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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Can These Tools Improve Your Soup?

December 7, 2016
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Product

Stainless Steel Produce Keeper and Soup Pot Flavor Infuser

 

Background

It is officially fall, almost winter actually, which means TIME FOR SOUP. What is better than the combination of crisp air and the smell of soup bubbling on the stove? Nothing, you say? I agree!

As a frequent maker of soups, I’m very interested in anything that can make my soups more delicious or the process of making them easier. Thus, the Soup Pot Flavor Infuser was immediately intriguing to me. I’ve used bouquet garni in the past, and I’ve wrapped herbs in cheese cloth, but this item seemed like a more sustainable way to add flavor to my soup, and also get rid of the problem of having to locate something and fish it out of the finished pot. Additionally, I thought perhaps I could save some of the time I usually spend stripping fresh herbs off their stem and finely chopping them by just putting entire stems into the infuser and not worrying about accidentally taking a bite of something decidedly un-tasty.

Speaking of herbs, anyone who uses fresh herbs regularly knows the pain of buying a bundle of gorgeous fresh herbs only to find that there’s no possible way to use them all before they get brown and sad and suited only for the compost bin. I’ve been eagerly anticipating trying out our Stainless Steel Produce Keeper to see if I can start making the most of my thyme (see what I did there?)

Hypothesis

The combination of the Soup Pot Flavor Infuser and Stainless Steel Produce Keeper will make this the soupiest and least wasteful winter ever!

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Indoor Grilling Made Easy with the Flipside Stovetop Grill

June 28, 2016

Louise Gift Lab

 

Product:

Flipside Stovetop Grill

Research:

As the Inventory Planner for our Tabletop category, I am usually one of the first to get a sneak peek at the new items being added to our assortment of kitchen and cooking tools. When NéQuana, our tabletop buyer, showed me the Flipside Stovetop Grill, she thankfully noticed when my eyes lit up and offered to let me take it for a spin.
I’m a lifelong New Yorker, which means not only do I not currently have my own outdoor space, I have never had my own outdoor space. I dream of one day having a space to grill outside, but given that that time is still in the future (and that even when it happens, there will still be winters), a grill pan has been on my kitchen wish list for a while. I was particularly drawn to the Flipside Stovetop Grill because it is wide enough to cover two burners, and being able to cook in larger batches is always appealing to me – doing multiple rounds in the same pan is a pain, messy, and the first batch gets cold while subsequent batches are being cooked. When it was pointed out to me that the “Flipside” of the grill pan acts as a griddle, I was sold. It came home with me that very night.

Hypothesis:

MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

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FAQ

How Do I Use Your Vendor Extranet?

February 24, 2016

If you Drop Ship items for us, you are most likely familiar with our Drop Ship Extranet. We’re excited to announce that 2016 brings Extranet functionality for our warehouse vendors as well!

Manage Purchase Orders
You’ll no longer need to send multiple emails throughout the Purchase Order process! The Extranet will allow you to confirm purchase orders with the click of a button, or easily notify us if there is an issue that needs to be corrected. The Extranet will store all of your open Purchase Orders, allowing you to easily review all of the inventory that is expected or on hold for us.
Ship Purchase Orders
When you are ready to ship, UPS labels can be printed directly from the Extranet, or a freight request can be easily submitted to our freight coordinators. The simple forms will guide you through the process of providing us with all the information we need. If you ship your PO using another method, add tracking to your Purchase Order and send it to our system in one easy step.
Review Your SKUs
The Extranet includes a list of all of your active warehoused SKUs that are currently live in the UncommonGoods assortment, along with cost and discount information. We encourage you to review this information regularly and notify us when there is a change.
Update Your Contact Information
Did your warehouse move? Got a new PO Box for billing? Just log into the extranet and access the Profile page to provide us with the update – what you enter here goes straight into our system and your information will be updated instantly.
Get Started!
If you haven’t already, you will soon receive an email invitation to set up your password, and then you can log in and look around. If you don’t receive an invitation, feel free to reach out to your contact in the Purchasing Department and we’ll expedite it for you. Have questions? We’re here to help – reach out to your purchasing contact or email ugvendors@ugoods.com.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Aging Wine in Seconds with Legit Science

November 11, 2015

Louise - Gift Lab

Product: Wine Aging Tool

Research:
When I first read about the Wine Aging tool, I reacted with skepticism, as I imagine most folks would. Replicating the effect of cellaring a wine for a year in ONE SECOND? How can this be? It’s tempting to be dismissive, but like many 30-something women, I love my wine, and if there’s a way to enhance my wine-drinking experience, I want to know about it.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Potato, Potahto, & Two More Potatoes (All Seasoned Differently!)

May 22, 2015

Louise Geller | UncommonGoods

 

Product: Potato Seasoning Set and Potato People

Research:
There is nothing more ubiquitous than the potato when it comes to filling the role of “starch” on a U.S. dinner plate. In fact, the average American eats over 140 pounds of potatoes per year! And yet, despite a centuries-old national love affair with potatoes, our most popular side dish often gets a bad rap, because so many of our 140+ pounds each come to us fried in oil, coated in preservatives, and slathered in fatty or sugary condiments. But it doesn’t have to be this way! When eaten with a more simple preparation (and with the skins left on!) potatoes are a great source of Vitamins C and B6, Potassium, Fiber, and Iron, and the complex carbohydrates are great for keeping your energy up.

I am a firm believer that food is at its most truly delicious when it is prepared simply and healthfully, so when I saw Julie Pederson’s Potato Seasoning Set I was immediately excited to take it for a test ride. Julie Pederson is wonderful at creating food and drink kits to help you explore new flavors and combinations, from herbal tea to baking salts. Since there are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes grown, and the kit has 12 different seasoning mixes, there are seemingly endless ways to play, create, and EAT! Who could resist?

Since I was already going to be playing with potatoes, I also wanted to try out our Potato People, a super fun set of potato nails that use the natural heat conducting power of metal to help potatoes cook faster on the grill or in the oven, and look hilarious while they are doing it.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Louise Geller

April 21, 2015

Louise Geller | UncommonGoods

Louise Geller, UncommonGoods Senior Planner

My hometown is…
New York, NY

My favorite project that I’ve worked on at UncommonGoods is…
I truly love working with our forecasting software, learning how the database is organized so we can harness its power effectively. Forecasting is basically predicting the future, and it’s pretty exciting when you do it right. It’s okay, you can call me a nerd.

I’m inspired by…
Live theater. Humans are becoming increasingly accustomed to being isolated from each other, so when a production can unite an audience in a meaningful shared experience, it is pretty awesome. I still feel inspired thinking about watching the pivotal moments of Peter and the Starcatcher, the best play to ever be on Broadway. (I will not accept rebuttals to this point.)

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
My apartment? Just kidding (kind of). There are always so many new places to try in NYC, I don’t end up going back to the ones I love as often as I might like. Cookshop in Chelsea has probably been on my favorites list the longest. There’s also an amazing pizza and cocktail spot in my neighborhood called Wheated, and I will eat there at basically any opportunity.

An uncommon fact about me…
I can (and probably will, if you don’t stop me) give you a 90 minute lecture/guided tasting on the various styles of cheese and their history.

My guilty pleasure is…
I try not to feel guilty about anything that gives me pleasure, but I guess I’d say rereading books that I loved when I was a kid. You can get major side eye by being an adult reading Beverly Cleary on the F train.

Since working at UncommonGoods I’ve learned…
To never underestimate the popularity of dishtowels.

If I could travel forward or backward in time, I would…
Blow all my money on a trip around the world, and then come back to now and spend it on something sensible instead. I’m assuming I’d get to keep the memories and experiences.

With the following ingredients in front of me I would make…
You’re given the Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit, the Wine Jelly Set, and the Craft Beer Cake Mix Set.

I’d add some of the cayenne or hot peppers from the hot sauce kit into the chocolate stout mix, then spread the Cabernet & cracked pepper jelly between two layers once the cake was baked. I’m not sure how well it would work flavor-wise, but I bet I’d find some volunteers to taste it.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Adding a Tropical Twist with Gourmet Island Sugar

December 22, 2014

 

Louise Geller | UncommonGoods

Product: Gourmet Island Sugar Set

Research:

I hadn’t heard of Old Salt Merchants until I saw their product on the UncommonGoods website, but their adorable packaging and interesting flavors prompted me to take a closer look. A family-run business out of Seattle, Old Salt Merchants makes a point of sourcing fair trade sugar, keeping their products cleanly and simply made, and focusing on a small product line of the highest quality. These are all values I really appreciate, and as an avid home cook I’m always looking for new ingredients and ideas for my kitchen, so I knew I’d have fun using the Gourmet Island Sugar Set to develop a great meal.

AllSugars

Hypothesis:

Using the Lime Slice, Jamaican Ginger, Rum Soaked and Coconut Breeze sugars, I will develop a full meal where each dish includes one of the flavors. They will elevate my recipes and inspire me to try out new ideas.

Experiment:

My boyfriend Paco joined me in my quest to find interesting ways to use the four sugars. We went shopping on a Saturday afternoon and came home loaded up with ideas and ingredients.

Lime_done

Lime Slice Sugar
We decided to start our evening with a cocktail. All four of these flavors could most certainly be used as cocktail ingredients and for delicious sugar rims, but we chose the Lime Slice sugar to try out with one of our favorite cocktails: the traditional Mojito. Paco muddled fresh mint and lime while I prepared a dish of the sugar and a bowl of water to line the rims of our cocktail glasses. The Lime Slice sugar is made with raw sugar, so the granules are large and have a great crunch. The lime adds a bit of acidity and a bit of bitterness – it’s not so delicious on its own, but I could tell when I taste tested it that it would add a lot as an ingredient.

Lime1

I can’t stand overly sweetened cocktails, so I liked the idea of a sugar rim that would allow me to control when I got a shot of sweetness and when my sips were more focused on booze and citrus. The raw sugar also added a textural element to the cocktail that we both found very pleasing. Our cocktails would have been delicious on their own, but the Lime Slice sugar rim definitely gave them a little something special. Although we were sitting on my couch and it was 39 degrees outside, I could have sworn we were poolside in Miami.

Lime2

After pre-dinner cocktails, it was time to get cooking! For the side dish to our meal, we decided to also use the Lime Slice sugar. It was autumn when we conducted the experiment, and that means brussel sprouts are everywhere. One of our favorite preparations for brussel sprouts is to sauté them in toasted sesame oil, then splash a bit of sriracha on top. This time, when they were almost done, we sprinkled on some Lime Slice sugar to temper the spice. The results were delectable – all the flavors married together with no one element overwhelming any of the others. We agreed that the Lime Slice sugar made a great addition to this dish, and I’m looking forward to making it many more times during brussel sprout season!

Lime2_Done

Lime2_1

Rum Soaked Sugar

There are many meats that work well with the use of sugar in glazes or marinades, but I definitely tend to think of pork products as standing up best to sweetness (eg pulled pork, maple bacon, glazed ham, spare ribs). The richness of the meat can hold its own next to a sugar-based topping. I generally don’t want to put too much sugar on my meat, but I thought a small amount of the Rum Soaked sugar would go a long way. A small taste test made it clear that “rum soaked” is an apt way to describe this sugar – it is obvious that there are no artificial flavors happening here. I mixed some garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper in with the sugar and rubbed it on both sides of the pork, then seared it on the stove before transferring to the oven (the best way to get a tender and juicy pork chop). As soon as the sugar started to caramelize, it was clear we were going to have some succulent pork chops on our hands. They were delicious – the rum blended fabulously with the other flavors, and the sweetness was present but not overwhelming. The chops were rich and juicy, and we made short work of them.

While I’m personally not a vegetarian, UncommonGoods is an animal-friendly company, so keep in mind that this recipe is my own. This sugar would also work well for vegetarian or vegan recipes, for those who don’t eat meat. Portobellos would make a good alternative to pork. Or, you  could also try this recipe with traditional meat substitutes like tofu.  The Rum Soaked sugar would also make nice glazed carrots.  Just remember that you’d need to add some oil or melted butter to the sugar and seasoning mixture for any of those, because they don’t have their own fat.

Rum_Done

Jamaican Ginger Sugar
The moment I saw the Jamaican Ginger sugar, I knew I had to pull out one of my favorite childhood recipes for chewy ginger and molasses cookies. The recipe calls for the cookie dough to be rolled into balls and then coated with granulated sugar before being baked. I figured this could only be improved by rolling them in sugar infused with the flavors of fresh ginger. The Jamaican Ginger sugar is also raw, so I knew there would be extra crunch on the cookies, which is a definite bonus in my book – I’m all about textural pairings, and crunchy + chewy is a winner. The ginger adds so much spice to the sugar that you can feel it in your sinuses when you taste it on its own. We were a little worried the flavors would be too strong, but we needn’t have been concerned – the cookie has enough sweetness of its own that the extra kick of ginger is nothing but a joy. This was a huge success, and I will soon be making these cookies again for the holidays!

Ginger_Done

Ginger1

Coconut Breeze Sugar
It’s getting chilly in New York, so hot chocolate has been on my mind. I never buy hot chocolate mixes; I prefer to make my own using unsweetened cocoa powder and adding sugar (again, I’m a bit of a control freak about sweetness). I’ve always loved the combination of coconut and chocolate, so I thought it would be fun to replace the regular granulated sugar I would typically use with the Coconut Breeze sugar. I am calling it CocoCocoa (feel free to use that).

Coconut_Done

I usually use about a tablespoon and a half of cocoa and a tablespoon of sugar to make my hot chocolate, but this time I used a one to one ratio because I was worried about the chocolate overwhelming the coconut flavor. My dutch process cocoa powder packs a big punch, and I still only got a hint of coconut in the finished product. It was delicious, but I was hoping for a more balanced flavor. Next time, I will probably use the coconut breeze sugar to sweeten my fresh whipped cream – I think that will help the flavor stand out more.

Coconut1

And of course, I can’t possibly enjoy cookies and hot chocolate without breaking out my UncommonGoods Face Mug!

FaceMug

Conclusion:

As I’d hoped, the Gourmet Island Sugar Set led us to a delicious meal that was outside the norm of what we’d usually make. We also came up with additional ideas for how to use the different flavors as we were working (lime sugar/sea salt margarita rim, ginger sugar with soy sauce and garlic as a beef marinade, and coconut sugar topping for banana nut muffins, to name a few). I felt good about using this product, knowing each flavor only had two ingredients, all the sugar was fairly traded, and that I was supporting a family-owned small business. I’m excited to use them again!

 

 

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