Keeping your summer sip cool
Keep your cool — and your coolers cold — this summer with help from a Mason Tumbler from Aladdin. The 20-ounce insulated blue-tinted mug works well with lemonade, smoothies or something more potent (we're thinking strawberry margaritas). It features a metal lid, no BPA, a no-sweat exterior and a smoothie-friendly straw. To help make the season's livin' easy, it's also dishwasher safe. The suggested retailer price: $12.99. At retailers nationwide or at aladdin-pmi.com.
Getting a good grip on grilling
Get a grip on hot stuff (up to 482 degrees F) with these Kitchen Gloves from Trudeau. They're heat- and flame-resistant, so are good for prolonged handling of hot items. Silicone patterning improves the grip, flexible fabric enhances dexterity, and the size provides wrist and forearm protection. But they're not waterproof, so don't use when wet. For grill cooking or kitchen tasks (say, draining bacon grease from a hefty iron skillet or removing heavy pans from the oven), we found them easier to work with than kitchen mitts. A set of two is $39.99 at shoptrudeau.com.
Chef's book big on fire cooking
"Michael Chiarello's Live Fire: 125 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors" (Chronicle Books, $35) is a big, muscular book. And chef/TV celeb/Napa restaurateur Chiarello fills the pages with big, muscular images and recipes (including how to roast a whole lamb, make a 3-pound beef burger for six on country bread and prepare Italian cowboy steaks). Not all recipes are, well, so muscular, but many are seasoned with his Italian roots. Chiarello is a thorough coach, taking cooks beyond the grill and rotisserie to hearth, plancha, fire-pit and hot-box cooking. At amazon.com.
Mix up slushies with the Zoku Slush and Shake Maker. Set the inner core upright in a freezer (one that chills at 0-degrees Fahrenheit) for six to 18 hours, then slip it into its outer sleeve, pour in chilled liquids (sweet coffee, chocolate milk, juice) and add elbow grease plus Zoku's plastic spoon to scrape down the cup's walls. After seven minutes (perhaps an eternity for kids), you've got a slushy refresher. A caveat: Artificially sweetened beverages don't work well. The three-piece set (inner core, sleeve, spoon), is BPA- and phthalate-free and comes in several colors. $19.95, williams-sonoma.com.
A twist on hummus
Hummus, that garbanzo-based dip, gets a makeover from the Eat Well Enjoy Life team. They substitute white beans, black beans, lentils or edamame for the classic garbanzo. Most come with a savory topping. Roasted pine nuts and herbs top a white bean "hummus," for example (it's delicious), while sunflower seeds and apricot finish spicy yellow lentils. There are three edamame versions; our favorite has a red pepper and toasted sesame topping. Suggested retail price for a 10-ounce container is $4.99. Store locater: eatwell-enjoylife.com.
Add a baked, gluten-free Van's Whole Grain Cracker to your party-planning list this summer. There are a trio of flavors to choose from, each based on a blend of gluten-free oats, brown rice, millet, quinoa and amaranth: Multigrain and our two favorites, Lots of Everything! (with sesame, poppy and caraway seeds plus dried onion and garlic) and Say Cheese! (it's got a nice cheddar tang). A 5-ounce box has a suggested retail price of $2.99. Store locater: vansfoods.com.