Everything oldis new again
Red and White Kitchen Co.'s line of reproduced vintage towels from the 1940s and '50s -- including the style "Duck Soup" -- will summon fond memories of Grandma's kitchen. Small and large flour-sack dish towels cost $5-$12.50. To see the full line, visit redandwhitekitchen.com.
All the Chicago Tribune testers loved the rich flavor and flaky texture of Chicken of the Sea Smoked Pacific Salmon.
The wood-smoked wild salmon is from Alaska. It's ready to eat from the packet, and will work in salads, sandwiches or even pasta dishes. Each 3-ounce pouch costs $2-$3 at grocery and specialty stores.
Chips for a change
Papa Lena's Sweet Red Pepper Chips and Beet Chips from Chicagoans Danny and Marie Lena make unusual summer snacking. The red-pepper chips are slightly soft, piquant but not hot; the crispier beet chips have a toned down beet flavor. Refrigeration is recommended. For mail-order (three packages for $15), call (800) 877-7252 or visit papalena.com.
Let them eat cake
If you're looking for a different style of wedding cake, think Twinkies. Those spongy creamed- filled cakes have taken on a new role thanks to Hostess baking expert Theresa Cogswell. Cogswell created the Ribbons and Bows Twinkie Wedding Cake, Mr. and Mrs. Twinkie Tiered Twinkie Cake, Twinkie Wedding Day favors and more. The Twinkies are wrapped in fondant (a pliable icing) and decorated or frosted. Other than the Twinkies -- you'll need 27 of them for the wedding cake -- some other supplies are needed to make and assemble the cakes, including cardboard cake rounds and a prepared cake mix. For detailed instructions on how to make the Twinkie cakes go to www.hostesscakes.com.
No-fuss garlic paste
To make a smooth garlic paste without getting your food processor messy, chop up a few cloves of peeled garlic on a cutting board. Sprinkle them with kosher salt, and use the flat side of your chef's knife to squish them into a paste. Keep squishing and adding salt, if necessary, until the paste is as smooth as you want it to be. Then add it to whatever you're making. Just remember you're adding salt now and be careful not to over-salt the dish later.
Though mayo doesn't deserve its dangerous reputation, try some of these alternative delights for picnic salads: German potato salad, dressed with cider vinegar, bacon and parsley, always pleases; tropical fruit salsas laced with crunchy onions and tangy cilantro add bite to grilled meat, or an orzo or pasta salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, cucumbers, feta cheese and plenty of pepper can be a crowd-pleaser.
While you're in D.C.
The National Herb Garden in Washington, D.C., the largest designed herb garden in North America, will kick off a six-month celebration of its 25th anniversary this year.
The herb garden is at the U.S. National Arboretum and operated by the Agricultural Research Service.
On June 18, the Potomac and Philadelphia units of the Herb Society of America will demonstrate how to make herbal crafts. On Sept. 17, the North Carolina unit will demonstrate its members' work with herbal liqueurs and vinegars.