Gift Guide: The Chef

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Cheese CSA
Two of the region’s best artisan cheesemakers—Birchrun Hills Farm and Valley Milkhouse—have teamed up on a biweekly cheese subscription service: Collective Creamery. You'll receive shares of coveted curds at pickup locations across the city. 
$198 for 3 months (6 total pickups)

Herringbone Denim Apron
Norman Porter is known for their super high-quality denim jeans, and they bring the same level of skilled construction to no-nonsense, chef-caliber aprons. 
$85

Nesting Bowls
These handmade bowls from Felt + Fat range in size from tiny to XXL, and they're visually pleasing stacked in any combination of this homegrown company’s elegant, muted palette.
$18–$325

Magnetic Knife Rack
A sleek-meets-rustic design in reclaimed walnut or chestnut, this knife rack from Peg & Awl will keep blades sharp and within reach, and drawers and countertops clutter-free.
$60–$120

Cooking Classes
The Full & Happy kitchen studio in Fairmount hosts customized cooking lessons for couples and groups up to eight. After the BYOB meal, participants leave with new skills, shopping lists and recipes.
$75–$175

Overlooked Winter Veggies: Give celery root a chance

Celery Root | Image via Getty ImagesThis is the first article in a series on overlooked winter vegetables.

Celery root may not be a beauty queen of the produce aisle, but this knobby root vegetable—also known as celeriac, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery—is definitely worth a second look. Peel away its rough, warty exterior and you’ll find dense, white flesh similar to a turnip. Give it a nibble, and you’ll find flavors of celery and parsley.

As the name suggests, celery root is a variety of celery that was refined over time to create a solid, globular (and delicious) root. It is related to carrots, parsnips, anise and parsley, and its firm flesh makes a low-starch, low-calorie alternative to potatoes in hearty winter meals.

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Russet Potatoes: This spud's for you

story and photos by Grace DickinsonThe Russet is our country’s favorite potato. Roasted, fried, boiled, baked, there’s really no cooking method that doesn’t yield a tasty result. In America, we find Russets as potato chips and French fries. They arrive mashed with milk and butter at our holiday tables, and foil-wrapped as a dinnertime classic finished with a generous dollop of sour cream.  
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Vegging In: What I learned from my roommate’s quest to eat sustainably

Story by Colleen Davis Illustration by Adrienne Langer AFTER DECADES OF BEING A PRETTY RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN, I felt I’d traveled about as far as I could on the path to eating and living sustainably. Others around me were more zealous, but they were yoga teachers and gardeners whose extreme eating habits grew from their career choices. I never felt compelled to join them in becoming a vegan or buying a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. It looked like too much work.

Then I met Nick, a young California lawyer, who rented a room in my house when he moved to Philly. Along with a small number of boxes, he brought a surfboard, a bicycle and a staunch commitment to eating in a way that helped the environment. A few months after arriving, Nick bought a guitar and an organic CSA share.

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How To: Make Your Own Tomato Sauce

Liberating yourself from processed and prepackaged food often starts with the small stuff. For me, salad dressing was a game changer. Once I realized how simple it was to make, and started reading the labels on commercial brands (Canola oil as the number one ingredient? Water as number two?!), I could never go back. A simple process to master, vinaigrettes can be tweaked and custom tailored with delicious results.

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How to Braise

The best thing about cold weather is ending the day with a rich, hot plate of food. So, there is no better time for braising—the low and slow method of cooking that produces deep, comforting flavors. Meat is one of the more obvious choices for braising, but you can also use fish or vegetables.

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Winter Fusion: A twist on an old stand-by

by Allison Kelsey, FarmToPhilly.comThis dish combines the savory melding of long cooking and the fresh, bright flavors of a quick spin on the stove.

Although the recipe is printed here, there’s room to improvise. If you’re not a big fan of mushrooms, substitute a vegetable (just be sure to add at the right time and not to overcook). If you have holiday clementines on hand, substitute those for the orange. You can also toss in small amounts of vegetables you find scattered around the fridge—diced red bell pepper, steamed broccoli or snow peas (added late in the cooking process) are all great options.

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Mushrooms

Only the hardiest souls flourish in the dead of winter. Far from the glimmer of spring, with little sun and no warmth, most reasonable organisms are hunkered down. Fortunately, mushrooms (like bloggers) don’t have much use for nice weather—they do just fine in the damp darkness of February. So, at a time of year when most local produce is coming out of storage, these fungal frontiersmen are still growing away in sheds, notably in Kennett Square.
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How-To: Cook Dried Beans

Preparing dried beans in three easy steps
by Ed Coffin

Dried beans are low in fat, high in protein and fiber, and incredibly inexpensive. What keeps most of us from enjoying them is the time and preparation required to make them edible. Fortunately, the process can be simplified into three easy steps that will have you eating beans in no time!
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