Hi! How are you? I am melting, thank you very much. Are you so bored of hearing LA people complain about the heatwave? So sorry, but I am not done whining. It’s soooooo hot here! Even at the beach. And we have no air conditioning!!! And I am teaching cooking classes every day literally with sweat pouring out of me. Waaaahhhh!!! Ok, I’m finished. Thanks for listening.
Here are some of the favorites I’ve been talking about this week. Hope you are staying cool and hydrated!
As much as I am a stickler about always wearing sunscreen, and applying it multiple times throughout the day, sometimes it’s not as effective as just being in the shade. My son plays a lot of sports, and soccer season is already in full swing, which means we go to at least one or more games every weekend. Not only do I need protection from harmful UV rays, but it has also been so stinking hot here in Southern California (in case you didn’t read my intro) and I need to keep cool as best I can.
I bought this Kelsyus canopy chair on Amazon several years ago and have been loving it ever since. Not a game goes by when someone doesn’t ask me where I bought it. The chair has a built-in sun canopy and a cup holder for your water bottle or coffee cup. It folds up into itself to create a carry bag with a strap, which makes it super portable and easy for me to lug around from field to field. It is way comfier than sitting on the benches or on a blanket on the ground. It is definitely worth the (around $50) investment if you have kids who play outdoor sports. It is available on Amazon here with free shipping and there is even a kids size.
General Pencil Company Cedar Pointe Pencils
I keep a cup full of pencils in the kitchen and on my desk. When I’m testing a recipe, I absolutely must write down every step and tweak so I don’t forget. And if I use up any ingredients, I need to add them to the standing grocery list on the fridge. I only buy these General Pencil Company cedar pointe pencils and I think it looks cleaner to have a bunch of all one type of pencil than 20 mismatched pens with missing caps and pencils with different designs.
These cedar pencils are what I use for my personal use and for my students to takes notes in my classes. Aren’t pencils just pencils? No. These are higher quality. The erasers are better and the lead is stronger, so the points don’t break as easily and they stay sharper longer. They also smell better than normal pencils and the exterior doesn’t rub off. Plus I think they are very understated and clean-looking. General Pencil Company Cedar Pointe pencils are slightly more expensive than Dixon Ticonderogas, but they last much, much longer. You can find them here.
Stainless Steel Compost Pail
It is inevitable that if you do a lot of whole food cooking you are going to have a lot of food scraps to discard. We used to have a compost pile when we had a yard, but my yard is now a patio. But I think composting is one of the greenest things you can do, so I continue to save my compostable food scraps in a countertop compost pail and transfer them to my “green bin” that the city provides for outdoor waste such as weeds and leaves. I know I’m not supposed to put carrot peels in there, but I can’t help myself.
Recently, the City of Manhattan Beach (where I live) began a program where you can put produce scraps into a plastic bag (I reuse the produce bags from my supermarket) into the green bins, and the city in partnership with Waste Management will convert them into green, renewable energy! Very exciting for those of us in this area- let’s hope it’s a trend that spreads.
In order to collect all of those food scraps I accumulate when cooking, I have this handy 1-gallon countertop compost bin from Williams-Sonoma. It is pretty compact and the lid contains charcoal vents, which helps trap any odors. Composting is incredibly beneficial to the environment, but having a compost pail on my countertop actually makes cooking and cleanup easier as I can just keep it near me while I’m cooking to dump my scraps and clear my cutting board, rather than having to walk back and forth to the garbage pail each time. The compost pail is easy to clean and is non-obtrusive aesthetically. They are available in several places including the Container Store, Williams-Sonoma and Bed Bath and Beyond. There is one on Amazon at a fair price with free prime shipping!
My friend Daisy introduced me to Herbamare, a non-GMO, organic herb and salt seasoning, many years ago and I have been hooked ever since! It is just dried vegetables and herbs mixed with sea salt. That’s it. And it’s so tasty! So often (as in almost always) seasoning salts are made with processed salts and have additives or preservatives in them, and sometimes even MSG. Yuck. I was thrilled to find this seasoning that contains none of that but still has tons of flavor and can enhance recipes such as My Favorite Tuna Salad and chicken salad. I think it would be equally as delicious on a pasta salad or grilled chicken or fish. I have even heard about people sprinkling a little of this herb blend on popcorn which I think sounds delicious and is definitely on my “to-make” list. It is available on Thrive Market (best price) and Amazon and I have seen it at my local Whole Foods as well.
Seasonal produce: grapes
Grapes are a fruit that we seem to eat year round. Many varieties are available most of the year in the market and are thought of as a common fruit, not as rare and exciting as something like figs or persimmons, which only show their face for a couple of months out of the year. However, did you know that grapes actually have a season? And it is now, in the late summer/early fall. I think grapes are such an underrated fruit, but they are actually extremely nutritious. There has been a lot of research recently about grapes and the phytonutrient they contain called resveratrol.
Resveratrol is becoming one of the most sought-after phytonutrients as it has been shown to have powerful anti-aging effects and may even protect the body from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There are several ways to incorporate grapes into your diet other than just grabbing a handful for a snack. You can freeze grapes for a tasty treat, roast them for a unique addition to a cheese platter, use them in chicken or tuna salad, or toss them in salads as a sweet juicy addition to your greens. One of the most important things to know about grapes is that they are one of the most heavily sprayed fruits or vegetables (they are on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list) and test amongst the highest for pesticide residue. It is so important to buy your grapes organic, and even local if possible. Check out a couple of my recipes that use grapes, as well as some others from around the web!
Kale Salad with Grapes and Poppy Seed Dressing from My New Roots
Grape Focaccia with Rosemary from Smitten Kitchen
Carrots with Caraway and Grapes from Lottie and Doof
Spicy Grape-Ricotta Crostini from Bon Appetit