Have you heard of Mary's secret ingredients (MSI)? The website describes the service this way:
MARY’s secret ingredients is a limited edition culinary surprise box containing unique gourmet, artisanal products along with handy kitchen tools. Every season, a limited number of themed boxes filled with lovely surprises to inspire your cooking are delivered right to your door. Mary shares mouthwatering recipes using each box’s ingredients on the LOVE – the secret ingredient blog.So four times a year, the team at Mary's secret ingredients assembles a collection of natural, gourmet foods as well as small kitchen tools. On the company website you can see the contents of previous boxes, but each season the boxes are entirely different. As I'm writing this, each box sells for $25.95, or you can get a one-year subscription for $103.80. (Those prices include shipping in the continental US.) The summer boxes, like the one I received, are sold out, so if you want to get on board for the next box, you might not want to wait.
Well. As someone who likes to cook and who experiments with recipes until my family complains, I can't think of many things more fun than opening a box of cooking-related surprises!
The outside of the box looked ordinary, but inside, it was wrapped like a gift. I broke the seal on the tissue paper and started looking at what was inside.
I wanted to savor the unboxing, so I took my time. I lifted out each item, one at a time. I can tell you that all of these products were new to me. This is what I found:
chipz Happen gourmet tortilla chipz in Cinnful Sweet Heat, a new flavor. These chips come from a family owned and operated business. Did I mention that the products selected by Mary's secret ingredients are all natural, as well as gourmet? These tortilla chips are gluten free and non-GMO, with no trans fats, artificial ingredients, or preservatives. I like sweet-spicy flavors, so I'm looking forward to trying these with my family.
This small box of Love Grown Chocolate Power O's was crushed when I opened the carton. This cereal may resemble a more familiar cereal, but take a closer look. Chocolate Power O's are made with navy beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils. I'd think that gives more protein than grain-based cereals have. Sounds pretty good to me. They're non-GMO, as well.
I'd never heard of rice grits until I saw this bag from Delta Blues Rice. This product is grown, milled, and packaged on a multi-generational family farm that has been operating for over 90 years. Rice grits are "a delicious and versatile byproduct of the rice milling process. Traditionally known as 'middlins,' rice grits are actually broken pieces of rice. The broken pieces cook up creamy with a texture that is perfect for sauces." This product is also non-GMO and gluten free. I can't wait to try it in some recipes where regular long-grain rice won't work.
The Speegee Spatula is a cool-looking silicone tool that scrapes bowls, transfers food, mixes, spreads frosting, and even cuts. I really appreciate multi-purpose tools, especially since my kitchen drawers are usually so jammed that I have to rearrange things to close them.
Maguey Sweet Sap is totally unfamiliar to me. According to The Little Book of Ingredients that accompanied the MSI box, it's an "unrefined and unprocessed alternative sweetener" with "a very unique flavor profile and tons of versatility." Also according to the Little Book, the color of the syrup will change over time. Right now it's "ideal to use as an everyday sweetener" and, after the color is darker, it "adds a one-of-a-kind flavor in sweet and savory dishes." It's 100% organic, never heated, and all natural. I'm ready to get started experimenting with it. (Watch out, family!)
Rufus Teague Genuine American Barbeque sauce is also new to me. This is the Touch O' Heat variety, one of five barbeque sauces from the company. It's all-natural and gluten free. Though my family likes some spicy foods, we usually don't use spicy barbeque sauces. When I tasted this later, I decided that I'd call it more than a Touch O' Heat. I was going to use it in a BBQ ranch dip, and this was too spicy for that.
One more point about the philosophy of MSI: "In addition to encouraging healthy, creative cooking, MSI strives to end worldwide hunger. We partner with Feed The Children, where we donate a portion of our profits. No one should go hungry."
For more information on Mary's secret ingredients and the individual products I've described, visit the MSI website. (Click on Marketplace/Partners to read about the products.) You can also connect with Mary's secret ingredients on YouTube, on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.