Winter Favorites 2009

Winter Favorites 2009


It seems like a good time to post a winter favorites list. You all helped me out greatly last week with your suggestions about where I should go when I get to Tokyo and Kyoto - what better time to return the favor and highlight a few of my favorite things on this end? I'll start by telling you about a little project I've been working on in my spare time - Super Natural Recipe Search. It is a custom search engine that will help you find recipes made primarily from minimally-processed, natural, sustainable, and whole foods. So, if you liked the type of recipes published in Super Natural Cooking, my hope is this search engine will help you find more recipes created in a similar spirit by cooks, writers, and chefs other than myself. If you end up linking to it, let me know and I'll be sure to add you to the friends link list.

Switching gears a bit - I went to the Winter Fancy Food show a couple weeks back, and anyone who has ever been to it knows there is a sea of highly-processed food to wade through. That being said, there are quite a lot of small producers with remarkable products who go to exhibit as well. I drop in most years with the hope of finding them. A few favorites from this year:

Ayala's herbal water - This is simply herb-infused water (using organic herbs). Lightly flavored, no sugar, no artificial flavors, no bubbles. I liked the ginger lemon peel flavor, but the woman next to me was really loving the more pronounced flavor of the jasmine vanilla (note: I'm not a huge jasmine fan). And I'm just noticing that Ayala has a blog too.

The Valentino Felicetti Selezioni Monograno spelt pastas looked wonderful. Beautifully packaged fusilli, penne rigate, rigatini, spaghetti, linguine, and ditalini made from semi-whole wheat organic spelt flour.

Vignette Wine Country Soda: Tasty, sophisticated, and sweetened only with whatever varietal grape juice each is made from - no added sweeteners. I liked the rose' - subtle, crisp, refreshing.

One of my favorite reasons to visit the show is to taste the range of honeys that come from around the world. I've mentioned in past years that I'm hooked on the Chilean honeys (which you can order and find a bunch of places. Zingerman's stocks the Ulmo honey, and they've been the only ones to carry the rare Chilean honey from wild strawberry flowers). There were some other honeys that caught my attention this year as well...

Mille Envies de Miel - Mountain honeys from the South of France (Ariege region). And while I'm the first to say I love straight, raw honey - Pascal Verriere's creamy honey with cinnamon was really nice. Soft and creamy honey on the front end with an slow, spicy, subtle cinnamon glow on the finish.

Don't miss the Alili Moroccan mountain honeys - stunning - all three of them. Do yourself a favor and track down their jujube honey.

I chatted with the Ancient Organics Ghee guys. I've been a fan ever since I bought a jar of it at a market in Pt.Reyes Station. Produced locally from organic Straus Creamery butter, it makes everything taste just that much better.

For those of you who avoid dairy, I came across a cashew and almond milk that was quite nice - they are marketing it as a cream substitute, for use in any recipes calling for cream. Hence the name, MimicCreme. Worth tracking down for sure, it had nice mouth-feel and body to it.

Terra Sonoma Saba: I met Karin Warnelius years ago when we found ourselves in a week-long letterpress class together. At the time she (and her family) were producing verjus from grapes on their ranch in Geyserville, California. Now, in addition to the verjus, they have a new product - an extravagantly rich (limited production) rustic purple saba made from wine grape must reduced down into a sweet, oozy syrup - perfect for drizzling. It won't be available until March, but I suspect if you email her through her site, she can let you know when it is released.

The cult of Poco Dolce is strong here in San Francisco. We're talking about chocolate tiles that envelope a range of ingredients burnt caramel, mint toffee, ginger, chile, etc. Each tile is topped with grey sea salt. There was a new product being sampled at the show. Now Kathy is making "bites"...a bit larger than a postage stamp. They're bite-sized, and also less expensive than tiles. Hard to beat as far as bite-sized treats go. I'm not sure when you'll be able to order them off the website, but I suspect soon.

Lola Granola - really great small-batch granola. It also happens to be wheat-free and vegan. Oats, almonds, cashews, brown sugar and maple syrup are combined with a short list of other ingredients and just the right amount of salt. You can choose from two types - with raisins or without. Bonus points for very cute packaging.

And beyond the food show, I'll cap things off with a few random favorites: goodtea on twitter, love the Nike+ system for tracking my reluctant jogs, The Great Backyard Bird Count, The Photographic Dictionary, and who can resist Toast Bandages?

 
 
 
 
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Your Comments


I must have missed the herbal water - will have to make some soon. I like the granola and the Poco Dolce - mmmm...

 

Katie
February 8, 2009

I love the new search engine and I added a link on my blog in hopes of giving my readers more ideas. Thanks!!!

HS: I saw that Katie, thanks! I added you to the friends page - you're one of the first four :)!

 

Madeline
February 8, 2009

Remind me to write you a gushing letter full of fangirlish ooh's and ahh's on Ada Lovelace Day. Your words about the search engine reminded me that you've really strived to use tech to make information on healthy food more available to users. Thanks!

 

Kalinda
February 8, 2009

Wow, good work with the search engine. Very impressive.

HS: Kalinda, you've got some great-sounding recipes on your site. I'm going to add some of them. Thanks for the heads up. -h

 

ashley (sweet & natural)
February 8, 2009

Wow - the search engine is fantastic. Serious thanks for all the work that went into it! I'd love to have my recipes included. They're all baked goods made with only whole grains and natural sweeteners. I'll send you some info soon.

 

Jules
February 8, 2009

What a wonderful concept! I love it. I want to add a widget or button to my blog as well as write a little post. However, everything on my blog is scaled for a width of 120. Is it too much to ask for something in that width?

HS: I'll add it to the to-do list!

 

Sara
February 8, 2009

I love the recipe search! I'm the founder and president of my university's chapter of Slow Food on Campus, and I've made many of your recipes for our monthly potluck meal meetings. How exciting to have access to even more ideas now! I've linked the search on my humble little blog and mentioned it in my most recent post!

 

anushruti
February 8, 2009

I'm a great fan of ghee and make my own batch of this liquid gold. The best ghee comes from my grandmother's kitchen in native India. Apart from the taste, ghee is believed to have medicinal, healing, restorative, regenerative and curative properties.

 

Nirvana
February 9, 2009

Just added the search engine to my site -- loving this idea :)

HS: Thanks Nirvana - I'll add you to my list when I update that page later today!

 

chirs
February 9, 2009

Eating Hot, hot Items in winter is very greatful.

 

maninas
February 9, 2009

I really love the photo in this post and it's soft, dreamy atmosphere.

Also, thanks very much for the new search engine!

Thanks Manias, it is a funny, cotton looking plant in the front yard the house of one of my neighbors.

 

Elizabeth
February 9, 2009

Heidi,
I have noticed recently that when I go to your page from my Yahoo page, I get an interim page with part of the article on it and a line at the bottom that I have to click on to see the entire article. Is there some way I can go straight to the article without having to go thru this interim step? On the other hand, I LOVE the capability to print the recipe with the picture. Thank you so much for that feature!
I also love your recipes. They are so healthful, beautiful to look at, delicious, and original. I have NEVER fixed one I did not like. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing with we less talented mortals.
An ever grateful Elizabeth in North Carolina

HS: Thanks for the nice note Elizabeth. I don't include the recipe in my RSS feed (this is what you are pulling into your Yahoo page). There were a bunch of sites that were republishing my entire feed, and I decided to crop the feed before the recipe. Sorry for any inconvenience.

 

Gayatri
February 9, 2009

What a great idea of search engine..You are genious. thx for all the work..

btw, I do not have a blog/website of my own..But, would still like to be in your friend's list. How do I do it?

HS: Hi Gayatri, you could certainly add me as a friend on Facebook if you happen to use that site.

 

min
February 9, 2009

i suggest that you visit Ueno, Okachimachi, Ameyoko area for sure and just walk 10-15min to Kappabashi where kitchen tools shop area between Ueno and Asakusa on weekdays.
if you would like to experieice local Japanese food mostly take out area called Sunamachi Ginza. The variety of local food and ingredients are sold at reasonable price and it is cooked fresh in each shops. when people live close there, do not need to cook by their own, just go there and get fresh food. i garantee you can satisfiy seeing the area, Togoshi Ginza as well.

if you would like to get super fresh fish, sashimi, tempra, grilled or so, Uosan in monzen Naka cho. I took fish business people from US, Singapoe and europe there and they overwhelmed the quality of Uosan's fish. it is told that owner has Tsukiji's auction membership so he can get super-fresh fish to his shop. the price is low. the place is izakaya, place for sake, so they do not serve rice. it is not fancy but worth trying. the best time is 4:00pm and people start queing before 4:00 and seat at 2nd floor is the best if you go there 2 people, more than 2, you will be led to 3rd floor on Tatami room.

 

Sandy
February 9, 2009

As a previous Ann Arbor resident, it's so nice to see people giving props to Zingerman's! I love all their honeys.

 

Kristin
February 9, 2009

I just heard about the Super Natural Recipe Search engine. Awesome! I linked to it.

 

Caride
February 9, 2009

The search engine is wonderful! Thank you! Your recipes have broken me out of a rut, and I enjoy cooking them as much as eating them!

 

Rachelle
February 9, 2009

Another great cooking tool! I'll use it and talk it up.

 

lchavezs
February 9, 2009

Is it too late to make a couple of suggestions for Japan? I didn't have time to read through all your comments so hope these aren't redundant. If you visit Tawaraya (the oldest ryokan in Kyoto) don't miss the delicious soba restaurant just nearby and the even more amazing soba cookies (addictive!) at the adjacent bakery. Also, seek out the store that has been handmaking beautiful & utilitarian household brushes for hundreds of years.
In Tokyo, be sure to go to a tempura bar--it is unlike anything you have ever experienced in the States...

 

Anna
February 9, 2009

Lola Granola is the BEST!

 

The Duo Dishes
February 9, 2009

The granola is our fave!

 

lisabee
February 9, 2009

Heidi! I just spent time last night searching all of your whole grain recipes. Another great idea...thank you! I love the new site and also the cute tree icon. You just seem to do everything right. I am so glad I found 101cookbooks.com. Everyone always loves when I make your recipes and when they ask where I got them I always say "From my friend Heidi" and they know what I mean...I hope you don't mind!

 

cole
February 9, 2009

The natural recipe search is a fantastic idea, Heidi! Thanks so much for sharing. I've added it to my site!

 

Erin
February 9, 2009

Thank you so much for that search engine! You have just made dinner at my house even more interesting than it has been since I got your book. (You have also probably just increased my husband's dish washing time by one third, but I'd hate to ruin the surprise by telling him just now... )

 

Kirby!
February 9, 2009

You are my hero, Heidi!! Thank you so much for putting together the recipe search. I am gonna use that sucker every day!

 

Stuart
February 9, 2009

So true about the detritus one must go through at the show to find the good stuff! The Terra Sonoma Saba is amazing. Ulmo is available at New Leaf (the Half Moon Bay one, at least.) I loved the honey from Big Island Bees, especially the Ohia Lehua Blossom. Also have a Macadamia Nut Blossom that's very good. (I am carrying those at my shop now.) Also, Branches Honey, especially the Wild Blackberry. Been selling that for over a decade now. TCHO Chocolate was another great find. I'll be doing a tasting on Saturday of my "Food Show Finds" if anyone is in the HMB area.

 

Lick My Spoon
February 9, 2009

I wish we saw each at the Moscone Center. Maybe next year. The Ulmo Honey sounds divine. The MimicCreme molecular gastronomy demonstration caught my eye as well. Who can resist a tasty, frozen treat?

I unfortunately don't think I encountered Poco Dolce's booth. My favorite dolce was Bissinger's Chocolate Olive Oil Truffle topped with Sea Salt. As atrocious as many thought it sounded, it was absolutely dreamy. You (and everyone) are welcome to see a photo of it and interview with their Head Chocolatier in my Fancy Food Show 2009 chocolate post. I also shared my Top 5 favorite cheeses of the Winter Fancy Food Show. Were you able to take any mouth-watering photos when you were there? I would love to see them. :-)

Cheers,
Stephanie

 

Jeff
February 9, 2009

The search engine's a great idea....thanks! Your blog is usually one of my first stops when I'm looking for something new to do, so this will be a welcome new tool. Your recent miso soup post got me playing with miso again after a hiatus of close to 30 years.

I've linked to the new tool...though I'm not clever enough to get it to embed on my site....just a simple link. I'll need to find someone more savvy with html than me.

Have I missed something though? Is there a link to your list of winter favorites, or was this a teaser of things to come?

 

Abby
February 9, 2009

I love reading about all your favorites. All the honey sounds amazing. I need to check out that ghee. And the herbal water is such a good idea. I want to try to make some myself. Thanks for the favorites.

 

Abby
February 9, 2009

Thanks for sharing your favorites. I need to check out the ghee. All the honey sounds incredible. And I want to try to make my own herbal waters.

 

Laura
February 10, 2009

Your newly devised search engine is a dream! Thank you!! Since I don't have a website but love the novelty and quick accessibility of Mac widgets, I added Super Natural Recipe Search to my dashboard. I can't wait to visit some of the websites listed and try their creations. I have so much kale in my fridge that there's barely room for any more groceries. You're a star, Heidi, keep up the amazing work!

 

kati
February 10, 2009

oh hurrah for the seach engine!! I was wondering what to do with some buttermilk I have left over and tataaaa - buttermilk pancakes here I come :-)
thanks for your inspirations, Heidi!
best from barcelona, kati*

 

kati
February 10, 2009

by the way and if you didn't know, Heidi: I came across your site because it was mentioned in one of the largest german sunday newspapers - FAZ am Sonntag - about two weeks ago.
am so happy they did a half-page on food blogs and mentioned you :)
best, kati*

HS: Thanks for the heads up Kati, I haven't see that!

 

Cara
February 10, 2009

I really enjoy your site. I found it while looking for Valentine's Day Fondue ideas. I'll come back to your site soon. You use basic ingredients that I can find here in Europe.

 

Ravenous Indian
February 10, 2009

I love love love the search engine! I typed in tofu (one of my favorite ingredients) and viola... I have a months quota of recipes!

 

rafiqkhan
February 10, 2009

positive comments .

 

RenaissanceTrophyWife
February 10, 2009

Heidi, thanks so much for that amazing search engine! I added a link to it on my sidebar... cannot wait to start trying all your delish recipes.

 

Shari
February 10, 2009

Love the search engine -- what a great resource. Not sure if it would be possible to link these recipes, but the New York Times Recipes for Health series is wonderful -- lots of veggies and whole grains.

 

Nanette
February 10, 2009

Yeah Great Backyard Bird Count! I haven't seen anybody else discussing it yet and it is this weekend. Can't wait to try out the search engine.

 

Sarah
February 10, 2009

The search engine is such a fantastic idea! I added it right away to my sidebar. I also greatly enjoyed The Photographic Dictionary. Thanks!

 

annie
February 10, 2009

The recipe search = AWESOME.
Thank you so much!

 

beth
February 10, 2009

I LOVE everything you share and create!! The search engine is super fabulous!! It looks like people have provided you with numerous suggestions of things to see during your trip to beautiful Japan. If you want someone to guide you around Tokyo, just let me know. I live in Tokyo and would be happy to help you out if need be!!

 

clive
February 11, 2009

Great stuff. Being new to the site I have only tried the miso soup and the orzo....used the whole egg though. Too tasty for words.

Thanks for sharing.

 

Lauren
February 11, 2009

Another nike+ fan here!

You should start a favorite natural ingredient challenge, I would totally join.

Run for your favorite grain, natural sweetener, veggie or bean. I can help out if you want, send me an email if you are intrested in me starting one.

 

Derek
February 13, 2009

I just stumbled upon your site and search engine and all the info you have compiled. I recently took over an upscale retirement center that had been run into the ground (food wise anyway) and have a great deal of "extra" produce and other such products on hand to try and use. Your site just saved me a ton of money and is going to make me look like a star! I just printed off some of your recipes using products i have on hand and went about fixing all the other problems, without having to rewrite a ton of recipes and explain to the cooks how i want it doen, you did it for me! by far the easiest site to get great, "clean" food recipes!

HS: That's great Derek, there are few things that make me more more disillusioned than seeing poor-quality, institutional food being served in hospitals, schools, and retirement centers. Thanks for making an effort to do better.

 

Lins
February 17, 2009

is your super natural search engine a google gadget or could it become one?!

HS: I'll look into it Lins - it isn't currently.