Manufactum and Kaufmann Mercantile Company

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While it’s probably familiar to any European readers, Manufactum is to the quality products and goods what Cool Tools is to, well, the recommendation of quality products and goods. It’s a store that seeks to only sell the best, long lasting products that exemplify their categories; something I think that most CoolTools readers are likewise trying to do. They say it best:

We have selected items of quality in the widest sense of the word. They are manufactured with great skill according to traditional methods and are thus reliable and practical. The materials are carefully chosen to suit the purpose, and are, therefore, attractive. They are made from traditional materials, i.e. metal, glass, wood etc., can be repaired and are environmentally friendly.

The result of all our homework is this online shop. Somewhere in the region of 1,500 quality items have been selected for inclusion, some of which are true classics which have stood the test of time. They are made from materials of the highest quality, they function well and will outlive any trend or fashion.

While in Munich recently I wandered into one of their locations. Their store is a veritable playground, with all of their wide variety of products available for examination/perusal/purchase. Their website lists many, if not most, products for sale in their stores, and for those who would rather look at things in print, there is a large and lush catalog available.

– Zach Zaletel
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This is not about a specific tool. The Kaufmann Mercantile Company is a cousin of the Cool Tools site. It bears the same general philosophy: exceptionally well made, functional tools. If you’re a fan of Cool Tools and go this site, you’ll probably click through every page on the site, as I did.

What led me there was a link to some shoe brushes. I have long lamented the apparent disappearance of quality brushes. I treasured a simple scrub brush that my uncle left with me years ago. He was in the Navy and they were issued this brush to scrub their clothes clean. It had a solid wood palm-fitting handle, and REAL bristles, not plastic. I lost it and have never found an identical replacement. It seems scrub brushes now have plastic bristles, which just seem to splatter water everywhere when used, without really thoroughly scrubbing the surface.

The Kaufmann Mercantile site led me to the Magnolia Brush Company in Clarksville, Texas, which supplies some of the brushes in their catalog.

-- Glenn Crumpley  

Kaufmann Mercantile
http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/
Free



Simply Vegan

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Simply Vegan is perfect for beginning vegans because it has specific sections on how to be a healthy vegan, as opposed to a “Fritos and Sprite” vegan.

It goes into sources for proteins, minerals, has ready-to-go weekly shopping lists, and daily meal lists, so if you’re getting into veganism you can do it safely and intelligently with a minimal amount of work (just buy the stuff on the shopping list and cook it). I went vegan at 14 (and have been vegan 14 years so far) and my parents made me sell them on the idea of being healthy sans animal products. At first the task seemed incredibly daunting, but once I found Simply Vegan I had all the answers. And these days my folks are mostly vegan as well.

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I won’t say the recipes in this book are the best ever – they certainly can’t hold a candle to much of Veganomicon — but if you know your way around some spices there’s no better book that I’ve found which covers the nutritive bases and really can set a new vegan on the right path to whole health.

-- Ian Hall  

Simply Vegan: Quick Vegetarian Meals
Debra Wasserman, Reed Mangels
2006 (4th edition), 224 pages
$11

Available from Amazon



Veganomicon

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Veganomicon is the best vegan cookbook out there. It’s reputation is based on the quantity and variety of its recipes, and the complexity and deliciousness of the resulting dishes. There are more than 250 recipes, presented with wit and lighthearted punk-rock irreverence, as well unpretentious and helpful instructions. These vegan dishes don’t only try to mimic meat-based meals; they are just good food. Our household doesn’t adhere to a vegan diet, yet we’ve found some of these recipes great eye-openers as to how tasty and accessible homemade vegan food can be.

-- Elon Schoenholz  

Veganomicon
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero
2007, 336 pages
$18

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

Chickpea Cutlets
We try not to play favorites, but this is one of our babies and a recipe that we are sure will take over food blogs worldwide. A combination of chickpeas and vital wheat gluten formed into savory cutlets, it’s perfect for when you want something “meaty” buy don’t want to go to the trouble of making seitan. We serve these cutlets in myriad ways, packed into sandwiches or smothered in mustard sauce, with a side of mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. It’s vegan food that you can eat with a steak knife and, best of all, it is fast and easy. You’ll probably want to double the recipe if you’re serving it to guests.

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup vital wheat gluten
½ cup plain bread crumbs
¼ cup vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated with a microplane grater
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
¼ teaspoon dried rubbed sage
Olive oil for pan frying

*

Beanball Sub
This is a conglomeration of a few recipes from the cookbook that also would make great use of leftover Beanballs (page 189). We throw in a handful of spinach just for posterity; you need not be so healthy if you don’t feel like it. Also, if you don’t want to make the Pine Nut Cream (page 164) and just want to use some soy cheese, we won’t judge you. These would be perfect for a Super Bowl party, or since you are a vegan and hate football, a Nobel Prize party. Ooh, we can’t wait to see who wins for physics this year!

1 recipe Beanballs (page 189)
1 recipe (4 cups) Marinara Sauce, or any of the variations (page 205)
1 recipe Pine Nut cream (page 164)
4 hoagie rolls, split open
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, well washed

*

Tip
To toast sesame seeds: Preheat a small pan over medium-low heat. Pour in the sesame seeds and toast them, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Once they are browned, immediately remove them from the pan to prevent burning.

*

Tip
This is our favorite way to prep collards: To get rid of the tough stem without having to sit there cutting it, you can actually easily tear the leaves from the stem with your hands. Fill the sink with water, pull off the leaves, rip them into large pieces (collards are tough, they can take it) and put the leaves into the water to rinse them. No need to drain, just give them a shake before adding to the pan.




 

Hohner Little Lady

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The Hohner Little Lady is made in Europe from brass and pear wood. It will play a full scale. Learn 13 songs here.

-- Tim McKinney  

Hohner Little Lady Harmonica
$13

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Hohner



 

MSR MugMate

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Bought this for my grandmother-in-law after she saw me using mine. Great for brewing single cups of coffee or tea. Easy to clean. Mine’s in excellent condition after 6 months of regular use.

-- Steven Leckart  

MSR MugMate
$15

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Cascade Designs



 

Gimlet Set

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I’m giving gimlet sets to a few lucky in-laws this year. I’ve found them to be a great time saver whenever I need a hole drilled and precise placement is critical. A few twists and a lovely pilot hole is exactly where you need it.

-- Paul Steger  

Set of Auger Gimlets
$16
Available from Garret Wade

Also available from Lee Valley



MugMate * Gimlets * Harmonica

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We asked our readers what cool tools they are giving to their friends and families this year. Here are the final three in our series this week of suggested gifts mentioned in the comments that we are highlighting on the front page. Submit your own recommendation in the comments. — ES

MSR MugMate

Bought this for my grandmother-in-law after she saw me using mine. Great for brewing single cups of coffee or tea. Easy to clean. Mine’s in excellent condition after 6 months of regular use.

-- Steven Leckart  

 

MSR MugMate
$15

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Cascade Designs



Veganomicon * Simply Vegan

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Here are the two best vegan (no meat or dairy) cookbooks as suggested by many Cool Tool readers. Thanks to readers Charlotte, Scott Carlson, Chris, Jared, Terri Alice, Ryan Freebern and Ian Hall.

Simply Vegan

Simply Vegan is perfect for beginning vegans because it has specific sections on how to be a healthy vegan, as opposed to a “Fritos and Sprite” vegan.

It goes into sources for proteins, minerals, has ready-to-go weekly shopping lists, and daily meal lists, so if you’re getting into veganism you can do it safely and intelligently with a minimal amount of work (just buy the stuff on the shopping list and cook it). I went vegan at 14 (and have been vegan 14 years so far) and my parents made me sell them on the idea of being healthy sans animal products. At first the task seemed incredibly daunting, but once I found Simply Vegan I had all the answers. And these days my folks are mostly vegan as well.

simplyvegan-sm2.jpg

I won’t say the recipes in this book are the best ever – they certainly can’t hold a candle to much of Veganomicon — but if you know your way around some spices there’s no better book that I’ve found which covers the nutritive bases and really can set a new vegan on the right path to whole health.

-- Ian Hall  

 

Simply Vegan: Quick Vegetarian Meals
Debra Wasserman, Reed Mangels
2006 (4th edition), 224 pages
$11

Available from Amazon



 

Living Aboard

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Living Aboard Magazine, still printed on paper, is devoted to the concerns and needs of liveaboards. It’s a pretty cozy subculture, in part because the cost of mistakes on water are very expensive and possibly dangerous. Think of this as an old fashioned newsletter for liveaboard users; all material is generated by readers.

 

Living Aboard Magazine
$18/year (6 issues)
$5/issue
Sample Issue PDF

Sample Excerpts:

from Living Aboard Magazine

Living aboard is a dream many share and more and more are achieving. As jobs become more flexible, home offices become more powerful, and people demand more from their lives, the trend is on the rise. Many thousands of people from all walks of life live on all kinds of boats, forming a diverse community with a wide range of personal interests and experience. It is a lifestyle that transcends economic and social boundaries. A sailor in Seattle described the liveaboard community in his marina as comprised of engineers, nurses, mechanics, naval architects, entrepreneurs and salespeople. There are families with young children who live aboard, there are retired couples, single men and women, college students, and nine-to-five professionals. They live wherever there is water on all kinds of boats – of all sizes and makes. They live on lakes and rivers and oceans, north and south, east and west, in all kinds of climates. Some live in marinas, some live on the hook, some cruise, some stay put, leading different lives in different places. What they hold in common is a fierce independence, love of the water and a spirit of adventure. They are a community, albeit a diverse one, bound by their unique lifestyle.

*
We gradually realized that what had started out to be a vacation or a lark, a mid-life dalliance, had become something more. In our 50s, when most of the daily tasks ashore demanded only that we repeat what we already knew how to do, we learned new skills and rejoiced in knowing we could. At a stage when we had come to rely on a circle of old friends and family, we constantly met new people whose friendship we now prize.

*
Moving aboard a small sailboat meant leaving behind the accumulation of stuff that had clung to us over the years. I disposed of former treasures at a series of yard sales and rented a storage unit for the bits of furniture, ski equipment, winter clothes and memorabilia that we would use to jump-start our lives when we stopped wandering. I enrolled in classes called “Medicine at Sea” and “The Offshore Cook.” We took part in a weekend seminar demonstrating rescue-at-sea techniques. I took scuba diving classes and Ham radio license exams. Finally, we sold our home in the suburbs, quit our jobs, and closed the bank account. It took six years from the time we decided to “live differently” until we were ready to go.

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The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat

The uber dream: to live aboard a boat. This book’s job is to wise you up about the reality of that fantasy. It will equip you with essential facts for this grand adventure, or else it will graciously eliminate the notion from your head forever. In either case it deserves a medal. This kind of clarity and sound advice is in short supply. Marina bookstores overflow with practical memoirs by salty authors, few of them with a view wider than their own hulls. This one is based on the experience of many liveaboard practicioners in many styles, and is the most useful way to answer the persistent question: “What is really involved living full time on a boat?” To clarify: The Essentials of Living Aboard is concerned with life on a boat that spends the bulk of its time docked, and only cruises occasionally. Your neighborhood will be other boats instead of open water. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say this lifestyle is less about living on a boat and more about living in a marina.

 

The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat
Mark Nicholas
2005, 284 pages
$13

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

from The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat

Speaking of investments, in general, boats are not good ones. Not only do boats depreciate in value, but the difference in value between a boat that is 19 years old and 20 years old may be significant, because many financing companies will not lend money for a boat that is 20 or more years old. You may find that you own a boat you cannot one day sell, which makes your boat virtually worthless.

Even adding electronics and fancy gear to your boat won’t help much in maintaining value. Once installed, the electronics will immediately depreciate. This isn’t like a house (on real land) in which a $15,000 kitchen renovation might bring about $35,000 in increased market value. On a boat, a $2,000 radar system might bring an increased market value to the boat of $500-$1,000. That’s an immediate net loss of 50-75 percent. Then, after just a couple of years, the electronics, valuable if separated from the boat, will bring no market value increase at all to the boat.

*
A better deal will always come along, even if that deal does not exist today. When you think that a great deal is passing you by, don’t be nervous, because there is another one coming. … So be patient, my liveaboard brothers and sisters. Relax and enjoy the ride. Don’t panic. A better boat is right around the corner. If you remember that, and learn to believe it, this process will be less stressful and more fun; you will be a much better negotiator knowing that you can walk away and still have terrific options. And you will be more emotionally willing to take the time necessary to choose for yourself the best possible boat.

*
We already talked about how accessories are not worth their original prices once installed. Good accessories do not make for a good boat. A good boat is a good boat whether or not it has a good radar system. Unfortunately, a bad boat does not become anything other than a bad boat just because it has a $2,000 chartplotter.

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