Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mary's Secret Ingredients Culinary Box Review, Spring 2015 + $16 Discount Code!

Four months is a LONG time to wait for a subscription box!  But I knew what I was getting into when I ordered a box from Mary's Secret Ingredients, which is a seasonal box that ships four times per year.  I just happened to discover Mary's box shortly after the Winter 2014 box shipped last November, so had a lengthy wait for my first box.  I was told right up front what the ship date would be and that's exactly when my box went out.  

"Mary" is Mary Frances, who writes a popular food blog called LOVE - The Secret Ingredient. You can read about her passion for cooking and serving great food and her impressive credentials on the "About" page of her blog.  With her limited edition culinary surprise subscription box, Mary shares unique gourmet and artisanal products along with handy kitchen tools.  Boxes are shipped on the 25th of April, June, September and November.  The cost is $25.95 per box or $103.80 for an annual subscription.

So let's see what arrived in the Spring 2015 box!  The box always gives you a sense of whether or not a sub company has its act together.  This one certainly inspires that confidence.  It is a big white box with blue branding and Mary's tag line:  "Inspire Your Cooking - Fight Hunger", which refers to the fact that a portion of box proceeds goes to "Feed the Children", a wonderful charity that is near and dear to my heart.  There is also a great cooking quote on one side:  "Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." (Harriet Van Horne)

Everything was neatly packed in blue and white tissue with a welcome note and "The Little Book of Ingredients" tucked inside.

The note from Mary mentions that recipes using the ingredients in the box will be e-mailed to subscribers and that they can also be found here. The ingredients pamphlet gives a lot of information about each product, what's in it and a bit about the purveyors. 

Here's a group shot of the Spring box after I removed all the packing material.  As you can see, there is a lot here!

First out of the box is a package of Maple Pecan Oatie Bites from Reids of Caithness in Scotland.  These cookies are made with maple syrup and chunky pecans combined with Scottish oats.  They are very crunchy and tasty.  Some subscribers received the flavor "Banoffee" which is a combination of banana and toffee.  That's a new term to me but apparently, it's a classic British combination.

Next is a box containing a pho liquid broth concentrate from Savory Creations International. This box contains four pouches with traditional flavors and aromatics to make pho, a Vietnamese soup.  Looks like you add vegetables and cooked rice noodles, then garnish with whatever condiments you please.  I couldn't find a recipe on Mary's site to help with this so will be watching for the promised e-mail.

This big chocolate bar comes from the Loacker family in Italy.  This milk chocolate bar contains a cocoa cream and crispy wafer filling.  It is described as "a premium confection with a unique crunch and indulgent flavor".  Although I wish this were dark chocolate, I don't need any instructions on how to dispose of it!

There aren't too many utensils that aren't already in my kitchen drawers.  But this Cit-Trease tool from Chef's Planet is a new one to me.  The blade has sharp teeth on one side.  The instructions say to cut the orange in half width-wise, then insert the tool and make one complete revolution while rotating the orange.  The idea is to easily separate the fruit from the peel.

The next item comes from South America.  This is Chimichurri Dry Mix from Samba Flavor.  This contains gourmet quality herbs and spices which you mix with wine, vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil.  Again, I don't see a recipe that utilizes this on Mary's site so am hoping an e-mail will arrive with instructions.

This box of Cheese Straws comes from Delta Bred, straight from the Mississippi Delta. These come from an old family recipe and contain 100% real cheddar cheese. These are very crispy and cheesy and have a spicy "bite" to them.  I'm relieved that no recipe is needed to enjoy these.  (Having an ice cold drink close at hand definitely is required!)

The last item is a box of Shirataki Harvest Noodles in a marinara sauce.  This "secret weight loss food" consists of noodles in a vibrant tomato sauce.  The entire dish contains only 80 calories and has zero fat grams.  The box has substantial weight to it so I can see how this would make a full meal for one.  It comes in a microwavable tray.

That's everything in Mary's Spring box.  I liked the diversity of ethnicities and cuisines represented in this box; everything in it is new to me!  The price seems more than reasonable for what you get.  My only complaint is the lack of quick access to the recipes that are needed to prepare the pho dish and the chimichurri.  I know those are supposed to arrive via e-mail and are also supposed to be on the website but it certainly would be easier if they were just included in the box.

Spring boxes are sold out but the Summer box ships on June 25th.  If you sign up for a full year, use code
SWEET16 for $16 off, meaning that each box is just $21.95.  This is an exceptional deal!  If you're interested, I encourage you to take advantage of this before the code expires.  I don't know of any other food related subscription box that sends so much for so little!

I am really impressed with my first Mary's Secret Ingredients box and can't wait to see what comes in the Summer box!

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.   


Unknown said...

Hi Cheryl -

Thank you for talking about our box! Since the contents are a surprise to each subscriber, we wait until everyone has received their box before we post or email recipes. We want to be fair to all of our West coast buyers. On May 15th, the recipes will begin to be posted, starting with the Vegetable Pho! So stay tuned and look for the recipe then!!

Thank you so much - Mary

Lone Star Shopper said...

Hi Mary:

Thanks for checking out my blog! It was a pleasure to review such an interesting box that also was a great value. I will watch for those recipes and am looking forward to the Summer box!