Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mary's secret ingredients Fall Box @MSIfoodiesbox (Review)

Back in July I wrote about the summer box from Mary's secret ingredients.  It was so much fun!

Now I have the opportunity to review the fall box (at no cost to me), and I'm eager to share it with you.

In case you missed the first review, I'm copying the description of the seasonal boxes from Mary's secret ingredients.  As of this writing, the prices are unchanged.
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.)
Now that you know the idea, I'll share with you the fun of unboxing the surprises!  This is what you see when you open the shipping box.  Looks prettier than most of the packages I gift-wrap! :)  I didn't peek at the insert papers, because I didn't want to spoil the surprise.

The first item we (my son and I) uncovered was this picture:

This 5x7 print is on cardstock, so it's suitable for use as a postcard, or it could be framed as wall art.  The original pastel drawing was done by Mary, and it shows some of the produce from her own garden.

Next up, this two-pack of jellies adorned with a small stirring spoon.

Jenkins Jellies specializes in "pepper jellies with a REAL KICK!"  Their jellies are made in small batches with fresh ingredients. no preservatives, and no artificial ingredients.  The jar on the left is Hell Fire Pepper Jelly, the company's original and best selling jelly.  It's made with seven fresh hot and sweet peppers, and it's described as "sweet-n-savory."  The jar on the right is Guava Brava Pepper Jelly, which combines Hell Fire with the flavor of guava.

I had to try these so I could tell you about them.  For each I tasted it straight from the jar and I put a little, maybe half a teaspoon, on a tortilla chip.  (I didn't have any saltines or other mild-flavored crackers.)

Hell Fire is definitely hot.  It has a little sweetness up front and a lot of heat in the middle and on the back side.  (Does that make sense?)  Even a few minutes after eating it, I could still feel the heat.  On the tortilla chip it was really, really good!  The flavors combine well (sweet, hot, AND salty!) and I'd just add a little bit of something creamy to offset the heat.  Maybe top some plain cream cheese with the jelly, or serve it with sour cream.  I wouldn't premix either of those, because it wouldn't look nearly as pretty.  This jelly could easily become an addiction.

Guava Brava does, as advertised, have more sweetness up front, and the heat wasn't as powerful.  It was good on the tortilla chip, but not quite as tasty as Hell Fire.  I think I'd rather have this on a plain cracker, maybe with a thin slice of cheese.

Sarah's Sea Salt is made by Coastal Goods, a small, family-run company that specializes in seasonings.  Sarah is one of the founders so I would imagine that Sarah's Sea Salt (Tuscan Salt) is named for her.  It's described as "a medium grain Mediterranean Sea Salt blended with a classic mix of dried Italian herbs, tomato flecks, lemon peel, and rosemary oil."  When I opened the jar, I got the aroma of rosemary and maybe thyme.  (I don't use thyme, so I'm not certain.)

I would have expected Sarah's Sea Salt to be mostly salt with some other flavors.  However, it looks like this ...

... so I think it contains much more of the herbs than salt.  The texture blend makes it look appealing, and I'm thinking it might look and taste good with olive oil on crusty bread.

The fourth item was Ultragrain All-Purpose Flour.  Unlike regular AP flour, this contains 30% Ultragrain whole wheat flour.  According to the product information, you can substitute it cup-for-cup in recipes without sacrificing taste.

I haven't tried this.  At first I wasn't sure how it differed from white whole wheat flour.  This is my understanding of the difference:  Both Ultragrain and white whole wheat flour are made from white wheat, rather than red.  Ultragrain also sells a 100% Ultragrain Whole White Wheat Flour.  The AP blend that I received combines 30% Ultragrain with 70% traditional white flour.  That would make it softer (lower in gluten), so it's better for baking foods that you want to be tender:  cakes, muffins, pancakes, and so on.  (Flours with more gluten are better for crusty, chewy breads, so I'd use the 100% Whole White Wheat flour for that.)  The blend lets you add whole grain and fiber without compromising taste or texture.

And finally, we have a set of POURfect Ultimate Measuring Spoons with Leveler Tool.

We all have measuring spoons, so what's the difference?  For one thing, these "are the only Made in USA, 100% accurate spoons that snap off one at a time, have markings in English, Metric, and Braille, and are comfortable to hold."  For another, the set includes some sizes that aren't common, such as 1-1/2 teaspoons and 1/3 teaspoon (especially handy when dividing a recipe)--and spoons to measure a dash, a pinch, a smidgen, and a drop (along with their equivalents in English, Metric, and Braille).  These are pretty neat, particularly for a new cook who might not know the difference between a dash and a pinch.  I can't imagine trying to measure a liquid--say, vanilla--into the "drop" spoon, but I think the others could be useful.  Oh, and they come in several different colors!  Mine look white in the photo, but they're light blue.

I like that the spoons easily snap on and off the ring; that makes them easier to use and to wash.  I don't see an indication that these are dishwasher safe.  The handles are too wide to fit into the flatware slots of my dishwasher, but (shhhh) sometimes I just rinse measuring spoons, anyway.

Winter boxes, which will contain a completely different set of products, start shipping on December 5.  I think this would make a great Christmas gift!

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 YouTubeon Twitteron Pinterest, and on Facebook.


  1. Very cool review. This box sounds great and my daughter would love this. She is the cooking guru now so I sit on the sidelines and watch her create.

    1. Thanks! The boxes are fun and give creative cooks the perfect chance to play with new flavors!

  2. I love hearing what all comes in the box. Perfect for someone who enjoys cooking :)

    1. Thanks! It's a lot of fun to try and to experiment with new foods and ingredients!

  3. Happy that you enjoyed the box! Tuscan Salt mixed with olive oil on crusty bread sounds divine! Which ingredient was your favorite?

    1. The Jenkins Hell Fire pepper jelly was definitely my favorite! I've been craving it daily since I tasted it.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


I love to hear what you're thinking, so thank you for leaving a comment!

Spammers are unwelcome here, and spam comments will be deleted.