Never Deal With Expired Spices Again by Using These Mini Packs Instead

Occo, Kickstarter
Occo, Kickstarter

Adding seasoning to a dish should be a simple part of the cooking process, but too often, rummaging for measuring spoons and checking the expiration dates on spice jars (which you're hopefully doing!) just leads to frustration. Occo offers a better way by replacing oversized bottles with smartly designed, card-sized packages.

The new product, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, stores spices in packs of 12 individual ¼-teaspoon chambers, adding up to 1 tablespoon of the ingredient per card. Instead of dirtying extra utensils, home cooks can measure out seasonings by peeling open however many capsules the recipe calls for and adding the spice directly to the dish.

An Occo spice card contains much less of an ingredient than the spice jars sold at supermarkets, and that's by design. Even though some people use the same spice containers for years, dried herbs and spices do eventually go bad after prolonged exposure to light, heat, oxygen, and moisture. After enough time passes, the product can lose flavor, and in worst cases, cause food-borne illnesses.

If you want to get the most out of your spices, you should replace them every three to six months. Of course, this is easier said than done if you only use the large jar of nutmeg in your pantry 1 teaspoon at a time every few weeks or so. The spice cards from Occo are designed to be used up before whatever's inside them goes bad. (In case you're concerned with the extra waste produced by replacing one big jar with several tiny packages, each Occo card is made from aluminum, which is one of the easiest materials to recycle.)

Occo sells 12 basic herbs and spices, including oregano, paprika, cinnamon, and chili powder. You can pre-order a collection of three packs for a pledge of $15 on Kickstarter, with shipping estimated for June of this year.

The Joy of Breakfast: Bob Ross Cereal Is Here to Make Mornings a Little Happier

FYE
FYE

Bob Ross's sunny disposition is the perfect match for breakfast. The painter and television personality already has his own toaster, and now Food & Wine reports that he's also inspired a breakfast cereal.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Cereal channels the many landscape paintings Bob Ross produced on his television series, The Joy of Painting. It's loaded with toasted oat bites and colorful marshmallows shapes. There are seven distinct marshmallow pieces—happy little trees, happy little accidents, almighty mountains, guiding stars, rainbow hearts, charming little cabins, and lovely little bushes—but like a good artist, you may need to get creative to figure out which shape matches which description.

While starting your day with a bowl of Bob Ross cereal, you can further awaken your artistic side by looking at the back of the box. The package features a cutout “positivity paint palate” with inspirational quotes from the painter. Reading them first thing in the morning is the next best thing to watching reruns of the The Joy of Painting on YouTube.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Cereal is now available from FYE for $10 a box. For Bob Ross merchandise with an even longer shelf life, check out these products.

[h/t Food & Wine]

7 Secrets From a Grilled Cheese Master

Daniel Krieger
Daniel Krieger

Of the many eventful holidays that fall in April, none is more delicious than April 12th, a.k.a. National Grilled Cheese Day. Yes, like so many culinary delights before it, the ooey-gooey sandwiches you grew up craving have their very own day of celebration. Even better, it happens to fall in the middle of Grilled Cheese Month. Which is why we’ve enlisted the expertise of Spencer Rubin, founder and CEO of Melt Shop, a New York City-based mini empire of grilled cheese eateries, to share his secrets on making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. (For the record, Rubin gives his mom full credit for his own grilled cheese-making skills.)

1. Golden brown and crunchy is key.

“The perfect grilled cheese is golden brown, crunchy to the touch, and has a little bit of cheese that is nearly burnt on the side because it spilled out over the edges from cooking directly on the skillet,” Rubin says. “The cheese pulls away from you after your first, second, and third bite. It’s savory, salty, and I always like a little bit of acid from a tomato to cut through the richness of the cheese.”

2. Butter isn't your only base option.

But it’s probably your best option. “I like salted butter, but people talk about using mayo and margarine all the time,” Rubin says of what to put in your pan. “Salted butter drives the best results, if you ask me.”

3. Don't skimp on the bread.

"Quality bread is key," Rubin says. “Too soft and it doesn’t develop the right crust; too hard and it's like eating a crouton. Ideally you want day-old sourdough. Sourdough is key because the air pockets that develop while proofing help add to the texture. You want day-old bread because it has firmed up a bit, giving it a better crunch after toasting."

4. All cheese is delicious cheese.

“Obviously good cheese is the key to a great grilled cheese,” Rubin says. “But the best thing about grilled cheese is you can never really go wrong. Whether it’s a 5-year aged cheddar, cave-aged Gruyere, or Kraft singles, they're all delicious in their own ways.” As for which cheeses melt best? Rubin says that semi-soft varieties like Muenster and Havarti are the way to go.

5. Flavor your butter for an instant upgrade.

You don’t have to break out the fine china to fancy up your sandwich. Let the butter and/or bread do all work. If you want to take your sandwich to a more sophisticated culinary level, Rubin recommends using “truffle butter, herb butter, or garlic bread with garlic and Parmigiano.”

6. Salty and sweet is a great combination.

Tomatoes and bacon are tried and true add-ons. For an unexpected combination, Rubin recommends throwing in some jams and sweets. “I always love salty and sweet combinations,” he says, citing his favorite sandwich on the menu, the Maple Bacon (maple-glazed bacon, New York cheddar, and sharp brick spread on country white bread), as a perfect example. "The combination is insane.”

7. Sides aren't required, but they make it a meal.

Though for some diners a grilled cheese sandwich is an entire meal in itself, there’s no reason not to indulge in a side dish. Melt Shop is well known for its menu of tater tots, but lighter sides work, too. “I like a nice side salad with my grilled cheese,” Rubin says. “It’s nice to get a little green in your meal and a good vinaigrette always helps brighten things up."

This story was updated for 2019.

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