently leading “Growing Healthy Kids,” a consortium of 30 plus organizations working in the schools to improve child wellness. The organization is also a key partner with Share our Strength and Healthy Schools Campaign to effectively implement the Chefs “Move to Schools” program of the White House's “Let's Move” initiative. For more information about the event and Purple Asparagus membership, visit

July 22, 2010

Morton Grove Farmer's Market

It's no the Green City Market, but there's plenty of nearby parking.

Check out this video featuring vendors and producers at the Morton Grove Farmer's Market, the North Shore's newest market. Video courtesy of our friends at Spatulatta.

June 22, 2010

Moto Restaurant with My Mom

As I mentioned, I recently enjoyed a fantastical dinner at Moto restaurant with my mom, courtesy of chef and mastermind of molecular gastronomy, Homaro Cantu.
When our 10s, or ten course meal, began with the words, "You may now eat your menu," it was clear we were in for an unusual evening. Had we been more strategic, we would have eaten a large breakfast and then nibbled lightly, very lightly during the day in order to prepare our bodies for this marathon of meals, ten courses at Moto.

Each staff person we encountered at Moto was either a culinary student or graduate of such a school. Take for instance, the dapper Trevor Hamblin, who gave us thorough descriptions of each course (twice), each drink, patiently answered our many questions and chatted more amicably with my mother than I did (kidding!).

After noshing on our menus, we were eager for the first course: chicaqua ("shee-cah-gwa") onions, the city's namesake. Cute, tiny, pink onions with a bulb the size of my 10 year-old son’s pinky nail served with flat bread. Delightful.
It could take as long to blog this meal as it did to eat eat--2.5 hours(!), so I'll share highlights.

The chef works with trained sommeliers to come up with pleasing combinations. The most interesting pairing was this German rauche bier or smoked beer. Mmm. tastes like bacon...and beer. Interesting.

The "Reuben lasagna," looked like the latter, but tasted like the former. Consisting of brisket, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, the sandwich, I mean lasagna, smelled like a childhood memory, but I'm not sure which one. Trying to place that elusive scent, I kept sniffing, deeply inhaling to no avail, but fortunately did not draw attention from curious onlookers.
The Cuban pork sandwich was a definite win and the presentation was brilliant.
The cigar-sandwich consisted of braised pork confit and (something else), mixed with in house pickles and white bread, deep friend, wrapped in braised collard greens then in smoked red pepper puree sitting atop a bed of ash made of black and white sesame seed ground with Cuban spices. The presentation is wonderful. It was a bit salty, but overall crisp, chewy, and satisfying.

Bubble Tea?No, watermelon soup! This got points for originality, but then again so did every other course of the evening. Dig if you will this picture, watermelon consomme with ginger and lemon, “scallop sous vide in lemon oil” with citrus peel for flavor and a bit of mint. The broth itself was intriguing, but the fish combo didn't work for my Mom or me. For what it's worth, I'm not a huge fan of Bubble Tea, either.

How about rabbit maki risotto? Looks like sushi, but it's not. This mouthful was made with rabbit loin and brussels sprouts wrapped in mushroom paper and rolled in rice, as well as sesame and poppy seeds. It was served with aoli with allspice, and daikon marinated in beet juice instead of ginger and freeze dies peas instead of wasabi. Tasty as long I could keep thoughts of cute little bunnies out of my head.

Remember our patient waiter? He must have thought I was hard of hearing I asked him to describe this next dish over and over again. Broccoli rabe and pork belly braised in stock that starts with caramel and is flavored with lemon grass, chili and like five other things that boil down into the glaze.

The dish was too complicated for me to transcribe (did I mention the many glasses of wine?) no matter how many times Trevor repeated it. Mushroom stems pureed blah blah and made into what sounds like a meringue version of the original mushroom. WTH? But, oh, look how lovely!
Delicious course; I especially like the sweet and delicious glaze that had just a hint of spice.

Not quite, but close to dessert, we enjoyed this classic Italian dessert morphed into a savory Mexican one.

The actual dessert courses included Pad Thai-esque, featuring sorbet "pad thai," mango cream, vanilla rice pudding, coconut sorbet and lime slice made out of thai basil, cilantro and lime juice Mom told me she'll never look at pad thai the same way.

We ended the meal, which felt like more of an event, really, with a root beer float Moto-style. That is, a beaker of locally brewed root beer topped with a vanilla infused packing peanut dipped in liquid nitrogen, for a magical effect.

Our dinner at Moto was an unforgettable mother-daughter experience, but heck, dining partners aside, a dinner at Moto is just plain memorable.

Click here for more Moto photos from the launch party of their Planet Green Show, Future Food.


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