A dozen cool things to eat, cook, use, read and think about this month.
1. Apple Roses Dessert that broke the Internet
Food blogger Manuela brought the crazy-obsessive food blogging community to its knees last month with this flat out gorgeous, easy apple dessert  that is simply puff pastry, a little jam, and thinly sliced apples. When baked, each looks like a delicate rose. You have to take 1 minute and watch her graceful hands put these together (video below). Are you as amazed as I am? Let’s agree we’ll try making them. Promise?
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2. Good wine for a good cause
As I sipped some Baron Cooper 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon , I watched our new rescue dog, Kai, get loved up by my two teenagers. This mutt — probably a terrier mix, all 10 pounds of him — made an instant impact on our family, in the best way. My drink was fitting, because this brand was inspired and named after the winemaker’s own rescue dog — Cooper, a Manchester terrier they got at their local humane society. The brand is dedicated to Cooper and to all animals in shelters throughout the country. To honor this, 5% of all the sales of Baron Cooper Wines are donated to Best Friends Animal Society , the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. Let’s raise a glass of this wine with a very personal cause, and toast to our fur babies everywhere — may they all find forever homes. About $20.
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3. Magnetic clips
I am forever looking for the perfect clip that does everything in the kitchen. This OXO magnetic clip  does everything I need — close bags of cereal or pretzels, stick to the fridge to hold my shopping list, and temporarily hold a sheaf of papes together so they don’t blow around when teenagers whiz by. About $7 for a pack of 4.
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4. California avocados by mail
In California we are completely spoiled by our abundance of fresh produce, year around. One example is avocados, which grow well here in our Mediterranean climate. The lion’s share of the avocados from California are a single variety called Hass, available roughly February through August (Mother nature prescribes the exact growing season each year). But there are so many more varieties — the big Reed, the Pinkerton, the Bacon…making California avocados available nearly every month of the year. If you’d like to experience the joy of perfectly seasonal avocados straight from a farm, sign up for a box from California Avocados Direct . You can order a one-time box for yourself or a gift, or indulge in the monthly delivery. This is a family farm, and simply the best.
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5. Look who is making my recipes!
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6. Quickie meatball sandwich
My teenage son loves his sub sandwiches, and instead of hauling him off to the fast food outlet to grab his sandwich, I’ve been using a new-to-me convenient Meatballs in Marinana Sauce Sandwich Maker from Hormel . A quick microwave and these puppies are hot and ready to slap on a bun. There are 8 meatballs in a package, and that made 2 sandwiches for us. Win-win.
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7. Creamy Horseradish
Once a year at Christmas when I make a roast, I buy a container of horseradish, and stir some into yogurt or sour cream to create a horseradish sauce for my beef. Then I forget about it for a year. That’a shame, because sharp, zingy horseradish is so, so good with beef. It shouldn’t be only a once-a-year occurrence, and it doesn’t have to be with new-to-me Saucy Mama Creamy Horseradish  in a squeeze container. I’ve taken to squirting it on my sandwiches, whether they’re beef or roast turkey. I think it would be good on corned beef left over from St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m thinking about it for roasted potatoes or how about a potato salad? YUM! It’s a little vinegary, a tiny bit sweet, and packs a kick from the horseradish. About $5 for an 8.75-ounce jar.
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8. Purple asparagus
A little sweeter, milder tasting and with fatter stalks than the usual green asparagus, purple asparagus  from Frieda’s Produce is art on a plate! Whack the woody end off, and steam or microwave it as you might the green variety, or grill it, as we did. It’s guaranteed to dress up any dinner plate! Use this locator  to find purple asparagus near you.
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9. Bone broth?
Little store fronts (example Brodo, above, in New York) are popping up to sell “bone broth,” like it’s a new wondrous miracle food. You know what bone broth is? It’s broth, aka stock. Always has been, always will be. You throw some bones in a pot with some water and maybe a few aromatics and boil the heck out of it, and you have broth or stock. Bone broth? Only if you need to sound fancy. (Brodo is Italian for broth or stock.)
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10. May is Healthy Vision Month
Although you no doubt take them for granted, your eyeballs need tender loving care. There’s no better time than this month — Healthy Vision Month  — to make sure you’re eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens. These have been proven important for keeping your eyes healthy, and research has shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut. Thumb through “Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health,” to prove to yourself that you can eat deliciously while minding your health. Turkey Breakfast Sausage, Salmon and Black Beans to Go, Bison Chili, Portabello Pizzas…there are so many things I want to make from this book. The author, Sandra Young, is both an optometrist and a chef, and the book stands on the foundation that healthful meals the entire family will enjoy can be prepared with exceptional taste while supporting eye health. (Favorite Recipe Press; $25.95)
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11. A spot of the bubbly
If you love wine, or bubbly in particular, you will love “A Year in Champagne ,” a graceful, poetic film that guides viewers through the winemaking process and behind the scenes at six houses — small independents where every bottle is turned by hand, all the way to Bollinger, which has helped shaped the world’s image of champagne. (It’s Bollinger that James Bond keeps referring to in many of the Bond films). It’s a passionate portrait of the people, places and the process of turning grapes into sparkling wine, which can only be truly called Champagne if it is produced within the boundaries of the Champagne region. In English and French with English subtitles; 82 minutes; Samuel Goldwyn Films.
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Have you heard of Yummly ? It’s a relatively new digital recipe sharing / storage app (available for both Apple and Android devices), and there is also a website you can use if you don’t have a tablet or smartphone. It allows you to save recipes from any website you are reading, so you can find them later. If you like to read food blogs (and you do, right, since you’re here!), you will often find that they have a “Yum button” in their social media sharing buttons (my yum button wil come soon!). You can click that to save the recipe to your account easily. If you are on a computer I recommend you get the bookmarklet  for your browser; it makes “yumming” recipes much easier; that’s what I use when I am spelunking into the interwebs for recipe inspiration. Once you have your account you can yum my recipes directly from my Yummly Publisher page ! Try this new idea and see if it works for your own cooking.
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Disclosure: Baron Cooper, OXO, California Avocados Direct, Hormel Foods, Saucy Mama, Frieda’s Produce, Sandra Young and Samuel Goldwyn Films sent products for review. There was no expectation of a positive review and all opinions are, as always, my own.