Review: PBN Kitten Tea Cup

I haven’t done a paint by numbers for years, and I thought it sounded fun, so I bought the Kitten Tea Cup PBN by Dimensions Paint Works. It is rated Beginner for ages 8 and up so it seemed a good place to start. One thing I appreciate is that the picture on the kit is representative of the finished product if you follow the instructions. Some paint by numbers kits either show the picture the kit is inspired by, or the kit as done by an artist using advanced techniques not mentioned in the instructions. For a kit that cost me less than ten dollars, I felt I got my money’s worth of enjoyment from it.

It comes with six colors, and instructions for two more by mixing two colors to make an additional shade of grey (black and white) and an additional shade of pink (red and white).

The kit comes with a hardboard canvas (as opposed to a regular flexible canvas). In retrospect, I would have started with the background instead of black, but it worked out fine.

While it was pretty simple as paint by numbers go, it was satisfying to see the image develop. I tried not to hurry and to take the time to appreciate the activity.

While I thought I’d mixed the colors in the proper proportion, the mixed grey came out lighter than the box. I’d chalk it up to user error, and in the future will pay closer attention to how the mixed color appears on the sample picture. I would up retouching in a couple of places to make it darker. I went over the white portions again a couple of times as the paint wasn’t opaque enough to hide the numbers with a single coat.

I could have spent a similar amount of time watching tv, or playing a video game, or any of a variety of more modern pursuits. I found painting this to be a relaxing and soothing experience. I would recommend the kit to anyone that hasn’t done a paint by numbers before, to a child, or to someone that just wanted to while away some time in a peaceful pastime.

Review: Fox Run / Norpro / Colibrox Taco tongs

These taco tongs are sold under by a variety of places under several different names, with varying prices, and the reviews I’ve read show varying results. However, they appear to all be the same set from the same manufacturer (I haven’t verified this, I’m just going by the images they use). I bought a pair and here are my experiences, your milage may vary.

When I first received the taco tongs – taco press – taco form whatever you want to call them, the spread on them was wider than what I prefer, so I did modify them slightly by bending them gently inward about 10 degrees from stock. I wouldn’t advice bending them in too sharply, but this simple modification seems to have improved my pair.

Notice that one side sits flat in the pan, and one side sticks up. This has apparently caused much confusion in how to use them (based on several of the reviews I’ve read). I’m not claiming how I use them is correct or safe, but I have success making taco shells using the following method:

Materials needed:

  • Taco tongs
  • Skillet
  • Oil
  • Taco size corn tortillas
  • Meat filling
  • Toppings

Use a skillet big enough that the bottom of the tongs can lay flat along the bottom of the pan. My personal preference is for a heavy cast iron skillet.

Put about a 1/2″ (give or take) of oil in the skillet, doesn’t have to be exact.

Heat the oil to approximately 350 degrees F.

Open the jaws of the tongs and insert a tortilla. Gently close the jaws just enough to hold the tortilla in place in a taco shape. Do not mash the jaws closed or the tortilla will tend to break along the bend. The intent should be to hold the tortilla in place with the correct shape, and force beyond that is counterproductive. If the tortillas aren’t flexible enough, try warming them first to make them more pliable.

Place the flat side of the tongs (holding the tortilla) down to rest in the oil on the bottom of the skillet.

The boiling point of the moisture inside the tortilla is about 212 F, since the oil is 350 F, the moisture inside the tortilla will rapidly start to turn into steam, and bubble up out of the oil to be released into the air. When the tortilla is first put into the oil it has the most moisture, so will bubble the most.

The bubbles will gradually start to subside, and after about a minute there will be noticeably less bubbles forming. How long it will take each to be done will depend on how much moisture is in the starting tortillas, and how crunchy you want the final taco shells to be. If you wait unless it isn’t making any bubbles anymore, chances are they are burnt so stop before then. For best results judge doneness by the amount of bubbles being released and by color rather than by timing (unless you make them often enough to have that dialed in).

Remove from the oil, and allow the excess oil on the tortilla to drain back into the pan. Be vary careful as at this point, the pan is hot, the oil is hot, the tongs are hot and the bottom half of the taco shell is hot.

At this point the bottom half of the taco shell is cooked, but the top half (the half that sticks up) isn’t. This next step takes a little finesse, and should be done carefully to avoid burning yourself. Open the jaws of the tongs over a rack or plate, removing the shell from the tongs. Carefully grasp just the edge tip of the uncooked half of the shell (or use some implement to do so), turn the shell around and place back in the tongs, this time with the uncooked side of the tortilla facing down. Then return to the oil as before and cook the other side, completing the taco shell.

As each is finished, invert the taco shells on a rack so they look like little tents, and continue for each of the taco shells desired.

American style taco filling can be prepared in advance using a variety of recipes. I personally like a combination of ground meat, taco spices, diced onions and chopped jalapeƱo peppers, but chicken or shredded beef is also popular. Put a couple tablespoons of the prepared filling into the bottom of each taco shell.

Then top each with your choice of toppings. Popular additions include cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced olives, salsa, and/or a dollop of sour cream.

I hope you found the above helpful. Below is a link to amazon, it doesn’t cost you any more, but I get a few cents if you use the link to make your purchase.

Review: Berggren Botanical Wellness Hemp/CBD Granola Bar

While attending the Oaksterdam Graduation this year I happened to wind up with a CBD Granola Bar sample from Berggren Botanical Wellness, It was a good sized sample, about 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 3/4″, wrapped in wax paper, and sealed in plastic with a printed label.

The texture is a combination of crunchy and chewy, with an emphasis on the chewy. My advice would be to nibble on it slowly to enjoy the variety of flavors hidden within. The bite is hearty, and intensely but pleasantly flavored. In true tradition of traveling foods, I can see this being a handy snack to tide one over until the next regular meal.

I had the pleasure of speaking with a gentleman from the company, although to be fair it was when the graduation ceremony had become a graduation party, and I was a bit more mellow than I would normally be. I do remember talking about there not being peanuts in it due to allergy concerns, but best bet would be to contact them directly with any ingredient questions.

It is a CBD edible, although I would say it would make a good THC infused recipe as well. I think the strong flavor and filling nature would lend itself well to not overindulging, something that can be an issue with other edibles of the same caliber where they would be a taste treat even if not infused. I’ve overdone it on chocolates and gummy bears where after the first few the munchies kicked in and I continued eating them for the pleasure of eating them. With this granola bar (and nibbling at it) I found it to be much more a gourmet granola bar experience than an edible centric one.

Although I haven’t yet had the chance to try it yet, I also received a limoncello CBD bath bomb. I have every reason to believe it will be a nice experience though, since who doesn’t like the occasional indulgence in the bath.