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The Mexican Slow Cooker cookbook

The Mexican
Slow Cooker

Chef Deborah Schneider has written some of my favorite Mexican cookbooks, including ¡Baja! Cooking at the Edge. Now she’s come out with a surprising concept—a slow cooker book for Mexican food. The Mexican Slow Cooker ($20/Ten Speed Press) is inspiring me to pull out my neglected slow cooker to easily make time-consuming braised recipes, like a ’Tinga tostada—chicken thighs that take four hours to cook in the slow cooker and are then shredded and blended with a chipotle salsa. Or carne con chorizo y papas that takes six hours to tenderize. Schneider has superb soups as well, and even desserts, plus her usual useful tips and ingredient explanations.

parsnips

In Season

Parsnips

If you’ve ever seen a root vegetable that you could have sworn was a carrot—except it was almost white—no doubt it was a parsnip. They are related to carrots (and are delicious paired with them) but, for some reason, terribly ignored. I think the flavors are more complex and intense. They’re sweet but herbal, perfectly fine raw but truly shine when roasted, mashed in butter with garlic and horseradish, or steamed. Turn them into a gratin or soup—or fries. Yes, parsnip fries.

 

Leaf & Kettle teaTea

Leaf & Kettle

For years I enjoyed bopping into Halcyon, James Bowman’s little South Park tea shop. But he closed it earlier last year, and opened a new spot, Leaf & Kettle, at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center last August. He’s got a wide range of spectacular teas (try the bright orange rooiboos or deep-steamed sencha fukamushi), and now you can sit at a bar or table and taste them. He still has a terrific, irresistible collection of teaware—plus, tea-based spa products and even culinary tea seed oil. leafandkettle.com

 

Savory Spice Shop spicesNow Open

Savory Spice Shop

In one year, San Diego’s gained two spice shops. First Penzeys Spices moved into Hillcrest, and now Encinitas has Savory Spice Shop. Located in The Lumberyard on South Coast Highway, the shop has more than 400 herbs, spices, and blends. I found four types of saffron, a huge selection of chili powders, various vanillas, BBQ rubs—you name it. They even encourage customer blends. Get on the mailing list to learn when they hold classes for things such as mustard making. savoryspiceshop.com

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