Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: An Updated Classic

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie: An Updated Classic

Chef J has been making this delicious pecan pie for the family for almost a decade. It is his number one most requested holiday dish, and for good reason! Pecan pie is a classic staple on any Thanksgiving table, but this one will have your guests thinking, “well, maybe just one more slice!” You should probably make two, just to be safe. Take it away, Chef J!

The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling down, and the relatives will soon be arriving. With a house full of family, friends and lots of food it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. And if the in-laws are visiting it might be time to get into the holiday spirits… So here is a recipe that gives you a good excuse to open a bottle of bourbon. It’s a proven fact that pecan pie is the best pie ever, but like I always say: chocolate makes it better! The bourbon lends a nice, rich, caramel flavor to the filling (don’t worry, the alcohol will cook out), and adding booze instead of water will give your pecan pie a flakier crust since it evaporates much faster.

Your family will rave about this Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and ask you to make to make it every year!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Piepecan-pie-dough

Dough:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 oz butter, cubed & cold
  • 2 oz shortening, cold
  • 2 oz cold bourbon

Preheat your oven to 350.
In a food processor combine dry ingredients.
Add butter and shortening, pulse for about 10 seconds.
Slowly add the bourbon while mixing until everything pulls together into a ball.
Roll out the dough and press evenly into a pie dish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Perforate the dough and bake for 15 minutes.

Filling:pecan-pie-filling

  • 8 oz dark chocolate
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 oz vanilla
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler over low heat and cook until the chocolate has melted.
Pour filling over the pre-baked dough.
Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Give it a gentle shake after about 25 minutes; you don’t want too much jiggle!
Remove and let it cool completely before cutting. Top with more nuts and chocolate, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream!

Printer friendly recipe: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Recipe

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Cutting Boards: A Collection to Handle Any Occasion

Cutting Boards: A Collection to Handle Any Occasion

Okay, let’s talk cutting boards! Having a good collection of cutting boards is something I think is essential. There is a reason there are so many different styles available – each type accomplishes a different goal. Depending on your level/style of cooking and entertaining, here is a list of some of the most commonly used and needed cutting boards.

End-grain-round-cutting-board

The All-purpose Chopping Block:  A nice, hefty, End Grain countertop block is super handy,since it is ready when you need it, and will look beautiful in your kitchen.  Not only are these blocks incredibly durable, the End Grain style is easier on your knives than other cutting surfaces, so it just makes sense to do the bulk of your chopping on one. End Grain blocks are available in a variety of sizes/woods/prices, one of which is sure to fit into your kitchen. They are also incredibly beautiful, and make a great serving surface on a buffet.NSF-Approved-Cutting-Board

The Lightweight Reversible Board: Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to use your big chopping block, and you need a board you can pull out easily and that won’t take up much storage space.  Enter the reversible cutting board: a lightweight edge grain board that can be used on both sides, and easily cleaned and stowed away for next time. This is the board you are going to pull out when you just need to slice up an apple or chop some parsley or other highly pigmented food. The big chopping block is unnecessary for such a small job, and the cleanup on a smaller board is much simpler. While you don’t want to leave this board soaking, you do have the option to scrub it down well after you make all those nice green stains. Also, since this one isn’t going to be out on the counter all the time, who really cares if it has a green spot?Carving-board

The Carving Board: Carving boards come in a variety of sizes and styles, and the one you choose will depend on how you intend to use it and where you intend to keep it. If you are like me and only use a carving board twice a year, you can get away with a thin, relatively inexpensive, standard board with a juice groove, like this one. If you are a die-hard BBQ-er, you will benefit from a bit more heft in a board that can take a bit of a beating and is easily transported, like this board with handles and a juice groove. Now, if you’re really serious about this roasting and carving stuff, this cutting board with carving spikes and a groove tree is pretty much a no-brainer. The spikes hold the meat in place while you carve away, and the groove tree directs juices into a reservoir so you can easily whip up some gravy or au jus.  If you want something that is both functional and stunningly beautiful, check out these End Grain boards with stainless steel feet; they are sure to wow at your dinner table.server-boards

Serving Boards and Blocks: There are so many fun and unique serving boards available these days! From contemporary to whimsical, and everything in between, we’ve got you covered no matter the occasion! Whether you are hosting an elegant dinner party or a potluck lunch, wooden serving boards will bring warmth and function to your table.

With the holidays quickly approaching, now is a great time to add some interesting cutting boards to your collection. They make great gifts, too!

The Mini-Boos Block and cheese hatchet set is a perfect housewarming or hostess gift and looks fantastic on any table.Mini-Boos-Butcher-Block

Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks

Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks

My family takes pumpkin carving pretty seriously – we’re not exactly creating masterpieces, but we do like to outdo each other! Over the years we have made some pretty awesome pumpkins. We’ve learned a lot and honed our skills, and I’d like to share some tips with you.

These pumpkin carving tips are for regular people who just want to make a neat pumpkin!

  • Inspect your pumpkin. You want a flat base, a strong stem, and no soft spots or gouges. Shake the pumpkin to make sure it doesn’t sound sloshy on the inside (trust me; you do not want to cut into that!). Make sure it has at least one nice surface for carving.
  • Practice on paper. Even with a fairly simple design, do a dry run on paper – draw it out (or print it) and cut out all the pieces that you would on the pumpkin. This creates a pumpkin carving stencil and ensures that you won’t end up with a surprise piece that has nothing to connect to.
  • Transfer your image. Tape your stencil onto the nicest surface. I use a toothpick to lightly score my stencil onto the pumpkin. With the stencil still taped on, go through and put an “X” in each area that will be cut out completely, and some lines in the areas that will just be scraped down.
  • Clean out your pumpkin. Cut the top off by cutting in at a 45-degree angle so that the stem will sit back in nicely and not fall into your pumpkin. Scrape out the guts with a large metal spoon. On the carving side, scrape out excess flesh – you’ll want less than one inch, but not so thin that the pumpkin will shrivel quickly or collapse.
  • Plump your pumpkin. Soak your cleaned out pumpkin in a bucket of cold water with a bit of bleach in it for about an hour. It will absorb the water and become more plump and firm, making pumpkin carving easier; and the bleach will help prevent molding.
  • Carve your design. Drill a hole in each area that will be removed. I like the tiny little saw that comes with the grocery store pumpkin carving kits, but the rest of the kit is pretty useless. I use a sturdy serrated knife in combination with garnishing tools, an exacto knife, and whatever else I can find in my kitchen and toolbox. Check out craft stores for pottery and linoleum tools for unique designs. Side note – dental tools work great for pumpkin carving if you have access to them, and there is something just very *Halloween* about torturing your pumpkin with these instruments!
  • Add details. I add depth by scraping some areas away rather than cutting all the way out, giving a nice mild glow through the flesh of the pumpkin. Make sure you leave plenty of connecting areas so it doesn’t collapse on itself.
  • Prep your pumpkin for use.  Coat the exposed edges with a thin layer of petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to prevent moisture from escaping the flesh (this is what causes shriveling). I jab a few whole cloves into the underside of the lid – it turns your jack-o-lantern into an air freshener when used with a real candle!
  • Keep your pumpkin fresh. Here in Phoenix, it stays pretty warm through October, and leaving a carved pumpkin out in the heat will lead to disappointment. I bring my pumpkins in during the day and put a plastic grocery bag around them to keep moisture in. If you have room in your fridge, keep wrapped pumpkins there when not in use. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, soak it again in a mixture of bleach and very cold water until it plumps back up, then recoat with oil.
  • Light your pumpkin up. I like battery powered candles because they don’t burn out, but there’s just something about the smell of a jack-o-lantern with a real flame inside! If you use a real candle, be careful that you are not creating a fire hazard. Drill a couple holes in the back of your pumpkin near the top to allow oxygen flow.pumpkin-carving-phoenix

Happy Pumpkin Carving!

pumpkin-carving-sponge-bob
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What Exactly Is Butcher Block?

What Exactly Is Butcher Block?

Butcher Block is a specialized wood cutting surface, thick and rugged in design, built to sustain heavy blows from meat cleavers.  The name  “butcher’s block” was originally derived from its use by commercial meat cutters in butcher shops and meat processing plants over 125 years ago.  The first butcher blocks were made from Sycamore rounds, which were large sections of Sycamore tree trunks mounted on legs.  However, inherent in this round cut of wood was the problem of the wood splitting, creating unsanitary conditions.  This lead to the invention of the traditional end-grain butcher block, an assembled wood product made from strips of wood which are glued together to create a solid wedge.

traditional-butcher-block

Today, traditional butcher blocks can be found in millions of supermarkets, delis, restaurants and home kitchens around the world.

End-Grain-Butcher-Block

These end-grain boards are made by bonding together short pieces of wood standing side-by-side, creating the traditional “checkerboard” appearance. Their cut ends make an excellent surface for cutting and chopping.  The wood fibers that make up the cutting surface are less susceptible to nicks and gouges, and will absorb the impact of knives.

 

Edge-Grain-Butcher-BlockThese days, the term butcher block is commonly used to refer to edge-grain constructed blocks as well.  Edge-grain blocks are made from laminating wood rails side-by-side, with the edges of wood strips making up the surface of the butcher block.  Many butcher blocks for home use are edge-grain construction because they are perfectly suitable for home use and are more affordable.

 

Edge-grain butcher blocks typically are thinner, lighter and more portable, making them ideal for versatile tableshard-working carts, gorgeous countertops, and  functional cutting boards.

What is your favorite butcher block product?

butcher-block-products
Fall Soups-Horseradish Potato Chowder

Fall Soups-Horseradish Potato Chowder

The weather is finally cooling off! So now it’s time to start thinking about ways to warm back up and nothing hits the spot on a chilly night quite like a rich, creamy bowl of soup. This is one of my favorite fall soups; it’s great as a starter or as the whole meal; it pairs well with beef, asparagus, and fresh crusty bread!

Fall Soup Recipe for Horseradish Potato Chowder:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4 large russet potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ cup prepared horseradish*
  • 4 cups stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 green onion, julienne
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Toss the potatoes and onions in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until just tender.

In a large pot, bring the milk, stock, horseradish, and half of the herbs up to a simmer.

Add half of the roasted potatoes and onions to the liquid. Blend the mixture until smooth using a stick blender or in small batches using a food processor or traditional blender.

Add the now smooth mixture back into the pot, add the remaining potatoes, onions, and the cheese. Mix until the cheese has melted completely.

Season with salt and pepper until it tastes the way you think it should. Garnish with the remaining herbs and maybe a bit more cheese.

*For best results use fresh horseradish. Chances are you can find whole horseradish root in your local supermarket. Ask the produce manager how fresh it is; the fresher the root, the more heat it will have. Peel the tough skin off and chop the root into large chunks. Throw it in your food processor with a little water and blend until it is a coarse paste. As it sits exposed to the air and water, the heat will become stronger. When it’s hot enough for you, add about a teaspoon of vinegar – this will stop the process and keep the heat at that level.

What are your favorite Fall Soups? Check out our Yummy Fall Soups Board  on Pinterest for more great Fall Soup recipes!

 Fall-Soup-Chowder

Printer friendly recipe: Horseradish Potato Chowder Recipe

More recipes here!

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Fall Baking!

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Fall Baking!

Fall is here and it’s time to get ready for the baking season! I know I’m excited! This year I’m trying something new, though – I am reorganizing my kitchen for fall in the same vein in which I reorganize my wardrobe. Tank tops and salad spinners will be tucked away in favor of boots and bakeware. I have a whole hutch full of baking equipment, but it lives in my living room because my kitchen is tiny. I went on a kitchen organizing spree this Spring, but a lot of the equipment that is taking up prime real estate could be replaced with more seasonal items. So I am going to share with you some of the tips I’m trying to follow that I think will help you prepare for this delightful season, too!

  • Designate a main workspace. Mine is my dream island (the one in the link is the one that lives in my head, not my kitchen…but some day she will be mine). It currently houses my knife block, cutting board, my overflow pots and pans that don’t fit on my pot rack, and two junk drawers (and a pile of mail…).
  • Remove all non-essential items (especially mail) from this area.
  • Think about your Fall cooking/baking style. Do you love making pies and tarts? Are you a huge fan of roasted root vegetables? Do stews and rustic breads show up on your dinner table at least once a week? Go through some of your favorite dishes in your head and make a list of your most common equipment.
  • Figure out a game plan for this area with the above-mentioned list in mind. DON’T add anything back to this area before you have some type of plan. That just leads to clutter and dysfunction. Kitchen organizing isn’t just about making your kitchen look tidy – it’s about making your kitchen work for your unique style. For example, if you’re going to be using your food processor and stand mixer a lot more often, it would certainly make sense to have them out all the time (if you have room for that, of course). Likewise, this is probably a good time of year to have your canisters of flour and sugar within arm’s reach. A small wall-mount or magnetic spice rack could be a nice addition to hold your nutmeg and allspice for all those pumpkin pies. This is also a great place to keep a little stack of mise-en-place bowls. Trust me, you’ll use them.
  • Slowly start bringing in your equipment and make adjustments to your game plan as necessary. I just realized my rolling pin has holes in the handles and I can hang it on my pot rack right above my island. I hadn’t noticed this before because it has been tucked away in a drawer in the hutch in my living room for the past nine months. Fortunately I had a wine bottle handy the last time I had to roll something out!
  • Preheat your oven and get to work! Isn’t it nice to have your roasting pans and pastry brushes all within reach?

Try some kitchen organizing by creating your unique  “Fall Baking Zone”.  It makes for fun and easy baking.

BLOG FALL BAKING ZONE.xlsx

What else do I need? What are you going to add to your Fall Zone? Do you have any great kitchen organizing tips for Fall?

Cedar-planked Salmon – A simply delicious recipe!

Cedar-planked Salmon – A simply delicious recipe!

Today is “International Talk Like A Pirate Day”.  I guess I never knew there was such a day, but as I was browsing the internet I discovered it.  I’m not certain what this has to do with the  ButcherBlockCo Blog, but it did get me thinking about pirate lingo and “walking the plank”.  And then my thoughts led me to cedar-planked salmon!  Salmon is my favorite fish, and grilled cedar-planked salmon is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.  So this week’s blog is loosely dedicated to “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and is a simple, delicious recipe for grilled cedar-planked salmon.

A meal of cedar-planked salmon is high value, meaning little effort produces great results!

The cost is relatively inexpensive, the ingredients are readily available, the prep work is simple, and the taste is fabulous!  Basically you soak the planks, season the salmon, and grill.  That’s about it. We just made this last night and we served it with sautéed asparagus and a quinoa/brown rice blend.
Arrr!
Ingredients:cedar-planked-salmon-prep
  • Salmon fillets, skin on one side
  • Sea Salt
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Crushed Peppercorns
  • Dill seasoning
  • Fresh Tarragon leaves
  • Cedar planks
Avast, ye Mateys!
Directions
  1. Soak cedar planks in a shallow dish, completely submerged for 2 hours.  You can soak in water, or I have heard wine or cider works too.
  2. Place salmon fillet, skin side down on plank
  3. Sprinkle seasonings on top side of salmon
  4. Place plank on 350 degree preheated grill.  Cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes for doneness.  My family prefers salmon well cooked and more firm, so we go the full 20 minutes
  5. Spray water on any flare ups
  6. Remove from grill.  Salmon will separate from the skin nicely with a spatula. Garnish with fresh Tarragon.
cedar-planked-salmon-grilledGrilled Cedar-planked salmon.  Arrr!
Printer friendly recipe: Cedar-planked Salmon Recipe
Kitchen Islands – How to simplify the selection process

Kitchen Islands – How to simplify the selection process

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and a kitchen island can be a great addition to this space, where you cook, entertain, gather and celebrate with family and friends.  Purchasing a kitchen island can be a significant investment, so choosing the right kitchen island for you is critical. While the choices are many, here are some things to consider to make the selection process simpler:
  1. How do you intend to use your kitchen island?  Would you use it for sitting and eating, or more for food prep and serving?
  2. How much floor space do you have?  Kitchen islands range in length from 4 to 5 feet and are often 2 feet wide, so make certain you have space for the island and for good traffic flow. If you don’t have that much space, a butcher block table may be a better option.
  3. What features are most important to you?  Islands are available with one or many features like closed cabinets, extendable cutting boards, drop leaves, open shelves, drawers, or baskets.
  4. Finally, what will best match your décor and personal style? There is a wide array of styles to choose from in a range of colors, finishes and woods.  Pick the style that complements your current kitchen cabinets, countertops and flooring.

ButcherBlockCo offers a wide selection of Kitchen Islands.

  • Classic Kitchen Island Breakfast Sets  expand not only dining space and seating capacity, but serving space.  Many come with bar stools to match.
  • Butcher Block Islands designed to be used as chopping workstations complete with food-safe natural oil finish.  They also double as a food buffet and serving space.  Many butcher block kitchen islands are available with optional casters to make them portable.
  • Butcher Block Islands with food-safe varnish finish are ideal for food prep and serving.  The varnish brings out the wood’s natural beauty and luster.
  • Fine furniture Wood Islands are both beautiful and functional serving islands.
  • Kitchen Island Countertops can also be purchased should you have an existing built in kitchen island you are remodeling.  Custom size countertops and custom edging to match your existing countertops can be ordered.
kitchen islands
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and an island can be the focal point of your kitchen.  To learn more about kitchen island options, watch our YOUTUBE Video.

ButcherBlockCo.com – The Experts In All Things Butcher Block

Labor Day Recipe-Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

Labor Day Recipe-Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

Here comes another holiday! That means another day off work (you need it!), another chance to spend some time with family and friends, and of course, another excuse to barbecue! We’ve gone over brisket; now let’s make a summer BBQ staple: RIBS!   While pork ribs are a bit messier than beef ribs, they are much more popular because they really are tastier .  Plus, it is likely your BBQ party will have other kinds of beef being prepared anyway. So we’ll be dealing with pork ribs today. When shopping for pork ribs keep in mind that there are two different kinds: Back Ribs (Baby Back Ribs if they came from a younger hog) and Spare Ribs.

Most folks agree, pork ribs are tastier than beef ribs!

Back Ribs, sometimes called Loin Ribs, are from the top of the hog between the spine and spare ribs. They are generally meatier than the spare ribs, but have a bit less fat. These are the more popular of the two.

Spare Ribs are found on the belly side of the hog. They are fattier and have more bone than actual meat. They are delicious, and often more tender because of the higher level of fat. St. Louis or Kansas City style pork ribs are spare ribs that have had part of the bone removed and have been trimmed.

Either kind will work for these instructions. It’s also a good idea to talk to your butcher; if they’re worth a darn they will love to help you choose the right cut and answer all of your questions. We’re going to cheat a bit, by using both the oven and the grill. Some BBQ nuts might cry foul but I think it’s better to take the easy option if it means you get to enjoy some nice homemade food rather than ordering out or wasting your time on something that has been pre-sauced and pre-cooked. If you have a spice rub that you love, by all means, use it!  I like to keep things relatively simple:

Spice Rub:

  • 1 TBS ground mustard powderpork rib spice rub
  • 1 TBS kosher or sea salt
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground chile (optional)

Scale this recipe up if you need to. I usually make a pretty big batch- it’s nice to have a jar lying around for when the mood strikes.

PREP
Sometimes there will be a tough, white membrane on the concave side of the pork ribs. You can ask your butcher to remove that or do it yourself. Simply pull the membrane up from the smaller end of the ribs, using a paper towel to get a better grip. With a strong pull toward the larger end, you should be able to easily peel it off.pork rib prep

Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. You don’t need a lot. You can do this a day or so in advance and the flavor will be stronger. Wrap the racks tightly in heavy duty plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil.

COOK
Arrange the pork ribs (still wrapped) on a sheet pan and place in a 250 degree oven. Cook for 4 hours.
Before they have finished, get your grill, smoker, or any other BBQ contraption you have access to fired up.  Pre-heat to 325 for this round. You can use charcoal or wood.
When the ribs are done in the oven, CAREFULLY remove them from the wrap. Pour all of the delicious juices into a bowl and set aside.

GRILL

pork ribs grill 300Back to the grill….We want to use indirect heat for this, so move the coals to one side and place the ribs on the other, meat-side up. Cover the grill and let the pork ribs smoke for a bit.

Sauce:
Get back to the kitchen! Mix together the following ingredients to make your basting sauce:

  • All of those juices
  • ¼ part ketchup
  • ¼ part honey or maple syrup

Use this sauce to baste the ribs every 30 minutes or so for about 2 hours, this will give them a nice sweet, sticky glaze. The longer you cook them the more tender they will be, so you can hang out in the back yard all day if you really want.

If you want to get the mess out of the way before the guests arrive just switch the cooking methods: start with the fire and smoke at 325, then wrap and throw the little piggies in the oven at 250. And make sure you have plenty of napkins!

When your ribs are done, remove to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Separate into manageable servings by slicing between the bones, every two-three ribs.
Chef J

chef j

Printer friendly recipe: Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

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Butcher Block Countertops Are An Affordable Option

Butcher Block Countertops Are An Affordable Option

If you are considering new countertops as part of  your kitchen remodel, you will find there are many countertop materials to choose from.  The internet is a great place to start researching, with helpful information, facts, trends and most of all, inspiring photos to help you make the right decision.

When choosing the ideal countertop material you should consider the following:

  • Function – Your lifestyle plays an important role in designing your kitchen.  If you are a Cooking Enthusiast you will want countertops that are suitable for chopping and food prep; Kitchen Central families who spend a lot of time in the kitchen doing more than cooking will want durable, stain resistant surfaces; and Entertainers will desire a high degree of style in their countertop and overall kitchen design.
  • Décor – Because the kitchen is the heart of the home, it should reflect your personal style, be that traditional, contemporary or eclectic.  Countertops are one of the more affordable and significant changes you can make to your kitchen that will convey your personal style.
  • Maintenance  – Often an afterthought, countertop maintenance is important to know prior to purchasing.  Be comfortable with the  maintenance required to keep your countertop looking new and protected.  Some maintenance is necessary for all countertops, however, certain materials are more needy.
  • Budget -Your budget can be the deal breaker.  Countertop materials range from very affordable to extremely expensive.  

A helpful resource for cost comparison can be found at www.countertopguides.com, where you can see Butcher Block Countertops are one of the most affordable countertop options available.

Butcher Block Countertops are an affordable option

Butcher Block Countertop an Affordable Choice.xlsx

So if you are looking for a food prep work surface that is beautiful, easy to maintain, and affordable, then butcher block is right for you!  At ButcherBlockCo.com you can choose from 4 different wood species, in 3 grain styles.  It’s easy to compare butcher block prices using our Step-by-Step Order Guide.  And you can get an instant quote or order butcher block countertops online with our Custom Countertop calculator.

Relative Cost Per Square Foot – Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block Countertop an Affordable Choice.xlsx

Need more information? Watch our YouTube video to learn more about Butcher Block Countertops.

ButcherBlockCo.com, The Experts In All Things Butcher Block