Jewels Of The Pantry

Rancho Gordo
When I was in San Francisco visiting Kyle in winter 2009, we made the homage to the Ferry Terminal Farmer’s Market on a Saturday.  This Farmer’s Market is for cooks what Fifth Avenue is for fashionistas.  Kyle insisted that I bring home some dried beans from Rancho Gordo.  Beans? Really?  You’re telling me that dried beans are gonna rock my world?  They sure did.  I’ve had so much fun playing with the varieties, textures and colors of these beans.  The flavors are so much more pronounced and distinctive.  The textures are amazing-  from creamy to toothsome.  I ordered $50 worth from their website and am having so much fun playing with them as side dishes, in soups, and as condiments.  -Jill

Unio Siurana
Spanish olive oil
Siurana of Spain makes Unio and, harder to find, Hedone–two of my favorites.  Unio really makes the most of simple vinaigrettes–just add lemon juice to this liquid gold and you’re in business.  Hedone is so tasty I packed my suitcase full of it on my recent trip to Barcelona.  Just sop it up with rustic bread.   -Kyle

McEvoy Ranch
Domestic Olive Oil
I love this oil as a good finish to any sort of Mediterranean dish you’re making.  -Kyle

Penzey’s Spice
Spice Merchants
No, not Posh, Sporty, and Scary, but paprika, cinnamon, and sumac.  I’ll always encourage the use of fresh herbs over dried, but for the roots, bark and seeds, Penzey’s gets my vote.  They offer high quality, fantastic selection, with jars small enough to allow you to replace stale spices regularly–plus helpful customer service.  I also like a lot of their spice blends for a quick way to dress up plain veggies or stews. Their spice sets also make a nice wedding present for new households.  –Kyle

The Spice House
Spice Merchants
I received some Vietnamese Cinnamon Bark from The Spice House as a hostess gift a few years ago.  What a treat!  I grind it on an old Microplane zester as needed.  Its intensity and heat are such that I actually use a bit less than is called for in recipes.  It is a beautiful delight.  I also received some citrus oils that are fantastic as well.  The Spice House has a full online catalog and five retail locations in Ilinois and Wisconsin.  -Jill

Peet’s Coffee
I have tried to economize on beans by looking for an enjoyable coffee that costs, say, $7-8/lb rather than $12-14.  The way I go through java, it would really add up!  But I keep coming back to my Costa Rica from Peet’s.  Nice acidity, bright flavor, medium bodied–to me, it’s a perfect way to start the day.  It makes me happy.  And happiness is worth an extra couple of bucks a week, don’t you think?  If you like a more robust cup, try out their Major Dickason’s blend–but make an appointment with your aesthetician to have the ensuing hair removed from your chest.  Serious beans.  –Kyle

King Arthur Flour
All things baking
Based in Norwich, Vermont, the folks at King Arthur Flour Company are an excellent source for all the things that you need to put into your oven:  flours, bakeware, and recipes.  I especially like theirWhole Grain Baking cookbook for a healthier take on baked goods, many of which taste just as good as those made with white death–I mean, white flour.  While Jill and I want you to work away from using recipes, they’re completely necessary with baking–and this website will set you up with all you need.  King Arthur flours are carried by Whole Foods.  -Kyle

Molino Real
Mexican Vanilla
I received my first bottle of this magical elixir as a souvenir from my mother after a trip to Cancun.  It came in this incredibly lovely bottle and I assumed, for that reason, that it was probably crap.  You know how it is:  restaurants with great views never have good food, gorgeous men never have a brain.  I stashed this stuff in the back of my pantry until, one day, I ran out of my usual brand of vanilla.  Figuring “How bad can this stuff be?” I opened the lovely, lonely little bottle and gave it a try.  What a shock!  It was so vanilla but also floral and fruity.  I gave a bottle of this to each of the 25 teachers I had to buy for this past Christmas.  -Jill

Zingerman’s Mailorder
General Gourmet
Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI, maintains a good selection of quality oils, vinegars, cheese, etc. that you might have a hard time finding at you local grocery store.  They are known for their commitment to quality, so you can order with confidence.  Check out their bacon of the month club!   -Kyle

Lagier Ranches
Almond Butter
Mix up the old lunchbox standby with an AB&J.  Crunchy or smooth, this organic spread takes your sandwiches to a new level.  I especially like it with cherry jam.  -Kyle