Archive for the ‘kitchen’ Category

winter composting

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

We go through a lot of fruits and veggies in this house. But just because it’ll be 7 degrees tonite doesn’t mean I’m going to toss my scraps in the trash. I make compost all winter, in fact, using these three cans I picked up at Ikea last year…

my composting cans




















My food scraps don’t stay in the cans — they just get a good start at breaking down into compost indoors where it’s warm before they get added to the pile outside in the freezing cold. I got the idea from Fine Gardening last winter. Check it out if you compost. This method worked well for me last winter so I’m doing it again.

The basic idea is to create a compost lasagna: chopped up leaves on the bottom, a layer of scraps, a layer of sawdust and soil (I usually use leaves and soil), a layer of scraps, and so on. As one can fills up you move to the next. The third can is for storing your sawdust-soil mixture (or in my case, chopped leaves) so it’s handy. By the time spring rolls around, you’ll have a healthy pile of compost to work into your soil.

movin’ on up

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

On Friday, the 500 lb. fridge came upstairs. It didn’t come of its own accord. We had to hire movers to subdue it and lug it against its will up two — um, make that three — sets of stairs…





It was much, much harder than it looks. But no one died.

After what seems like ages of carting furniture and whatnot upstairs, this was the last major item that needed to move so that destruction can finally begin. The abandoned downstairs looks like a parade route after the parade has gone. This calls for pictures. I’ll get right on that.

For the first time since we moved in, we have a fully functioning, albeit temporary, kitchen upstairs. And practically no room to budge between all the contents forced from the bowels of our closets. From worse to worser before things can get betterer.

the upstairs plan

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

On Friday I showed you the downstairs plan we worked out with Emily, our architect. Speaking of which, we met with her and the engineer today to make sure everything’s hunky-dory before we go to the city for the permit. Getting closer. While we wait for final engineering drawings, let’s discuss the rough upstairs plan that Emily drew up. K?

Stage Two: Main Living/Kitchen Area

The upstairs remodel will have to wait for warmer weather — which is fine since we’ll be plenty busy with the downstairs. Upstairs is more involved than the downstairs as this is where the main living area and kitchen are located. Feel free to take the visual tour of what we want to do (I posted that back when we thought upstairs was going to be Stage One).

The upstairs currently looks like this (click to biggify)…

existing upper level

With the changes we want to make, it will look more like this…

proposed upper level

Not easy to spot the differences but here they are:

Just like downstairs, we’re knocking out a few load-bearing walls and putting in beams in order to open up the space. We’ll gain some breathing space in the kitchen by putting in a cooking island/breakfast bar that juts into the living area, plus we’ll go vertical with storage and add a large cooling tower/skylight over the whole space. Facing out to the backyard, we’re knocking out the giant closet and putting in glass sliders and little sitting area with a fireplace insert. The main living area will be flanked by floor-to-ceiling built-ins with built-in seating. The dining area next to the tiny kitchen will get a built-in sideboard/serving shelf as part of its floor-to-ceiling built-ins. We’ll replace current sliders and windows, put in a new floor and ceiling, and improve lighting and heating.

Basically, nothing goes untouched. So do you think we can get it all done in 2011? Let the wagering begin.

how to be a cold-brew convert

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Who’s up for off-topic? You, I hope. My Facebook friends know me for nonstop yammering and an addiction to coffee. For some reason, my posts concerning cold-brew coffee have generated a surprising number of comments, so I thought I’d bring up the subject here.

On my recent holiday trek to the local mall of shame, I stopped by Williams-Sonoma and spied something new…

toddy cold press spotted at williams-sonoma

That’s the Toddy Cold Brew System we’ve been using for a few years now. Back in ’07, I had to hunt ours down online.

It was a New York Times article that hipped me to the bitter-free joys of cold-brew and the Toddy, although you can use a plain ol’ jar if you want. Apparently the cold-brew method results in a coffee with 67% less acid than the standard hot-brew method — you actually can taste the difference. And you don’t have to plug anything in!

Official instructions are here but I’m going to show you how easy it is to use a Toddy.


A plastic brewing container…

toddy plastic brewing container

A glass pitcher with a rubber lid…

glass pitcher/decanter

Two reusable filters (you only need one to brew, the other is a bonus)…

toddy filter

And a rubber stopper…

rubber plug


A pound of your favorite coarse-ground coffee (the coarser the grind the better, in my opinion)…

a pound of coffee

A big pitcher of water…

a pitcher of water

And a chopstick…

a chopstick

David, my kickass brewer, says it helps. Explanation coming up.


See the hole in the bottom of the brewing container?

hole in bottom of brewer

Plug it…

plug the container

Press the filter into the bottom of the inside of the container…

add the filter

Pour in 2 C of water…

pour 2C of water

Then add 1/2 the bag of coffee and don’t stir the grounds…

pour half the bag of coffee

Pour in 5 C of water on top of that and then wait 5 mins while the grounds begin to soak it up…

pour 5C of water

Add the remaining 1/2 bag of coffee and again, don’t stir the grounds…

add the rest of the coffee

As you can see, the coffee will mound up — you’ll need to level it out. This is where the chopstick comes in handy…

flatten the mounded coffee

Top it off with 2 C of water…

add 2C of water

Then leave it for at least 12 hours. The longer you ignore it, the stronger the brew. It’s a good idea to check the topmost coffee grounds an hour or two later — if they’re not wet, press them down with the chopstick.

When time’s up, position the container over the pitcher…

set container on pitcher

Quickly pull the plug and set the coffee freeeeeeeeeeeee!

pull the plug and release the coffee

When the container is fully drained, your caffeinated bliss is ready to enjoy.

pitcher of coffee to last you DAYS!

Stash it in the fridge and, depending on how much coffee you drink, you’re set for days and days and days. A pitcher typically lasts me for a full week of daily coffees.

This is concentrated coffee, so you’ll have to play with how much water (if any) is the right amount to add to a cup of concentrate. By the time I add ice and soy milk, I only need to cut mine a tiny bit with water. If I add a ton of ice on a hot day, I don’t even bother to add water cuz the ice melts fast.

secret source: reclaimed modern

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Back to the inside of the house: the kitchen. I’ve been stalking options for ages now. Before Henrybuilt there was Green Demolitions. Their site design is horrendous but they’ve got a great idea: remove remodelers’ perfectly good, cast-off kitchens and sell the works to other remodelers for much less, then put the money into their nonprofit cause.

I’ve trolled GD’s stock fairly regularly over the last three years in search of modern. Not always lucky but you just never know what they’ll have, so I check often. What did I find this past weekend?

What looks to be a brand-new, rift-cut oak kitchen with stainless steel accents, Blum slides and Corian-ish countertops. Nice!

green demos 2

green demos 3

green demos 4

Thank god for rich people who move into a new place and immediately want to redo the kitchen, right?

There’s this crazy contemporary floor model kitchen by Lucci/Orlandini…

green demos modern

And another Lucci/Orlandini floor model in shiny red metallic…

lucci/orlandini red kitchen |

This high-gloss number in cherry…

green demos maple

A high-tech Alno island…

green demos 5

green demos island2

green demos island3

green demos island4

green demos 6

Even the all-white trend is represented…

green demos bulthaup

green demos bulthaup 2

There aren’t usually this many modern choices. But if you love traditional, Green Demolitions is da bomb yo. Why is it that when I bring it up in conversation nobody’s heard of it yet?

David and I stopped by the New Canaan showroom about a year and a half ago just to see what the kitchens looks like in person — great prices, decent stock and really, really nice people. Since then, they’ve added more stores and have way more inventory online.

Not sure we’ll ever actually buy anything but I’m all for recycling and a good cause. If you’re into it, there’s a nice article on how Green Demolitions works here. It’s a secret no more.

field trip to henrybuilt soho

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Another droolfest in New York City: this time, a visit to HenryBuilt. Stopping by their Soho showroom gave us a chance to imagine custom modern cabinetry in our own space. *sigh*

The quartersawn walnut, solid bamboo, veneer rift-cut oak and quartersawn teak cabinets are all handcrafted in Seattle using primarily FSC-certified woods for sustainability. Lots of lovely details, like minimal stainless steel pulls perfectly mortised into the wood. Here they’ve worked in a Corian countertop but we also saw stainless steel…

henrybuilt kitchen cabinet

Love the subtle shades of the laminate. And there are plenty of options to choose from, as you can see…

wood and laminate samples

Drawers and cabinets can be outfitted as you see fit…

drawer detail

They can even work in a fridge and freezer drawers, ovens, yadayada…

fridge cabinet

I’m particularly enamored with the warmth of the walnut, given that our floor, ceiling and walls will be very light…

walnut kitchen

A very helpful chap talked us through the HenryBuilt process, which is basically that they’ll work with you and your architect (if you have one) to make sure everything suits your plans and footprint, and take advantage of the space you have. Because our tiny kitchen space is essentially in our living space, it’s important that all the cabinetry tie together seamlessly and be multifunctional — this is the kind of thing they take into account.

It was nice to see their Viola Park line represented. It’s a bit more affordable than the HenryBuilt pieces as these are “off the shelf” components you configure yourself as opposed to having them customized. Laminate below but they offer wood options as well…

viola park

The Paperstone countertop just begs to be touched. Very tactile…

sink and counter

They’ve extended their line into other areas of the home now. This teak wardrobe features leather pulls and lots of little storage nooks…

wardrobe cabinet

The craftsmanship is pretty impeccable…

detail on hooks

The interior was fitted with industrial felt pockets and shoe shelves. Who wouldn’t love that?

interior cabinet

Also drooled over an oak entry piece with storage below…

entry bench

… and storage cabinets up above. I love how they cut in openings below the doors instead of on the doors to keep the look super minimal…

door cutouts

To die for. Our friends Laura and Ben commissioned a HenryBuilt kitchen just a few years ago — so jealous. Maybe Laura will let me drop by and see how it’s holding up. Laura? Whaddya say?