Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Erin, our guest blogger from Food Wise Family, is getting us ready for yummy, pumpkin spice season! 

How to Make Pumpkin Spice
Now that fall is upon us, pumpkin spice is everywhere and somehow in everything, so it’s time to make a fresh spice blend. With only five ingredients, you can have this delightful autumn spice blend in five minutes or less. I am all about making homemade spice blends, and that includes pumpkin spice, which is also called pumpkin pie spice. This tasty blend is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, and somehow manages to encapsulate all that is fall.

Why You Should Make Your Own Spice Blends
Making your own spice blends saves money, especially if you already have the spices. A quick peek in the cupboard might reveal that you already have the ingredients for pumpkin spice. Without even thinking about it, you just saved some money by looking in your cabinet and making your own spice mix. Even if you don’t have all the spices, making your own blend will still save you money in the long run, particularly if you use a lot of pumpkin spice, or if you cook a lot with the individual spices.

Additionally, making your own pumpkin spice at home means you can customize the spice blend to meet your needs. If you have an allergy to a certain spice or just don’t like it, leave it out. Customize your blend to fit you and your family.

What Is Pumpkin Spice Used For
Typically, pumpkin spice is used in sweet pumpkin recipes, such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and don’t forget your pumpkin spice latte. Don’t limit yourself to just using it with pumpkin recipes. Branch out and sprinkle it on warm homemade applesauce, on freshly roasted butternut squash, or even delicious candied maple pecans. Get creative and liven up your food with these warming autumn spices this season.

Pumpkin Spice
Total Time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Instructions

  1. Add all spices to a small bowl and mix well.
  2. Place spice blend in a small airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Note: This mixture fits perfectly in a 4-ounce glass mason jar.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice
I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.
Read our other Butcher Block Co. blogs featuring pumpkin!
Coffee Table Design Takes Butcher Block Out Of The Kitchen

Coffee Table Design Takes Butcher Block Out Of The Kitchen

John Boos butcher block has been around for over 130 years and has been used in residential gourmet kitchens and commercial kitchens alike. But butcher block is not just for kitchens anymore! It’s finding its way into other rooms of the home. Perhaps it is the current DIY craze shared through Pinterest lovers that inspire people to create differently. And maybe it is the rise of the rustic-chic and mid-century modern influences that affect home décor now. But whatever the case, no one is going to stop you from taking butcher block out of the kitchen and into the rest of your home.

Looking around my house, I see I have more butcher block in other rooms of my home than I do in my kitchen! Sure, I have butcher block cutting boards, and a while back we featured our DIY walnut butcher block kitchen table. But I also have 15 feet of walnut edge grain butcher block countertops in my home office; over 8 feet of maple butcher block workbench in the garage; and a lovely walnut end-grain butcher block table in a guest bedroom. I know I have access to more butcher block than the average person, but the point is that with a little imagination you can easily design butcher block into other rooms of your home.

butcher block

Our most recent project is this hunky end-grain butcher block we made into a handsome coffee table for our living room!

INSPIRATION

The impetus behind this project started with our 68 pound dog, Kirby, who jumped on our leather sectional and put a huge hole through the cushion. Now granted, it was an old couch, but it happened to fit perfectly in our living room; so much so, that we had it re-upholstered and re-stuffed three times over the years. We did end up replacing the sectional with two new mid-century modern couches.  But then it was clear that our coffee table did not match, was very beat up and was 4” higher than the new couch cushions. So, we needed to replace it, too. Inspiration for our new DIY coffee table came from a number of places, one of which was from our customer, Kaleb, who built a coffee table for his home from a 4” thick end grain butcher block. For our project we used a 7” thick standard size John Boos maple end grain butcher block, 36” x 25” that had been returned with some shipping damage on two corners. The damage did not affect the integrity of the piece, but it made the block unsightly and not saleable.

PREPARATION

If you are going to make a DIY butcher block coffee table, we recommend you purchase it unfinished, to save yourself prep time. In our case, we had an end grain block that already had a mineral oil finish. Because we didn’t want to oil our table every month, we needed to eliminate as much oil as possible from the wood. We let it dry out and then wiped it with denatured alcohol. We also spent a fair amount of time sanding the block with both a belt sander and an orbital sander to lessen the crushed corners. That also helped remove some oil and our sanding was successful in removing/hiding most of the damage. We decided to router all edges, including the top, bottom and corners with a ½” beveled (Chamfer) edge which removed enough wood to even out the damage. The most challenging part of this project was in trying to maneuver this 175 pound block!

FINISHING

The existing furniture in our living room is cherry stained and we wanted our natural maple end grain coffee table to blend in, so we chose a cherry finish Danish oil (DeftOil). Then we applied urethane finish to seal and protect (General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Oil & Urethane Topcoat – Satin finish). Given this butcher block weighs 175 pounds we needed legs that were not only stylish, but also strong enough to support it. We like the look of hairpin legs and think the style blends nicely with our mid-century modern couches. We determined a 9” leg would bring our table to the exact height we needed and we sourced them from DIY Hairpin Legs, ordered a set of four  ½” thick steel hairpin legs in jet black color, and were very pleased with the quality.

Here is the completed table.

Butcher Block coffee table

Feel free to comment and share with us your ideas for incorporating butcher block into other rooms of your home!

 

Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Our guest blogger, Erin, of Food Wise Family, shares with us a favorite fall baking treat for the family – gluten free banana bread!

Fall is almost here, so it’s time to crank up the oven and get baking. To me, nothing is more reminiscent of fall than banana bread, but maybe that’s just because my mom used to bake it around this time of year when I was a kid.

This gluten free banana bread is super moist and perfectly browned with that classic banana flavor. Not only is this bread gluten free, but it is also paleo friendly and grain free. Additionally, it is sweetened with bananas, applesauce, and maple syrup, making this recipe free of any refined sugars.

Use Up Those Overripe Bananas
Besides how irresistibly delicious this bread is, my favorite part about this gluten free banana bread recipe is the fact that it lets no bananas go to waste. It seems like bananas are underripe forever and then before you know it they are overripe, and somehow you missed the window of perfectly ripened before they got too mushy. Or at least, that’s the case for us. I cringe at the thought of throwing away food, so being able to use up overripe bananas in breads, muffins, or pancakes is a plus. (Tip – you can save overripe bananas in the freezer with their peels on. When you need one for baking, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until it softens.) gluten free banana bread ingredient
Is Your Baking Powder Gluten Free?
To keep this recipe gluten free, read the label and make sure your baking powder is gluten free. To my knowledge, there is no paleo or grain free baking powder on the market, so I make my own. Making your baking powder only requires baking soda, cream of tartar, and a few minutes of your time. If you’re interested, check out my instructions here.
Gluten Free Banana Bread
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Baking Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 60 Minutes
Wet Ingredients
4 large eggs
2 mashed large overripe bananas (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
Nuts
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Grease a 9” x 5” bread pan with coconut oil.
3. In a large bowl, mix all wet ingredients until thoroughly combined.
4. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients while thoroughly mixing.
6. Gently stir in pecans.
7. Add batter to the greased pan.
8. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
9. Let bread cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
10. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Although, this gluten free banana bread does not last in our house for more than two days before we gobble it all up.
Note: Unlike most wheat flour banana bread recipes, this gluten free banana bread recipe does not fill the entire bread pan once baked. So, if your bread is just a little over half the height of the pan, you did it right. gluten free banana bread
I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.
Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I would like to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Erin Higgs, who is a food blogger at Food Wise Family. She creates wholesome, delicious paleo recipes with a focus on family, and she will be contributing to our blog monthly. When Erin is not in the kitchen or writing, you can find her playing peekaboo with her toddler. We hope you enjoy her first, of many, blog recipes!

The long weekend celebrating Labor Day is almost here. I imagine you probably already have an idea of what meat you’re grilling up for the holiday, whether it is a juicy hamburger or some tasty chicken kabobs, so I’m here to talk about making a side dish.

A side dish should be appetizing, but simple. With only five ingredients and quick prep, easy grilled sweet potatoes fit both of these standards.

Easy Cleanup
One of my favorite parts about grilling is the cleanup, or should I say the absence of cleanup. There is no messing with pots and pans. This sweet potato side dish is entirely cooked in an aluminum foil packet, making cleanup a cinch. I double up the aluminum foil to make sure there is no break in the foil packet while cooking.

Sweet Potatoes Are Amazing
We cook sweet potatoes a lot in our house, and there is no exception when it comes to grilling. This nutrient-rich vegetable is not only versatile when it comes to cooking, but also just absolutely delicious. For this recipe, I leave the skin on the sweet potatoes, but you can certainly peel them before cubing them if you prefer.

Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes Prep
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Grilling Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

* Other spices to consider are sweet paprika, cinnamon and rosemary.

Instructions
1. Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other.
2. Position the sweet potatoes in the center of the aluminum foil, while keeping plenty of room to fold the foil up. Bring the sides of the aluminum foil up and lightly fold at the top. (Make sure it’s a light fold because we will be opening this back up in the next step.) Tightly bunch both ends of the foil.
3. Open the foil up at the top. Add oil and spices to the potatoes and gently stir to coat the potatoes. Firmly refold the aluminum foil on the top.
4. Place sweet potato foil packet on a hot grill and close the lid.
5. Cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove foil packet from the grill with tongs.
6. Allow sweet potatoes to slightly cool and serve directly from the foil packet.

sweet potatoes cubed

spiced sweet potatoes

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

The Magic of Walnut Hardwood

The Magic of Walnut Hardwood

Has Wonderful Walnut Hardwood Cast its Spell over YOU?

First, some background. Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) is native to eastern North America (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_nigra#/media/File:Juglans_nigra_range_map_1.png) and commercially important. It’s treasured for its rich and distinguished appearance; in particular, its distinctive brown coloration and its tight, straight grain pattern. Plus, despite its heft and durability, walnut wood can be easily worked, so it’s perfect for woodworkers to craft into fine furniture, cabinetry, flooring, ceiling paneling and countertops, for example.

Walnut is the second most popular North American hardwood

In terms of demand, Walnut trails only Maple – America’s favorite hardwood, due to its hardness and neutral colors, which make it complementary to almost any kitchen décor. Interestingly, the gap in demand between maple and walnut has been narrowing for years, despite the steadily-expanding price gap between America’s two most favorite hardwoods.

It’s almost as though Black Walnut hardwood has some mysterious power over humans, causing us to want it more even as we collectively drive its price higher.

Rising overseas demand for U.S. hardwood is also driving the cost of walnut higher.

Asian markets require a sustainable source of temperate hardwood

Temperate hardwood includes such species as ash, cherry, maple, oak and walnut. Thanks to careful stewardship of its forests – the U.S. grows more new hardwood each year than it harvests – the U.S. is able to supply rising worldwide demand. For perspective, it’s estimated that 60% of all hardwood lumber produced in the U.S. is exported, and that half of exports wind up in China.

Between 1992 and 2017, hardwood lumber exports to China ballooned from $8 million to $1.5 billion, according to the American Hardwood Export Council. China is the world’s largest producer of furniture, and 20 percent of the furniture that the Chinese manufacture is exported. Prior to 2008, China exported 80 percent of the furniture it made. The drop over time – from 80% to 20% – reflects China’s rising domestic demand and is yet more evidence of the country’s socioeconomic gains over the past decade.

Black Walnut’s Value

Black Walnut hardwood trees are typically worth $1000 and more. A pristine log, 26 inches in diameter and 16 feet long, can fetch up to $3,000, according to an article on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. Due to their rising valuations, Walnut trees are increasingly the target of tree thieves. Reports of walnut tree theft by unscrupulous loggers looking to make a quick profit are becoming a regular occurrence across the region where the species is common. Using a litany of excuses and suggesting myriad alleged misunderstandings, more and more frequently tree thieves are cutting down valuable walnut trees growing on private property without the prior permission of landowners. And of course, once a tree has been cut down, there’s no going back. Fortunately, states are recognizing the threat and enacting stiff penalties for such crimes.

What is your Walnut Tree Worth?

If you happen to have walnut trees on your property that you are considering selling, here are a few points to keep in mind.

Black Walnut hardwood is typically classified into two grades of quality – lumber-grade (more common) or veneer-grade (rarer). Veneer-grade wood is wood that can be sawn into thin slices, usually 1/8-inch thick and thinner, that are then glued onto other surfaces to impart a fine quality look and finish. To determine the grade of your tree, measure three things:

  • its diameter at 4-1/2 feet above the ground;
  • the height of its trunk up to its lowest limb; and
  • the number of major defects in the trunk.

In order to qualify as Grade A veneer, your tree will need to be at least 19 inches in diameter (60 inches in circumference). A black walnut tree that is Grade A-veneer at 19 inches diameter might sell for $700–$800. If you’re the patient type, you might consider waiting until the tree grows another 6 inches in diameter, when it might fetch twice as much.

More blogs on Walnut Hardwood:

Fast-Rising Demand Is Driving Black Walnut Lumber Prices to Record Highs

Walnut Butcher Block Tops

Walnut Butcher Block – Bring the Trend Home

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd.

Modern Rustic Kitchen Decor at Butcher Block Co.

Modern Rustic Kitchen Decor at Butcher Block Co.

Rustic meets modern at Butcher Block Co.! Modern rustic decor is very popular right now. It is often exemplified by a mix of natural materials including stone, wood and metal. In a kitchen this could be a combination of granite countertops, a wood farmhouse table or island top, and stainless steel appliances. See a variety of ways the charm of natural wood can make your modern rustic kitchen warm and welcoming.

Modern Rustic Hand Scraped Plank

You can make your own farmhouse table, island top or countertop by ordering a Butcher Block Co. brand edge grain or plank-style wood top. They are available in 15 different species of wood and a handful of finish options. Choose a hand scraped finish if you are looking for a more authentic distressed top.

Modern Rustic Table

Country style is definitely going urban! The addition of a country-style table in your kitchen is a simple way to go modern rustic. Consider a country work table with a painted base, available in dozens of sizes, colors and features. John Boos recently introduced their Rustic Country Table which features an Ash wood butcher block top. It incorporates numerous attributes that collectively convey a classic rustic character. Most striking is the tables top’s embossed texture that enhances its authentic and aged appearance. With a caramel colored stain, this table serves as a great accent piece in a modern rustic kitchen.

Rustic Modern Live Edge Slabs

Bring the outdoors into your home with a live edge wood slab. These authentic wood pieces can be transformed into a modern rustic countertop, kitchen island top, dining table, bench and more. Available in a variety of wood species and sizes, you are sure to find the perfect piece for your project. And for a limited time, we’re so certain you will love your live-edge slab we are offering a 30-Day No-Risk Trial. If you aren’t totally satisfied we will absorb the return shipping cost and waive the typical restocking fee, so you have absolutely nothing to lose!

Modern Rustic Island Top

The kitchen is often the the family gathering place and a butcher block island is the entertainment center of the kitchen.  Highly functional, kitchen islands are great for prepping food as well as serving appetizers and eating meals. Butcher block island tops are available in custom sizes in end grain, edge grain, blended grain and plank-style wood. Select from 15 different wood species.

Modern Rustic Apron Sink

Farmhouse sinks are all the rage, and John Boos butcher block countertops can be custom ordered from Butcher Block Co. with sink cutouts specifically for your apron sink, or for any top-mount or under-mount sink, for that matter. All we need is the model number of the sink and a drawing with countertop measurements.

Rustic Modern custom cutouts

Yes, we can do cutouts for stove tops as well! We do a lot of custom countertops to meet very detailed specifications. To get started, give us a call at 877-845-5597 and we can help you determine the best butcher block configuration for your kitchen remodel.

Modern Rustic Edge Cutting Board

Elements like a rustic edge cutting board can add a vintage accent to your modern kitchen. The Boos 1887 Collection of cutting boards hearkens back to the company’s inaugural year. The very first Boos Blocks were cut from solid blocks of Sycamore wood. Like those originals, these boards feature rustic edges created by Nature – each one slightly different from the next. Available in small, medium and large sizes, in maple, walnut or cherry wood.

If you’re going for a modern rustic look, or just want to add a little rustic charm, Butcher Block Co. has what you need! We hope you’ve been inspired to bring some natural elements into your home.

John Boos Launches Rustic Edge Classic Country Work Table

John Boos Launches Rustic Edge Classic Country Work Table

The Illinois-based firm recently announced its all-new Rustic Edge Classic Country Work Table made of Ash wood as part of its “1887 Collection.” More than 130 years after Boos & Co. produced the very first “Boos Block,” the company continues its long tradition of beautiful, functional butcher block wood furniture.

According to Ted Gravenhorst, Jr., Boos & Co.’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “The Rustic Edge is distinctly different from other Boos Country Work Tables in two respects. It’s made of Ash wood, rather than Maple, Walnut or Oak.” These are the three North American hardwood species Boos uses in making its “C Classic” Maple Country Work Table, its Elliptical Maple Butcher Block Table, its “OC” Oak Country Table and its Walnut Country Work Table. Ash is a pale-yellow, medium-strength wood with light to medium browns and straight and regular grain.

“The other way in which the Ash Rustic Edge stands out is the table’s top features an embossed texture that enhances its authentic and aged appearance.” It is finished off with a coat of Varnique – Boos’ proprietary varnish-like formula that protects wood against nicks and scratches and leaves a semi-glossy look typically associated with fine furniture. “Another advantage of Varnique is that it requires little maintenance and it’s easy to clean with warm, soapy water and a sponge or cloth,” Gravenhorst summed up.

The table’s ash top will be edge-grain butcher block. All the wood strips or rails used in making edge-grain blocks measure roughly 1-3/4 inches by 1-3/4 inches and run parallel to one another. As a result, the surface of the table shows what’s referred to as the tree’s “edge grain.” It will look much like the edge of an Ashwood plank exiting a lumber mill.

Overall, the Rustic Edge table is 60 inches long, 30 inches deep and 35 inches tall. The entire table, including its Hard Maple apron, two slatted shelves and tapered legs, is finished with a caramel-color stain.

This home furniture news update is presented by Butcher Block Co., the leading online distributor of John Boos butcher block furniture and cutting boards used by top celebrity and professional chefs, and stainless-steel kitchen equipment used in fine restaurants and other commercial food service establishments.

For more information, please visit https://butcherblockco.com.

Contact Info:
Name: Kathleen Grodsky
Organization: Butcher Block Co.
Address: 10448 N 21st Pl Phoenix, Arizona 85028

DIY Inspiration from our Butcher Block Co. Customers

DIY Inspiration from our Butcher Block Co. Customers

We are so inspired by the creativity of our DIY customers, that we wanted to share some of their work with you. We have recently received several photos of incredible DIY projects from some very handy customers. We hope you are moved to think outside the box and re-purpose something you already own, or even build something from scratch to make your own custom creation! We can help you customize just about any size top to fit your exact needs. Check out these amazing projects to get your creative DIY juices flowing!

Our DIY customer, Kaleb, designed and created the industrial style coffee table featured above. It is topped with a 4″ thick Maple End Grain Butcher Block. We love his mix of wood and steel, and the industrial style is certainly popular today. After his day job, Kaleb spends time in his workshop designing and building custom industrial style furniture and picture frames. “Making industrial furniture and construction is my release,” he says. “When you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day you need some sort of an artistic release…” Kaleb can build just about anything. His picture frames are large statement pieces usually 6 feet long. He uses wire rope, pad eyes, gears, chains, rivets, etc.. to give each piece an industrial feel. Check out this awesome portable island he made for his sister, which is a massive John Boos AA Block supported by the stainless steel frame he fashioned.

DIY Custom Island

Another happy customer, Karen, always wanted a long butcher block island in her kitchen, but could never find one that was long yet narrow enough for her space. She did have an existing console table that fit perfectly in her Savannah kitchen, so she decided to do-it-herself and make her own custom island featuring a Butcher Block Co. Cherry End Grain top  73″L x 18″W. Nicely done, Karen. If you can’t find it, DIY!

DIY Custom Cherry Console

DIY-er Elise, from Maryland, refinished the base of an old end table, added wheels, and topped it with a hefty 4.5″ thick hand-scraped Beech edge grain butcher block, creating this delightful kitchen island cart. Elise wrote us and shared her DIY story…”We had been using it (the table) as a stand for the printer in our home office before a remodel and it no longer fit with the new built ins. So, I was moving it to the basement for storage when I noticed it was the right width for a kitchen island (we have a strange kitchen and finding just the right thing has been problematic.) So I chalk painted and antiqued it, and added the wheels, and found your wonderful butcher block online. I am so pleased with the way it turned out. It is so nice having the extra workspace. And it looks so lovely. It really finished the room perfectly.”

DIY Custom Island Cart

If you have created a custom DIY project with one of our blocks, we would love to see it!

A DIY replacement of a top on something you already own is usually pretty easy, and is a great way to breathe new life into an old piece.

If you are in the market to upgrade some existing furniture or create your own masterpiece, we hope you’ve been inspired by these truly awesome projects, and we hope to help you along on your creative journey.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these other DIY posts on our blog:

Custom Butcher Block Projects from Happy Customers

Butcher Block Co. Happy Customer Photos

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd

Reuse Project – Butcher Block Table

Happy Customers – Island Upgrades

Walnut Butcher Block Tops

Creative Uses for Butcher Block

Try Our Spanish Paella – Meat and Seafood Recipe

Try Our Spanish Paella – Meat and Seafood Recipe

National Spanish Paella Day is March 27th, but you can make this amazing rice dish any day. There are many versions of paella recipes but what they all have in common is rice, meats, veggies and saffron spice, which turns the rice a beautiful golden color.

Spanish Paella originated in the Valencia region in eastern Spain. Classic paella usually is made with rabbit, chicken, snails, beans, and artichokes and seasoned with saffron and spices. Still hugely popular in Spain today, the recipe for paella has expanded over the years, and now many different varieties of paella are passed off as authentic. Paella is cooked over an open fire in a traditional paella pan. It is commonly made with rice, chicken, fish, seafood and any veggies you would like.

Today, Spanish Paella can be found all around the world. If you order paella outside of Spain you will likely get a rice dish with chicken and seafood.

My introduction to Spanish Paella came in October 2014 when my husband and I traveled with family to Madrid, Spain. It was October and the weather in Madrid was absolutely beautiful – ideal for strolling down the streets and eating at outdoor cafes. Here, we found an abundance of restaurants serving tapas and paella, family-style, in festive outdoor patios.

We fell in love with Spanish Paella so much that my husband came back and assembled this paella recipe with an assortment of Spanish meats and seafood. The beauty of paella is that you can make it your own, adding and subtracting ingredients as you wish. It is not difficult to make paella, but it is best to be organized ahead of time. Here are a few tips before you get started:

  • Tip 1– Prep and chop as much as you can in advance
  • Tip 2– Grill outside
  • Tip 3 – Invest in a real paella pan  – a large, flat, open pan that has handles on both sides for easy lifting. We recommend a pan 15” to 19” in diameter.

Ingredients:  We have organized our ingredients for this recipe by the different prep components, including the brine, broth, meats, veggies, seafood and garnish. 

BRINE (for chicken)
1-1/2 cups water
½ cup coarse salt
¼ cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
Peel from a small orange
4  Star anise
¼ cup loose green tea

BROTH
6 cups very strong chicken broth (bouillon)
1/2 tsp saffron
4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1 small onion, peeled

Spanish Paella broth

MEATS
¼ lb Spanish Salame
¼ lb Spanish Ham diced (Jamon serrano ham)
1 ½ lbs Spanish Chorizo cut into ½” pieces
2 lbs Boneless Chicken Breast or Thighs cut into bite size pieces (approx. 1-1/2” square)

Spanish Paella meats

VEGGIES/RICE
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
4 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 fire roasted red peppers from jar, coarsely chopped
3 cups short grain Spanish rice, such as Bomba or Calasparra
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bag frozen artichoke hearts (12 oz.)

SEAFOOD
18 clams and/or mussels, scrubbed, or 12 oz. Peeled shrimp or frozen langostino tails

GARNISH
Lemon wedges for garnish
Parsley for garnish  

Preparation: 

BRINE THE CHICKEN – Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir to make sure the salt and sugar have dissolved. Let cool to room temp. Strain out all of the herbs and discard, keeping the brine broth.
Add the cut-up chicken to the brine. Refrigerate for at least two hours or as long as overnight. Remove chicken from broth, drain well and pat dry with paper towel. 

COOK THE CHICKEN –  Coat the chicken with olive oil and sear it in a preheated pan on the stove for 3 minutes. Transfer the pan to a 350 degree oven and cook for about 10 minutes. Set the chicken aside for later.

BROTH – Heat the chicken broth with the saffron, paprika and the whole onion. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth — you need exactly 6 cups for later.

MEATS – In a paella pan over medium-high heat add the ½ cup of olive oil. Once hot, add in Spanish Salame & Spanish Ham. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the Chorizo to the pan and stir fry about 10 minutes.  (Do not add the chicken). 

Spanish Paella prep

VEGGIES – In the paella pan with the cooked meat, add the chopped onion, scallions, garlic, & roasted red peppers and sauté until the onion is wilted. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it well with the oil. Sprinkle in the chopped parsley and the crumbled bay leaves.  Stir in the 6 cups of boiling hot broth. Add the wine and rice. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat about 10 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and bury it in the rice.

SEAFOOD – Add the clams and the mussels (or other seafood) with the edge that will open facing up, pushing them into the rice mixture.

COOK MIXTURE – Scatter the paella with the artichoke pieces, then bake at 325 degrees F, uncovered, for 20 minutes. If using a grill outside, close the lid and grill for 20 minutes. 

GARNISH – Remove paella from the oven/grill and let sit, lightly covered with foil, for about 10 minutes. Before serving, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.

Spanish Paella

What does authentic Cuban Paella look like? My girlfriend Michele in Florida hosted a Paella party featuring Seafood Paella and Meat Paella. This looks spectacular!

Cuban Paella

 

 

Fast-Rising Demand Is Driving Black Walnut Lumber Prices to Record Highs

Fast-Rising Demand Is Driving Black Walnut Lumber Prices to Record Highs

Black Walnut – North America’s Most Valuable Wood – Nears a Tipping Point

Black Walnut – considered America’s premier timber for furniture making since the country’s founding – is enjoying such a surge in popularity that it now faces a crisis of affordability. Over the past several years, worldwide demand has jumped to levels never seen before. Since the U.S. does not grow enough of the trees to satisfy this rapidly expanding demand, walnut lumber prices are spiraling ever higher.

A recent price survey revealed that high-quality, two-inch-thick Black Walnut lumber was selling for $11 per board foot, making it 70% more expensive than Cherry – another American favorite; and double the price of Maple – America’s most popular hardwood. What drives Black Walnut’s appeal is its remarkable and variable coloration – a blend of cream, light yellow and medium-to-dark browns. The wood’s lighter colors trace to its sapwood – the outermost portion of a tree’s trunk, branches and stems; whereas the darker colors come from the tree’s heartwood (dead wood near its center).

Long considered America’s “go-to” choice for such high-end furniture, over the past several years, overseas manufacturers have discovered huge demand for American Black Walnut in their home markets. Plus, they are now importing walnut lumber from the U.S. and converting it into finished products, such as flooring, for exporting back to the United States.

Black Walnut is also gaining popularity within the interior design community.

Despite walnut’s higher prices, demand for the wood steadily increases. Designers and homemakers have always embraced natural wood countertops, but they really like the dark, rich and varied look of black walnut and they use it to top kitchen counters, islands and tables. Also, interest in live-edge walnut slabs is also on the rise. They can be made into rustic-looking countertops or spectacular tables for dining rooms or conference rooms.

One U.S. company that relies on a steady and abundant supply of walnut lumber every year is Illinois-based John Boos & Co. Boos converts black walnut, plus three other North American hardwoods – hard maple, cherry and red oak – into butcher block tops for kitchen counters and islands, dining and work tables, kitchen carts and cutting boards too. Last fall, Boos raised prices on walnut countertops by 9% – three times the increase they enacted on maple, cherry and oak countertops.

Asked whether he is concerned about the steady advances in walnut lumber prices since then, Ted Gravenhorst, Jr., Boos’ VP of Sales and Marketing, said, “Like any manufacturer, Boos hates to ever raise prices, but sometimes we simply have no choice. We continue to monitor the situation closely. Based on current trends, we can’t rule out the possibility of another walnut price change before the year is out. That’s almost unprecedented, but it gives you an idea of the wood’s rapidly growing popularity.”

Black walnut trees (species: Juglans nigra), which can be found throughout the central and eastern U.S., can grow to be 100 feet tall and three to four feet in diameter. Typically found as scattered lone specimens or in small isolated groups within hardwood stands, they account for only about 5 percent of U.S. hardwood forests in total. It takes almost a century for a black walnut tree to fully mature, making it worth tens of thousands of dollars. When the U.S. was first settled, these trees were so common that they were used as firewood, fence posts and even railroad ties. Today, they’re so valuable that they are sometimes the target of tree thieves!

This industry news update is presented by Butcher Block Co. For more information, please visit https://butcherblockco.com.

Contact Info:
Name: Kathleen Grodsky
Organization: Butcher Block Co.
Address: 10448 N 21st Pl Phoenix, Arizona 85028