Thursday, 11 September 2008

Dream Kitchen

THE decision has been made - you're going to have that kitchen of your dreams.
Everyone has a different idea of their ideal kitchen but there are a few principles that are common to all great kitchens.
You will need a focal point, somewhere that draws everyone's eye. It could be a magnificent island unit (see previous article), a range or Aga, or a stunning kitchen table to which all the family gravitates.
If you have a large kitchen and the family tends to get involved in food preparation, consider installing an island. It should be close enough to the sink and appliances to facilitate the moving around of pots and pans but have enough space around it so that more than one person at a time can work in the kitchen.
Make sure you have enough kitchen cupboards to house all your foodstuffs and equipment, both at floor level and on the wall. Corner cupboards should have carousel units so that the deepest reaches are accessible.
If you're a keen cook, buy the best stove you can afford. There's so much choice these days, from electric ranges to gas ovens and solid fuel Agas and Rayburns.
You might want to make room for one of those magnificent American fridges and a practical dishwasher.
The choice and position of appliances is very important. You need to take into account the kitchen’s flow before making a final decision.
The sink will, obviously, be a well-used area. Take a look at all the different types of taps/faucets and the material it will be made of. Do you want ultra-modern stainless steel, a traditional Belfast sink, ceramic or with wooden draining boards? A corner sink might be practical or a double or even triple sink.
For many people the kitchen is the hub of the home and they will want room for a kitchen table. If space is limited a table with corner bench might be practical. A beautiful solid wood country table would add the finishing touch to a rustic or traditional kitchen, or an elegant smoked and etched glass topped table for a modern kitchen, or a period design table and chairs for a classical kitchen.
These are just a few of the things to think about when you make that first decision.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Kitchen Lighting

I WROTE recently about the benefits of kitchen islands.

The popularity of the kitchen island has been a good indication of how modern and up-to-date a home is. And estate agents/realtors will tell you that a well-done kitchen island in a smart kitchen is a big asset when it comes to selling your home.

The person primarily responsible for preparing the meals, finds a separate area with adequate counter space that is designed exclusively for creating meals, an attractive feature when considering the kitchen and dining area layout. However, while the kitchen island is appealing, a poorly lit island can make it next to useless.

Keep in mind that preparing a meal involves multi-tasking, detailed work and cleanliness. Without the right kind of lighting these tasks can be very difficult if not impossible.

If you buy a home with a kitchen island you may need to consider some renovations, particularly in the area of effective lighting.

The best kitchen island lighting will incorporate both functional light as well as aesthetic light. This means that kitchen island lighting should have appropriate task lighting and ambient lighting.
These two principles apply to basically every interior space of your home. For most kitchen islands, multiple pendant configurations are the most popular and the most effective in providing full, adequate lighting for the food preparation area. Generally, these multiple pendants are available in three, four, six and eight pendant sets.

Most kitchen islands are laid out in a rectangular pattern, which makes them appropriate for one of the multiple pendant configurations, listed above.

Another option is a large Tiffany style pendant fixture, which would be centred over the island. While Tiffany lighting is definitely an option to consider, the vast majority of kitchen islands use multiple pendants with soft, diffused lighting to avoid spotlighting and glare.
Most lighting for kitchen islands would be considered task lighting.

This type of lighting should provide bright, but not harsh lighting and as mentioned above, the entire food preparation area should be evenly lit with no shadows or “dead” spots. Dimmer switches are frequently installed and allow brighter lighting when preparing meals and more subdued lighting when serving and eating.

Some homeowners opt for track lighting, which offers multi-purpose lighting, which is more hidden than the other two options previously mentioned. LED track lighting, which can become somewhat expensive, offers the option of changing lighting to alter the mood and create just the right ambience. In the long run, LEDs provide maximum energy savings, long lamp life and are easily adaptable to different lighting schemes.

Given the right layout, fluorescent tube lights can serve as another option because of their ability to provide bright lighting to large areas. The old standby of incandescent lighting is a possibility, particularly if you have ceiling mounts. Incandescent lighting can be made more energy efficient with the use of low-voltage bulbs to reduce glare.

Finally, recessed lighting is also a viable option though not nearly as popular as the other types of lighting mentioned earlier in this article. Recessed lighting usually takes somewhat more planning and labor to install, but they can provide a very desirable effect.

In today’s market, the homeowner has the advantage of being able to select from a wide variety of styles. Consider the basic style and d├ęcor of your home and then decide if you want your kitchen lighting to be modern or have a rich or even ornate look. Again, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Finally, don’t forget accent lighting to highlight objects in the room that you would like to draw attention to but be careful not to overdo it.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Tea-Smoked Food

FOR a quick and easy way to add that authentic smoky flavour to food, use tea!
It couldn't be easier.
You need:
10tsps of tea or the contents of 10 teabags.
8oz demerara suger
80z long grain rice
a wok
tin foil
food to smoke e.g. chicken or duck breast, trout or salmon
salt and pepper

1. Mix together the sugar and rice.
2. Line a wok with tinfoil, put the above mixture on top and cover with another piece of foil.
3. Lay food on top of the foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with lid.
4. Leave to cook on a gradual heat for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Delicious ...... but be prepared for a strong smell in the kitchen for a while.

Alternatively, contact Exe Valley Fishery and order their authentic delicious smoked trout fillets (see picture above) or smoked trout pate - highly recommended.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

How To Make A Fruit And Veg Kitchen Clock

Here's something that's just a bit of fun either for yourself or to occupy your children for a couple of hours.

How To Make A Fruit and Veg Kitchen Clock

You will need:
4oz (100g) Plain Flour
3oz (75g) Salt Hot Water
Spray varnish or clear lacquer
Clock mechanism and clock hands (available from craft shops)

1. First make some dough. Dissolve the salt in a small amount of hot water. Add the flour and mix to form dough. Add cold water if necessary but don't make the dough too sticky.
2. Model your clock face. You need to start off with a base. Roll out some of the dough with a rolling pin. Use a large dinner plate or a tea tray to cut out a circle from the dough. This is the base of the clock face. Make a hole in the centre of the clock face, which is large enough to pass the clock spindle through with ease. Roll two long sausages that are long enough to reach around the edge of the base. Twist the sausages together to create a nice rope effect. Fix the twisted strip around the base with a little cold water for glue.
3. Add fruit and veg to your clock face. Use your hands to model and mould fruit or vegetable shapes out of dough. Use these in place of numbers on the clock face. Don't make the fruit and vegetables so large that the hands cannot move past them when the clock is finished.
4. Once you have made your clock face put it in the oven on a low heat for two hours. It is in the oven to dry out, not to bake so keep the heat low. When it comes out of the oven, leave it for a couple of days to dry out completely. Then paint, spray varnish and leave to dry. Push the clock spindle through the hole and push on the hands. The mechanism has a hole for hanging the clock on the wall.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Kitchen Island

AN island is a great way to add extra worktop space to your kitchen and a deep unit will also add plenty of storage space.

Islands will not be practicable for small or galley kitchens but if you have enough space, they are a stylish and useful addition. The island can be as simple or as elaborate as you want - and can include exactly what you want. Some incorporate a cooker, others are just for extra counter space and storage. It might have a wine rack or a custom-made spice unit.

Its details will, obviously, complement the rest of the kitchen design. Some kitchen islands are elaborate custom-built pieces of fine cabinetry and include a sink, granite counters, a cooktop, cabinets for storage, a second dishwasher, a warming oven, or a small refrigerator.

The simplest and most common kitchen island has a single surface , like a tabletop. But a multi-level island can incorporate both food preparation and eating areas, wine racks, cookbook shelves, bar sinks, deep fryers, and other amenities. A step-down or step-up surface adds interest and separate work areas.
A large kitchen might have room for more than one island. A food preparation island near the sink or stove serves as a work space. A serving or eating island can convenient and useful.

One firm which will design the perfect island for you is

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Getting Organised in the Kitchen

IT is a real pleasure to cook in a kitchen that is well organised with everything neat and tidy and easy to lay your hand on.

The secret is to have a place for everything, to keep everything in its place and to make sure that items that are used frequently are easily accessible.

Some people want to create the feeling of a bustling, family-friendly kitchen. They like to have lots of items on display. Others want a calmer space with clear worktops and everything out of sight. For the former, open shelves and plate racks can hold herbs and spices or a decorative crockery set. Saucepans can be hung from the ceiling.

For the latter, plenty of drawers and cupboard space is a priority. Carousel fittings for the corner units or pull-out shelves in a larder unit mean that nothing gets lost at the back. A pull-out ironing board and pull-out tea towel rails are also space-saving and ensure a clean, uncluttered look.

One firm that can provide all the above and help you plan your kitchen is Take a look at their website for ideas and contact details.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Make Your Fridge More Energy Efficient

IN these days of concern about global warming and carbon footprints, here are a few things you can do to make your fridge more energy efficient:

  • One of the best tips for the foodies among you is to keep the fridge full. An empty fridge uses more energy as there's nothing to hold the cold. Here's even more good news .... beer makes an excellent fridge filler. If, however, that's not an option, plain water in a container works too.
  • Cover liquids and wrap food stored in the fridge. Uncovered foods release moisture, which makes the compressor work harder. Of course, wrapping your foot also prevents it from drying out.
  • Defrost your fridge as soon as there is any frost build-up.
  • Do you really need your automatic ice maker? It's more energy-efficient to make ice in ice trays.
  • If possible, move the fridge away from the cooker or dishwasher.
  • Don't leave the fridge door open.
  • Make sure the fridge seals are clean. Replace if they are damaged. One way to check is to close the door on a thin piece of paper about the size of a £5 note (or use the £5 note itself). If you can easily pull it out, the seals need replacing. If you have magnetic seals, put a torch inside at night and switch off the kitchen lights to see if any light is leaking out.
  • Move your fridge out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils at least once a year. Some models have the coils under the fridge. With clean coils the waste heat is carried off faster, and the fridge runs shorter cycles. Leave a couple of inches of space between the coils and the wall for air circulation.
  • Some fridges have a power-saving switch or a summer/winter switch. If your has, use it.
  • Check to see if you have a power-saving switch or a summer-winter switch.