Studio Update

art studio.jpg

Every art studio could use a cozy corner for reading art books.  This last week my husband built these two-inch shelves with a lip for setting finished small pieces and works in progress. Now I need to get busy and paint some more small works.

Next weekend he is going to add more shelves for bigger pieces.  It is wonderful, as they are all straight on the bottom for once.

Every challenge yourself to something and feel either great about accomplishing it or bad that you failed (the first time).  This year I challenged myself to read 75 books on the Goodreads challenge and can very proudly say I accomplished that goal. The year before I attempted to bake every bread in Paul Hollywood’s Bread Book.  I made it about 2/3’s of the way and gained a couple of pounds, but did not finish the book. I still love to bake and may just try to finish it. I take my baked goods to my local fire department, so they are enjoyed and not wasted.  My wonderful local fire department surprised me with a gift certificate the last two years.  That made me cry the first year, as I was amazed they recognized the gift. This year I felt a little guilty as I felt I did not take as much, but will up the ante as the year goes on.

sunrise.jpg

Now with 2019 coming up, I decided I would follow the example of Kevin McPhearson, the author and artist of “Reflections on a Pond”, and paint the view of the water in front of my house every day of the year. If I don’t have time to paint on a particular day, I will take a photo and paint it later. I find it an interesting thought and am hoping it will improve my painting skills.

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 11.47.18 AM.png

 

Studio Update

Oh No, I Can Do It All Myself!

I was recently asked to write an article on why you should hire a professional interior designer.  Hope you enjoy the article.

“The Devil is in the Detail”.  Ever heard that phrase and wondered exactly what it meant?  In short, something may seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected.  HGTV design shows are a great example of this, as they make it all seem so simple, but what you don’t see are the people behind the scenes making everything happen and making it look simple and easy.  They are the ones that know all the details.  Designing a space looks so simple till you actually start designing it. Making a space look beautiful and actually be functional are one in the same and two very different things.

 

A qualified interior designer will listen carefully to what you hope to accomplish in a space and will work with you to get the look you want, in the budget you want, and, in the end, it will function how you wanted it to all along. Designers do this every day, so they have “great resources”.  Even the term is now archaic. I used to tell my interior design college students to pull together your million-dollar Rolodex.  Now It would be your “Million Dollar Contact List”, but you get the idea; designers have a lot more resources than you do.  They have worked for a long time to pull together an extensive network that gets the job done for you in the best way possible.

 

Oh no, but interior designers charge you for their time.  Let’s see, do you complain about paying your lawyer, accountant, doctor or even your gardener?  They all help to make your life easier and simpler. They are knowledgeable and in the long run, save you time and money. Using a professional interior designer does exactly the same thing.  You tell them what you like, and they find just the perfect finishes and people to get the job done.  You might have paid a little money, but you have not been running all over trying to find sources for what you need to be done.

 

The internet is fabulous for finding new and interesting products, but you have not seen or touched them so you might be in for a surprise when they actually arrive.  Your designer has worked with the materials and fabricator and knows how to get them at a better price. They will save you money in the long run.  There is no promise that a mistake will “never” be made, but the chances become slimmer with the experience of the designer.

 

People get caught up in trends. Designers will help you access what trends are classic and will be around for a long time versus the here today and gone tomorrow ones. They will help you have a chic space that will look wonderful for a long time. They will share with you what can work in your environment and what may not. In other words, put the polka dots where the polka dots look good, and that might be in a closet.  Don’t get me wrong, I love polka dots, just not in my living room.

 

Professional interior designers work with you to have a solid plan of action and know how to get it done in an efficient manner. They can bridge the gap that may come up with you and your architect or builder if you are building a new home or remodeling an older home. They know the language and can work to get everything in the right place.  It is not just furniture, but the lighting and so much more, even down to proper outlet placement. They can see the space in different creative eyes and bring it all together, so it works for you. They know that you are the one going to live there, so it should work for you more than for your builder and/or architect. Interior designers work with you to give you a home that meets your criteria, looks wonderful and at the same time functions exactly as you hope it would.

 

Interior Design is an interesting form of art. Some say that interior designers have to phycologists in addition to being designers. Part of what makes the best designer is the ability to listen and really hear what the client wants even when the client may not truly know what they want.  It is the magic of taking an education in the principles of design, the history of design styles both historical and modern and pulling everything together seamlessly to create your perfect environment. Designing a beautiful living space takes skill and vision is so much more difficult than many people think.

 

How many times in your life have you gone into a space that was either overcrowded with furniture, all the furniture was matchy-matchy, or the space just did not feel inviting? If you could not figure out what to do in that space, then going forward you should hire a qualified interior designer.

by Diana Bennett Wirtz Kingsley ASID. IIDA. NCIDQ certified. NKBA

Oh No, I Can Do It All Myself!

Add a little character to your kitchen

60 Kitchen Island Ideas That Serve Up Style and Functionality
These images of our favorite kitchen island ideas are sure to stir up design inspiration with fun, functional features around seating, storage, and more.

Kitchen islands are critical components in any kitchen. A multipurpose surface, they allow prep work, cooking, eating, working, and entertaining. For that reason, they’re also one of the most requested features in homes, both in purchases and renovations, but kitchen islands can vary tremendously in size and style, and aren’t right for every home.

Kitchen and White Cabinet The idea for Simon Pillard and Philippe Rossetti’s Lego kitchen island in Paris sprouted when Pillard put 500 blocks and a day’s worth of work into building a Lego-legged chair. They covered their kitchen island—a simple wooden block—with 20,000 Lego pieces.
I am not this big a fan of Legos, but someone might be….

If you’re considering a new kitchen or renovation, it’s important to think about how you envision using the island, given other factors that might be at play in the kitchen. For example, a kitchen island typically requires about 36″ between the edge of the island and the edge of the countertop, so an island is unlikely to work well in a very long, narrow kitchen. If you’re planning on having multiple people working in the kitchen at once, then 42″ to 48″ should be your goal. This also goes for spaces around appliances like a sink, stove, or dishwasher, so if you’d like to integrate a sink into the island, you’ll want to plan accordingly.

In terms of the width of an island, that also depends on how you’re planning on using it, and what utilities you may want to incorporate. A typical countertop is 24″ deep, and this goes for a basic kitchen island with no seating as well. However, if you’re incorporating appliances like a cooktop into the island, you should add a minimum of 8″ to this depth; most designers usually assume about 36″ to 42″ in depth for an island, but this can vary based on the size of the kitchen and planned use. In terms of length, the average size of a kitchen island is about 3’ by 6.5’, but this can always vary.

Here are lots of ideas with just photos!  Have fun looking and getting ideas.

 

60 Kitchen Island Ideas That Serve Up Style and Functionality - Photo 2 of 62 -

If your dream kitchen incorporates an island, and you’re worried you just don’t have room, think of other options, like a mobile island on castor wheels that can be moved about the space, or an island that’s only 18″ deep and a bit shorter than most.

Still not sure what exactly you’re looking for in your own kitchen island, or looking for ideas and inspiration? Read on to see 60 stylish kitchens with islands, each addressing the needs and spaces of each home—everything from wheels to sinks, and cooktops to book storage. We’ll take a look at islands that demonstrate these ideas:

  • Add creative seating
  •  Incorporate a sink
  •  Include a built-in stove for cooking
  •  Offer a bar or wine rack/fridge for entertaining
  • Gain space with clever storage

Dining Room, Bar, Stools, Pendant Lighting, and Light Hardwood Floor Jean-Christophe Aumas’ multihued Paris apartment houses both the highly sought artistic director and the stunning assemblage of furniture he’s brought back from his travels. Aumas designed the kitchen island, which is covered in marble tiles from Carrelages du Marais—the geometric floor tiles are from the same place—and strung the matrix of lights up above it. The barstools by Charlotte Perriand were discovered in a vintage store in Antwerp, Belgium. The green wall is covered in paint from Emery & Cie.

Kitchen, Stone Counter, Wood Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Cooktops, and Undermount Sink When architect Jaspar Jansen and his colleagues at i29 Interior Architects were commissioned to renovate a former garage in the central part of town, he sought to bring the outdoors in with natural finishes and colors. The kitchen features custom cabinetry and a large sliding door, both made from oak, that provides recessed storage space. A Foscarini Gregg Pendant hangs above the kitchen table and another over the island, which is made of oak with a thin, black stone countertop.

Kitchen, Glass Tile Backsplashe, Pendant Lighting, Granite Counter, Track Lighting, and Undermount Sink In New York about two hours north of New York City, architecture and interiors firm BarlisWedlick created an eclectic compound designed to suit a client with an idiosyncratic wish list. In the kitchen, a custom Stickbulb LED lamp hangs above a kitchen island topped by concrete from Get Real Surfaces. The cabinets and island feature a modern version of a traditional board and batten siding that are given an even more contemporary feel with the concrete countertop.

Kitchen, Track Lighting, Ceiling Lighting, Recessed Lighting, Concrete Floor, Wood Cabinet, Undermount Sink, and Pendant Lighting At a home about half an hour from Lake Tahoe, architect Jack Hawkins and interior designer Cheryl Chenault built a house that would support their clients’ unique requirements in a home that would be 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. In the kitchen, two islands, one in the shape of an L and the other a smaller rectangular island, are layered table over one portion create generous space to spread out. Norman Cherner barstools from Design Within Reach line the island in the kitchen, which is crowned by an open loft office. The faucets are from Dornbracht; the countertops are Caesarstone. Hawkins integrated a steel-clad casual eating nook, at left.

 

Kitchen and Wood Cabinet In Roanoke Park, a neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, architect Matthew Hufft designed a home for his family that drew on the surrounding traditional homes. In the kitchen, Bertoia barstools are tucked under a custom honed-granite two-level kitchen island by a local company, Carthage Stoneworks. Hufft’s team designed and built the larch cabinets. The appliances are by Thermador.

 

Kitchen, White Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Light Hardwood Floor, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Range Hood, Range, and Drop In Sink The updated kitchen features a bright white palette. The countertop is Caesarstone's Blizzard surface and the stools are Crate and Barrel. The range hood is Futuro, the refrigerator is LG, and the dishwasher is Bosch.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Open Cabinet, Range, Range Hood, Refrigerator, and Dark Hardwood The firm opened up the closed off kitchen, orienting it in the center of the living space.

Kitchen, Marble Counter, Marble Backsplashe, Range Hood, Range, and Open Cabinet Custom kitchen cabinets designed by Pulltab and fabricated by Maciek Winiarczyk hold mostly vintage ironstone that Geiger has found at flea markets and estate sales over the past 20 years. "I love white," she says, "because I think food always looks better on it." She also collects vintage wooden cutting boards, shown resting against the marble tile backsplash from Stone Source.

White on white

Kitchen, Undermount Sink, Range Hood, Range, Wood Cabinet, Light Hardwood Floor, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Recessed Lighting, and Wood Counter Movable and space-saving design elements define this creative family home in the Mission District. The kitchen was given an economical revamp by adding new drawer and door fronts to the existing cabinet boxes. Countertops were replaced with custom fabricated white oak butcher block surfaces, and a complementary white oak kitchen island was installed. A Wolf range, Vent-a-Hood hood, Franke stainless steel sink, and Bosch dishwasher complete the space.

Kitchen, Stone Counter, White Cabinet, and Dark Hardwood For a 1,500-square-foot condo in the Meatpacking District, Reddymade Design reconfigured the space to merge the kitchen, dining room, and living room into an open-plan arrangement. In the kitchen, the island unit is a modular piece by USM with a Vermont Black slate countertop. The Harry Bertoia stools are from Design Within Reach. The backsplash features Delft tiles, and the stove and range is Bertazzoni.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, and Ceiling Lighting With three sons in the family, the kitchen gets a lot of use. Hee barstools by Hee Welling for Hay slide up to a multi-functioning island where the family gathers to eat, study and play.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Recessed Lighting, Metal Cabinet, and Metal Backsplashe In this kitchen and dining room, architect Bergendy Cooke rethought traditional wood panelling using black pigment-stained veneer. The kitchen has expansive surfaces, including a long, wood-topped kitchen island where the couple cook and entertain, and where the children eat and play. "All of the materials were selected for their integrity and longevity," says Bergendy.

Kitchen, Range Hood, Marble Counter, Pendant Lighting, Range, White Cabinet, Undermount Sink, Medium Hardwood Floor, Marble Backsplashe, and Recessed Lighting The renovation of a 2,000-square-foot property updates a century-old design for a family of four. "We placed the kitchen at the center of the house to link with the dining room and the outdoor space," Moreau says. In the kitchen, a Wolf oven brings out the silver details in Coit’s Bianco Cararra backsplash and island. Hee bar stools by Hay are lined under the island.

Kitchen, Concrete Counter, Wood Cabinet, Range Hood, and Range By eliminating walls and incorporating a series of interior gardens, architect José Roberto Paredes creates an eclectic and inspired El Salvador beach house. In the kitchen, rough-hewn materials like a eucalyptus-log-and-thatch roof offset the monolithic concrete island and glossy subway tile backsplash. Claudia & Harry Washington built the vivid wooden sliding walls, which are inspired by the palm leaves that change color and create diagonal patterns in trees near the house. The bar stools were a street market discovery.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Light Hardwood Floor, and White Cabinet A new kitchen at the front of the house completes the trifecta of reworked rooms on the main level. It fits nicely into the notion of balancing new and old elements throughout the house, with oak detailing married to exposed brick, offset by strip lamps. The Hee bar stools are by HAY, the Caravaggio P3 pendants are by Light Years, and the range oven is from Britannia.

Kitchen, Refrigerator, Cooktops, Wood Cabinet, Concrete Counter, White Cabinet, Dark Hardwood, Recessed Lighting, Wall Oven, and Undermount Sink Australian expats Carla and Paul Tucker tasked designer Dan Gayfer with expanding their Melbourne bungalow without adding any square footage. In the kitchen, a soft palette of wood, laminate, and tile created cohesion, impressive considering the clients didn’t see a single finish, color, or material in person prior to their homecoming. The kitchen cabinets were clad in Russian birch plywood, and the countertops were concrete.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Medium Hardwood Floor, White Cabinet, Range Hood, Range, Vessel Sink, Pendant Lighting, and Recessed Lighting A couple takes a minimalist approach to their Brooklyn apartment, focusing on supple materials, subtle gradations of color, and custom finishes by local craftsmen. The Mandayam–Vohra family gathers under one of Workstead’s signature three-arm chandeliers, shown here in its horizontal configuration. Bartenschlager designed the white cabinets and is responsible for the walnut counters both on the kitchen island and near the stove.

Kitchen, White Cabinet, Range Hood, Wall Oven, and Cooktops Painters accomplished the high-gloss finish on the cabinets of a kitchen in San Francisco by applying a coat of paint, polishing it with very high-grit sandpaper, repeating the process for each layer, then topping it with three coats of clear varnish. "It’s like an auto body," says builder Jeff King. "It’s incredibly beautiful." The island provides shelving space and storage as well as a second sink, an is topped with pietra grigio marble.

Kitchen, Metal Counter, Metal Cabinet, Drop In Sink, Range Hood, Wall Oven, Open Cabinet, Table Lighting, and Range The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carved a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, Italy, filling it with custom creations and their greatest hits. In their minimalist kitchen: sleek steel cabinet systems and the Kono range hood from Elmar. The multi-functional stainless steel island measures 20" deep and was designed by the couple for Elmar.

Kitchen, Concrete Floor, Refrigerator, and Colorful Cabinet Guess used inexpensive graded pine plywood so that he would get heavy grain patterns on the surfaces. One of the main goals in the kitchen was simplicity. To that end, he opted for a poured-in-place concrete island. "We didn’t know if we could afford to do that, but we found a great subcontractor [Nate Francis of Countertop Creations] here who had never really built anything like that," Guess says. "Because he was interested in giving it a shot and adding it to his portfolio, he didn’t charge an exorbitant amount of money because it was sort of an experiment for him as well." The kitchen features a GE Profile refrigerator and KitchenAid range, microwave, and dishwasher. The sink and faucet are from Kohler. The project's builder was Joe Doherty with Custom Homecrafters of Austin.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, White Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Range, Terrazzo Floor, Wall Oven, Refrigerator, and Drop In Sink The dining room is delineated from the kitchen by a long kitchen island with a higher partition between the two spaces. The island provides storage along its length, with exposed shelving at the ends. The drum lighting pendants by Axiom were also made using local timber.

Kitchen and Marble Counter For the kitchen, American cherry wood was used to create cabinets that establish a warm and sturdy tone. Each piece of lumber was purchased at auction by the Brillharts and stored in New Hampshire, before being shipped to Miami and milled on site. The wood island is painted black to provide a point of visual contrast. Himalayan marble countertops and stainless steel appliances lend moments of clean modernism to the kitchen, which is flooded with bright light thanks to patio windows that open to the yard.

Kitchen, Marble Counter, White Cabinet, Concrete Floor, Wood Cabinet, Pendant Lighting, Undermount Sink, Recessed Lighting, and Cooktops The entire living and dining space features tough polished concrete floors. The architects intentionally contrasted the darker concrete and veneered pantry against the neutral white walls and marble. This color play runs through the renovated areas.

Kitchen, Metal Counter, Plywood, and Pendant Lighting Mark Fekete and Viviana de Loera, co-founders of interdisciplinary design firm MARK + VIVI, happily took on the challenge of building their dream home in a transitioning Montreal neighborhood. The couple's kitchen is an exercise in both sustainability and creativity. The island is wrapped with reclaimed scrap wood uncovered from the house during demolition. Chalkboard walls provide a whimsical canvas for graphic images and notes. Stainless steel was selected for the kitchen countertops, and the pair relied on a local industrial sheet metal fabricator to help them prepare the material for residential application. The mix of warm and cool adds depth and dimension to the space.

Kitchen In this kitchen in Australia, a freestanding island is lit by a skylight and track lighting, while the texture and color of the siding of the island provide a marked contrast to the dark cabinetry of the rest of the kitchen. An oversized sink makes the island an ideal prep space.

Kitchen Two sinks with angular faucets make this white and wood kitchen island the main prep area in this California kitchen. A long kitchen table protrudes out from the island in a contrasting dark stone with polished nickel legs for a strong visual demarcation between the island and the table, although the two are physically connected.

Kitchen, Light Hardwood Floor, Pendant Lighting, Wood Cabinet, Cooktops, and Metal Counter Twin daughters Merle and Anine join their parents in the family’s kitchen, designed by Jensen for Vipp. He explains that his role as chief designer at Vipp is to "work with their DNA" by refining the company’s trademark materials: stainless steel, painted metal, and rubber. For the utilitarian kitchen, "we wanted to get the feeling of a tool," he says. "It’s nice to have a space where you can actually work." The gas stovetop is by ABK and the refrigerator is by Smeg; Le Perroquet spotlights are from iGuzzini.

Kitchen, Ceiling Lighting, Undermount Sink, Quartzite Counter, White Cabinet, Refrigerator, Laminate, Medium Hardwood Floor, and Range Sitting on a spot that provides a commanding view of the ocean and hills beyond, this California home underwent a major renovation of the kitchen after the homeowners purchased it in foreclosure. A new entry space was created out of an unused hallway and the glazed door and side panels let in even more light, and the all-white kitchen with white countertops and cabinets features an oversized sink.

Kitchen, Concrete Counter, Cooktops, and Wall Oven At a seaside New Zealand house, the simple kitchen has strandboard cabinetry and an MDF island that conceals a fireplace at one end. The bright green cabinetry of the island are a happy pop of color that references the native greenery outside.

Kitchen, Engineered Quartz Counter, Cooktops, and Undermount Sink With clever storage and a retractable skylight, a London apartment designed by metalworker and owner Simone ten Hompel and Roger Hynam of Rogeroger Design Solutions feels larger than its 576 square feet. The team worked in a uniquely collaborative way, with Ullmayer Sylvester planning the space, Hynam creating the built-in storage and the kitchen island, and ten Hompel making models and scrawling on the wall to better envision their proposals. The kitchen island features a compact cooktop by Whirlpool and an integrated drainboard incised into the countertop for easy cleaning.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Concrete Floor, Cooktops, Ceiling Lighting, and Drop In Sink The House of Earth + Light had been featured in the pages of the New York Times and on the cover of Dwell’s premiere issue, and was revisited years later. In the kitchen, an elegant palette of materials defines the open space. The rear counter is sanded stainless steel; the island counter is Purpleheart (an exotic hardwood) with a range by Dacor.

 

Kitchen In an apartment renovation in Tel Aviv by Maya Sheinberger, a white and black kitchen comes together in a white island with black base and black bar stools by infiniti.

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, Cooktops, and Range Hood A green laminate countertop by Abet Laminati is surrounded by Norman Foster’s Emeco 20-06 counter stools at the island in the kitchen, which has an integrated Frigidaire induction range, Faber Cylindra Isola range hood, Blomberg dishwasher, Fisher & Paykel fridge, and flat-grain fir plywood cabinets by Portland craftsman Doug Chamblin. A Louis Poulsen PH 5 pendant illuminates a Modernica Tenon Table and Eames Molded Plastic chairs with Eiffel bases. A George Nelson Ball Clock hangs nearby.

Kitchen In Chicago’s Lower West Side, editorial director Chelsea Jackson and and her chef husband Arthur renovated their fourth-floor condominium to include a custom Bulthaup kitchen. "We wanted to find a kitchen island that would be light enough to make the room seem large while still standing up to heavy-duty cooking," Chelsea notes. Calls to kitchen retailers were fruitless until Arthur reached the Bulthaup showroom, where the staff suggested he come check out a floor model of the discontinued System 20 kitchen. The stainless steel island, with its precise profile and gas cooktop, was exactly what the couple was after, and they bought it on the spot. A full Bulthaup kitchen—completed with components from the B3 range—would soon become the centerpiece of their new home.

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, Recessed Lighting, Refrigerator, Light Hardwood Floor, Ceiling Lighting, Range, Wall Oven, Range Hood, and Drop In Sink In the kitchen, an island countertop serves as a mixed-use area for cooking, storage, and seating for up to five people. The room opens up to an outdoor dining area.

Kitchen, White Cabinet, and Metal Counter A Boston loft in a former textile factory receives a minimal, efficient kitchen at the hands of Bunker Workshop. In the kitchen, the island features a stainless steel countertop with a gas cooktop, oven, and a brick half wall.

Kitchen, Granite Counter, Range Hood, Range, and Wood Cabinet A pair of environmentally attuned architects combined adjoining properties in a Los Angeles canyon to house their modernist menagerie. With exposed industrial materials for finishes, the interior includes hand-troweled, waxed concrete floors, Douglas fir beams, and sealed-plywood ceilings. The open kitchen’s island, topped with soapstone, doubles as a bookcase for the living room.

Kitchen, Dark Hardwood, Wood Cabinet, Marble Counter, and Pendant Lighting A movable island, set on stainless steel casters, sits in the center of the kitchen. The Panasonic microwave is built into the cabinetry and the August pendant lights illuminating the island are by Uberhaus.

Kitchen, Granite Counter, White Cabinet, Range, and Range Hood Avid cooks, Jinhee and John spend part of every day around their custom-built kitchen island, surrounded by Compasso d’Oro barstools. The island is on castors, so it easily moves around the kitchen as needed. An edamame plant on their patio occasionally provides leaves for Korean dishes.

Kitchen, Ceiling Lighting, and Pendant Lighting A barrier-free house enables a family to come together amid the vineyards in Northern California. The kitchen is fully accessible and yet not institutional, with room for both extended family and a caregiver, and the ability to move between indoors and out without having to negotiate a single barrier. The island contains a micro kitchen for the family’s daughter, who is in a wheelchair, with a sink, refrigerator, and warming drawers within easy reach. The pendant is from Global Lighting.

Kitchen, Concrete Floor, and Metal Counter Who says kitchen islands can’t work in small spaces too? A design-minded pair ensures that their tiny seaside getaway in Hampshire, England, is shipshape. At 538 square feet, this home is efficiently designed, with an interior that was influenced by the compact housing that you see in Japan. The kitchen and island have been sized to fit the small space, but the island’s minimal finishings keep it feeling appropriate. 

Kitchen At this home in Sun Valley, the clients wanted a modern house that would feel authentic to the high desert mountain landscape, in a style dubbed "mountain industrial." Everything that touches the earth is stone and board-formed concrete, and everything that projects out is steel and glass, down to the kitchen island, which features two levels, an integrated sink, custom cabinetry, and polished nickel hardware.

Kitchen, Concrete Counter, and Recessed Lighting Smitten from the start with a 1970s concrete villa in rural Belgium, a resident and her designer embark on a sensitive renovation that excises the bad (carpeted walls, dark rooms) and highlights the good (idyllic setting, statement architecture). Owner Nathalie Vandemoortele worked with designer Renaud de Poorter on the interior renovations, which included opening up the heavy structure with the help of new windows and doors to the outside. A concrete bi-level island keeps the Brutalist vibe on the interior, but is open and light enough to feel balanced.

Kitchen, Wood Counter, Slate, and Ceiling Lighting A short wall on the kitchen island hides clutter and keeps the straight lines of the design unmarred. Almost every lighting fixture, including the overhead Artemide Tolomeo light, is movable. The refrigerator and oven are from Fisher and Paykel.

 

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, Medium Hardwood Floor, Wall Oven, Ceiling Lighting, Recessed Lighting, and Pendant Lighting Aaron and Yuka Ruell transformed a 1950s Portland ranch house into a retro-inspired family home with plenty of spaces for their four children to roam. In the kitchen, interior designer Emily Knudsen Leland replaced purple laminate cabinets with flat-sawn eastern walnut, and added PentalQuartz countertops in polished Super White for contrast. The kitchen island is clad with original red tiles, and hanging cabinets above it were removed to maximize light and family-room views.

Kitchen A generously sized kitchen in a prefabricated home in Texas features crisp white cabinetry, contrasting with textured stone walls and a dark stone countertop. The kitchen features two islands that work together to form an L and a smaller rectangular island with castors sitting inside the L for additional prep space and mobility.

Kitchen At this home renovation in England, the architects kept the interiors minimal and stripped back, allowing for extra space to be used by the family as they pleased. A kitchen island with exposed plywood on the interior but painted on the exterior doubles up as a breakfast bar, and holds storage space for three Magis swivel beech barstools to be tucked away when not in use.

 

Kitchen At a home in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico that was designed as a collaboration between Gilberto L. Rodríguez, of GLR Arquitectos, and Alberto Campo Baeza, of Estudio Campo Baeza, the architects sought to pay homage to Mexican architect Luis Barragán. A strong presence of light and color are at play throughout the house, including the kitchen, where a clean white kitchen island covers bright neon yellow storage. The cabinets are translucent, seeming to glow from within, and provide a focal point in the otherwise white and black kitchen.

Kitchen Taking inspiration from barns, warehouses, Case Study Houses, and Japanese residential architecture, architect Marcus Lee and his wife, Rachel Hart—an architectural model maker—created a unique timber-framed home in Hackney, London. In the kitchen, the Corian kitchen island unit acts as a real hub with a television tucked away under the worktop. However, the kids sit at the island for breakfast and other meals, and when guests come, they end up sitting there and talking while the owners are cooking.

Kitchen On a sought after an idyllic island in the center of Amsterdam an old warehouse, formerly in use as a pillow factory and a garage has been converted to a warm and eclectic family home. The kitchen features a mixture of green tiles, green painted mullions, and exposed wood beams for a warm, soft feeling that contrast sharply with the more industrial stainless steel island. The kitchen island incorporates a stove top and storage, and benefits from natural light from the skylight overhead.

Kitchen, Laminate, Ceramic Tile Floor, Marble Backsplashe, and Pendant Lighting In a mountain retreat in the Czech Republic near the border with Germany, Martina Schultes designed a kitchen that brings the outside in, with wood plank paneling used on the walls and the kitchen island. The island and countertops are topped with black laminate, and the backsplash is a green marble.

Kitchen, Concrete Floor, Rug, and Pendant Lighting By using color, wood, and polished concrete floors, this apartment in Berlin is full of personality. In the kitchen, polished statuario marble covers both the island's countertop and the backsplash in the custom kitchen cabinet block. PSLAB designed the light fixtures, and the island has open shelving incorporated into it for easy access to cookbooks and other reading material.

Kitchen, Pendant Lighting, Marble Counter, Wood Cabinet, White Cabinet, Wall Oven, Range Hood, Refrigerator, Concrete Floor, Open Cabinet, Undermount Sink, Recessed Lighting, Range, and Subway Tile Backsplashe Architect Kevin Alter integrated wood from the original bungalow into the kitchen and covered the island in Carrara marble, with an interior clad in wood. A long table extends from the side of the island, and wine storage is integrated into one end of the island. New appliances include a Wolf range, a Broan hood, and a Miele oven and refrigerator. The Fucsia pendant lights are by Achille Castiglioni for Flos.

Kitchen, Wood Cabinet, and Pendant Lighting For a Toronto couple with a love of minimalist Japanese architecture, a sleek, storage-packed kitchen was the first priority in their home's renovation. In the kitchen, white oak used for the cabinets, kitchen island, and dining table is finished with double-boiled linseed oil, which can be reapplied by the homeowners as the wood mellows and patinas. The custom beveled edge for the island's "Blizzard" white Caesarstone countertop forgoes the standard one-inch countertop overhang to save on space and maintain a sleek feel. A Vola faucet is used with a sink by Mekal.

Kitchen, Refrigerator, Medium Hardwood Floor, Wall Oven, Ceiling Lighting, Quartzite Counter, and Pendant Lighting This apartment, overlooking the beautiful beach and the urban views of Tel Aviv, was built in the late 1990s and hadn't been renovated since, until designer Maya Sheinberger came in. The kitchen cabinets were chosen in a grey color with a matte finish and for the countertops, the designer chose a bright Dekton with marble texture. Above the kitchen island, which is used for cooking and for light family meals, are three wooden lighting fixtures by Israeli designer Ohad Benit. 

Tucked away in the woods of Denmark, furniture design company Kobenhavens Mobelsnedkeri designed this vacation retreat that boats a striking pitch-black kitchen island. The home features a restrained color palette complemented with natural touches; the floor is a delicate pale oak, which contrasts with the bold statement of the dark cabinets and island. 

Viola Park ranks high on the list of great, modern kitchen systems and offers a range of kitchen islands. Among the features in their islands is the Pivot Storage System, shown here. Mounted below the counter to preserve counter space, the wood bins can be outfitted as knife block, utensil holder, or garbage bin. The system conveniently keeps your utensils where you need them, without taking up much-valued counter space.

In Auckland, New Zealand, architect Michael O’Sullivan and his partner Melissa Schollum braved a miniscule budget, withering looks from friends, and nasty nail-gun injuries to design and build their perfectly proportioned family home. The reflectivity of the brass kitchen island makes it seem to dematerialize.

Kitchen A young Vancouver family asked Falken Reynolds Interiors to convert their waterfront vacation home on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast into their primary residence. To facilitate livability for the foursome, an enlarged kitchen, complete with a large white island with wood hardware, was a major part of the renovation. 

Add a little character to your kitchen

Bierocks

Birocks .jpg

Made these the other night.  They are basically German Hamburgers, or as my youngest son used to say:  “Hammaburgers”.

So when I made them, I had lots of left-over hamburger filling.  I added some potatoes and mushroom, covered with grated potatoes a good amount of cheddar cheese, threw in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and had a second dinner.

Well, that was all fine and good, but there was still left over, so I put it in a pot, added chicken stock, half & half and there is the third dinner.  None of them taste the same.  How about three cheap dinners.

Ingredients

  1. Prepare dough: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in sugar, margarine, egg, salt and 1/2 of the flour. Beat until smooth; add remaining flour until dough pulls together. Place in oiled bowl. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, OR let it rise for 1 hour.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, brown meat. Add onion, cabbage, salt and simmer 30 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  3. Punch down dough and divide into 20 pieces. Spread each piece of dough out on an un-floured surface and fill with approximately 2 tablespoons filling. fold dough over and seal edges. Place on prepared cookie sheet and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter and serve.

 

Bierocks

Tiramisu

I have made this several times and several different ways, but find this the easiest and yummiest.  I make two sponge cakes and cut them to 7″ X 7″ squares.  I used a paper cutter to make the shape in paper and then cut the cake easily to the right size.  This one is cut already.  I use the left-over edges to make two mini tiramisus for the family if this is going to a party. Not as pretty, but still tastes yummy.

This is basically the recipe from the Best British Baking Show.  I tried America’s Test Kitchen and did not think it tasted as good or was as pretty.

Tiramisu.jpg

mini.jpg

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • softened butter, for greasing
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar (baker’s sugar)
  • 100g/3½oz self-raising flour

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
  • 100ml/3½fl oz brandy
  • 3 x 250g/9oz tubs full-fat mascarpone cheese
  • 300ml/10½fl oz double cream ( you can use 36% heavy cream)
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 65g/2¼oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated

For the decoration

  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method

SPONGE

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 35x25cm/14x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment. BE SURE TO MAKE TWO AND ONE COULD BE CHOCOLATE

  2. For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.

  3. Sift over the flour and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix. THIS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE QUALITY OF YOUR SPONGE CAKE

  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface. I JUST USE A SPATULA TO MAKE IT EVEN.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

FILLING

  1. For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy. Set aside to cool.

  2. When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth.

  3. Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge. Discard the sponge trimmings (or keep for cake pops or a sneaky single-serving trifle). OR TWO MINI TIRAMISU

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

  1. Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later.

  2. Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.

  3. Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin. Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture. Then spread one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.

  4. Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over another one-third of the grated chocolate. Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.

  5. Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture. Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge.

  6. Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.

DECORATING

  1. While the cake is chilling, melt half of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Gently stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F.

  2. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C/88F or lower and is thick enough to pipe.

  3. Place a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Use another sheet to make a paper piping bag.

  4. Spoon the melted chocolate into the paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe decorative shapes onto the baking parchment. Leave to set until required.

AND FINISH

  1. Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder before turning out onto a serving plate, using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.

Tiramisu

Steak ~ 7 Best Cuts

This post is for my steak-loving husband.

images-2.jpg

Peer into your butcher’s case or roam the frigid aisles of Costco’s meat section, and you’ll encounter a whole world of confusing steak cuts. That doesn’t mean you should let all these admittedly confounding varieties get the best of you. We’re breaking down the differences between seven of our favorite steaks, including how to cook each of them to juicy perfection. With a little practice, we guarantee you’ll be showing up your favorite steakhouse.

① Filet Mignon

Filet-Mignon_Prime_F-fb0cb8fc08fa5234d5878092b09f1f36.jpg .  download-5.jpg

A staple of white-tablecloth steakhouses across the country, this tender muscle does barely, if any, of the heavy lifting on the cow, resulting in a soft, buttery texture that gives way in the mere presence of a steak knife. However, this cut is also nearly devoid of any fat, meaning the mild flavor has less of the lip-smacking juiciness meat eaters crave.

Can be Known As: filet de boeuf, tender steak, beef tenderloin, tenderloin steak.

When to Order: The classic Valentine’s Day offering, filets are perfect for diners who are a) more concerned with tenderness rather than flavor and b) have money to spare. Filets are also well suited for anyone on a diet who just really needs a steak.

How to Cook it: It’s versatile enough to be cooked via whichever method you prefer, from pan-roasting to grilling. There’s no fat to compensate for overcooking, so sous vide is a safe bet if you need extra security.

② Rib Eye 

images.jpg    images-4.jpg

One of the most prized cuts of all, the rib eye comes boneless or with the rib bone still attached, in which case it’s frequently known as a cowboy steak. And while the bone might make it harder to navigate your knife and fork, gnawing on gristle and crispy fat is undoubtedly the best part of the steak-eating experience. Speaking of which, it’s that abundance of fat, both marbled within the meat and surrounding the edges via the white fat cap that makes rib eyes so intense and beefy in flavor. They’re not as meltingly soft as filets, but ribeyes have just enough of a chew to remind you why your experience as a vegan didn’t last.

Also Known As: cowboy steak, tomahawk steak, Spencer steak, Delmonico steak.

When to Order: If you’re a carnivore who wants the best beef-eating experience possible, and has a supply of Lipitor on hand.

How to Cook It: Rib eyes are equally at home over charcoal flames, in a cast-iron pan or under a screaming broiler. The high-fat content means, yes, you can get away with cooking them somewhat past medium without the meat turning into a chewy football.

③ New York Strip

download-2.jpg . download-3.jpg

It might not be as tender as it’s posh cousin (the filet) or as sumptuous as the always-fatty ribeye, but the New York strip is a solid jack-of-all-trades. A bit more chew and a little less marbling mean it’s less expensive so you won’t be picking your jaw up from the floor when it comes time to pay, making this the perfect midweek dinner for when you need a pick-me-up.

Also Known As: shell steak, Kansas City steak, sirloin steak.

When to Order: This is the all-around, crowd-pleasing steak star made specifically for Goldilocks in terms of flavor, tenderness, and price.

How to Cook It: Just like a ribeye, strip steaks are happy any way you cook them. Just be warned that some can run a little lean, making them less resilient to overcooking.

④  Porterhouse

download-7.jpg download-10.jpg

A porterhouse is simply a New York strip and delicate filet mignon separated by a T-shaped bone, hence another nickname, the mighty T-bone. This is the one time we suggest putting away the cast iron as meat shrinks as it cooks, meaning when seared, a porterhouse’s surface fails to make contact with the pan as the bone begins to jut out. And since the filet side is more prone to overcooking, it can be a challenge getting the entirety of the steak to finish at the same time.

Also Known As: T-bone steak.

When to Order: If you’re an experienced steak expert or part of a couple who doesn’t like to compromise (no judgment), or if you’re exceptionally hungry and prefer to spend your paycheck on steak versus rent.

How to Cook It: Grilling or broiling is your best bet. Just make sure the tenderloin side of the porterhouse is exposed to less heat, so it doesn’t overcook before the strip is finished.

⑤ Hanger

download-8.jpg download-9.jpg

Formerly the butcher’s hidden gem, the once-humble hanger has exploded in popularity over the years. It might not be as affordable as it used to be, but the cut, taken from the front of the cow’s belly, is still a bargain considering it’s astonishingly savory flavor and relative tenderness. When taken right off the cow, hangers tend to be covered in a blanket of tough sinew and silver skin, though most butchers will sell it already trimmed.

Also Known As: onglet, butcher’s steak, hanging tender.

When to Order: If you’re looking for maximum payoff with little effort; or a carnivore who prefers to spend only half their paycheck on steak.

How to Cook It: A loose, soft texture makes hanger steak perfect for soaking up sticky marinades and dry rubs. Keep in mind there’s a sweet spot when it comes to cooking this cut: Too rare, and it remains unpleasantly toothsome; too overdone, and it will dry out just like any other steak.

⑥ Flank

download-12.jpg  download-11.jpg

Long, hardworking muscle fibers make flank steak relatively tough to chew on when improperly prepared. After cooking to medium rare, be sure to slice the meat thinly against the grain. (On the plus side, it’s easy to get a large number of servings from this square cut, making it perfect fodder for a summer buffet.)

Also Known As: London broil.

When to Order: Because of the flank steak’s low quality in terms of texture, you’d be wise to skip ordering this one in a restaurant.

How to Cook It: As long as it doesn’t go past medium rare, flank steak is happy whichever way you cook it. It’s one of the few “steak” cuts that do well when braised.

⑦ Skirt Steak

download.jpg . download-1.jpg

The go-to choice when it comes to carne asada and fajitas, this flavorful, well-marbled cut is just as savory and succulent as a ribeye, while remaining one of the cheapest cuts behind the counter (at least, for now). You can bolster the naturally beefy flavor with a quick marinade, but the most important thing is to cook skirt steak as fast as possible and cut it thinly against the grain.

Also Known As: fajita meat, Philadelphia steak.

When to Order: Like flank steak, skirt steak is best cooked at home (and not ordered when out) if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck or just happen to be throwing a fajita party.

How to Cook It: These steaks are naturally thin, so blistering heat is required to make sure the outside is charred before the interior becomes overcooked.

 

Steak ~ 7 Best Cuts

Inviting Kitchens to Wake You Up 

I found it interesting in reading through these that even though “Granite” is supposedly on it’s way out, a number of these kitchens are inspired with granite.   I still love it in a kitchen, as it adds such life!
Inviting Kitchens to Wake You Up 

Pepper – The Master Spice

This is an article (slightly revised) from “What’s Cooking America”.  I thought the information was interesting and might answer some questions you might have. I added a little history and a couple more peppers.

 

MultiPeppercorns

 

Along with salt, pepper is on nearly every table.  Historically significant, pepper is the most common spice in use.  Nutritionally beneficial and medicinally positive, pepper offers a unique flavor and a variety of uses.  It is the third most common ingredient behind water and salt.  There are a variety of peppercorns commonly used.

This master spice is versatile in all forms.  It offers up a vibrant flavor suitable for any dish.  Historically, it has led an illustrious and full life-giving fortune and paying ransoms.  Pepper is used daily by most people and offers health benefits along with adding its unique flavor.  Reach for that pepper shaker or grinder and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer!

Types of Pepper

Peppercorns (piper nigrum) ground for use on the table and in cooking originally only came from India but is now also cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and South America.  India is still the major producer of this spice with over half of the product coming from there.

A perennial bush, which often grows wild, is produced in mounds with trellises similar to grape vines.  These mounds are usually about 8-feet tall but the bush itself can grow up to 33 feet in the proper climate.  The bush has a round and smooth jointed stem; dark green leaves which are smooth, broad, and have seven nerves in them; and small white flowers.  The flowers become the berries which are harvested.  The flowers grow in clusters of up to 150.  Grown from cuttings, the bush bears fruit at three to four years until about fifteen years.  Typically the pepper bush grows within about 20 degrees of the equator some believe the closer to the equator the hotter the peppercorn.

From this bush, three types of peppercorn are harvested: black, green, and white.  The difference in the peppercorns come from when the berry of the bush is harvested and how it is processed.

Black Peppercorns:

black.jpeg

Black peppercorns are the dried berry and the most pungent and strongest in flavor of the three.  The berries are picked just before they are ripe and are typically sun-dried.  As they dry, an enzyme is released which darkens the hull of the berry to anywhere from dark brown to jet black.  Within the hull is a lighter seed which causes a variance in the color of the ground pepper.

Black pepper comes in many forms; whole, cracked, and ground.  The ground pepper has varying degrees of coarseness from fine to coarse.

Some of the uses are as follows:

whole pickling and stocks – cracked for meats and salads – ground for everything else

Tellicherry Peppers:

telle.jpeg

Currently, the Tellicherry pepper is the most popular.  It is named after the port and region it is gathered from.  It is the oldest source of black pepper, though Alleppey and Pandjung are longtime ports for the export of this spice.  The Tellicherry peppercorn is larger and darker than others.  It has a more complex flavor which is why it is more popular.

Tellicherry and Malabar come from the same region in Southwest India.  The Tellicherry is picked slightly closer to being ripe and is considered to be slightly better than the Malabar.  Malabar has a green hue with a strong flavor.

Green Peppercorns:

green.jpeg

Green peppercorns are the green berry picked long before they are ripe, which can be freeze-dried to preserve the smooth texture and bright color.  While the green peppercorn gives a strong tart punch of flavor to begin with, it does not linger long in the mouth.  These can also be pickled for shipment.  The berries for the green and black peppercorns are actually picked at about the same time but the green are not allowed to dry causing which prevents that enzyme from activating.  Green peppers only come packed in brine, water, or freeze-dried.

Some of the uses are as follows:

meat sauces – poultry – vegetables – seafood

 

White Peppercorns:

white.jpeg

 

The United States is one of the largest consumers of black pepper and has a much higher demand for the black pepper compared to white pepper.  However, Europeans prefer the white pepper over the black.

This peppercorn is the mature berries that are given a short water bath in order to remove the husks before the remaining seed is sun-dried.  The removal of the husk prevents the dark color forming during the drying process.  As the berry ripens, it becomes a bright red color.  During the drying process, it becomes white.  A second way for the white pepper to be harvested is to harvest the green berry, soak it for several days before rubbing off the outer layer.  The remaining seed is then either dried for use whole or ground.  This pepper has a long drawn out flavor which lingers.

White pepper has two forms: whole and ground.  Generally white is preferred over black for any dish where the pepper might show like some of the following uses:

white sauces – cream soups – fish – poultry – grilled meats

 

Red Peppercorns:

red.jpeg

These are rare and difficult to find, particularly in the United States.  They are the red berries ripened on the vine.  Instead of picking the berries, they are harvested with part of the vine.  These are best used within a very short period of time.  The red peppercorn has a sweet and mellow flavor in contrast to the pungent strong flavor of the black.  Since these are rare in the United States, most recipes calling for red pepper are referring to ground cayenne or red chile’s.

 

Pink Peppercorns:

pink.jpeg

A rare find, this is created from the red berries of the piper nigrum and are preserved in a brine.  These are too soft to grind so are often put into a recipe whole.  The best dishes to use these are egg dishes and salads.

Blends and Combinations:

blend.jpeg

Blending the three types of pepper doesn’t really enhance the flavors; however, there are two blends which can work nicely.  Black and green combined add a bit more bite to a dish.  Black and white combined makes the flavor linger longer.  If pink peppercorns (see below), as opposed to the pink peppercorns (piper nigrum family) is added to a combination, its flavor is easily overpowered.

Medley Peppercorns:

Blends of different kinds of peppercorns are typically called medleys.

medley.jpeg

Lemon Pepper:

lemon.jpeg

Peppercorns can also be blended with other products like garlic, coriander, lemon, shallot, and chipotle.

Many people have had lemon pepper chicken or fish, the main spice in those dishes come from a combination of lemon and pepper.

Long Pepper:

long.jpeg

Long pepper, generally absent from the modern culinary world is something of a culinary injustice we all owe to ourselves to try.

Like grains of paradise, long pepper was freely used alongside (and often confused with) common black pepper in kitchens from ancient Rome to Renaissance Europe. But the arrival of chiles from the New World and the rising popularity of black pepper shoved long pepper out of the culinary spotlight.

Its flavor is much more complex than black pepper, reminiscent of spice blends like garam masala more than a single spice. It possesses black pepper’s heat and musk, but in a less harsh, more nuanced way, tempered by sweet notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Its finish lingers on the tongue with a tobacco-like coolness; where black pepper stings, long pepper balms.

There are actually two commercially grown species of long pepper: piper longum, from India, and the cheaper and wider-spread piper retrofactum, from Indonesia (the island of Java). Their flavors are similar enough as to be interchangeable, but they’re worth mentioning for inspiration about cuisines the spice works well with. South Indian cooks use long pepper in lentil stews and pickles, and its sweet heat works well with Southeast Asian-style roasted meats. Long pepper has been prized for its aphrodisiac properties. One recipe, from the Kama Sutra, calls for long pepper to be mixed with black pepper, other spices, and honey, with the promise to “utterly devastate your lady.” The concoction is applied externally.

Long pepper (piper longum) originates in central Africa but is now in India, Africa, and Eastern China. This is harvested in summer.  The bud fruit is about an inch long and consists of lots of tiny black and gray seeds.  The taste is like a mild pepper and ginger combination.  This was commonly used during the Middle Ages.  This one can substitute for common pepper and is best used in sweet hot recipes accenting the ginger flavor. Some suggestions for use are on fruit (particularly fresh) or in coleslaw, this prevents the flavor from being cooked away.

False Peppers:

There are several varieties of peppercorns which do not belong to the piper nigrum family.  These come from several different types of plants. The flavors of these are different from the piper nigrum plant so should not be used as a substitute.  Some are as follows:

Pink peppercorns (shinus molle) is grown in Madagascar, Mexico, and Australia.  The pale pink berries are harvested in the summer. Initially, this has a pepper flavor but ends tasting sweet.  It is good for vegetables and seafood and is not a good replacement for regular pepper.  This can cause an allergic reaction in children so follow the recipe precisely.  The schinus terebinthifolius species is used as a pink pepper.  The plant looks similar to a holly tree and it grows in parts of the US like the shinus molle.  There is an additional pink peppercorn which comes from the Baies rose plant (euonymus phellomanus) which is also from Madagascar.  Pink peppercorns (shinus molle) is grown in Madagascar, Mexico, and Australia.

pink.jpeg

Sichuan or Szechuan pepper is found commonly in China and used in many Chinese and Japanese dishes, but also adds a zing to chicken noodle soup. The pepper derives from the berries of a prickly Ash tree native to China.  These are spicier than the regular pepper.

sit.jpeg

Negro Pepper (xylopia aethiopica) is grown in Ghana and Malawi.  This one is harvested in the fall and when dried has dark brown seed pods.  Like the piper nigrum, it is a fruit which is dried in the sun.  Similar to piper nigrum, this has a strong flavor but it leaves a bitter aftertaste so is not a good substitute for regular pepper.

negro.jpeg

Pepperleaf (piper sanctum) is cultivated in Peru and Argentina.  The leaves are harvested year round.  The green leaf is plucked from a bush which is in the pepper family.  It is very similar to cilantro and best used fresh.  It has a little bite but mellows to a sweeter flavor.


 

History of Pepper

Like salt, this spice has a long and illustrious past.  It has been popular for more than 4000 years; cultivation of pepper began about 1000 BC.

Pepper was actually the first spice used in Europe and helped to motivate the Spanish, English, and Dutch to find trade routes to India.  It helped develop the relations among East, West, and Middle East countries.  This spice was a luxury and only used by the upper class up until the early 1800s before average citizens could afford to use this spice.  This spice is so valuable that even in some parts of Asia, poorer families hold peppercorns as a type of savings.

The spice dates back much further than these somewhat modern trade routes though.  It was highly prized in ancient Greece, being given as an offering to the Gods, used for paying taxes, and even in paying ransoms.  Some of the ransoms were paid to the Ottoman Tribes.  Rome also utilized pepper for taxes.  The famous Roman Centurions received peppercorns as part of their pay.

The Middle Ages saw the price of pepper equal that of gold.  The upper class often kept stores of it and accepted it as payment for rent and other debts.  One pound of peppercorns was worth three weeks of work during this time frame.

Pepper is known as the king or master spice because even today it makes up about a quarter of the spice trade.  Historically, it was a popular spice to use because it flavored bland food and covered up any signs of spoilage.

 

Additional Uses

Aside from culinary deliciousness, pepper has other uses.  It is toxic to several insects so is an effective insecticide.  You can sprinkle pepper around non-garden areas to keep insects out.  Mix a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper to one quart of warm water and spray it on plants to kill ants, potato bugs, and silverfish.

Pepper has also been used as a brandy flavor and in perfumes.

The best way to determine the flavor of peppercorns is to smell them.  To cleanse your nose and sense of smell try smelling coffee beans in between each sample.

 

Cooking Tips

Almost every recipe calls for a sprinkle or dash of pepper.  For the novice, this can be a difficult measurement.  Should you shake your pepper shaker once or twice?  Should the grinder be turned five or six times?  With the small measurements, it really doesn’t matter.  However, if you are concerned about the intake of pepper, then five turns on your typical pepper grinder is about a 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Pepper – The Master Spice

Olive Oil Tips & Tricks

shop-olive-oil_feature1.png

Olive oil is one of the world’s most ancient foods and it’s one of the most common cooking ingredients. In fact, along with salt and pepper, olive oil is one of the best pantry staples, because it’s an essential element to so, so many recipes. You can use it to roast veggies, grill chicken, make a super simple salad dressing, drizzle over crostini. In addition to being a baller ingredient that elevates any and all food, olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are an essential component to any well-rounded diet.

Choosing an olive oil from a shelf of bottles at wildly varied price points can be tricky. Olive oil is so versatile because there are many flavors, notes, and colors. In that respect, it’s like wine. And like wine, it can be intimidating.

We hear words like extra and virgin thrown around a lot, but most people couldn’t tell you what that actually means. And with tons of fraudulent bottles clogging the market, it can be hard to tell which olive oils are actually worth your time and your money. Let’s face it, olive oil is NOT cheap.

1. Only buy oil labeled extra-virgin. This is not a guarantee that the oil will be the best, but at least it will probably not be among the worst. Bottles labeled just plain “Olive Oil” and “Light Olive Oil” are refined oils and, like vegetable oil, while they’re not bad in any way, they are not very interesting.

2. Read the label. Even if it’s written in Italian, French or Spanish, you can probably figure out enough to recognize harvest and “use by” dates. The finest producers always put the harvest date proudly on their olive oil. The use-by date can be a little deceptive since it is usually 18 months from bottling, rather than from harvest.

Check for the region the oil was produced in. If you see more than one country, region, or even city listed, put the bottle back on the store shelf. You don’t want the olives blended from all different countries. Because when it comes to the olives used in olive oil, the things that grow together go together.

You want to look for the olive cultivar. This is just a fancy way of saying which type of olives were used to make the oil. The more specific information the producers display on the bottle, the more likely that extra-virgin claim is legit.

Remember to always check the harvest date, and opt for the freshest you can find.

3. Avoid anything in a clear glass bottle, no matter how pretty and enticing the label. Light is the great enemy of olive oil and the oil inside will likely have lost most of its flavor and aroma. Look for extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles or, better yet, opaque tins. Olive Oil does not like light, so keep yours out of the sun.  Your kitchen counter is not a good place to keep it.

4. Know that the term “first cold pressing,” although widely used, is redundant. By legal definition, the extra-virgin oil must come from the first (usually the only) pressing, which must be accomplished with no added heat (at ambient temperatures no higher than around 80ºF.

5. Extra-virgin olive oil does not improve with age. Fresher is better, and right out of the mill, olive oil is a fabulous experience. Fresh oil may have unexpectedly assertive flavors of bitterness and pungency that sometimes override the fruitiness. These challenging flavors are treasured by connoisseurs because they indicate high quality, and by nutritionists, because they’re evidence of lots of healthful polyphenols.

6. Light is the enemy and so is heat. Keep your precious bottles in a cool, dark environment. I have a couple of tin containers within reach of my stove, each of which holds 1 ½ cups of oil, enough for a couple of days in my kitchen. They get refilled from the bulk of my oil, which I keep in a cupboard in an unheated pantry.

7. Use your oil! And don’t be afraid to cook with extra-virgin. It is perfectly stable up to about 420ºF. The Joy of Cooking says 360ºF is the optimum temperature for deep-frying, I use extra-virgin comfortably for almost all of my cooking. And because it doesn’t get better with age, I use last year’s oil for cooking, and this year’s fresh oil for garnishing.

8. Use it liberally! Learn to love a hot baked potato, cracked open and topped with lots of the freshest finest oil you can buy, a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly ground Telicherry pepper. Or try my favorite Catalan breakfast—grilled rustic bread with a ripe tomato crushed into the top, then salt and pepper and a glug of extra-virgin over it all.

9. Buy from trusted retailers who know how to maintain quality. I find the best quality olive oil from online sources. Here are a few good ones: olio2go.com,
dipaloselects.commarkethallfoods.comcortibrothers.com,
zingermans.com, and www.gustiamo.com

10. Like with other juices, fresher is always better when it comes to olive oil.

Olive oil is adversely affected by several factors including time passed since its pressing, heat, light, and air. Luckily the shelf life is a little bit longer than that of the kale, apple, and parsley blend you love olive oil is at its best in its first two years. An older bottle probably won’t hurt you, but it slowly loses its beautiful flavors and health benefits with every passing day.

Olive oil harvests in the northern hemisphere (usually in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy) take place in October and November. This means if you’re looking for the freshest bottle, you’ll want the harvest date listed on the label to be from the previous year. Anything earlier than that indicates an old bottle unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t get better with age

11. But know that if you go for just regular “virgin,” you’ll still get all the health benefits.

While the lower quality virgin olive oil may not taste as good as its extra-virgin counterparts,  there isn’t any nutritional difference between the two. Pure olive oils, on the other hand, have been chemically processed which means you may want to avoid them altogether. When you see a bottle labeled pure, light, or olive oil, this can be an indicator that it is a refined, lesser quality product.

12. Different olives produce oils that taste different.

Olive oil adds depth and dimension to virtually any dish. And experts make careers tasting and assessing the subtleties of olive oil. Hundreds of olive varieties are cultivated around the world, and dozens are valued for producing delicious oil.

Knowing which olives were used can also help you determine what the oil will taste like. If you see an oil made with a taggiasca olive, it’s going to be light and delicate and sweet. But if you see an oil made with a nocellara olive,  it will be leafy, herbaceous, and robust.”

Different varieties absolutely have different flavor profiles and personalities, but the end result of the oil is determined by much more including geography, the method of harvesting and pressing, as well as blending and storage. Again, think wine, there are plenty of luscious Pinot Noirs and plenty of bad Pinot Noirs.

To really use this knowledge to your advantage, you’ll need to have a bit of olive intel in your back pocket. A quick Google search of the different types should give you enough flavor info to make a decision. Or try a new type each time you buy a bottle and see what you like best. There hundreds of different olive varieties out there and olive oils vary greatly from region to region, so there are a lot of flavors to be had. If you’re at a store that allows you to taste olive oil, take advantage! The more you taste, the more you’ll discover what styles make you happy.

\

13. You can’t tell how an olive oil will taste by looking at it.

Just as you wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t want to judge an olive oil by its color. A greener olive oil isn’t necessarily a better or fresher olive oil, though this is commonly thought to be the case. Color is determined by factors like the type of olives used and when the oil was extracted. The only way to truly judge the quality of an oil is to crack it open and give it a taste.

14. You don’t want to cheap out on olive oil, but it shouldn’t break the bank either.

As you’re scanning the oil aisle, there’s definitely the potential for sticker shock, but there’s a wide range of prices and you don’t have to drop a ton of dough for a decent bottle. As for how much you should be spending in general, Try not to drop below $15 per liter, which is about 34 ounces. You’ll often find bottles that size at the supermarket and it’s a good amount to have on hand if you cook regularly. (If you don’t cook that often, it’s easy to find smaller bottles, too.)

15. Use cheaper bottles for cooking and pricier oils for drizzling.

If you do decide to splurge on a pricier bottle one between $20 and $40 you may want to reserve it for drizzling and finishing dishes. When you cook olive oil, you cook the nuances out of it. So if you really want to savor the flavor of an oil soaked into a piece of bread or poured over a bowl of hummus, keep one nice bottle on hand for that, and use another (cheaper) bottle for all your cooking needs.

Many chefs tend to cook with cheaper (but still totally respectable) EVOO, like California Olive Ranch, and save the truly mind-blowing stuff, like Castillo de Canna for drizzling and finishing.

16. And finally, you absolutely should use olive oil for way more than just salads.

Olive oil is an incredible ingredient and the cornerstone of the famous Mediterranean diet. Exquisite olive oil elevates everything it touches: salads, grilled veggies, meat and seafood, soups, stews, pasta, and risotto really do go from good to awesome when anointed with yummy EVOO. It’s the perfect bridge between tradition and innovation. It can be utilized in a plethora of culinary applications with astounding results.

From cooking with to finishing to everything in between, olive oil can elevate many dishes.

Olive Oil Tips & Tricks

How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel