Scuttle charcoal woes
So you've got all the makings for a great grilled steak only to find that the half-full bag of charcoal from last summer has a hole after sitting in the damp garage all year. Here's where a lidded charcoal bin comes in. This one is made of galvanized steel and can store a 20-pound bag. Your charcoal will stay nice and dry -- and look good enough to come out of the garage.
Charcoal bin, about $35, from target.com and chefscatalog.com
-- Judy Yao
This table's not for sail
Dining outdoors? You can set the table ahead of time and let the wind blow where it may. Your tablecloth will stay in place with these wooden clothespins, which are weighted down with polished Italian stones. Each set of six comes in a wooden box for storage.
Signal tablecloth pegs, $30 for a set of six, by mail order from Lavender Blue in L.A., (323) 965-0565.
-- Donna Deane
Pinquito beans are a local treasure on California's Central Coast, an heirloom variety still grown from Lompoc to Santa Maria. They're smaller than pintos but have a similar flavor. The big thing is they hold their firm texture longer, making them perfect for long-simmered ranch-style beans. But finding them in Southern California can be a real challenge. The surest way to buy them is on the Internet. Here are three good online sources: Rancho Gordo, a relatively new website specializing in real American foods, has pinquitos as well as dozens of other bean varieties (and chiles too); Phipps Country Store & Farm in Pescadero has them as well; and Susie Q's Santa Maria Style Specialty Foods has pinquitos -- both with and without their proprietary seasoning. Note that some sites require minimum orders.
Pinquito beans, $4.95 a pound from Rancho Gordo, www.ranchogordo.com; $2 a pound from Phipps Country Store, www.phippscountry.com; and $20 for a 10-pound bag of unseasoned beans from Susie Q, www.susieqbrand.com.
-- Russ Parsons