Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can You Can (and preserve)?

Canning and preserving: never done it, and probably never will. But I quite enjoy it when other people give me canned/preserved food. 

A couple of weeks ago, two friends of mine while on a camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula bought about a bushel of rhubarb. (For those of you on the metric system, a bushel is about 36 liters.) They apparently encountered a kindly farmer who was selling the stuff cheap, so they bought a lot. They decided to stop at a Wal-Mart to buy Ball jars and other canning supplies with the end goal of making some scrumptious rhubarb jelly. 

Cut to last week and me in their kitchen accepting a big jar of spicy rhubarb jelly. See? They did all the canning and preserving work, and I benefit! But I was doing them a favor, because they had about two dozen cans of the stuff.

I stupidly did not ask where they got the jelly recipe, because this stuff is really good. Here’s a recipe I found, but my friends’ version seemed to simply be mashed rhubarb mixed with red chili paste. It tasted like spicy strawberries. Absolutely excellent.

And though I’m too slothful to get my hands dirty and can stuff, I definitely endorse the process. It’s a romantic labor, with a low risk, high reward end result. It involves a lot things I enjoy, too, like boiling water, fresh fruit (or vegetables) and vacuums. It’s also deeply American, like distilling moonshine (though more legal), or making venison jerky. At any rate, if you haven’t canned, do it. If you already can, keep it up. Chef Tools has put together a great canning supplies kit. We also have a pretty wide selection of individual canning equipment if you need to beef up your canning/preserving arsenal. 

Happy canning. And be sure to send me a sample!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Like, Tweet and now +1

We've added new social media buttons!

Wanted to make everyone aware of a new feature we’ve added to each page of We replaced our old “share” feature with three simple links to Twitter, Facebook and +1, Google’s new social media service. 

So, if you buy something really cool, or just see something that’s really cool, make sure to tweet it, like it or +1 it. By liking, tweeting or +1ing an item, you’re actually helping to build the Internet and make web searching and easier and better for everyone. You’re probably familiar with liking and tweeting, but +1 might be new to you. Here’s how it works: whenever you do a Google search, your results will show how many times a certain website has been +1’d. If you have a Google+ account, your +1'd items will show up in your news feed - just like when you like something on Facebook. That’s mostly it. Google wants to give searchers a social media cue when displaying results.(Go ahead and try it out and see if any of your favorite websites have +1s.)

Finding out what items are popular, relevant and meaningful to you are one of our biggest goals here – we don’t want to carry items that people don’t like, and we want to keep popular items in stock. So help us, help build the Internet and let your voice be heard across the social media sphere!

PS: Due to the newness of Google +1 (we assume – it just debuted two weeks ago), the button is a little hard to use. The area in which you can click is very small, but hopefully the problems with the button will be worked out in the coming weeks. 

PPS: Google +1 only works on the Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari web browsers - newest versions, of course!