Made in NH: Expo to feature wide variety of products from the Granite State

Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2015
The Made in NH “Try It & Buy It” Expo is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

This weekend’s expo will have about 140 exhibiting companies, making it one of the biggest years in the expo’s history.

“We noticed last year that we attracted a whole different crowd of people who buy local but never made that connection to the Made in NH expo,” said event organizer Heidi Copeland.

For New Hampshire businesses, the expo is another way to reach customers as they look for more ways to market themselves to people looking for locally made products.

“We haven’t peaked yet,” said Trish Ballantyne, executive director at NH Made, which is not a sponsor of the event but has many members participating. “The whole shop local and buy local movement is growing and it’s stronger than ever, but we’re not there yet.”

Products range from hand lotion to craft beer to salsa.

“People come visit New Hampshire and they want to take something back with them,” Ballantyne said. “I think the organization has always been focused on creating that awareness, but we also need to do everything we can to make sure our products are out there.”

The event is scheduled for Friday through Sunday at the Radisson Hotel/Center of New Hampshire Expo Center in Manchester. Show hours are Friday from 1 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $3 for children ages 2 to 12. For more information, visit millyardcommunications.com.

To help get the word out, event organizers sent out giant “swag bags” filled with products made in New Hampshire. A few of us at the Monitor decided to sample some of the products and write reviews. Here are some favorites:

Whiskey Disk

Ice and single malt Scotch whiskey make an amazing couple.

But for some, the pairing isn’t perfect because melting ice dilutes the whiskey’s flavor. Purists might rejoice at the idea of the Whiskey Disk from Sap House Meadery in Ossipee.

Manufactured by Hammerstone’s Whiskey Disks, the small disk “offers a unique drinking experience by softly chilling fine liquors without diluting.” Handcrafted from 100 percent pure natural soapstone, the disk doesn’t make your drink smell or taste any different.

The directions are simple: Store it in the freezer and plop it in a glass when it’s time to drink.

It worked.

It took a few sips to get used to seeing the soapstone at the bottom of the glass, but it keep my 12-year Scotch cool.

Highly recommended for people who enjoy liquor on the rocks but don’t enjoy how melted ice changes the flavor.

Health Solutions 
Spice Blends

I’m not one for recipes. Generally, I prefer to wing it and live with the results. But since I was cooking for colleagues, I didn’t need the pressure of a colossal failure. So I stuck to the recipe on the back of the Milford-made Healthy Solutions Spice Blends seasoning packet when preparing chili for a Monitor potluck.

I could tell you it took 10 hours to cook, which is true. But in reality, this slow cooker recipe took me all of eight minutes to pull together. (Yes, I timed it.)

While I was browning 1 pound of ground sirloin, I diced a green pepper, opened up cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and green chilis, and dropped in the spice packet. The packet itself listed chili powder and “other spices.” I’m pretty sure there was some cumin in there as well.

The spice packet could have been hotter, but you can up the ante yourself with cayenne pepper, Tabasco or even Sriracha. Overall, it was what you’d expect out of a good chili – it was hearty and it went well with the real star of the show, the Mitchell’s Fresh tortilla chips.

Gamer soda

Gamer brand soda delivers a jolt of caffeine, “pure cane sugar” and B vitamins. It’s a disappointingly clear liquid in a shapely glass bottle, along with a rocking label that promises it will help you “stay in your game.”

I thought I’d try it out while playing an ultraviolent video game, just to see if it enhanced my performance. Playing the PlayStation 4 game Bloodborne while drinking the beverage, I noticed its refreshing citrus taste as my character chopped through a couple of Elizabethan zombies. There was a bit of a tangy aftertaste as I tried to have my character throw a Molotov cocktail at a pack of the undead.

The game is exceptionally difficult, and my demon hunter was still ultimately slain. But I made it further than I had before, so perhaps Gamer soda really does sharpen those reflexes.

Woodshed Roasting 
Company, espresso blend

Since every newsroom runs on caffeine, it made sense that we give the packet of espresso a rip to see how it affected productivity, and how it tasted, of course.

For starters, the 2.2-ounce green foil package contained no directions, so it was unclear whether this was enough to make one strong pot of coffee or two more diluted pots. Fearing caffeine overload, we used the trusted eyeball measure – “that looks about right” – for the first newsroom pot of coffee in the morning.

The result was a hit. All of the coffee drinkers had their cup – or two – and we drained the pot quickly.

“You know, it’s pretty good. It’s smooth, but lacks a little body,” Monitor columnist Ray Duckler said. “It could use a little more zest.”

Aha. That was clear evidence that perhaps this was a one-pot job after all. Informed of the coffee portion conundrum, Duckler didn’t want to disparage.

“The taste is fine, especially if you’ve had the coffee downstairs.”

Ooh. Downstairs. The evil 75-cent K-Cup machine, that’s only stocked with medium roast. Duckler was right, it’s far better than the K-Cup. As for productivity, no complaints here.

(Disclaimer: This review was written while drinking a cup of coffee.)

Homemade Specialty 
Sweet Potato Chili

The recipe for the chili was really simple: Boil water, add mix, add a can of diced tomatoes. But, even after an hour of cooking (20 minutes boiling, 40 minutes simmering) plus additional time spent soaking in a slow cooker, some of the ingredients included in the sweet potato chili mix were still hard. Not crunchy hard, but enough to notice that it wasn’t the tender squishiness they are supposed to have.

My guess is that because the mix includes so many different things with vastly varying cooking times, it makes it hard to regulate.

If you are looking for a quick chili meal, look somewhere else. This takes time to cook.

Despite the time, the taste of the chili was good. It wasn’t super spicy, nor was it bland. And the smell of the chili is very noticeable. As soon as I took the lid off, the aroma of chili permeated my entire house. Sweet potato is a new twist on chili for me, but it was a pretty unnoticeable addition as far as taste. Sweet potatoes cook on the faster side of things in the mix, so it wasn’t so undercooked. If you don’t want to try it as-is from the package, try adding chicken or beef.

Hemlock Springs Soap, blackberry and sage

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who exclusively use plain Dial soap to wash up, and everyone else. I’m solidly in the latter group. I’m a bar soap user (not a fan of body wash), but I like soaps that smell good and are preferably made from natural ingredients.

I tried out a small block of blackberry and sage soap from Hemlock Springs Soaps, which fit the bill for me perfectly. It has a great scent that’s fresh and not too overpowering, and it’s made out of coconut oil, goat’s milk and shea butter for added moisture. The soap lathers nicely and leaves skin feeling soft. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to toss that boring old Dial bar and try something new.

Stump Chunks

The Stump Chunks worked better than I thought. I followed the instructions on the bag – grab a large handful of the chunks, set the firewood on top of the pile and light the chunks directly. My first attempt at lighting didn’t go so well – the flame went out after a few seconds. But I kept at it, lighting the pile on three sides, and it took. After about a minute, I was cooking.

I was a tad skeptical when I first opened the bag because the chunks are a little bigger than I thought they’d be. I assumed they might be too thick to light with a basic lighter, but apart from that first flame-out (which may have been partly caused by some wind and ambient moisture in the ground) I was pretty impressed. I would be likely to use these again for future fire-starting needs.

Brown Paw Bakery 
peanut butter dog treats

The tiny treats were smaller than a Cheez-It, but my 30-pound terrier gobbled them up no problem. He seemed to be a little more excited than normal when it was treat time, and that’s saying a lot for a 16-year-old dog! I gave him a handful of them each time he went out, and the 1/4-pound bag lasted about a week.

Wozz! dressing, 
marinade and sauce, 
North African Chermoula

Wozz! Kitchen Creations is a gem that hails from the North Country. With a home in Bethlehem as well as Hardwick, Vt., Wozz! makes specialty gourmet dressings, marinades and condiments. I tried the North African Chermoula dressing. I didn’t trust all of the different things it said you could do with it on the bottle – it seemed too good to be true. So I used it to marinate the chicken breast I had in my fridge, and grilled it.

The chicken was superb. It reminded me of the Chicken Korma that I used to order at Indian restaurants and with good reason: According to the Wozz! website, chermoula is a blend of cumin and coriander with lots of lemon. Not only was it a tasty sauce, but it made the chicken extremely tender.

And they aren’t kidding about all the things you can do with it. Here’s one I wish I’d tried: Add it to greek yogurt as a dipping sauce for grilled chicken or lamb. Mmmmm.

Northwood Naturals Ever Moist all-natural body lotion, New Hamshire Lilac

This lotion is lovely. It has few ingredients to worry about – water, coconut oil, rice bran oil, wax, glycerin, essential oils – and the coconut oil makes for a wonderful silky smooth touch. My only caveat is that it is heavily perfumed. I found out the hard way when I thought a sample size was just enough for one use! You definitely don’t need a lot to do the job.

The Healthy Porcupine soap

The Orange Clove soap bar was interesting to try. The label says “Opt Out of the Chemical Lifestyle,” so of course you have to ask whether all-natural ingredients will get the job done. Well this bar, made with saponified grass-fed tallow, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and essential oils of orange and clove, was a lovely treat. It not only cleaned well, but it had a refreshing fragrance and left my skin feeling soft and fresh. I can’t wait to try more of their products.