May 25, 201203:44 PMOnline this Month
Guest Blog Spotlight
"Little Spoon" with Save the Kales!
A few years ago, I was planning to move out of the Valley because it didn't seem to have anything for "someone like me". Since then, I have come to two conclusions: 1) We can create the environments and communities we want to live in, and 2) They may already be here if we open our eyes and look around.
On a walk, I spotted these bright, multicolored chandeliers on a porch of a beautiful old historic home in Bethlehem. It took everything I have not to knock on the door and hug the owners.
But it's Easton I was headed to, on a singular mission to get more of the Best Candles in the World (as per me). That is no exaggeration, in my opinion.
I have found that a small luxurious pleasure of life can be found in a really good candle. Mercantile Home in Easton makes, hands down, the very best. Their soy candles last so long, smell like magic, and the very smart silver paint tin containers, won't clash with your Bertoia chairs.
I feel the same pangs of anxiety when I run low of these candles as I do when there's only one more avocado left in the house.
But Mercantile doesn't stop there. The shop carries the best in handmade everything, and has plenty of pre-designed patterns from which you can choose an item, then pick what fabrics you'd like from their extensive collection and let one of the Merc Home folks make it just for you.
It's like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, but for art and handmade goods, and the staff is more crafty and adorable, even if they don't break out in rhyming song (I'm sure they do).
At the very least, you need to support a business that sells hot pink groundhogs and purple raccoons. I believe some of city funding should be used to put these colorful critters on lampposts and trees across the Valley. There would be an immediate increase in smiling, Valley-wide.
Around the corner and up the block, I stopped by Salvage Goods to search for vintage letters so I can create words all over my kitchen wall. I was struck immediately by the beauty of this table. (The chairs help, too.)
If nowadays more and more people want their food to come with a story, I think the same thing is happening with furniture. But anyone who is a lover of vintage or antique items can attest that objects with "souls" and stories to tell can make a house feel more like home.
Salvage Goods is one of my favorite stores, all the vignettes crafted carefully around reclaimed pieces and vintage items. It is impossible to leave and not feel inspired to redecorate or make a table out of an old crate. Or even just clean your house.
Connexions Gallery let's you become an art voyeur of creative and edgy work by local artists. Photography, sculpture and printmaking are prominently displayed and make you reconsider any blank space on your walls.
Connexions has an outdoor area where they host events like art openings or live music. It's a small oasis in the middle of downtown that makes a perfect summer BYOB hangout.
Even cats like it.
Up the street I passed a window with a striking blue and chrome chair in the window, then found a brand new shop, Forgotten Treasure Chest. If you can't go home with another chair because your boyfriend will use "logic" to explain that two people don't need twelve chairs (lovely as they may be), you can pick up some pottery or admire the vintage mermaid sculpture.
Just before I got back to my car I saw another shop with a beautiful window display. Inside, it's like a maze of rooms and beautiful artifacts: paintings, home goods, jewelry, old wooden columns and gilded ornate frames. The owner told me she collects the items to sell, but also makes the art. And some of the jewelry. And some of the bags. And more. And there I was, just standing and admiring this bird pillow.
All the browsing, talking and admiring made me hungry. Back home, I made a simple dish using some ingredients from a recent trip to an Asian market, though the ingredients can be found in a large grocery store.
For this recipe, I was inspired by itty bitty baby bok choy. Who said vegetables couldn't be adorable?
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BROWNED BOK CHOY AND POTSTICKER SALAD
1/2 bag vegetable potstickers
1 and 1/2 cups cut carrots
1 and 1/2 cups daikon radish, cut in strips
1 large bunch baby bok choy ("toy choy"), halved through the stems so leaves stay together
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch of peeled fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder.
Garnish with: fresh cilantro, crushed peanuts, lime wedge, chili sauce, toasted sesame oil
Cook potstickers according to package directions. (Usually this means browning them in a pan with a little olive oil, then adding just a bit of water to steam them quickly.) Set aside.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and sautee carrots and radish along with garlic, ginger, Chinese five-spice and tamari for 5-7 minutes, until crisp tender. Set aside.
Place the bok choy into the pan (which should still have a light coating of olive oil in it) cut, side down, on a medium-high heat until the cut side starts to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Do not stir; only cook the cut side. Remove from heat when the bottoms are browned and the outside is still fresh and crispy.
Mix the potstickers and carrot mix in a large bowl with most of the bok choy. Plate on a large plate or platter. Place the remaining bok choy cut side up in the salad to make a nice presentation. Serve with a small plate of sides and garnishes. Serve hot or cold.