Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July

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To all my friends and clients as we stay in our homes and dream of next year's celebration:

Happy 4th of July.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Foodie Friday Smoothie

Good morning, my friends.  Although this quarantine is a out of the norm, it does offer you moments to reconnect to your former self or to reinvent a new self.  I vacillate between those two elements.

I've reconnected with my interest in nutrition.  I was always into the ideas imbedded in clean living and healthy environments. I was one of those teenagers who tried making her own perfume because of all the chemicals in those on the market. I smelled terrible and never mastered the art. Eventually, I gave up just wearing perfume and makeup all together.  I was a funny kid.  I'm sure my Mom got a lot of laughs out of my endeavors.

I've been starting my mornings off with smoothies.  There are plenty of internet sites that have good smoothie recipes, Yummly, Sunset,, for examples. I naturally stay away from added salt and sugar, so I tend to minus out a lot of the items from the Sunset recipes.

I'm a slow mover in the morning. I have at least one cup of coffee before doing anything. Just black coffee - no cream, no sugar and definitely none of the foo-foo flavored stuff.  After that first cup I think about what's next.

I like having fruit in the mornings. I also love cucumbers, especially in salads and dips, so  I often combine them when I make a smoothie.

This morning's smoothie is basically water (I used coconut water), cucumber, orange, mint or basil from my plants and spinach.  I'm a spinach freak. I love the stuff.  It's brain food because of the folate and the B-vitamins. Cucumbers are also good for you. They help keep the body hydrated, stabilize blood pressure because of nutrients like potassium. It's better to eat them unpeeled since many nutrients are in the skin.

What I tend to do is have one glass of the smoothie without the spinach, then blend in the spinach and have the rest.  So good.       
I'm enjoying my smoothie mornings but to me breakfast should contain protein. That being said, I usually add an hardboiled egg, oatmeal or at least whole grain toast and sometimes I use Greek yogurt instead of water in the smoothie.  No sugar on the oatmeal, please. It's better if you use homemade applesauce and/or a variety of berries. When the kids were young I didn't think about putting applesauce on their oatmeal, so they'd have to eat it without the sweetening. My son was the oldest, so he remembers. Lucky for me, he's the forgiving and kind person that he is.

Enjoy your day folks.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Foodie Friday - Cod Cake Heaven

Like many of you we have been on staycation for about 7 weeks and going crazy. I'm happy that I've been talking to my friends, clients and family members on Zoom, but Happy Hours via Zoom leave much to be desired.

Since I'm in the house so much, I've been doing a lot of cooking.  Being from a big family I spent most of my early life in the kitchen when I wasn't babysitting for my various nieces and nephews - I have about 20.  I fine myself thinking about those day and I've even been making some of my old recipes, like - my cod cakes. I haven't made these in years.

From about age 10 to 15, I was the only one home with my Dad during the summer.  My Mom was the director and head cook at a large Catholic high school and my sisters were all working, so it was me and Dad.  There wasn't anything like going out for lunch or going to Starbucks, so I would make lunch for us and get dinner started just before Mom would get home. One of the things my Dad really liked was my cod cakes. My Mom made good fish cakes but she used our leftover mashed potatoes when we had some - which was rare. My cod cakes were different because I used a drier potato. A few weeks ago I made a batch and they went over well. Al raved about them just like my Dad did, so I'm at it again. There's not a lot of ingredients and usually I have it all on hand as long as I have cod or haddock.

For the Cakes:
1. Potato - 10-12 ounces
2. 2 TBL butter - salted or unsalted
3. minced scallions or  onion if you don't have a scallion
4. minced garlic - to me a must
5. table salt and pepper
6. 1 tsp thyme or a little more if you like.
7. One pound of Cod - cut into pieces
8. Large egg
9. Panko or bread crumbs
10. Oil for frying.

 As I said, I like a dry potato for this.  As a kid I would just boil the potato and dice it up instead of mashing it.  This time I microwaved a russet potato and riced it.  I think that works a lot better. I never microwave potatoes, but in this case it's appropriate because the potato is really dry.  The starch from the potato will mute the fish flavor so don't over do it with the potato. Let the potato cool before you rice it.

Add the butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat.  Add the mined scallion, garlic, table salt, pepper and thyme and cook for a few minutes. Add the cod and cook for about 5 min on each side, flipping it halfway.

Combine the riced potato and cod mixture into a bowl.  Add large egg and stir to combine.  At this point you can use your hands to create the round cakes or you can use a small measuring cup sprayed with oil.  I use the 1/2 cup for the cakes if I want large one but I used the 1/3 cup for this batch.  It's best if you can do this in the morning so the cakes can sit in the fridge but if not you can wrap the plate and let it sit for at least an hour in the fridge or use the last option of placing the rounds in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

When ready spread out the panko or bread crumbs and coat each round before placing them into the hot oil in the skillet.  Cook around 4 or 5 min each side.

Serve with a salad on a heated plate.
Buon Appetito

If you don't have any tartar sauce you can make a substitute using about a cup of Mayo, some cornichons, a Tbl of capers minced and a shallot and scallion.  It takes at least 20 min for all this to blend so make it early and refrigerate it.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Fastest Project Ever

If our latest project is indicative of the rest of the year, it will truly be a roaring 2020.  It was one of the most stress free and fastest projects I have ever worked on.  It was not a big space but bigger than many laundry rooms that I have remodeled.  I am amazed at how smoothly this project went given all the activities during the Holidays, the five important birthdays around that time and our travel plans taking us away for most of the season.

This is how it all went down. The week following Thanksgiving a previous client called asking for help with a redesign of her laundry room. It was a mid-size laundry room with 30 year old laminate cabinets that were still in relatively good shape but definitely needed to be outdated.  Storage was not an issue as the current cabinets had plenty of shelf space available.  The main driver for this makeover was actually the old wine cooler that stopped working.  Once she bought a new undercounter wine cooler, then the old cabinets stuck out like a sore thumb. Funny, how that works.

So, at the end of November, I went over to talk about the room. Within the first hour I knew the reason for the upgrade and the budget I needed to work within.  We talked over s few ideas, I measured the space and then went home to draw up the design.

The following day I took my design to four showrooms, picked out a door style in each that fell within the budget and received estimates from all 4 dealers. That afternoon I went back to my client's home and gave her all the cabinet bids and countertop information that she'd need to make a decision. I thought at that point that we were probably not going to proceed until after Christmas.

The next day she called back with her decisions made.  I explained that I was leaving town in two days, so we had to meet that day or the next day at the cabinet showroom.  After agreeing on the following day, I called my contact at the showroom for an appointment for a specific time.  She liked the cabinets I picked out and we ordered them along with the knobs right then.  That was on Dec 4th.

The cabinets were in on Dec 26th, but we were all too busy for the install.  We put the install off until January 2nd.  Al did the install in one day.  There were some things he had to work out since the stubs were not the usual 16" apart and the new wine cooler was a larger one. We already knew it would fit but it had to be installed so that we did not interfere with the tile floor pattern.  The countertop guys will be out next week.

Tomorrow I have a meeting for my first kitchen design of the year.  I can guarantee it will take longer than this project. For starters,  kitchen remodels have more details to consider and usually take at least 5 design meetings.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Big Dishwasher Debate: How to Load the Silverware?


As a kitchen designer this is one question that I am often asked. Every house hold seems to have people on one side or the either in this debate. My answer is always - safety first.  You can debate about the forks and spoons but all sharp knives need to be loaded with the blades downward and the handles sticking up. This is not just good sense when there are children in the house, it's best for everyone who unloads a dishwasher.

As a child we never had a dishwasher in the house. My parents had seven children so we were the dishwasher. And even down, I tend to wash dishes unless it's a big get together.  But I understand why people like to put the eating surface sticking up and why others prefer to put the handle sticking up.

For those in the first camp: eating surface up.  People are comfortable with this option because they believe the water intensity will clean the fork prongs, spoon and knife eating surface better and there will not be any water stains during the drying or rinsing cycle on the eating surface.

For those in the second camp: handles up.  People prefer this option because there is little transfer of germs from hand to eating surface of the utensil and when young children are helping  in the kitchen.

What I found curious was the latest survey down by Ricki, the Kitchen Think Tank.  They pictures above show the outcome of their survey. They did not include  a large population but this does show that people the surface area up to the handles up for other than knives.  It also shows that some people are frustrated by the whole issue and just load the item whichever way it fits. I found that amusing.

I've checked many of the leading appliance manufacturer's website to help solve this debate.   They all agree that knives should be blade down to avoid cuts.  They are not in full agreement though when it comes to spoons and forks.  They let the placing of those two items up to the consumer.

One last note about knives.  If you have an expensive knife set like the American brand Cutco or one of the European brands, do not put them in the dishwasher at all.  Dishwashers cam damage knives. That is another reason you should put the blade down.

Enjoy your Holidays. It's definitely the season to use the dishwasher.