Monday, May 25, 2009

Epic Fail

It was one of those ideas that sounded great at first.

My son and I had spent the afternoon shopping for his grad suit, and were passing through Commercial Drive on our way home.

"Dolce Amore?" he asked. Not one to pass up on ice cream I agreed. On the way, we passed a frites place that also served the infamous deep-fried Mars bar. That was when the idea took form.

If ice cream was good, and the deep-fried Mars bar was (supposedly) good, the two together would be ...

Really dissappointing. Doughy, chewy and tasteless, the Mars bar ruined a perfectly good bowl of ice cream.

Some things you just shouldn't mess with.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Makin' Bacon

This past weekend was our annual Luau & Pig Fest. And as often is the case when I'm cooking for this meat extravaganza I squeeze in some extra cooking for personal use. Hell, if the smokers are up and running you may as well put them to good use.

I was presented with these four beauties by fellow smoker and meat guru Neil. He and Dave (friend and co-worker) have been experimenting with various forms of charcuterie. Dave's venison sausage is legendary, as is his chorizo. What I was presented with were four coppas (essentially, the nape of a pig's neck) that had been curing for just shy of 2 weeks. These were bacons in the making.

After some nifty trussing by yours truly, they were put in the smoker over some maple and apple wood. 2 hours at 140F, and then another 2 hours at 220F.

The finished product smelled even better than it looks.

Taste test: a lot like ham, but very very smokey.

The "B" Word

And what budget have you put aside for your kitchen remodel?

Of all the questions I ask during the design process, the budget question elicits the most uncomfortable responses. It’s like asking someone how old they are … why would you need to know that? The big fear is that if you tell a salesperson how much you have, they’ll find a way to spend it all.

Let’s consider the budget question as it relates to buying a car. If you walked into a Porsche dealership with a $25,000 budget, the salesperson would politely suggest perhaps your expectations were unrealistic.

Take that same budget and walk into a Nissan dealership. This time, the salesperson will welcome you with open arms, but will also start asking you questions as to what you want from a car. If you said you wanted an inexpensive car to run errands with, you likely won’t be shown the luxury sedans. You might even be shown something that would only use $20,000 of your budget.

Knowing a client’s budget helps me steer them into appropriate materials and services, or even away from doing the project at all. I have often suggested a client needs to re-think their budget because their expectations cannot be met by their budget. Investing too little into a project is often worse than not investing anything at all.

Before you start visiting showrooms, have a good idea what your project budget is. It doesn’t need to be cast in stone. Even a range is fine ($40,000 to $50,000). If you really have no idea, think of it in terms of investment (i.e. how much you want to invest in your home). You can even ask friends or family who have done similar projects recently. The more information you can provide your designer, the happier you’ll both be in the long run.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Idea Monday: Espresso on the Go

This seemed an appropriate entry for a rainy Monday. And while it's not specifically about kitchen design, in my world no kitchen would be complete without one.

The mypressi Twist is the ultimate in portable, hand-held espresso makers. Simply insert a gas cartridge (like those used in whipped cream dispensors) into the pressure chamber, fill the basket with fresh ground coffee or a coffee pod, and fill the upper compartment with hot water.

With a simple pull of the trigger the Twist produces one or two shots of espresso perfection ready to be enjoyed alone, or as the base for any coffee beverage.

You can pre-order your Twist at the mypressi website. If my kids are reading, Father's day is just around the corner.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gallery - Burnaby Contemporary

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The previous kitchen in this 1950's bungalow was original to the house, and while the owners knew it needed a serious upgrade, they still wanted it to compliment the look and feel of the house. They also entertained often, so the design needed to include consideration for the cooks as well as the guests. To this end, counter space was increased and a maple butcher block eating bar was included in the design.

For budgetary as well as practical reasons, a wrapped laminate door was chosen (Nevamar's Tawny Satinwood) for the cabinets, and Corian (Tumbled Glass) was selected for the work surfaces. Since linoleum was the original flooring material, it was used again, this time with a using "Cottonwood" as the main colour, and a soft green as the inlay. The same colour scheme was used in the backsplash tile.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Idea Monday: When Is a Sink not a Sink?

Photo: Tredir 
What I love about this design is how even though it is completely different from any other sink you can imagine, you know immediately what it is and how to use it. I'm sure my plumber would have a fit if I ever spec'd this for a bathroom remodel!

Inspired by the unspoilt waterfalls of the Swedish National Park Abisko,the sink is unfettered by pipes. Nor does it allow water to accumulate in a big tub, something designers Johan Kauppi and Lars Sundstr繹m deem unnecessary. Rather,one should be aware of just how much water one is using, and catch it with careful consideration.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Seeing is Believing - or - Be Careful What You Wish For

I am particularly thankful for this weekend, for a couple reasons. One, it gives me a chance to spend some uninterrupted time with my wife and youngest son ... the eldest is at work, then out with friends. He's 17. What can I say?

Second, it gives me a breather from what has been an amazingly busy week. It seems the economic slow-down has started to loosen its grip, at least as far as kitchen and bathroom remodels go. Only 2 weeks ago I was hoping for a bit more traffic through the showroom ... today I need an extra day in my week.

Another reason I've been busy is I've been in the "detail phase" of a project. This means going over the design to be sure all the client's pots, pans and appliances have space allocated in the cabinets I'm about to order. For some clients it's a simple process, for others, not so much. This particular client had put a lot of thought into her new kitchen, so I knew I was going to have to do the same.

One area we spent a lot of time on was the television. Thankfully, the age of flat-screen televisions has made incorporating the tube into the kitchen a lot simpler. In this situation however we also had an oven cabinet to contend with. The large cabinet threatened to impede the view of the TV.

Rather than guessing what this would all look like, I turned to one of my favorite design tools, Google's Sketchup. A completed drawing of the area in questions showed the client we had plenty of room for the TV, DVD player and HD box, and that the TV could be seen easily from the kitchen table.

As a result, the "detail phase" of this project went quickly and efficiently. The client knows exactly what to expect in several key areas of the project, minimizing the stress associated with any remodel project, especially one this detailed. The end result for me? More time to spend with my family ... working in our garden.
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