Texas Toasty

Looking for adventure around every corner.


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Review: Okashi Connection Japanese Candy Subscription Box + Coupon Code + Giveaway!

Note: I originally posted this review on the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club blog on June 20th, 2014. This is a repost, since I worked really hard on it and I enjoyed the service, so I wanted to share it on my own blog. Since posting, I have actually signed up to continue receiving a monthly Okashi Connection subscription!

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Hey Iggles! Let’s talk subscription boxes. I love subscription boxes, especially when they involve food. My current addiction is Japanese snack boxes. I’ve been getting a Skoshbox for a few months now, and I have been pretty happy with the variety in the box, but not the amount of snacks. It felt like everything in the box was only a little nibble or taste, a tease. And many of the items in the box were actually things I could find in the local Japanese market. While it was great to try and discover things I didn’t know existed, I was craving larger portions and things I couldn’t get anywhere other than straight from Japan.

Enter Okashi Connection. They’re fairly new to the subscription box scene, but they’re already starting off strong. Okashi Connection offers a monthly box straight from Japan for $22 a month (includes shipping) and they ship worldwide. They deliver a pound of candy and snacks for your money and strive to send things you CAN’T find anywhere but Japan. Their goal is to give you a better deal for your money. More candy for less. I liked that idea, so I contacted them for a box to review for my IGGPPC family! As you’ll be able to tell, I totally suffered through this. Really. I did. And by suffering I mean I ate all the candy till I felt like I was gonna explode and then got all hyper on the sugar. If you get a box, you might not wanna eat it all in one night like I did! Okay, on to the review!

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Strawberry Picking!

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Last year I got a bit jealous when I saw people posting their summertime berry picking photos. Unfortunately, most of these people were up North, and when I saw these pictures, it was already past strawberry picking season here in Texas. While ours is in April, theirs can range all the way up until late June, way past when our strawberries have peaked and gone on to do whatever strawberry plants do in the heat of Texas summer. So I had to wait nearly a whole year to actually go strawberry picking, and I was NOT going to miss out this time.

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Totaled

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You may or may not know about my recent accident.

It happened on April 1st. The irony was all too well apparent when I had to call my husband and loved ones and inform them about the accident. They all thought I was joking. I don’t blame them. I have a pretty decent driving history. That and I was driving my three month old Jeep. Practically new, with five thousand miles on it.

Totaled.

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Tea Review Tuesday – Genmai Hojicha

When I first spotted Genmai Hojicha on the DAVIDsTEA website, it was under the Web Specials section. I was intrigued, but intrigued enough to buy a 250 gram bag of it? I consulted my tea loving friend and we decided to split the bag. I love hojicha and I love genmaicha, so how could a blend of the two be anything but amazing?

Hojicha is a roasted green tea that has a toasty, slightly sweet, lightly smoky flavor. Genmaicha is a green tea that has been mixed with roasted grains of rice, giving it almost a sesame or popcorn taste, also imparting that toasty profile to the final brew. There is no fruity, no flowery, no chocolatey taste to these teas. They’re no-nonsense, bold, savory teas. Upon opening the bag, it definitely smells how I expected. A subtle, roasted flavor, that green tea musk.

I wanted to love this tea. I wanted to crave this tea in the way I thirsted for genmaicha. I do like the tea, and I see myself drinking it, but I would probably pick something else over this one. The toasty, sesame seed-like taste overwhelms the delicacy of the underlying green tea base and it can sometimes have an almost astringent quality to it, depending on what I’m consuming it with. It is definitely not a tea that goes well with sweets or cookies.

This is a tea that I don’t think everyone will like, though I know others will love. I fall somewhere in-between. Hojicha and genmaicha are wonderful teas when separate, but I think I prefer them that way. That being said, this tea is delicious and I’m happy I purchased it, even if it’s not my favorite. Green teas are wonderful and good for you, and I can never have enough of them.

I brewed Genmai Hojicha at 175 degrees F for 4 minutes. The tea says to brew it at 183 for 4-5 minutes, but my water boiler doesn’t have that option, so 175 it was. As with any green tea I enjoy it with honey. I have yet to try it with cream or milk, but I imagine it would be quite tasty with some cream. It’s available from DAVIDsTea sometimes, but not at the time of this posting. However, if you would like to try it out, I’m giving away a free sample, so enter to win! If you don’t win, check out their genmaicha. It’s delicious!

Click here to enter to my giveaway!


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Tea Review Tuesday – Feral Dogs Blend

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Hello, readers. It’s time for Tea Review Tuesday. Which doesn’t always happen on Tuesday, because time is an arbitrary measurement of the amount of life left in our bodies. If you believe in that sort of thing. Life, I mean. Anyway, gather ’round your bloodstone circles and let’s begin.

I won’t always be reviewing teas from Adagio, but it made sense to review a particular one this week. And it’s totally not because the spiders living under my carpet are telling me to do so. They don’t have control over me. Not anymore. Not after they lost the battle to the kittens living in my ceiling. The kittens are much, much meaner than the spiders. What’s that, kittens? Nothing! I’ll review the tea now, like you told me to! Please don’t hurt me with your adorably tiny, sharp teeth!

Today’s blend is called Feral Dogs. I got it after that whole ordeal with the pack of roving feral dogs that terrorized our town. I mean, plastic bags. They were just plastic bags, definitely not Libertarian street artists or rabid or armed.

Upon opening the pouch, the tea smells strongly of cinnamon. Like that book in your house you know is there but you can’t actually pick it up or read it. But you can smell it. Lingering in the air, biting at the edges of your tongue enough to make your mouth water in spicy anticipation. It’s really the only thing you can smell. In your house and in this tea pouch.

Flavor-wise, this tea isn’t spectacular. Sorry to burst your bubble. I wanted to love it, but it’s as boring in your mouth as the plastic bags that returned from the dog park from whence they came. The tea is a mixture of gunpowder, mambo, and cinnamon accented with pretty safflower petals. Mambo is supposed to be smoky and have a cocoa flavor, but the cinnamon overpowers it. The cinnamon also overwhelms the delicate gunpowder green. The tea doesn’t just taste like liquid cinnamon. There’s something else there, but it can’t quite hold its own against the strength of the spice, so it comes across as weak. I brewed this tea but chanting at my teakettle until it reached about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, then steeping it until the tea was done shrieking in pain, about four minutes.

Today’s tea is from the Internet. You can buy it for the price of $10 for a 3 oz pouch or $19 for a 5 oz tin. Just remember, use of the internet is expressly forbidden, and any packages delivered to your door will be confiscated by the Sheriff’s Secret Police for thorough questioning.

If you would like to try this tea and see for yourself if you like it, enter my giveaway to win a sample! I mean, I could be wrong, right? These things do happen. I will be sure to send you a few other samples too, samples of good tea. Good tea approved by the kittens in my ceiling.

And so, I leave you with the taste of cinnamon in my mouth that may mean I had too much tea or I have a tiny rabbit living in there again. Either way, it could be worse.

Goodnight readers, goodnight.


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Tea Review Tuesday – Elevenses Blend

Slight delay on my weekly tea review. Yesterday was crazy! Here it is now, though! Better late than never! Also, I’m reposting this, because there were issues with the comments that I couldn’t figure out how to fix. I really hope it works now!

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Elevenses is a tea blend I was curious to try from the first time I happened upon it. Unfortunately, every time I made a tea order, it was out of stock. Every. Single. Time! Exasperated, I whined to the blend’s creator on twitter (she can’t influence the availability of teas, but I was feeling particularly whiny). The lovely person she is, she offered to send me an extra bag she had for the price I’d pay on Adagio plus the cost of shipping! I immediately took her up on the offer and was excited to get my bag in the mail.

This tea blend did not disappoint. First, it smells delicious. It has a strong vanilla scent, which isn’t bad, but you don’t really smell much else. But that’s okay, because it’s a wonderfully delicious scent and it smells like something I’d rather eat than drink. The first thing you notice after steeping is the light taste from the white blueberry tea, and then you taste the cream, which blends nicely with the subtle taste of the vanilla oolong. The balance is great and you don’t even need to add milk or cream to the tea, because the tea has a natural creamy flavor built into the mixture. Of course, if you do want to be bad and add milk or cream, it only enhances the tea even more.

As the white blueberry is the most delicate tea in the blend, I brew it at the recommended temperature for that tea, which is 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 minutes. . As with any tea, it can be enjoyed without anything added, but I like to add a touch of rock sugar to bring out the sweetness of the blueberry. The tea truly fits the name. It is right at home as a mid morning snack companion, though it’s something I could (and do) enjoy all day. It’s another one of those teas I just want to keep in stock all the time just in case I’m craving it, which means I will have to order more soon while it’s still in stock!

If you would like to try a sample of Elevenses, enter my giveaway! In a week, I will send the lucky winner a small pouch of Elevenses blend that would be enough for a few cups of tea or a pot. I will also throw in a few tea samples if I have any I think you might enjoy. If you don’t win, you can always buy it directly from Adagio for $10 for a 3oz a pouch, or $19 for a 5oz tin. It’s also available in the Tales & Tea Leaves Framed Fandom Set and the Tales & Tea Leaves Sampler Set.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Also, congratulations to Joanna for winning the TARDIS blend giveaway! Your tea will be on its way shortly!


Thumbprint Cookies

If I have to make a choice between a cookie containing jam and a cookie containing chocolate, I’ll snub chocolate every time. To me, a cookie that contains jam is the pinnacle of culinary achievement. Okay, maybe not quite that mind blowing, but they’re pretty amazing. Before I knew I had any baking ability, I would scarf down a bag of Pepperidge Farm strawberry thumbprint cookies before we made it home from the grocery store. Now I’m happy to say I can make my favorite type of at home and actually have enough left to share. Because of the refrigeration step,  this recipe is a little more time consuming than your average chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it’s worth it. Instead of using one type of jam for all the cookies, try experimenting with different flavors. I put some ghost pepper blackberry jam in a few of them, which my husband enjoyed. I also discovered that these cookies ship well. I sent some to Canada and Australia and they arrived intact and still fresh! I substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour to give myself the illusion of eating healthy and I also prefer the texture the whole wheat flour adds to the cookie.
13043832564_017e9745c8_bStart by putting the paddle attachment on your mixer and creaming two sticks of room temperature unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of sugar on high for three minutes or until it’s nice and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and mix until everything is all nice and incorporated.

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