August 14, 2017
Two Hundred and Forty-One years is a small number in the grand scheme of things, but it is still something to celebrate, so we thought we would do that by highlighting the vendors we carry whose products are made in the good ole’ US of A. Some are medium to large-sized companies that have been around for decades (or, for Blenko and Lodge, over a century!) and some are newer companies started by inspired craftspeople or entrepreneurs.
EZ-DUZ-IT Can Opener – This is a story of rebirth. Many of you probably remember the old Swing-a-Way can openers, made in America since the 50’s in St. Louis by a family-owned business. In 2005, a couple of years after the nephew of the original owner passed away, the company was bought by a larger conglomerate. In 2009 the factory was closed and the production was moved to China. Later, John Steuby and Co. of Hazelwood, Missouri bought the machinery from the original factory and started producing the EZ-DUZ-IT here.
Nordicware – Started in the 50’s by a husband and wife team in Minnesota, Nordicware started out specializing in Scandinavian specialty pans, the most famous here being the Bundt pan, which was a slow seller at first, until it was used for the winning cake in baking competition and got national press coverage.
McFadden Rolling Pins – Thomas McFadden is a furniture maker in Philo, CA. He turns these pins using a variety of American woods, including maple, black walnut and cherry. The long, untapered shape gives you plenty of room to work efficiently when rolling out your doughs.
Blenko. Exquisite color, skilled craftsmen, and imaginative designs have made Blenko famous in the time-honored craft of hand-blown glass. Blenko Glass Company has been a family owned and operated company since 1893, creating hand-made possessions that are unique and inspiring.
Repast Ravioli Rolling Pins – Designed by Michael Finizio of San Rafael, these beautiful pins are a huge improvement over the old-school ravioli pin where you had to carefully space out the filling and the dough’s seams were prone to bursting when cooked. With the Repast pin, you just spread the filling evenly and the pin does the rest, leaving ample room for cutting and sealing the seams. Available in 7.5” length to use with a pasta rolling machine, or 17” if you are doing it by hand.
Lodge Cast Iron Pans – Made in Tennessee since 1896, these pans have been handed down from generation to generation in many Southern families. Fried chicken and cornbread, not to mention any good Southern breakfast, would not be the same without cast iron pans. Until recently, they were the only cast iron pans made in America.
Finex Cast Iron – Just five years old, Finex was started by two guys in Portland, Oregon who were looking to recreate the quality of antique cast iron with their super smooth finishes. Initially funded on Kickstarter, they hit the big time when they were featured in a New York Times article about cast iron cookware. They also put the shape through a redesign for better functionality (see Q of the Month, below) and gave it a lifetime warranty (“Guaranteed Good Forever”).
Epicurean – A story of transformation: Two young guys making skate parks out of environmentally safe wood composite. With scraps from jobs, they would take the food safe and non-porous material and make cutting boards for friends and family. Demand got so high, they made it into a main job. They still follow the same ethic of sustainability by using the scraps for other items, such as spoons and chopsticks.
USA Pan – Our favorite non-stick bakeware, with a PFOA free silicone coating, and a good, heavy weight for even baking.
Holland Bowl – Started in Holland, Michigan in 1926, their main product originally was wooden shoes. The bowls are turned from one piece of wood, from trees that are 100 years old. The strength and durability make them something to pass down for generations, and the chopping bowls we carry are perfect for summer chopped salads!
Vita-Mix – Revolutionizing the concept of health through whole foods, Vitamix is now on the fourth generation of a family run business that started in Ohio in the 1930’s and now employs hundreds of workers there to make and design thousands of Vita-Mix blenders every year. They truly are the gold standard in the industry, and they have just come out with a whole new line of blenders designed for ease of use, and to fit under the standard home cabinet.
Foods-- Many of the foods we carry are made here, and most of them are from California! Rancho Gordo beans and other New World products, INNA Jams and Shrubs, Almost all our Oils and Vinegars (Sherry Vinegar being the one exception.) Palo Alto Fire Fighter Hot Sauce Sauces, California Honeys, and Chocolates from Poco Dolce and Neo Cocoa!
Mike Whitehead, a Founder of Finex, visited us in Half Moon Bay recently. We asked him who he considered his customers to be. He said that he’d spent a lot of money doing demographic studies, etc. and basically came to the conclusion that his customers were people who simply wanted to own the best cast iron available.
And what makes Finex the best? Mike began on this journey to make a healthy alternative to standard non-stick cookware. So to start with, the cooking surface of a Finex pan is polished to a point that “eggs slide right off.” Then, you have the extra weight that leverages the chief advantage of cast iron—its great heat retention. Add the cool (literally) ergonomic handle, plus the octagonal shape of the skillet for easy pouring and easy spatula access and wrap it all in a beautiful design—we’d have to agree that it is the best.
But is Finex worth 5 times what you’d pay for a comparable Lodge skillet? We’ll leave the answer to that question up to you. In the meantime, we’re more than happy to stock and recommend both Lodge and Finex cast iron!
When dressing a bean or grain salad, put some of the dressing on when they are still a little warm, it will absorb the dressing better. Cool and refrigerate, and then dress more if needed before serving.
The grill is for more than just meat. Expand your repertoire with amazing vegetable sides and main courses from San Francisco’s Brooke Lewey. With recipes like Squash Tacos with Black Beans, Pickled Onions and Pepita Salsa; Mushroom-Farro Veggie Burgers; Brussel Sprouts with Herbs and Fried Shallots in a Fish Sauce Vinaigrette; and Carrots with Miso Butter, Chickpeas and Cilantro this book will definitely up your grilling game. While there really is no substitute for the flavor of real charcoal grilled food, the book does include instructions for both outdoor and indoor grilling methods for each recipe.
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