STYLE } Happy July 4th!

Faribault Woolen Mill, the maker of this beautiful blanket, celebrates its 150th birthday this year. A wonderful American goods revival story, Faribault is one of the lines I love stocking at Salt & Sundry. The Minnesota-born mill was founded in 1856, at the close of the Civil War, and provided military blankets for two World Wars. We have a few of the wool flag blankets at the shops, along with several other styles.

From favorite blankets to favorite cocktails ... Toast the July 4th holiday with one of my favorite summer sips:

El Presidente
makes 1 drink

1.5 oz white rum
1.5 oz Dolin Blanc
1 barspoon Grand Marnier
1 barspoon Jack Rudy Grenadine

Stir well over ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry and orange twist. Enjoy!


COOK } Simple Seafood Stew

This simple stew, inspired by cioppino, is one of my favorite summer seafood recipes. It's a go-to on family beach trips, when I feel the need to pack in as much seafood as possible, as if I'll never have access to it again.

To the contrary, I eat seafood wherever I am, but there's something about the salty humid air of the coast that I swear makes it taste even better. And when you're city-bound, a bowl nearly conjures that same seaside vibe.

Many recipes for fish stew call for a long ingredient list of pricey seafood and homemade fish stock. But you can coax a lot of flavor out of a few ingredients in little time. And what seafood you toss in is really up to you. Crab legs, scallops and mussels are all great additions not included here. (We tossed in mussels last time, pictured above!)

Serve as a light supper with a salad and French bread, or as a first course for a dinner party.

Simple Seafood Stew
serves 6

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 serrano pepper, minced
5 cups tomatoes, chopped (You can also use canned diced tomatoes if needed.)
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 pound shrimp
3/4 pound squid, tentacles and bodies cleaned and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds halibut or other firm white fish, cut into 1-inch chunks
18 clams
fresh basil and parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and serrano pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add tomato, water and bay leaves, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Turn heat up to medium high, add the squid and fish, stir and cook 3-4 minutes. Set the clams on top, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook another 3-5 minutes until the clams have opened and the shrimp are cooked through.

Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper to your liking. You can thin the stew with a little water if it's thicker than you want. Ladle into bowls, add torn basil leaves, parsley, lemon wedges and serve.


COOK } The Stars of Spring

DC is finally showing off her full spring glory, and the farmers markets are gearing up with appearances from the season's superstar vegetables and fruits.

This video from an appearance on News Channel 8's Let's Talk Live is a few years old, but I refer to it as "That time I chewed a pickled ramp through an entire live TV segment." So I figured it's worth recycling.

Give it a watch and read on for tasty ideas for how to best use spring's produce:

The freshly picked tender spears of spring are a far cry from the woody stalks you find in the off season. Look for them to make their first appearance in the next few weeks at the markets.
Make: Asparagus Benedict on quinoa nettle cakesPenne with asparagus, sage and peas; or simply grill it

Stinky, musky goodness is how I think of these wild onions.
Make: Ramp pickles, Buttermilk ramp biscuits

Endless Summer Harvest specializes in these adorable baby greens with a spicy kick.
Make: Pile them on a BLT in place of lettuce, or toss into a salad for extra flavor.

Don't touch them raw or you'll understand where the name comes from, but dunk them in boiling water and they turn into perfectly edible, nutritious greens.
Make: Spring lasagna with asparagus, peas and stinging nettles, Nettle soup

Every spring I look forward to making tangy jam and a simple rhubarb crostata.
Make: Rhubarb quick jam, Strawberry and rhubarb crostata

One of spring's more elusive finds, these mushrooms with a super short season demand high prices but can be worth the splurge.
Make: Quiche with morels and scallions


DRINK } Snow Day Hurricane

The cold shows no sign of surrender here in DC, and my kitchen pipes just burst. While we wait for water to return and snow to melt, I'm taking a cue from the folks celebrating Mardi Gras today and mixing an updated version of a New Orleans classic — the Hurricane.

Drawing from Salt & Sundry's bar section, I've subbed P&H Soda Co.'s delicious hibiscus syrup for the traditional passion fruit. Match that with Jack Rudy's grenadine and fresh citrus, and you have a little tropical escape in a glass.

For another accessible tropical escape, head to the wonderfully humid US Botanic Garden jungle (pictured below). It may be the best place to ride out the cold snap in DC. If only they had a tiki bar ...

Snow Day Hurricane
2 oz dark rum
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz P&H Soda Co. Hibiscus Syrup
1/4 oz Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Grenadine

Shake and strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with fruit and a paper umbrella.

Adapted from Imbibe.


GIVE } Valentine's Gifts for Food Lovers

You've probably heard me say it before, but you can never go wrong gifting really good food. With that in mind, we've created three Valentine's gift boxes — the LOVE, LOCAL and LUSH — filled with fabulous cocktail/food items, available for preorder and pick up at Salt & Sundry.

Pictured above, the LOCAL box rounds up some of my favorite DC-made goodies, including Langdon Wood Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup, Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread, Mango 'Chups and Capital Honey Co.'s raw urban honey.

For details on the LOVE and LUSH box, and how to place an order, head to Salt & Sundry's Instagram.


DRINK } Bittermilk's Oaxacan Old Fashioned

After stocking their excellent cocktail mixers at Salt & Sundry for some time, I finally had the chance to meet the delightful creators of Bittermilk when they made the trip from SC to DC for Emporiyum.

They're one of those impressive pairs who make you wonder if they have more than 24 hours in the day. Between running a popular Charleston bar, raising kids and selling their growing Bittermilk line, husband-and-wife team Joe and MariElena Raya are still cooking up new flavors.

The latest is the Bittermilk No. 6 Oaxacan Old Fashioned. In the dead of winter, it delivers a welcome dose of spicy warmth.

Inspired by the flavors of Mexico and mezcal, this craft mixer blends dried Mexican chilies, cocoa nibs and spices. It's sweetened with raisins and — you know I love an NC connection — aged with cocoa husks from French Broad Chocolates in Asheville.

Mixing one up couldn't be easier, as Joe demonstrates below: Stir 1 part mixer with 4 parts mezcal and ice. Garnish with a lime twist. And warm up.


STYLE } Purple Haze

After the riotous bold colors of the holidays, I'm feeling drawn to a palette of pinks and purples — which sounds like a 6-year-old girl's favorite colors, but in dusty muted tones, the pair can be quite sophisticated. Here's a little winter eye candy to cut through the cold.

Silk tie dyed tablecloth from Shabd, available at Salt & Sundry.

Sibella Court's fabulous new book Gypsy, full of warm bohemian interiors.

A recent harvest from the gorgeous bed of greens Love & Carrots planted in my backyard this fall.