Kitchen design that works

22 01 2008

Anyone who holds the same disdain for today’s residential architecture and design will certainly have a conversation buddy with me. I recently read a post at one of my favorite blogs that lambasts kitchen design in today’s homes as unfunctional and unusable. The last two “Parade of Homes” I went to featured homes in the $1.5M-$3M range. Few of them had kitchens that made any sense. This seems ridiculous to me until it dawned on me that most of the people who live in these homes probably don’t cook for themselves.

I’ve been blessed to be able to design the home that I live in. My home is not a modified stock plan. It is a bona fide, from-the-top-of-my-head, unique design, all the way down to drawing the blueprints and overseeing construction. In this post, I’d like to show you my kitchen. It went through numerous designs, and we researched many products. My tastes are somewhat minimalist, but not to the extreme. I know that many people will dog on me for the cliché items like the stainless and granite. So be it. I hope you can steer clear of what your personal tastes are and just focus on the design. I’m proud of the design and the look we have achieved and it has served us well. So, here it is:

Kitchen design, IKEA, modern design, galley kitchenThe living room, dining room, and kitchen are an open design. I can watch TV while I cook or keep an eye on the kids. It is designed for entertaining in mind so that I can interact with guests while cooking. The view in the picture above is taken standing at the dining table with my back to the living room. Its a U-shaped galley with plenty of granite counter space and lots of cabs. Read the rest of this entry »


Wasabi – fun for kids of all ages

16 01 2008

I love wasabi. Not for me, though, the stuff is pretty evil. I like turning on my friends to sushi and telling them to eat a small glob of the green stuff. “Its just a condiment,” I lie. “It goes well with the California Roll,” I lie again. Then, I sit back and enjoy the entertainment. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you don’t know what you are missing. Stop reading immediately and go try some wasabi. Then come back and finish reading.

Hey, I told you to stop reading. Allright, go ahead.

Wasabi is known as the Japanese horseradish and its spice is more akin to hot mustard than to the capsaicin of hot peppers. Its difficult to find in its root form (real wasabi), but more readily available in its ready to use form which comes as a paste made from grinding the root to a powder and mixing with horseradish, mustard and food coloring.

Typically, wasabi is eaten with sushi or sashimi. I’m not very familiar with any other uses other than for sheer torture. The flavor of wasabi produces an intense, eye-watering burn on the tongue and nasal passages that is quite fearsome. The first time I tried this I did not know what to expect. The heat came on instantly, searing my tongue and consuming my nasal passages to where I couldn’t even breath. My eyes teared up and it reminded me of when I sprayed myself with pepper spray (yeah, that sucked). The pain was so intense that I panicked, praying that I didn’t do any permanent damage to my esophagus and stomach.

And then, all of a sudden, it completely disappeared. Not a single trace of the burn could be felt on my palate. I totally thought I just hallucinated (darn those 80’s – just kidding). Read the rest of this entry »

Food by-products – yes, I’m talkin’ Methane

11 01 2008

I’ve been mulling this for quite some time and need your help deciding. One of food’s foul (yet in a macabre sort of way, pleasing) by-products is Methane. Yes, I’m talkin’ bout air biscuits here. This is a food blog, you know, and all things food related are fair game. Though it may seem right in my mind to host a series on flatulencia, some might find it offensive. So, I’ve decided to leave it in your hands, my trusted readers. Please let me know if you’d like to read a little and I’ll see if I can get in touch with a friend of mine as a guest writer, the authority on this subject, Dr. Harry Butthonks.

Suffering in San Antonio

11 01 2008

Mountain cedar juniper pollenAround mid-December each year (sometimes as early as late September) and on through January (and sometimes extending through February), cedar pollen makes its unwelcome visit to San Antonio and South Texas. Cedar is actually is misnomer, considering that it is actually the male Ash Juniper tree that produces its berries and decides to pollinate in the Winter. It floods South Texas in clouds like a swarm of army ants moving across a jungle floor. (The picture here shows the red pollen accumulated on the tips of the leaves.)

Personally, I think that mature Junipers can be beautiful trees. These evergreens seem to be the predominant tree species in the Texas hill country. They propagate easily and spread quicker than rabbits. Many developers in the area consider this tree an invasive nuisance in that it uses crazy amounts of water. Nevertheless, they don’t seem to be affected much by drought.

Despite their beauty, anyone who lives in their midst or downstream from their pollination flow will eventually succumb to “cedar fever.” It seems that no one is immune to this evil pollen. Read the rest of this entry »

Its my party and I’ll cook if I want to

7 01 2008

I wouldn’t classify myself as a serial party thrower, but we do have people over to our house several times a year for birthday parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the occasional social gathering. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am certainly not a chef, but I love to cook and it gives me great satisfaction to see people enjoy what I’ve made.

Most of the time, I have a theme for my meal. It may be Latin inspired, or tacos, or gourmet burgers, etc. Nevertheless, from the aperitif and appetizers, and on through the entrée and dessert, everything is tied in together either by the general theme, or with a certain ingredient. Now, many of my well-intentioned friends and family ask if they can bring something. I think that’s great. There are many times that I could use a few extra things, or maybe I’ve forgotten to buy plasticware and can’t get out of the house. I totally appreciate this kind of help.

But allow me to propose a bit of etiquette here. As I mentioned, I am nowhere near Nigella, nor do I even pretend to come close to an Iron Chef. However, “I DO HAVE A THEME HERE PEOPLE!” Okay, let me calm down (breathe in 5 seconds, out 5 seconds).

What I’m getting at is this: Read the rest of this entry »

Fennel: the Devil seed

3 01 2008

fennel-seeds.jpgCan you imagine the first caveman who yanked a fennel plant from the roadside and decided that the funny little brown seeds would be a great addition to sausage? (When I say “caveman” I probably mean “Italian”)

“What is fennel?” you might ask. I call it the devil seed. I remember the first time I bit into one of these suckers. I was enjoying an all-meat pizza (can’t remember where at) and I was gobbling up the last bits of scrap left on the pizza pan. I recall reaching for a small sausage ball and wondering what that interesting little seed was that was poking out of the side, yet unwittingly categorizing it as merely a part of the spices and seasonings. Thinking back to this gastronomically momentous yet insipid moment, it all seems to go by in slow motion…

Two fingers delicately pinch the sausage bit and makes its way towards my pizza hole [insert dream sequence here]

I can see it now, just like in the movies: the beautiful woman picks up the poisoned drink, known to be tainted only by the protagonist, her lover. He glances her direction and sees that she has unwittingly picked up the martini with the poisoned olive. The entire scene is in slow motion; the edges blur as the protagonist rushes toward her, screaming “Noooo.” But its too late. Read the rest of this entry »

The 4 horsemen of the Chinese Buffet: fake, famine, foul, & frigid

31 12 2007

I hate Chinese buffets for several reasons:

  • The food is not really Chinese;
  • Most of the food is cold;
  • The food tastes Nasty;
  • A ton of food is thrown away;
  • They are expensive, in order to make up for all the thrown away food.

This past weekend my family traveled a few hours out of town to visit some extended family. Upon arriving, it is customary for the entire family to go out to a restaurant to eat dinner. All in all there were eight adults and five children this time around and to be honest, it makes things a lot easier for a group this size to eat at a buffet. No time needs to be spent with menus and no time wasted to start eating either – just get up and load up.

And you know what? I’m normally pretty excited when I see the array of food I’m about to indulge in. I mean, out of the 75 or so selections, I’m bound to find a couple that I like. Right? Right??? Well, disappointingly, no. Let me work through my list above real quick.

First of all, if these restaurants actually served authentic Chinese cuisine, no one would come. Read the rest of this entry »