Stuff I Like

In most of my posts and recipes, I think you’ll find I try to rely on ingredients that are readily available; but there are times I’ll mention a favorite ingredient that I always have on hand – but only because I order a goodly supply from the manufacturer (think Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce – you have GOT to have some of this in the fridge – well, I do – I add it to everything from dips to soup to pizza to spaghetti sauce to meatloaf). Other larder staples I count on local sellers for whom I find myself referring to again and again – Mars Cheese Castle up the road, a great resource for – yes, cheese, but also – our favorite Cherry Kringle – mmm tasty; and Kenosha’s own Tenuta’sDeli – another great place for cheese, and cookies, and olives, and pasta, and wine, and salami, and…You begin, I think, to see my point. I’ve been adding links as they come up in posts – some again and again and again. I think this will make things a whole lot simpler and easier to use. If I refer to a product or ingredient that I think could be a bit dicy to find in the local market, I will add a link here, along with any notes about the product or product line or store or what have you.I SHOULD note: tho’ my ultimate goal is, of course, total world domination and riches that would embarrass Scrooge McDuck, I receive no considerations, special deals or remuneration of any kind for any products I list here – this really IS Stuff I Like. Should the time come that people want to pay me to hawk their stuff, I’ll add a new page: ‘Stuff I’m Sellin’- fair enough? OK here we go…barefoot contessa
Ina Garten, one of my favorite and most relied upon resources. She has only failed me once in a recipe, and I’m thinking that it must have been my mistake somewhere in the process. If you need more than her web site, visit her at Food Network here.

Buttermilk Salad Dressing Mix
From the nice folk at Penzeys Spices. I make no bones about preferring The Spice House for most of my flavoring purchases, but Penzeys is also very good; reasonably priced, and just up the street and over the border from my house, so if I need a quick fix of Aleppo or Tellicherry pepper, I can deal with it in well under an hour. This dressing mix is quickly becoming one of my very favorite things.

Cajun Power Sauce
I was turned on to this company by my friends Sue and Vicki, and have been happily splashing it around on every little thing ever since. I tend to order by the case count – it’s much cheaper, and believe me, I’ll use it! The original sauce is very nice, though I now tend to buy and use the Spicy Garlic Sauce. The Chicken Gumbo and Sloppy Boudreaux jarred sauces are also very, very good – I sometimes use the Sloppy Boudreaux for my pulled pork. Other’s I’ve turned onto this find swear by the Baked Bean Syrup – which IS good, it’s just not one of my favorites. Order on line.

Earl’s
Right off Blue Star Highway just a bit south of Douglas, Michigan, Earl’s features berrying and all the normal accoutrements of your modern farm market; but also – that most wonderful of spicy condiments – Earl’s Five Pepper Hot Sauce. YUM! Hot, but so much more – this sauce packs a ton of flavor in with all that spicy, vinegary goodness. If you can’t get over to Michigan, the nice folk at Earl’s will be happy to ship you some right to your door. Try it, you won’t be sorry.

Captain Porkys
A local smoke house and seafood market – what more could you want? Hmmm, maybe cheese – but still, these guys know their fish! Best. Salmon. EVER! And the conch salad and alligator will have me back droolling over the cold case. Check out their Facebook page here.

Huntsman Cheese
My absolute number one favorite cheese – a hand layered ‘cake’ of Double Gloucester and Stilton. Heaven on a cracker, and you would not believe how well it goes with sliced English cucumber. I can find it at most of our better local cheese shops – or you can order online here.

Nigella Lawson
What can I say? Saucy. Savory. Sultry. And GREAT food to boot! She has changed the way I cook chicken and shown me the glory that is haloumi on the grill with fresh lemon. Check her out here.

Mars Cheese Castle
Call it a tourist trap, I don’t care. Newly rebuilt (to accomodate freeway work) and enlarged (ermmm, to accomodate tourist busses) these folks have a reliably great cheese assortment – ranging from cheeses shaped like cows and certain Mid-Western cheese-producing states to Haloumi – a Cypriot goat cheese that grills like you would not believe and is just really, really nice served with grilled lemon slices. Yes, I know that look – grilled lemon slices, and you can eat the whole thing, rind and all. *SIGH* I think I’ll have to plan a posting. OH, and their Kringle is pretty darned tasty too! Shop on line or get directions.

Morton & Bassett Spices
Incredible spices at a reasonable price at our local Woodman’s (though you have to look for them). I must confess that, aside from the quality of the product, what got me to try them was the label of each spice on the jar lid – wicked helpful if, as do I, you use an old wooden coke bottle case as your spice rack.

Penzeys Spices
My introduction to a specialty spice house, and very, very nice. I am uncertain why, but I prefer The Spice House – even tho’ there is a connection of some sort between the two companies.

Pub Burgers
Jewel, our everyday market of choice, offers these wonderful discs o’ meaty goodness in two sizes (More Than Enough for Any Sane Human Being, and HUGE) in the butcher case. They are our burger of choice for at-home consumption – whether I decide to serve ‘em up plain with melted pimiento cheese and grilled onion and jalapeño; or soak ‘em in pineapple teriyaki sauce and do Banzai Burgers – it’s all good.

Smoked Brown Sugar
Add a bit of depth to your barbecue or, really just about anything with this tasty brown sugar. It’s not cheap – about $17 for eight ounces – but you’ll find that just a little will add a lot of flavor.

The Spice House
These guys are scattered around our neck o’ the woods from Chicago to Milwaukee, and I love their combination spices – Milwaukee Iron and Gateway to the North Maple Seasonings are two faves – but don’t pass up their cinnamons either. Shop on line or get directions. As an added bonus, if you shop in person, you get to sniff before you buy. Here’s a post about just some of the wonderful stuff to be found on the shelves. If you go to the ‘mother’ store on North Old World 3rd Street in Milwaukee, prepare to be waited on and your purchases individually weighed and packed for you by friendly, knowledgeable folk.

Tastefully Simple
We love their Garlic Garlic, Bacon Bacon, and Onion Onion dip mixes – especially when we combine all three to make a Caesar Dip. The pound cake and pomegranate chipotle sauce are also good reasons to find a TS consultant in your area. Order on line, or email me and I’ll hook you up with our consultant Sara, who is the best. Check it out here.

Tenuta’s
A classic Italian deli, cigar shop and liquor store – what more could you ask for? Wonderful deli meats and goodies, tasty cookies, cheese for DAYS – both imported and Wisconsin-made; really nice frozen pasta in interesting flavors and, well, STUFF. Some things I can (and do) get cheaper elsewhere, but their prices in general are pretty reasonable and their selection is worth the trip. Shop on line or get directions.

Trader Joe’s
Sadly, they don’t offer an order on line option, and they are devilishly picky about where they put  their stores, but their products are worth the drive (for us about 20 miles – not too, too bad). I especially like their nitrate and nitrite free bacon (mmm, the apple wood smoked thick cut), their salt-free 21 Seasoning Salute, and the New Mexico Piñon Coffee – a little taste of the B&B we stayed at on the outskirts of Santa Fe.UPDATE: due to some of Rich’s dietary issues, we have tried, and now but almost exclusively, their Low Acid French Roast Coffee – nicely dark and satisfyingly rich, but none of that sour, oily flavor you sometimes find in a French roast.

Wilson Farm
I doubt you can ‘order’ anything from here, but if you find yourself anywhere near Lexington, Massachusetts at any time of the year – you need to stop in and see what they have. Visit when New England’s exceptional sweet corn is on hand and prepare for a treat. If you’re stuck in a hotel room, upgrade to a suite with a kitchen so you can buy a bag o’ corn (no choosies – you get in line, hand over your money and go home with a bag of maize-y goodness) and cook it up as soon as you get back. Visit the farm stand here.

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