Archive for the ‘Kilner’ Category

Picnic Food Ideas – Just in Time for a Labor Day Picnic!

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

It’s hard to believe that Labor Day is just around the corner!  Where has the summer gone?  With schools starting earlier and earlier, Labor Day is no longer as big of a deal, but it’s still the perfect 3 day weekend to enjoy time with friends and family.  One of my favorite ways to celebrate is to really harness the awesome summer weather and have a picnic. Whether it’s at a park, at the beach, or just in my own backyard; there’s something about eating outside, enjoying nature and playing games that’s just so darn fun!  Want to throw the best picnic ever? Keep reading for tips on how to throw a picnic that’ll blow everyone’s mind. Or, if you’re just here for the recipes, scroll to the end of the post for a killer chicken sandwich recipe that’s picnic (or lunchbox) perfect!

Pacific Merchant’s Guide to the Perfect Picnic – Food, Gear and More!

  1. Pick the perfect place: it could be a picnic area in a park, a beach,  your favorite hiking trail, or even your backyard. What matters is that YOU and your guests are outdoors, having fun. Consider a late-afternoon picnic rather than lunch to avoid being out in the worst of the sun’s rays.
  2. Fend off pests: if you’re putting together a picnic somewhere prone to bugs, consider one (or more) of the following: Keep food in covered containers, bring citrus peels and mint (bugs hate those,)  light citronella candles, or distract bugs by placing a saucer of sugar water a few yards away from your picnic spot!
  3. Find the perfect picnic blanket: (or DIY it)  I’ve used everything from a flannel sheet to an old blanket to a dedicated picnic blanket. To keep the blanket (and our behinds) dry, I lay down a tarp or a cheap shower curtain under the actual picnic blanket.
  4. Chose dishes wisely: Sure, you can absolutely use disposable dishes, but consider lightweight, re-useable options as well.  I love bringing our wood plates to picnics – they’re lightweight and re-usable and totally beautiful.

  5. Plan a simple, hearty menu and know how to pack it for transport: I use Kilner clip top jars for things like pasta salad and fruit salad. I’ll sometimes even pack dessert parfaits in smaller jars. For sandwiches, I wrap them in paper (or occasionally doilies or cheese leaves if I want something prettier.) For wine, I use the incomparable Martha Stewart’s method of wrapping bottles in a blanket (often my picnic blanket.)  For things that need to be packed flat (like last week’s deviled eggs), I actually use egg cartons. Anything can be picnic food, if  you pack it right!
  6. Bring Clear Drinking Glasses: True story: When I was about 10, I was at a picnic and took a big swig from a bottle of delicious root beer. Turns out, yellow jackets also like root beer, and I ended up with a very angry bee in my mouth.  You can guess what happened next. To avoid any bug-related mishaps, I pack clear Kilner jars to drink from. I also pack their lids for people to use if they’re playing a game, taking a hike, or just not in the mood to sip. Anything to keep the bugs out.

    Peach iced tea in jars

    Items Shown: Kilner Jars

  7. The perfect picnic basket isn’t always a basket: I normally  bring 2: One large, soft-sided cooler where I stash ice, anything with meat, eggs, dairy, etc and a large canvas tote bag for non-perishables, dishes, etc.
  8. Bring Garbage Bags: A lot of designated picnic areas have trash bins, but no matter where you picnic, it’s nice to have a trash bag handy. I hang one off the end of a picnic table or keep one just a few feet away from the picnic to encourage folks to throw out trash BEFORE the wind takes it away.
  9. Plan for the end of the event: Bring zip top bags to pack any leftovers you want to keep, extra napkins, and baby wipes – the unscented kind so you don’t attract bugs. It’ll make clean up of sticky hands, plates, and more a breeze!
  10. Delegate: Let’s say you’re planning a picnic with friends – ask one person to bring drinks, one to bring chips, etc. Giving everyone something to bring (and carry in, if you’re hiking to a picnic spot) makes your job easier!
  11. Make it lovely: Picnics are casual, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be beautiful. Bring a bouquet of flowers (marigolds give off natural bug repellant,) portable battery operated lights, some music, some games, and beautiful, colorful food. Really make the most of the beautiful weather and enjoy your party!

  12. Don’t forget utensils: I’ve done that a couple of time, and it stinks. Bring serving utensils if you’ll need them, and plenty of forks, spoons and knives! I always keep some in an outside pocket of my picnic cooler after forgetting one too many times. I also always pack a small chopping board and a utility knife. They’re good for serving cheese, cutting fruit into smaller pieces for kids, and more!

Ready to throw that picnic? I sure am.  If you’re having a Labor Day Picnic, tag pictures with #PacMerchantPicnic on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. We’d love to check out what you do! You may even win a gift certificate to our site! Now on to that recipe.

Summertime Chicken Caprese BLT

One of my favorite things about summertime is fresh, ripe tomatoes. I just can’t get enough. When thinking up this recipe I realized that I could combine two of my favorite tomato dishes into one delightful sandwich. Voila-the super addictive BLT/Caprese salad mashup was born. And oh, I added some chicken for fun.

Ingredients (Makes 2 sandwiches):

  • 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1 ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  • Butter lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 5 large fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 of your favorite sandwich rolls, split in half (I used sliced baguette for the pictures)
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayo, basil, and garlic.
  2. Smear onto both slices of bread.
  3. On the bottom of sandwich, lay a butter lettuce leaf. If it’s too big, tear it into a smaller piece.
  4. Next add the tomatoes. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  5. Top seasoned tomatoes with thinly sliced chicken.
  6. Add the bacon, then close sandwich with the top of the bun.

To pack these sandwiches for a picnic, wrap them tightly in foil, butcher paper, or cheese leaves and tie with baker’s twine. I love using our large banana leaves for this. They’re big enough to really keep the sandwich wrapped tight so that transporting and eating them is a mess-free experience!

Delicious sandwiches

Items Shown: Banana Cheese Leaves, Round Doilies

Happy Labor Day, folks! Enjoy this last 3-day weekend in summer!

The Best Root Beer Float: Sweet, Spice, Naughty and Nice

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an ice cream junkie. It doesn’t even need to be fancy ice cream, though I’ll never turn down the truly good stuff.  I’m the person who ate gelato 2 meals a day while traveling in Italy since a nice, fruity gelato was almost like having fruit and yogurt for breakfast. And it was SO HOT at lunch.  Naturally, if you’re addicted like I am, mixing ice cream with my soda never sounds like a bad plan.  When I was throwing a party with some good friends a few weeks ago we decided to really push it over the edge and make a boozy, sweet and spicy float that became the hit of the party. Seriously, This stuff is ADDICTIVE! It’s the best root beer float I’ve ever had!

Ingredients (for one float):

  • 1 shot ginger infused vodka
  • 1 small scoop vanilla ice cream
  • 1 small scoop cinnamon ice cream
  • 1 can (12 oz) rootbeer
  • 1 dash of bitters

As you can see, it’s not exactly a traditional ingredient list, but man, do the flavors in this sing. If you can’t find cinnamon ice cream, use 2 scoops of vanilla and a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon for a similar flavor.

Making the floats is pretty straight forward: Scoop the ice cream into a glass – we used Kilner jars – so cute when throwing an outdoor party. Add the bitters, then the vodka over the top. Top off with the root beer, pouring gradually. If you’ve ever had a root beer float, you know that it likes to foam up, so a gradual pour will keep you from making a mess. Serve your drinks with both a straw and a spoon for maximum deliciousness.

Want more float ideas? Here are a few more of my favorites – They’re delicious with and without the alcohol, so you can serve party goers of any age. Serving suggestion: Use one color straws for alcoholic drinks and another color for non alcoholic. That way, you can see at a glance if a kid picks up the wrong drink. Think of doing fun colors for kids and a more sedate color for adults, since kids are more likely to get possessive over a favorite color.

“Flipper” Creamsicle float – photo from 1BigBite, recipe adapted from 1BigBite

  • 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 shot vanilla vodka
  • 2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice.

sparkling citrus float

Tropical Citrus Float – Inspired by CieraDesign. Photo Credit: CieraDesign/Lulu The Baker

  • 1/3 cup chilled, fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup chilled pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup chilled club soda
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1 Dash Bitters
  • 1 Shot rum

Turkey-Burgers-and-Beer-Floats__0103_flat.jpg

Bourbon Stout Float – Recipe and Photo credit: A Better Happier St Sebastian

  • 2 scoops caramel ice cream
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • Stout beer (if serving kids, try this with coke. Still delicious.)

Dark Chocolate Bourbon Cherry Soda Floats I howsweeteats.com

Dark Chocolate Bourbon Cherry Float – Recipe and Photo Credit : How Sweet Eats

  • 2 scoops chocolate ice cream
  • 2 shots bourbon
  • 1 bottle cherry soda

As you can see, float possibilities are pretty much endless, whether or not you partake in the alcohol consumption. Get experimental with yours – tag photos with #PMTCFloat on instagram to show off your favorites. We may share your photo or hook you up with a gift certificate!

Summer Drinks: How to Make the Best Lemonade and Peach Iced Tea Ever!

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Kilner Glass Jars

Featured: Kilner Vintage Clip Top Bottles, Kilner .5L Preserve Jar, 4″ Acacia Wood Bermuda Bowl

Thirsty? Good. Follow your thirst, and quench it with our Thyme Lemonade and Peach Iced Tea Arnold Palmer; the perfect summer drink. Our homemade lemonade recipe is simple and easy to make, and provides you with a twist (no pun intended) on the classic lemonade recipe. Follow these super easy steps for a lemonade experience you’ll never forget.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-6-10 Large Lemons

-Small bundle Thyme

-Two medium peaches

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-1/4 cup water

Ingredients

Lemon press

1. It’s thyme…to make our thyme simple syrup (Pun intended. I had to.)! This part is easier than you may think. Combine 1 part sugar, 1 part water. Bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat. That’s it. It’s SIMPLE syrup; don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be! Pour your syrup into a Kilner Clip Top Jar, add thyme, and let it infuse as the syrup cools. You can strain this syrup and store it in a jar in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. It’s great in cocktails, as well as to sweeten lemonade.  Let it cool completely before using it in the lemonade – to speed up that process, you can put the entire pan in a bowl of ice water.

2. Once that syrup is done, it’s time to move on to the lemons. Start squeezing all the lemon juice we possibly can out of our lemons. I find the best tool to do this with is a manual citrus juicer. SUCH a great kitchen investment. I use it to make fresh squeezed grapefruit juice for brunch, cocktails, and the like. Pour collected lemon juice into one of our Kilner Vintage Clip Top Bottles, and set in fridge for later. We’ll get back to our lemon juice.

3. Start boiling water for the iced tea. Yes, we’ll have to boil water, steep it, and then let it cool down. An alternative is to use sun tea, which will steep in room temperature water.

 

Steeped Peach Iced Tea

4. Once your tea water is boiling, pour into a large heat safe container. We used a Pyrex glass measuring cup. Add your sliced peaches and tea bags. Let steep for around 8-10 minutes, but keep the peaches in there even after the tea bags are pulled out. We want to extract as much flavor/juices from those peaches as possible without touching them.

Thyme Simple Syrup

5. Now, it’s time to make that lemonade!  Remember the lemon juice you put in the fridge? Combine 3 parts water, 1 part lemon juice, and add that thyme simple syrup to taste. If it’s too strong, add more water. If too sour, add more syrup. If too sweet, juice another lemon.  Once you’ve made that lemonade, stick it in the fridge.  If you’re short on fridge room and want cold lemonade, you can mix 2 parts water, 1 part lemon juice, and 1 part ice (by weight) and then add the simple syrup. Leave on the counter. As the ice melts, you’ll have perfect, cold lemonade.

6. Time to check on your tea. It should be significantly cooler, but if it’s not cool enough then add ice and stick in the fridge.

Peach Iced Tea in Jars

7. Garnish some glasses, and get pouring! You’re almost done. Pour either your iced tea or lemonade first–they’ll be mixed in the end, so it doesn’t much matter!

Arnold Palmer in Kilner Jars

Arnold Palmer

8. Sit back, relax, and sip the fruits (and herbs) of your labor! A great drink for guests or just to keep stocked in your fridge. Enjoy the best lemonade and peach iced tea ever, together or separately!

Let us know how your drinks turn out. Tag your photos on Instagram and Facebook with #pacificmerchants and we’ll repost our faves! Talk to us in the comments.

Love,

Pacific Merchants

 

 

How to Have a Spa Day at Home: Homemade Sugar Scrub and Avocado Honey Face Mask

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

It’s time to start your home spa journey. Are you ready? Deep breath in! *hyyouuuuuuuuuuuuuuu* Deep breath out *haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa*. Now we’re talking. It’s time to get luxurious in the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’re throwing a spa party for a small group of friends, or enjoying a day off of work and some alone time, you can never go wrong with a spa day. We’re really excited to share both our Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipe, and our delightful Organic Avocado Honey Face Mask. They both take ten minutes or less to prepare, make a great gift for friends and family, and save you tons of money on skincare. I guarantee–if you use this scrub 2-4 times a week and follow your scrub sesh with the avocado and honey face mask application, your skin will feel softer and more hydrated than it has in years. I gave a sample to my mom last week and she is absolutely in love! This is a woman who does not cheap out on her skincare regimen, and who I’ve been trying to convince for years that she doesn’t need anything fancy to upkeep her -already- beautiful skin. Last week she finally used some of this magic scrub, and her mind totally changed:

Mom Sugar Scrub Screen Shot

Mom approved! #Score #ImDoingSomethingRight

The benefits of avocado and coconut oil for skin are endless. If you’re looking for a cheap, easy and healthy way to cleanse and hydrate your skin, look no further.

Sugar Scrub Ingredients

Featured Items: Kilner Blue Top Jars (Made in the UK!), Acacia Wood Round Calabash Bowl, Acacia Wood 12″ Square Plate

Hydrating Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

What You’ll Need:

1 cup white sugar (you may use brown, but I like to use white for citrus scents.)

1/3 cup coconut oil (found at most local grocery stores these days! People also use coconut oil for hair maintenance, butter substitution in baking and cooking, etc.)

Zest of 1 lime (may substitute with 1/2 grapefruit rind if you would like a noticeably sweeter scent or like this scent better. It will also color the white sugar a lovely coral color.)

5-15 drops lemon or lime essential oil (lemon is easier to find.)

5-10 drops coconut essential oil (optional)

Sugar and Coconut Oil

1. Combine sugar and coconut oil. If it’s too dry for your taste, add more coconut oil and if it’s too oily add some more sugar! The consistency is totally up to you. The nice thing about coconut oil is that it’s almost entirely unscented, so it won’t make a difference in the scent if you add more or choose to dilute it with additional sugar.

Lime Zest

Featured Item: Acacia Wood Round Calabash Bowl

2. Add the grated lime zest to the sugar coconut oil mixture. We actually chopped up our lime peel to make it more chunky, but zesting is recommended and preferred. You can also add lime juice, or even lemon juice/zest. The goal of this scrub is to be generally citrus-y, so if there’s one citrus fruit you prefer, this recipe is definitely flexible! The benefits of lemon and lime include preservational qualities and natural antiseptic properties. By adding a little bit of lemon or lime juice to this scrub we are not only extending its shelf life, but also providing the benefit of a deep, thorough skin cleanse that will kill off many unwanted “germs”. Pretty awesome that this is a natural attribute of the fruit!

3. Add your essential oil drops, and stir thoroughly. If you actually want to smell any coconut you’ll have to add a coconut essential oil. Otherwise, as mentioned above, the coconut oil is basically scentless. This allows you to add as little or as much scent as you want according to personal preference! Brilliant.

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

4. Pack your Kilner Jars full of your homemade sugar scrub, and voila! Gift, or keep for yourself. This is a great party favor or group activity for a spa party, wedding shower, or craft day. It’s also entirely edible, so it’s safe to make both around and for kids! If you skip on the coconut oil, this also makes a great “rim sugar” for beverages. Our adorable Blue Top Kilner Jars come in a vast array of shapes and sizes, from a sample size to a more hefty pot of scrub.

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Honey Avocado Face Mask Ingredients

Avocado Honey Face Mask

What You’ll Need:

1 medium to large avocado, preferably ripened

1/3 cup honey

1/2 a lemon or lime (to squeeze!)

1 Kilner .25L Preserve Jar

Scooping Avocado

1. Scoop the avocado into an Acaciaware Bowl from its shell. This recipe makes 1 small jar of face mask, which is good for personal use. If you’re making a larger batch, simply multiply the ingredients by the number of jars you’d like to make.

Add Honey to Face Mask Mix

2. Add the honey. At this point it’s also time to add that squeeze of lemon or lime; this will keep the mix green/fresh for a longer time due to the acidic properties of the juice.

Mash the Avocados for Face Mask

3. Mash the avocado honey mixture with a spoon or with your hands! This part is fun. How easy is this?! If you’re looking for an extremely smooth avocado face mask, put the mixture into a glass or metal mixing bowl and use an immersion blender to smooth out/puree the avocado honey mix.

Finished Honey Avocado Face Mask

4. Apply liberally to your face after using the coconut lime sugar scrub. That’s literally it! The face mask has a shelf life of about 3-5 days in the fridge. Sometimes it even lasts a little longer. We’d love to know how you like both the sugar scrub and this face mask: please tell us in the comments, or shoot us an email at social(at)pacificmerchants.com!

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Last but not least, no home spa day is complete without hydration. Staying hydrated is a great way to make your skin truly glow, and your body function at its full capacity. Your body works so much better when it has water! Sometimes drinking plain water can be boring though, so we decided to try out a flavored water recipe.

Flavored Water

Featured Items: Kilner Vintage Clip Top Bottles, Kilner .5L Preserve Jars, and our Acacia Wood Baguette Tray.

Strawberry Water

Featured Item: .5L Kilner Preserve Jar

Simply add quartered strawberries and sliced lime to your water for a lovely and naturally sweet-sour flavor, or a combo of basil and cucumber for a crisp, savory flavoring. Do this in a Kilner Bottle, and keep refrigerated for a few hours before serving so the fruit has a chance to more greatly flavor the water. Serve in our adorable .5L Kilner Preserve Jars, and garnish for insane cuteness. I am seriously obsessed with jars, it’s a problem. #JarHoarder

Me (warning: this is terrifying):

Jar Hoarder

Feeling a bit more relaxed? We hope so. Hopefully the above photo didn’t jar you too much on this day of relaxation (get it, get it?).

Let us know how your projects turn out, and if there’s anything you tried that you liked better! Also tag your photos on Instagram with #pacificmerchants to show us what you’re up to. Remember people…it’s all about enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Everything else falls into place.

Love,

Pacific Merchants

Summer Cocktail Recipe: Kentucky Sunset

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Remember when you were 5 years old and summer break was a thing?  Whole months in the summer to play, relax and enjoy every moment of every day?  In an effort to reclaim that relaxed spirit of summer in adulthood, we sat down on one unseasonably hot afternoon and created this craft cocktail.  The plan:  with just one sip, the day melts away, you can relax and feel like a kid on summer break all over again.  We’re pretty proud of the way it turned out.   This drink is sweet with fresh squeezed strawberry juice, tangy from grapefruits and just the right amount of bitter.  The bourbon adds a rich note, bringing the whole thing together beautifully.  Ready?  Break out your bottles, or your summer cocktail set, if that’s more your style, and get ready to drink in summer. Literally.

cocktail with strawberries, served in jars

This recipe makes 4 bourbon cocktails. – a perfect summer cocktail recipe for sharing with friends or neighbors by the pool.  When we throw parties, we love putting our fresh squeezed juices, garnishes and bourbon out on the table in Kilner bottles so guests can mix their drinks to their own liking, kids can drink just juice, and everyone can pick the perfect umbrella to go with their outfit.  Because what’s an electric-pink drink without a cocktail umbrella anyway?

How to make a perfect Bourbon cocktail from scratchIngredients

  • 12 oz high-quality Kentucky Bourbon.  Maker’s Mark works beautifully.
  • 8 oz grapefruit juice
  • 12 oz strawberry juice.
  • Angostura Bitters (1 healthy dash per drink)
  • 1 liter club soda, tonic(if you want a sweeter drink) or champagne (if you want a stronger drink)
  • Ice
  • Fruit for Garnish – I like small strawberries and chunks of pineapple.
  • Festive umbrellas.

how to make a summertime cocktail

Instructions

  • Like so many craft bartenders, we make our own juices for this drink.  If you’d like to take a shortcut, buy good-quality, fresh squeezed juices at your local grocery store. If you’re making juices, feel free to do them ahead of time, transfer the juice into bottles, and take time to chill it. It’s summer – you want that drink to be as refreshing as a dip in the pool.
  • Add Ice to 4 glasses (I love the rustic look of Kilner mason jars for bourbon cocktails).
  • Quickly add 3 oz of bourbon to each glass. Yes, they’re strong drinks. Please remember that before getting in the car.
  • Add 2 oz of grapefruit juice and 3 oz of strawberry juice to each glass.  Throw in a healthy dash of bitters and give each drink a stir with a cocktail spoon.
  • Top off with an assortment of fresh fruit (ideally speared on a vividly colored cocktail umbrella.)
  • Kick off your shoes, relax, and enjoy your summer break. Remember, it’s a state of mind.

classic summery cocktail Fruit in Kilner jars - for garnish how to garnish drinks enjoying drinks in Kilner jars poolside

Shameless self-promotion time: All the glassware pictured above is included in our summer cocktail set.  It includes the 3 bottles, 9 jars (6 for drinking, 2 for garnish) and even a funnel to fill those bottles easily.  Basically, if you’re looking to stock a bar cart (for summer cocktails or for making and garnishing the perfect martini recipe.) The umbrellas are not included, but believe me, they’re pretty easy to find and TOTALLY worth having.

Perfect Spring Cocktail Recipe: Lemon Lime Margarita

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Lemon Lime Margarita in Kilner glasses

As we were photographing our brand new, spring gift sets for our blog, we realized that our Cinco de Mayo gift set was the perfect excuse to whip up some margaritas no matter what the date.  And as we sipped our margaritas in the afternoon sun (we were shooting outside) we realized – we just HAD to share our recipe for you! It’s the perfect drink for a warm spring evening.

Now, I have serious love for a classic, all lime margarita, but if you’ve been to the store lately (or if you listen to NPR) you know that limes recently got EXPENSIVE!  So, to help make my dollar go further, I came up with a truly sensational lemon-lime margarita recipe. It still tastes like spring and sunshine in a glass, but if you’re throwing a cocktail party, you won’t spend your whole budget on limes.  Plus, this recipe has 2 easy variations, a classic margarita recipe, and a spicy margarita variation.  With just a couple of simple ingredients, you’re getting cocktail recipes for the work of 1!

Perfect Margarita recipe for Cinco de mayo

Here’s what you’ll need to make 4 cocktails:

  • 4 half Liter Kilner preserve jars.  I love that the threaded rims hold onto the salt on the edges really well.
  • A large pitcher
  • 2 small shallow bowls (I like to use these Acaciaware® bowls)
  • 2 oz lime juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • 4 oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 6 oz tequila
  • 3 oz  Triple Sec
  • Agave Nectar
  • Ice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 fresh Jalapeno (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)

how to put salt on the edge of a margarita glass

Instructions

  1. Figure out how many of your guests want spicy margaritas and how many want mild.
  2. Pour salt into your shallow bowl.
  3. Using a slice of lemon or lime, moisten the edge of your Kilner jar drinking glasses.
  4. Dip the moistened rims of the  glasses for the non-spicy margaritas in salt. Tap once and flip over.
  5. Now, add cayenne pepper to your salt. I do about a 50/50 mix.
  6. Moisten the edges of the glasses for your spicy margarita drinkers.
  7. Dip glasses in the cayenne/salt mixture. Tap once and flip right side up.
  8. Add a healthy pinch of salt/cayenne mixture and a slice of fresh jalapeno to the spicy glasses.
  9. In a pitcher, combine the tequila, lemon juice, lime juice and triple sec.
  10. Taste and add agave nectar to sweeten to your taste. (You can also use sugar, but agave tastes better and is better for you!)
  11. Put some ice cubes in each glass and pour your Margarita mix in carefully, so you don’t mess up those pretty salted rims.
  12. Drink and enjoy!!  Add some chips and guacamole  and some great music and you’ve got yourself a party!!

Fiesta set

If you want to turn your perfect springtime margarita into a full-blown fiesta, we suggest some brightly colored decorations, a stunning chip and dip tray for those chips and guacamole, and some lively placemats, just to brighten things up.  If you want all the guesswork taken out, consider our Cinco De Mayo Cocktail party set and a coordinating set of 4  Laguna Placemats.  The Cinco De Mayo set includes a 3-sectioned tray that’s perfect for chips and dip, 4 plates, a set of brightly colored Deco Leaves© (just for fun!) and 4 Kilner drinking glasses – perfect for that margarita cocktail recipe! The placemats (check out that awesome GIF below!) come separately.  We’ve got SO many colors available!

gif maker

Let us know what your favorite cocktails are in the comments, or share pictures with our page on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #PacificMerchants. We’d love to see what’s inspiring you this spring (especially now that a seemingly endless winter is over)!

When is Spring Cleaning? Right Now! – Spring Cleaning tips, Tricks and Sale!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Here at Pacific Merchants we’re big believers in getting organized, simplifying, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. One of the ways we’re doing that is throwing an epic Spring Cleaning sale. That’s right, some of our best-selling items are up to 50% off.  Make sure to check out our sale page to see how we do spring cleaning, and how awesome it’ll be for you!  Everything from Acacia to Placemats to Teapots are on sale, so make sure to check them out!

If you’re here to get some cleaning tips, we’re happy to help you out! We’re going to give you our top tips on how to organize a pantry, how to spring clean, and how to clean your house fast. We’ll even give you a truly helpful checklist to help you get organized at home?  Ready? Bookmark that sale page (it’s running through March 19 and we’re gonna put new stuff up all the time) and let’s clean!

somerwhere to put all your stuff1 – Create a landing strip. No, your home isn’t an airport, but it’s amazing to have somewhere to throw all your odds and ends when you walk through the door. I was particularly inspired by this little nook I saw on Apartment Therapy. Check out that big wood bowl for mail. I immediately went home and did something similar with our oval bowl –  it’s the perfect size and shape to hold my mail, but just small enough that I actually go through the mail regularly.  If you’ve got a large space, consider dedicating an small room or closet , but if you’re in a smaller apartment, something as simple as a small cabinet, a shoe rack, and a couple of hooks will suffice.   I suggest 2 hooks per per person (coat, bag/purse) and enough room for a couple of pairs of shoes each, plus a catch-all for odds and ends, whether it’s a big bowl, a sectioned tray or even a Kilner jar. Trust me, it may seem a little dumb, but having a place to dump your stuff when you walk in the door helps if you’re trying to keep your home clean.

Getting organized using Kilner jars2- Pull things off the shelves. You know those cabinets/closets/pantry shelves that are just full to the brim of disorganized odds and ends? Pull EVERYTHING out of those cluttered cabinets. Clean them (trust me, start with a clean slate) and put things back in a neat, orderly fashion. Stack dishes  by size and put them back.  Organize odds and ends in that junk drawer – I use small Kilner jars and label the lids. They’re short enough to sit in a drawer and the labels mean I can easily find those spare keys, rubber bands, loose change, or push pins.

3. Consolidate. This is another great time to break out the Kilner jars. Whenever I go through my pantry and cabinets, I find 3 half-used bags of sugar, the occasional extra bag of flour, and 5 or 6 half-used bags of chocolate chips I forgot I had.  I’ve recently begun combining all these half-used bags in large clip top jars rather than trying to put them back. The stuff I use frequently – cereal, coffee, sugar, pretzels – goes on the counter for easy access since Kilner jars are just so pretty. The stuff that I don’t use as much still gets combined, but goes in the pantry or in my cabinets.  And once you’ve consolidated, you’ll find yourself with more space for sure!

4. Throw stuff out. While you’re organizing your closets, pantries and cabinets, you’ll come across things you forgot you had, like that  sweater that just doesn’t fit or that bundt pan you’ve never used. Time to get critical: If you’ve had it longer than 6 months and haven’t used it, consider donating it – with the exception of seasonal things you actually DO break out every year.  If it’s broken, time to either repair or discard. If that pan hasn’t had a handle for months, it’s just been taking up space.  This is another great way to free up some storage space. kilner storage jars - perfect for organizing!

5. Put everything away. Use this strategy: If you use it all the time, make it the easiest to reach. If it’s one of those things you break out once a year, that highly inconvenient cabinet above the refrigerator is perfect.   If it’s something you use semi-regularly but not daily or even weekly – stand mixer, food processor, spare sheets, consider a less convenient shelf.  Once everything is put away, you’ll be happily surprised by all the newfound space you’ve got!

6. Put away anything that didn’t have a home.  You’ve got room now!

7. Dust and wash surfaces. This won’t be as hard as it sometimes is, since you cleaned those shelves and cabinets when you were organizing. Right??  Right.  Go over everything with a dustcloth first – make sure to pick things up and get under them. Once everything is dusted, give them a wipe down with a damp cloth or some windex and paper towels (where appropriate) until all your surfaces are sparkling!

8. Once you’ve got clean surfaces, move on to the floors. Vacuum where needed. Mop where needed. Make sure to run over your baseboards with a damp cloth.

9. Do your laundry. I always put this off until last since I make laundry the whole way through – All the rags, microfiber cloths and mop heads I own go in the laundry. Wash, fold and put away.

10. Holy crap! Your home is clean!  Kick back, enjoy, and check out that spring sale you bookmarked. Chances are, you’ve cleared off a perfect home for that teapot you’ve been coveting, and magic – it’s 50% off!

 

 

How To Make Jam: A Canning Tutorial

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Blood Orange Strawberry Jam

As our readers know, we spend a lot of time working with our awesome Kilner canning jars around here, but we haven’t posted a lot of canning recipes.  We figured it was time to change that.   Back in April we featured a post on how to make strawberry jam.  It was a basic recipe on how to make jam without pectin. This time, we took our awesome strawberry jam and made it even more delicious by adding juice from some delicious, seasonal, local produce: Southern California Blood Oranges!  The best thing about this recipe is that you can taste the blood oranges and the strawberries equally, and they go really well together.  So let’s get started. This post will teach you how to make your own jam in just a few easy steps.

Sanitizing jam jars

First, let’s start with the basics: How to sterilize canning jars.  No matter which way you choose to sanitize canning jars, you start the same way: Giving them a wash with soap and water.  Inspect them, and hold any chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged jars to the side. Those jars are great for craft projects, but lousy for canning. Next you either boil the Kilner jars, lids and bands in a big pot of boiling water (lined with a towel or a canning jar rack to keep the jars from chipping) or run them through your dishwasher on a sanitize cycle.  You just need to make sure that you time your cycle so that you’re pulling the jars out and filling them when they’re still hot.  I’m lucky to have a really nice sanitize cycle on my dishwasher that actually counts down the minutes, so I can have everything ready at just the right moment.

Strawberry Jam Ingredients

While the Jars are sanitizing, it’s time to make your jam.  We were making this jam for the IHA Show 2014 in Chicago (come visit us at Booth 1667 in the South building!) so we made a TON of jam. Think 35lbs worth of strawberries worth. The ingredients you see above would make a pint or two at most.  For the jam, you’ll need:

how to make jam- step by step

  • 2 10-0z packages of frozen, sliced, unsweetened strawberries OR 20 oz fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced.
  • 1 3/4 oz powdered fruit pectin – 2 oz if you’re using frozen strawberries
  • zest of 2  blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice*
  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar

* Once I zested my blood oranges, I put them through a juicer, pith and all. It made for a slightly  bitter juice, but in the end, the flavor is balanced by the sweet strawberries and sugar whether you hand squeeze the oranges or juice them in a machine.

To make the jam, get out a big pot or a jam pan. Make sure it’s a non-reactive pan to get the most beautiful jam possible. Add the strawberries, the blood orange juice and zest, and the pectin to the pot. Heat, stirring constantly with a large spoon or spatula until the pectin is dissolved. Once everything is dissolved, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Strawberries, orange juice, orange zest, pectin

After the jam has boiled for a few moments, add the sugar, and allow the mixture to come back to a boil. Continue to stir it constantly. It is very important not to add the sugar until the pectin is dissolved or you’ll end up with a delicious jam that won’t thicken. Frustrating, yes? This is one of the most important things my mother taught me when I was first learning how to do canning at home, and when I mix up my order, things go truly wrong. Once the jam mixture has come to a boil, it’ll begin to foam. Skim off the foam with a very fine mesh strainer or even a slotted spoon. It’ll ruin the texture of the jam.  At this point, let it boil around 5 minutes more, skimming as needed and you’re ready to can. At this point, bring another large pot of water to a boil.

how to make homemade jam

At this point, you’re going to need:

  • Sanitized jars, lids and rings
  • Jam tongs (hold these in boiling water a few minutes to sanitize)
  • A funnel that fits your jars (this should also be sanitized along with the jars)
  • Some sort of big spoon or ladle
  • A rag or paper towel to wipe your jar mouths

Pull your jars out of the dishwasher or pot of boiling water and make sure they’re completely empty.  Use funnel to pour hot jam into hot, sanitized Kilner jars neatly, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom for each jar.  Wipe the mouths of the jars clean (the most important thing to remember when we talk about how to seal a canning jar) and place the seals squarely on each jar.  Screw on each band until just tight, then unscrew each one a quarter turn.  Once all the jars are closed, it’s time to process the jars.  Boiling jars for canning not only helps the jars seal but it’s a good way to help making canned food last a long time.

how to prepare canning jars    photo 8

Remember that pot of water you brought to a boil? Time to use it.  Now that the jars are full and closed, it’s time to process those Kilner jars.  When I talk to people about canning, the most common questions I get are “how long do you boil jars for canning?” and “how long does canning food last?”  Time to answer the first of those questions: Once the jars are full, process them at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.  When I say process, I mean put the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes. Make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch (I prefer 2) and let boil.

how canning works

If your canning goes anything like mine, as you add the jars to the water, the boiling will stop (see above, and pardon the jam-spattered cooktop.)  Don’t start timing the 5 minutes until the water is back at a rolling boil.    The jam may appear to loosen up a little and become more liquid, but don’t worry, it’ll set up as it cools.  After 5 minutes at a rolling boil, remove your delicious homemade strawberry jam with blood orange from the pot (use your tongs, these jars are hot!) and set on a heat-proof surface.  I just put a towel down on my butcher block and lay the jars out on that.

You’ll hear little pings and pops as the jars seal. That’s a good thing.  Let the jars cool overnight, then test the seal of each jar by pushing the center of the lid. If there’s any give to it, it hasn’t processed correctly, and your jar isn’t sealed. I got lucky in that all of my jars sealed. If they don’t seal, don’t worry, all is not lost. You cannot reuse canning lids (I’ve had a lot of people come to our booth at shows asking “can you  reuse canning lids?”) but you can get a spare pack of lids and re-seal your jars. Just wipe the mouths of the jars really clean, and process in boiling water for a little longer this time. Try about 8 minutes and it should do the trick. Once the jars hold a seal, you’re good. The jam should last 6 months at room temperature!

how to make orange jam

I hope that our little tutorial has you inspired to break out some Kilner jars and start canning. It may seem daunting at first, but it’s a really wonderful way to preserve awesome flavors at the height of the season!  Check out our little canning movie on Instagram! If you want to know more about canning with Kilner jars, come visit us at IHA in Chicago in just a couple of weeks. We’re in the South Building at booth 1667 and we’re happy to tell you all about Kilner jars, canning, and, if you’re lucky, let you try some of this totally delicious jam.

 

 

 

How To Make a DIY Pincushion

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Dear readers,

I hope you are all having a fabulous Sunday! This weekend has been a busy one for Pacific Merchants Trading Company as we have a photo shoot tomorrow and a few huge trade shows coming up.  Today I stained wood for tomorrow’s photo shoot, and I also made a DIY pincushion from a #kilnerjar – it doubles as a sewing storage kit.

Kilner Jar Crafting DIY Pincushion

This simple project requires all that you see here plus scissors.  So easy, fun, inexpensive and practical!  Makes for a great gift or personal item.  We suggest using our .25L Kilner Preserve Jars, but the .5L Kilner Preserve Jars also work, especially if you want more storage room. For a full tutorial, visit Take Courage Blog.

Kilner Jar Pincushion  Klner DIY Crafting

I had so much fun with this project today.  Did you do anything fun this Sunday?  Talk to us in the comments, and find more photos at the Pacific Merchants Instagram (@PacificMerchant) and Pinterest.

 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

As 2013 winds down, we’re taking a quick look at some of our favorite products from the last 12 months.  It’s been an exciting year, and we’re psyched to share some of that excitement with you
DSC_9815 DSC_9989 Full assortment of Kilner jars, bottles, and canning accessories

We were thrilled to bring in a new line this year, and we couldn’t have asked for something more exciting than Kilner! We’ve had a lot of fun canning, preserving, and pickling this year, but we’ve had just as much fun trying to figure out other fun uses for all the beautiful Kilner jars, bottles and accessories.  We’ve crafted with Kilner, baked in the jars, and even used them in place of tupperware for lunches.  But we quickly found out that one of our absolute favorite uses for Kilner jars is for storage.  The larger clip top jars are perfect for pantry organization.  All our jars proved to be awesome for organizing small items, from hardware in sheds to markers and craft supplies to sprinkles and spices!

Beautiful Mason Cash in the forest mixing bowls. Mason Cash counter grip bowl

It wasn’t just a good year for canning and preserving – it was an amazing year for baking.  Mason Cash not only brought back the incomparable counter bowl, which tilts as you mix, but a set of four stunning Forest bowls. Whether your style reflects the whimsy of the forest bowls (stunning stoneware embossed with sweet woodland creatures) or you’re more about a bowl that’ll become a workhorse in your kitchen, Mason Cash has you covered.

Mason Cash Bread Baking set Mason Cash Tear and share Bread Form

2013 was also an awesome year for all things terracotta.  Not only did we use our clay cooker and tagines constantly, but we introduced some really cool new terracotta pieces that were designed with the baker in mind.  Our Bread Baking Set features a mixing bowl with a lid that doubles as a baking stone! This year, I’ve used mine for everything from brioche to pizza and each loaf has come out with a perfectly crisp crust and absolutely tender crumb. We also released some Mason Cash Terracotta Tear-and-Share bread forms that really went a long way to adding some charm to my holiday meals this year.  Plus, the unglazed terracotta bread forms really make sure that each roll has a terrific crust and is perfectly, evenly baked.

strawberry salad in pacific merchants acaciaware bowl. cobb salad in bowl.

Acaciaware® really got the chance to shine in 2013. Not only were our beautiful acaciaware® bowls and salad serving sets featured on some top notch blogs and food websites, from The Domestic man to Apartment Therapy (see images above) but we got the chance to expand our line and bring in some new items (see below.) Whether you’re looking for a classic round serving bowl or organically shaped dishes, our acaciaware® line has what you need.

New Acacia images

This was also the year we really got to see just how versatile our new line of Laguna placemats can be. We’ve set dozens of tables with brightly colored Laguna mats and no matter what the occasion, the brightly colored, neatly bordered placemats really tied the whole table together. Check out both a Christmas shot and a Cinco De Mayo themed shot below to see just how nicely our placemats bring things together, whether set traditionally, scattered haphazardly for a pop of color or laid out neatly as a table runner!

Laguna Mats for Christmas Fiesta laguna mats

As you can see, we’ve had quite the year here at Pacific Merchants, and we’re going to spend tonight celebrating 2013 and getting excited for all the awesome things that 2014 has in store for us!  Cheers to a happy, healthy, exciting new year! Have a Happy New year, Everyone!

 


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