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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Good & Gather Italian-Style Smoked Chicken Sausage

I've never been a huge sausage guy. 


That could be taken wrongly in a number of different ways. What I mean is, I'm not the biggest fan of the food known as "sausage" in general, although every once in a while I get a hankerin' and it's usually for the poultry variety. Unfortunately, this product does use pork casings, as many brands of otherwise turkey or chicken sausages do. 

And I've never been a big pig guy either. Heh. Big pig. That rhymes. Where my kosher peeps at? What?

Actually, I'm not kosher, mainly because I LURVE me some bottom-feeding aquatic creatures. And now that I've upset all the #BaconNation peeps as well as at least 2/3 of the adherents of Abrahamic religions, if you're still with me, please proceed to read the rest of this sausage review.

Because these sausages are actually pretty good. They don't have a ton of typical sausage spices—just enough to keep them interesting—and the meat seems to be very high quality chicken. They do well with run-of-the-mill condiments like mustard and ketchup, so you can eat them like that in the manner of a chicken hot dog, or you could go all out, chop them up and deck them with onions, peppers, and pasta sauce, serve them with spaghetti or what have you and either way, they're pretty tasty.

They come four in a pack for just about four bucks. Not a bad value in my opinion. Nutrition-wise, they definitely pack some serious sodium and cholesterol, but I'm pretty sure that's par for the course for most sausage, poultry-based or otherwise.

I'd even think about these as a side dish for a Thanksgiving meal. They're hearty enough and versatile enough that they'd go great with stuffing and mashed potatoes and other Turkey Day leftovers.

I might purchase again as is. Would definitely purchase again if they didn't go with pork casings.

I give these sausages 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Archer Farms Maple & Peanut Trail Mix

Almost exactly two years ago, I looked at Archer Farms Maple Trail Mix. No, this isn't simply a re-packaging and re-naming of the exact same product. There are different ingredients here, and both the wifey and I like this version better than the original. Let's take a look.

Where the original had stale Chex-esque cereal squares and boring, dog-treat-like "cookies," this iteration has maple-flavored confectionery coated pretzel balls and maple-glazed almonds. Both of those ingredients boast a candy sweetness, but they also let some real maple flavor through, with the almonds containing some actual maple syrup.

The original maple trail mix had raisins, while this version has craisins, or "dried, sweetened cranberries" if you prefer. I've always liked craisins more than raisins, so that's a good change, as well. Then there are honey roasted peanuts. They're scrumptious. I mean, I love any honey roasted peanuts, but these taste quite fresh and have just the right amount of saltiness and sweetness.

Finally, there are pumpkin seeds, AKA pepitas. These are the weakest element in my opinion—not because I don't like pepitas, but because I don't really feel like they belong in this mix. That is, they don't really add anything to the flavor. 

Even before the pumpkin seeds, there's already plenty of saltiness and nuttiness present. Furthermore, the vast majority of them settle at the bottom of the bag, making the last dozen handfuls or so essentially entirely pumpkin seeds, with maybe a few shreds of cranberry here and there.

All things considered, this is one of the best Archer Farms trail mixes I've tried in a long time. It's got a great combination of flavors, it's uniquely mapley and fall-ish, and it's very filling, too. My wife agrees. I'd call this "Awesome Autumn Trail Mix" or something like that since they already have a "Maple Trail Mix."

I would definitely repurchase. I hope they keep it around, even if they slap the GAG label on it. $3.69 for an 8.5oz bag.

I give this trail mix 9 out of 10 stars.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Archer Farms Maple Truffle Butter Cookies

This Archer Farms relic is still lingering there on Target's shelves. That is, it hasn't been Good & Gather-ified yet. You know, "Good & Gathered" would actually make more sense than Good & Gather because at least in the former case, both words are adjectives. By the way, if I ever started my own food line, I'd call it Bad & Dispersed.

No, I wouldn't. But I might call it Bowhunter Ranch. Pretty badass, huh?

These cookies actually tasted just a tad stale. And since Archer Farms is on the way out, I had to check the "best by" date on the box. They're good until April 2021. So...not sure why they were just a bit less fresh than their outstanding Raspberry Truffle Cookie counterparts. Still, they were pretty tasty.

I smelled a nice whiff of mapliciousness when I opened the cellophane wrapper on the tray of cookies. There's definitely an essence of the classic tree sap-based confection surrounding these treats. But honestly, after biting into one, I wanted more maple flavor in the cookie.

And unfortunately, it's not real maple syrup inside. It's "maple filling," with corn syrup as the main ingredient. I think real maple syrup would have seriously improved these cookies. Even if they would have been more expensive, it would have been worth it.

Even if putting real maple syrup inside would be impractical for whatever reason, they still would have benefited from more of the maple gel. The cookies were just a tad dryer than I expected. Despite the filling not being quite up to par with real maple syrup, the cookies would have been better with more liquid in the mix.

You can taste plenty of chocolate, and there's still a detectable amount of maple flavor. The vanilla cookie mostly gets lost in the mix. I feel like the flavors aren't quite as balanced here as the above-mentioned raspberry version. Still, these are a yummy autumn treat. I mean, technically, maple is a late winter/early spring flavor, but it has become known colloquially as a fall flavor, which is fine by me. Happy Fall, everybody. 

$3.69 for 18 cookies. It's doubtful I'll purchase them again unless they tweak the formula a little. 

I give these truffle butter cookies 7 out of 10 stars.

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