Admit it, you get wrapped up in the imaginary line we all seem to draw in the sand demarcating December 31st from the start of a new year. Just like us, despite your gut, you had flickerings of hope that the turmoil, suffering, and discomfort of 2020 could be put behind us and some relief would dawn with the rising sun on the first of January. It took all of six days to leave us muttering, "well, that escalated quickly" as we realized 2021 apparently felt the need to say to 2020 "hold my beer". All teasing aside, there is nothing comical about where we find ourselves in the body politic as a people or a nation, and to complicate matters, a pandemic still rages. How are your stress levels?
We have decided to double down on our deeply held belief that nourishing oneself through ritual and food has the power to connect us to others, to bridge differences, and to walk in another's shoes. Far from the land of pollyannish ideals and denying real life and death problems, the effort to feed energy into our intentions is an effort to strengthen our resolve. As we keep one eye on the mounting problems of the world, we ensure we have the energy to not turn away, to make the hard decisions, to help where we can, and to do our part to limit the spread of the pandemic.
In this issue, we offer encouragement to DIY your spice cabinet, combine what may be unusual flavors in a cake, and to add a new drink to your afternoon ritual. Rather than denying yourself this month, perhaps you can crowd out indulgent eating by elevating the dinner salad or making small-batch desserts. One thing we know for sure, we may be overly attached to New Year's Day bringing us relief from the old, but each day of the year dawns with the possibility to begin again if we are willing. We hope you'll stop by the shop to chat about feeding your culinary resolutions, browse our increasing selection of plant-forward cookbooks (we are loving Laura Wright's The First Mess), or follow our stories on Instagram to browse virtually. Finally, we end with a message of gratitude originally posted in those first hopeful days of the year on Instagram. We are grateful each day for the chance to begin again, the support of our team, and for you - and that never changes.
If Dalgona Coffee was all the rage of 2020, may we suggest the London Fog may be the "it drink" of the moment? This drink has been popping up on some of our favorite food sites and blogs as of late. The London Fog is a combination of strongly brewed Earl Gray tea, sweeteners like honey or vanilla syrup, and frothed milk. Like dalgona coffee or a chai latte, it celebrates a much-loved beverage by adding rich frothiness through dairy or non-dairy milk and ceremonious preparations. We like the citrus note introduced by bergamot in Earl Gray and the flexibility of adding different flavors through nut milk. The fog is lighter than a chai or dalgona and lends itself to indulgence without being overly rich. Whichever you choose, these drinks lend themselves to rituals and creating special moments. Toss in scone or biscotti and you have the perfect way to withstand an afternoon slump.
Fun Fact: The name is derived from dalgona, a Korean sugar sweet, due to the resemblance in taste and appearance, though most dalgona coffee doesn't actually contain dalgona.
Thyme for Courage
Courage comes in all forms and can be inserted into every aspect of our lives. The courage to stand in our own convictions, to take the high-ground, or to take a stand needs to be fed and nourished. It may not seem likely that your willingness to try something new in the kitchen would have any effect on your ability to withstand the current body politic, but we become what we do over and over again do we not? Choose in your daily life to embrace something new, something different. Choose to reach across the proverbial border and discover a new cuisine, or way of life. Reach out to a neighbor through food, or to keep trying a flavor or food you traditionally dislike. Change and transformation depend upon these tiny courageous steps. Kathryn Pauline of Cardamon and Tea gives us an opportunity to explore combining something we may never have thought to pair - sumac and thyme in a cake. Challenge yourself to create her sumac curd and pair citrus and thyme in a crumb. The look of her cake is somewhere between a Victorian wedding cake and the simplicity of winter. The taste promises to be anything but conservative or simple.
A Clean Slate
This time of year often inspires us to throw out more than the Christmas tree and stale goodies from an indulgent season. Raise your hand if you've gone full Marie Kondo on your closet or sorted a drawer or two while binging on football or Bridgerton? Maybe you have been resolute to lose the plastic from your life over the past couple of years. Wood and natural fiber cleaning tools have been around for centuries and offer an alternative to the abundant cheap plastic tools that clutter our cabinets. In truth, a few good quality tools and a plan is all we really need to begin the year with a clean slate.
Redecker tools from top left: pot brush (in a small oak bowl by Frank Pearsall), ostrich feather duster, horsehair brush, vegetable brush.
Full disclosure, we don't always test recipes before encouraging you to try them - how could we? There are so many to choose from, boundless inspiration. This newsletter may more accurately be described as the shop's Pinterest or dream board. But in the case of these Small Batch Almond Flour Brownies by Hummingbird High, rest assured, we tested them out. Almond flour adds a protein boost to the naturally gluten-free treat that is baked in a bread pan (surely we all have one of those by now). They are chocolatey and moist and whip up in minutes and with exception of almond flour, the simple ingredients are likely already in your pantry. A smaller recipe also has the advantage of offering less. A profound observation, we know, but think of it. Holiday recipes produce large quantities meant to share and admittedly, some goes to waste. This gives us something rich and sweet, but with just 6-8 mini portions or 2 bakery sized brownies, you can move on to something different in a day or two.
After clearing your home of seasonal decorations it often feels a bit stark. The lack of green inside and outside our windows could however inspire you to bring the hue onto your table. These deep green, almost black, and cream floral bowls make a lovely addition - just imagine them hosting a bright citrus salad, olives, ice cream, or wrangling all the bits and bobs of your home office desk.
These grayer months sandwiched between heavy holiday meals and the promise of Spring travel (which seems more and more elusive these days) may also find us longing for a lighter fair. The solution? Insert winter salads. Enjoy beds of hearty romaine studded with citrus at its peak or combining roasted or pickled root vegetables and acid to lift them out of their side dish purgatory. Local cookbook author, photographer, and blogger Shelly Westerhausen misses ordering a perfectly constructed salad at her favorite restaurants and admits what we all know to be true - sometimes we don't have the patience or willingness to create them for ourselves at home. Her goat cheese fritter & apple salad may just encourage you to embrace elevating a salad to the main stage this week. Give Shelly a follow in anticipation for her third cookbook due to be released in May or stop by the shop and pick up a copy of Vegetarian Ventures or Platters and Boards for inspiration on how to center vegetables in your meals.
Spice of Life
Think of the number of foodways around the world centered around rice and legumes and it becomes clear that the secret ingredient is spice. Spices, the combination of ground herbs and seeds, reveal the flavors and culture of a specific region. Saffron-infused paellas of Spain simply could not be further from an Italian herbed risotto and there are no mistaking Creole flavors of the Bayou with that of Latin American cuisine. A regions chosen spice combination transforms the same shared basic staples into something distinct and memorable. As you ponder your next adventure in the kitchen, why not include mixing your own spices. Here, the team at the Minimalist Baker teaches us how to make our own chili powder. Stop by their site to explore additional recipes for curry powder, shawarma spice blend, za'atar, or pumpkin pie spice.
Message of Gratitude
We believe anyone can cook.
We believe in welcoming everyone to the table.
We believe some tools are timeless.
We believe high quality isn't always expensive.
We believe in making things from scratch when possible.
We believe in gathering & connecting with one another.