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Food

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How to Stay Chill & Kick Back Cold Ones

June 11, 2013

Research
I was already familiar with the Corkcicle, but was excited to hear of the introduction of the Chillsner— a stainless steel tool you freeze and then put in your beer, juice, or soda.

Hypothesis
My hope is that my beverage remains cold, even if I get distracted playing video games.

Experiment
I have to admit I was a little skeptical about using the Chillsner. Also I was a little nervous my lips would get stuck to it, due to the Chillsner’s time in the freezer. So on the first night, I put the product in the freezer for an hour. (The instructions call for 45 minutes.) I took it out and stuck it in the bottle, but not following the instructions, I spilled some of my beer because I didn’t take a sip first. Stupid physics.

The first attempt worked pretty well, even though I purposely put the Chillsner in a warm beer, and it cooled it pretty quickly. Yum.

The next night, the Chillsner had been in the freezer for 24 hours. My lips still didn’t get stuck. Also I made sure not to spill my beer. It kept my chilled beer chilled as I nursed it for an hour and a half. Normally I don’t take this long to drink a beer, but sacrifices must be made in the name of science.

Conclusion
Overall, I was pleased. My beer stayed cold for much longer than I was used to. I look forward to using the Chillsner this summer.

The Uncommon Life

Summer Salsa with Roasted Corn by Bonnie of Going Home To Roost

February 25, 2013

salsabol



Hello everyone, it’s so nice to meet you! I’m Bonnie and I love to roost, which to me means nesting in my home and doing the things that I love. I strive to lead a simpler way of life, full of simple beauties, creative projects and inspirations, all of which you can find me sharing about on Going Home to Roost. I’m also so happy to have recently launched the Roost Tribe, a community for creatives where members receive exclusive premium content each week that includes recipes, creative tutorials, printables, tips on blogging, designing and more. When I’m not blogging or sketching, you can find me in the kitchen, traveling with my husband or playing with our sweet pup, Toaster.

We love eating fresh, simple, plant based foods and this salsa is all that and more! Full of fresh garden veggies and healthy ingredients, it tastes light and refreshing and is full of flavor. We used organic ingredients and heirloom tomatoes which really brought out all the flavors. As a huge fan of anything-avocado, we of course added some here which makes the recipe slightly reminiscent of guacamole. Feel free to play with the recipe, substituting what you have on hand and changing up the spices. With salsa, just about anything goes!


Summer Salsa with Roasted Corn

Ingredients:
2 cups corn
1 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Large Heirloom Tomatoes
1 Medium Onion
2 Bell Peppers
1 15oz can of Black Beans, Rinsed
2 Cloves of Minced Garlic
1 Tbs Vinegar
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tbs Sugar
1 Tbs Lime Juice
1 Tsp Salt
1 Avocado

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss the corn with olive oil and roast until slightly blackened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the tomatoes, onion and bell peppers and place them in a bowl. Add the black beans, minced garlic, vinegar and all the spices. Toss to combine. Add sliced avocado just before serving.

To vote for Bonnie’s salsa recipe, visit our Facebook page.

The Uncommon Life

Mango Ginger Salsa by Colleen of Inspired to Share

February 25, 2013

salsabol



Hi there! I’m Colleen, a blogger, stylist, photographer, and all around creative. I write about food, DIY, lifestyle, and I love to find joy and creativity in each day. I’ve worked in marketing, event planning, design, and photography, but I’m now a freelance blogger sharing my journey on my blog, Inspired to Share. I live in the Midwest with my husband, where we enjoy flavorful home-cooked meals and simple living.

Now I love a good salsa…so this was a fun challenge for me. I’ve been enjoying fresh fruits so much this winter that I thought it would be fun to create a delicious fruit salsa. This recipe is incredibly fresh and has an unexpected twist with grated ginger. It works especially well with the mango, tomato, lime, and sweet peppers. Adding some cilantro, onion, and jalapeno gives it a kick, while the creamy diced avocado brings a nice balance! The key to this recipe is the freshest, perfectly ripe ingredients and while there is a good amount of prep required, it is worth every sweet and tangy bite!

Mango Ginger Salsa
(serves 4; 45 minutes)

Ingredients:
4 sweet peppers, diced
1 jalapeño, finely diced, seeds excluded
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 roma tomatoes, diced, seeds excluded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 lime, freshly squeezed, plus a few extra wedges
1 avocado*, pitted and diced
1 mango*, pitted and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

*for ripeness, the mango should be soft (but not mushy) and the avocado should be slightly soft to touch

Directions:
Combine all prepared ingredients (see above), excluding the avocado. Toss the mixture thoroughly. Add diced avocado and toss a couple times, gently. Serve salsa immediately with lime wedges, corn chips, tacos, or really any Mexican dish. Enjoy! 🙂

To vote for Colleen’s salsa recipe, visit our Facebook page.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: A Pocketful of Convenience

January 30, 2013

Background Research
The Pocket Utensil Set is an exciting new addition to UncommonGoods’ collection. In the world of utensils, I had only experienced traditional silverware, plasticware, and chopsticks until now. This new option could open up an entirely new realm of utensils for me.

Hypothesis
Since I dislike the feel and overall experience of plasticware, and I often find myself in situations where plastic is the only option, I predict that always having stainless steel flatware on hand will improve the way I enjoy meals every single day. I predict that I will be much happier always having this option available to me.

Experiment
I began by examining the packaging. It’s quite simple, and leaves minimal waste. (Good for the environment, which is always a plus for me.) The back of the packaging has simple directions for separating the device in two.

My friend’s dog Max watched as I learned how to split it in half. This was really easy to do. (It’s also very easy to re-assemble).

When I first set out, I wanted to use the pocket utensil is every possible scenario until my experiment was done. I took it everywhere I went. In some situations, such as when having dinner at a friend’s home, where a table is set and so forth, it really made no sense to pull out my own silverware, so I figured I would refrain. However, I found it most useful when my roommates have left all the silverware dirty in the sink, and I didn’t want to dig for a dirty fork to wash, and then subsequently, use. I now ALWAYS have a clean fork, knife, and spoon available to me!

The feeling of using the pocket utensil is much nicer than the plastic variety; however, there are a few things I’d like to point out. The fork, spoon, and knife are scaled down a bit. Which makes them still useful, and, of course, portable–but it is harder to grab a bunch of spaghetti on this smaller fork than with a larger, traditional one.

The spoon is most certainly not for soup, but it is fine for cereal or any food where it makes sense to have a smaller amount in each spoonful. It’s great how easily you can separate the fork/bottle opener end from the spoon/knife side. If you had a meal that requires a spoon, fork, and knife all at the same time, you may find yourself rushing to the kitchen to wash off the knife and spoon alternately, as needed. This could be a bit annoying, but luckily most meals do not require that many utensils.

The Pocket Utensil is cool-looking, portable, and useful. It definitely improved those meals where I would have had to wash my silverware right before eating, or where I would have had to use wasteful, flimsy plasticware.

Conclusion
My hypothesis was proven to be true. I enjoyed meals with the Pocket Utensil far more than without. The only real ideal situation is to always have traditional silverware ready, clean, and available to you, no matter what. When you can’t have that, the Pocket Utensil is a brilliant alternative.

Gift Guides

Uncommon Gifts for The Mixologist

December 3, 2012

Even the most complex cocktail is no match for The Mixologist. Armed with a bottle of booze, ice, and a splash of soda, this brave bartender helps you battle thirst, then celebrate your victory with a toast. With a penchant for the perfect pour and a reputation for really shaking things up, a true mix master may have enough swizzle sticks and tiny umbrellas to get through last call, but they’re always in the mood for new drink-worthy designs. These giftable goods are perfect companions to their well-crafted concoctions, so why not give one a shot?


The 7 Deadly Sins Glasses / Bar10der / Wood Bow Tie / Lemon Press Squeezer / Splash Martini Glasses / Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses / Molecular Mixology Kit–Mojito / Cocktail Dice with Shaker

Gift Guides

Uncommon Gifts for the Eternal Hostess

November 30, 2012

Her home is always immaculate; her fridge, fully stocked. She’s prepared for out-of-town guests, visiting neighbors, and no-notice pop-ins. There hasn’t been a holiday for which she couldn’t plan the perfect party. And, showers–bridal or baby–she’s ready with cute games and an even cuter cake. She is the Eternal Hostess. She may not need much, but she’s always looking for that extra special something to add just the right touch to any get-together. This holiday season, show her that you appreciate her hospitality with one of these handsome housewares that she’ll be proud to display at her next shindig.

Wine Pairing Towel Set / Aerating Wine Glasses / Recycled Windowpane Candle Holders / Place Card Stamp / Teardrop Serving Boards / Holiday Wine Box / Bird Project Soap / Upcycled Music Score Ornaments

Gift Guides

Uncommon Gifts for the Pinterest Addict

November 28, 2012

She knows her way around the craft store and will try any slow cooker recipe at least once. She’s quick to reuse scraps of fabric, empty mason jars, and even old cardboard boxes. She’s got a new quote daily, which is perfect, because those canvases and sticky letters aren’t going going to put themselves together to create inspirational wall art. She’s the queen of the color palette. The creator of copious cupcakes. The steward of style. Now, thanks to Pinterest, all her DIY dreams are just a click away. But, even the most persistent pinner needs a break during the holiday season. Help her take a load off by presenting her with one of these pinworthy products perfect for the Pinterest Addict.

Instrumental Lighting–Trumpet / Upcycled Sweater Moose Head / Hattie Apron / State Table / Instabook / Felt Animal Kits / Upcycled Sari Clutch / Cake Pops Stand / Flavor Infuser Water Bottle


And while you’re pining for pin-ables, don’t forget to stop by our Pin the Halls Holiday Pinterest Contest for a chance to win a $250 UncommonGoods shopping spree.

The Uncommon Life

Food Art to be Thankful For

November 20, 2012

I’m thankful for art, I’m thankful for food, and I’m thankful that Jan Davidszoon de Heem painted this mind-blowingly gorgeous painting, “Festoon of Fruit and Flowers,” in about 1660. That’s 352 years of beauty so far.

This squirrel is thankful that he didn’t end up the way most “game” does in these old still lifes – dead.  We at UncommonGoods don’t sell anything that involves harming animals, and we also prefer animals to be safe and happy in art (including all the cats on YouTube, naturally). German painter Peter Binoit’s “Fruit and Vegetables, Roses in a Glass Vase, and a Squirrel,” painted in 1631 or so, is stunning, nutritious–and vegan.

The way the colors pop in this painting seems sort of modern, doesn’t it?.

This one, even more so: “Still Life,” 1618, by the same painter, Peter Binoit.

I suppose back in the day, painters liked to use fruit as a subject because it was a way to get bright colors massed in globs, before they (European artists, at least) thought up abstract painting. In Edouard Manet’s “Basket of Fruits,” painted in 1864, you can almost see the paint wanting to leap off the fruit and fly around on its own, without being obliged to resemble anything real.

Look what it’s doing with Van Gogh’s and Cézanne’s apples, below.

“Still Life, Basket of Apples,” painted in 1887.  (With all due respect to Vincent, I think they look more like some kind of squash.) Whatever they are,  each one has a mind of its own, and so did every brush stroke that made them.

www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111436

Paul Cézanne , “The Basket of Apples,” 1893. Do those fruits appear to be obeying any laws of gravity or perspective that you know of?  How about that table–in what dimension does that exist?

Fooled ya. There’s no paint at all, here.  Photographer Rasbak’s “Sterappel” (star apple), 2004, is a real piece of fruit. Yet it looks more abstract than any of the paintings, and seems  if anything even more miraculous, because its perfect form wasn’t invented by humans.  Paging Georgia O’Keeffe.

We’re done with apples, but not incredible edibles. Not only were no fauna harmed during this blog post, but the flora staged a revolt. Van Gogh made apples look all crazy just because he could, and the vegetable kingdom returns the favor in Ju Duoqi’s “Vegetable Museum no. 16: Van Gogh made of Leek” (2008) (photo courtesy of Artnet).

Vegetables, fruits, painters, photographers and collagists in all media: I’m truly thankful for the talents and imaginations of all the beings, past, present, and future, who’ve created the art I love, the food I love, the art about food I love, and the art made from food I love.

And, because I have an inexplicable passion for produce with faces, these four tasty toys will conclude my post for today. Thanks, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (To gorge on 100% fat-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, vegan food art, check out my ongoing Pinterest collection.)

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