Originally created 05/08/02

Small portions

Ramps and leeks

In some parts of the United States, the arrival of spring isn't heralded by the robin but by wild onions known in Appalachia as ramps and in the Great Lakes region as wild leeks. These plants, with their spicy leaves and small bulbs, are used in salads or to season soups and sauces.

If you're a transplanted native longing for a taste of home or just curious to try this pungent plant, now you can without driving to the mountains. Earthy Delights, a Michigan-based food seller, will ship them to you.

The company is selling ramps for the next several weeks. The price is $8.50 a pound, plus $24 for priority shipping. Contact www.earthy.com or call (800) 367-4709 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Mini cake pans

If you believe good things come in small packages, you will enjoy a recent offer from Kaiser Bakeware and Kraft Foods - mini springform cheesecake pans that let you make little cakes to fit different tastes.

The four, 4.5-inch pans are a $20 value, but are available for $9.99 with three proof-of-purchase seals from 8-ounce packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The order form can be found on marked packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese or on the Web at www.creamcheese.com.

Good fishing

Eating fish is good for your health, but eating some kinds of fish isn't good for the health of the environment. To help clear up the confusion, Environmental Defense, a nonprofit New York group, has prepared a Web site that lets consumers know the most nutritious and environmentally sustainable fish and seafood.

The Seafood Selector (www.environmentaldefense.org) search tool on the group's Web site allows consumers to search by fish types for the nutrition and viability of each species. In cases where the fish is at risk, the site gives alternatives. You also can find tips on seafood preparation and recipes from prominent chefs.

Yogurt bars

Food companies have tried putting cereal in yogurt. Now Kellogg's has found a way to put yogurt in cereal. The company's Nutri-Grain Yogurt Cereal Bars have the same whole-grain crust as the regular breakfast bars, but with a creamy yogurt filling that requires no refrigeration. The bars come in strawberry, blueberry and vanilla flavors and cost $3.19 for an eight-count box.

The bars contain 140 calories a serving, 3 grams of fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrate and no cholesterol.

Slow cookers

Tips on buying a slow cooker:

  • Look for a model that cooks slowly on "high" and "low."
  • Make sure it has a tight-fitting lid.
  • A removable crockery unit makes cleaning easier. (Electric elements often cannot be immersed in dishwater.)
  • Look for a model in which the heating element envelops the crockery, not one that just cooks from the bottom.
  • A timer to shut off to "warm" (allow no longer than two hours) means you don't have to worry about overcooking food.
  • Grate tools

    The following are some graters currently on the market:

  • Oxo Good Grips Multi-Grater can be used on a flat surface, over a bowl or in a bowl. Best for grating cheese or firm vegetables.
  • Linens 'n Things nonslip flat grater combines most of the grating functions of a box grater - large and small grating and slicing - but stores easily in a kitchen drawer.
  • The Microplane Grater is best used for a moderately fine result and works well with chocolate, hard cheese and small firm vegetables such as radishes or baby carrots.
  • Progressive International's five-piece boxed grater allows you to switch blades to accommodate any ingredient, large or small. To avoid mess, ingredients can be grated directly into the box and stored there as well.

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