Custom Butcher Block Projects from Happy Customers

Custom Butcher Block Projects from Happy Customers

I get to work on most of our custom butcher block projects, so when we get pictures back from happy customers, it really makes my day! Remember the speed bag platform made from a butcher block table top? I’m not sure we’ll ever top the uniqueness of that one, but I’d sure love to see you try! Even in traditional applications, I’m always stunned by the amazing work our customers do, and I love that you all appreciate the beauty, warmth, and function that butcher block can bring into the home.

Recently, we received photos of three beautiful uses for custom butcher block.

Jerry in Georgia upgraded his workspace with these gorgeous desks made from John Boos Walnut custom butcher block with custom commercial grade stainless steel bases. These bases usually come with commercial grade Maple tops, but we had Boos put together this custom design and it looks so sharp! Since he is using these as desks, Jerry elected to go with the Varnique semi-gloss finish, for a smooth, maintenance-free surface.

Custom Butcher Block

 

Over in Arkansas, Tom and his wife built their own table base and used a custom butcher block for the table top. This John Boos Blended Maple top also has the Varnique semi-gloss finish, perfect for easy clean-up on a dining table. Isn’t this fantastic? I love the base and I’m so glad we could get the perfect size top for them.

Custom Butcher Block

Now let’s head way down south to Key West, where James has crowned his island with a stunning Butcher Block Co. Walnut Plank Style custom butcher block top. He asked for a “showstopper,” and boy did he get one! The plank style allows for wider sections of wood, which really show off the beautiful grain pattern and natural color variation of the Walnut. I think everyone should have one of these!

Custom Butcher Block

If you would like to explore the idea of adding custom butcher block to your home, give us a call or shoot over an email. We love working on these projects and seeing your creative ideas!

Celebrate National Limerick Day with Butcher Block Co.

Celebrate National Limerick Day with Butcher Block Co.

National Limerick Day is observed annually on May 12. It celebrates the birthday of English author and poet Edward Lear, who was known for his literary nonsense in poetry and limericks.

Do you recall learning to write a limerick when you were in grade school?

At Butcher Block Co. we get to write a limerick just for the fun of it. Read through our limericks, let us know what you think and share a limerick with us. Make it a great National Limerick Day!

Limerick customer service

If you act like a whirling dervish,
And buying online makes you nervous,
Cover bets in case, you’re at the right place.
Because we’re number one in service.

Limerick cooking

For high-quality goods you are looking,
Specially those that are made just for cooking.
Then please check us out, promise we’ll not tout,
Endless orders we now are booking.

Limerick standard size countertops

You have been wondering if you could,
Replace old tile counters with wood,
Just listen to us, it’s hardly a fuss,
So yes, you absolutely should!

Limerick customer countertops

Want counters that match your décor?
Easy to maintain and to restore?
Made-to-order or stock, we won’t put you in hock,
Wood tops family and friends will adore!

Limerick Countertops

Wood islands are sure great for greeting
Family for chatting or eating,
Maple or cherry, grain patterns vary.
You just have to provide the seating.

Limerick Portable Islands

Our kitchen islands are sortable,
You will find one that is courtable.
Want lots of store space, or one you can race,
Choose one with wheels so it’s portable.

Limerick Carving Boards

Want a cutting board made for carving,
Just want to spend only a farthing?
We sell just the best, so look to the rest.
We’re sorry if we leave you starving.

Limerick Boos Cutting Boards

If a very dear friend needs a lift,
Or at you she is possibly miffed.
You need an idea, so she will see ya,
Try a Boos cutting board as a gift.

Butcher Block Furniture for your Kitchen Design Style

Butcher Block Furniture for your Kitchen Design Style

Perhaps you know exactly what your design style is. I don’t think I have one particular design style that I follow in my home. Maybe it is because I have lived in my house for 20 years and did not have the luxury of buying all my furniture at one time. So, instead, my furnishings reflect my taste when I acquired the pieces and when I was in that particular phase of my life. However, overall, I would say it ties together and it would likely be described as a Mid-Century Modern design.

I do admire many design styles, especially when they are well thought out. Whether I am browsing through furniture showrooms or visiting friends’ homes, I tend to really love a well-designed space. I think coastal design is perfect for summer cottages. I appreciate the charm and comfort of a farmhouse design. I love the simplicity of arts and crafts furniture. And oddly, I find the industrial look to be very intriguing and almost nostalgic. But bottom line, I am most comfortable in my home because it is streamlined and uncluttered, with warm wood tones and natural accents like stone and copper.

Given we all tend to spend much of our free time in the kitchen, gathering with friends and family, it is no wonder that the kitchen has become a natural extension of our living room. And as part of this extension, it has become trendy for kitchen furniture and design touches to complement the furniture and design styles in the rest of our home. 

Whatever your design style, there is butcher block kitchen furniture that can easily complement your home.

Here are ten popular styles and some butcher block furnishings that could complement that particular design space.

Arts & Crafts – simple forms often showing how pieces and materials were put together.

arts and crafts design style

John Boos “C” Country Work Table

Coastal – inspired by the ocean, light and breezy feel, accessorized with nautical themes.

coastal design style

John Boos Walnut Gathering Block III and Grazzi Table Kitchen Island

Contemporary – sleek clean lines, often accented with metal frames and straight legs.

Contemporary design style

John Boos Walnut Trestle Table and Metropolitan Maple & Stainless Steel Table

Country – or farmhouse, has a rustic elegant look, with natural wood and/or white bases.

Country design style

John Boos “C Classic” Maple Table and Saratoga Farm Maple Butcher Block

Eclectic – evokes a sense of imagination, with lots of color, shapes, textures and patterns.

Eclectic design style

Johh Boos Maple Tuscan Isle and Maple Elliptical Butcher Block Tables

French – ornate and decorative in style, with an antique furniture look.

French design style

John Boos Maple Calais and Cherry Le Rustica Butcher Block Tables

Mid-Century Modern – style characterized by simplicity, functionality and natural shapes.

Mid-Century Modern design style

John Boos Cherry Le Classique Butcher Block Table and Holly & Martin’s Parkhills 3-Piece Breakfast Set

Modern – a clean, minimalistic style, often incorporating polished or metal surfaces.

Modern Design Style

Johh Boos Cucina Milano Stainless Steel Table and Metro Station Butcher Block on Stainless Steel Frame

Shabby Chic – antique looking furniture, featuring a painted, distressed look.

Shabby Chic design style

John Boos Maple Jasmine and Maple Gathering Block I Butcher Blocks

Industrial – rustic and mature looking with the use of wood and exposed steel.

Industrial design style

John Boos Cucina Classico Walnut & Stainless Steel and Cucina Mariner Stainless Steel Tables

Why We Love Wood.

Why We Love Wood.

Why is it that so many people love wood?  Whether it be fine wood furniture, wooden vases and bowls, hardwood floors, barn wood beams, reclaimed wood bar tops, butcher block countertops, we seek it out. Perhaps we love wood because it connects us to the natural world and allows us to bring a bit of the outdoors inside. But for me, it is more than that.

First, I love the forest. I grew up in Sherwood Forest, with a huge wooded area right across the street from my house. I spent most of my youth exploring the forest and playing with my siblings and neighbors from sunrise to sunset. We built forts, went on treasure hunts, and played hide and seek in the woods. As I grew older, I found that I was drawn to the forest as less of an adventure and more of a peaceful escape. A place to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city, to regroup and re-energize. Fortunately, I live in Arizona and can venture to Oak Creek Canyon often to hike and just sit and look at the trees.  I am just amazed at how they grow, how much history stands before me, how they survive with the weather, and how beautiful they are in aggregate. I could stare at them for hours, gently blowing in the breeze. Forests have continued to be a part of my life’s story. My husband actually proposed to me in the middle of the Coconino National Forest 27 years ago. And I just now returned from visiting my favorite place on earth, the Bamboo Forest, at the end of the road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii.

The reason I love wood is likely a natural extension of my love for trees. Wood can overload your senses, from the look, feel and smell of it.

Wood has a feeling of life, because it came from something living. And wood seems to have a story to tell. Certainly, the grain indicates the years of its life and the character of the grain can show a bit about the conditions it was grown under. Wood grain has a “visual texture” to it that I am drawn to.  Some wood species, like hickory and ash, have such pronounced and unique grain patterns. And walnut has these delightful twists in the grain and significant color variation between dark brown heartwood and creamy blond sapwood. There is much character in the feel of wood too, such that I find myself always running my hand along the top of wood, regardless of its finish.  I like to feel the rough texture of weathered barn board, the curves and dents of hand-scraped planks, the silky surface of finely sanded raw wood, and the smooth surface of fine furniture. And wood can have some glorious scents that evoke special memories: cedar wood’s unique and powerful aroma reminds me of my parents’ cedar chest and fresh cut pine always takes me to Christmastime. In Arizona, the smell of burning mesquite wood in the winter months is very common and brings back memories of camping in the woods.

Finally, I love wood because it can be crafted into functional and beautiful homes, pieces of furniture, tools, art, décor, and more. Because wood varies so much, no two pieces of furniture are identical when made of the same wood species. And so much of what we build from wood can last lifetimes.  What a wonderful tribute it is to a tree, that can grow for centuries and then be fashioned into something else that can live on for another century.

Select Your Butcher Block by Wood Hardness and Aesthetics

Select Your Butcher Block by Wood Hardness and Aesthetics

With 15 different species of wood to choose from for your butcher block, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by so many great-looking options. The purpose of this article is to help you filter your options using two important criteria: the wood hardness and the aesthetics of each wood species.

Comparing Wood Hardness

First, let’s address hardness. It’s a critically important variable to weigh when choosing a material for kitchen, commercial or industrial countertops. Your consideration set might well vary depending on whether you will be installing these countertops in a residential or a commercial kitchen; in an office or a garage workshop; in a commercial showroom or a manufacturing plant.

If you’re the type of chef who prefers a cutting board for cutting, slicing and chopping and will rely on your countertop for less aggressive tasks such as rolling and kneading dough and cutting out cookies for baking, or if the most rugged work you will do atop these counters is pushing papers or giving customers change, you will have the option of considering even soft woods, giving you many more options you might want to consider.

On the other hand, if you will be doing serious cutting, chopping and pounding, or operating power tools and maneuvering heavy hammers and wrenches for example, then of course it will make more sense to stick with a wood hardness that is less likely to suffer dings, dents and gouges. Fortunately, there’s a standardized test that’s used to measure a wood’s hardness, making it easy to compare hardness ratings different species.

The Janka Test Measures the Hardness of Different Woods

The Janka Hardness Test involves forcing a steel ball – 11.28 mm in diameter – into a piece of wood to the depth of half its diameter. The amount of force required to accomplish this feat, as measured in pounds-force (or lbf) tells us a lot about a wood’s resistance – a proxy measure for its hardness.

The wood hardness of different types of wood will vary depending upon the orientation of the wood sample being tested. For example, testing hardness on the surface of a plank (i.e., perpendicular to its grain) provides a measure of the wood’s side hardness; whereas testing on either end of the plank measures its end hardness. Moreover, there can be variation in hardness across wood harvested from different trees of the same species and even across specimens collected from a single tree. The point of all this is that you should not view Janka readings too literally. Rather, consider them as measures of  wood hardness relative to others.

The chart below shows the wood hardness, i.e., Janka scores, for all 15 species of wood that Butcher Block Co. uses in making butcher block and plank countertops.

First, note that based on Janka scores, Brazilian Cherry is about FIVE times more resilient than Poplar. wood hardness chart

Hardest – As you can see, Brazilian Cherry is far and away the hardest of the wood types we use at BBC. It earns a Janka hardness rating in excess of 2500 pounds-force. Hickory comes in second, scoring just under 2000 lbf.

Very Hard – Next in order comes a cluster of six hardwood stalwarts: Maple, White Oak, Ash, Beech, Birch and Red Oak. All achieve Janka scores between 1200 to 1500 lbf.

Hard – Tier three includes Walnut, American Cherry and Mahogany, each registering about 1000 lbf.

Not so Hard – Softest among the bunch are Spanish Cedar, Knotty Alder, Knotty Pine and Poplar, at 500 to 700 lbf.

Considering Aesthetics

Of course, there’s more to consider than wood hardness when choosing a wood for new countertops. Odds are you’re searching for a wood that will look great regardless of its destination. Are you interested in a counter or island top that matches the room’s décor; one that slightly contrasts with surrounding cabinetry; or one that accents the room?

Of course, there’s no equivalent to the Janka score to help us standardize along the dimension of beauty, but we’re happy to share with you our own way of thinking about the aesthetic dimensions that distinguish any species from others.

In the image below we arranged samples of all fifteen woods along two dimensions; one of which is wood hardness, as already discussed. Along the horizontal axis wood samples are lined up in accordance with their relative hardness (although not to scale). And they are arrayed vertically into four tiers according to their respective visual impact. wood hardness vs aesthetics chart Most Visually Striking: Mahogany, Walnut and Brazilian Cherry

Attention-Getting: Spanish Cedar, American Cherry, Red Oak and Hickory

Subtle but Elegant: Knotty Pine, Knotty Alder, Beech, Ash, White Oak and Maple

Most Neutral – Poplar and Birch.

So for instance, if you are seeking a wood that’s harder than most AND visually interesting but not overpowering, you might want to consider one among the quartet of Beech, Ash, White Oak and Maple. On the other hand, if you do most of your food prep on a cutting board and don’t have kids on hand who are prone to toss around backpacks or laptops, you might feel comfortable sacrificing a bit of hardness (remember, it’s all relative) in order to achieve the look of your dreams exemplified by Spanish Cedar or American Cherry.

At Butcher Block Co. we appreciate the magnitude of the decision you face. We hope this guide will help you think through the decision-making process and find the wood that’s perfect for your new countertops.

During the month of April, Butcher Block Co. is offering our biggest-ever savings opportunity on BBC-brand butcher block and plank-style countertops: 10% OFF. Enter code: 10BBCCT. Good through April 30, 2017.

 

Kitchen Tips – How To Clean Butcher Block

Kitchen Tips – How To Clean Butcher Block

I have admitted this before…I am actually one of those people who enjoys cleaning!  I find the process to be relaxing and almost cathartic. And for me it is very rewarding because I can usually see a huge difference in a short amount of time – instant gratification so to speak! While most people don’t enjoy it the way I do, I would guess that nearly everyone would admit that after they are done cleaning they feel better, maybe “lighter,” happier, or just plain glad it is over.

Springtime brings with it a new energy. A zestfulness. And for many, the willpower to tackle some household chores that they have been putting off during the winter season. For us at Butcher Block Co., springtime is a good time to remind our customers how to take care of their Butcher Block investment.

So, let’s review some best practices and how to clean butcher block cutting boards, standing blocks, tables or countertops…

Daily Cleaning – Clean butcher block after every use.

  • Scrape – Gently remove any food particles with a scraper or spatula. If you happen to have a varnish surface, remove food particles with a sponge so as not to scratch the surface (remember, you shouldn’t be cutting directly on a varnish finish).
  • Wash – To clean butcher block, wipe the surface with a clean wash cloth dipped in hot water and mild dish soap. Rinse the wash cloth and wipe the butcher block again. (Never submerge your butcher block in water).
  • Dry – Using a paper towel or dish towel, dry the surface of your butcher block thoroughly. Store your cutting boards on edge to dry both sides completely, and to save counter space.

Deodorizing – Keep your butcher block smelling fresh.

  • Neutralize odors before they arise.
  • Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar.
  • From time to time, after you prepare food on your butcher block, clean the butcher block then spray vinegar onto it.
  • Allow it to stand for a least 30 seconds before rinsing and drying.

 Disinfecting – Occasionally disinfect your butcher block, especially after prepping raw meat, fish or poultry.

  • Clean butcher block first following the steps above.
  • It’s necessary to kill germs, not just reduce their count. You’ll need a disinfecting solution that destroys ALL microbes in 10 minutes.
  • Use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. You can blend your own solution using 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide by mixing one part with 11 parts of water.
  • Pour the hydrogen peroxide onto the butcher block, spread it around using a clean sponge or cloth and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse the solution off of the butcher block surface by wiping with a clean, wet cloth. Then dry the butcher block thoroughly with a paper towel or dish cloth.
  • Follow the steps below to moisturize your butcher block.

Moisturizing – Butcher Block with an oil finish needs to be re-oiled to keep it from drying and cracking.

  • At least once a month (more often if used heavily), oil your butcher block.
  • Use a food-grade mineral oil like John Boos Mystery Oil. Apply the oil with a plastic grocery bag, spreading the oil over all surfaces. Let the oil stand over night to penetrate the wood.
  • The next morning, wipe off any excess oil using a paper towel.
  • Whereas oil penetrates the surface of wood to moisturize it, a good board cream will leave a silky, wax barrier. Seal in the moisture with John Boos Board Cream. Apply the cream over the butcher block like you would apply a moisturizing lotion. Let it sit for a few hours or over night. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel.
  • Note – Butcher Block with a varnish surface does not need to be moisturized with oil or cream.

These helpful tips are applicable any time of year, not just springtime. So remember to clean butcher block to keep it healthy and to protect your investment. All it takes is a little tender loving butcher block care.  For more information, check out our Complete Butcher Block Care and Repair Guide.

Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

Cooking in small spaces doesn’t have to be scary if you’re equipped with the right information! Just about all of us have had at least one small apartment in our days, so the stress is likely familiar, but Sarah has some great tips to help keep you happy while you work. Let’s see if she can squeeze us in and give us a lesson?

Greetings, entertainers! I have designed the kitchen of my dreams multiple times, revising as my tastes change. It always has a dishwasher, lots of counter space, big, sunny windows, and a giant kitchen island. I have never had any of those things, but a girl can dream! Since I’m used to cooking in small spaces, I thought I’d share my tips today! It doesn’t take a gigantic, sunny kitchen to make food with big flavors.

Dedicate Space

When you’re short on counter space, the first thing to do is dedicate space for cooking and prep. I have a beautiful wooden cutting board that I try to keep clear, since that’s where I chop vegetables. This has necessitated me prioritizing my countertop space, and has led to me keeping small appliances tucked away unless I’m actively using them. My stand mixer goes in the pantry, my food processor goes in a drawer, and my coffee bean grinder is stowed away, too. I also make sure that my cutting board is clean, because that removes another barrier to me getting down to business.

One-Pot Wonders

My favorite recipes have fewer steps to prep, and with a small stove and sink, I have learned to love things I can make with one pan on the stove. These recipes usually involve browning meat, adding vegetables that cook quickly, and then adding liquids or tomato paste to make a sauce. After you’ve eaten and put leftovers away, you only have one pot to clean, so I’m done cleaning up before my hands get pruny. If you want more elements in your meal, roast vegetables in the oven while your main dish cooks on the stovetop. This gives you more flavors, and more crunch, without making a huge mess, or requiring super specific timing.

Clean Right Away

The least fun part of cooking a great meal is cleaning up (obviously the most fun part is eating it!). When cooking in small spaces, dishes pile up more easily in the sink and stove. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it feels like the kitchen is full of dirty dishes. Commit to cleaning measuring cups as you use them, and clean knives or any prep dishes as your meal cooks. Try to get your pans clean just after they’ve cooled, so any residual gunk doesn’t get crusty, which means more scrubbing.

Meal Prep

All hail the slow cooker! Planning meals ahead of time has been proven to lower your grocery bills and reduce stress throughout the week. This can be as easy as planning to cook two big meals on Sunday afternoons so you’ll have leftovers all week, or investing in a big slow cooker for roasts, soups, and more!

Slow cookers are a great solution for cooking in small spaces because you assemble and cook ingredients all in the same pot!

So if you have a busy social life after work during the week, or are just too tired to chop veggies and make sure the chicken is done, try a slow cooker meal to have something to look forward to when you get home.

Strategize

If you have an ambitious cooking adventure in mind, set yourself up for success by planning ahead. If you want to make macarons, plan where the cookies will cool while you mix up the filling. Christmas cookies? Maybe set up a small card table for a decorating station so you have enough room for multiple batches to go into the oven, cool, and be ready for frosting!

If you’re adjusting to a new small space, don’t feel discouraged or limited by having less counter space than the kitchen of your dreams. By making the most of the space you have, you’ll feel more organized and up for cooking in small spaces!

Ever Wonder Why Basketball Is Played On Maple Hardwood?

Ever Wonder Why Basketball Is Played On Maple Hardwood?

Everyone Knows March Madness Is Played on Hardwood. Ever Wonder Which Hardwood?

In 1891 parents in Springfield, Massachusetts challenged Dr. James Naismith to invent an indoor game that would condition and tire out kids during the long, cold New England winters. Famously, he nailed two peach baskets to the railing of the balcony in the YMCA gymnasium and changed history. The gym’s wooden floor was made of hard maple (acer saccharum).

More than a century later, rock maple remains the hardwood used by local Ys, the NCAA and all but one NBA team.(1)

 

So Why Rock Maple?

Maple flooring gained popularity in late-nineteenth-century America. Among other things, it was relatively abundant and hence, affordable. Plus, maple was known to be strong, durable and stable. Less likely to expand and contract in response to changes in temperature and humidity, maple is largely resistant to splintering. Measured on the Janka scale(2), rock maple is North America’s most resilient hardwood.

Moreover, maple’s exceptionally tight grain(3) prevents dirt and dust particles from seeping in between the wood’s fibers, making it an easy wood to clean and maintain. Finally, maple can be easily restored to look new again. These are all traits equally important for sports courts.

The ideal playing surface must be solid and consistent throughout to ensure that a basketball will bounce exactly the same (i.e., without recoil or dampening) when dribbled anywhere on the court, since even small differences can impact the game. But the ideal surface must also provide some degree of shock resistance or bounce-back, in order to minimize players’ fatigue and damage to their joints. Also, maple’s coloration is perfect for basketball, given the contrast between the game’s orange ball and the floor’s light to medium tans and browns. This helps make it easy for players to spot the ball on the court. The lightness of maple also aids in brightening arenas via the reflection of light off the floor.

 A Professional-Grade Basketball Court Will Set You Back $80 to $100k

The actual playing area of courts used by the NCAA and NBA measures 94 feet by 50 feet, but most incorporate a large perimeter, bringing overall floor dimensions to about 140 feet by 70 feet. The hard rock maple planks used are typically slightly thicker than ¾ of an inch, so it takes 80 to 100 trees to construct a single hardwood court. By the way, the NBA requires teams to replace their floor every 10 years.

The Big Dance Floor Will Be Offered to the Winner

Connor Sports (Elk Grove Village, IL) made the basketball courts used for 13 different NCAA conference championships. The modules that comprise these portable courts are shipped to regional tournament sites where they are assembled and eventually disassembled after play. Connor has also supplied the floors used in the Men’s and Women’s Final Four since 2005. These floors are also modular, but one-off custom designs that are offered for purchase to the winning schools who often display portions of the floor or cut the modules into smaller segments that can be sold to alumni or collectors via fundraisers.

The manufacturing process is remarkable; it even involves riding sander machines! Click the image below to watch this video on Youtube.

Here’s another time-lapse video showing workers installing the 2015 Final Four court – made of Northern rock maple harvested from Wisconsin – at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Smartest Bet This March Madness Is on the Floor, Not the Brackets

It’s estimated that $10.4 billion will be wagered on 70 million brackets this time around (only 3% of those bets will be legal). Be smart and bet safe: for certain, all games will be played on North American rock maple!

(1) The famed Boston Garden features red oak in a distinctive parquet design, instead of maple.

(2) The Janka Hardness Scale measures the amount of pressure required to mar a wood sample.

(3) “Grain” typically means the physical structure and appearance of a wood surface and traces to the orientation of the wood’s cellulose fibers – the remnants of once-living longitudinal cells.

Food Processor Favorite – Olive Tapenade Recipe

Food Processor Favorite – Olive Tapenade Recipe

Are you a food processor aficionado? You should be! This versatile kitchen gadget, while large, makes short work of many tasks and will earn its keep every time you entertain. Sarah is here to share some of her favorite ways to use the food processor, along with a simple and versatile recipe for Olive Tapenade that is sure to please your palate. Alright, Sarah, get us all mixed up in this food processor world!

Greetings, entertainers. Let’s talk tech! I love kitchen gadgets, and when I was thinking around my kitchen for a favorite, one immediately sprang to mind. Not only is this gadget versatile, but it is easy to use, pretty noisy, and for me has some stress-relieving benefits.

I am, of course, speaking of none other than the food processor!

Why is a food processor so great? First, I never had one growing up, Food Processor so it went in the class of kitchen gadgets I thought of in my head as “super crazy technical and awesome” (along with the mandoline). I only ever saw them being used on cooking shows, and seeing professional chefs use them for everything made me want one pretty badly.

Fast forward a few years to when I finally put one in my own kitchen, and I’m a pretty happy camper. Do you want fresh salsa? Toss in a mango, some chiles in adobo sauce, and some fresh tomatoes. Run out of hummus halfway through the party? Never again. This thing is the king of dips, and as an added bonus, puts you in the front row to watch things being pulverized.

One of my favorite things to make with a food processor is tapenade. I usually have all the necessary ingredients in my kitchen, which mostly speaks to my love of olives (and anything salty). So let’s get down to it—how do we make this treat for your guests?

Ingredients

  • Olives. I like to use a combination of olives from the olive bar at my grocery store, but if you have a favorite, that works, too. Kalamata olives make great tapenade that turns out a pretty purple color. The key here is no pits.
  • Olive oil. Seems unnecessary, right? Wrong. Just a drizzle is absolutely necessary to getting your tapenade a smoother consistency.
  • Capers. Just a few!
  • Lemon juice. Salt loves acid. Enough said.

Food Processor

Directions

Assemble your food processor. For me, this means choosing the correct-size bowl, and determining which blade to use. I chose a smallish 4-cup bowl to keep my ingredients close together, and the standard chop blade that came with my machine. Some food processors offer doodads that julienne and add all kinds of awesome knifework to your ingredients. Olives are so small that it’s not necessary here.

Add olives! I chose a mix of dried black olives, red pepper Spanish queens, and kalamata. I used enough to almost cover the bottom of my food processor, but for a party, you’ll want closer to 2 cups.

Now capers. I used a heavy hand because I know I like the pungency. I wouldn’t use more than a teaspoon-full for guests.

I squeezed half a lemon using another favorite gadget—a citrus juicer. Pro tip—put your citrus in flat side down so that the squeeze turns the lemon inside-out.

Turn your food processor on low to blend your ingredients. I let it go about twenty seconds, or until the food stops moving around the bowl.

Once your olives are all stuck to the sides of your bowl, turn the processor off, remove the lid, and scrape the sides. Now, the magic. Add a little bit of olive oil, and turn it back on low. I’d recommend about a tablespoon, or enough to keep the pulverized bits moving around the bowl as the machine goes.

Do the check, scrape, add olive oil thing until your tapenade is the consistency you like, and then serve with pita chips or pita bread (I’m a sucker for pita bread with tapenade!). If you want to make it extra fancy, toast your pita in a pan on the stove first with a little butter.

So what are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Any that were a childhood dream realized as an adult (I know I’m a huge nerd)? Happy entertaining, hosts!

 

Walnut Butcher Block Tops

Walnut Butcher Block Tops

Walnut butcher block has become incredibly popular over the last few years, and we totally understand why: it is GORGEOUS! A while back we had a customer who needed to exchange his blended walnut butcher block countertop for a different finish. The top was 107″ long and absolutely beautiful, and it just so happened to be in Phoenix. A couple of us here at Butcher Block Co. decided we could find use for this beauty, so we each embarked on a DIY journey to create our own masterpieces.

We hope these two projects will help inspire you to bring walnut butcher block (or any butcher block) into your home!

Candice’s Island Top

About 10 years ago I inherited a kitchen island that was originally used as a store display, and I have wanted to refinish it ever since. I got as far as replacing the wooden knobs with cute ceramic ones, but the improvement wasn’t exactly notable. The biggest problem was the top. It was cheap and too soft to use as a butcher block, not to mention completely unappealing to my tastes. Thankfully the perfect solution presented itself in the walnut butcher block being exchanged by our customer. It was already the ideal depth at 30″, and I only needed 51″ in length to give my island a nice 2.5″ overhang on each end, expanding my work surface a bit more than the previous top.

After a couple hours of wrenching the original pine top off my island (seriously, there were something like 18 screws…a little overkill!), I was able to start sanding the base so it could be painted. Unfortunately I do not possess quite enough upper arm strength to power sand 25 years of buildup off a table base, so I enlisted some help at this point. I bought some spray paint in a nice almond shade, went out of town for a week, and came home to a fully transformed kitchen island (do I have the best dog-sitter/friend or what?!)!

The oil finish already on this block was the right option for me, as I am using this as a prep table to do all my chopping. My favorite part of every month is when it is time to oil my block – there is just nothing quite as beautiful as a freshly oiled walnut butcher block. My ugly old island has become one of my most prized possessions.

Walnut Butcher Block

Kathleen’s Kitchen Table

My son was moving into his new home and we gifted him the oak breakfast nook my husband designed 25 years ago. It was a perfect excuse for us to finally upgrade to the kitchen table of our dreams.  We have always wanted a bar height kitchen table to match our dark mahogany colored kitchen cabinets. And luck would have it, we were able to repurpose this blended walnut butcher block countertop that was returned to Butcher Block Co.  Using the “other half” of the top Candice used, we were able to make a kitchen table 59”L x 36”W.

We started with an oil finish blended walnut top, our “half” was 56”L x 30”W x 1.5”. We sanded it down to completely remove the oil finish that was applied at the factory.  This table was a little small for us, so we added a 3” mahogany rail on the sides and a 1.5” wide rail on the ends using a biscuit joiner.  We chose a 3” thick rail of mahogany so that the finished table appeared to be a chunky 3” thick, even though the butcher block was just 1.5” thick. Further sanding smoothed out the seams. We did not have any desire to cut upon this butcher block, so we decided to stain it to match our cabinets, using a Zar brand wood stain. And because we were looking for a low maintenance table top, we knew we wanted to go with a polyurethane finish, applying 4 coats to the top.

The base of our table consists of 2 bar height metal disc bases.  We hired a family friend to weld the custom foot rest that attaches to the metal base. Then we sent the bases and footrest to a local business to powder coat them to match the metal on our bar stools. Our finished table is gorgeous.  The walnut colored stain brought out the beautiful grain patterns in our blended walnut butcher block. And this top is so low maintenance that all I need to do is wipe it clean and use Pledge on the top to keep it looking new.