We in the Bay Area are blessed with many artisan bread bakers. Without using preservatives and chemicals, they produce delicious, handcrafted, slow-rising loaves — levain, rye and sourdough — that have a long shelf life if stored correctly.
A brand-new invention from Berkeley’s Ann Arnold, the Bamboo-Bag, is made of bamboo fabric, which retains a natural anti-microbial substance that allows bread to retain moisture while preventing mold.
The bags come in two sizes — for loaves or baguettes — and fold up into handkerchief-size squares convenient for carrying bread home, thus saving paper and plastic bags.
They can be machine-washed and dried. My loaf-size bag, which holds two whole breads, works elegantly. It’s much neater and easier than the floppy cotton dish towels in which I have been wrapping my bread. Plus, they make an inspired holiday present for bread lovers.
Each bag costs $16; find them at Acme Bread, the Cheeseboard, Phoenix Pastificio and Wellspring Clinic, all in Berkeley, or find out more at www.bamboo-bag.com.
This slim paperback delivers the goods — 52 classic cookie recipes that are easy to make and scrumptious.
Author Sally Sampson, former senior writer for Cooks Illustrated magazine, brings her no-nonsense skills to the cookie making process, plus an excellent curatorial sensibility.
If you want good cookies for the holidays, buy yourself a present now: “Cookies.: 52 Easy Recipes for Year-Round Baking” by Sally Sampson (J. Wiley, $16.95)