The old and the new

At the lovingly restored Shane Confectionery in Old City, the Berley brothers still offer the classic buttercreams and clear toys that Philadelphians count on for the holidays, but they've also introduced several newbies.

There's seasonal items like giant peppermint marshmallows dipped in dark chocolate and artisanal peppermint bark, and then year-round wonders like the Whirly Berley Bars: salted caramel and dark chocolate nougat enrobed in dark chocolate, sprinkled with cocoa nibs. "Not your grandfather's Milky Way bar," says Davina Soondrom, who created them.

Whirly Berley Bar, $3.50; peppermint marshmallow, $4; peppermint bark, 4-inch square, $5.50 at Shane Confectionery, 110 Market St., 215-922-1048, or - Maureen Fitzgerald

Lentils a go-go

Fresh lentils are so much better than the canned variety, but can be time-consuming to prepare. These vacuum-packed steamed lentils from Trader Joe's, though, offer that snappy fresh texture with maximum convenience. Great for salads, soups, sauteed sides (with a mirepoix of vegetables), or simmered pilaf-style into an aromatic Middle Eastern mejadra, this versatile pulse is an ancient and flavorful source of protein.

Steamed lentils, $2.99 for 500-gram (17-ounce) package, at Trader Joe's.

- Craig LaBan