EAT } Incredible Caramels & Foraged Vinegars

I get completely giddy when I find a new food item for Salt & Sundry (or a new one finds us). In the past few weeks, we've added some really great small-batch products to the pantry, including that divine sea salt caramel bar from Charleston-based chocolatier Sweeteeth, pictured above. (Photo by my super talented assistant creative director Sally Irmer.)

On the local front, it's been so exciting to see new makers crafting both high-quality and beautifully packaged products.

I was thrilled when the creator of Lindera Farms vinegars stopped by the shop. He's turning foraged mulberries, elderflowers and honey from Virginia into wine and then converting that into lovely, aromatic vinegars. They're delicious used like any vinegar, but we couldn't help continuing to sip on our sample cups.

I'm dreaming up some spring cocktails to show them off ...


STYLE } Moroccan Chic

One of the most fun parts of running a shop? The days when gorgeous items we ordered weeks or months ago arrive on our doorstep.

We're all going a little gaga for our new Moroccan poufs and the incredibly thick sheepskins from Virginia's Border Springs Farm, pictured above. Pop in Salt & Sundry for a visit and check 'em out.


STYLE } Red Hot Valentine's Gifts

A few of my favorite Valentine's gifts, currently available at Salt & Sundry.

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Marshall's Haute Sauce Smoked Habanero Barbeque
These small batch hot sauces make a great gift for cooks and heat lovers.

Love Blocks
Handmade in Michigan, this wooden block set says 'love' in 12 languages.

Red Butter Warmer
This petite pot pulls multitasking duty in the kitchen for hot cocoa, frothing milk for lattes or melting chocolate.

Royal Rose's Rose Simple Syrup
Put the roses in a bottle this year with this floral simple syrup. It's excellent in cocktails (try a Coquette) and on ice cream or yogurt.

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Lighted Carousel Letters
Standing about 2 feet tall, these playful letters (sold individually) light up a room. Call us at the shop to special order: 202.556.1866.


MAKE } Fennel Kumquat Salad

With bright, tart flavor and a Vitamin C boost, there's no better way to beat the winter blues in the kitchen than with heaps of winter citrus fruit. And the kumquat may be the cutest of them all.

After getting my friend's daughter hooked on kumquats at the tender age of 2 (hi Charlotte!), I keep them around whenever I can so she won't be disappointed when she (now 4!) pops in for a visit. As good as candy, right?

The rind on kumquats is sweet, so eat them whole. Thinly sliced they make a great addition to salads. Here's a simple favorite I make every winter.

Fennel Kumquat Salad

serves 4

2 fennel bulbs, core removed and thinly sliced (also use some of the green fronds)
1 1/2 cups of kumquats, sliced with the rind left on and seeds removed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

In a jar or small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil to combine.

In a medium bowl, toss the fennel, fennel fronds, sliced kumquats and enough vinaigrette to coat everything. Serve and enjoy!


STYLE } A Clean Start

When it comes to cleaning products, mixing form and function can make chores ever so much more pleasant. When I'm scouting lines to stock at Salt & Sundry, I'm looking for the cleaning trifecta: they must be beautiful, eco-friendly and, most importantly, functional. These are my current favorites in the shop.

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Murchison-Hume Superlative Liquid Hand Soap
I was so excited to start stocking this cleaning line. The coconut-based liquid soap protects against dry hands with wheat proteins, chamomile, rose hip extracts and vitamins. And it looks killer by the kitchen sink. $16

Christophe Pourny Cutting Board Tonic
I met the delightful guys behind this furniture care line at the Martha Stewart American Made Marketplace last fall. The cutting board tonic is amazing. White vinegar and rosemary oil sanitize while walnut oil moisturizes the wood. $22

Murchison-Hume Scrub Brushes
Natural plant fiber bristles and smooth wood make these little guys kitchen workhorses. $5-$6

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Handmade Crochet Dish Cloths
I love the size of these cotton crocheted dish cloths for wiping down counters. $12, set of 2

Further Dish Soap
This eco-friendly dish soap is made from glycerin derived from discarded restaurant vegetable oil and scented with bergamot, olive and exotic grasses. $17



MAKE } Candied Grapefruit Peel

Each year around the holidays, my mother-in-law makes a big batch of gorgeous candied grapefruit peels. And I lose all restraint.

I challenge myself when passing her kitchen not to dip my hand into the tin and fish out a few sugar-crusted peels to pop in my mouth. I literally eat handfuls of the stuff. I love the bitter citrus flavor, tempered by the preserving process and a generous coating of sugar.

One year, I gave it a shot myself. So I could start eating copious amounts of grapefruit peels even earlier. I combined her recipe with this Jacques Torres version.

They make a great gift and a perfect cocktail garnish (try a Negroni or pop one into a glass of sparkling wine).

Candied Grapefruit Peel

4 large grapefruits with thick skin
3 cups of sugar, plus more for coating

Cut the grapefruits into quarters, lengthwise from pole to pole. Remove the segments from the peel, leaving the white pith attached to the peel. Reserve the fruit for juice or another use.

To make it easier to cut neat slices, cut the tips of the quarters off (see above) and cut peel into 1/2-inch slices.

In a large pot, add the peel slices and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil. Drain and repeat the process of boiling the peels two more times with fresh cold water. On the fourth time, add the 3 cups of sugar to the fresh water, bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat, maintaining some small bubbling, for 1.5 hours.

Drain the peels and lay them out on a wire rack, placed on wax paper. Let the peels drain for about 3 hours and up to overnight. Toss in the peels in a bowl of sugar to coat. Enjoy!

* If the peels are still very wet after letting them drain, you can dry them out in an oven set to 200 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour.