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Our favorite products, gadgets, restaurants, bars, wine, beer, and food websites and blogs.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s … SUPERCOOK!

Last night, I was poking around my fridge in the hopes of being able to whip up something using what I already had, but dinner looked bleak: a block of tofu, half a lemon, mustard, a carton of plain yogurt, and olives soaked in vermouth. Don't judge. READ MORE

Poor Man’s Limonata

San Pellegrino's sparkling, tart-sweet soda Limonata now has a down-market sibling: Jelly Belly's Lemon Drop. It doesn't have the Euro cachet of Limonata (my, that Jelly Belly logo is looking inexcusably '80s) and the color is an artificial piss-yellow, but the flavor is there: pleasantly tart, crisp and bubbly, and a nonsyrupy aftertaste (it's sweetened with sugar, not HFCS). The soda, which is sold at grocery stores and Walgreens across the country, is available in four-packs for about $4 and comes in flavors including sour cherry, green apple, and tangerine.

Jelly Belly Gourmet Soda, $4

Where Old Packaging Goes to Die

It seems such a shame to just throw away those gorgeously colored food packages. Why, that picture on the label is practically a still life. Isn't there something useful that can be done with them?

Etsy seller clickit says yes, filling her Etsy storefront with notebooks made from recycled packaging. What parent wouldn't be proud to send his or her child to school with a Natural Light legal-size notebook? I kid. I would of course use it to look sophisticated at work meetings.

Recycled Notebooks, $4 to $7

Where to Eat in Paris

I haven't lived in Paris for almost four years, and yet friends and family are constantly asking for food and restaurant recommendations. Of course I have my favorites, which I happily share with them, but it's always a niggling reminder that I haven't been back to these places in a long time and that I have little pulse on what's current in the Parisian food world besides checking in on a few blogs once in a while. READ MORE

Eat Well? Why, Thanks, I Will!

Most people interested in local and organic eating have the basics down pat: Stay out of the center aisles of the grocery store, sign up for a CSA, visit farmers' markets. But those simple systems tend to break down under anything besides day-to-day conditions, say, when you need to bring hot dogs to a barbecue or a birthday cake for your kid. It just seems easier to stop by the grocery store for something nonsustainable and factory-farmed. READ MORE

Bringing Gran Classico Bitter Back

It was almost a year ago, on a sticky July evening at the corner of Bienville and Bourbon Streets outside the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans. Boisterous folks working off a few too many Sazeracs (including me) flooded the streets. A friend pulled me toward a well-dressed man wearing a hat and holding an old-style doctor’s bag. The man opened the black leather case and pulled out a bottle. READ MORE

Darth Vader Pancakes

As soon as I saw that Williams-Sonoma was selling Star Wars pancake molds, I ran over to the store and picked them up. They worked surprisingly well. Thanks to their nonstick finish, it was actually pretty easy to get the molds off and flip the pancakes, revealing Yoda, Darth Vader, and a Stormtrooper ready to be covered in syrup. My only advice: Make a fairly thin batter so it's easier to pour in.

Star Wars Pancake Molds, $19.95

Grow Your Own Beer Garden

Those who like to grow their own cocktails and brew their own beer can now add another link to their DIY chain with the Grow Your Own Beer Garden kit. The kit comes with a plastic "sprouting and growing dome," dirt, and seed packets for hops, wheat, and barley. Plant the seeds, tend your garden, pick, and brew. Oh, and then drink.

Grow Your Own Beer Garden
, $25

Bodum’s Go-Anywhere Hot Pots

Cutting down on kitchen clutter is imperative for the city apartment dweller, and Bodum's new Hot Pots are terrific in this regard. Made of borosilicate, the same nearly indestructible stuff as old-school Pyrex pie plates, you can cook something at night in one of these, pop the heat-resistant (up to 220 degrees Celsius) silicone lid on it, put it in the fridge, and next morning you can heat it up in the oven without dirtying any extra dishes in between.

Bodum Hot Pots, $18

Pork in the Mail

An envelope arrived in the mail the other day. It contained meat. Cured meat, unrefrigerated, sliced paper-thin and sealed in plastic packages, with a nice handwritten note from Scott Buer of Bolzano Artisan Meats saying that it was shelf-stable until opened.

I don't know when it was sent; I don't know when it arrived (my mailbox goes neglected for days at a time). It had sat at unknown temperatures for an unknown period of time in its peregrinations from Wisconsin. It was meat.