Acclaimed Chef Couple Opens Unique SuperBite Restaurant in Portland

Acclaimed Chef Couple Opens Unique SuperBite Restaurant in Portland

Greg Denton and his wife Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton – 2016 finalists for the “James Beard Award, Best Chef Northwest” competition and named among the Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine – opened their critically acclaimed Ox Restaurant in Portland, Oregon in 2012. Just one year later, Ox – a modern Argentine steakhouse known for its sizzling grill – was named Restaurant of the Year by The Oregonian.

Grill masters Greg and Gabi attribute the distinctive taste of their meat and fish to their unique wood-fired grill, which features a catch basin that captures delicious drippings from delicacies on the grill for recycling into an even tastier marinade. Greg explains, “We add a special blend of herbs and seasonings to the juice we capture, then use it to baste the steaks as they cook.” Ox is located at 2225 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. 

Encouraged by the notoriety, in March the Dentons released their first cookbook: “Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant.” It includes 100 black-belt recipes for inspired backyard grillers – vegetarians and carnivores alike. The book is flagged “Number One Best-Seller” on Amazon.

Fresh on the heels of widespread acclaim for both Ox and their inaugural cookbook, the Dentons opened their second unique concept restaurant in Portland in April. According to Gabi, “SuperBite is all about small dishes packed with big flavor. It’s a thrill for chefs to have a chance to be creative and bold in devising flavorful, unusual combinations.” And the cooks’ uncustomary experience doesn’t end there. “Unlike other restaurants,” adds Gabi, “here patrons will actually be served by the team who created the food. That feedback loop will help our chefs and our concept evolve.” SuperBite is located at 527 SW 12th Ave.SuperBite

One thing not unusual about SuperBite is its kitchen countertops. They’re butcher block tops made by John Boos in Central Illinois and supplied by Boos’ online dealer, Butcher Block Co.

SuperBite John BoosAccording to Chef Greg, “I have used Boos equipment my entire career. They have a great reputation in the industry and such a strong following among chefs that I respect that this was one of the easiest decisions we faced in launching our new restaurant.”
About Butcher Block Co. – A leading online seller of kitchen furniture, equipment and such accessories as cutting boards, knives and knife blocks. Butcher Block Co. offers kitchen islands, carts and tables, and specializes in wood countertops. They carry products made by John Boos, Catskill Craftsmen and other leading manufacturers.
For more information, contact:
Kathleen Grodsky
[email protected]

Campfire Pies for Outdoor Fun

Campfire Pies for Outdoor Fun

I’m predicting this summer’s food trend is going to be campfire pies. I really want this to be true, at least… Campfire pies are so beautifully simple and remind me of childhood. I had completely forgotten the magic of campfire pies when Sarah mentioned them a while back, but now she has me on a mission. This is going to be the best summer. You should get on the campfire pie train, too. I promise they will make all your outdoor fun even better, and with Memorial Day coming up, you’ve only got a little time left to get your supplies. Sarah is here with all the details to get us started. Let’s make some pies!

Oh, Memorial Day weekend. That extra day off of work that feels desperately needed as you gear up for summer, the chance to get away for a weekend, the cookouts. The cookouts. My favorite thing about the holiday weekend is naturally food-inspired.

For the past ten years, my husband and his friends have been going to a cabin in a nearby state park to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. Due to us being a number of people spread out over the state, we have a Google Drive spreadsheet that goes back several years, listing who brings what. This, guys, is an excellent idea.  The cabin trip is the best kind of tradition – over the years we’ve rented boats, hiked, gone swimming, played games, played putt-putt, and gotten ice cream. Every year we add new things to do, but a few mainstays never change. One of these is the cooking out.

The firepit outside our cabin gets heavy use year after year. The first night of our trip is always dedicated to campfire pies. Consider the grilled cheese sandwich. Buttered bread, hot skillet, melty cheese. Yes? Now add the satisfaction of cooking those suckers outside on the coals of your bonfire and a fun gadget (I love fun gadgets). To make campfire pies, you will need a pie iron. I recommend having two for maximum production efficiency. You have a few options based on how you like your sandwiches. If you don’t like crust, go for one of the round pie irons, but be warned! These result in smaller pies, and you can’t stuff them as full. For bigger pies that include crust, go with this guy. Your campfire will need to have some decent coals – I recommend waiting at least half an hour after starting your fire to begin cooking.

Campfire pies are endlessly customizable and the perfect addition to your outdoor fun!

You can basically make any kind of sandwich or sweet pie with these babies. I’ve gone grilled cheese, hot ham and cheese, any kind of dessert pie you can think of, and even ooey gooey brownies (oh yes!). Sandwiches are pretty easy – some element of sauce and/or cheese is necessary to hold your pie together and give it a lot of flavor. Dessert is pretty much anything your heart desires that fits between two pieces of bread. Pie filling of any kind, pudding if you’re feeling a chocolate pie. The best dessert I’ve had is the aforementioned ooey gooey brownie, which is brownie batter poured straight into the pie iron, no bread required. Cooked correctly, you’ll open your pie iron to a molten chocolate mess that is absolutely delicious (add marshmallows for a s’mores-ey kick). Today, we’ll be making pizza pies with cherry pies for dessert.

Ingredients:

  • Stick of butter
  • Bread (go white bread, here)
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzerella cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Cherry pie filling

-Preheat your pie irons. Once your bonfire has some coals, position your (closed) pie iron against them to get the metal hot. It doesn’t need to be screamin’ hot, but a little preheat will help your buttering game.

-Butter! This is what gives your campfire pies that delicious sear. There are two opinions on buttering- butter your bread, or butter the pie irons. I find you use less butter (and can therefore make more pies!) when you butter the pie irons. So unwrap the end of a stick of butter and rub it on each pan of your open pie iron. Enjoy the sizzle.

-Position your bread, being careful not to burn yourself. Add pizza sauce, a good handful of mozzarella cheese, and some pepperonis. You can load up both sides of your bead if you like, but while that results in mega-flavor, it can also make your pies burst open like a hot pizza roll when you bite into it. One side of toppings is sufficient.

Campfire pies

-Close your pie iron. Many come with latches, but they can be difficult to open when your pie is done if you’re not keen on burning yourself or your food. Make sure your pie iron closes completely, or you’ll be picking ash out of your food.

-Position your pie iron on your coals. This cooktime is tricky, because it depends on how hot your coals are. After 5-8 minutes, pull your iron out of the flame, find a decent light source, and, while holding your pie iron parallel to the ground, open one side to check the doneness. You want to lift the side of the iron that has been sitting on the coals, since that is the part that has been cooking. If you have a nice grilled cheese sandwich-style sear, close your iron, and put it back on the coals on the other side.

-Once your pie is done, things get slightly tricky. Have a plate ready on a flat surface. Hold your pie iron over the plate, and open both sides slowly to pop out your sandwich.

Campfire Pies

-When it’s dessert time, butter your pie iron.

-Position your bread, then add a few spoonfuls of pie filling.

-The cooktime is about the same, maybe a little less. Be sure to check it often and flip halfway through.

-Enjoy your dessert!

Campfire Pies

One safety note: Be very, very, very careful where you place your pie irons while they are still hot but not in use! Campfires generally take place in the dark, and pie irons unfortunately do not glow in the dark or light up. My group of friends has resorted to a designated pie iron area, where all pie irons live if they are not on the fire being used. Trust me, you do not want to add a hospital visit to your fun holiday weekend because someone burned themselves badly. And it should go without saying that children should be very carefully supervised while using pie irons. To be safe, the wooden handles are the only portion of the pie iron that should be considered safe to touch.

Do you have any Memorial Day weekend traditions? What kind of campfire pie are you most excited to try first?

Mother’s Day Brunch – Croque-Madame in Honor of Mom

Mother’s Day Brunch – Croque-Madame in Honor of Mom

My lovely brothers are hosting a Mother’s Day brunch this Sunday for all of the moms in our close-knit family.  As one of the moms being honored at this Mother’s Day Brunch, I will be requesting that my brothers  follow Claire’s advice here by making something cheesy and savory and definitely topped with an egg. Claire not only provides us with another delicious breakfast/brunch recipe, she is also determined to make us all a little weepy with a beautiful dedication to her mom. I haven’t met Lynn, but if Claire is any indication, her mother has done a darn good job. Claire, I’ll hand this off to you now. Make us cry, but then please make us feel better with fantastic food!

For fairly obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about moms and motherhood these past couple of weeks. Not everyone has a mom, and not everyone who has a mom has a good mom. Reflecting on that fact makes me feel, above all, grateful that my mother, while human and flawed like anyone else, has been good and caring and supportive of me for my whole life. She put up with me and believed in me, even during my most chaotic years, which admittedly lasted far longer than they should have. She cried for me. She cheered for me. She went gray for me. Through everything, I have always known that if I needed her, she would not hesitate to be at my side, whatever the cost. She is a good mom.

Mother's Day Brunch

If anyone deserves to retire in style, my mom does, and damn it, she is doing it. This summer, she and my dad are selling the home I grew up in, and they are moving onto the boat they have spent the last 10 years restoring. They will spend the foreseeable future sailing around this gorgeous planet of ours, seeing all the things they didn’t get to see while they were busy being attentive and fiscally responsible parents. This morning, it occurred to me that once they set sail, it will be the first time in my life that my mom is going to be ACTUALLY unavailable to me, despite the fact that I moved over two thousand miles away from her eight years ago. It’s a new feeling, and one I’m having a hard time processing. It’s making me miss my mommy.

Mother's Day Brunch

So, in honor of my mom and my feelings, I am throwing a Mother’s Day brunch in her honor. Even though she’s too far away to join me at my table today, I know she’s well represented here. She taught me to appreciate a well-appointed place setting, and so I am setting the table with the linens I remember eating off of in her house, and serving the meal on her mother’s gold plates. She taught me to never scrimp where it mattered, so I am using the best ingredients I can find. And she taught me how to make Hollandaise, and it is finicky and temperamental, so I’m skipping it this year. Besides, eggs Benedict is played out.

I want something as unexpected and decadent as my mom for this Mother’s Day brunch, so I am going with croque-madame, which I am predicting will be the next big brunch staple.

Croque-Madame

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 slices of the best quality deli ham
  • 8 slices of good bread
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Start by making your béchamel. In a 1 ½ quart heavy saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk, cooking the roux until it is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring it just to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, nutmeg, and half of the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Remove the pan from heat and cover it while you assemble the sandwiches.

Preheat the broiler with a rack in the top third of the oven. Prep a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Lay the slices of bread out, spreading a spoonful of béchamel on four of them and topping with the remaining shredded cheese. On the other four slices, spread the mustard and top each with two slices of the ham. Flip the ham side onto the cheese side and heat about a tablespoon of the remaining butter on a skillet or griddle.

Mother's Day Brunch

When the griddle is hot, carefully grill each sandwich on both sides until they are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Move the sandwiches onto the prepared baking sheet and top each one with about 1/3 cup of the béchamel. Broil the sandwiches until the sauce is bubbling, then turn off the broiler and move the pan to the lower third of the oven to keep warm.

Mother's Day Brunch

Add the remaining butter to the skillet and fry the eggs sunny-side-up, until whites are just set and yolks are still runny. Top each sandwich with an egg and serve. I put the remaining sauce in a little pitcher so we could add more as we saw fit, and I went a little crazy with the pepper grinder. Making that first cut, and seeing the yolk and steam release from inside the sandwich, I knew my mom would be proud. She taught me to revere a good sauce and a runny egg, so I know she would have loved this Mother’s Day brunch meal as much as I did. I also knew that she would be the first one to like the picture I would post to Facebook later.

Mother's Day Brunch

Mama, I know you’re reading, because you are my biggest fan and you never miss one of my posts. As you literally embark upon your next adventure, I know that you will continue to live as richly as you have so far. Even though you’ll be out of my reach, I will be thinking of you often. I hope it makes you feel as good as it makes me feel to know that you have imbued me with all of your vim and vigor and your incredible power to set an inviting table and top it with a damn good meal. I love you.

Mother's Day Brunch TablePrinter-friendly recipe: Croque-Madame

Can Planting More Trees Save Us from Climate Change?

Can Planting More Trees Save Us from Climate Change?

“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir

“But what have trees done for us lately?” you ask. 

For starters, trees provide us wood used in the buildings that shelter us and the furniture on which we work and rest. Forests are home to two-thirds of the planet’s land species. They help capture, store and purify water passed on to cities and towns downstream. By some estimates they even supply nearly half of the ingredients found in medicines we rely on to keep us healthy. But more topical this week, as we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day and contemplate the state of our planet, forests are effectively the lungs of the Earth. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release the oxygen we need to survive.

If you were paying attention in school you learned that carbon dioxide – the major greenhouse gas driving climate change – is in essence, plant food.

Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb sunlight (thanks to the presence of a pigment found in all green plants) and suck up water and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates and oxygen.

photosynthesis_equation

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/57561701462135038/

Photosynthesis is the most effective means for removing carbon from the atmosphere.

The carbon captured is converted into tree roots, trunks, branches and leaves (collectively, “biomass”). The process absorbs nearly 30 percent of mankind’s annual carbon dioxide emissions (released principally through the combustion of fossil fuels), prompting the curious mind to ask, “is it possible to minimize, if not altogether eliminate, the threat of climate change by planting more trees?”

Here’s the short answer: Planting more trees – in and of itself – will not solve global warming. After all, it’s called the carbon cycle for a reason. Carbon sequestered in biomass must someday return back to the atmosphere, either through natural decay or human interference. Newly planted or regenerating forests can continue to absorb carbon for 50 years or more, however, it is hypothesized that even if tree-planting were executed on a massive scale, the incremental trees would capture only 2 to 3% of total annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Link: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/29/planting-trees-climate-change

Make no mistake, deforestation contributes to global warming.

In fact, it’s the second leading cause. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that tropical deforestation (e.g., in the Amazon, the Congo and Indonesia) causes as much as 10% of the world’s heat-trapping emissions to go unabsorbed each year. [source: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/stop-deforestation/deforestation-global-warming-carbon-emissions.html#.Vxp1i2NZsy5] That’s why it’s important that the trees we do use come only from well-managed forests where sustainable practices are rigorously employed, such as North America’s hardwood forests.

Whereas the Kyoto Protocol encourages tree planting and reforestation, experimental projects to date have identified a number of hurdles, including the high input costs (principally land and labor) and the cost of protecting young trees from natural threats. One other interesting learning is that we must plant the right trees in the right places. Tropical forests benefit the planet by lowering overall temperature, whereas forests far from the equator are more likely to trap heat in their dense canopies, thereby raising temperatures. [source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory].

So while planting more trees cannot reverse global warming, you simply can’t go wrong by greening up your neighborhood and your planet, and by buying lumber and finished goods made of wood harvested from woodlands that are managed in a sustainable fashion so they are sure to absorb the maximum amount of carbon possible.

Favorite Breakfast Recipe – Biscuits and Gravy

Favorite Breakfast Recipe – Biscuits and Gravy

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then you better be paying attention, because Claire is about to share the most important recipe of your life! I sing Claire’s praises a lot around here, so it’s about dang time she gives up the recipe for my favorite breakfast of all time – BISCUITS AND GRAVY! She has made these for me every time I’ve gone to visit, and even my picky kid likes them. I have had biscuits and gravy from (at least) a dozen different restaurants, even in a couple in the South, but nobody makes them as good as Claire. Looking over this recipe, I’m a little surprised by how easy this is. I could actually do this, and if I can summon a little of that special Claire Hoenke magic, I bet mine will come out at least half as good (and that would be good enough for me!). Ok, let’s get moving along. Claire, enlighten us, please.

Last year around this time, I made a beautiful and nutritious breakfast for you using beautiful and nutritious spring produce. This is not that post.

This morning I had to take my kids to the doctor. They both needed to have procedures done, and they were going to be under anesthesia so the doctor told me to go home and wait for them to call me. When I got home, I didn’t have to use my purse to block the kids from running out the door. I sat down on the couch, and I didn’t have to worry about my youngest climbing onto my chest and burrowing into my hair. I decided to make breakfast, and I didn’t have to worry about my oldest jumping onto the counter and eating the ingredients. Oh, wait, did I say, “my kids”? I meant my cats, though for real, they are my kids, and it is really weird when they’re not here. I don’t like it.

Breakfast

(His name is Bacon. He is perfect.)

To deal with the discomfort of my weird, empty house, I decided I needed to curl up in the cocoon of some rich, creamy, easy-to-make, unhealthy comfort food. I mean real, serious business comfort food. The thing you always want to order in a breakfast cafe, but maybe you don’t think you should, or you don’t want to be seen eating it in public because you’re already a fat lady eating in public and you already have your own weird food issues and you don’t need that kind of judgement from strangers… ahem… Maybe that last one is just me. Anyway, that forbidden thing for me is biscuits and gravy. Luckily, sausage gravy is so easy to make at home, you never need to order it at a restaurant, which is actually good because it saves you from a lot of disappointing gravies that are really never as good as the recipe I am about to share with you.

Since I’m going for ease and speed, I am going to opt for a simple drop biscuit today. Combine your dry ingredients, cut in the butter, add the milk, drop on the pan, and bake. Bing bang boom. I’m also adding cheese to my biscuits because it’s my party and dammit, I love cheese. I really only make my fancy buttermilk biscuits for company, because they’re always going to play second fiddle to the gravy anyway. Honestly, you could put any bready thing under it and call it a success.

These Biscuits and Gravy make the perfect breakfast – delicious, fulfilling, and surprisingly easy.

Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (one stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup milk or half and half

Gravy

  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 1/3 cup flour, divided
  • 4-5 cups milk
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Seasoned salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients, and then use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter. If you want to add in any additional ingredients (cheese, bacon, herbs, etc.), now is the time. Stir in the milk and use two spoons to drop the biscuits in semi-freeform lumps onto the baking sheet. I like mine to be kind of rounded, but with craggy edges so the finished biscuit has a little crunch to it. Bake until they’re golden brown with crunchy bits, about 15 to 20 minutes, and then serve.

Breakfast

While the biscuits are baking, make your gravy. Put the sausage into a heavy pan or skillet and brown it over medium high heat, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage into bits. When it is cooked through, add the flour in two phases, stirring until it is absorbed. Use the spoon to stir the sausage around and cook the flour, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan, for about a minute or two. Add the milk, and stir, stir, stir while the gravy thickens. If it gets too thick, just add a little more milk. When the texture is right, season with hot sauce, black pepper, and seasoned salt, and spoon it over your biscuits.

breakfast

And just like that, you have a lovely, indulgent bowl of comfort right there to pet your tummy and remind you that your cats are just fine and they’ll be home tonight, and they’ll probably be all goofy and extra-snuggly while the anesthesia wears off. In the meantime, you don’t have to worry about Bacon trying to steal a bite of that sweet, sweet gravy. Sausage gravy brings out the truth in us, as evidenced today by my outing myself as a fat cat lady who eats her feelings. So who does the gravy reveal in you?

Printer-friendly recipe: Biscuits and Gravy

Football = Butcher Block Co.

Football = Butcher Block Co.

There’s a lot of talk about The Big Game… certainly a relevant and timely subject to blog about.  But having already blogged about great game-day appetizer recipes or tips for entertaining guests for the big game, I really wanted to do something fresh and unique.  But how do you connect the culmination of football season to the biz of butcher blocks?  Well thanks to some creative writing by my son, Mathew Grodsky, he has cleverly laminated these two subjects together.

Loyal readers, Superbowl 50 is right around the corner! A day that revolves around two major sports franchises bumping heads while the rest of us huddle around our television screens. Why have we become so enamored with football? There are many theories but a likely one is because the struggle that these teams face to rise up as the cream of the crop every season speaks to us as Americans. It is relatable to us because we strive to be the best in our endeavors every day. A warning, this blog is not a series of inspirational metaphors on American work ethic. Instead, it’s about “relatability”.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria that comes with America’s greatest sporting event, let us not forget that football relates to ButcherBlock Co. in, oh, so many ways. Seriously.

If you think about it, football players devote themselves to being masters of their craft in an effort to be superb in their profession. They are truly elite athletes whose commitment through long labor hours is all fueled by their passion for the game. Similarly, creating butcher block requires skilled craftsmanship, a devotion to long labor hours, and a fiery passion. At Butcher Block Co. our John Boos craftsmen have created an elite line of products. See where I’m going with this?

Superbowl 50 is a showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Many speculate that this will be the final game for Broncos’ seasoned quarterback Peyton Manning as he has struggled to find his rhythm this year and has looked a bit overused. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As it relates, seasoned butcher block may look worn but it still retains its great character, integrity and strength while appearing worn as a result of years of love and use.

Nevertheless, Manning should be entering this game with high confidence given his team bumped off the New England Patriots, a team shrouded in controversy due to the deflate gate scandal of last year when footballs were allegedly made flatter than a butcher block countertop.

Denver’s strong side linebacker, Von Miller, is a fifth-year linebacker and three-time Pro Bowl selection whose 49 career sacks represent the sixth most in the NFL by a player through his first four seasons. Wide, thick, and sturdy atop a set of broad legs, ButcherBlock Co. features John Boos’ largest AA block built just like Von Miller, and certainly just as durable.

Denver had seven penalties against the Patriots in the championship game against New England. Going forward, they will need to avoid silly penalties such as having 12 men on the field. Every football fan knows there are only 11 players allowed on the field per team while ButcherBlock Co. allows customers to select 11 differently sized team-mates for the Boos AA block.

If the Broncos are to have any success in this game against Carolina, their offensive linemen will need to protect Manning in the pocket; if they do it right then Manning should resemble an island because no one should be around him – preferably he’ll resemble a Catskill Craftsmen Island with drop leaf, allowing him extra space in case he needs to drop back and throw a Hail Mary.

The Broncos certainly have their work cut out for them as their opponent is fired up and on a scoring hot streak. In Sunday’s NFC championship game between the Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina quarterback, Cam Newton, proved he could air mail long bombs down the field to his wide receivers seemingly without consequence. That kind of superb “shipping” was something the Cardinals failed to duplicate, but seems to be right out of the Butcher Block Co. playbook given their offer of  free shipping on all furniture purchases!

The Panther’s head coach and former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator, Ron Rivera, has led his team to a nearly perfect season. He should be feeling pretty proud these days considering the Bears put him on the chopping block in 2006 – not to be confused with the chopping blocks at ButcherBlock Co. which include a plethora of affordable options. So if you ever have a defensive coordinator that needs to be fired you can simply pull out the chopping block.

Still not convinced football relates directly to ButcherBlock Co.? Well, this year the Superbowl will take place on February 7th, 2016. That’s 76 years to the day that Walt Disney’s second feature length film “Pinocchio” premiered in New York City, therefore solidifying the fact that this day could be about the magic of wood… and equally relatable to wood’s elemental contributions to ButcherBlockCo.’s finest butcher block furniture and accessories.

Yeah, I may be reaching here. But we can all look forward to great blocks at both the Superbowl and Butcher Block Co.!

John Boos To Build 100,000 Sq. Ft. Butcher Block Products Wood Plant in 2016

John Boos To Build 100,000 Sq. Ft. Butcher Block Products Wood Plant in 2016

Boos & Co. Renews Its Century-Old Commitment to Central-Illinois

No other business in the small town of Effingham, Illinois (population: 12,500) has been in operation longer than John Boos & Co. Founded in 1887, the company manufactures kitchen furniture and equipment for residential and commercial use. They’re most famous for their eponymous butcher blocks, as well as countertops, islands, tables, carts and cutting boards made of butcher block.

But soon, all these Boos wood products will be manufactured in a new facility. On December 15, the Effingham City Council will meet to consider selling to Boos a 15-acre parcel appraised at $300,000. It’s owned by the city and located near Boos’ corporate offices and modern metal plant situated at 3601 South Banker Street in Effingham. Production of stainless steel work tables, cabinets, sinks and shelving began there in 2011.

According to Vic Jansen, Director of Manufacturing for Boos & Co., “The wood plant is located at 315 South First St., and the outlet store is located at 507 East Fayette Avenue. But after the move it would all be together, except being separated by Thies Avenue. First we’d like to get the land secured.” Boos expects to break ground on a 100,000 square-foot facility by spring; sooner if weather permits.

Mark Shook, President of Boos’ online dealer Butcher Block Co. (website: https://butcherblockco.com), explained that, “It’s a smart move for Boos to opt for a greenfield project. That way they can invest in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment that expands their capabilities, enhances flexibility and lowers costs. Plus, by shortening the physical distance between departments they can improve internal communications. This should boost innovation and shorten the time it takes to develop and bring new products to market.”

John Boos butcher blocks and cutting boards are used daily by such celebrity chiefs as Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse. They’re featured regularly on food and cooking-oriented channels, including The Food Network. Professional chefs also employ them at such famous restaurants as The Border Grill in Santa Monica and New Orleans’ Bayone Restaurant. The company’s factory outlet and showroom in Effingham is open to the public daily.

Since 2006, Butcher Block Co. has been selling products designed for home and commercial kitchens. The company offers for sale butcher block cutting boards, carts, islands and tables, but is best known as a destination site for premium custom wood countertops.

For more information please visit: http://johnboos.com and https://butcherblockco.com.

Contact:

Kathleen Grodsky

[email protected]

website: https://butcherblockco.com

phone: (877) 845-5597

Record Fires and Budget Constraints Trap U.S. Forest Service in a Catch-22

Record Fires and Budget Constraints Trap U.S. Forest Service in a Catch-22

More than Half of Budget Goes to Fighting Fires, Hindering Restoration that Helps Prevent Fires.

The U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages nearly 200 million acres of public land that produces 20% of the nation’s clean water supply, and stewards sustainability efforts across more than 600 million acres of forestland. Its mission is “to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands” by battling wildfires and administering restoration, watershed and wildlife programs. (source: http://www.fs.fed.us) Restoration efforts are particularly critical since healthy forests are better able to withstand stress brought on by drought, changes in climate and wildfire.

But two recent phenomena possibly linked to global warming – record droughts in the West and wildfire seasons that start earlier and last longer– are causing the agency to exhaust money allocated to fire suppression each year, necessitating the transfer of funds earmarked for restoration that make forests more resilient to wildfire. Whereas spending on fire suppression accounted for 16% of total agency spending in 1995, it represented 52% of the agency’s $6.5 billion budget in fiscal year 2015. The end result is a classic catch-22. Insufficient clearing and restoring of forestland allows for fire fuel to build up, exacerbating the vicious cycle and endangering American lives and property. According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, “Development close to forests has also increased the threat to property, with more than 46 million homes in the United States, or about 40 percent of our nation’s housing, potentially at risk from wildfire.” (source: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/releases/statement-secretary-tom-vilsack-ongoing-devastating-wildfire-season)

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, could remedy the catch. It proposes treating wildfires more like other natural disasters and should restore the agency’s capacity to protect against future wildfires, not just combat them. Specifically, the bill calls for adjustments to spending limits for FY2016 through FY2025 to ensure adequate funding for wildfire suppression operations. Moreover, the legislation would require the President’s annual budget to include the average costs for wildfire suppression over the previous ten years. On January 22, 2015, the bill was assigned to a congressional committee for consideration.

Another way the USDA hopes to restore tens of millions of acres of forests and watershed is through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program authorized in the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act. The program encourages collaboration and community involvement and seeks to leverage public and private resources to improve ecological, economic and social outcomes. Just this month USDA issued a progress update showing that the program, now encompassing 23 projects across 15 states, has treated more than 1.45 million acres of forest to reduce wildfire risk and has generated more than 1.25 billion board feet of timber sales. For more information, see the CFLR 5-Year Report: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/documents/cflrp/CFLRP_5-YearReport.pdf

The information herein was compiled by Butcher Block Co., an online seller of wood countertops; butcher block kitchen islands, carts, tables and workstations; and wooden cutting boards and knife blocks (https://butcherblockco.com). BBC salutes the U.S. Forest Service and USDA for their sustained progress in the face of natural and budgetary challenges.

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

Contact:

Kathleen Grodsky
[email protected]
website: https://butcherblockco.com
phone: (877) 845-5597

Upcycling – Creative Reuse!

Upcycling – Creative Reuse!

Last year I blogged (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. Every day.) about how I could do better recycling in my own household. I am happy to say that I implemented nearly all of the action items I identified last year. I still believe that everyone, doing their small part, can truly make a difference and help save our environment. I am very pleased to know that my recycling mentality has rubbed off on my son, Ben. He is an Industrial Design student at ASU and has a love of invention and building things in the workshop. Fortunately his dad taught him a great deal over the years about woodworking. My son decided this summer that he was going to “make all the furniture for my new apartment at college”. Given he qualifies as a starving college student, he set out to design and make furniture on the cheap. He did not know it at the time, but the type of work he was embarking on had a name – Upcycling. Or as I like to call it, Creative Reuse!

Upcycling, or Creative Reuse, is a great way to reuse materials and reduce our carbon footprint.

The phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is so apropos. Ben did not have to look far to discover all sorts of valuable materials just lying around our neighborhood and community. Some of the materials were truly just trashed, while others may have found their way to scrap yards. But he certainly created new, high quality furniture from unwanted or useless materials. Here is his summer Upcycling portfolio…

Blog Upcycle
Bar-Height Kitchen Table
Restaurant Bathroom Door found at a local second-hand furniture store.
Iron panels from scrap yard
Black iron plumbing  pipe(new)

Blog Upcycle
Bar Stools
Aluminum Wheels from his old car. No takers on Craig’s list. These aluminum wheels were just too cool to take to the aluminum recycling center.
Steel Pipe from scrap yard
Fishing Boat Seats (new) and very affordable.
Blog Upcycle
Bed
Restaurant Bathroom Door from a local second-hand furniture store
Aluminum Panels from scrap yard
Aluminum I-beams from old patio awning
Landscape Lights destined for recycling center
Wood (new)
Blog Upcycle
Coffee Table
Used wood pallet
Stakes (for concrete forms)
Blog Upcycle
Living Room Chair
Beams from our neighbor’s old patio awning, discarded in a bulk trash pile
Sturdy Lawn Chair with new cushions
Thread rod
Blog Upcycle
Light
Cam shaft from his old car
Old transmission gear donated from local mechanic shop
Aluminum drafting lamp (new)
Blog Upcycle
Wall Hangings
Corrugated aluminum sheet
Poster (new)
Wood pallet
Extra Christmas lights

November 15th is America Recycles Day. It takes very little effort to do the right thing, so do your part…  Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Upcycle!  Do you have a great Upcycling project?  Please share with our readers.

You Fon-don’t Want to Miss This Apple Cider Fondue

You Fon-don’t Want to Miss This Apple Cider Fondue

Fondue is one of my favorite things in the world because it involves melted cheese, and Claire is one of my favorite people in the world because she always has cheese and is always willing to share (I mean, there are plenty more reasons I love Claire, but let’s cut to the chase here).  So it should come as no surprise to you that the following post has me crying at my desk. This combination of cheese plus Claire plus Fall flavors could not possibly equal anything less than spectacular. This is the kind of dish that makes it worth cleaning your house so you can invite people over. You don’t have to invite people over, but maybe cut the recipe down if you plan on keeping this to yourself (two pounds of cheese is a little much, even for me). Also, go ahead and clean your house anyway. I’ll pass this onto Claire now, so she can fill the cheese-shaped void in your heart.

I love cheese. I mean, I really, really love cheese. I know loving cheese is sort of obvious, like loving bacon, but I still feel the need to openly state my affection for cheese. Before I moved to California, I used to be a cheesemonger. My cheese shop was attached to the deli in a local grocery store, and they brought me in to imbue the department with my passion and excitement for cheese and international cuisine. I was always sampling something out, engaging with my loyal customers, and bringing new people into my cheese fandom by virtue of my sincere love for cheese in all its many forms. After the first 6 months or so, I started searching for new ways to sample cheeses to my customers, and it was at that moment that my department started stocking fondue pots. It was autumn. It was miserable outside. It was meant to be.

But there was a problem! Traditional fondues are made with alcohol, and my grocery store most definitely did not grant me permission to open bottles of booze behind the deli counter. I had to craft a new recipe for a fondue that would strip out the alcohol, but still be good enough to boost cheese fandom and sales. After just a couple of tries, I managed to put together a recipe that kept the traditional Swiss cheeses, but eliminated the wine and kirsch, and it was an instant hit. I handed out recipe cards, and sold through entire wheels of Gruyère and Emmentaler cheese in the span of two hours.

Fast forward several years to my kitchen in California. It’s raining outside. The temperature has dropped a full 20° in the last three days, and it is finally starting to feel legitimately autumnal here. It’s making me flash back to those days in the cheese shop, and I am just craving hot, melted cheese.  Luckily, my cheese shop recipe is so etched on my brain, I just throw a couple extra items on my grocery list, and I know I’ll be eating gooey, melty, soul-warming cheese in no time, and you can too.

My Apple Cider Fondue is kid-friendly since it contains no alcohol, but maintains that smooth and creamy texture required to be a great fondue!

Apple Cider FondueFondue

  • 1 lb. Emmentaler cheese
  • 1 lb. Gruyère
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • juice of 1 lemon

Our base here is going to be Emmentaler cheese. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Emmentaler is what I refer to as the granddaddy of Swiss cheese. It is what all deli cheeses known simply as “Swiss” are trying to be, but they will never be as sweet and buttery as true Emmentaler. On top of that, we need something slightly nuttier to enrich our flavor, so we turn to our best friend Gruyère. I use approximately one pound of each cheese. Start by cutting off the thin rind and coarsely shredding all of the cheese into a big bowl. Next, gently mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into the cheese until it is evenly distributed. Press a clove of garlic and smear the inside of a pot with it so that the pot is completely covered in garlic juices. Pour 1 cup of apple cider and the juice from one lemon into the pot and bring it to a boil. Add in a handful of the cheese mixture and stir until it is melted. Gradually add in the rest of the cheese, stirring until it is a uniform texture.

Fondue

And that’s it! If you have a fondue pot, warm it before putting the cheese into it. If you don’t have one, a crock pot or electric skillet set on low will work. Serve your fondue with whatever you want covered in hot cheese. I like cubes of bread, veggies, pretzels, apples, or sliced kielbasa, but get creative! Half-way through our pot, we decided that we would like to coat our apple slices in fondue, and then wrap them in a slice of salami, and that was a good choice! Honestly you can’t go wrong here. Fondue does not keep well, so I recommend inviting friends to share it because you have to eat it all in one go, and nothing goes better with cheese than company!

Fondue

Gruyère a little rich for your blood? You don’t have to miss out on the melty, cheesy fun! I made an adorable and delicious riff on Charles Phoenix’s cheeseball recipe for my office potluck, and he was a total hit. Simply cover a block of Velveeta in cream cheese and set it in an electric skillet with a can of Ro*Tel. I shaped my Velveeta into a ghost for Halloween and named him Ghosty, but with Thanksgiving coming up, a turkey with a carrot and celery stick tail fan might be in order! Velveeta is surprisingly pliable, so again, get creative! This recipe is a great showpiece for a party, because watching the ball melt is half the fun.

Fondue

Printer friendly recipe: Apple Cider Fondue