Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter Stew and Soppressata Cheese Breads at Anthology & the 2014 Annual Gift Guide

I've made a lot of stories I'd call special. But this one is special in that it is a straightforward, delicious go-to in the cold weather months. And it possesses a sense of childhood indulgence (I'm pointing at you, amazing cheese breads). Finally, this story is special because the independent makers and excellent customer service folks over at Scoutmob helped me actualize my concept in full glory.

Here's the newest feature at Anthology: a fireside winter picnic with friends, delicious comfort food, and the beautiful objects that enhance our lives.

What is Scoutmob, you might be asking? A great curated collection of over 1000 makers who create high-quality and limited-edition goods, all made here in the USA. Real people making things. Beautiful things made to last. What's not to love?

The ceramic quail egg chili bowls set the stage for my three bean Tuscan inspired stew. Jessie Lazar makes contemporary heirloom pieces and her workmanship is delicate yet unfussy. 

As far as the stew goes, why settle for one bean when you can have the amazing textures and flavors of three? Savory and buttery great northern, flageolet, and cannellini. YUM.

This gorgeous solid walnut board made an ideal presentation for the cheat's soppressata cheesy breads. 

And the backdrop for lolling the afternoon away with amazing food and friends…? This colorful and hand-woven rug by Re:loom. I've included them in my annual gift guide, below. I love championing people who are doing things right. 

See the full story and recipes at Anthology!

Now, for beautiful objects to treat yourself and your loved ones - 

2014 Annual Gift Guide

1. I've gone crazy for ceramics this year. There are so many talented people producing in clay, and it is easier than ever (thank you Instagram) to access their creations. It can be a bit much to keep track of, but for me, it's quite tantalizing. I have to prioritize in my line of work! That said, I am in love with MaritĂ© Acosta's pieces. They are elemental and functional, and timeless. Her work appears in the stew story, vessels holding mascarpone and marbles (no, I didn't plan that tongue-twister…).

2. Made from repurposed and sustainably harvested Mango wood, these sleek candlesticks from designer Michael Dreeben reference modernist style while incorporating traditional craft practices. They make a graphic, elegant statement in any space.

3. I only recently found out about Brooklyn woodworker Ariele Alasko's gorgeous carvings and inlay work. It seems she has a lot of fans, as her shop sells out as soon as she has new work to share. Brava Ariele! And good luck snagging one of her unique creations.

4. The photography in Bitter is stunning, and honestly is what drew me to consider making it part of my collection. Aya Brackett is the talent behind the photography, and Jennifer McLagan the author of this seductive book on the bitter taste.

5. George Steinmetz, the famed National Geographic photographer, has named is opus Desert Air. His favorite places are those most hard to get to, and he captures them from a motorized paraglider. No big deal. This book shares page-after-page of stunning images that everyone will appreciate.

6. For the fur baby in your life, this fantastic hexagonal wall-mounted work of art is the purrrfect splurge.

7. This is the board I used for the stew and cheese bread feature, and I absolutely love it. Crafted in a timeless form, I look forward to all the entertaining uses it will serve!

8. All rugs by Re:loom are hand-woven from donated and repurposed fabric, by homeless and low-income families. This initiative, based in Atlanta, creates a sustainable income for people, as well as provides affordable housing and health care. Each is a limited edition product and made with great attention to detail. One of their rugs is the backdrop to my delicious stew story, and I am eager to incorporate it into my home. :)

9. Freedom Soaps is a local brand here in Alabama. Each of Chasity Curtis' body products smells amazing and contains only the most elemental ingredients. I'm a huge fan, so much so that I am photographing her product line for a new launch in 2015. This activated charcoal soap is one of my favorites!

10. Many of us already know about the beautiful goods at Quitokeeto. The addition of this potter's beautiful pieces is no exception. They're even oven safe! Now, to be fast enough to acquire one…

11. This Oaxacan Molé Sauce is rich, smoky, and spicy in all the right ways. It's another curated item at Scoutmob, something I keep on hand for unexpected entertaining, or even to dip into by myself. Small batch, out of Portland.

12. Kind of a dream piece, this gorgeous knife incorporates reclaimed materials, like old saw blades and burlap from coffee bags. That these are dream pieces may be a good thing, as current lead time for orders is 23 months (!!). With as much work as I have in the kitchen, this knife would quickly earn its keep….

13. Last but not least is another new-to-me maker out of New York. Susan Connor hand-designs each of her creations and incorporates wood block printing to articulate them. I'm taken with so many of her works. This pillow joins my lust-for collection.

If the notion of the holidays inspires you to give in the bigger sense, here are some organizations that will greatly appreciate your contribution:

Friends of the Earth - Campaigns in climate, food, land, and water to bring balance back to our ecosystems and our people. - Worldwide. People-powered, climate change-centered actions.

Center for Biological Diversity - Spotlights threatened and critically endangered species around the world, and mounts campaigns to raise awareness and halt further habitat destruction/poaching/harmful legislation, etc.

Real News Network - Telling the news the way it should be: based on facts. Ad-free, with contributions from award-winning journalists spanning the globe.

I'm still amazed we are nearing the close of 2014, but upon reflection, am so grateful for this knockout of a year. It's one for the record books!

Thanks for reading, as always, and for all the support you've given. It means the world to me!!! xxx

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