Best Kids Stuff from 2011

These book clubs, products and party ideas made parents' lives a little easier in 2011.
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Best "Mini Me" Trend
Book Groups for Children

For Seattle’s subadult set, 2011 was the year of the book...group. Across the city, kids are huddling in circles to discuss everything from Hunger Games to graphic novels to Daisy Dawson stories. Best of all: Mockingbird Books' free book group, complete with free pizza, just for tween boys the third Friday of every month. (Green Lake, 7220 Woodlawn Ave. NE; 206.518.5886; mockingbirdbooksgl.com) Another notable page turner: At Secret Garden Books (Ballard, 2214 NW Market St.; 206.789.5006; secretgardenbooks.com), teens nosh on Snoose Junction pizza while discussing the hottest YA titles (free; last Wednesday of the month); a young readers’ club is also in the works.

Best Nesting Assist
SwaddleDesigns’ Angry Bird Blankets

For years, we’ve loved Seattle’s SwaddleDesigns for its big, soft, square swaddling blankets with step-by-step baby-enchilada instructions sewn right onto the blanket. Now, blankies meet birdies with a flock of new designs featuring critters from the obsession-inducing smartphone game Angry Birds. Put a bird on your blanket ($28), burpie ($20), baby sack ($38), lovie ($20) and other items to honor those nesting instincts. Tukwila, 480 Andover Park East; 206.525.0400; swaddledesigns.com

Best Plush Lovie
Friends of Socktopus Wiener Dogs

Face it: Wiener dogs are funny. But in the hands of Clarity Miller, owner of Anacortes-based Friends of Socktopus, they go from silly to stylish. Handsewn in scads of fashion-forward cotton fabric options, these 16–inch-long doggies are about 5 inches tall, thus preserving the correct height/length ratio for optimum wiener-dog cuteness. $26; etsy.com, search “wiener dog paisley”

 

Best Birthday Party Idea

Moonie Icy Tunes’ Ice Cream Truck

Ice cream season is long past, but that won’t put the brakes on this truck, which delivers ice cream treats, old-school ice cream truck style, to screaming fans at parties. Beloved by summertime birthday party planners (and goers) citywide (book now for next summer!), Moonie Icy Tunes is trying something new this year: staying open for business all winter, too. “We’re already getting bookings well into December,” says Sharon Crosetto, a Redmond mom who runs the business with her daughter Melissa. Besides the iconic Good Humor bars, Moonie rolls out high-end treats, such as profiteroles and a limoncello dessert served in a glass flute, from her refurbished postal Jeep. “The novelty of it brings back something pleasant for people,” says Crosetto, like sweet memories of summer in the dead of winter. 425.223.1890; moonieicytunes.com

2016 Cookbook Gift Guide

2016 Cookbook Gift Guide

Three essential local culinary guides for holiday gift giving
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR: Chef John Sundstrom is one of the Pacific Northwest’s culinary icons, winner of the James Beard Award for best Northwest chef in 2007 and a semifinalist for outstanding chef in 2014. His latest cookbook, Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest (Sasquatch, $30), published in August, is an updated version of 2013’s self-published Lark: Cooking Against the Grain. But, in addition to the rustic Northwest takes on French-themed classics that put the consistently great First Hill restaurant on the map—bacon-wrapped quail, mustard-roasted chicken, silky Meyer lemon parfaits—the new paperback version includes a chapter on Sundstrom’s favorite everyday staples: recipes for pasta, ricotta, vinaigrettes, breads, syrups and pickles. To some, the cover, with its haunting image, looks more like the cover of a book by Bainbridge Island author David Guterson than that of a cookbook. But the contents? One word: essential. 



SOUTHERN COMFORT
: Fancy yourself a baker? Big Food Big Love: Down-Home Southern Cooking Full of Heart from Seattle’s Wandering Goose (Sasquatch, $25) will send you running for your mixer. The new cookbook by North Carolina native and Capitol Hill restaurateur Heather Earnhardt features 130 recipes, including ones offering up the secrets to her towering layer cakes, like the top-selling Brownstone Front Cake; brunch favorites worthy of those long weekend lines, including the famed corned beef brisket bubble and squeak; and comforting dinner favorites, such as Loaded Chicken Pot Pie and Smoky Meat Collards. Did we mention Earnhardt shares all 10 of her biscuit recipes? Now that’s Southern hospitality.  



THE ULTIMATE COCKTAIL GUIDE
: In The Canon Cocktail Book: Recipes from the Award-Winning Bar (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28), owner-bartender Jamie Boudreau spills the beans on what has made First Hill’s Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium one of the world’s 50 best bars, according to Drinks International magazine (it consistently makes Esquire’s lists as well). Instead of clamoring for one of the bar’s coveted 32 seats, tuck into Boudreau’s 352-page book which features all of Canon’s signature cocktails, from the stenciled Banksy Sour (with Peychaud’s bitters) to the smoky Khaleesi cocktail. Boudreau reveals his “golden ratio” cocktail philosophy and promises you won’t need his $1 million whiskey collection or a trace of liquid nitrogen to wow your friends.