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  Facebook Update May 21, 2010 

Oh how we love opening our Facebook page to see all of our "fans" out there!  But we keep wondering, "what products are they ordering from us, what is most popular??"   Let us know what you are getting and how you are using it so that we can share with others.

S
o the new lemonade went up this week on our web page, have you checked it out yet?  There are 17 flavors currently and we are working on more, some of which you might not think about for a lemonade flavor but are really tasty.  We haven't had anyone order them yet - what are you waiting for, summer??   When you do order one of them, please let us know how you like it!

Late May, early June is traditionally a time for graduations.  Most graduates will get gifts that will send them on to college or a future job, but what about someone graduating from cooking school??  Know anyone graduating from Le Cordon Bleu??  We have a friend who's husband AND son will be graduating this year and next.  We suggested that they give them a big basket of items they would use either at a new position or at home.  Wouldn't that be a new and exciting present to give?  

Please tell your friends about us, sign up for our newsletter and let us know what you would like to see either here on our blog or on Facebook.

  Summertime, Summertime, May 14, 2010 
sum, sum, summertime....  Not to plagerize a popular song from the 60's, but since we are almost half way through the month of May, I guess we should look forward to (hopefully) days of sunshine, no school, swimming and picnics!  

You know, I can't imagine a summer picnic without a barbeque and lemonade, can you??  So we decided that we needed to add some new products to our line that could take care of these two areas in a way that only faerie's finest can do.  After some experimentation we have come up with a line of lemonades that will knock your socks off!   Of course we have regular lemonade, and cherry, raspberry and strawberry,  But how about pineapple, lavender or rose???  Imagine serving your guests watermelon lemonade with slices of watermelon on the rim.   

You will also see a new page on our website for dry rubs for meats.  One of these rubs is something that we have been offering almost from the beginning.  One of our favorite spice blends is our faerie dust and it can be used for so many things, including meats, vegetables that are going to be grilled.  

So look for our next newsletter to come out with these new items.  In fact here is a scoop on the special that will be in this next newsletter: order one of our new lemonades and you will get a free sample of faerie dust.  

  May 6 - Faerie Notes Update May 6, 2010 
Well here we are with our first update in a very long while. We are very happy to report that this gap is due to the increase in business over the past few months and not because there was noting to report. How great it is to relate this information to all of you since it means that our fans and new fans are discovering the many wonderful flavors, teas, spice blends, etc. we have to offer. If you have a great recipe or suggestion of a use of one of our products, please pass it on and we will post it for all to use.

On to our thoughts for this "blog". We will be jotting down a variety of things here. Flavor of the month, new products, games, contests, offers. If there is something you would like to see, let us know and we will do our best to get it for you.

Vanilla - our flavor of the month. What is it about this liquid gold that has made it become the most popular flavor in the world. Did you know that vanilla is the second most expensive spice (yes it is a spice) in the world after saffron? It is used so extensively that we take it for granted.

It has been used for medicinal use, as an aphrodisiac, in food, crafts and has even been prominent in fiction. First used by the Aztecs it was eventually brought to England and became popular when Queen Elizabeth used it in everything. It came to America in the 1700's and the rest, as they say, is history (hee, hee).

Did you get our latest newsletter??? We are offering a discount on our Vanilla Sugar this month. Or as some people call it "vanilla crack", (hmm, don't get hooked on the stuff), but using this sugar for cooking and baking really adds an extra special touch to the final product. Check out our vanilla page on our website for more vanilla products.

  Helping the People of Haiti January 15, 2010 
The last few days have been heartbreaking as we've heard the devastating news from Haiti. A tragedy of this magnitude touches all of us. It also puts into perspective how fortunate we are to live in a country where food, clean water and safe shelter are so available that most of us don't even think about them.

Right now aid organizations and governments from around the world are organizing aid relief for the people of Haiti. Here are some ways you can help:

Text HAITI to 90999. $10 will be donated to the American Red Cross and the amount will be added to your monthly cell phone bill.

The American Red Cross

Mercy Corps Haiti Earthquake Fund

Partners in Health

Doctors Without Borders

  Last Minute Food Gifts December 15, 2009 
There is still time to order some yummy gifts for the foodies in your life. Not sure what to get? Here's a few popular choices:

sea salt favorites - This is a great way to introduce someone to sea salt. It includes our six most popular sea salts - grey, murray river pink, bolivian rose, alderwood smoked, black cyprus and hawaiian red.

flavored sugar sampler
- With eleven samplers to choose from there is something to please everyone. Our most popular, the old fashion flavors collection contains some our most popular flavored sugars: vanilla, butterscotch, carmel, maple and jamaiican rum.

cocoas - We have something for everyone with our regular, dark and sugar-free flavored cocoas. With over 30 different flavors and six different collections you will find the perfect gift for the chocolate lover in your life.

popcorn seasonings - For a quick and easy gift, give a few bags of microwave popcorn and a couple of popcorn seasonings. From our popular chipotle lime to our sweet ginger there is a flavor combination that is sure to please.

Make sure your orders are placed by noon on December 21st for Priority delivery. Express orders can be placed until noon on December 23rd. We are happy to ship directly to your favorite foodie but don't forget to your own treats.

  Just in time - new products to enjoy November 23, 2009 
Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? I've been going non-stop since I recovered from the flu in September and October and November have passed in a whirlwind. I haven't even told everyone about all the new products we've been adding. From new sea salts and teas to more flavor extracts to pumpkin spice flavored products there's even more yummy things to enjoy. Here's a quick overview of our most recent products:

sea salts - We've added fine versions of our popular hawaiian red, black and white sea salts. We've also added hawaiian pink which is as pretty as it is delicious. For smoked sea salt lovers we now have applewood and hickory smoked sea salts. Make sure you check out our hawaiian and smoked sea salt collections.

pumpkin spice - Flavored tea, flavored sugar, cocoas, lattes and mochas all have rich pumpkin flavor with cinnamon, spices and a hint of vanilla. Now you can enjoy your favorite pumpkin pie flavors year round.

teas - In addition to the pumpkin spice tea we've added several new teas. Green tea lovers should try our newest sweet zheijang. Our phoenix and anxi oolongs are both delicious additions to our oolong collection. Love jasmine tea? You'll definitely want to check out both our jasmine white tea and our jasmine tea collection.

flavor extracts - Our newest eggnog and pie spice flavor extracts are another way to add holiday flavor year round. Try the eggnog flavor in your favorite pound cake recipe. The pie spice flavor is perfect in cheese cake.

  Learning to Love Lavender November 3, 2009 
I've often noted that lavender is a flavor that people love or hate - and I've counted myself in the latter group.  However, there are lots of lavender lovers and we are always making lavender sugar or lavender sea salt.  During those time I shut my office door and turn on the fan.  Then I realized - maybe I don't hate lavender.  Maybe I just don't like the aroma.  So in the spirit of open-mindedness I decided to give the taste of lavender a try.

I decided to spend some time cooking with our country french seasoning blend.  To my surprise I've found that lavender as a flavor accent is quite enjoyable.  The first way I tried it was as a seasoning for croutons.  The citrusy floral taste of lavender goes well with salads.

I also decided to try it as part of my continuing exploratoin of slow cooking.  I have a 5.5 quart oval slow cooker and this recipe for chicken corn chowder filled it.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs - cubed
2 lbs frozen corn
1 cup each chopped onion, celery and carrot
2 bell peppers diced (I used red and yellow)
2 teaspoons country french seasoning blend
1 quart chicken stock

Place in slow cooker, mix ingredients together, cover and cook approximately 4 hours over medium heat.  If you only have low and high settings then cook over low heat for 6-7 hours.

2 cups milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch

Turn slow cooker to high.  Mix together milk and cornstarch and stir into slow cooker.  Cover and cook and additional 15 minutes.

Will I ever really love lavender?  Probably not but I have learned that I can enjoy it as a complement to other flavors.



  Country Ham August 31, 2009 
Growing up in the South the only ham we ever had was country ham.  This is a salt cured peppercoated ham.  When you cooked a ham, you had ham for sandwiches.  We never purchased ham lunch meat - that simply wasn't real ham.  Of course, country ham isn't available everywhere so at least once a year I get a country ham shipped to me.  Sometimes I purchase it online and sometimes my mother sends me one as a gift.  Last week I got one - a genuine Smithfield ham which means it was cured in the town of Smithfield, Virginia for at least six months. 

Country ham is very different from hams you typically find in grocery stores.  It is a much more intense flavor and significantly saltier.  Although you can soak the ham for a day or two to reduce the salt flavor we always cook it without soaking.  It is that flavor intensity that makes it so yummy.

Of course, cooking the ham is only the starting point.  A whole ham is a lot of meat which means a lot of leftovers.  My favorite eating method is on dinner rolls - preferably ones with a slight sweetness to them.  Tonight we will be having ham & potatoes au gratin.  I'm also going to be making a couple of ham quiches - one basic ham and cheese and another with spinache and tomato.

There is much I love about living in California - especially the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.  However, nothing will ever replace a southern country ham.  In my culinary vocubulary it continues to be 'real ham'.

  August 12, 2009 
Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler

2 cups stone fruit cut into bite size chunks
    peaches
    nectarines
    plums
    apricots

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup vanilla fantasy sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp allspice
2  tablespoons butter or margarine

optional - 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease inside of baking dish with part of the butter.

Toss diced stone fruit with flour, vanilla sugar and allspice.  Pour into baking dish.

Dot top of fruit with butter.  If desired, top with almonds.

Cover and bake about 30 minutes.

  Summer Lemonade July 15, 2009 
It's hot.  It's very hot.  When the temperature starts climbing into the 90's I don't even want to think about food.  I want lots of cold drinks and my favorite summer time beverage is lemonade.  The great thing about lemonade is the unlimited variations. 

My favorite lemonade is made with ReaLemon.  Yes, I know purists prefer freshly squeezed lemons but that's more work than I want to do on a hot day.  Plus with the ReaLemon you get consistent flavor every time.  For a single glass use 3/4 cup water with 2 tablespoons each of ReaLemon juice and sugar.  Here's where it gets even better - simply substitute your favorite flavored sugar to get easy flavored lemonade.  Our favorites are the berry flavors - strawberry, blackberry, raspberry and cherry.  For a really mellow lemonade use the vanilla sugar.  Mint flavors are perfect with lemon.  Also try some of the citrus flavors like tangerine or lime for interesting variations.

  Mayonaise and more July 8, 2009 
Although the origins are debated, mayonaise has become a staple condiment in both Europe and North America.  At its most basic mayonaise is simply a thick emulsion of oil and egg yolks.  Other ingredients such as mustard or lemon juice can be added for flavor.  The very best mayonaise is made from scratch but few people take the time to do that.  Mayonaise has been produced commercially since 1905 and is what most people use.

Although mayonaise is typically used as a spread for sandwiches, it is a versatile condiments.  Add crushed garlic to mayonaise for a simple aioli sauce that is delicious with both meats and vegetables.  Add some pickle relish and you have a basic tartar sauce.  Add ketchup and pickle relish and you have thousand island dressing.  In Mexico, lime is often added to mayonaise.

If you like creamy dressings then mayonaise is the perfect base.  Below are some of our favorites.  I don't measure.  I just taste and adjust.

Veggie dip:   blend in sea salt, freshly ground pepper and herbs de provence.  This is the perfect dip for artichokes, asparagus and tomatoes. 

Faux honey mustard - Combines mayonaise, dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, vanilla sugar, sea salt and ground pepper.  This dressing has even the non-salad lovers coming back for seconds.

Sesame ginger - mayonaise with sesame oil, ground ginger, vanilla sugar, sea salt and ground pepper.

Easy caesar dressing - mayonaise with lemon, worcestershire, sea salt and ground pepper

For sandwiches it is worth taking an extra minute to dress up your mayonaise.  My favorite is to blend quatre epices and rosemary salt in mayonaise.  This is delicious with both roast beef and turkey.  Curry lovers can blend in their favorite cury powder for a curry mayonaise.  If you are a fan of spicy foods then a bit of faerie's fire will add extra bite to your sandwiches.

  New Flavor Extracts July 6, 2009 
In between fireworks, roast chicken and watching movies this July 4th weekend we spent some time re-designing our flavor extracts web page and adding new products.  For our citrus lovers we've added tangerine and mandarine orange flavor extracts.  For spice lovers we've added ginger and nutmeg.  Mint enthusiasts can now enjoy wintergreen.   For everyone that has requested a huckleberry flavor, we've added huckleberry flavor extract.  If you like the more unusual flavors then you definitely want to check out the new pumpkin, cream soda and pina colada flavors.  Vanilla lovers can now enjoy our newest french vanilla flavor.

We also added eight new extract assortments - including an assortment of our pure vanilla extracts that include our regular vanilla extract, 2x vanilla concentrate, 4x vanilla concentrate and vanilla slurry.  Check them out.

  Easy Fruit Smoothies July 1, 2009 
One thing that everyone around here enjoys is a fruit smoothie.  I keep a selection of frozen fruit in the freezer and there is usually some sort of juice or soy milk in the refridgerator.  Here's my method for making perfect smoothies every time.

1.  Select your drinking glass or cup.  If you use the glass you are going to drink out of then you won't have to worry about estimating the right amount of fruit and liquid. 

2.  Fill glass or cup with frozen fruit.  Let sit for about 20 minutes to soften.

3.  Add liquid to glass - between 3/4 and full depending on how thick you like your smoothie.  For liquids we use water, juice or soymilk. 

4.  Pour fruit and liquid into the blender and using the pulse, blend until smooth.

5.  Check the flavor and adjust.  We usually add between 1 tsp and 1 tbsp of flavored sugar to our smoothies in a 24 ounce cup.  How much depends on how sweet or tart the fruit is.  Our favorite sugars to add are vanilla fantasy, cherry jubilee and orange cream.  I like peach smoothies and will usually add a drop or two of peach flavor extract for a little extra boost of flavor.  For a 'cream' flavor, just add a few drops of vanilla extract.

6.  Pour from blender into original glass and enjoy.



  Cilantro & Coriander June 25, 2009 
Although many people use the words 'herbs' and 'spices' interchangably, there is a difference.  The word 'herb' comes from the Latin word 'herba' which means grass or green crop.  Herbs are the leafy part of a plant and the classic definition applies whether the herb is fresh or dried.  Spices, most of which grow in tropical climates, are usually the seeds, buds, fruits, bark or aromatic roots.  Of course, there are different definitions which further confuse the issue.  The American Spice Trade Association defines a spice as 'any dried plant used primarily for seasoning purposes'.  This definition includes not only dried herbs but also dehydrated onion or garlic.  In southeast Asia, an herb is a fresh aromatic plant while a spice is a dried aromatic plant.

There is one plant that contributes both an herb and a spice:  coriandrum stivum.  The fresh leaves of this plant are known as the herb, cilantro.  The dried seeds from this plant are known as the spice, coriander.  This plant is native to both the Mediterranean and western Asia but is grown worldwide.  Cilantro is essential to Asian, Portuguese and Latin American cooking.  Thai cooks use the long, tapering roots.  As a spice, coriander is common in both Middle Eastern and Indian cooking.

Often called 'chinese parsley' cilantro leaves are often made into a paste that is added toward the end of cooking.  In Mexican cooking, cilantro is often combined with lime juice, chilis and garlic to make a dressing for vegetables.  In Portugal, cilantro is commonly used with both potatoes and fava beans.  Cilantro pairs well with both lemon and lime and is delicious with fish and seafood.  Try finely chopping cilantro and then mixing it with sea salt and lemon juice for a delicious topping for broiled fish. 

Coriander is a relatively mild spice and is usually used in larger quantity than stronger spices.  It is a popular flavoring for vegetables, stews and sausages.  In Cyprus, cooks blend ground coriander with crushed green olives.  In the US and western Europe, coriander is commonly used as a pickling spice.  It is also found in many chutneys.  For those with a sweet tooth, coriander combines will with apples, plums and pears and is delicious in pies and compotes.

  New Seasonings Available June 16, 2009 
For the last couple of months I've been working on some new seasoning blends.  We grilled beef, pork, chicken and a variety of vegetables at the office to test them - and they were yummy.  From the incredibly delicious sea salt magic to the much requested game seasoning blend, I've tried to give you even more ways to add great flavor.

If you are a fan of south of the border cuisine then you want to check out four new seasonings:  southwestern seasoning blend, adobo, tamale seasoning and tampico chili seasoning.  All of these seasonings can be found in the cuisines from around the world section.

For curry lovers we've added a garam masala blend.  Our resident vegetarian tried this blend on grilled eggplant and loved it.  You can also try it in our garam masala scramble recipe for a delicious brunch treat.

If you enjoy hot & spicy flavors then you'll want to check out our berbere seasoning.  This traditional Ethiopian seasoning was a palate pleaser when we tried it on beef, chicken and pork.

Of all the new seasonings my personal favorite is the mulling spices.  Add about a tablespoon of these whole spices to your favorite apple juice or cider and bring to a simmer.  The longer you simmer, the more intense flavor you get.  For a delicious summertime drink, strain out spices and then chill and serve over ice.

Those are some of the highlights of our new seasonings.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we are.

  New Sea Salt Sizes June 1, 2009 
Since adding larger sizes of flavor extracts, flavor powders and flavored sugars to our website, you've let us know how much you like being able to order these sizes directly from our website.  So we've decided to add an economy size to our sea salts.  Now you can buy 2 pound bags of our flake sea salts and 5 pound bags of our other sea salts.  We've also lowered the prices on most of our refill bags - plus you still get the benefits of our flat rate shipping.  Now it's even easier to use our sea salts for all your cooking and catering needs.

  AIDS Project Los Angeles May 15, 2009 
If you've ordered from us in the last five years, your order was most likely packaged by Stacey.  During the five years she has worked for us, Stacey has been in charge of shipping.  In addition to working for faerie's finest she is also an art major.  Her sculpture pieces always become part of our life in some way.  My personal favorite is sitting on a table by the spices in our warehouse.  We have another in front of our house.  I've seen the amazing result when she takes our old printers and disassembles them to create a new piece. 

There's one other thing about Stacey:  she can never sit still.  She is always moving.  She runs.  She bikes.  She rollerblades.  This weekend she is hiking in the mountains - and I can only assume she is carrying the giant pile of stuff that was stacked by the door.  So it wasn't surprising to any of us when she decided to do a half-marathon in support of AIDS Project Los Angeles.  APLA works both to help prevent new infections and to care for those who have it.

As part of participating in the marathon, Stacey has had to make two commitments to APLA.  The first is training.  She has to regularly train and participate in time trials so that she is physically ready to run 13.1 miles by Sepetember 6.  She also had to commit to raise at least $2000 in donations. 

As a business we have committed to donating at least $200 over the next four months.  If you would like to support Stacey in her commitment you can make a donation online.  You can make a one time donation or you can split your donation over the next four months.

  smoked sea salt May 6, 2009 
Growing up the only smoked foods I ever had were bacon and ham.  I loved them - especially the ham.  It was what we called country ham.  It was pepper coated and smoked.  It was such an intense flavor.  So it's not surprising that when I discovered other smoked foods it was love at first sight. 

I thought I had discovered heaven when I tried my first smoked sea salt.  That led me to purchase my first smoker.  It was very small and I could only smoke a few pounds at a time.  It led to a lot of smoking experiments.  Some were successful and you'll find those sea salts on the website.  Others were not so successful and I'm still trying.  As these smoked sea salts became more popular we purchased a larger smoker.

Most of my time now is spent managing faerie's finest.  I sometimes step into the warehouse to help out but most of the products are made by our production staff - except for the smoked sea salts.  That is the one thing I still personally do.  Whenever I start smoking a batch I wonder why I haven't trained someone else to do it.  I remember why when many hours later I open up the smoker and take out the newly smoked salt.  It's a continuation of my love affair with smoked foods. 

This morning I opened up the smoker to one of my favorite smoked sea salts - the smoked french sea salt.  I love the mellow smokiness of this salt.  I add it to nearly everything - from vegetables to potatoes to eggs to chicken to fish.  It adds a subtle layer of smoked flavor to foods without taking overwhelming the taste of the food.

If you have never used the smoked sea salts I encourage you to give them a try.

  Latest Events April 20, 2009 
If you have called us recently you might have noticed a new voice on the phone.  That very calm and soothing voice belongs to Zoretta.  She will be answering the phone and responding to emails.  Last week we kept her busy learning about our products.  She is a very welcome addition to our staff.

I'm still busying getting new products ready.  This week I will be taking pictures and polishing up the descriptions.  Finding new ingredients and creating new products is my favorite part of what I do - my least favorite is describing them.  I taste a new seasoning blend or smell a new tea and I get very excited.  Then I sit at my computer trying to put into word the taste and aroma and my mind just goes blank.  I often wish there was a way to let you smell through the computer.

I'm also starting to think about a new website we are creating.  This website is for people who either don't cook or cook very simply but still want lots of flavor in their food.  It will take me several months to put it together and while I'm doing it I would like to hear from you.  I already know how I use my seasoning and flavor ingredients.  Now I want to hear more from you.  Please email me at recipes@faeriesfinest.com and let me know your favorite flavor tip.

  Good Books for Food Lovers April 9, 2009 
As a young bride (many years ago) I watched cooking shows to learn how to cook.  That led to my discovery of herbs and my first food passion - fresh herbs.  Our house had a small enclosed area and I dug up the grass and created my first herb garden.  It wasn't long before I discovered Brother Cadfael. 

If you are both a book lover and  food lover then you might already know about Brother Cadfael.  Brother Cadfael is a 12th century herbalist monk that solves mysteries.  It is set near Wales against the backdrop of the English civil war between Stephen and Maud - so it was a triple treat for me as a history lover.  Over the series you watch as Brother Cadfael works his herb garden, unites young lovers and uncovers evil doers.  You also learn the various ways herbs were used in cooking and healing during the middle ages.  Since then I've read all the Brother Cadfael books written by Ellis Peters, as well as her other books.  Every couple of years I pick up the series and read them again.  It is like visiting an old friend.

About four years ago I discovered another book series written for the food lover:  Diane Mott Davidson's mysteries set in the Colorado mountains.  Her main character is Goldy, a caterer with a passion for food and a curiousity that won't stop.  The stories come complete with menus and recipes.  I've never tried any of the recipes but I enjoy reading them.  I also enjoy reading about Goldy's preparation and the ins and outs of her catering business.  I haven't read all the books in the series but so far I've enjoyed them all.

Recently my youngest daughter discovered another series and bought me the first book:  Laura Child's Death by Darjeeling.  This mystery series is set in Charleston, SC and follows Theodosia Browning who ownsa tea shop.  If you are a tea lover then you will enjoy this series because the characters really love tea.  I also love the setting because it reminds me of my own southern heritage.  I've just started reading this series recently but already know I will soon own all of them.

If you haven't read any of these series they are definitely worth checking out.  They are easy reads with enjoyable characters and that are an extra special treat for food lovers.

  Coming Soon . . . . . April 2, 2009 
At the beginning of this year I was feeling at a bit of a loss about where to go next with new products.  We added so many new products last year that I just wasn't sure where to go.  Okay, I didn't need to worry.  We've added new flavors and sizes and varieties steadily this year - and this week brought even more new products.  I'm working on them now and hope to have them on our website in about a week.

With the growing popularity of our clear raspberry and strawberry flavor extracts we decided to add a couple more.  We are adding clear cherry and clear hazelnut flavor extracts.  These are great when even a hint of color just won't do.  We are also working on a french vanilla flavor.  This will be a creamy vanilla flavor that will be perfect in puddings and custards.  I'm also going to make a fruit salad dressing with it and see how it tastes. 

Every time I think we couldn't possibly come up with any new sugar flavors we do.  Look for our newest grape and watermelon sugars.  Both would be great dippers for fresh fruit.  I'm also thinking you could use them to make some really great sauces for chicken or pork.

For a long time we've been planning to add a refill size for our popular sugar free cocoas.  It finally made it to the top of the list.  We're adding a 1 lb refill bag that will make approximately 40 servings of sugar-free cocoa.  A lot of our customers use this in coffee to make an easy morning mocha.

Sea salts are still popular - and with good reason.  They just taste so yummy.  We are adding a smoked version of our fine grained poudre de sel.  For our customers that love the hawaiian sea salts (and there are a lot of you) we are adding a fine version of the hawaiian black (lava) and hawaiian red (alaea) sea salts.

As always we love to hear your suggestions and comments.  A lot of our new products grow from these comments.

  A funny thing happened. . . . . March 23, 2009 
 . . on the way to my blog.  About six weeks ago I started typing up my regular blog.  It never quite got finished.  I got sidetracked by the flu and then I got bogged down trying to catch up.  I kept putting off blogging even though lots of things were happening.

And yes, lots of things have been happening.  We've expanded both our flavor extracts and flavor powders.  Lots of you are using these flavor products in your baking, catering and barbeque businesses.  We've added larger sizes to our website to make purchasing easier and to let you take advantage of our flat rate shipping.  We've also added new flavors to choose from. 

We also added new loose leaf teas.  If you are a fan of Darjeeling teas then you will definitely want to check out our new green, white and oolong Darjeeling teas.  For green tea lovers we've also added a jasmine green, a green decaffeinated tea from the Nilgiri mountains, panfired and sencha green teas.  Herbal tea enthusiasts will want to check out our green rooibos. 

If you prefer a more traditional black tea then I encourage you to try our ambrosia organic estate tea.  Words can't do justice to this smooth tea that has a hint of chocolate.  Everyone that has tried it loves it - and it's even better with just a bit of vanilla sugar. 

Currently I've been testing a new seasoning blend.  We haven't quite settled on a name for it but so far it's been a hit.  It is a blend of our fine portuguese sea salt and about a dozen spices.  It's an all purpose seasoning and so far it's been delicious on everything we've tried it on.  Look for it on our website next week.

  To Slurp or Not to Slurp January 28, 2009 
To slurp your soup or hot drink means that you draw air into your mouth while you are sipping - creating that unique sound.  In some cultures slurping is a natural part of eating.  In other cultures it is considered rude.  So why slurp?

There are two reasons to slurp. The first is practical - slurping or breathing in while you are eating or drinking helps to cool down hot food and drinks.

The second reason to slurp is the one that matters to foodies:  it helps you taste more of your food.  If you've ever experienced a wine tasting you will notice that experieced wine tasters slurp the wine.  The purpose of slurping is to pull more air into your mouth and over your palate so you can taste the wine more fully.  Tasting involves both the taste buds and the nose.  It is the combination of taste and aroma that creates the fullest flavor.  Slurping helps to bring the aroma into your mouth.

So when do you slurp?  Anytime you are tasting something new is a good time to slurp.  Taste first without slurping and then taste a second time with a slurp and compare the two experiences. 

Slurping is a perfect way to taste good olive oil.  In fact, some tasters have been known to sneeze at the unexpected intensity of flavor.  You definitely want to slurp if you are tasting a new variety of coffee or tea.  Often the differences between varieties are subtle.  Slurping helps you experience the flavor nuances.  In America where slurping is considered rude, slurping is a deliberate way to eat and it helps you focus on the experience.

Of course, there is one more reason to slurp.  It reminds us not to take it all too seriously. 

  Presidential Food Trivia January 22, 2009 
I'm a history buff and with the inauguration of our 44th president I've been reading a lot about the presidency and the White House.  Naturally the subject of food has come up.  I've read about both state dinners and individual food preferences of various presidents.  I've learned that while the first family pays for their own food in the White House the Air Force supplies all provisions for meals served on Air Force One.  I thought I would share some of the food trivia that I've learned over this past week:

Apparently George H.W. Bush disliked broccoli so much that he wouldn't allow it to be on any White House or Air Force One menu.

Our current president, Barak Obama, has a strong dislike for beets.  His favorite snack food is chips and salsa and he loves to add hot sauce to his food.

Richard Nixon usually ate the same austere lunch every day:  a pineapple ring and cottage cheese.  One of his favorite desserts was macadamia nut ice cream.

Lyndon Johnson liked chipped beef and fresh bread for breakfast.  For dinner he enjoyed saucy dishes like beef stroganoff or casseroles such as seafood creole.

Ronald Reagan never ate the food at public functions.  Instead his own chefs would prepare his meal in the event kitchen.  Ronald Reagan loved macaroni and cheese, roast beef hash and hamburger soup made with ground beef, tomatoes and carrots. 

On Sundays Gerald Ford liked to have waffles with strawberries and sour cream for breakfast.  Like Nixon, Ford like cottage cheese and would put either ketchup or A-1 sauce on it.

Not surprisingly, Jimmy Carter liked traditional southern foods like fried chicken, country ham with redeye gravy, fried apples and corn fritter.  Even his desserts were the traditional southern fare of Georgia peach cobbler, pineapple upside-down cake, peanut brittle and pecan cookies.

As the Obamas have already learned, very little of a president's life is private.  For those of us reading the news it is a comforting reminder that in at least in one way a president isn't so different from the rest of us. 

  Pasta Puttanesca - Tuscan Style December 30, 2008 

This is my favorite pasta dish.  It's also one of those dishes that you should have people try before you tell them what's in it.  Family members who profess to dislike anchovies or olives enjoy this dish.  In fact, the family meat lover was suprised to realize he hadn't had any meat with dinner - it's that rich tasting.


2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic - finely chopped
1 tsp tuscan blend
4 anchovy filets in oil, drained
2 cups pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1 tbs baby capers, rinsed
2 15 oz cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbs tomato paste
1/4 tsp lemon zest
freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
romano cheese

Heat olive oil and stir in garlic and tuscan blend.  Saute for one minute.

Add anchovies, crushing into oil mixture with a wooden spoon until they dissolve.

Add olives, capers, tomatoes, tomato paste and lemon zest.  Stir well.

Bring mixture to a boil, add freshly ground pepper to taste and reduce heat to low. 

Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing mixture to thicken.

While sauce mixture is simmering, cook pasta and drain.

Mix pasta and sauce mixture together and top with romano cheese.

Serves 4.

This is a dish that can be planned ahead of time.  Many supermarkets sell canned chopped kalamata olives.  Use pre-chopped garlic (often found near garlic cloves in the produce department) and tomato paste packaged in a tube.  These will both keep for a while in the refridgerator for future recipes.

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