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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Design Refined

You’re getting ready to remodel your kitchen and you’re budget is a major concern.  As you consider the wish list, a professional design seems to be the most expendable item. After all, it isn’t tangible. And aren’t the retailers willing to do it for “free”?

Let’s consider the reasons you want to remodel in the first place. If your existing kitchen design was functional and it was simply a matter of updating, you would probably be re-facing rather than replacing.

So why isn’t it functional? You may have had a few thoughts about what was going on in the mind of the original “designer.” The fact of the matter is that there may never have been one. Too many kitchens are designed to the convenience of the tradesman, or the budget of the builder or the product specifications of a salesperson. Notice that none of these has anything to do with you, the user.

While tradesmen, builders, and salespeople all perform other valuable functions, none of them is a professional designer. A professional designer is trained to understand fit, function, and necessary clearances as well as ergonomics. A professional knows the available product options in appliances, plumbing, flooring, countertops and cabinetry. A professional is knowledgeable about materials performance from cost and durability to maintenance, flammability, safety, comfort and compatibility. A professional understands how to balance environmental considerations including sustainability, air quality, carbon footprint and energy savings. A professional knows how to make the most of lighting. A professional is thoroughly trained in visual design principles and knows how to use them to make your project beautiful. A professional knows how to apply this body of knowledge to your needs, wants and dreams, to make your kitchen work for you.

With such a body of knowledge available through a professional designer, why would you consider repeating the expensive mistake that made your current kitchen something you want to replace? Good design is the backbone of a well-functioning, safe, comfortable and attractive kitchen. Without it, that expensive kitchen remodel is likely money wasted.

Save yourself time, money and disappointment; hire a professional kitchen designer. The money a professional designer can save you is far greater than their design fee, and you will benefit from their expertise for years to come.

Ready for Gulf coast style celebrations?  Try my Louisiana Gumbo.

Louisiana Gumbo  (6-8 generous servings)

4          T          butter or cooking oil
6          T          flour
5                      cloves garlic, crushed
1                      large, sweet onion, chopped
1/2                   large green pepper, chopped in large pieces
1          32-oz  can tomatoes, drained & chopped
1          10-oz  pkg. frozen chopped okra
1-1/2   Tbsp   Worcestershire sauce
1/8       tsp.      ground clove
1          tsp.      dried oregano
1          tsp.      salt
1/4       tsp       coarsely ground pepper
2                      bay leaves
3          C         chicken stock
1          Tbsp.  gumbo file
3          C         hot cooked rice
2-3      lbs       boiled shrimp or steamed chicken cut in chunks
1/4       C         snipped parsley (optional)
                        Louisiana hot sauce, at table side

In a heavy Dutch oven heat oil or butter over high heat until it is bubbly, brown and beginning to smoke. Whisk in flour and continue to heat over medium heat until bubbly, making a deep roux. Reduce heat to low and add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until almost tender. Add green pepper and continue to sautee until onions and garlic are completely tender (peppers will still be crisp). Add tomatoes, okra, Worcestershire, clove, oregano, salt and pepper and stir. Add chicken stock and bay leaves and stir. Stir in gumbo file. Set on a back burner over low heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove from heat, remove bay leaves, and serve.  As with many soups and stews this is better the second day, so you may want to prepare it a day in advance and re-heat it prior to serving.

To serve, place a scoop of hot rice (about 1/3 C to 1/2 C) in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle gumbo over the rice. Top with shrimp or chicken chunks. Garnish with parsley (optional). Serve hot. Offer Louisiana hot sauce table side.

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