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Food

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Fermentation with Friends

November 3, 2016

Research

Last summer, I canned for the first time with fellow UGooders and loved sharing and eating the spicy pickles and peach blackberry jam we created. While both received many compliments, I knew I’d be nowhere without our fearless leader Louise’s technical expertise in the kitchen. As for pickled veggies I haven’t made myself; pickled onions have turned many a salad from mediocre to magnificent, and from a health perspective, I’ll take all the probiotics I can get. As soon as I saw this DIY Fermentation Kit come into the UncommonGoods assortment, I had to try it for myself.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: When Did We Start Putting Proof in Our Pudding?

September 19, 2016

Proof is in the Pudding Bowls

The pot calling the kettle black. A stitch in time saves nine. She saw the light. There’s no shortage of idioms—phrases that mean more than the sum of their parts—in the English language. But while some are more or less self-explanatory, others are far more perplexing. Chief among them: The proof is in the pudding. What proof? What pudding? Why would one hide anything in pudding?

There’s a logical reason this one doesn’t quite add up. Over the centuries, the phrase was shortened from the original: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, if you want to know if the pudding is any good, you have to try it out. Hence the current phrase’s meaning that something (say, a plan) can’t be deemed successful until it’s put into action. The original proverb hails from about 14th century Britain, back when the word “proof” meant “test” and “pudding” could also mean “sausage”. Which, in medieval times, was something that really, really needed to be tested before being fully consumed.

Proof is in the Pudding Bowls | $28.99

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: When Did Lunch Become a Thing?

September 14, 2016

Stackable Lunch Pot

Ah the days of the Romans, when they would recline at the table for their one square meal a day. That’s right—one. We may take the idea of eating three meals a day for granted now, but it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Back in the Middle Ages, before the dawn of electricity, humans rose early to make the most of the daylight. By midday, with six hours or so of work under their belts, people would break for their meal—the largest and usually the only. But as artificial light entered the game in the 19th century, the wealthy started shifting their days and the main meal was consumed at later and later times. As such, the custom of mid-day snacking arose. By the time the Industrial Revolution hit, workers needed calories to continue working further into the evening hours. That’s when lunch went mainstream in the Western world. As for the idea of the hallowed family dinner, we have the 1950s to thank for that. No matter what and how much of it you eat when, enjoy it—and rest assured that you’re not breaking any longstanding biological traditions.

Stackable Lunch Pot | $24.95

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Roll Out Ravioli Like a Pro

September 1, 2016

Marisa | UncommonGoods

Product

Ravioli Rolling Pin

Ravioli Rolling Pin | UncommonGoods

 

Dumpling statue

Me, next to a statue honoring the dumplings of the world, in the Fine Arts Center at the Minnesota State Fair

I’m a known dumpling lover. I’ve always wanted to make ravioli, because 1) it’s a form of dumplings, 1a) dumplings are the best, 2) it’s delicious, and 3) pre-made ravioli seems too expensive for what it is, and 4) the one time I did I buy store-bought ravioli, it was suuuuper suboptimally subpar. As my mom says, “The dough gets leather-y.”

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Maker Stories

Inside the Designer’s Studio
with Hipatia Lopez

August 12, 2016
Hipatia Lopez with the Empanada Fork | UncommonGoods

Hipatia Lopez with the Empanada Fork in her New Jersey Kitchen

While preparing for a holiday feast, Hipatia Lopez found herself facing 100 empanadas that needed closing. She may have finished the project with sore hands, but it gave her the idea to invent the Empanada Fork, a tool that closes empanadas, turnovers, and pastries in no time.

While many of our Studio Tours give readers a look inside creative spaces of makers of handmade goods, Hipatia’s story is a little different–and must-read for anyone who’s ever thought-up a problem-solving product, but isn’t sure what to do next. Hipatia wasn’t trained as a product designer and didn’t have a line of inventions to her name, but she was motivated. She knew she was on to something, and decided to take the next step and turn her idea into the real deal.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to physically travel to Hipatia’s home in New Jersey to learn about her process, but through phone calls, emails, and snapshots, Hipatia helped me create a virtual tour of her creative space (and kitchen). 

Empanada Fork with Dough | UncommonGoods

The Empanada Fork in action

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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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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Why is Hot Food Hot Cuisine in Hot Countries?

May 23, 2016

40220_uk52316Mexican, Caribbean, Indian, Thai…if you connect the dots of spicy cuisines around the globe, you’ll find that sizzling seasonings like chili peppers have something in common: they’re found in the favorite foods of hot climates. At first, maybe that doesn’t make sense. If it’s already hot, why eat something that might make you sweat? But then you realize that perspiring is nature’s way of cooling you off. Capsaicin, the compound in peppers that gives them a kick, also raises your metabolism and causes a slight rise in body temperature, inducing sweating. Catch a breeze, and just chill. If that doesn’t convince you to tuck into some pad Thai, vindaloo, or chile rellenos, there’s another reason to spice things up in hot weather: spicy food acts as an appetite stimulant, counteracting the tendency to skip meals in the heat. And for the record, these funky Chili Peppers can make you sweat too.

Hot Sauce Set | $48

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s the Gold Standard for Sushi?

May 9, 2016

41752_uk050916As much a fine art as a cuisine, Japanese food can be a pricey proposition. Sushi in particular inspires chefs to go to great lengths, pushing the envelope of freshness, presentation, and…price. Sure, the ingredients can be expensive, and sushi preparation isn’t exactly cooking 101, but unusual and extravagant preparations also add a premium. Take for example the current record holder for world’s most expensive sushi: nigiri prepared by Filipino chef Angelito Araneta at his Manila restaurant. Wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf and garnished with diamonds, these five pieces of sushi will set you back 91,800 pesos, or nearly $2,000 USD. Yes, that’s about $400 per piece. At that price, you could fly from Manila to Tokyo and enjoy the equally famous (and much more traditional), 20-piece tasting menu at Sukiyabashi Jiro (about $300). The tiny Tokyo establishment—subject of the fascinating documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi—is often cited as the best sushi in the world, and President Obama seems to agree after dining there on a state visit in 2014. No gold or diamonds at Jiro’s joint; that would just be fishy.

Sushi Board Set | $75

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