BOOK’S #FOODIE: Styles P & Jadakiss put money in a juice spot for your health

If you have never had a healthy juice or smoothie, you do not know what you’re missing. Styles P and Jadakiss didn’t know what they were missing until things happened in their lives and discovered the health benefits of a juice made from natural ingredients. They both decided they would not only benefit others but also their community, a bit of “teach one, reach one” and they now have a juice spot called Juices For Life. It’s only in New York but with enough attention and recognition, maybe it will become a regional and eventually a national chain.

BOOK’S FOODIE: Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie (review)

 photo LaBelleSweetPotato_pic_zpsgdmzq6v7.jpg
Last month, I was in Virginia to attend my cousin’s wedding. It was the first time in a very long time I’ve been on a plane so I looked forward to the trip. One of the days had me visiting a Walmart and as I was looking in the bakery section, I saw a logo that I had seen in a few photos. For the first time, I finally saw a box of sweet potato pie made by Patti LaBelle. I didn’t buy it then as I wasn’t sure if anyone else in the family was into sweet potato pie but it was great to see. I had posted a photo of my find online and someone said “it’s at every Walmart” and I replied by saying it was not at my local Walmart here in Washington State.

I then had to make a stop at the Mart and I decided to see if it actually was “at every Walmart.” All of a sudden, I saw the familiar logo and design and I had to try it. Fortunately, the pie was at a clearance price (under four dollars) so I purchased it, brought it home and waited to have my first slice after dinner.

I guess in my mind, all I have to do is cut a piece and put some whipped cream (which I did) or maybe vanilla ice cream, not bothering to read the instructions which said it’s best to warm up the pie in the oven before eating. I did warm it up in the microwave but I kinda prefer doing things the slow way. This time I did not but once I put a small bit of whipped cream on the pie, I was ready to go.

I’m a huge fan of sweet potato pie, as it was something my auntie made for years, who got to know about it from her ex-husband’s mom in Louisiana. Every Thanksgiving, I always looked forward to her sweet potato pie until, as her story went, a rat went into her recipe box and chewed up the recipe. The next time she had made pie, it lost what made it really good. Still good but not as good. This time I wanted to taste LaBelle’s pie, as a lot of reviews and YouTube videos made this out to be beyond impressive. However, the first bite and it tasted different from what I’m used to. The front of the box states it’s made with sweet potatoes, butter, and “spice” and that’s what stood out for me, what seems like a bit too much nutmeg. If it wasn’t for the whipped cream, I probably would not have liked it as much as I did, which to be honest was not a lot.

As much as I had hoped to enjoy this, I don’t think I will try this again. I would prefer to go to other restaurants to try others or if someone makes their own, I’d rather go there. On a scale of 1 to 10, I want to say maybe a 5 but I’ll go down a bit and rank it a 4. It’s not terrible nor is it inedible but the nutmeg is a bit too strong. Maybe this is how it is enjoyed in other places but… while it’s not complete hate, it lacks the love I had hoped for with it.

(NOTE: Since there was a LaBelle sweet potato pie there, I had hoped to try one of the cobblers made by her briend. It too was there and I bought one. I’ll have a review of that very soon.)

BOOK’S #FOODIE: Grandma Utz’s Handcooked Potato Chips (review)

Grandma Utz's photo GrandmaUtz_pic_zps7ymvraxx.jpg A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to Virginia to see my cousin Kristina get married. My auntie and the family have lived in Virginia for close to thirty years and they always said “you need to come and visit”. My mom and sister have been there many times over the years but I have not, and it was nothing personal, I just never made a chance to go.

I was now in Chesterfield County and one thing my auntie always talked about was going to a convenience store called Wawa. She would tell me it has everything you needed and it’s better than 7-Eleven. I grew up with my share of corner stores and then when 7-Eleven first opened in Honolulu, it blew us away. Now I was going to witness this “better than 7-Eleven store” but can it be? When I got there, I said to myself “I am in front of Wawa.” The first thing I looked for when I walked in was snacks and I spotted Utz but I could not remember why I wanted to get an Utz. I had a brain fart, I thought “what was it that these chips are made in?” so I bought a regular pack of chips, it said cottonseed and I bought a bag. Was it this? It tasted okay to me, no big deal. The second time I went to Wawa, I knew it had to deal with a different variety of Utz and there were many flavors but there it was: Grandma Utz’s. I immediately looked in the ingredients and saw what I was looking for: these chips are cooked in lard.

Wawa sold the Grandma Utz’s chips in both snack size (2 ounces or so) and a big bag so I went for the snack size first. After all these years after reading about it online, I was going to have my first manteca chips and I will say: these are damn good. It tastes different than normal potato chips and due to it being cooked in lard, it definitely has a slightly different mouth feel. To be honest, the first thing it reminded me of was a brand of potato chips from Hawai’i called Kitch’n Cook’d, made on Maui except this case, the bag was a solid color and not clear, which has been said to weaken the chips if it stays out on the racks too long. Utz’s doesn’t feel like, I don’t know, Olestra or something? I just knew it tasted different than what I was used to but it was a good “different”. I bought a bigger bag to take home and when they were done, I wished I had bought more. Fortunately I can if I want, since those chips are available online, which I knew but I tend to prefer finding them somewhere and buying it then and there.

I am a huge fan of plain potato chips but for Grandma Utz’s, they also came in BBQ. There was also a limited edition “bacon horseradish” flavor but not sure if this will make a comeback or if it is meant for a certain part of the year. I’m aware there are a few other brands that also make lard potato chips, including Dieffenbach’s, Gibble’s, Zerbe’s, and Good’s, and perhaps one day I’ll try each one as well. One website claims some companies actually shy away from saying they make their chips with lard, a few saying they are either cooked in “shortening” or are made “homestyle” but fortunately you can find out how they are really made just by doing a search online. As for Utz, I’m glad they are not normally available on the west coast but if one has PayPal, you can obtain anything you want, including Grandma Utz’s. They also make a 15 ounce bag, which I think would be very dangerous to have in any sitting.

BOOK’S FOODIE: The Pizza Show – Chicago

From the Munchies channel on YouTube comes the latest installment of The Pizza Show, a presentation where they visit a specific city to show perspectives of what their pizza is about. In this case, many people know Chicago is huge for their deep dish pizza but there’s a lot more to its pizza than just that so they managed to head not only through Chicago but some of its neighborhoods and outlying areas to get people aware of what you can find if you go out of your way to go out of the way.

One thing it reminded me of is, due to how often I visit Portland, Oregon, there’s constant talk about the many changes the city is going through and how what was considered rootsy and neighborhood-ish is being removed by land owners who want to replace it all with apartments. It’s a chance to focus more on the Portland you think you know and look at the neighborhoods and why that can be a truer sense of what Portland is about and that applies in the Chicago edition of The Pizza Show.

BOOK’S FOODIE: Blue Milk Breakfast Sandwich (from Epic Meal Time)

With the new Star Wars movie just a few days away, are you looking to greet the day with a breakfast suitable for the viewing? Of course you might also be asking “why even have breakfast?” but no matter. The folks at Epic Meal Time have made a Blue Milk Breakfast Sandwich as part of their Handle It segment, where you’re able to see host Harley Morenstein put together the dish. It involves blue milk and blue chocolate chips and if you are now asking yourself “how in the world do you get blue chocolate and what does this have to do with Star Wars?”, now it’s your time to press play and find out.

BOOK’S FOODIE: Are these “the 20 best Italian restaurants in America”?

Nostrana, Portland photo NostranaPDX_pic_zpspoprzjny.jpg
An article at claim they’ve found “the 20 best Italian restaurants” in the United States but have they been to each and every one, or are these just “the ideal ones”? I love Italian food but I’ve done a minuscule amount of traveling, so I can’t say I’ve been anywhere out of my region for some mind-blowing Italian food. There is a local Italian restaurant called Carmine’s, that was excellent and sadly I only went there once. A part of me would love to go to someone’s house and sit in for dinner, just to have the food “within a circle of family and friends”, but I’d be afraid I would be there until the next morning.

Nonetheless, who are on this list of the Top 20? On the west coast, there are some restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco but as for up here in the Pacific Northwest? You have to look at the 503 (that’s the area code of Portland) to see what is being put on the plate in Rose City. You can take a look at the full list by clicking here.

BOOK’S FOODIE: Laser bacon?

Food hacking is a phrase used to do something new pertaining to food, or bringing an old perspective to a new generation. This time around. Food Hacking is a series from the Munchies channel on YouTube and they explore laser cooking, with the emphasis on bacon. It’s quite interesting and perhaps we may be seeing this process here in the United States.

BOOK’S FOODIE: Fletcher’s Sauce Co’s Gourmet Hot Sauce (review)

 photo Fletchers_label_zpsvl8x6apd.jpg This one was a hot sauce found at my local supermarket, it’s from a store (Yoke’s) that often has a good share of sauces I like, be it hot or BBQ sauce. This hot sauce was from the city of Mead, Washington that is north of Spokane, si I thought it would be great to try out this regional sauce.

It’s made by Fletcher’s Sauce Co., the mascot of which is a cowboy with a hat and his eyes not visible. He’s a slick cowboy so I thought hmmm, maybe this sauce will be as slick as the man in front. The label says it is a “gourmet” hot sauce and that I should “taste the difference. Perhaps the influx of different ingredients should have been some kind of clue, with things like sodium bisulfite, potassium sorbate, and tricalcium phosphate. Or that TOMATO JUICE (in all capital letters) was the third primary ingredient. It doesn’t even list what specific peppers they use, it just says “chili”. You mean with beans or without? Help me, folks.

Let me get to the point. I tried it and I wondered “where’s the heat?” There was a little bit of it there but it came off as if heat was not a factor. Those who may not like a hot of hot sauces or heat in their food would really like this but it came off like I was having a mild picante sauce. In fact, I tried it with a tortilla chip and it is suitable there but in terms of heat, it almost seemed more like a ketchup. Ina Garten is a chef who, in an episode of her TV show, said if you wanted something spicy, add ketchup and I said “wait a minute, ketchup is spicy?” If you think ketchup is spicy, maybe you’ll like Fletch’er’s Sauce Co’s hot sauce and nothing hotter. The company also makes barbeque sauce, three different varieites to choose from and I would think those would be quite good but as for their hot sauce, it’s more like lame sauce. In other words, it’s a nice and pleasant sauce but that’s it. Nothing more and nothing less, just “eh”.

For more information, click to

BOOK’S FOODIE: Honest Ember Mango Habanero hot sauce (review)

 photo HonestEmber_label_zpsgxmojp2k.jpg This hot sauce is from a company in Austin, Texas I had seen in a number of blogs and website and I had thought of wanting to try a mango hot sauce. This is when I chose to go for one made by Honest Ember. I may have had mango bread on my mind that week and said “hmmm, let me pick this mango hot sauce and test it out”, so that’s what I did.

It lists mango as its first ingredient and also has water, onion, vinegar, habanero peppers, garlic, and spices, so this was one I really looked forward to. I tried it and while the mango flavor is there, it didn’t last long and I wondered if that’s what I really wanted or desired. I loved how with Adoboloco’s pineapple, the pineapple flavor remains, or at least I knew I was having a pineapple hot sauce, I never forgot that and it made me want to have more. This one lost flavor and while the heat was very much there and remained, it is called a “mango habanero”, I wanted the mango flavor to stay with me and it didn’t happen. The heat, I had no issue with but I wanted more in the flavor department. I’d be more than happy to try other variations Honest Ember make but I’ll pass on the mango one again for the time again.

If you want to try it out for yourself, the Mango Habanero sauce can be ordered directly from here. For more information, head to

BOOK’S FOODIE: Hot Winter Original (Medium Hot) sauce (review)

 photo HotWinter_label_zpsfhvlt1ax.jpg This was another brand of hot sauce I had seen a number of times while visiting Portland and decided this would be a good time to pick it up. The Hot Winter Hot Sauce company has been in service since 2009 and has been mentioned in articles and placed on best-of lists over the years, so I figured I’d have to try it. They do a nice number of variations but without getting too complicated, I decided to go basic with Hot Winter and try out their original.

The funny thing is when I bought it and brought it home, I said “hmmm, this has vinegar, I hope it’s not too strong.” I know some hot sauces do have vinegar but it had never been something that came to my mind before. When I tried it, the vinegar flavor is there but it’s present enough to where it doesn’t get in your face, metaphorically speaking. It blends in nicely with the hot winter peppers, along with the other ingredient, some of which are listed as organic. This was one that was nice with eggs, tacos, meats, and a number of other dishes I tried it on/with.

I’m slowly testing my limits on heat and Hot Winter also make one that is listed as “Very Hot” and another as “Extra Extra Hot”. Eventually I’ll get there. For now, try one that’s medium hot or even their mild (the Poblano variety), which I’d like to try the next time around.

Original (medium hot) can be ordered directly from here. You may find out more by heading to