Before I get going on the review, I want to relate an experience I had with Feed the Children in the mid 1990's. At the time, I managed a flu vaccine program for a pharmaceutical company. At the end of the flu season, I was tasked with the job of disposing of a large amount of excess vaccine since it could not be carried forward to the next year. The usual practice in such situations was literally to destroy the product, a real shame considering how many people suffer (and die) from the flu worldwide each year. Having heard good things about Feed the Children in Oklahoma City, I gave them a call, not knowing if they would be receptive to such a fragile donation with strict refrigeration requirements. From the moment I made contact, Feed the Children took charge and handled every detail...from the initial paperwork to sending their own truck and employees to North Texas to load the vaccine. Since timing was critical, they identified a need in Paraguay where the flu season was just getting started. They arranged for the vaccine to be flown there and delivered to its Ministry of Health. A few months later, our company received a formal thank you letter from the Paraguayan Health Minister plus a video showing how the vaccine had been used. They had literally set up tents in rural areas throughout the country and given free flu shots to all who showed up. In the end, around 145,000 doses of the vaccine were administered. The letter said that it was the first time in Paraguay's history that the government had been able to offer free public flu vaccinations. That experience was a strong testament to Feed the Children's reach in the world, their unbelievable resources for handling a difficult donation and their utter professionalism throughout the process. So YES....I'm on board with any subscription company that supports this stellar operation!
Now, on to the review of Mary's Secret Ingredients Summer Box. This is one big white box with Mary's blue logo.
This quote appeared under the lid. It's a good one for me to remember since not much "abandon" is involved with my cooking!
The items were beautifully packed, almost origami-like, in blue and white tissue with a personal note tucked inside.
There were six items in the box and a really nice recipe booklet from one of the vendors.
"The Little Book of Ingredients" tells about each item and the purveyor.
This big one pound bag of Rice Grits comes from Delta Blues Rice, a family farm that has operated for more than 90 years in the Mississippi Delta. Although I've eaten grits all my life, I was not familiar with rice grits. Turns out they are a by-product of the rice milling process and are actually broken pieces of rice. When boiled and steamed like regular rice, they can be used in sauces, cooked like a risotto or eaten just as they are.
These Cinnful Sweet Heat gourmet tortilla chips are from Chipz Happen. These are gluten free dessert chips that are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar plus an unexpected kick of cayenne.
Next is an 11.8 oz. bottle of Maguey Sweet Sap from Villa de Patos. This looks like maple syrup but the information brochure describes it as an unrefined and unprocessed alternative sweetener with a unique flavor profile. It's a versatile product that can be used in baked goods, marinades, dairy products, beverages, etc.
I'm guessing most of us would not know how to use the Maguey Sweet Sap which is why it's so nice to get the cookbook from them. This has a fantastic looking pancake recipe plus a dozen other recipes, from chicken salad to BBQ sauce to chocolate chip cookies and blueberry lemonade! I'm beginning to understand how versatile this product is.
The non-food item in this box is a Speegee. This looks like a regular silicone spatula but one side is a long squeegee like blade. According to the leaflet, you can use this for mixing and folding, spreading icing, transferring food, scraping the sides of large pots, etc. Hmmm....I need to mess with this a bit to see if it's practical for my kitchen.
This little box contains a single serving of chocolate Power O's, a toasted cereal made from navy beans, garbanzo beans and lentils. That doesn't sound very appealing to me but with enough chocolate, anything can be redeemed! This is a very nutritious cereal that is low in fat, free of cholesterol and a good source of fiber. I will just focus on the chocolate.
This heavy bottle (almost 2 lbs!) contains Touch O' Heat Barbeque Sauce from Rufus Teague. I like barbecued meats when other people make them but don't have much talent in that department myself. This is clearly a quality product but I sort of wish it didn't constitute such a major place in this box. I will follow Mary's blog and Facebook page to see if there are "how to use" ideas simple enough that even I can follow.
If you'd like to try Mary's Secret Ingredients, you can pick up the pricing information in my Spring 2015 review. The Fall box ships on September 25th, so there is time to get your ducks in a row. The annual plan at $103.80 is an outstanding deal because you can use code SWEET16 for $16 off, making it $87.80, which works out to just $21.95 per box. That's an unbeatable buy considering the quantity and quality of products in these boxes.
I like the way this company does business. They strike me as stable with excellent communication, customer service and shipping...not to mention boxes filled with great products. And of course, any company that supports Feed the Children is a winner in my book!
Disclosure: Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own. Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.