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a father’s day gift that will blow his mind: ecool, in-ground beer storage

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If the dad in your house is anything like the dad in our house, he might spend a lot of time watching survivor shows and thinking about gizmos and tools that will help us survive Armageddon. It’s like the natural cave-dweller’s hobby evolution. Well, if your alpha male doesn’t sleep well unless there’s some cold beer in the fridge, this gift idea may be the best thing since riding lawn mowers. Introducing ECool, an in-ground beer cooler that will hold up to 24 cans of beer and chill them without electricity — in your own backyard! Best installed with a garden drill (last year’s gift, perhaps?) but a shovel will do, ECool is contained in a hole in the ground, where your beer will be earth-cooled. Not only is it eco-smart, it will help save space in the fridge and create a feeling of security when the hurricane is blowing offshore. Made in Denmark, ECool costs $349. And while it probably won’t arrive before Sunday, it will arrive in time to enjoy all summer long.

If you’re not quite ready to invest in such depths in beer storage, consider another great Father’s Day gift, Craft Beer of the Month Club.

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a peek into a prop stylist’s closet

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Ever wonder how those images you see in catalogs always look so wonderful, with just the right mix of accidental treasures next to season’s new collection? Imagine a walk-in-closet, organized with a selection of colorful plates, one-of-kind vases and the most eclectic selection of curios you’ve ever seen. That’s what it looks like inside of Sandy Chilewich’s prop closet. The designer, founder and creative director of Chilewich — our go to source for gorgeous yet practical placements, runners and rugs — Sandy’s studio features floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with objects collected over the years from around the world. When a stylist wants to use something that is too rare or precious to own, they often dip into the vaults of other collector heavens to borrow or rent pieces. Some of Sally’s recent finds, above, came from a small shop in Greenwich Village, called the Porcelain Room. For more of an inside look at the creative process behind Chilewich, check out Sally’s board on Pinterest.

From our partners

real life test kitchen: simple baked beans

The weekends that immediately follow Memorial Day are the most social in our little surbatopia hood. Saturdays and Sundays are booked way in advance with backyard BBQs, toddler birthday parties, block parties and yard sales. Many occasions call for a dish to be contributed. One of my go tos: good old, slow cooked baked beans. Guess what will be soaking in our sink tonight? Below, a favorite recipe.

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Few things accompany BBQ as nicely as a side of baked beans, but until recently, I had never attempted to make them myself. Then I spotted this recipe in the June issue of Real Simple and thought I’d give it a go.

The first, most crucial step, is to plan ahead and soak your beans overnight. The recipe calls for navy beans, but I used northern beans (very similar). Then, on the stove, you cook some bacon (secret yum ingredient, that you can skip for vegetarians easily), and an onion. Add beans, molasses, ketchup and dry mustard + 5 cups of water. Stick the pan (use a dutch oven) in the oven and bake at 300F for about three hours. Obviously, this is not a dish to make during a heat wave! The Real Simple recipe called to stir in a splash of cider vinegar before serving. Honestly, I forgot to do that and didn’t miss it all. Next time, I’ll try to remember!

The results were creamy, tangy and just sweet enough (though the beans were not quite as soft and mushy as some may like them). We had plenty to share with our neighbors. Beans, beans, the magical fruit! — Angela M.

From our partners

we’re feeling social thanks to jcrew’s new invitations at paperless post

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Sometimes all you need you need to feel like spontaneously hosting a party is a little design inspiration. A new cocktail recipe, deck furniture… or maybe an invitation that is so delightful you can’t help but send it out. That’s the urge we get after seeing JCrew’s witty collection of invitations and cards that “don’t take themselves too seriously” at Paperless Post. Whether it’s a birthday party serving up lots of “cake cake cake cake” or a makeshift pool party or a girl’s night out, you’ll find a card that brings out the chic hostess in you. Hopefully a line of JCrew designed table top items is not far behind (hint, hint,). Visit Paperless Post to see the whole collection, available in digital or print editions.

From our partners

real life test kitchen: olive oil granola and pistachios

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As soon as the weather warms, my breakfast routine shifts from steel cut oatmeal to Greek yogurt with fruit. The other day I needed to have a little more “meat” to bowl, so I decided that homemade granola was the way to go. The nice thing about making granola early in the morning, it warms up your house just enough without turning on the heat, and creates a wonderful aroma of nutty spices. This recipe is a great one, based on Melissa Clark’s from The New York Times four years ago. I’ve tried others, but this remains my favorite. I trimmed the recipe down by a third because I didn’t need nine cups. However, if you have a family to feed or gifts to give, don’t hold back! This granola is so good, you’ll want to eat by itself, by the spoonful. You can easily elevate it to a dessert level, by serving with fresh ricotta and boozy soaked fruit. Enjoy!

Olive Oil Granola with Apricots and Pistachios

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, shells removed

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled

1 cup coconut chips (I used shredded coconut and it was fine)

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.

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