Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's Review...Indian Summer, July's MANTRY Box.

Ending the July Subscription Box round-up for our household is MANTRY. 
This is the one box that all of us look forward to each month, Justin literally comes come from his North Slope hitches & asks if it has arrived yet & the kids get excited about the new snacks & food that is in each crate. 
I have started to plan a menu for 30 Days of Meals at Home (it's a working title y'all!), so we will be making all of our meals at home for a month straight-we have been eating out too much this summer. Luckily there are some MANTRY items we have squirreled away from previous crates that are just perfect for that challenge, plus everything from this month is splendid too! :) 

Thrilled to see our MANTRY crate in our mailbox & it fits perfectly in my bicycle basket. :) 

When I was vegetarian (Age 9-20) a lot of the food that I prepared/ate was Indian Food. I really liked the boldness of flavors & different combinations that were accessible through the vibrant palette that is Indian cuisine. Since moving to Alaska I really have ventured far away from Indian Food, really it hasn't been a matter of choice just something that has sort of occurred over the years. Upon receiving this crate & opening it with Justin & my Dad, I realized that Justin has never actually had Indian Food & neither have our kids! Since I grew up in a home where new flavors were always being sampled I found myself quite upset at my lack of food adventuring I had been taking my family on. Another reason why I'm planing 30 Days of at home meals for us! :) So thank you MANTRY for this Indian Summer Crate for July & all of inspiration it has brought forth in this amateur chef & foodie.

Calcutta Kitchens is the culinary design by Aditi Goswami who has blazed her way through earning an MBA, working in corporate career, becoming a full time mom & then finding herself as an entrepreneur. Together with all of her life experiences, inspirations & passion for food & entertaining she created these two beautiful simmer sauces that are made to transport you from your own kitchen to the bustling alleys of West Bangal (I'm ready for a bit of travel, aren't you?), I can not wait to open both of them & take my own family on a culinary trip of our own. 

 Makhani Tikka-Simmer Sauce $10 
Aditi has taken 12 ingredients & transformed them into a sauce that I would need hours to create. The convenience of having a component of a meal prepared for you is amazing. I know that with this sauce, chicken, rice & some good homemade naan bread I will have a meal ready for my family on those nights where everything is hectic & coming together for a meal is a blessing. I think this simmer sauce in particular is a good way to introduce Indian Cuisine to my family.

Coconut & Fresh Coriander-Simmer Sauce
Last week Justin, my Dad, Greg (Justin's Dad) & Michael (J's bro in law), went on a halibut fishing charter out of Seward, AK...Justin limited out & came home with a decent amount of halibut & silver salmon. I'm really looking forward to trying this sauce out with some of that tasty seafood & serving it over a bed of rice on one of the upcoming chilly AK fall evenings. I have a feeling I'm going to be trying to find more jars of both of these sauces or attempting to recreate them myself at home! 

Usually Justin claims & consumes whatever meat product is in the MANTRY instantly. Somehow this uncured salami has survived & I will stash it away for him until he is home again in a couple of weeks. Since I was vegetarian for so long I'm constantly researching & trying to learn about butchering & meat production in general. Just a general FYI...Uncured-means that the meat is produced without preservatives & contain natural flavorings. Cured-Meats usually have some sort of preservative & have usually been smoked. (If anyone has more info or a good resource about cured vs uncured meat, let me know in the comments below!) Chop has found a way to stray off the beaten bath of salami tradition without being too radical, this particular hand crafted salami has a spice blend that combines, cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, ginger & garlic. It is all balanced to make the flavor warm, butter & all around delicious. Eric Finley's-Chop Butchery is certainly on my must-stop list the next time we venture to Portland. I also have a feeling we will be ordering other salami from their website pretty soon.  

 Carolina Plantation-Aromatic Rice (Darlington, SC) $5.20
I will admit that I was a little bit underwhelmed when I first saw rice in this months crate. I mean, it's rice...something that can be found literally in every grocery store ever. Then when I was looking over everything that was in the box I realized that between the rice & the simmer sauces there was a meal just waiting to happen. A meal that I could create without going to the grocery store (we always have some form of protein in the freezers), so I went from underwhelmed to thrilled in literally 30 seconds. :) Not to mention, I knew nothing about the aromatic scale when it comes to rice or the delicate role that rich soil, climate & weather plays when it comes to the delicious, simplistic properties of rice. I swear each month with MANTRY there is something new that prompts me to research, investigate & test out things in our kitchen. 

Oh Chai, I love you so. I used to drink so much chai that my mom would stock it in bulk for when I was home on breaks from boarding school. Then when I was living/working on the Dalton Highway I let go of some luxuries, chai was one of the first to go & now I can't even remember the last time I drank a warm cup of bold, comforting chai. This particular chai blend is a recipe that has been passed down Bipin Patel's family tree for generations. Luckily for all of us he set out to make chai a staple in the big sky state of Montana in 1997, now his instant Tipu's Chai-All You Need is Water (& Love) chai tea latte blend is available for purchase here. When I went to the Tipu's site to find the price for this bottle from MANTRY I discovered that Tipu's has phased out the liquid concentrate version to stick with their goal of being better to the planet, they now have a new quick-brew line to satisfy all of your chai tea needs & desires. 

The kids & I eat granola in bulk, with yogurt, milk, cream or handful by handful we devour granola. I was a little worried that the tamarind flavor would be too overpowering for the kids & I would be eating 14oz of granola alone. While the tamarind is a bold sticky, sour & sweet pod like fruit found all throughout India, it is certainly a foreign flavor around here. I will be taking MANTRY's suggestion of pairing this granola with greek yogurt, pistacios, fresh grapefruit & a drizzle of honey (I'm thinking AK's own Jonser's Nectar), & making myself a wonderful breakfast that I plan to enjoy once the twins are off to kindergarten & the littlest Leader is still snoozing away. 15 days...not that I'm counting down to the bittersweet moments of having a home that is a little quieter & calmer.

This month's artisan Indian Summer themed how amazing is the crate itself this month??? Justin & I both were wow-ed by the craftsmanship & the beautiful etched image on the front of the crate. We always find a way to reuse each MANTRY crate but we will have to find something extra special to do with this one.

I love the added details from MANTRY each month & knowing that our crate is one of 250 that was handmade in Vermont is pretty spectacular. :) Thank-You MANTRY!

***MANTRY along with Odell Brewing Co. is sponsoring a giveaway this month...go check out the prizes & enter to win here.***

MANTRY is $75 a month & this month the contents total $42.20 without knowing what the Tipu's Liquid Concentrate Chai Tea price point was...I'm going to give it a $10 price tag, bringing the monthly total for July to $52.20. Now that is quite a bit under the $75 month cost, but the crate is handcrafted & so unique, plus with living in AK we would probably have to spend at least $5 on shipping per item if we had ordered them ourselves. 

If you are interested in your own MANTRY you can sign up here.

as always,