CrateChef Jessica Merchant Review + Coupon – October 2019


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CrateChef is a bi-monthly food subscription box curated by a different chef or food-related celebrity every two months. Each box includes artisanal foods, recipes, and kitchen supplies, as well as a cookbook or recipe cards from the featured chef to help you put your items to use. I always learn something new from these boxes and enjoy trying the different techniques and flavors that they introduce me to.

This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

About CrateChef

The Subscription Box: CrateChef

The Cost: $49 per box + $8 shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.

The Products: Artisanal foods, recipes, and kitchen tools curated by a different chef each month.

Ships to: The US

The Jessica Merchant Box Review

This month’s featured personality is Jessica Merchant, the blogger behind How Sweet Eats and author of books Seriously Delish and The Pretty Dish. Jessica is new to me, but I loved her welcoming intro letter. She also happens to be from Pittsburgh! Hello, fellow Pittsburgher!

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    Typical of CrateChef, this box included an intro letter from Jessica as well as 5 recipes on printed cards. This is one of the months where every single recipe looks delicious… chocolate pumpkin pie?! Yes, yes, yes, so much yes.

    Now, let’s eat! Well, let’s open up the box and see what goodies we have, anyway:

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    • Cheese Serving Set

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      CrateChef Cheese Knives (4 piece set) – Estimated Value $14.99 (Similar product found here.)

      One thing I love about the winter holiday season is the abundance of good cheese! I have tried giving up dairy (temporarily and permanently) in the past, but the cheese always gets me. I started hosting Christmas Eve dinner for our extended family about three years ago, and I’ve been slowly collecting serving pieces ever since. I have shockingly few good serving utensils of any kind, so these will definitely inspire a fancy cheese board this holiday! They’re lightweight and modern and should go with pretty much any decor, which I appreciate.

      Jessica suggests having a sort of “hero” cheese on your board, like this Maple Cream and Apple Butter Baked Brie from her 2017 Thanksgiving spread. Gotta say, this spread is gorgeous! There are loads of other tips and ideas for cheese board success here, too. Totally unrelated, but I suddenly am craving cheese for dinner tonight…

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      • Glass Honey Pot

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        Glass Honey Dipper Jar – Estimated Value $12.99 (Similar product found here.)

        This is so cute! A honey dipper might not be a year-round fixture for me, but both my husband and I do drink a lot of tea with honey in the winter. While the thought of decanting honey into a separate container seems a little too fancy for me all the time, I’m thinking this would be right at home on that fancy cheese board display. I love apples with cheddar and honey, and I’ve also been drizzling a bit of honey on my cottage cheese and fruit in the morning, and lately we’ve been mixing up a scotch cocktail involving honey and orange on brisk fall evenings… maybe I’ll end up using this more than I think!

        CrateChef also notes this item is dishwasher safe and holds about 8 oz of honey. (I also wanted to note that the lid on our jar arrived shattered, and CrateChef sent us a replacement. This is their standard practice for all customers as long as you reach out within one week of receiving your box.)

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        • OXO Garlic Press

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          OXO Softworks Garlic Press – Retail Value $10.99

          A garlic press was one of the very first kitchen gadgets I ever owned, and it’s still one I use all the time. Usually I feel like CrateChef sends me things I don’t already have on hand, but in this case, I love that they sent a recognizable quality brand like OXO. It’s not the fanciest luxury brand or anything, but in my experience OXO stuff works well and lasts a long, long time. (Some of my OXO stuff is over 10 years old and still perfectly great.) This garlic press is nice and has comfortably padded handles, with a design that opens up to theoretically make it easier to clean. I actually just upgraded my old garlic press to a newer IKEA model last month, so I will probably pass this on to my mom or a friend so they can enjoy this upgrade.

          (This might be an older model; the most recent OXO garlic press is a bit flashier looking and more expensive.)

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          • Shrub Vinegar Mix

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            McClary Bros Michigan Apple Pie Drinking Vinegar, 4 oz – Estimated Value $5 (Buy a set of 3 for $15)

            I was really excited to see this in the box, because I love shrubs! I’m not the kind of person who drinks straight shots of apple cider vinegar, but as someone who hates overly sweet things, I really feel like vinegar is under appreciated when it comes to being a mixer for all sorts of drinks (boozy or not). McClary Bros is a Detroit, Michigan based brand of organic, unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and they make different flavors designed to be mixed into drinks or other recipes, including some pretty wild ones like watermelon and beet & carrot.

            I keep meaning to make my own shrub syrup one of these days, but happy to experiment with this in the meantime. I’m looking forward to trying it as a cocktail mixer as indicated on the included card; apple pie vinegar plus scotch or bourbon and ginger beer sounds like the perfect fall cocktail to me! Jessica also included a salad dressing recipe that uses this as an ingredient; just might have to make both.

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              Rodelle Vanilla Paste, 4 oz – Retail Value $13.71 (Currently on sale for $12.34)

              I only really bake around the holidays, but I like to experiment with quality ingredients. Last year I went on a midnight night run around to several different grocery stores in my area on December 23rd, trying to find whole vanilla pods for a cake icing recipe for our Christmas Eve gathering, and literally found the last available jar in the THIRD store I visited. When I pulled this item out of the box, I immediately thought of that moment and thought of how much easier it would have been if this item was already in my pantry!

              I was initially surprised that this seems pretty affordable, because in stores I am pretty sure I paid $10 or maybe more for 2 vanilla beans. I did use this to make the lavender syrup from the included recipe (check it out later in this post) and would say that it seems less like a “paste” and more like “bits suspended in liquid”, so maybe it’s not quite as packed full of beans as you’d think… but I will say it was delicious and definitely a deeper, more complex flavor than plain vanilla extract. Maybe the perfect compromise? Either way, looking forward to trying this in all sorts of recipes in the next couple months!

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                Navitas Organic Chia Seeds, 8 oz – Retail Value $7.99

                I’m not a chia fanatic, but I always find ways to use this unusual ingredient whenever I have some on hand! Like Jessica, I like to add it into homemade granola, oatmeal, and even cookies for a bit of an omega-3 and fiber boost. I’ve also been trying to streamline my mornings lately, so perhaps some overnight oats are in order soon. I bet my 4 year old would also enjoy seeing how they transform overnight from tiny seeds to gelatinous goo (though I’m taking bets he won’t actually bring himself to eat it).

                (Also, wow, the price on chia seeds has really gone down, hasn’t it? I feel like these used to cost twice as much last time I picked up a bag!)

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                • Culinary Lavender

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                  Culinary Grade Lavender, 1 oz – Estimated Value $6.50 (Similar product found here.)

                  I was tempted to keep this at my desk because it just smells so good. 1 oz doesn’t seem like a lot but this is a pretty big bag, and since you typically use lavender pretty sparingly, I feel like this will last a long time. I am envisioning some delicious shortbread cookies for the holidays, but Jessica also included a recipe for a Lavender & Vanilla Latte. Of course I jumped right into making that immediately the next morning…

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                    Using Jessica’s included recipe, I whipped up this syrup using our included lavender and vanilla paste from this box! Because I wanted to make my latte ASAP before I went to work, I didn’t let the syrup totally cool before I strained it and added it to my espresso and warm milk. This had a delicious and very lightly floral flavor; I can’t help but think the lavender might have been overwhelming if I had steeped it longer. I’ve been enjoying this in coffee, hot cocoa, and even chamomile tea for the last few days and it is delicious! Not to mention that I enjoyed this latte in a previous CrateChef item, a beautiful little handmade teacup all the way back from a spring 2017 box. 🙂 Proof that I actually do love and use a lot of these items!

                    Verdict: I really loved every item in this month’s CrateChef box! Even though it wasn’t explicitly a theme, Jessica’s box is making me feel a lot more prepared and calm as we enter the holiday entertaining season. This box in particular had a great blend of useful gadgets and recipe/ingredient inspiration, and I know everything here will get used in the next few months (even if I end up gifting that garlic press).

                    To Wrap Up:

                    Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Yes, if you choose! When you join CrateChef, you can select which box you receive first. This box is currently available along with some other past favorites. (Check out our past reviews to see what’s inside those boxes, too!)

                    Value Breakdown: Retail values for food boxes tend to be really close to the price of the boxes and are a lot more about curation than value. This box’s items totaled up to an estimated retail value of $72.17. CrateChef bi-monthly subscriptions cost $57 per box ($49 + $8 US shipping), so this is actually one of the better values I’ve seen from this box; it’s usually right around the break-even point of $57. (I should also note that you can get CrateChef for as low as $45/box + shipping with a 6 box subscription, so it can be a good value if you really like to experiment in the kitchen and are willing to prepay for a longer subscription!)

                    Check out all of our CrateChef reviews and lots of food-related boxes in the Food Subscription Box Directory!

                    Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

                    What do you think of the latest CrateChef? How do you feel about drinking vinegars and chia seeds; any other recipe ideas for me?

                    How do subscribers rate CrateChef?

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                    Written by Lacey Volk

                    Lacey Volk

                    Lacey’s introduction to the world of subscription boxes was Julep Maven, but she quickly moved on once she discovered there were subscriptions for cooking, coffee, and art supplies. Current favorites include Crate Chef and Ecocentric Mom, and she’s looking forward to trying more.

                    Posted in CrateChef Reviews, Food & Drink Subscription Boxes, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: cratechef | 5 comments

                    5 Comments

                    1. Nicely curated. Thx for reviewing

                    2. Love that they included McClary Bros! We’ve cooked with them too – used the apple pie with some honey as a reduction on a pork roast, and the cranberry on lamb, again with honey.

                      They’re also really good for shots in the middle of the night if you have heartburn. A lot nicer than a straight shot of apple cider vinegar.

                      • Finally got a chance to try the included cocktail recipe and I loved it! I’d totally buy a full size bottle of this stuff. Thanks for the tips!

                    3. Pittsburgh love from a fellow Pittsburgher!!

                      • Yay! <3 Sinkhole bus forever!

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