21 Days of Solstice

Spicing Up Afternoon Teatime

?01 December 2012 I’m sharing with you some of our favorite Specialty Foods during the days leading up to Winter Solstice.  Since 1919 Vermeiren Traditional Belgian Biscuits have added a spicy treat to coffee or tea time. These biscuits, made with raw cane sugar and cinnamon, are 100% vegetable. They contain no milk, eggs, animal fat, preservatives or coloring agents. In other words, they are healthy as biscuits go. I suggest you brew a pot of your favorite tea (we have several flavors of Sipping Streams Tea), set these biscuits on a dessert plate for a treat, and enjoy conversation with a friend. It’s a good way to chase away the winter blues during this chilly weather we’re having. Yes, Vermeiren Belgian Biscuits are available right here at If Only…a fine store. They are a new this year to our Specialty Food Collection, so give them a taste and let us know what you think.

Salt Adds a Finishing Touch

21 December 2011? We chose some of the most interesting salts for our Specialty Foods Collection this season.? Limited Edition affordable packages provide the opportunity to taste amazing salts without purchasing large quantities.? Beautifully presented, the Classic, Gourmet, and Smoke contain five individual salt jars with cork tops and three bowls with spoons.? For example, Fumee de Sel is premium Fleur de Sel crystals that are cold smoked over oak wine barrels that have been used for years to age fine Chardonnay wine.? This is one of a kind salt –excellent as a finishing salt on salads, veggies or meat.?Durango is Smoked Sea Salt?created when Pacific sea salt flakes are naturally smoked with untreated Hickorywood, resulting in a full, smoked flavor without turning bitter.? There is no liquid smoke or artificial? flavor added.? This salt is a natural with ribs and burgers, or any red meat, for that matter.? Salish is Pacific sea salt that is cold smoked over red Alderwood.? No artificial coloring or flavoring is added.? Salish is excellent on salmon, red meat, creamy pasta dishes and baked potatoes.?Bali is a hand harvested sea salt, slowly smoked over coconut shells with a hint of lime–great for use on grilled chicken, seafood or rice dishes.? And finallyYakima is a salt smoked with Applewood from theYakimaValley.? Aged Applewood is one of the most popular of the fruit woods used in smoking.

We have other Limited Edition packs that include everything from Himalayan Pink (harvested from ancient sea salt deposits deep in the Himalayan Mountains) to Murray River Flake Salt fromAustralia.? They are all fabulous compliments to every day cooking.? Talk about pumping up the flavor and limiting your salt intake at the same time!

Gift Idea Number Eighteen😕 Limited Edition Sample Packs are great gifts.? Choose one for yourself and keep one on hand for last minute gift needs over the holidays.

Ordinary Cracker? NOT!

?17 December 2011?? Sometimes you have to go a far distance to get something wonderful.? It?s a bit of a jaunt to get to the Polka Dot Bake Shop from here.? They serve up some delicious cupcakes and such in Charlotte,North Carolina.? So we?ve done the next best thing— bring their amazing Cracked Pepper Sweet Potato Crackers to Fairbanks!? Made in small batches with real sweet potatoes, they are seasoned with savory ingredients to provide a unique taste.? Plus, they?re gluten free!? So come on in and get some for serving at your holiday parties.? They are great by themselves or with hummus, soups, or salmon.?? We speak from experience.

?Gift Idea Number Seventeen😕 Pair a box or two of Sweet Potato Crackers with some of our Rill Soups for a healthy, hearty twist on holiday giving and receiving.

 

A Chocolate Lover’s Dream

16 December 2011?? I just love chocolate, so we have LOTS of choices in our 2011 Specialty Foods Collection.? Gosanko Chocolate Art from Auburn,Washington, creates masterpieces in an old world tradition.? They revived the art of sculpting and manufacturing workable moulds, and the result is colorful and fun.? We have fish, from dark chocolate halibut to colorfully foil wrapped milk chocolate salmon and fingerlings?great for the fisherperson?s stocking!? There are also colorful hard hats, solid chocolate for the construction workers in your life.? The chocolate used in these creations is Guittard, crafted using European methods and containing a special blend of rich, handpicked cocoa beans.? We also have colored holiday lights and lights on sticks (to make hanging stockings look sensational).

Gift Idea Number Sixteen😕 fill your tote with lots of these chocolates, great for stocking stuffers, party favors, or to top off a monstrous mystery box under the tree.

From the Peanut Patch

15?December 2011?? The World’s Best Peanuts, and that’s the whole truth.? The Feridies family selects the top 2% of the peanut crop each year to ensure the best extra large peanuts.? They roast in small batches in pure peanut oil.? The result is a superb, extra crunchy, full-bodied peanut full of flavor and freshness.? You can enjoy these peanuts from our specialty food collection three ways:? 18 oz. cans of peanuts come salted and unsalted.? I like to purchase one of each and mix them together-that way I reduce my salt intake by half over time, plus I love the peanut taste over the salt, but not well enough to go totally saltless!? We also have 4 oz cello bags of salted peanuts, perfect for stocking stuffers or to pack for that plane trip to Hawaii over the holidays.? An added bonus, Feridies is a Kosher Certified company.

Gift Idea Number Fifteen😕 Pair a can of peanuts with some of our fabulous dips, then add a bag of chips-you’re ready with a host/ess gift for your next holiday party.? Or create your own gift bag with some of our favorites, chocked full of wholesome goodness– a can of peanuts, a Prairie Dog chocolate bar, a box of dried cranberries, and some gluten free sweet potato crackers.? Yum!

Sweets for the Sweet

?14 December 2011?? We know you can get good fireweed honey here in Alaska, but we went for Fancy Grade and chose Leatherwood and French Lavender honey from Tasmania, Australia.? What makes this honey so special?? Plenty.? Take the fact that Leatherwood grows in the rainforest on a remote island-latitude 42 degrees South—the Roaring Forties circumpolar winds swoop through and moisten the area with southern rain.? The trees bloom from January to March, and the bees are busy.? Leatherwood honey is truly the “distillate of a magic place.”? Couple that with the fact that the Tasmanian Honey Company uses a low temperature preparation technique in extracting honey from combs.? This preserves both the floral essences and the innate vitality of the honey.? It has a buttery and spreadable texture at room temperature whereas other brands use high temperatures to delay the crystallizing process.? Both of our Tasmanian honeys are organic, rare and delicious, indeed.? Liquid gold!?

?Aloha from Oregon got its start on an island, too.? The company began as a home based business in Hawaii and has, from its beginnings, focused on high quality and great attention to detail.? We chose several pepper jellies for our specialty food collection this year.? Many of them are useful as glazes.? Apricot is a great glaze for chicken or ham, or even slather it on your morning toast.? Cranberry provides a wonderful glaze for poultry or a sparkle for a turkey sandwich.? Habanero is HOT!? It is best used as a final glaze when grilling meat.? Mint Jalapeno is a sensation with lamb or chicken and is great to use in Greek recipes.? Marionberry, the treasure of the Northwest, is great on ham and poultry or with cream cheese and crackers.

Gift Idea Number Fourteen😕 The grill king or queen would do well to have a number of Aloha flavors to finish off a masterpiece or two.? Pair them up with our “Santa Stops in Fairbanks First” cocktail napkins and?some cream cheese. You have a great start for an evening of fun with friends.? Or purchase 3 – 4 pepper jellies and present them in an Itty Bitty Cloth bag.? Pair some Tasmanian Leatherwood or French Lavender honey with some special bread from Lulu’s Bakery. Oooh, what a treat!

Lone Star to North Star

Two German families teamed up in the late 20’s (yup, that was back in the 20th Century) and started making jams and jellies from the harvests of their orchards.? It was the beginning of a long history of two families working together and later growing a business that is still family owned and operated.? From the wide open spaces of Texas we included four of Fischer & Wieser’s products in this year’s Specialty Food collection here at If Only?a fine store.? Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is the #1 selling condiment in Texas and an award winner.? It’s the product that catapulted the company into food stardom.? A blend of raspberries and chipotle peppers, it is smoky, sweet and spicy-great on salmon, chicken, and pork.? It’s gluten free, too!? Chipotle Chili Ketchup can be used as a dipping sauce as well as ketchup.? Its blend of chilies and Roma tomatoes make it a tasty treat unlike the “57Variety”.? I like it on a grilled ground beef patty.? We? also carry Pasilla Chili Finishing Sauce, which is made from little Mexican chilies, Roma tomatoes, almonds and pineapple.? It is gluten free and delivers unique and definable flavors.? A Salsa Verde Ranchera rounds out our offerings.? It is an all natural and gluten free salsa made with medium hot green tomatillo peppers, great for dipping chips or as a topper for chicken.

Gift Idea Number Thirteen😕 Pair the Salsa Verde Ranchera with Suckle Busters for a bold gift duo.? Or use one of our great itty bitty cloth bags and fill it with F&W. The bag is a multi-tasker and can be used over and over again.? Stylin’, functional, and the contents are delicious!

LOL

12 December 2011?? First of all, what’s great about Dave is that he’s a wild and crazy guy with a passion for heat and outstanding flavor.? He founded Dave’s Gourmet several years ago after debuting his Ultimate Insanity Hot Sauce.? Yikes, is it ever hot!? (And yes, we have it).? From there, he went on to develop award winning pasta sauces.? The secret to his success:? fresh specialty ingredients, unique flavors, and a slightly insane perspective.? Most of his products are organic, all are natural, gluten free, and contain no preservatives.? You won’t find anything at the grocery that compares with these sauces.

?Masala, award winner last year, is an innovative pasta sauce which pairs the western flavors of a classic marinara with the spices (masala), lime, and coconut flavors of the South Asian world.? The result is a superb sauce that wows everyone who tastes it.?? Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce is made with squash ripened in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.? Paired with fresh garlic, onions, and roasted red pepper, the natural sweetness and delicate flavor of the butternut squash is enhanced.? Spicy Heirloom Marinara will warm you on a cold Fairbanks night.? This organic sauce combines spicy red peppers and vine ripened heirloom tomatoes for a fine flavor and some bite.? It adds balance to pasta, pizza, chicken or fish.? Wild Mushroom Pasta Sauce is a mushroom lover’s dream!? It’s mostly mushrooms-wild porcini, buttery shiitake, and crimini with tomato sauce added. Extra hints of garlic, sage and sherry make for a perfect well-rounded flavor.? Awesome!

Gift Idea Number Twelve😕 Pair a pasta sauce with any one of our pastas or pair the Spicy Marinara with our pizza drizzle for the pizza lover in your life.? Want some real zing? Pair the Dave’s Spicy Marinara with our Pasta di Campofilone Chili Pepper Fettuccine. Delish!

Spice it Up!

?11 December 2011?? Victoria Taylor turned to her passion over ten years ago and founded Victoria’s Gourmet after a career in the corporate world.? She spent almost a year testing products and recipes in her own kitchen and adjusting the flavors to perfection.? Victoria has a penchant for creating marvelous recipes that are manageable with our busy schedules.? Use her spices, seasonings and recipes and turn your kitchen into a little gourmet paradise!? Our Specialty Food Collection boasts many of her spices and seasonings both singly in small and large containers and trio packs which provide for a variety of tastes.? A favorite of mine is the meat and fish trio which provides a Ginger Citrus seasoning great for chicken, fish and pasta.? Its ingredients include onion, garlic, orange peel, bell pepper, and paprika to name a few.? I use it as a rub on chicken and then bake-quick, easy, and oh, so tasty!? The Seafood seasoning, great for salmon or halibut, provides you with just the right blend of Victoria’s proprietary herbs and spices with garlic, onion, lemon peel and bell pepper included for extra good tastes.? The third part of the trio is Toasted Sesame Ginger, fabulous in stir fry and also good on tuna or salmon.? It boasts a terrific sesame flavor coupled with the ginger.? The European trio will take you to Italy and France in a flash!? The Mediterranean seasoning is has a traditional base of oregano and garlic.? Use it on focaccia bread and in potato dishes.? The Tuscan seasoning combines rosemary with toasted sesame, bell pepper, and garlic– perfect for pasta dishes and also great on pork, chicken, and veal.? Its aromas of cool rosemary and nutty toasted sesame add punch to pasta dishes.? And finally Herbes de Provence is a combination of 7 dried herbs with lemon, lavender and a hit of garlic.? Close your eyes and you’ll be transported to the lavender fields of Provence!? All natural, all with very low salt or no salt, all goodness.

Gift Idea Number Eleven😕 Purchase a trio of seasonings and Victoria Taylor’s recipe book.? This gift is fabulous for the kitchen initiate as well as the seasoned home chef.? Or pair Victoria’s Gourmet seasonings with our pastas or salts.?

Spend $20.00 or more on Victoria’s Gourmet products and we’ll provide you with a complimentary recipe book, valued at $17.95.? Because Flavor is Everything is written by Victoria herself.?? It’s our gift to you, if you mention you saw this offer on our website!

A Class Act

10 December 2011??? O Olive Oil Company is a well known purveyor of infused olive oils, balsamic vinegars and tapenades.? Their products are featured on The Food Network as well as in the best food and wine magazines.? So it’s no wonder that we chose several products to include in our 2011 Collection.? O Balsamics are made in California in the traditional manner, oak-aged over time under rigorous supervision.? They are hand crafted one batch at a time in order to certify their quality and healthful goodness.? We have the very giftable O Balsamic Vinegar Trio (award winner) comprised of Port, White, and California Balsamic Vinegar. The O Champagne Vinegar Trio will add sparkle and excitement to everyday foods.? The delicate and delicious lemon notes of the Citrus Champagne give freshness to any salad, the Cuvee is crisp and light, and the Pomegranate Champagne sings with flavor.? They all come in presentation boxes, ready for you to give to your favorite home chef.? Single bottles of Sudachi Lime Vinegar and Citrus Champagne Vinegar are also available.?? At your next soiree serve Kalamata Olives with Blood Orange Tapenade and Meyer Lemon Tapenade with Picholine Olives. Just add a great cracker (and we have a great variety to choose from at If Only?).?? The key is fresh with an amazing infusion of citrus.??? You can’t ask for a better combination.

Gift Idea Number Ten😕 Add a serving idea with your specialty food gift.? (It’s like giving a 2nd gift!)? Here are three ideas for O Pomegranate Vinegar; dazzling on spinach mixed with a great olive oil; toss with feta & toasted pecans; drizzle over fresh vegetables. Bon App?tit!