Medullary Rays Are Naturally Occurring in Oak Wood

Medullary Rays Are Naturally Occurring in Oak Wood

WHAT ARE MEDULLARY RAYS
Medullary rays are cellular structures found in the trunks of trees. In a cross section of a tree trunk, they are visible to the naked eye and appear as radiating lines from the center of the log, perpendicular to the growth rings. These medullary or pith rays are essential and serve as a link between pith (center) and cortex (periphery) of the live tree. They perform various functions like food storage and transport of food and water.

WHAT DO MEDULLARY RAYS LOOK LIKE AND WHEN DO THEY APPEAR
In a finished piece of furniture or countertop, medullary rays may appear as rays, silking, and pith flecks. Depending on where the board is cut on a ray, the appearance can be squiggly lines, straight lines, glowing lines, brush marks or flecks. While these rays functionally exist in all trees, they are especially noticeable in lumber from oak trees, like Appalachian Red Oak and White Oak found in some of our BB Co. products.

Medullary Rays in four tops
Medullary ray patterns

When boards are cut from an oak log, they are usually rip cut along the length (axis) of the log. This can be done in three ways: plain-sawing (most common), quarter-sawing (less common), or rift-sawing (rare). Most of the lumber we use is from plain-sawn boards and will result in wood grain in an oak countertop that will have a varietal appearance. The “normal” grain appearance may show up as “cathedral grain pattern” with high peaks in the grain, or a “long straight grain pattern.” However, in plain-sawn oak there will always exist some quarter-sawn lumber, too. (And even some rare rift-sawn grain may be present in plain-sawn boards.)

In quarter-sawn material, where the wood is cut into boards with the growth rings roughly perpendicular to the face of the board, the medullary rays are more abundant and conspicuous, often producing beautiful markings such as silver grain, medullary spots and pith flecks.

OTHER WOOD ITEMS COMMONLY FOUND WITH MEDULLARY RAYS
In some fine wood instruments, like high-end string instruments, the neck and fretboards may be made from quarter-sawn wood to help them remain stable throughout the life of the instrument and to keep the instrument in tune. In acoustic guitars, quarter-sawn wood is also often used for the sides which are steam-bent to produce the curves. Quarter-sawn is used in part for structural stability, but also for the appealing aesthetics of its wood pattern. Additionally, high-end cabinets may be made from quarter-sawn wood which puts the medullary rays on the face grain of the cabinets. It is also especially desirable for furniture and decorative paneling.

CONSUMER PREFERENCES
Medullary rays are going to exist in oak furniture. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how many, what kind, and how conspicuous they will be. Therefore, a consumer must make a thoughtful decision before they order an oak countertop, kitchen island top or table. Given the size of most countertops, medullary rays are very likely to appear in an oak top. For a smaller table, the likelihood of medullary rays probably goes down, but again, it really depends on the cut rails. If a piece of lumber has many medullary rays and is cut into rails for a table top, they are very likely to appear all in one table.

  • LOVE IT – Some people consider this quarter-sawn wood with medullary rays “prized” and they pay more for it! If that is you, then consider a quarter-sawn plank-style top because when sawn this way the result is boards with the annual rings mostly perpendicular to the faces. The likelihood of medullary rays increases and, when present, are going to be more prominent than in a plain-sawn board constructed as an edge grain top. These medullary rays often produce beautiful markings. Compared to an edge grain oak top, quarter-sawn boards often have greater stability of form and size, with less cupping, shrinkage across the width, and shakes and splitting.
  • HATE IT – We have had some customers think medullary rays look like defects in the wood and they find the overall aesthetic unappealing. While these customers are a small minority, we take their opinions seriously. If you might be that person, we recommend you consider a species other than oak. For example, our best selling Maple Country Work Table is the sister to our popular Oak Country Work Table and a good option to consider. And for kitchen island tops we have 13 other wood species available from which to choose!

Just remember, medullary rays are naturally occurring in oak wood, not considered a defect, and the amount and type cannot be predicted, nor guaranteed. It is part of what makes wood so special. Every piece is truly different, and therefore, every countertop or piece of furniture is beautifully unique!

Houzz Issues Report on 2020 Kitchen Trends Survey

Houzz Issues Report on 2020 Kitchen Trends Survey

Houzz, Inc., focused on home renovation and design, just published a report summarizing their recent survey of almost 2600 U.S. homeowners who either just completed a kitchen renovation project, or plan to launch one soon. Here are some of their findings that we at the Butcher Block Co. find interesting. We hope you will too.

Nine out of Ten Remodelers Upgrade Their Countertops
Countertops are targeted for upgrading more often than any other feature in the kitchen – 89% of the time. Backsplashes (84%), sinks (83%), and faucets and plumbing fixtures (81%) are also upgraded more than eighty percent of the time.
More often than not, upgraders shift to engineered quartz or granite countertops. Slightly more than one in ten (11%) upgrade to butcher block, plank or wood-slab countertops.

It’s increasingly on-trend for homeowners to top their counters and islands with contrasting materials as they seek diversity in both appearance and utility.

Twenty six percent of those surveyed by Houzz reported using different materials on their island top versus their countertops. While engineered quartz was chosen most often for countertops, butcher block (41%) was chosen most often for the kitchen island.

Island Top Materials

Of the remodelers in the Houzz survey opting for an island top color distinct from their countertops (29%), wood-tone island tops are the most popular option (35%), whether in dark, light or medium wood.

Island Color Top

One in three remodelers reported adding a kitchen island, and 22% upgraded an existing island. Another 5% left their islands intact. All told, 60% of respondents wound up with a kitchen island. More than nine in ten who upgraded islands expanded storage space and added overhead lighting.

$35,000 Was the Median Cost of a Major 2019 Kitchen Remodel
Respondents reported they spent $35,000 on average on their 2019 major remodels. That’s up markedly from 2018, when comparable remodels cost $30,000.

Kitchen Cabinet Replacements and Upgrades Remain Immensely Popular
Two thirds of 2019 remodelers (68%) replaced their kitchen cabinets altogether, and another 27% upgraded theirs. Nearly two thirds (64%) of those who upgraded their kitchens refinished cabinet exteriors. Far and away, white was the preferred cabinet color (45%).

Some Other Interesting Tidbits
• Half of respondents (51%) engaged a contractor for their remodel jobs, and 22% hired a kitchen designer.
• Seven percent chose blue for their kitchen walls, up from 5% last year.
• Hardwood was the most popular flooring material (29%).

Source: 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study

Why Is My Butcher Block Cutting Board Warping?

Why Is My Butcher Block Cutting Board Warping?

Is your cutting board warping? Properly maintaining, caring for, and storing cutting boards made of wood are the keys to prolonging their lives.

Sandra, the newest member of our team of customer care experts, recognized that warping cutting boards is a common concern from our customers.  In this blog, she will share her knowledge of the subject, answer common questions and address warping cutting board concerns you may have…

Cutting boards can be found in a wide variety of materials other than wood, like bamboo, glass, rubber, composite, and plastic. While each material has its pros and cons, we are partial to wood cutting boards because they have been proven, throughout time, to be an excellent choice for durability, functionality, anti-microbial efficacy, and of course, aesthetics. But wood does require a bit more tender loving care given it is natural… sourced from a living, breathing tree. Even after it is cut down, wood will still react to its environment; it will expand and contract to changes in temperature and humidity. Without proper TLC, butcher block can experience drying, cracking, and warping.

DRYING/CRACKING
If you allow your board to get excessively dry it can lead to splitting and cracking. It is of the utmost importance that you clean and oil your board regularly. An average user should moisturize their board monthly with mineral oil to prevent excessive dryness. If your butcher block undergoes frequent/heavy use, you should oil it every two weeks. Also, it is just as important to NOT over oil your board! Excessive oiling will over-saturate the wood, causing a breakdown of the fibers and construction. We recommend John Boos Mystery Oil.

mineral oil
WARPING

Warping of wood is a result of a moisture imbalance between the top and bottom surfaces. There are 3 common causes of warping in butcher block cutting boards:

  1. Inadequate oiling – The most common cause of cutting board warping is from oiling one surface of the cutting board, and neglecting the rest of the board. You must oil all six sides of the board to prevent warping.
  2. Insufficient drying – Another common cause of cutting board warping is insufficient drying after cleansing. After scraping, washing and rinsing, you must towel-dry the cutting board and set it on its edge to air dry. This will allow air flow around the entire board. Never submerge a cutting board in water or put in the dishwasher.
  3. Improper storing – Where and how you store your wood cutting boards can have an impact on warping. While a cutting board made of plastic, glass, or composite can be stored lying flat in a drawer, cabinet or countertop without worry, this is not true for wood cutting boards. The best way to store a wood cutting board is on its edge and never in direct sunlight. When left on a cold, stone countertop, the wood is not allowed to breathe and a moisture imbalance can occur. If you love the beauty of your cutting board and want to show it off in your kitchen, you can safely display it flat on the countertop… with a little added help. You just need to make sure you store it in a way that will still promote air flow to the bottom surface. You can choose to add rubber feet/pads to each of the bottom corners; or for a reversible board, you can place it on top of a mesh rubber mat that will lift it up off the counter to allow air circulation.
cutting board storage

REMEDY FOR WARPING BOARDS
If you have a warped cutting board, it may not be too late to attempt to remedy the warp. The concave side (inward curving surface) is the dry side, and the convex side (hump side) is the side that has more moisture. The key is to moisturize the dry side while leaving the opposite side exposed to air.
Step 1: Generously oil the concave side of the board with mineral oil.
Step 2: Tape plastic on the entire concave side to lock in moisture, using something like dry cleaning bags or plastic food wrap.
Step 3: On a flat surface (preferably not cold granite or concrete), flip the board over so the concave surface faces down. Place a cookie sheet on top of the hump, then place some weight on the cookie sheet (try a bag of sugar or flour, not to exceed 5 lbs).
Step 4: Let it set for about 1 week to allow the board to slowly correct itself.
Step 5: Unwrap, lightly oil the entire board, wipe dry, and store on edge.

cutting board warping explained

Love your butcher block cutting board. For more ways to show you care, visit our Help Center for Butcher Block Care & Repair Tips, FAQs, Guides and more.

Colorful Kitchens – 2020 Trends

Colorful Kitchens – 2020 Trends

Colorful kitchens is one trend to look forward to in 2020. The addition of color puts more energy in the kitchen and makes for a happy, comfortable space.

colorful kitchens - warm gray

EARTHY TONES INSPIRED BY NATURE

Warmer tones like mushroom gray and smoky white will likely replace colder grays and stark white. Browns are gaining momentum and color is making an impact in kitchens. With a focus on health and wellbeing, people are gravitating to nature’s neutral colors, earthy greens and bold shades, with hues inspired by the earth sea and sky.

colorful kitchens

MORE DARING USE OF COLOR

We have seen deep bold tones like hunter green, emerald green and navy in the kitchen this past year. Blues and greens will continue to influence but will be married with earthy tans and browns. Look for “freshened” bold colors to replace jewel tones. Colors like sharp reds, light teal, turquoise and aqua.

beautiful blue colors

BLUE – THE COLOR OF THE YEAR

Blue will play a significant role in 2020 colorful kitchens. The Pantone Color of the year is Classic Blue; Sherwin Williams’ 2020 color is Rich Navy Blue; and PPG paint is featuring their cobalt blue hue called Chinese Porcelain this year. Beautiful blues in varying shades from light to gray-blue to navy have calming qualities that induce a sense of comfort.

mid century modern wood tones

CABINETS OF LIGHTER WOOD TONES

White Shaker cabinets will continue to be the most popular cabinet in kitchens, but wood tones will remain a strong second. Mid-century modern tones in wood are predicted to emerge this year with lighter tones like teak, hickory, white oak and walnut. Blue cabinets will likely find comfort in colorful kitchens, too, either as tuxedo kitchens with blue lowers and light upper cabinets or on contrasting kitchen islands.

colorful kitchens island

KITCHEN ISLANDS & COUNTERTOPS

The kitchen island is the focal point of many colorful kitchens. Nearly half of kitchen remodelers who upgrade their kitchen island choose a contrasting color for the base, with island colors of gray and blue often chosen. When an island top is selected to contrast with the countertops, wood is the number one choice for the island top. For countertops, quartz will continue to dominate over marble given its advantages of durability and color/texture selection. On the horizon are porcelain slab countertops which are durable and absolutely beautiful in pattern and visual depth!

colorful kitchen tile

FEATURE-WALL BACKSPLASHES

Subway tile is everywhere, but now there is a twist. Tiles in unique dimensions, sizes and shapes are emerging, as is, new ways to lay the tile such as vertical and herringbone patterns. Homeowners looking to fully embrace color in the kitchen are creating feature-wall backsplashes that extend from the countertop all the way to the ceiling!

wood tone flooring

FLOORING & MORE

Wood tones dominate flooring, whether it is engineered hardwood, laminates, luxury vinyl or wood-look tiles. Colored appliances, often following the color of the year, are clever additions to keep the colorful kitchen a fun place to gather.

Will you be embracing the colorful kitchen trend this year?

Kitchen Design Trends 2020

Kitchen Design Trends 2020

The U.S. housing market exhibits strong momentum heading into 2020. Interest rates, still at historic lows, helped drive new-home construction to a 13-year high in December. Further fueling supply, tens of thousands of baby boomers will exit the housing market altogether when they transition to senior-living communities. And there’s ample pent-up demand among those hoping to finally break into the homeowner ranks.

Against this backdrop, the consensus among industry experts is that 2020 will see U.S. homeowners continue to invest heavily in home improvements, especially remodels of kitchens – the most popular room targeted for renovation.

According to Houzz, spending on kitchen remodels jumped a whopping 27 percent last year alone!
Exactly what will kitchen remodelers spend big on this year? Key kitchen design trends can be grouped into a handful of themes.

SMART TECH KITCHEN CREEP WILL ACCELERATE
Tech-savvy millennials have come to expect it, and older homeowners will come to rely on it in order to more safely and comfortably age in place. We’re talking about “smart” kitchens with connected “smart-home” appliances and devices that can be activated and controlled via a smart speaker, phone or watch. Some connected devices, such as smart lights and smart TVs, can even learn your personal preferences and habits and adapt accordingly. It’s not a pipe dream. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) reports that nearly half of all U.S. homes will include smart home systems by the end of the year.

ONE CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH PANTRY STORAGE OR SPACE FOR GRAZING
Housing-data experts, Meyers Research, recently surveyed more than 25,000 homebuyers about their kitchen needs and preferences. Three out of every ten respondents reported wanting a “super-pantry with ultra-storage,” and half expressed interest in a butler’s pantry for storing serve ware and staging meals.
Half of all respondents indicated they would like a kitchen island, and more than four in ten (43%) expressed interest in both an island and a breakfast bar.
Here are a few other kitchen design trends from this and related research.

  • Stainless-steel remains the preferred appliance finish, but colorful appliances are gaining a foothold.
  • White kitchen cabinets are still homebuyers’ top choice, however walnut remains widely popular.
  • There’s a shift to environmentally friendly natural and organic materials, such as wood, which adds warmth and natural beauty to kitchens.
  • Waterfall ends on kitchen counters and islands are increasingly desirable. (At the end of the countertop, a “waterfall” made of the same material used in the horizontal counter or island top, provides the illusion of a continuous “flow” down to the floor. Soon, Butcher Block Co. will offer waterfall designs in wood counter and island tops.)
  • Trends favor full-wall backsplashes and the use of kitchen art, since the kitchen is no longer just a place for cooking and eating.
  • There’s growing consumer interest in farmhouse sinks and prep sinks, as well as sinks with finishes that are anti-microbial and/or dirt-resistant.

TOMORROW’S KITCHENS WILL LOOK LESS AND LESS LIKE YESTERDAY’S
In 2019, the research arm of the architectural surfacing solutions firm, Cosentino Group, fielded a major market research project. Findings were revealed in a report they titled Global Kitchen: The Kitchen, The Heart of the Home. A key, overarching finding was that the modern kitchen is evolving to host activities that used to take place in other rooms. Essentially, today’s kitchen also serves as a work space, a playroom, and a space for communing with guests. The report observed that, “Practicality and versatility have become the kitchen’s two main assets… New uses have a direct impact on the kitchen’s design, which is open to new materials and colors in order to achieve an increasingly comfortable space, making it possible to safely combine cooking with other activities in a practical way.”

SURFACE SPACE IS THE COIN OF THE REALM
As homeowners use their kitchens for more and more varied activities, there is increased need for more surface space in kitchens. Nowadays used for web-surfing, social networking, and gaming, in addition to old-fashioned food prep, dining, and socializing, any kitchen’s countertops and island tops are its most precious commodity. Consumers want as much surface space as their kitchens can fit.
Designers are responding by incorporating into their designs longer counters, bigger islands, second islands, countertops in pantries, and desks, for example. Plus, they’re recommending material and pattern mixing (i.e., different materials or patterns for tops in different zones of the kitchen) to create a finished space that’s both highly functional and visually pleasing. For example, a designer today might specify edge-grain butcher block for the kitchen’s perimeter counters or desk, and end-grain butcher block – more suitable for chopping – for the kitchen’s main island.

Now that you’re aware of these kitchen design trends, what plans do you have for your 2020 kitchen makeover?

Winter Might Be the Perfect Season to Tackle Kitchen Improvement Projects

Winter Might Be the Perfect Season to Tackle Kitchen Improvement Projects

While it’s true that most homeowners execute kitchen improvement projects during spring and summer, there are a number of good reasons why some choose to schedule maintenance checks, appliance upgrades, and even full kitchen remodels during winter months.

For starters, some folks who worship warm-weather months prefer to reserve them for unfettered activity outdoors and for spending quality time with family and friends, without interruptions from contractors or suppliers concerning home remodel projects underway. Plus, wintertime home improvement projects can wind up costing you less and taking less time to complete, due to the simple law of supply and demand.

During winter, when there’s less demand for contractors and remodelers, homeowners have more leverage so can often negotiate more favorable pricing, closer-in start dates and possibly even shorter overall timelines, since more workers could be dedicated to your kitchen improvement or remodel job.

Also, you might be able to negotiate lower prices from appliance and material suppliers, since they too are not exempt from the supply-demand law and need to keep their inventory turning.

There’s one other often overlooked advantage to tackling home improvement projects over the winter: low humidity. Hotter months bring with them high humidity, which can wreak havoc on paint and floor refinish jobs, which fare better under heated air curing. Similarly, air heated to a nearly constant temperature is preferable for the acclimation of wood counter and island tops to their new environs. But take note: you should not leave new, wood countertops, tables or kitchen carts in cold places, including garages and outdoors, of course.

So Which Kitchen Improvement Projects Will You Tackle this Winter?
Truth be told, winter is as good a season as any for taking on virtually any kitchen maintenance, repair or improvement project. Such projects don’t have to be expensive in order to produce gratifying results. The list below includes projects that range from simple home maintenance to more substantial overhauls.

  1. Check for Air Leaks – Given indoor-outdoor temperature differentials, during winter it’s easier to find openings through which air can pass, adding to your home heating and cooling costs. Re-caulk any problematic seams arounds doors and windows.
  2. Repaint Ceiling and Walls – Giving your kitchen ceiling and walls a fresh coat of paint can be a smart move if it’s been a while since they were painted. Like most contractors, painters are more likely to negotiate pricing during slower winter months. Plus, you might be able to book an individual painter or a crew only one or two weeks out, compared to 3 or more weeks during the summer.
  3. Resurface Countertops – As everyone knows, worn or outdated kitchen counter or island tops can detract from a home’s appearance, as well as its market value. Wood countertops – either butcher block or plank-style – are functional, add warmth, and are virtually timeless. After all, naturally beautiful wood will never go out of style!
  4. Update Kitchen Cabinets – Sometimes all it takes is a good cleaning and application of a wood restorer to renew luster to kitchen cabinets. For tougher jobs, you might need to consider hiring a professional refinisher. If you have painted cabinets, keep in mind that many painters experience a slowdown during winter. Regardless of the finish of your kitchen cabinets, you’ll find that a change of hardware – knobs, handles, and hinges – can make them look almost new.
  5. Refinish Your Kitchen Floor – Humidity can cause floor finishes to cure too fast, leaving an overly glossy or uneven finish. Drier winter air, heated to a narrow range of temperatures, will ensure steadier curing and deliver more satisfactory results.
  6. Miscellaneous — Here are a couple of projects that can make a big impact on the overall appearance of your kitchen, without making too big a dent in your bank account: add crown molding; upgrade lighting.

Our kitchen improvement projects list would not be complete without mentioning two other sure-fire ways to enhance the looks of your kitchen and at the same time increase the value of your home: update kitchen appliances and upgrade kitchen furniture. Of course, we at Butcher Block Co. will always recommend butcher block tables and kitchen carts! They’re functional, affordable, natural, and above all else, beautiful.

An Authentic Port Wine Tasting Experience – Porto, Portugal

An Authentic Port Wine Tasting Experience – Porto, Portugal

For a port wine enthusiast, like my husband Mark, our recent trip to Portugal was a dream come true. We spent two weeks in Portugal, with an emphasis on Porto, the home of his favorite wine…Port. Port is a rich blend of Douro Valley grapes, fortified with Brandy, made exclusively in northern Portugal. Porto is a vibrant city which is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Porto lies on the northern banks of the Douro River, and on the southern banks is Vila Nova de Gaia, where the Port Lodges reside. It is here where all of the Port is stored in barrels and matured in cellars.

My husband was seeking a truly unique Port wine tasting experience, so instead of going to all of the cellars, we arranged in advance for a private tour of one of the smaller, exclusive lodges, Vasconcellos. Our tour guide, Jorgito, shared with us that they make only 40,000 bottles a year. The large houses that distribute worldwide might make as many as 1 million bottles a month. We learned that the Port maturing in the French Oak barrels is a blend of wines. For example, a 40 year old Port is really a minimum of 40 years old and likely contains some wine that was 60 or 70 years old.

Jorgito at Vasconcellos Port House – Portugal

We tasted a variety of Port:
White – while my husband typically finds white Port harsh, like a Scotch or Bourbon, this was incredibly smooth and sweet.
Vintage – this is produced in what is named a “Vintage” year, an official designation by a government authority when certain growing conditions are met. It is made and bottled that year and is not a blend. Once opened, a Vintage should be consumed within three days. This was probably my favorite, as I am not a wine enthusiast or a Port aficionado, but I found it to be very enjoyable (especially with dark chocolate).
10 year old Tawny – this was like drinking a high quality 20 year old Port in the U.S.
20 year old Tawny – super complex flavor profile with walnuts, raisins and other fruity flavors. It had a beginning, middle and end.
30 year old Tawny – this was the best Port my husband ever tasted…until he was offered the 40 year old.
40 year old Tawny – My husband was the only one who was passionate enough to taste this Port. (Jorgito knew he was the only one who would truly appreciate this experience as it was meant to be experienced). There were no words used to describe the taste, rather, his face beamed with the biggest grin I have ever seen! Perhaps he died and went to Port heaven for a moment. He was able to describe it later as beautifully light in color, fruity essence, with complex nut flavors and an amazing almost syrupy/caramel taste. Velvety smooth.

Port Wine Tasting

The wine tasting at Vasconcellos Port house was a once in a lifetime experience, that we hope to experience again in our lifetime. Vasconcellos Port is not sold outside of this Port house, in Gaia. We were able to purchase it and have it shipped to us. It arrived this week:
• Two bottles of Vintage Port 2012 – to be consumed for special occasions, like our 30 year wedding anniversary, or the birth of our first grandchild, maybe.
• One bottle of 10 year old Port – to be shared with Port loving friends, only.
• One bottle of 20 year old Port – to be shared with one friend who truly appreciates Port wine.
• Two bottles of 40 year old Port – referred to by Jorgito as “two bottles of Selfish” – these will only be consumed by Mark. Period.

Port Wine Selfish
“Selfish Port” – 40 year old Tawny

Other Tastes of Portugal
Portugal is a beautiful country, their people are super friendly, the weather in September was perfect, and nearly everyone spoke English with us. There were so many incredibly unique things we saw there. In addition to the Port cellars, these are most memorable:
Portuguese Pavement – The sidewalks and streets are truly a work of art made of black and white pavers. These are hand-carved from basalt and limestone blocks, then individually placed by hand by an artisan.
Portuguese Ceramic Tile – These ceramic tiles decorate literally everything in Portugal. They can be found on the sides of ordinary houses, buildings, inside train stations, the outer walls of churches and palaces, shops, etc. Sometimes they make a mosaic pattern, sometimes they build a huge mural.
Portuguese Cork Products – We learned that Portugal is the biggest cork producer in the world. Cork Oak trees must be 25 years old before cork can be harvested. It is sustainable as only the outer cork layer is stripped from the living tree every nine years. These Cork Oaks can live to be 200 years old. Cork is used to make purses, belts, shoes, wallets, etc. Think leather products, and you will find them in cork.
Portuguese Fado – Fado music is considered the “urban blues” of Portugal. It usually consists of a mournful sounding solo singer accompanied by a classical Portuguese guitar. This is a must experience. I would recommend a small, intimate family-owned Fado House like we experienced in Funcha, Madeira, called Travessa dos Torres. The singing was filled with passion and sorrow. The food was delicious.

Portugal Flavors

What a wonderful experience we had in Portugal. I hope you have a chance to visit this place, too.

John Boos Introduces Foundry Collection Dining Table Sets

John Boos Introduces Foundry Collection Dining Table Sets

Press Release – The New Foundry Collection Line Includes Rustic Dining Tables and Complementary Dining Benches and Stools

Illinois-based John Boos & Co. unveiled an all-new line of dining table sets: The Boos Block® Foundry Collection. According to marketing materials for the new product line, these dining tables, stools and benches meld together Boos butcher blocks, for which the company is best known, and table, stool and bench bases constructed of steel forged into shapely designs; hence the name, Foundry Collection.

While Foundry Collection table tops are the same butcher blocks that Boos long ago made famous, the bases of these tables incorporate features that truly distinguish Foundry Collection tables from all predecessors. First, table bases will come in two modern designs: Pub Style and Bistro Style. The legs of Pub Style bases are convex; they flare outward to provide a stout and stately look. Bistro Style bases, on the other hand, are concave. They gently taper inward and convey sleekness and elegance. The steel bases of both table designs will be powder-coated to enhance safety and appearance.

What really sets a Foundry Collection table apart is a second butcher block that’s incorporated into the base of the table. Spanning the distance between the table’s two steel trestles, this butcher block is anchored to each support. This second board, known as a “stringer,” adds structural stability as well as visual accent to the base structure.

Boos will offer both styles of Foundry Collection tables in four wood species – maple, walnut, cherry, and oak; in three heights; and in 6 sizes. In sum, that’s 24 different looks and 144 variations in total. Boos is also offering two seating solutions – dining stools and benches – in complementary designs. Boos benches will also incorporate stringers.

Foundry Collection – Bistro Style table with matching stools

According to the company’s Vice President of Marketing, Steve Pless,

“We saw an opportunity to increase our dining table sales by designing distinctively different tables that still showcase what we’re known for – naturally beautiful Boos butcher blocks. Our design team came up with two great-looking styles, and the butcher block stringer extends the wood look from above the table into its base structure.”

Pless explained that Boos is partnering with its longtime online dealer Butcher Block Co. to make the new line available to the public in time for the critical holiday shopping season. “A broad rollout is planned for early next year. Meanwhile, the Foundry Collection line will be available online only, exclusively at ButcherBlockCo.com,” he added.

Kathleen Grodsky, Butcher Block Co.’s Vice President of Marketing, seems excited about prospects for the new line. “Boos’s design team did a fabulous job marrying the beauty of butcher block with two attractive table base designs. Foundry Collection tables will fill a void in Butcher Block Co.’s product catalog. It’s great to now be able to offer modern industrial, rustic dining tables to homeowners and commercial customers seeking innovative, cutting-edge designs.”

Antimicrobial Efficacy of Oiled John Boos Cutting Boards Is Validated

Antimicrobial Efficacy of Oiled John Boos Cutting Boards Is Validated

Scientific Research Has Substantiated the Antimicrobial Efficacy of John Boos Wood Cutting Boards Protected with Boos Mystery Oil and Boos Block® Board Cream.

John Boos & Co., with headquarters and manufacturing facilities in the Central Illinois town of Effingham, dates back to 1887. That’s when founder Conrad Boos carved his first wooden block from a Sycamore tree for use as a blacksmith’s sturdy work table. Recognizing that meat butchers too had need for rugged chopping tables, Boos’ son John expanded the family’s product line. Today, Boos’ ubiquitous butcher blocks and wooden cutting boards are trusted by professional and celebrity chefs and preferred by aspiring gourmets because of their design, craftsmanship, beauty, and functionality.

But there’s another reason for pros and amateurs alike to flock to Boos cutting boards: their antimicrobial properties. This characteristic of properly oiled Boos Rock Maple cutting boards was assessed by Professor Nenad Miljkovic of the University of Illinois and his team of researchers who are experts in the areas of nanoengineered surfaces and coating technologies.

Miljkovic and his team studied NSF-approved Boos cutting boards made of U.S. Northern Hard Rock Maple. NSF is an independent evaluative and testing organization that assesses the raw materials a manufacturer uses, plus its manufacturing processes and practices. The NSF designation signals that the product that carries it meets recognized food service industry standards designed to promote public health.

The key finding of the university’s research team was that once a Boos NSF-certified maple cutting board used to carve meat was then coated with Boos Block Board Cream and Boos Mystery Oil, the level of bacteria on its surface was reduced to “a ‘clean level’ in just three hours.”

The researchers determined that application of the two moisturizing substances created a hydrophobic, or water-resisting, barrier on the boards that made it more difficult for bacteria to adhere to the wood.

Furthermore, they concluded that Boos Mystery Oil helped any meat juice remaining on the surface of the board be absorbed into the fibers of the wood, where naturally occurring enzymes found in Northern Hard Rock Maple killed off any remaining bacteria. 

Professor Miljkovic stated that, “Prior to this project, we believed the function of cutting board oil was simply to prevent drying of the wood, but our research showed that it actually enables microbes to absorb into the wood grain, which contain antimicrobial enzymes that kill bacteria. We found that USA grown Northern Hard Rock Maple, used by John Boos & Co. to create cutting boards, was the most effective species of hardwood that contained these antimicrobial enzymes, which kill bacteria.”

For more information, please visit https://butcherblockco.com, a leading online dealer of John Boos products.

Easy, Maple Walnut Crusted Salmon

Easy, Maple Walnut Crusted Salmon

Our guest blogger, Erin from Food Wise Family, is here to share an easy walnut crusted salmon recipe. This simple recipe makes a delightful dinner that can easily be paired with any veggie side dish.

I love a dinner that comes together with little effort. This walnut crusted salmon recipe is one of those meals. It only takes minutes to top the delicious salmon with a crunchy, sweet, smoky glaze and then throw it in the oven to bake away. Prep a side of your favorite veggies while it cooks, and you have a healthy meal on the table in under 30 minutes.

I am always afraid to cook salmon. I’m scared I’ll overcook it and ruin it. I have this fear because the first time I cooked salmon, it was undercooked after the given amount of time stated in the recipe. So I placed it back in the oven and didn’t check it soon enough, and to my surprise, it was now overcooked. When salmon is overcooked, it’s dry and loses its flavor. Until recently, I usually had my husband cook salmon, but I finally got past my fear.

One thing that helps to not overcook the walnut crusted salmon in this recipe, is to make sure you set a timer to check in on it before the full time is up, and continually check on it until it’s done. Salmon changes from red to pink as it bakes in the oven. Take a fork and peek in the thickest part of the fillet. Once the meat starts to flake easily the salmon is done.

Easy Maple Walnut Crusted Salmon
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Baking Time: 13-17 Minutes
Total Time: 18-22 Minutes

Ingredients
2 lb salmon fillet
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp avocado oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Place salmon on aluminum foil-lined or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  3. Combine maple syrup, Dijon mustard, avocado oil, paprika, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, fold in walnuts.
  4. Evenly coat salmon fillets with the maple walnut mixture.
  5. Bake for 13 – 17 minutes, or until salmon is done. Make sure not to overcook it.
Walnut Crusted Salmon Prep

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.

Here is another Walnut Recipe you are sure to love: Easy, Delicious Walnut Banana Bread