Category Archives: Great Finds

Keep Calm & Eat Cheese

Loads of spicy, smoky flavor -- that's why Cypress Grove's Chipotle Cocoa delivers big-time.
Loads of spicy, smoky flavor — that’s why Cypress Grove’s Chipotle Cacao delivers big-time.

When it comes to cooking, it’s the little things in life that make such a difference now — crunchy sea salt, olive oil with a real personality, and an exceptional cheese with flavor to spare that elevates anything it touches.

That’s why I felt like I had truly hit the culinary jackpot when Humboldt County’s Cypress Grove sent me samples during this just-the-basics-ma’am, hunker-down-and-make-do kind of time.

Because it’s soft-ripened goat cheeses are anything but banal. Since 1983, this Arcata, CA-based cheesemaker has been turning out award-winning wheels. Since 2017, it’s taken a fancy turn each year to its classic Humboldt Fog by making limited-edition remixes that feature herbs and spices added.

This year, Cypress Grove ups the equation by not only adding the familiar ripple of flavoring at the center of the cheese, but also mixing it into the cheese paste through and through. The result is wallop of flavor.

This year’s line-up includes the Dill Remix, which was released in April; the Chipotle Cacao that will debut in summer; and the Haze Remix due in the fall.

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Enjoy A Warm Chocolate Lava Cake — In 40 Seconds

Would you believe it only takes 40 seconds from fridge to microwave to dig into this perfect, warm chocolate lava cake?
Would you believe it only takes 40 seconds from fridge to microwave to dig into this perfect, warm chocolate lava cake?

I’ve made the original chocolate lava cake many times. The warm little cake with the contrasting gooey, molten chocolate center that became a sensation was purportedly invented by Michelin-starred New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten when he accidentally removed a cake from the oven too soon.

It’s not a difficult cake to make, but it does take a little practice to know when exactly to pull it from the oven so that the center is not overdone, rendering it merely a uniform chocolate cake through and through.

Pots & Co. not only takes the guesswork out of that, it but alleviates all the work — period.

The London-based company makes Chocolate Fudge Lava Cakes that come ready made. All you need do is pop one into the oven for 12 minutes or into the microwave for 40 seconds to get perfect results.

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Cooking In The Time of Grocery Delivery

Melissa Clark's easy and delicious honey-roasted carrot salad with toasted almonds.
Melissa Clark’s easy and delicious honey-roasted carrot salad with toasted almonds.

I love carrots — now more so than ever before, too.

That’s because during this unprecedented shelter-in-place mandate, I’ve been relying on delivery services to get all of my groceries.

As someone who’s used to combing through new cookbooks to hone in on an inspired recipe to try, then racing out the door to a grocery store or two to find just the right ingredients called for, this has been an adjustment.

Now, I let the ingredients solely dictate what I make. And because I only schedule deliveries once every 7 to 10 days, it requires a lot more planning. I covet peak-season produce, of course. But because so much of that is quite perishable, I also need a mix of sturdier fruits and veggies that will last at least until the next delivery.

Nantes carrots are worth seeking out.
Nantes carrots are worth seeking out.

That’s where carrots are a godsend. They hold up well in the crisper drawer for weeks, and they can be used in so many ways, both raw and cooked.

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Bright Bar — A Different Kind of Energy Bar

Not your typical energy bar. Bright Bars taste like real food.
Not your typical energy bar. Bright Bars taste like real food.

I’ve had my share of energy bars, but I’ve never had one quite like Bright Bar.

Unlike so many others, it’s not rubbery, nor cookie- or candy-like. Instead, it’s like shredded fruits and veggies packed and held together in bar form. The bars are a whole lot less sweet tasting than others, and actually taste like real food.

The Los Angeles company was founded by Brenden Schaefer, an avid cyclist and yogi, who was looking for a good-tasting, good-for-you snack bar. When he couldn’t find one to his liking, he decided to create his own, made with organic produce.

He likens the products, which are also vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, to cold-pressed juice, but in bar form.

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The Amazing Story Behind Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate

Little squares of Maui Ku'ai Estate chocolate -- with a big story.
Little squares of Maui Ku’ai Estate chocolate — with a big story.

It’s one thing to make exquisite farm-to-bar estate chocolate.

It’s a whole ‘nother thing to donate 100 percent of net profits to Maui charities and non-profits.

Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate succeeds on both those fronts.

The artisanal chocolate company was founded by Dr. Gunars Valkirs, a Maui resident and retired biotech entrepreneur, who was the inventor of the first fast and sensitive pregnancy test.

Agriculture is in his heritage, as Valkirs’ father was a farmer in pre-World War II Europe before moving to San Diego, where he maintained a lush citrus orchard.

Inspired by his father, Valkirs started experimenting with planting cacao trees at his Kapalua home. Before long, he was leasing 50 acres of former sugarcane fields in Maui. Today, his farm, which marked its first harvest in spring 2018, encompasses about 7,000 cacao trees.

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