Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Traveling Grandmom

Recently,  I shared a few tips with the design community on how to run a business and be a traveling Grandmom at the same time.  It's tricky,  but many of us are doing it with little fanfare. Here's a link to that article:

If you are a grandparent then you know that grandparenting is allot of fun in many ways. You get to crawl in and out of tunnels, play on the interactive smart tables at the museum, hangout at the playground and look for shells along the beach - to name a few things. What I enjoy the most, however, is watching the kids figure out how to solve something, either a puzzle or a conflict.  It's definitely fun and a pleasure to take care of your grandkids, and it is also allot of work.

From the various conversations I've had with other grandparents at airports and hotels, there's no doubt in my mind that our generation is more involved with the rearing of grandchildren than the previous generation.  As I listened to other grandparents and as we shared our stories I began to see patterns and formulate themes from emerging topics that soon blended into a larger image, something along the lines of Grandparents on the Move.  It's definitely a movement under foot.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Urban Cultivator

When  the kids were young I spent hours in my vegetable garden after work and on the weekends, planting , harvesting then canning.  It would have been great to have a unit like the Urban Cultivator inside to handle the herbs and lettuces all year round.  Instead of buying a whole bunch of kale and throwing out half of it, with this unit you can just take out exactly the amount needed. Very nice.

The Urban Cultivator is an indoor garden appliance that can grow herbs, an assortment  of vegetables, and microgreens.  You have two styles to choose from: a stand alone unit or a built-in unit that fits in the same size area that a dishwasher would fit into.  The unit is plumbed into the water line in much the same way as the dishwasher is, so you don't need to worry about watering the plants.  It fits rather seamlessly into a kitchen design and you have a choice of glass color - clear, half or dark tone and frost. 

Four bins come with the residential unit.  After planting your seeds you then select the correct program.  Lighting and watering is automatic after that.  You will still need to know what plants require more water than others, so you can properly pair the plants up, much like you would in an outdoor garden.

For anyone with a business or a chef/cook that just needs more than the residential unit,  there is a much larger commercial unit.

Stand Alone Unit with butcher block top.

 Happy Gardening.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cooking with Chef Lourdes Castro at KBIS 2015

Mini S'More Cupcakes

Throughout the tradeshow there is a variety of  culinary events providing great food and a moment to rest your feet.  This is Chef Castro whom you may recognize if you saw her on NBC's Today show or  The Talk which is CBS.  She is also the author of 3 cookbooks: Simply Mexican, Eat,Drink,Think in Spanish and Latin Grilling. Loudes' recipes have appeared in the Food & Wine Magazine as well as in the New York times and other papers/magazines. 

At this event she was making Smoked Paprika Crusted Shrimp Skewers and some Mini S'More Cupcakes.  Both were delicious.   See below for the cupcake recipe.

Mini S'More Cupcakes

Makes one double layer cake or 72 mini cupcakes.

1 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 c flour
1 Tbl baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 c hot water

4 egg whites
1 c sugar
pinch of salt

12 large Graham crackers finely crushed

Conventional Oven:  Preheat oven to 350 deg.  Grease pans (cake or cupcake ones).

Prepare the cake batter -  Place all cake ingredients in a large bowl, beat on medium speed 2 or 3 min. until batter is smooth and shiny. Pour batter into the pans and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes.

Prepare the meringue -  Place egg whites, sugar and salt in a work bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water. Stir the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, about 4 minutes.  the mixture should be a bit frothy and milky in color.  Remove the bowl and whisk on high speed until egg whites are stiff and glossy about 5 minutes

Assemble and frost - Lightly dab a small amount of water on the top of cakes or cupcakes using pastry brush or crumbled towel.  Sprinkle the graham crackers over the tops. With cupcakes place a dollop of the meringue on top.  then use a kitchen torch to burn the meringue.  For a layer cake you can place some meringue on the top of the bottom layer then put the 2nd layer on top.  Finish by dolloping more of the meringue over the top of the cake. 

They were so good at the show. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tubs Steal the Show at KBIS 2015 - Part 1 - The Aquabrass Story

If you were at KBIS this year, you couldn't help but see the plethora of freestanding tubs displayed with such a sense of flair and style.  It may very well be the year of the tub.

Keeping the tub has always been a kind of dilemma for homeowners when they start to think about remodeling the bathroom.  They often want a bigger shower and find that the tub is in the way.  You can see the distress on their faces.  In my latest bathroom remodel I moved the toilet to the other side of the space which enabled me to separate  the all-in-one shower/tub unit creating one frameless shower enclosure and one bath tub area.  So now the real decision is what type of tub to purchase.  The trend these days is to go with a freestanding tub and make it the center of attention or the focal point.

Let me introduce you to a company called Aquabrass.  Aquabrass is headquartered in Montreal Canada and manufacturers a wide range of bathroom and kitchen fixtures.  Recently they launched a new limited series of hand-painted freestanding tubs known as their Kanvas line.  These  stunning tubs would add an artistic as well as distinctive touch to any bath remodel. 

 These stone resin tubs have a high-resistant glossy white finish and the artwork is protected with lacquer.  They come with a press pop-up drain included as well as a build-in overflow.  They are made to fit into any space so they are not large in size.  They measure 56" at the base, 28" deep measuring from the floor to the highest side ( 25" inside the tub), and 30" wide.  They weigh around 330 lbs and can hold up to 95 gal of water.  The lowest price is around $8,000.00. 

Another concept offered by Aqubrass is the Aquazone.  The Aquazone is a space saving bath and shower unit molded into one separate but equal wet zone.  It this 59" x 59 1/2" space, you have 28.5" allocated for the tub and 28.5" allocated for the shower  with the tub being 18" deep on the inside.  It's made of a solid Lucite acrylic one-piece construction material and comes with 2 wheels and 6 adjustable levelers so one person can roll this in place.  This definitely has a place in homes with small bathrooms.  The panels shown can be used for seating or double as a wall shelves.