Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

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

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

Dedicate Space

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

One-Pot Wonders

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

Clean Right Away

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

Meal Prep

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

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

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

Strategize

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

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

Vacation Cooking at the Lake House

Vacation Cooking at the Lake House

Vacation cooking is something I typically manage to avoid, as most of my vacations consist of visiting friends or staying in a hotel. I do like to cook, but I’ll be honest, there is nothing quite like having Claire cater your meals for a few days while you relax (don’t worry, sometimes I help)! This week, Claire is here to share some of her family’s traditions, along with some fabulous food. This is how you do vacation cooking! Take it away, Claire!

One of the tragedies of adulthood is the end of summer vacation. For most of us, the summer months carry on nearly identical to their colder counterparts, except perhaps that a higher percentage of the day is spent casting desperate looks out the window, accompanied by discontented sighs. Or maybe that’s just me? I think I probably spend more time than most on nostalgia, but it’s easy to cast my mind back and envy my younger self her idyllic mid-western summer breaks. As a kid in Michigan, I spent the whole summer in the water. Whether it was the dinky little pond at the far end of my subdivision, or the beautiful clear waters of Long Lake in Traverse City, my summer days were defined by the presence of water.

These days, the mid-west is still rich in water Vacation Cooking , but in California where I live, climate change and careless over-use of water has led to crisis-level drought, and the small lakes that used to exist near me have dried up completely, leaving only muddy pits and a rusted out car to mark where they used to be. The dryness of my adult existence has only exacerbated my need to indulge in memories of long days spent paddling around the lake in goggles and a snorkel, digging up clams and crayfish and interesting rocks. Eventually, I get to a point where day-dreaming isn’t enough, and I count up my vacation hours and trade them in for one precious week with my sisters in our family home on the lake.

In past summers, my parents have always been there at the lake house taking charge of our vacations. My mom did nearly all of the vacation cooking, and my dad arranged all our activities around the best times of day to be out on his catamaran. This year, they were too busy yachting down the eastern seaboard to join us, so the role of head chef fell to my sisters and me, and I must say, we rose to the occasion.

Vacation cooking presents an interesting set of complications, especially when you’re with a large group.

What are all the dietary restrictions to consider? Who is doing the grocery run? Who is doing the inevitable second grocery run when we realize that we’ve forgotten something crucial? What pots and pans are available in the vacation house? And most importantly, what can be easily made in a large enough quantity to feed 13 people without forcing some unfortunate soul to spend all day in the kitchen?

For my turn in the kitchen, I decided to make carnitas tacos. Anything that can be set up build-your-own style is a good idea in a group, and Mexican food is easy to make gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. Plus, there is something so summery about tacos, especially when they are topped with salsa verde and fresh cilantro. When I cook carnitas, I always use the Serious Eats no-waste recipe. Prep is quick and easy and I can walk away for 3 hours while it cooks, float around on the lake on a gigantic unicorn until my skin starts to crisp, then head back to the kitchen, whip up the salsa verde in about 15 minutes, and bing bang boom, dinner is served. I made this for the family last year, and it was such a huge hit, we ran out of meat. This year I added two additional pounds of pork, and we still ran out. I’m telling you, this recipe is a winner.

Vacation Cooking

The next night, we did brats and burgers with sweet corn and salad, all essential summer crowd pleasers. Anything that can be thrown on the grill and served up directly is a good pick for a large group. Another night, my younger sister made meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Meatloaf isn’t exactly a quick meal to execute, but it is a family tradition, and works well for a crowd because it can be made ahead of time, and it can be easily scaled up or down as the group requires. In our family, we go huge with the meatloaf, and then we make sure there is lots of good bread for leftovers sandwiches.

Vacation Cooking

Speaking of leftovers, since we only stay in the house for week, we try very hard not to over-buy groceries, so on our last night we had a big salad to use up the remaining produce, and we served it with whatever we could scrounge out of the fridge on the side. I ate every meal on the patio overlooking the lake, surrounded by my favorite people, with my bathing suit under my dress and the sun setting in the background.

Vacation Cooking

A week at the lake is never enough, but I live for adding more lake memories to my nostalgia bank, so I take what I can get.

 

New Countertops You’ll Love – Let Us Count the Ways!

New Countertops You’ll Love – Let Us Count the Ways!

As you have probably noticed, we recently introduced a new line of countertops. Butcher Block Co. countertops are available in 15 different species, providing you with a wide range of aesthetic choices and expanded sizing options. The variety of wood species, size, edging, and finish options means you are sure to find something that will work for your project!

As more homeowners are choosing to take on remodeling and renovation projects, the introduction of Butcher Block Co. countertops has come at the perfect time.

According to Consumer Affairs, spending on home remodeling projects is expected to increase by 9.7% by early next year, and one of the best opportunities for return on investment is updating the kitchen.

countertops

We love our John Boos countertops in Blended, Edge, and End Grain, but we know our customers are sometimes looking for something a little different. With expanded sizing options in length, width, and thickness, Butcher Block Co. countertops offer solutions for very small and very large projects that we previously could not accommodate, and with faster turn-around times, too. Sometimes our customers are simply looking for a beautiful wood countertop and are not interested in using it as butcher block. Our large selection of species provides choices for heavy use (Maple, Hickory, Mahogany) to light use (Knotty Pine, Alder, Spanish Cedar), so you can find a beautiful countertop no matter your needs.

While Butcher Block Co. countertops are also available in the traditional butcher block styles of Edge Grain and End Grain, our most popular has been the Plank Style. With face-grain boards ranging in width from three to six inches, Plank Style countertops offer more of the natural character of the tree. The last several years have seen a boom in natural elements being used in the kitchen to bring warmth to modern design. The addition of plank style countertops has come with a new set of customers who appreciate the broader visual picture of the grain pattern and natural color variation offered by these tops.

countertops

Customers who are seeking an even more rustic look can opt for a hand-scraped finish on either plank style or edge grain countertops. The hand-scraped finish is achieved by running a scraper along the length of the top, creating slight variations in the surface. In Red and White Oak, you may also choose a quarter-sawn option, which showcases the rings of the source tree and provides a unique look and superior stability. Further customization can be found in our eight different edge options ranging from a sanded square edge to the classic small or large Roman Ogee.

countertops

Butcher Block Co countertops are made-to-order and take 2-3 weeks for production, depending on your choice of finish. Unfinished tops ship more quickly, and will need to be finished on-site right away. This is a great option should you elect to stain the top to your liking. Oil and varnish finished tops will arrive ready for install.

We are delighted to offer these new options to our customers! If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected] or give us a call at 877-845-5597.

Butcher Block Co. Launching Its Own Line of Wood Countertops

Butcher Block Co. Launching Its Own Line of Wood Countertops

Custom Butcher Block and Plank-Style Countertops in 15 Species of Wood

Since its inception, Butcher Block Co. has focused on selling other manufacturers’ branded kitchen goods on its high-traffic website (https://butcherblockco.com), most notably, kitchen countertops, furniture and cutting boards made of butcher block and manufactured by longtime industry leader, John Boos & Co. But the online store announced today that for the first time, it will offer products for kitchens under the Butcher Block Co. brand name.

Mark Shook, President of Kitchen Enthusiasts, Inc., who acquired Butcher Block Co. in 2012, announced the company has added to its catalog butcher block and plank-style custom countertops in 15 different species of wood: American Cherry, Ash, Beech, Birch, Brazilian Cherry, Hickory, Knotty Alder, Knotty Pine, Mahogany, Maple, Poplar, Red Oak, Spanish Cedar, Walnut and White Oak. Shook explained the change in company strategy. “Consumers absolutely love and trust the John Boos brand,” he said. “Boos makes fantastic countertops, but only in maple, cherry, red oak and walnut. Many visitors to our site are looking for another type of butcher block countertop or plank-style counters. There’s nothing that frustrates shoppers more than realizing that the product he or she is looking for is not in fact available on the site.”

Asked if company plans call for more product launches under the Butcher Block Co. brand name, Kathleen Grodsky, BBC’s VP of Marketing, shared that, “Butcher Block Co. is becoming recognized and trusted by enough American consumers, online shoppers in particular, that it makes good business sense to offer “store-brand” products, just as leading big-box retailers do, especially if they complement our current offerings.” According to Shopper Approved, a third-party collector of online shoppers’ store reviews, verified purchasers have given ButcherBlockCo.com an overall satisfaction rating of 4.9 out of 5.

About the company: Butcher Block Co., an online seller of kitchen furniture and cooking and serving accessories, is an authorized dealer for such leading manufacturers as John Boos & Co., Catskill Craftsmen, Oasis Concepts, Chris and Chris, Artelegno and Chroma. The company’s primary lines include butcher block countertops; kitchen islands, carts and tables; and wood cutting boards.

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

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

2016 Kitchen Color Trends

2016 Kitchen Color Trends

Blog Color Trends The 2016 Pantone Color of the Year is actually a blending of two colors, warm Rose Quartz and cooler Serenity. This reflects peoples’ gravitation toward soft calming colors as they seek wellness in the new year. Maybe I was ahead of the trend two years ago when I painted my master bedroom a lighter shade of Serenity because I was absolutely seeking a calming, spa-feel in my bedroom.  If you recall, last years’ color of the year was Marsala. While I loved the color for the fashion industry it was not my favorite color in the kitchen. And again, this year I would not go out and paint my kitchen rose or light blue (although there is mention of a deeper blue making an appearance in walls, surfaces and appliances in 2016).

Kitchen color trends for this year include texture and contrast such as a light and dark color mix between cabinets, walls, countertops and flooring. And accent colors make a splash with pops of color on neutral backgrounds.

Blog Color Trends So the kitchen trends include soft neutrals like classic white, creamy white, tan and soft gray as backdrops for adding color and visual texture. Cabinet trends include finishes that highlight the natural wood grain. The paint experts announced shades of white as their color choice for 2016. The Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year is Alabaster which “provides an oasis of calmness, spirituality and ‘less is more’ visual relief”; The Benjamin Moore Color of the Year is Simply White. White and grays have become so popular in the kitchen that they are no longer trendy, rather they are now considered classics. These neutral palettes provide for endless design opportunities.

Blog Color Trends

John Boos “classic white” Butcher Block Tables include the Calais, Jasmine and Grazzi.

Clean, contemporary lines continue to dominate kitchen design. A contrast in materials and textures is apparent throughout the kitchen. From floor to ceiling different finishes mix lighter and mid-tone grains with neutral backgrounds. No longer is it necessary to match your wood species or grain styles.

Blog Color Trends

Color is deliberately being used to make a statement; deep rich reds, greens and blues for walls and kitchen islands; or just a punch of color used sparingly in neutral kitchens.

Blog Color Trends

Our John Boos Butcher Block Furniture is available in 13 different colored bases. (Shown above are Clover Green and Slate Gray)

Are you remodeling your kitchen in 2016?  We can help you discover the right Butcher Block furniture or countertops to fit your style and decor.  Give us a call at 877-845-5597 or visit us at www.ButcherBlockCo.com.  We are happy to assist!

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 Fondue Fondue

  • 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

Feeding Friendships – Festivals and Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Feeding Friendships – Festivals and Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Spring is the perfect time to feed your friendships; the weather is starting to cooperate and towns are waking up from the long, cold winter! Now that it is starting to warm up, festival season is kicking into gear, bringing with it a sense of community and friendship to cities and towns across the country. This week, Sarah Weber is back to share memories of her favorite town festival along with a recipe using a local commodity that is sure to score you some friendship points!

I grew up in Chardon, a small town 35 miles east of Cleveland. I don’t know if it’s a huge thing in places other than the Midwest, but spring is festival season around these parts. Smaller than a county fair, with the same terrifyingly-quickly-assembled rides and street food vendors, these festivals usually celebrate a main commodity of the community with several tents, parades, exhibits, and contests to show off that commodity’s products. Not only do these festivals foster a sense of community, they are a great place to feed friendships.

Chardon is host to the oldest maple festival in the country, and having attended since I was a small child living six houses down from the town square, I can tell you it’s big fun. It’s counted as a point of pride that so many maple trees thrive in the community, and every March brings “Tappin’ Sunday,” a ceremonial tapping of a sugar maple on the square with a golden tap. Ubiquitous sap buckets hang from trees all over for the better part of a month, and a small building on the square known as the Sugar Shack starts throwing large clouds of white steam on Sundays as they prepare to serve up super unique maple stirs.

Friendship

This is maple syrup heated to a magic temperature (about 250°), then poured into a little cardboard bowl. You’re handed what looks like a tongue depressor and told to stir. This is where I learned patience as a child and where many friendships blossomed. You stir the thick syrup until slowly it turns into creamy maple candy, which you scrape out and eat with your stir stick as your spoon.

Needless to say, maple is one of my favorite flavors. Maple icing on eclairs, maple barbeque sauce, maple beer (yup), maple cocktails, real maple syrup on waffles. These are some of my favorite little pleasures in life when it comes to my taste buds. One of these favorite indulgences? Maple fudge. With just four ingredients, you can make a great nutty, maple treat that disappears as if by magic from whatever gathering you bring it to. And what better way to feed your friendships than to offer gifts of delicious fudge?

To prep, line a dish or pan with foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray. I used an 8×8 pan here, and thickness of your finished fudge will depend entirely on pan size. One batch comfortably fills an 8×8 pan. If you want thinner pieces, size up.

Tip number two is to use crunchy peanut butter if you want nuts in your finished fudge. It’s actually a pretty genius move (if I do say so myself) because the peanuts are already cut to a small size, and aren’t dense enough to sink to the bottom of your batter/fudge/icing/whatever you’re peanut buttering. One of my favorite shortcuts.

Ingredients

Friendship

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 cup maple syrup

Combine sugar and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until the mixture starts to boil. I used a thin rubber spatula so the sugar mixture wouldn’t stick when it came time for clean-up.

Once you’re boiling, stir constantly for 3 minutes.

Friendship Remove your saucepan from the heat, turn off your burner, and add your peanut butter and maple syrup. Stir until the peanut butter is fully incorporated and you have a uniformly-colored creamy mixture. I didn’t measure my maple syrup — eyeballing it, I probably added close to ¼ cup in two good-sized pours straight from the bottle.

Friendship

Pour your fudge into your lined pan and pop it in the fridge. You can cut it into squares or slices in approximately 2 hours. I like squares about an inch all around as a bite-sized treat. Wrap individual pieces in wax paper and add to friendship baskets or tins. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Friendship

Is your area also a festival town? Have you had friendships grow from these fun community gatherings? Have you ever had a maple stir? If you’re in the Northeast Ohio area April 23-26, make your way to Chardon and I might see you there!

Printer friendly recipe: Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Custom Countertops from Start to Finish

Custom Countertops from Start to Finish

Last week we talked about some of the cool custom projects we have worked on with our customers, so I thought it would be a good time to fill you in on just how to do a custom countertop project of your own.

If you are in the market for a new custom countertop for any room of the house, we have a fairly simple process to get you from design to install.

Step 1: Choose Materials

Your first step is to pick out your materials. We have a nice rundown of your options here, which explains the pros and cons of the different wood species and grain styles and what jobs each type works best for. If you’re having difficulty making a final decision, let us know and we’ll send out some samples for you.

Step 2: Send in Specs

Once you have determined your materials, we need to see your layout and size requirements. You can send a simple sketch of your countertop needs to [email protected], detailing the dimensions and any cutouts. This can (should) be very basic; I don’t need your cabinet plans or blueprints from your contractor – just a simple sketch of the countertops. Because we can’t sit down together in-person, it’s important that I can see what you are visualizing; this occasionally manifests as a cell phone picture of a doodle on a napkin that is emailed to me while I am still on the phone with the customer, and that is perfectly okay! If you are unsure of the best layout for your space, send over what you have and we can talk it through. Sometimes we need to change things around a bit to accommodate extra-large sizes or unique shapes, and I review each project to make sure we are using the method that makes the most sense for design, installation, and budget. As you can see, we work with super simple hand-drawn sketches, professional images, and everything in between.

Custom Countertop

Step 3: Review Your Quote

We will price out your custom countertop project and send you a firm price quote. This can generally be done within about 24 hours, depending on how complicated your design is. Your quote will have a breakdown of the pricing if you have multiple pieces.

Step 4: Place Your Order

After reviewing your quote and finalizing all your details, we can get your order processed and sent over to the Boos factory for manufacturing. I will need the details for any and all appliances, sinks, etc. that will be installed in your tops; you can email me the make and model number of each item.

Step 5: Confirm Specs

At this point, I create a drawing to send over to the engineering team at Boos, who will do all their fancy engineering stuff and work up an approval sketch for you to sign off on. This is the most important step in getting you the perfect custom countertops, so review the details thoroughly and have your contractor (if you are using one) verify all the specifications. If there are any issues, you just need to let me know and I will have them corrected. When everything looks perfect, sign your sketch and send it back to me. With your signed sketch on file, your order is put into the production queue at Boos and manufacturing can begin.

Custom Countertop

Step 6: Patience and Excitement

And now you just need to wait. Custom countertops average about four weeks for production, so make sure you order far enough in advance. Nobody wants a kitchen without countertops! Once your countertops arrive, inspect them thoroughly and then allow them to acclimate for at least 72 hours in the room in which they will be installed. Installation is fairly straightforward and is often done by the homeowner without the aid of a contractor. Just make sure you follow these instructions properly. If at any point in this process you have questions, just let us know! We are here to help!

Custom Countertop

Healthy Oils for a Healthy You!

Healthy Oils for a Healthy You!

Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to get healthier? Instead of starting off with a huge overhaul of your lifestyle, take baby steps and slowly integrate more healthful choices in ways that won’t affect how much you enjoy your food.

One of the easiest ways to clean up your act is by switching to more healthy oils in your cooking and baking.

These changes can be virtually unnoticeable, but can have a positive impact on your health. This chart provides a simple guide to choosing the most practical and healthy oils for different uses, helping you make better choices based on your common cooking needs. Think about what types of dishes you make most often and invest in a high quality healthy oil for each of your most common needs. If you feel like getting fancy and adding in a few more, go for it! Healthy Oils

Some things to keep in mind when choosing healthy oils:

  • For salads, choose an unrefined version of pumpkin seed, safflower, flax, walnut, or hemp oil. Be sure to shop for shelf-stable or refrigerated oils.
  • Monounsaturated fats are good! These types of oils will stay liquid at room temperature and turn cloudy in the refrigerator. These are good options to use instead of margarine and shortening for baking purposes. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and is a surprisingly delicious alternative for baked goods.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are also good and stay liquid even in the refrigerator.
  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and should generally be avoided.
  • Coconut oil is a great replacement for butter or other oils in dishes with strong flavors, like curries. It can also be used in baking, but keep in mind that it will impart a bit of coconut flavor to your goodies (not a problem in my book!)
  • Store all of your non-refrigerated oils in dark containers or in a cool, dark cabinet. If you like to keep your most common oils out by the stove for convenience, invest in some small ceramic bottles and only keep out what you can reasonably go through in a couple weeks. Keep them away from direct heat.
  • Don’t buy in bulk if you aren’t going to use it. While it might be tempting to bring home that very reasonably priced jug of oil from the warehouse store, if it’s going to go bad before you can use it up, you’re better off buying a smaller amount of high quality oil that you can enjoy to the very last drop.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of information to keep straight, but you can switch to more healthy oils without a whole lot of effort. Don’t freak yourself out about using the healthiest oil every time. Some things just taste better with butter! But if you’re cutting back on butter in general, you can afford to splurge for the good stuff when you do use it. Since I mostly use coconut or olive oil for my cooking purposes, I don’t feel bad about using really high quality organic butter when I make eggs (I realize how snooty this sounds, but I promise you the difference in flavor and quality is worth it).

I only keep a few oils stocked all the time and I find my supply perfectly capable of handling just about anything. Here’s my list:

  • Virgin Coconut Oil – I use this for light sautéing when I make anything spicy or bold, like Indian and Thai dishes. Coconut oil is a great accompaniment to tropical dishes as well and I find it’s delicious for just about any type of white fish. I use it in place of vegetable oil for baking. Coconut oil makes a great lip moisturizer, too!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I use olive oil for most of my daily cooking. I don’t buy the fanciest, most expensive available (but feel free to buy that for me), but since I use it for dressings and drizzles, I do like to keep a nice bottle around. There is nothing quite like dipping freshly baked bread in a nice, bold olive oil! Throw a little sea salt and rosemary in there and I’m set for life!
  • Avocado Oil and/or Peanut Oil: Because of their high smoke points, these both make great options for stir fry, searing meat, and other high temperature cooking.
  • Flax Oil – I keep this around for salad dressings. Flax oil has a nice nutty flavor and lots of health benefits.  I only buy this from the refrigerated section, as it doesn’t have a very long shelf life and you just never know how long it has been sitting out at the store, or if it was kept in a hot truck or warehouse. When flax oil goes bad, you will know. Trust me.
  • Safflower Oil – This is relatively flavorless and works great in dressings with a separate star ingredient. Safflower is my go-to when I do sweet dressings like raspberry vinaigrette. Sometimes olive and flax are just too overpowering.

See? Incorporating healthy oils into your life isn’t so hard! What’s your favorite way to use healthy oils?

Food Superstitions – Just in Time for Halloween!

Food Superstitions – Just in Time for Halloween!

With Halloween celebrations in full swing, we’ve been thinking about the creepy and supernatural (and candy; mostly about candy). Ghosts and goblins don’t really fit into our narrative around here, though, so we thought we’d talk about food!

This is a great time of year to freak yourself out by reading into food superstitions!

We’re all aware of some of the common food superstitions like throwing salt over your left shoulder (you know – to blind the devil), or using garlic to ward off vampires, but I’ve come across a few that I had never heard before, and now I’m a little worried!

Have you ever just handed a friend a knife while cooking together? I bet you’re no longer on speaking terms, right? Same with hot peppers! It’s no wonder I don’t have any friends left…and here I thought it was my personality. So if you want to keep your relationships intact, make sure you set the pepper or the knife on the table and let your friend pick it up on their own. Gifting knives is also a no-no, which is why a coin is often included when a knife is given; the recipient offers the coin to the giver as “payment” so as to avoid any friendship ruining.

Food Superstitions

Don’t hand this to anyone!

I’m not terribly concerned about my past knife and pepper indiscretions, but were you aware that cutting long noodles could shorten your life? I spent a solid year cutting up my son’s Chow Mein from our favorite Chinese restaurant so he wouldn’t make as big of a mess. I don’t know if that puts my life at risk or his, but we will now be a strictly long-noodled household.

And there is NO TELLING how many terrible storms at sea I have caused by not crushing up my eggshells before tossing them!

Food Superstitions

How much are these bubbles worth?

Or the untold riches I could have amassed by simply using a spoon to catch and eat the bubbles in my coffee. I drink coffee every day! Thankfully I have never taken bananas onto a ship, so I’m not responsible for any terrible fishing days (probably worth noting that the only ship I’ve been on is a cruise ship, so fishing wasn’t exactly a priority).

Have you broken the rules of any of these food superstitions? Will you be tempting the fates this Halloween by breaking them on purpose? I think I’m going to stay home, turn off the lights, and eat some super garlicky pasta just in case the vampires come for me.

Do you know of any food superstitions besides these? We would love to hear from you!