Category Archives: Gift Ideas

A Moment in the Kitchen: Moroccan Salt-Preserved Lemons

From JH:

preparation

Citrus sits especially well with me during the holidays. As does canning. The obvious next step: Moroccan Salt-Preserved lemons. After consulting recipes from  Anthony Bourdain, David Lebovitz, and Epicurious, I dove into a slightly modified version of their useful recipes (yes to cinnamon and cloves; skip the bay leaves and black peppercorns), and then waited 30 days before presenting them to my curious holiday party hostesses and colleagues. What does one do with salt-preserved lemons? I steep them in hot water with a bit of honey and make tea, but they’re traditionally used in Moroccan tangines, and I imagine they’d make a delicious accompaniment to extra-sharp cheeses, too. It’s times like these that I envy those out in California. Remember this?

30 days after sealing, the lemons have softened

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials

From Amsterdam, With Love

From JH:

tulip bulbs

What’s the best organic-matter gift one can smuggle in from Amsterdam? Tulip bulbs from the floating flower market, no doubt. These are going in the ground today, and because I’m not sure what variety they are (maybe parrot?), I’m already looking forward being surprised in the spring. Thank you, FK!

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Filed under Flora, Gardening, Gift Ideas, Raw Materials, The Growth of a Garden

A Moment in the Kitchen: Mint Tea

From JH:

a moment in the kitchen: mint tea

homegrown and handmade

In my ongoing effort to use all of summer’s mint before winter gets it, I dried a bunch and rigged two dozen tea bags. Hang the mint upside down for two weeks. Then, when it’s so dry it crumbles, bundle 2 tbsp-doses in double-layered, extra-fine cheesecloth, and secure the pouches with kitchen twine.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials, Reimagining

Epicerie of Curiosities

From JH:

epicerie of curiosities

a must-see in the marais

Last week I went to Paris on whim for reasons entirely un-food-related, but my favorite find there was Izrael, a specialty spice market in the Marais off the St. Paul stop on Metro line 1. My god, what glorious edibles they have in this shop:

epicerie of curiosities

inside izrael

I bought black sel, and smokey sel, and fleur de sel in beautiful glass vials. I bought long peppercorns that look like stretched acorns. I bought violet-seasoned sugar pieces that resemble chunks of amethyst for DW. And dried button roses for cake decorating. Had I had a few more days in Paris to consume them, I would have bought bags of the stores dried fruits and deserts, too.

epicerie of curiosities

the details

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Filed under Aspirational/Inspirational, Gift Ideas, Raw Materials

Micro Farming: Food-Growing Made Simple

From JH:

micro farming from austin, tx

coming to you from austin, tx

Down in Austin, TX Lucas Brower and Jesse Kamm have started a genius company making and delivering Home Grow Micro Farms––self-watering garden boxes that yield a variety of seasonal, organic vegetables over the course of 3 months.

It works like this: You pick a box from their site’s monthly planning menu (in November, for example, you have a choice between 4 boxes; one’s filled with salad greens, another has beets and Chinese cabbage, etc.), then order it online, or by phone. Brower and Kamm deliver your box in their veggie oil-powered car, and do all of the installing for you (you need only to provide them with an outdoor water spigot, or, maybe you collect rainwater, and would prefer to hook it up to your well? Even better.). Give your box a lot of sun and reasonable TLC, and in approximately 30 days it will be ready for harvest.

good eats

good eats

Then, when 3 months has passed and you’ve eaten through your Micro Farm, Brower and Kamm will come collect the exhausted box and replace it with a newly seeded one. 1 box is only $30/month! Get your rotation right (i.e. have a new box returned and delivered every month), and you’ll have fresh, seasonal vegetables everyday, year-round.

Really, it’s so easy. It waters itself. It’s already seeded. It’s harvest without the hassle. And home-grown without a required green thumb. Get in touch with Brower here.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Gardening, Gift Ideas, Raw Materials

Another Moment in the Kitchen with More Green Tomato Pickles

From JH:

ready for gifting

ready for gifting

Same great recipe. Just a new, more polished look. The labels, I bought at Kate’s Paperie, but they’re made by Cavallini Papers & Co. After dressing the tops of the jars with everything from ticker-stripes to chintz, I decided that I still like the natural burlap and kitchen twine best. Should you, like me, be opposed to buying over-prized burlap, I suggest hitting up your neighborhood restaurants for empty potato sacks. I’d bet they’re free.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap

The Art of Cheese Curling

From DW:

tete de moine with fig jam

tête de moine with fig jam

For my birthday, JH gave me a very sentimental gift: a Boska Cheese Curler and a wheel of the Swiss cow’s milk cheese, Tête de Moine.

A Cheese Curler?  Let me explain.

I know, it sounds cheesy (ehemmm) but JH and I have a ritual that’s deeply linked to this simple device. In fact, it’s fair to say that our friendship has evolved both with and because of it.

I’ll start at the beginning: Every month or so JH and I meet  for dinner at Black Mountain Winehouse, a small, discreet restaurant on the corner of Hoyt and Union Streets in Brooklyn. Tyler is always our gracious and entertaining host and, frankly, he probably knows way too much about us than we care to share at this point.

During the winter we sit by the open fire in the back; during the summer we sit by the open window in the front. We always drink copiously, spill our guts, dream out loud, and come up with future schemes and projects…this blog was one such late-night revelation.

At Black Mountain the menu specials change nightly, but thankfully, the cheeses remain the same, and with every meal we order a double dose of the delicious Tête de Moine, a Gruyere-like cheese made by monks in Switzerland. It’s name translates to “monk’s head” (not “head of less,” as I first thought); French soldiers called it this because during the revolution the monks that they captured had wheels of the stuff hidden in their robes.

The light, delicate flowers that the cheese curler makes of the Moines once seemed miraculous to me. I actually thought that the cheese grew into this filamentous floret—embarrassing––until Tyler showed us the Amazing Cheese Curler, the magical tool of his trade, and gave us a demo.

boska cheese culer in all her glory

boska cheese culer in all her glory

It seems pretty self-explanatory, but after trying it at home and destroying several wheels of expensive fromage that broke apart when I pushed , Tyler gave me the tip off: The cheese must be cold.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Gift Ideas