Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cooking... is it better with photos?

I'm wondering: when you're cooking do you need to see a photo of the finished recipe; like this one for Baked Herb Eggs? Or do you not care about seeing an exemplary photo? Everyone has heard the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Of course, as Stonewall Kitchen's photographer, I would love to believe that it's true! I don't think it's just the photographer in me speaking here. I do love to make photos; but I also love to cook... and to eat! I find that the big cook books (the ones that are the same thickness as a phone book) are great for looking up classic recipes. However, when it comes to trying something new I really want to see a picture. If I can see a photograph I feel more confident that I've gotten it right and that my cooking creation won't embarrass me if I serve it to friends!

What do you, our blog readers, twitter followers & Facebook fans, think? Give us your opinion! Use the list here on our blog between now and 10AM on Monday and you'll be entered to win a copy of our new appetizers cookbook. Just looking at this big beautiful photograph, by Stonewall Kitchen co-owner Jim Stott, I'm thinking that a few more people are going to become "cooking is better with photos" believers!

Check back Monday, after the contest has ended, to see who has won!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Ina

If you aren’t already aware, all of the Barefoot Contessa Pantry items are exclusively distributed by Stonewall Kitchen. We create them based on Ina Garten’s recipes and, with her oversight and approval, bring her decadent treats to the home cook in easy-to-follow mixes.

If you like chocolate, then the best place to start is with her classic Outrageous Brownies. Featured in Oprah Winfrey’s “O Magazine” and a perennial best-seller, these brownies are rich, dark, and chewy, with a fantastic hint of coffee. Truly deserving of the “outrageous” description. Recently, we also made available the inspired variation of Outrageous Mint Brownies. A classic combination, chocolate and mint make these brownies even more mouth-watering than the original. Take either Outrageous brownie over the top by adding some super premium vanilla ice cream and a warm drizzle of Decadent Fudge Sauce.

And then, there is the Brownie Pudding. With a brownie-like top and molten chocolate center, this delectable concoction will win rave reviews (and be gone in an instant). As my father used to say, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” Actually, it was Snagglepuss who repeated that phrase which was first uttered in the 1944 film “Meet the People.” My father took it one step further, regularly calling me Murgatroyd Schlibberbitz. But that’s a story for another day.

Don’t want to wait until snack time for just a touch of chocolate? The new Chocolate Swirl Coffee Cake fills the bill perfectly. The combination of cinnamon, brown sugar, malt, sour cream, and (of course) chocolate is an exquisite way to start the day.

Not a fan of chocolate? (I can’t imagine it, but I know you’re out there.) Barefoot Contessa has you covered. These delightful Lemon Bars are tangy, sweet, and simply wonderful. Fellow television chef, Bobby Flay, named Ina’s Red Velvet Cupcake Mix as a top new product at the Fancy Food Show. And the Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars are a fun flashback to the school lunchbox.

So, if you’re aiming to impress but don’t have the time (or inclination) to start from scratch, head over to the Barefoot Contessa Pantry for lots of great ideas.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympics Party

** Update **
Katie . . . . I hope you don't mind but I added a cocktail to your party. Raspberry Cosmopolitan!
Cheers -- Laurie

Laurie, good idea! That's perfect for the "Go USA!" red, white & blue theme. This makes me think we should suggest Wild Maine Blueberry Mixer for blue cocktails too. Cheers back at you! --Katie

** Original Post **

Have you been invited to one of these yet? I went to one last Friday for the opening ceremonies. Since the Olympics only come around every two years, it is a great excuse for a party. There are several ways you can turn Olympics viewing into a fun culinary theme.

1) Red, White & Blue
Root for the Americans and serve patriotic-looking foods. For this I recommended our Mixed Berries with Sweetened Creme Fraiche.

2) Sample foods from the host country
This year this would entail Canadian cuisine. How about serving some Mini Salmon Wasabi Appetizers?

Or, what's more Canadian than maple? They even have the leaf on their flag! So, here's another Canadian inspired appetizer, Maple Syrup Caramelized Nuts.

3) Looking for entertainment beyond the games? Host your own Olympics trivia. Ask questions during commercial breaks and award gold and silver chocolate coins as "medals." At the end of the night the winner is the one with the most medals... aka coins.

Enjoy watching this year's Olympic games!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gourmet Babies

As New England winters go, this one hasn’t been terribly snowy for those of us in the general vicinity of Stonewall Kitchen’s home office in York, Maine. Just a few days ago, I was marveling at the fact that my boots have been sitting idle in the mudroom for nearly a month. My car’s snow brush and ice scraper have been relocated from their usual winter home of the back seat to the trunk. A stark change from Winter ’07-’08 when New Hampshire experienced the second snowiest winter or record, and Winter ’08-’09 when blizzards occurred every single weekend.

Of course, yesterday’s storm changed the heretofore mild Winter of ’09-’10. We heard a lot of meteorologists saying things like “winter storm warning,” “Alberta clipper,” and “heavy snow.” And this time, they were right. At my house, there were 10” of thick-yet-fluffy snow coating everything in sight – even vertically. Walls, stop signs, phone poles; it was a vision all in white, and frankly, a nice change from dead brown grass and leafless trees.

The folks in the Mid-Atlantic region have been repeatedly hit with blizzards of New England proportions with historic snowfall totals, perplexed plow drivers, and so many snow days that school may last until July. Our friend, Nora in North Carolina, sent us this great photo of her son, Cooper, in an improvised sleigh. Says Nora, “I'm sure you Yanks have cute little baby sleds. This is the way gourmet rednecks get by! And yes, I reinforced the corners with designer duct tape!”

Well, all us Yankees agree that Nora did a fine job using some New England ingenuity to build a sleigh for young Cooper. Right down to the Stonewall Kitchen box!

Social Media Scavanger Hunt

That's right, we're hosting a social media scavenger hunt. Search our:

and blog to find the giveaway! Hurry - 3 people have already found it and we're only giving away 5!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Pancake Day

We love holidays that give us a good excuse to eat lots of pancakes and International Pancake Day does just that. It takes place every year on Shrove Tuesday, aka Fat Tuesday. This holiday goes back several centuries when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Back in the day the strict rules prohibited people from eating dairy products during Lent. Therefore pancakes were made to use up all the eggs, milk and butter before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent.

On Pancake Day, pancake races are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house for church while carrying her frying pan and pancake in hand. Since that day in 1445, the women of Olney have continued to race on Pancake Day.

When the town of Liberal, KS heard about the annual events in Olney, the women of Liberal challenged the women of Olney Buckinghamshire England . For the past 61 years, the women of the two towns have competed. They wear the traditional dress, apron and scarf, while carrying and flipping a pancake in a skillet along a 415-yard S-shaped course. To me the hardest part of the competition would be carrying the pan. My set of All Clad pans work great for cooking, but to carry it 415 yards while running seems impossible. The fastest runner is said to receive the "Kiss of Peace" from the Verger or Bell Ringer in the Church. To date the women of Liberal are ahead 34 victories to Olney's 25.

As much fun as that competition sounds, we have something a little more subdued. In honor of International Pancake Day we would like to offer the first 5 people who comment on this blog post a free 16oz Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Warehouse and Web Sale!

Did you know? We have so many sales going on now at Stonewall Kitchen. We are having our Winter Outlet Sale. Save an additional 25% off previously marked sale items (up to 70% off original price). GOING ON NOW! 2/11 thru 2/21 at our Warehouse and Outlet stores only - Rochester, NH; Avon, CT and North Conway, NH. Happy Shopping!

Starting now through Monday --- all orders on our website will save 20%!!!! Use the source code G01456CO at checkout. Your source code entitles you to 20% off your purchase. Offer excludes purchase of Gift Cards and Specialty Food Club, expedited orders, prior purchases and delivery surcharges. Cannot be combined with other offers. No cash value. Expires Midnight, 2/15/10 ET. Enjoy!


Did you know? Originally intended to celebrate the birthday of the first US President, George Washington, the Presidents' Day holiday has become a general celebration of all past US Presidents. BTW - Today is the 201st Birth Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day is almost here

It's almost Valentine's day! So, don't forget your sweetie. This year are you staying in with your valentine or going out?

• Going out?
For the easiest way to make reservations for your romantic night out, I recommend Open Table. You can search by price range, type of cuisine, or in a certain neighborhood. When I first started using this site I was living just a few miles from Boston and it was so helpful! They've since expanded to include restaurants in many other cities all over New England. So, if you're still looking to make your dinner reservations check them out. Oh, and the best part, it's free!

•Staying In?
Why not make a special dessert for your valentine? I recommend our Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Torte. Yum! This treat is tasty enough to eat as the main course! (Yes, I have been known to do that)

If you happen to live near one of our Stonewall Kitchen company stores drop in and see our beautiful valentines display. You'll be able to find the doilies and cupcake wrappers shown at the top of this post plus lots of other great gifts. No matter how you celebrate - the most important thing is to spend some quality time with the ones you love. Have a Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stonewall Kitchen is featured on TV!

In late fall Excursion TV made a visit to Stonewall Kitchen to film for their TV show Excursions. They toured our York Store, home office, and manufacturing. You can see us on ExcursionsTV & we're also sharing the link on utube.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Farmers' Market

Something that many New Englanders look forward to every summer is the Farmers' Market. It's the place to get fresh fruits and vegetables grown in your own backyard. We got our start at the Farmers' Market back in 1991 and it created a great foundation for Stonewall Kitchen. It is one of the places that has inspired many of our delicious products.

I have good news for those that thought they could only experience the Farmers' Market in the middle of the summer ... Winter Farmers' Market. It is a growing trend here in the Seacoast and in lots of other parts of the country. I really hope it is not just a trend, but something that will be around for a long time. I love going to the Farmers' Market and getting fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, flowers, etc. All while supporting the local farmers and vendors. There is always such a great variety of products and some you never knew existed. Have you ever heard of Dessert Hummus? I had never heard of such a thing until my last visit and let me tell you, it is delicious. I got the Chocolate Mousse Hummus and it disappeared almost as quickly as I got it home.

The excitement has definitely caught on in the Seacoast. There is always a steady stream of shoppers at the Local Winter Farmers' Market, which is held at various locations throughout the area. For a complete listing of locations in the Seacoast you can visit the Seacoast Eats Local website.

It has also become popular in other parts of the country. Here is a link so you can find out if there are any Winter Farmers' Markets in your area.

Monday, February 8, 2010

And the Jam Goes On

After starting out in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area, the Stonewall Kitchen Jam Tour just returned from a visit to the mid-Atlantic region this past weekend. Lisa and Carol from our wholesale department traveled from Maine to North Carolina to bring shoppers the gift of free Wild Maine Blueberry Jam (our #1 best seller for 18 years!) and $2.00 coupons.

At A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, not only were the jam samples and savings flying, the ladies set up a tasting station and handed out Blueberry Cobbler, Meatballs with Apple Jalapeno Jelly, and Hot Pepper Jelly over cream cheese. Despite the frightful weather, lots of great people came in and were happy to see us!

In Raleigh, Lisa and Carol set up shop in the Whole Body section of Whole Foods for the lunch crowd, before heading off to The Fresh Market for the Friday afternoon rush-to-the-store-for-dinner-makings crowd. Most people were on a mission to grab groceries and get out, but the lure of free and delicious jam sidetracked a goodly few. Back by the cheese section, Heidi and Becky (two of our local broker representatives) were doing a demonstration of the Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam Cheese Ball, as well as a variety of jams and jellies over cream cheese.

Along the way, the ladies were able to visit several other retailers who carry Stonewall Kitchen products in their stores. At Foster's Market in Chapel Hill, they met Mary Kirk – an obvious foodie who is just perfect for her job. She was nice enough to disclose the secret that "all good Southern women have their very own cheese straw recipe.” (For those without one, here’s an alternative.) And they found Parker and Otis to be a fabulous store with a friendly staff –especially the owner, Jennings.

With their heads spinning and the rental car GPS smoking, Lisa and Carol worked their way to the Raleigh-Durham airport to head back to Maine. Thankfully, they avoided the blizzard chaos in Washington DC and Philadelphia with a fortunate connection in Charlotte. Next stops on the Jam Tour include Texas (Austin, Spring, and Houston) later in February, and then New York City and New Jersey (Mendham, Short Hills, and Garwood) in March. Check our schedule to see if the tour stops near you!

Friday, February 5, 2010

More Super Bowl Ideas

Is Stonewall Kitchen not the first place you think of shopping when it comes to the Super Bowl? Skip the supermarket snacks! Let me tell you, the Super Bowl and gourmet food may just have more in common than you thought! For a superb Super Bowl party here's my Stonewall Kitchen top ten:

10) Grilling in the snow?
My husband and his friends grill in any weather. If you know football fans like them, pick-up some grille sauce. (And check out Laurie's post Chillin & Grillin)

9) Pretzels & Dip
For a seemingly never ending snack - our pretzel dips will last through several bags of pretzels... even if your guests are over enthusiastic dippers!

8) Fine Home Keeping
Because football-watching dudes still like to smell nice! Our Herbs de Provence has a fresh but not floral (i.e. girly) scent.

7) Sticks & Straws
These make great snacks - just open and serve.

6) Chili & Cornbread
Use our chicken chili recipe and cornbread mix for some traditional football fare.

5) Football sugar cookies
The cookies (pictured at the top of the page) are available pre-made in our company stores. Want to make your own? Pick-up our sugar cookie mix and frost with Royal Icing.

4) Dips with keep-cold server
Mix up our dips in this server and the dip will stay cool for all 4 quarters!

3) Nachos
Enough said! Find our favorite Nachos Grande recipe here.

2) Chips & Salsa
Our tortilla chips taste just like the ones at your favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. These homemade chips with our array of salsas take chipping & dipping to a new level.

1) Burger Bites
Don't want to venture out to the grill in the cold? Use this handy grill pan to make your own mini burgers. Don't forget the ketchup!

Don't have time to order the food you need online? Not to worry, these suggested items are all available in our company stores, or find a retailer near you (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Lastly, if you're like me and just in it for the food & commercials - you'll love these top ten commercials of the decade!

UPDATE: In case you missed them, here are this year's Super Bowl commercials!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl Recipes for Cooks Like Me Who Don't Cook

So this coming Sunday is the Super Bowl. I hope to be skiing during the day but will probably stop in at a friend's party to see the first half of the game and to enjoy the half time entertainment. As I am sure most of you do when you're invited to a party like this I am thinking of what I can bring that will be easy to make, doesn't require a lot of prep time and maybe something that's a little bit out of the norm of Buffalo Wings, pizza, dips and chili!

Even if I didn't work here at Stonewall Kitchen I can honestly say I would recommend loads of their recipes on line for something quick, fun and delicious for the game.

A couple of tried and true recipes are so simple and yet everyone loves them. Just get a jar of Roasted Garlic Onion Jam or Red Pepper Jelly and serve it with cream cheese and crackers. It takes literally two minutes to pull together and people can't resist. Another of our favorites is our cheese ball recipes made with one of our savory jams or chutneys. They take a little bit of time and a few ingredients, but the effort is so worth it. Make a few up at once and keep them in the fridge. Grab one and a box of crackers and everyone will rave.

Here is just one more "no-cooking skill needed" cocktail meatball recipe for the big game. Buy some frozen cocktail meatballs in the market, they are in almost every frozen food section. Purchase one bottle of any of our steak sauces or pasta sauces or one jar of our Apple Jalapeno Jelly. Put the meatballs in a slow cooker and the contents of the jar and heat them up. Unbelievably good!

This is what I think Stonewall Kitchen does best. It makes cooks like me (no fuss, no effort please) make something that people truly enjoy and with a minimum of time and ingredients even us challenged chefs can contribute something to the party that won't embarrass us!

Oh, and by the way, our Blue Cheese Salad Dressing is great if you decide to go with the Buffalo Wings! Have fun on Sunday!

PS All these recipes and many more are on the website.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Burrows, Cellars, and Other Holes in the Ground

Punxsutawney Phil has done it to us again.* His annual shadow expedition has resulted in the proclamation that winter is here to stay for another six weeks. For those of us in colder climes, the hats and scarves get to hang out on the mudroom hooks a bit longer. And opportunities for warm, cozy meals continue on well into March.

At the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School class I attended last month, Chef Ben Hasty focused much of his efforts on using local ingredients. This can be a challenge during non-growing months in cold areas, but use of foods stored from the autumn harvest can contribute many components for winter meals. (Just think, in the days before grocery stores and refrigeration, it supplied all of them.)

There are three big benefits to eating local – getting the freshest foods possible, supporting your regional farms and shops, and reducing carbon emissions that occur when food is shipped. If you’re a gardener, a root cellar is a great way to create your own stash. With the trend toward “slow foods,” there’s renewed interest in these simple and highly effective storage rooms. Look here and here for just two ideas on how to build your own.

My childhood home – built in the late 19th century – has a root cellar in the “basement” (with its stone walls, tree trunk support beams, dirt floor, and about six inches too few of head room). For years, my mother kept a garden nearly half the size of our side yard – about an eighth of an acre. We ate heartily the fantastic fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs during the summer and fall, and then harvested like mad to put up food for the winter. Potatoes, squash, onions, carrots, and various other vegetables would be stored in bins, while preserves were made of other things like cucumbers (bread and butter pickles), tomatoes (ketchup much more like this than the stuff in plastic squeeze bottles), and berries (jam!). It all went “down cellar” for retrieval at a later date.

For those of us who have not inherited our parents’ ambition and ceaseless energy, most communities have a selection of green grocers who are willing to do the work for us. Although the farm stands are closed in February, the food stores are here to offer the best selection possible in any given season. Remember to check out the smallest retailers – they sometimes have treasure on their shelves.

Of course, the internet can be a good resource for finding information about seasonal produce. Fruit and vegetable charts are available at sites like CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture ) and from ambitious bloggers who compile the information into neat lists. Another nifty tool, this website lets you enter the season and state to determine the best produce.

Once you’ve got your winter food, remember to check our website for inspired ways to prepare it all. Potatoes, carrots, even turnips all appear in our recipe box. Happy winter cooking!

* Apparently, Phil has some competition.

Groundhog photo by Gilles Gonthier under a Creative Commons license

Monday, February 1, 2010

Frozen Pancakes

Have you promised yourself to eat breakfast this year? Even though I confess I was well into my thirties before I mastered the breakfast habit, I was surprised at the number of comments from people who confessed that they rarely (if ever) eat breakfast. Everyone knows they “should” eat breakfast, many people just don't manage to fit it into their busy morning routine. Below is a great way to enjoy pancakes or waffles on the fly.

A breakfast tip from my niece. Make a bunch of pancakes on the weekend, let them cool, and then stack them with a sheet of wax paper between each. Finally wrap the stacks in plastic bags, label and freeze. To serve: Put the frozen pancake in the toaster and toast once or heat briefly under a broiler or in a toaster-oven. Our Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix