What’s Cooking? Hold Everything!

We’re contemplating containers. Yes, it’s something we all take for granted – that you’ll have a place to put your “stuff”. That place can be a cannister in your kitchen, a sideboard in your dining room, a purse, backpack or wallet to carry your essential “stuff” around with you. It can even be a Jewish Mezuzah with a prayer inside or a leather journal to fill with adventures.

Eons ago, our ancestors cupped their hands to hold water, then learned to hollow out stones for that purpose. Over time, containers evolved in sophistication and functionality. Today we look for practicality, but we also desire beauty. When it comes from the hands of an artist, a simple container can surprise you. Imagine a perfectly thrown stoneware vessel, and when you lift the lid – voilà! The glaze inside explodes with color. Open up a sculptural cabinet and you’ll find precise dovetailed drawers, hand carved handles and exotic wood interiors. There is a special sense of mystery in objects with lids or hidden compartments.

We can’t possibly hold all of our belongings in our cupped hands. In the special collection Hold Everything! you’re sure to find creative solutions to the age-old issue of keeping and storing precious possessions, everyday items, and even water.

clockwise: Tom Dahlke; Constance Talbot; Scott Sober; David Barclay; Seymour Mondshein

A piece of furniture rich with visual humor, this storage box for fly fishing gear by Tom Dahlke is based on the National Park Service’s Cunningham Cabin in Jackson Hole, WY. David Barclay uses a lathe to turn cherry or walnut into small round jewelry boxes with interior storage and room for up to 72 pairs of earrings.  Constance Talbot uses her consummate skills at the potter’s wheel to create pitchers, vases and covered jars. Scott Sober’s “Anything Cabinet” has a drawer and cabinet storage for anything you can think of. And most women look for a handbag that fits wallet, cell phone, hairbrush, glasses, keys, makeup, pens… maybe even the kitchen sink. You can do that in style with an all-purpose tote bag by Seymour Mondshein.

What else is cooking at Paradise City? Tomatoes and basil are filling baskets and bowls in our kitchen. We wait all winter for this, and we would love to show you how to build Tomato Towers with them.

Featured Artists

This Week’s Recipe

Our vegetable garden peaks in August and September, and we look forward to gathering baskets of sun-warmed tomatoes more than just about anything else. We make tomato sauce, roasted tomatoes, tomato tarts, gazpacho and sandwiches grilled with tomatoes and cheese. But this recipe for Tomato Towers is summer at its simplest and most sublime. All you need for dinner now is a piece of grilled fish, a fork and a good, sharp knife. And maybe an ear of corn.

Tomato Towers

Summer tomatoes from your garden or a farm stand
A good-sized round or log of fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Red onion, thinly sliced

For the vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp aged, best quality balsamic vinegar
5 Tbsp of your best extra virgin olive oil
1 clove finely minced garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Whisk or shake together the vinaigrette ingredients. This should be enough for four towers.
  2. Slice the tomatoes across into rounds about ¼ to ½ inch thick. The bigger your tomatoes are the better, and if you have a combination of red, purple or yellow tomatoes it looks especially pretty. Salt and pepper them lightly.
  3. Slice the mozzarella into rounds about ¼ inch thick.
  4. On individual plates or a long serving platter, start with a drizzle of the vinaigrette. Layer a tomato slice, a cheese slice, some onion pieces, a scattering of basil, and then another drizzle of vinaigrette. Repeat two or three times, depending on how tall you want your “towers”. 
  5. Once you’ve built your towers, take the remaining bits of tomato that didn’t make it into the round slices, and the extra cheese, onions and basil. Chop them into ½ inch pieces and toss with a little vinaigrette. With your hands or a soup spoon, form a loose mound of this mixture to place on top of each tower. 
  6. Optional garnishes:
    1. Toasted pine nuts
    2. Avocado slices
    3. An artful drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar around the plate
    4. A bit of prosciutto on the side or under the tower
    5. A sprig of basil for each plate