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COOKSTUFF

Color Plate

September 19, 1996

In the world of dinnerware, chargers--those oversized platters that sometimes frame dinner plates or stand beautifully on their own--are used mostly by restaurants or in households where fancy dinner parties are a common occurrence. This charger, spotted at Tesoro in West Los Angeles, is made of wood and adds bold sophistication instead of froufrou elegance to a table setting. $55.

Crunch a Bunch

The fact is, most home cooks can make better croutons than the ones normally sold at the supermarket. But even the best home cook would have a hard time beating the convenience and flavor of Just Crisps, the crunchy salad bread crisps from Just Off Melrose. The Caesar-flavored crisps have a nutty baked Parmesan taste that kept tasters in The Times Test Kitchen munching as if they were dipping into a bag of chips. The company also makes thick, rustic croutons--good, but not as great as the crisps. Available at major supermarkets for $3.99 to $4.99.

Lemon Twist

There's a definite citrus trend in alcoholic beverages. Of course, there's lemon vodka. The Italians have sent limoncello. And now there is the deceptively easy-to-drink Sun Devil. Don't mistake it for lemonade--it's malt liquor in designer clothing.

Bag It

Kids are back in school, which means lunches are being packed and lots and lots of plastic bags are being used for sandwiches and cookies. A few years ago, Camarillo homemaker Pam Cwiklo felt a twinge of guilt every time she bagged her son's food. All that plastic going into the trash. Her solution: reusable sandwich bags. Made from chemical-free fabric, with color stitching, the bags, which she calls Let's Do Lunch . . . Again, are $7 for three or $10 for five. To order, call (805) 484-4449.

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