Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Photo courtesy of Heather "Moria"

I’ll be making a loaf of soda bread tonight, though it probably won’t last until St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday. If you’ve never made this bread before, give it a try. It’s easy and this stuff tastes great – enjoy it as a sweet treat with butter at breakfast or to scoop up savory dishes like lamb or beef stew. Here’s my first-generation Irish grandmother’s soda bread recipe:

2 cups of all-purpose flour (a pinch more for dusting)
2 cups pastry/cake flour
3-1/2 tablespoons of sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of butter
1-3/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon of white vinegar
1 cup of raisins

1) Preheat oven to 425
2) Sift together dry ingredients.
3) Mix dry ingredients and butter together in a ceramic bowl with a paring knife.  This is a key part of the recipe: you want to cut across all the ingredients until – somehow – they form a crumble.
4) Add the milk and vinegar. Knead only until smooth, about 15 times. I advise you to knead sparingly to avoid creating gluten. But, my grandmother would beat the bejesus out of it, so go with your gut.
5) Place the dough on parchment paper on a baking sheet or in a bread pan (if you want a loaf shape) and bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180 F.

Enjoy! And remember, you can buy all of the tools mentioned in this recipe at - just follow the links!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

歓迎 Hello Kitty To!

Hello Kitty Large Paper Plates

We’re always excited to launch a new product line on, but I think the addition of a line of Hello Kitty party supplies by Meri Meri deserves special recognition. Why? Because Hello Kitty (her real name is Kitty White) might be the most iconic brand available on our site – only products with the Mona Lisa or that Barack Obama image by Shepherd Fairy could rival Hello Kitty’s iconography. 

Briefly, these are the Hello Kitty party supplies we just added: paper plates (small and large), an invite and thank you card set, napkins (small and large), paper cups, party hats, cupcake picks, cupcake cups (mini and standard sizes), garland, a cupcake kit, cupcake boxes (large and small), and an absolutely awesome stationary set (it has notepads, stickers, envelopes … a ton of cute stuff). 

Hello Kitty Invite & Thank You Set
What’s interesting about Hello Kitty is how she went from the brain of Japanese designer Yuko Shimizu to 20 years later being a 1 billion per-year powerhouse.  It was in 1992 that Shintaro Tsuji founded Sanrio and noticed how lucrative cute could be – he started out selling sandals with pretty little flowers on them. Sanrio began merchandising Hello Kitty in 1994, and she and her friends (Chococat, Deery-lou, My Melody, among many others) exploded in popularity – Hello Kitty has appeared on almost any consumer product you can think of, even on the side of an jet liner. 

I’m pleased to say that Meri Meri has done – as usual – an exceptional job creating this line of Hello Kitty goods. They’ve perfectly captured the aesthetic of Hello Kitty, with broad color fields, Kitty’s love of bright colors and soft lines – and her love of cupcakes. Whether you’re a longtime fan, throwing a birthday party, or just love art, check out these party supplies. (I have a feeling that this line of Meri Meri is going to be particularly popular and sell out fast!)
Hello Kitty Party Hats