Spring 2009 Favorite Things

Calico Fabrics – The fabric with the small floral designs – feminine, yet utilitarian. A staple dress good of year’s past, it’s classic yet modern when fashioned into a summer halter dress or swingy skirt. Wow, that felt very J. Peterman. Got Fabric has a pretty good selection of basic calico prints, but Ebay is probably the place to go if you’re looking for the real deal.

Meatless Meals – Budget minded and health conscious people know that eating meat every day of the week is just too much. Mushroom pasta, dolma with tabbouleh and couscous, white bean and kale soup, leek and potato soup, baked rice, tuna noodle casserole, are all tasty, easy to prepare and quick.

Chronicle Books Scrappy Albums – I don’t usually buy stuff like this, but I found the “I Love You” album for half price (only$5!) at a Borders and bought one. They’re neat – it’s a small 20 page album with patterned pages and includes stickers. They also have albums for “Vacation Days”, “Family Memories” and “Sweet Baby”. And all in one set for the on the go insta-scrapbooker.

Jasmine Tea – I am a tea drinker. I just love the stuff, but I usually stick to earl grey or english breakfast. Until I re-discovered jasmine tea in San Francisco’s Chinatown. A steaming cup of jasmine tea (don’t put any sweetener in it! You’ll ruin it if you do.) to start a meal is the way to go – it’s refreshing, it’s refined, and it helps to whet your appetite. The aroma is intoxicating in that heady way that excellent food and beverage are meant to be. And it’s just plain tasty.

Canned Appetizers – Don’t get me wrong – I am a cook so I generally don’t subscribe to the school of thought that opening cans and boxes and jars constitutes cooking or a meal. But sometimes a little exotica is nice, and sometimes having an appetizer plate ready to go while you’re really cooking the real deal are great ways to go. And you can organize an instant cocktail party on the fly with a few interesting cans of tasty victuals and a few good bottles of wine. For Spanish delicacies, La Tienda offers an amazing array – piquillo peppers stuffed with fish, several varieties of clams, mussels in vinegar sauce or salsa, bacalao, sardines, baby eels, lobster pate and so on. Gourmet Foodstore and iGourmet are both great sites for French and Italian canned goods such as pates, foie gras, tapenade, escargot, mostarda, tuscan white beans and so on. For Greek foods like dolmas, eggplant, beans in tomato sauce and octopus with garlic, Greek Internet Market is the place to visit.

Lunch Kits – Throw away goods need to be a thing of the past. “Brown bagging it” doesn’t involve brown bags anymore. My favorite type of lunch kit is the bento box – a self-contained duo or trio of boxes in it’s own fabric carry bag, with chopsticks and sometimes a cup or water bottle. JBox has a great selection of bento boxes (this link goes straight to the bento box page which is completely harmless, but please note that the JBox website does have mature content so if you need to keep that in mind while browsing, there you go…)  and accessories like chopsticks, cups and soy sauce containers (which are also great for salad dressings and such). Reusable Bags also has a good selection of lunch boxes, cloth bags, food containers and such. And for the old-school metal and plastic lunchboxes with Thermos from our elementary school years (as well as bento and everything else – amazing selection), Lunchboxes.com is the place to go.

Takeout China – This stuff has been around for years now and I’ve always loved it. It’s become one of our pop culture icons and I do love the irony of it. The ceramic coffee mugs that look like the disposable paper cups, and the ceramic bowls that look like Chinese takeout boxes are great. I especially like the plates and bowls modeled after aluminum takeout pans, which I was really excited to find at The Curiosity Shoppe (along with the take out coffee mugs).