After Hours: New Products, More Gifts and Many ThanksBy Kathy Biehl, Published on November 12, 2006
Wild Thymes' new Korean Ginger Scallion Marinade is an essential pantry item. Savory, sweet and spicy flavors combine wonderfully in this soy-based marinade, which complements everything from meats, vegetables and tofu to shrimp and potstickers. The magic works even if the marinade and its target don't spend much time getting acquainted. I have produced several quick and memorable entrees simply by simmering pork chops and diced onions in a hearty dousing of the marinade.
Other Wild Thymes newbies worth a try are its line of salad refreshers. These are fruit-based dressings with less oil than your basic vinaigrette - and, unlike many prepared dressings, no high fructose corn syrup. The flavors are light and subtle (black currant, key lime, mango, Meyer lemon, morello cherry, passion fruit, pomegranate, raspberry and tangerine) and accent rather than domineer whatever they touch.
A must-have for outside the kitchen is the latest research guide from Tara Calishain, who has been blazing online navigational paths since before most of us had Internet service accounts. Her new frontier is automating research and then managing the information that pours in. She outlines a myriad of ways to achieve this (RSS feeds, page monitors, and more) in her latest book, Information Trapping: Real-Time Research on the Web, which is currently in pre-order stage for early December publication. I am not recommending this sight unseen, although that would not be risky, given the caliber of her previous work. I reviewed a draft of some of the chapters as a technical editor and was impressed by the depth of her knowledge, the utility of her suggestions and the ease and clarity of her language. She turns a potentially overwhelming endeavor into manageable steps, with exciting and useful possibilities. (And no, I have no financial interest in this book.)
Rogue Creamery offers several affordable gift packs combining its artisanal cheeses. The 70th anniversary collection contains full cream sharp cheddar, handmade raw milk blue vein cheese and rosemary cheddar. Three of Rogue's award-winning blue cheeses make up the blue sampler, while the herb cheese and chocolate box matches lavender and rosemary cheddars with Dagoba Organic Lavender Chocolate.
Dancing Deer's cookie tins make an impressive gift and, amazingly, a last-minute one; the deers bake orders on the day of shipping and don't waste time getting to that task. The holiday chewy cookie sampler delivers a couple of pounds, plus of snickerdoodle, molasses clove, sugar cane lime and chocolate peppermint cookies, for $29.95. Ten dollars less gets you a tin of gingerbread "folks," or snickerdoodles and gingerbread folks, or molasses clove cookies, or mocha marble shortbreads.
Food and fun have long been part of singer-songwriter Christine Lavin's public persona, from singing about the virtues of cold pizza for breakfast and twirling batons on stage to making French toast bread pudding on the radio and giving manicures or, more recently, hosting a knitting circle pre-show. On top of all this, she plays well with others, too. Lavin has a pronounced ability to not merely share the spotlight, but showcase and promote other performers. All these traits converge in her latest, gift-worthy project, One Meatball, a combination CD and cookbooklet. The CD contains 19 food-related songs performed by Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Lavin's mentor, the late Dave van Ronk (who both explains and sings the title song), and other luminaries of the folk, cabaret and Broadway worlds. Sequenced to follow a day's worth of eating, the songs may well propel you into the kitchen, where the 96-page booklet of recipes will provide plenty of things to do.
An antidote to the effects of many an office environment: The Oracle Stress-O-Meter, a tabletop-sized device in the style of an arcade amusement, complete with pulsating lights and beeps. Press two fingers into the measuring bay and a light circles the wheel until reaching a diagnosis. Will it be: cool as a cucumber? Horrendously hassled? Meltdown? Bonus amusement value: the beeps are bound to invade coworkers' air space, which may be just what you want.
Finding this gizmo may require asking the makers, the Lagoon Group, to direct you to a store. Amazon is showing it as currently unavailable. I found it in a gift bin at a Staples, and an office supply store may be a good first route of attack.
Many Thanks I would like to express my thanks to LLRX's publisher, editor and driving force, Sabrina I. Pacifici, for the valuable resources she maintains and safeguards in this site and, on a personal level, for the respect, support and latitude she has given to my contributions. I also want to thank all my friends, colleagues and readers who have supplied me with great food and gift tips, delicious recipes and copious feedback, support and assistance. May all of you find jewels in your crown of heaven and wondrous plenty on your earthly table.
Copyright 2006 Kathy Biehl. All Rights Reserved.