Spread the Love Jams and Jelly are Delicious



spreadthelovejam1Marilyn Johnson may be a home cook, but thanks to the California’s Cottage Food law she is also now an official commercial jam maker, and her jams are worth a taste. Her firm, “Spread the Love Jams & Jellies,” is based south of San Francisco in Half Moon Bay, California.

We sampled three of her flavors to see if they stood out from the several other jams and jellies on the market. Marilyn uses a great deal of creativity in conceiving her creations. For example, she has flavors such as Apricot Pineapple, Pear Ginger, and Cranberry Habanero. However we felt what might really be a good test is to see how a staple flavor, like traditional Strawberry Jam, compared to others.

Fortunately we were not disappointed. The flavor was fresh, very present, and had a long mouth feel. In other words the flavor of strawberry lingered after you finished swallowing the taste. In addition, there was no need to put a large volume of jam on your medium (toast or crackers). Even a small amount spread to cover the entire surface, as well as deliver the full flavor of strawberry.

Says the company:

spreadthelovejam3We make our delectable jams with solely organic, non-GMO ingredients. All of the fruits used in our products were either bought directly from organic farms or wild harvested by the owner herself. For sweetening, Spread the Love uses low sugar non-GMO pectin and organic cane sugar.”

Based on this evaluation, our conclusion is that “Spread the Love Jams & Jellies” is indeed a welcome newcomer to the artisan confiture market.






Luxury Gifts for Guys – No. 2

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If you are looking for a luxury gift for guys, with style and design, but also that gets the job done, these four brands might be a good start:  Schrade Tactical Stylus Pens, Tactile Turn Mover & Shaker Pens, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Agraria San Francisco.


Sean Lewis, author of WE MAKE BEER: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America’s Craft Brewers



TasteTV chats with Sean Lewis, author of “WE MAKE BEER: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America’s Craft Brewers.”

As the publisher describes, “Sean Lewis sets out on a cross-country journey into the heart—and the art—of American beer making. On the road, Lewis discovered a passionate community of people who put their souls into their work and who view brewing as an extension of themselves. Although diverse on the surface, Lewis found that these like-minded craftsmen were united by common values: they’re people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, who see their competitors as cherished friends, who take joy in their work and who seek the same kind of balance in their lives as they do in the barrels they brew.”



TasteTV: Apparently you love beer, what started the love affair?

SEAN: I liked beer about as much as every college kid did, but I really fell in love with it once I started brewing it. My girlfriend, now my wife, bought me a home brew kit for Christmas during our first year in Boston together, and the more I researched and read about beer the more it made me want to try all these things that sounded so amazing. It helped to be living in a great beer city like Boston where so many great beers from all around the world were available.

TasteTV: What was the point of writing a book?

SEAN: I had been profiling brewers and breweries for BeerAdvocate Magazine on a monthly basis, but I kept running into issues trying to keep my pieces to 1,200 words. There was so much more to the people I was covering than the constraints of a magazine article allowed me to explore, so this was an opportunity to dive deeper into the backgrounds and stories of the people in the industry.

TasteTV: How long did it take to complete?

SEAN: The process began in 2010, I got the deal with St. Martin’s Press in November of 2011 and it was published in 2014 — so about four years.

TasteTV: So what do you want the reader to come away with after finishing it?

SEAN: Whatever anybody gets from this is up to them. I hope they enjoy it and I hope it makes them consider going out to their local brewery or beer spot for a drink.

TasteTV: What are some of your favorite types of beer?

SEAN: I can never answer this question. For the most part, I like beer to be well-balanced and well-made. Sometimes I like a beer that’s going to challenge me and draw me in with layer after layer of nuanced flavors and aromas — but typically I just want something that’s going to taste great and let me get on with my day. I love drinking beer, but I love drinking beer with friends. The best beers are the ones that pair nicely with a good conversation.

TasteTV: Who is doing exciting things in the craft beer area, in your opinion?

SEAN: My West Coast bias is going to come out here, but I’ll say Firestone Walker Brewing in Paso Robles and Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma and Chicago are exciting for two different reasons. I love Lagunitas’ beers, but what I find fascinating about Lagunitas is how it moved into Chicago with a second production facility that, for now, is on a constant course of growth. I’m curious to see just how big craft beer can get in America, and I think Lagunitas will be among the biggest of the craft brewers in the next decade — probably sooner.
As for Firestone Walker, it is also growing, but certainly slower than Lagunitas. Brewmaster Matt Brynildson has been making some of the best beer in the country for several years now, and that brewery has a bright future as long as he’s a part of it.

TasteTV: Are there any developments in the field that you find very exciting?

SEAN: There are always trends to keep up with. A while back it was a hops arms race with who could make the most bitter beer. We’ve seen similar things with barrel-aging and now a lot of breweries are experimenting with making so-called wild beers with different strains of yeasts and bacteria. None of that stuff really gets me too jacked up. I’m more excited to see the development of young brewers and I get excited about seeing smaller local breweries making good beer and a little bit of money.

TasteTV: Do you have advice for anyone wanting to get in the business?

SEAN: If someone wanted to get into brewing, they should talk with their local brewer. I’d tell them to start brewing at home as well. If they don’t like the work and cleanup that home brewing entails, they’re going to hate getting into tanks to scrub off residual proteins and they’re probably not going to like spending the better part of their morning with a hose and a squeegee.

TasteTV: What about tips for those who just want to drink?

SEAN: Polonius said it best: “To thine own self be true.” Don’t let me or anybody else tell you what to drink. Definitely get out there and educate yourself on what you’re drinking and what’s available in your area — but don’t take a writer’s word about what you should be drinking. Drink what you like.


See We Make Beer on Amazon.com







Moon Cheese Snacks combine high-tech and tasty fromage

Moon cheese photo

How difficult do you think if could be to dehydrate a slice of cheese, then make it crispy and put it in a bag for the world to enjoy? Quite a bit, it turns out. So much so that a new technology had to be utilized for Moon Cheese Snacks to be created and launched.

The joint partnership that owns Moon Cheese, NutraDried, says they have “crunchified” the actual cheese in the product, which is pretty much the only ingredient: Cheddar Cheese [Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Vegetable Color)].

Says the firm: “Dr. Tim Durance, Chairman and co-CEO, EnWave Corporation is the innovator behind the company’s dehydration technology. While at the University of British Columbia in 1996, Dr. Durance developed the first prototype Radiant Energy Vacuum (“REV”) machine for dehydrating food and nutraceuticalsUsing patented technologies we remove only the moisture from cheese while keeping all the nutrition and flavour.”

There are currently three flavors of Moon Cheese available: American Cheddar, Pepper Jack and Gouda

There are about 200 stores in North America where you can find it, such as at Kroger’s Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers stores across Washington, Idaho and Oregon, plus online here:

Moon cheese photo 4


Moon cheese photo 1




Black Ink Wine launches


In late 2014, Chilean and Argentine wine importer TGIC Global Fine Wine Company released their new California red wine, entitled “Black Ink.”

With the dark bottle, faded black label, and octopus logo on the side, it is clear that this wine is a very dark red blend with a sense of mystery tinged with humor.

As they describe it, “Black Ink is an ode to fantasy through the arts, portraying elegance with an edge.  In a celebration of decadence, juicy blackberry cobbler meets smoky licorice with a hint of spice. The capsule is marked with the allusive squid in a nod to the deep dark red hues within the bottle.”

The wines are priced at around $9.99


Festive Zyliss Knives for Holiday Cooking


With the Holidays around us, you might be doing a lot of cutting, chopping and dicing food. If so, why not brighten up every slice with the festive Coated Knife Collection from Zyliss. The Zyliss Coated Knife Collection was launched in 2013, and features 6 knives in a variety of colors ranging from orange to blue.

Zyliss-Knife-IMG_8045-webFor home cooks, we recommend the following for every day use:

  • Coated Bread Knife 8 inch
  • Coated Carving Knife, 7.5 inch
  • Coated Chef’s Knife, 7.25 inch
  • Coated Santoku Knife 6.75 inch
  • Coated Serrated Paring Knife 3.75 inch

A few additional key features to consider:

  • Every knife blade in the Zyliss Coated Knife Collection is made from high-grade Japanese stainless steel with a Rockwell hardness of 50-52C which holds a sharp edge well and is easy to resharpen
  • Color-specific, nonstick coating makes knife easy to use, easy to identify and easy to clean
  • Sculpted, ergonomic handle with textured soft grip is easy to hold, even when hands are wet
  • Blade covers included for safe storage or to take knives on-the-go

… and yes, they are very pretty, but also very sharp.