2022 has been a year of transition for us, having left California for New Mexico in January and having spent the year settling into a new home and routine, making new connections and planning new projects. This year has seen us thinking more than usual about the sense of place that objects invoke, as we explore our new scenery, its people, produce, and pastimes, while also seeking comfort in the familiar. As has now become a yearly tradition, we've gathered a small collection of our favorite pieces that we think would make great gifts this holiday season, a mix of new discoveries and old classics we keep returning to.
Early this year we developed our red and green shichimi, a traditional Japanese seven-spice blend that we updated with local New Mexican red and green chile — as it is here, the red is warmer and spicier, while the green is brighter and citrusy. We like to put it on all kinds of things, from rice, to roasted vegetables, avocado toast, and even cocktails like a margarita or bloody mary.
Another first order of business when we moved to Santa Fe was working with Kimmy of Whiskey & Clay. We’ve long admired her effortlessly swirled ceramics that invoke laid-back desert living. I’ve been using one of her mugs for my morning tea all year and will add the pour over on those days when I need the extra pick me up of coffee.
Coming across the work of Matt Fishman was one of my great finds of the year. Using foraged clay and glaze ingredients from the Sierra Nevada, he creates one-of-a-kind pieces that combine Japanese influence with a distinct California terroir. It’s always difficult not to want to keep pieces for myself, and with his yunomi they’re all so beautiful and unique that I can’t choose just one.
Our first summer in New Mexico saw us try out some new outdoor pursuits that we hadn’t so easily been able to explore in southern California. A robust monsoon season meant a prolific mushroom crop up in the mountains, and we regularly went up to gather porcini, chanterelles, oyster, and woodears, with our Opinel mushroom knife. We found the design of the knife to be pretty much perfect — the blade folds for easy carrying in a backpack, and the natural bristles are properly stiff and angled to brush out every little bit of dirt from the underside of the mushroom. We also picked up trout fishing in the local streams and put our weathered fillet knife to good use. We’ve had this knife for about 5 years now and have always brought it camping and on road trips, as the leather sheath makes it easy to travel with. Despite all the use, the blade is still super sharp, and it worked great for cleaning dozens of small trout on our late fall fishing trip with friends.
After the supply chain challenges of the pandemic years, 2022 saw a lot of our favorite pieces that had been long out of stock finally come back. Chief among these was our Toribe kitchen scissors, handcrafted from stainless steel in Niigata Prefecture. Using a good pair of scissors is such a pleasure, and these are sharp enough for delicate tasks like trimming herbs, while also robust enough for tasks like breaking down a chicken.
Having just hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new home and looking ahead to Christmas, I’ve been turning to some new classics for entertaining and setting the holiday mood. I’m a practical person, not one to go in for too much decoration and adornment, so a pair of taper candles and a bit of foraged greenery is my go-to table setting. You can’t go wrong with just classic beeswax tapers, but this year I’ve been enjoying the added drama of our Duplero candles. And once Christmas and New Year’s comes around, I’ll be burning a set of our new Bayberry candles—made from pure New England bayberry wax, they have the perfect spicy and woody holiday scent.
The cold weather has reignited my love of baking, after years in a place that never really gets cold. A simple cake has always been my favorite, but finding a good cake pan can be a challenge — springform pans that leak, non-stick pans that stick. I’m happy to say our Netherton spun iron cake pan is the best one I’ve used. It’s non-stick right out of the gate due to its preseasoning with natural flax oil, and the great heat retention of the iron means the cake cooks evenly even in ovens with poor temperature regulation (a problem we’ve often had over the years with cheap ovens in rentals).
To cut the richness of holiday meals, I’ve been making lots of salads with bitter chichories in my large spalted maple bowl by Spencer Peterman. I love a mix of escarole, frisee, and radicchio, with a minced garlic clove and quick dressing of red wine vinegar and olive oil, it’s quick and easy and colorful and bright.