Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kitchens: Do them Right. Do them Once.

There is an article in the current issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News (December 2007) that details the findings of a survey of more than 800 consumers who have remodeled their kitchens.

One paragraph caught my eye and I would like to discuss it further here:

"Researchers also found that more than three out of 10 remodelers said they would spend more money on a kitchen remodel if they had to do it over, while only 7% said they would spend less. Of those who would spend more, the key things they would do differently next time are upgrading the cabinets and increasing the size of the kitchen."

Now cabinets are a big chunk of your outlay when putting together all the things you have to buy when remodeling a kitchen. They can easily amount to a quarter or half of the total budget.

So why do you think these (now) experienced remodeling consumers would spend more on the biggest part of their kitchen budgets? I think I can answer that question:

1. The cabinets are not as sturdy as they assumed, and are not holding up.

2. The shelves are not thick enough and are bending under the weight of their dinnerware.

3. The drawers are very shallow and items catch in them all the time.

4. They keep chipping plates trying to get around center dividers in two door cabinets.

5. The shelves in their cabinets are fixed and not adjustable, or the adjustments are drilled too far apart to give real adjustability.

6. The shelves in their base cabinets are 2/3 depth instead of full depth.

7. Their drawers are made of skimpy materials, like particleboard, and are breaking.

8. Their cabinets are unfinished on the insides and require shelf paper and drawer liners.

9. Their cabinet hardware items (hinges, drawer slides, etc.) are flimsy and not holding up.

10. The finish on their cabinets is lacquer, and is not holding up.

The fact is, these people assumed that the beautiful cabinets they saw in the showroom were all the same because they could not SEE any difference between the set that cost $8,000 and the set that cost $24,000. And now they have LEARNED the difference by living with their choices.

Now, I am not saying that you have to spend three times what you would like to spend to get a quality cabinet. But what I am saying is that you have to look at what you are buying with a critical eye. And you MUST do the research to know what features you absolutely must have in cabinets.

Then, you must spend whatever is needed to get a quality cabinet...Otherwise you will regret spending less, as those consumers in the study did.

They also regretted not expanding their kitchens, either by opening up the walls, or adding on...

Most people get only one shot at a kitchen remodel in their lifetimes, so these mistakes go on and on.

Don't regret. Do it right.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Weenie Royale: The Impact of the Internment on Japanese American Cooking

Weenie Royale: The Impact of the Internment on Japanese American Cooking
Morning Edition -Dec. 20, 2007
Web Extra: Recipes, Internment Camp Remembrances

This historical Hidden Kitchen comes from the memories and kitchens of the Japanese Americans uprooted from the west coast and forcibly relocated inland after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In camps like Manzanar, Topaz, Tule Lake some 120,000 internees lived for four years in remote and desolate locations — their traditional food replaced by US government commodities and war surplus — hotdogs, ketchup,spam, potatoes — erasing the traditional Japanese diet and family table.

I (Davia) was getting my hair cut by Akemi Tamaribuchi. Imagine Audrey Hepburn if she had a Japanese-American father. That's Akemi. It was the first time we met, and we were in the midst of getting-to-know-you questions. She asked what I did, what I was working on. I told her about The Kitchen Sisters and the "Hidden Kitchens" series — secret, underground, below-the-radar cooking in America, contemporary and historic. She kept cutting, but didn't miss a beat. "Weenie Royale," she said. "Weenie Royale?" "We eat Weenie Royale because of the internment."

She began to tell me the story of her grandparents' four-year incarceration in the camp at Tule Lake during World War II. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, about 120,000 Japanese and Americans of Japanese ancestry were forcibly evacuated from the West Coast, their homes and land taken from them, and put into one of 10 remote and desolate locations until the war's end.

They lived in barrack-like conditions, standing in long lines for little food, eating off tin pie plates in big mess halls. They were fed government commodity foods and castoff meat from Army surplus — hot dogs, ketchup, kidneys, Spam and potatoes. The Japanese diet and family table were erased.

In the early years of the incarceration, grizzled old Army cooks, used to feeding armies of men, now fed women and children. It was wartime, with strict rationing for everyone. At the Topaz Internment Camp in central Utah, it was decided that no one except children under 12 would receive milk — 6 ounces a day. Pregnant women, because their children were unborn, were not allowed any milk. Tami Tomoye Takahashi, who gave birth to two babies at Topaz, found a Sears, Roebuck catalog and ordered calcium tablets to benefit her unborn babies.

In the chaos of the dining hall, families no longer ate together. Teenagers wanted to be with other teenagers. Old people, who had once sat at the extended family table, were isolated. Grandparents, parents and children broke apart in the face of mess hall dining. Mothers no longer could cook for their children. The family table, with its traditions and conversations, began to fade.

Akemi said that during this time her grandparents and parents — her father was a little boy then — began to acquire the taste for hot dogs. Weenies began to make their way into their postwar cooking. Weenies in eggs (the aforementioned "Weenie Royale"), hot dog sushi, Spam sushi. Ketchup crept into the cooking.

Akemi's story sparked this Hidden Kitchen story. It made us ask — What was the food in the camps? How did it impact the culture and cooking of Japanese Americans in the following years?

Millions of people live in refugee camps around the world now, being fed commodities and surplus. It made us think about the impact on so many cultures within so many nations when they are denied their own food and traditions, when they are forcibly displaced and their land and homes taken from them.

Jimi Yamaichi, director and curator of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, says the internment camps became a world unto themselves. Tule Lake, a camp in northern California, had chickens and a slaughterhouse where hogs were butchered for meat and rendered to make soap. About 3,800 acres were farmed by the internees. And the food grown there was sent to many of the other camps across California and the West.

Artist Howard Ikemoto said his father had owned grocery stores before the war and lost them all when the family was interned in Tule Lake. After the war, his father (whose given name was Ito and who later took the name Ed) became a gardener in the Sacramento area as did many of the other men who returned from the camps. At lunchtime, the men would meet to eat together either in a park or on a lawn they had just mowed. They would eat rice with a plum in the middle, a slice of Spam and corned beef hash in a tin.

Hot Dogs for Days

Yamaichi, a retired contractor, recently returned to Tule Lake with a group of former prisoners. It was their first visit since their incarceration during the war.

"Here's where the slaughterhouse was where we rendered the hogs. Here's the chicken coops," Yamaichi said. "They would bring carloads of hot dogs in by the tons — we'd eat hot dogs for days."

Takahashi, 92, grew up in San Francisco and attended U.C. Berkeley in the depth of the Depression. As World War II broke out, she worked at the Sheraton Palace Hotel, helping translate Japanese radio messages for the U.S. Army. Takahashi, along with her husband and parents, spent six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor interned in San Francisco at the hastily converted "Tanforan Race Track Assembly Center," living in a stable that held a horse. Then they spent four years incarcerated at Topaz Internment Camp in the Utah desert, where temperatures averaged about 125 degrees. After the war, Takahashi and her husband, Henri, went on to form the Takahashi Co., which sold furniture, home design items, and arts and crafts to major department stores and fine art museums.

Shousei Hanayama, the priest at the Buddhist Temple in Watsonville, Calif., remembered that after the war, American soldiers in Okinawa brought hot dogs and introduced them into the island culture.

Hanayama noted that hot dogs are still a part of the Japanese culture, pointing to the story of Takeru Kobayashi, who can eat 63 hot dogs in under 12 minutes. The winner of six consecutive Nathan's Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contests, Kobayashi revolutionized and popularized competitive eating with a technique called "Japanesing," separating hot dog from bun as he crams to victory.

Rice, the Soul Food of Japanese Americans

Within this hidden world of internment camp cooking was another hidden-kitchen tradition: the clandestine making of sake from leftover rice from the mess halls. Tamaribuchi's great-grandmother would dig a hole in the dirt floor of the barracks where they lived and bury rice in a pot and let it ferment. Old, burnt rice was saved and brought to ferment in any number of contraptions — keeping the forbidden tradition of sake alive in places like Tule Lake, Yamaichi said.

In the early years of the internment, prisoners were fed potatoes instead of rice. People in the camps rebelled, and slowly rice was added to the mess hall menus, though it was often prepared badly, served nearly raw or burnt. Ikemoto said his parents ate rice every day of their lives. He calls rice the soul food of Japanese Americans. —Davia Nelson

The Archives

In putting together this story we drew on an astonishing collection of archives, oral histories and images of the internment. Some were gathered by historians, anthropologists and remarkable photographers, like the legendary Dorothea Lange. Others were collected by the internees themselves. We hope you will explore some of the links we've gathered below and learn more about this under-chronicled aspect of our nation's history. - The Kitchen Sisters

Ghosts of Kitchens Past & Present

Hello there!

I've been busy working and unable to get to blogging lately.

But I ran across an article on kitchens and kitchen design on that I just HAD to share.
It's quite a read, but kitchen aficionados won't mind.

The article, Downstairs Upstairs, by ??? (whoever it is, they are English and did a lot of good research), is a lengthy history of kitchens from the days of Henry XIII to the present; as well as a look at kitchens around the world today.

Some excerpts:

"Royalty ran them on an industrial scale. Henry VIII extended the Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace into 55 rooms, covering over 3,000 square feet (280 square metres). These included the great kitchen, privy kitchen, cellar, larder, pantry, buttery, ewery, saucery, chaundry, spicery, poultery and victualling house."

"No corner of the kitchen escaped Catharine Beecher's critical eye, nor the precision of her advice. She recommended the construction of cupboards, shelves and drawers adapted to each sort of utensil. She favoured a work-table with built-in drawers, in order “to save many steps”."

"Many contemporary ideas about kitchen design can be traced back to another American, Christine Frederick, who set about enhancing the efficiency of the housewife. Her 1919 work, “Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home”, and her articles for the Ladies Home Journal on radical notions such as “Suppose our servants didn't live with us?”, were based on detailed observation of a housewife's daily routine."

And Happy Holidays to ALL!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chocolate Maida cake - A Sweet

My sister and her 4 yr old daughter Gauri came from Gurgaon to spend a week with us. Her Kerala visit is after 5 years. I was busy for the one week she stayed with us. My brother-in-law likes this sweet very much and wanted me to send them through her. So on the day of her return, I prepared this.

Maida - 1 cup
Coco powder - 1 tablespoon
Sugar - 2 cups
Oil / Ghee - 3/4 cup ( I used 1/2cup of oil and rest ghee)
Water - almost a cup

Seive maida and coco powder together so that they get mixed well.

Take a kadai. Add sugar and water and make sugar syrup of one string consistency.

Add the maida,coco mixture with out forming lumps.

When maida gets mixed with the syrup, add ghee little by little. This step willl take about 10 minutes.

When the mixture starts to leave the sides, transfer to a greased plate.

Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then cut into desired shape
I used twice the quantities mentioned here

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Retro Stuff

Retro Renovation has some great new images of 1948 kitchens today.

And a commenter, TomorrowWindy, left a link to a PRICELESS video on kitchen design back in the formative years.

You’ve likely seen it, but here’s a fabulous video from the 1950s about the “Step-Saving Kitchen.”


Monday, November 19, 2007

Retro Renovation

I just came across a great blog for those of you trying to create a 50's Retro Look in your kitchen and all around the house. It's by 50sPam:

Retro Renovation

A place for your postwar 40s 50s and 60s style kitchens, bathrooms and mid century modern home aesthetic.

Love Pam's great illustrations. She's obviously on a mission.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Put an End to Annoying Catalogs

This has absolutely nothing to do with kitchen design (beyond the reduction of clutter), but I have just signed up for the greatest new service:

I would like you to join me on Catalog Choice.

Catalog Choice is an easy, free service that allows you to decline unsolicited catalogs, reducing the number of catalogs in your mailbox and lightening your footprint on the environment.

I learned about this new free service on Bill Moyers Journal last night, and signed up today.

Billions of catalogs go from mail box to recycle bin, or worse yet garbage, every year.

We all love catalogs, but get way too many.

I spent quite a few hours earlier this year calling each one I didn't want.
If anything they have MULTIPLIED since that effort.

Join me by clicking the link below:

Catalog signup

Thank you.


Did you know?

Over eight million tons of trees are consumed each year in the production of paper catalogs.

Nearly half of the planet’s original forest cover is gone today. Forests have effectively disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 have lost more than 90% of their forest cover.

Deforestation contributes between 20% and 25% of all carbon pollution, causing global climate change.

More than one billion people living in extreme poverty around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods.

There are other significant environmental impacts from the catalog cycle. The production and disposal of direct mail alone consumes more energy than three million cars.

The manufacturing, distribution, collection and disposal of catalogs generates global warming gases as well as air and water pollution. Reducing the number of unwanted catalogs that are mailed will help the environment.

Free Design Giveaway

Jackie Von Tobel, over at Jackie Blue Home, has put out a call for submissions to solve reader design problems on her blog:

If you have a very specific design challenge please drop me a line at
jackie_vontobel at Include all pertinent measurements, attach photos or drawings of the space, and a detailed description of what you would like to achieve and I will give you some suggestions and show sketches of your room. Be sure to include your email address so I can ask questions if necessary.

I'm sure that will keep Jackie busy for a while.

I'm linking here to make sure all the freebie-lookers know where to go.

I'm still sticking to my guns: I'm happy to answer questions of interest to all. That's what Kitchen-Exchange is all about, and I love doing this. But I draw the line before providing services free that I charge for in my business.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fitting a Dishwasher Where None Exists


I came across your site, and while I'm very interested in a kitchen redesign, I have a quick question for the immediate time-frame...

I live in a 1939 home in Oakland, with shallow-depth counters, no d/w or garbage disposal. Plumbing and electrical are all original, so most if not all would need to be upgraded when it comes time to upgrade properly. I work FT, and have 3 kids under the age of 5. Needless to say, I could use a little convenience in my life.

Until that big dream kitchen project becomes a reality, I was wondering if you were aware of any shallow depth dishwashers that could be installed under my ~21.5" counters. I can happily sacrifice some existing cabinetry adjacent to the sink, but have not been able to find any suitable appliances via an online search thus far. Width is not a problem, but depth is, since I don't want to replace the counters and cabinets to accommodate the traditional depth appliance.

I would imagine this is not an unusual request with all the older homes in the Bay Area. Any words of wisdom to share?



Thanks for your question Natalie.

I don't know of any dishwasher that would fit flush in a 21.5" deep opening.

European dishwashers are all about 22-7/16 or 22-3/8" deep.

That shouldn't stop you though IF you can make a space 23-5/8" wide in your cabinets for a European dishwasher next to your sink.

I have seen lots of dishwashers installed over the years that were deeper than the cabinets. Usually with a bit of moulding at each side to make the installation look better (It won't look great, but we're after function here).

You'll also need electrical behind the new dishwasher or under the sink (I always specify the outlet under the sink so it can easily be unplugged in an emergency.

And you'll have to install a dishwasher air gap on the sink or counter to prevent dirty water from a drain clog going into the dishwasher (this is code).

UPC 807.4:

No domestic dishwashing machine shall be connected directly to a drainage system or food waste disposer without the use of an approved dishwasher airgap fitting on the discharge side of the dishwashing machine. Listed airgaps shall be installed with the flood level marking at or above the flood level of the sink or drainboard, whichever is higher.

If you decide to buy a Miele (the best in my opinion), you'll be able to use it in your new kitchen too. Mine is going on 18 years old and still going strong and quiet as a mouse.

Good luck in getting your much-deserved dishwasher Natalie.


Dates and Cashew Delight

A pudding with date balls in it. An absolutely yummy dessert, which will be favored by kids and adults alike. An ideal choice of dessert for kids party.

You need for the date balls:

Dates -200 gm
Cashew- 75 gm
Bananas – 2 Nos
Butter /Ghee- 50 gm
Sugar – 50 gm

For the custard you require

Milk – 1 cup
Custard powder – 4tspn
Sugar – 4 tbspn
Vanilla essence – ¼ tbspn

Prepare the date balls to be dropped in the custard

Finely chop dates, cashew and bananas separately.

Take a kadai, melt butter. Add dates.

Keep mixing it till it turns dark brown.

Add the chopped banana and cook till it is blended well with the dates.

Add sugar and mix till it reaches halwa consistency. Remove from fire

Allow it to cool. Make gooseberry size balls of the mixture and roll them over the chopped cashew and keep it aside.
If you want to reduce the calorie, you can skip this step of rolling over cashew. It tastes good without this also.

Now let us move on to custard preparation

Mix the custard powder with little milk. See to that no lumps are formed.

Add the mix to the remaining milk. Add sugar.

Boil the mix till it starts to thicken. Remove from fire.

Allow it to cool.
Drop the date balls into the custard.

Refrigerate and serve.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Great Article On Countertop Choices - Pros & Cons

There's a great article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere, by Schaub, Charlene Varkonyi, called
"Counter Intuitive: Which Type Is Right for You?"

I'd like to comment further here:

Almost all of my clients choose granite countertops.

Those who don't choose stainless, marble or wood, or a combination thereof.

I've NEVER done zinc or copper. Not once!

I haven't done a Corian top in years, even though I LOVE it myself (Have it in my own kitchen). Same goes for the other engineered and solid surface countertops, and I haven't done any laminate since the early 90's when Corian was the top choice.

Tile once was king of the countertops in California, but the last tile I did was granite tile in a budget kitchen. Except, of course, for the backsplash: which is almost always some sort of tile.

My middle class clientele of practical cooks accounts for this. They want something that looks great and you can put a hot pot on.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shed a Little Light on the Subject

Melpa-Alfit has introduced a new hinge that aims a single LED into your cabinet every time you open the door.

Cool. Illuxo comes in white or blue light.

Great for illuminating the labels on spices or medicines in a cabinet...Or, just impressing your friends.


Dwell Has a New Kitchen Blog

Dwell Magazine has birthed a Kitchen Blog to add to the list.

The just started on October 24th 2007 so there's not much there yet...So far colorful, contemporary and appliance oriented.

Looks like a variety of editors are posting to it. Including Sara Hart, Michael Cannell, Chelsea Holden Baker, Audrey Tempelsman, and Deborah Baldwin: who has an interesting post about trying appliances before you buy.


The Kitchens Sisters on the Road for Hidden Kitchens Texas

Along the road...

The Birth of the Frito - Another Texas Hidden Kitchen

Morning Edition, October 18, 2007 · When we produced our 1999 NPR series, "Lost & Found Sound," we said we were chronicling people possessed by sound. With "Hidden Kitchens," perhaps you could say we are chronicling people possessed by food.

Charles Elmer Doolin is one such man. Possessed by a vision. By corn. By creating snack food. Doolin was obsessed with Fritos, his daughter Kaleta said.

During the Depression in the 1930s, Doolin had a confectionery in San Antonio. Always an innovator, he got a bug to put some kind of corn snack on his counters. Tortillas staled, so Doolin went on a mission. At a gas station, Doolin found a Mexican man making an extruded corn chip out of masa, frying it and selling little bags of the fried corn chips. They were fritos, "little fried things" — the beach food of Mexico.

Doolin bought the patent and 14 customers from the man and began to make the chips in his own kitchen at home, with his mother perfecting his recipe.

"His life was one big hidden kitchen," his son-in-law Alan Govenar said. Doolin had kitchens in his factory, kitchens in his lab, kitchens with test tubes and beakers in his house.

Kaleta Doolin said his kids were his guinea pigs — helping him test new recipes and flavors. Through these kitchen experiments, C.E. Doolin also invented the Cheeto.

Along the way, Doolin started hybridizing his own corn. The secret ingredient in Fritos, Kaleta Doolin says, is her father's own, special corn. He hired farmers throughout Texas to plant his varieties until he found the taste he was looking for.

Doolin and his brother Earl were modern, can-do innovative tinkerers. Soon they were taking Henry Ford's idea of the assembly line and conveyor belt and applying it to the manufacture of the Frito.

C.E. Doolin had big plans for this chip. He opened a Casa de Frito restaurant in Disneyland in 1955, and another one in Dallas. The restaurants were a sort of precursor to fast food, a hybrid between hamburgers and Mexican food.

When he invented the Frito, C.E. Doolin imagined them as a side dish, a handful to be served with soup and salad to complement a meal. He never imagined anyone would consume an entire king-size bag. He rarely ate them.

And if he brought them home, he would have grabbed them off the conveyor belt before they were salted. The Doolins were vegetarians, and barely touched salt. Kaleta Doolin took figs and yogurt in her lunch to school, not Fritos.

In fact, C.E. Doolin was a follower of Dr. Herbert Shelton, a San Antonio vegetarian and healer whose innovative theories on nutrition and fasting permeated the Doolin home. C.E. Doolin, who was overweight and unhealthy and had a bad heart, went to Shelton's clinics several times for 30-day fasts. Doolin ate no meat, no fat, no salt. Shelton, in his heyday, ran for president on the vegetarian ticket in 1956.

C.E. Doolin was an early franchiser and soon began distributing Fritos nationwide. One photo shows a "Frito Fleet" rolling through the streets of San Antonio, accompanied by a local marching band.

Doolin's wife, Katherine, was known for her social work and good relationships with the workers at the company. It was a strong, family feeling that made Fritos a legendary Texas business. Mrs. Doolin developed all kinds of recipes using Fritos, including Frito pie and Frito jets (Fritos dipped in chocolate and laid out on a cookie sheet — "fat on top of fat," Kaleta Doolin says). These recipes were printed on the backs of Fritos packages.

By the time of his death in 1959, C.E. Doolin had partnered with Herman Lay, and the Frito-Lay brand had gone global. But the company lost that family feeling. We now eat our weight in snack foods instead of the modest portions Doolin had in mind.

Kaleta Doolin is busy making a film and writing a book based on the history of her father's groundbreaking work.

We thank all in the Doolin Family who helped us tell this story, and Frito-Lay, which so generously shared its sound and images with The Kitchen Sisters and "Hidden Kitchens."

Next month on "Hidden Kitchens": The story of a kitchen tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years — Banging the Branch, the olive oil harvest on the West Bank.

Space Food: Beyond Tang - NASA's Hidden Kitchen

Morning Edition, June 7, 2007 · NASA's Johnson Space Center invited The Kitchen Sisters to visit its "hidden kitchen." On the eve of NASA's scheduled launch of space shuttle Atlantis, The Kitchen Sisters present a brief history of space food.
"This is Tiffany Travis calling from the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. We'd like to invite The Sisters to come to our space food lab where our food scientists create meals for our astronauts on board the shuttle and the space station. I thought you might be interested in what astronauts are eating 220 miles above the earth. Bread is the number one enemy in space. You do not want crumbs floating around in microgravity getting into the electronics. Come take a look." — Hidden Kitchens Hotline Message #2203

We took Travis up on her invitation and set off traveling to Houston. Along the way, we followed the trails of some of the many Hidden Kitchens Texas calls that we had received over the year. Calls about oil barrel barbeques, cowboy kitchens, oystermen on Galveston Bay, the tamale lady at Fuel City in Dallas, a restaurant tucked down a driveway in Fort Worth, a car wash kitchen in El Paso, the garage kitchens of Vietnamese residents in Houston, and the space food kitchens of NASA. — The Kitchen Sisters

This week at the Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas


Texas Book Festival. Highlights at this year's literary celebration include 'Hecho en Tejas: A Celebration of Texas Mexican Literature' at 10 a.m. Saturday and appearances by authors Robert Draper, Kristin Gore, Lynne Cheney, Jenna Bush (above), Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Toobin, Douglas Brinkley and The Kitchen Sisters from NPR. Sessions are free and first-come, first-served. Saturday and Sunday, with many sessions at the Capitol. For a complete schedule and list of venues, go to

Friday, November 02, 2007

Kalathu Podi - To mix with rice and eat

Recipe for another podi.

Horsegram(Mudirai/Kollu) - 1 cup

Chana dal - 1/4 cup
Urad dal - 1/4 cup
Peppercorn - 4 nos
Jeera - 1 tspn
Red chilly - 4
Salt as required

Dry roast the dals separately, till nice aroma comes .

Roast the rest of the ingredients together.

When cool, powder the ingredients together fine ly,in a mixer grinder.

Mix with hot rice using oil/ghee. Serve papads or mezhukkuvaratti as accompaniment.

I eat with gingely oil even though I love to have with ghee

Copra Kalathupodi

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Buildings Are Top Cause of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

I just read something in Lightsearch Magazine online that I didn't know.

If you had asked me what produces the most greenhouse gasses before I read the article, I would have answered vehicles.

AIA Survey: Only 7% of Voters Know Buildings Are Top Cause of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We humans really need to get our act together.

It blows me away that we HAD an energy crisis back in the late 70's and it's taken us till now to realize we've got a problem.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stop Using Plastics and Save the Earth!

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle Mark Morford, the irreverent columnist, opened my eyes about where all the plastic is going, after it leaves my kitchen and home, in his column entitled Come see our giant toxic stew!

Horrified, I followed Mark's links to the LA Times site called Altered Oceans

If you dare to look, be sure to do Part 4, on Seaborn Plastic Debris.

Then tell me what you're going to use next time you have a choice.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Latest Kitchen Trends Hot off the Presses

I have just completed an on line panel discussion with 11 other kitchen designers from across the country for (unknown) manufacturers. The firm doing the study was RICKI, authors of a previous study featured in Kitchen & Bath Design News recently: Study Reveals Consumer ‘Pain Points’ for Kitchens.

Our effort was a followup to their "Pain Points" study to see how we designers address the "issues" raised by the twelve families, who were the study participants, working in their kitchens.

“Observing people in their kitchens identifies opportunities for solutions for manufacturers and retailers."

“In particular, annoyances or ‘pain points’ found in the kitchen highlight potential opportunities.”

While many participants had issues specific to their individual kitchens, some common “pain points” emerged. Among them:

Organization – Better methods for relieving clutter and improving accessibility.

Cleanliness – Easier-to-keep-clean appliances and other kitchen products.

Space – Additional space or ways to maximize existing space.

Product Design – Issues specifically related to product design improvements.

Noise –Ways to minimize noise.

We were also asked our opinions on various subjects to ascertain coming trends in kitchen design and products.

I have permission from the originators to discuss the results here.

So here goes:

1. Consumers are committed to opening their kitchens to surrounding rooms.

We have gone from pass-throughs and pony walls to eliminating wall cabinets entirely, and walls of windows. This is a BIG DEAL, because we also need to find storage space for many more kinds of household items in, or adjacent to, the kitchen.

2. Kitchens have become multi-tasking spaces where homeowners do everything from watching TV to computing to family interaction and entertaining friends.

Oh, and incidentally they store, prepare, serve and eat food in there too! A strong and common request from consumers is for a comfortable kitchen on top of all of the above. Homeowners want it all! Comfort and convenience, organized storage and functionality, personalized, warm and enticing, all in the same space: The kitchen of today.

3. Contemporary styling will come on even stronger in the next year and beyond.

This means European style, or frameless, cabinetry will be used in the U.S. far more than in the past two decades. Frameless has been pretty peripheral since it made its big splash back in the mid 80's. That will end, and frameless will be used for both traditional, transitional or "fusion" (a more streamlined version of traditional), and contemporary kitchens.

4. Stainless steel is on its way out.

Consumers are just looking for the next big thing. Is it oil rubbed bronze or floating glass panels? Something else? I'd love to have some further opinions here.

5. Focal point appliances are coming on.

Manufacturers are intriguing consumers with appliances, mainly ranges, in strong colors. Right now it is only the high-end maker, like Aga, that offers such options. I think this is a trend that will move down to the a premium.
Focal point hoods are already here and will continue to be desirable.
Focal point faucets are up and coming.

6. Cabinet finishes are going deep and rich.

This is already happening. Though it may just be the island, with lighter perimeter cabinetry to keep an airy, open feel; especially in smaller kitchens.

7. A place for everything and everything in its place.

This doesn't require much explanation, except that organized storage is a strong reason for consumers to consider changing out their existing kitchens.
A further consideration is that the kitchen is much more a multi-tasking space. So designers need to incorporate space for a laptop and brooms; a mixer and cell charger; a TV and pet feeding station. This goes way beyond the everyday silver and pots and pans of 20 years ago.

8. Consumers are CONCERNED about energy efficiency, products in the home that can impact health, and green remodeling concepts.

We designers must take the lead and educate ourselves and our clients on best practices in green design for kitchens. There are some Energy Star rated appliances that are more efficient than others. Some manufacturers are addressing off-gassing issues better than others. Kitchens consume a substantial portion of the energy and water used in the home. Designers must keep up with the latest and best information in this fast-changing field and make sure our products and specifications measure up.

9. Consumers demand more individuality and personal customization.

The high-end market is KING right now and for the foreseeable future. High-end consumers want their kitchens, and everything about their living spaces, to be different and highly original. They challenge designers to step up to the plate and give them something MORE.

10. Men have become more involved in the selection of appliances and products and design decisions.

It used to be that the woman of the house made all the choices and the man had the final financial decisions. Now they are sharing the process more, and sometimes the man is taking the lead. This can also make for some delays while they fight out difficult decisions and emphasizes the role of designer as mediator.

11. Designers' Wish List:

Cooktops and sinks that can be lowered and covered up remotely with a movable remote countertop.
Faucets that lower into the countertop and disappear.
Oven that can be completely concealed.
Appliances that can alter their height.
Truly quiet ventilation, disposers and dishwashers!
An aesthetically pleasing replacement for a dish drainer.
A high tech kitchen that does most of the work for you.
A glass tile that would provide illumination in the backsplash.
Integrated cabinets, appliances, sinks and countertops from one manufacturer, as the Europeans have.



Seems like EVERYONE in the K&B business is blogging these days.

Ed Pell, Market research manager for NKBA just emailed me with a link to his new blog, K+B DELTAVEE, on economic news and research results in the building/remodeling arena.

It's a great resource for all the bad news in the industry right now (I WISH I were kidding). Just take a look at Ed's Consumer Confidence category.

Below is Ed's "About Me":

Ed Pell is Manager of Market Research for the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Before that, he was president of ESP Ventures, a full service marketing consulting and communications firm. He is a leading expert in the kitchen and bath industry. Known as one of the industry’s leading researchers, he functions often as industry moderator and speaker. He’s been quoted by media such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, etc. as an authoritative voice on the kitchen and bath and building products market. He’s also written four books for children, served as editor/writer for an international software company, written a humor column for a nationally known website, and won a national screenplay contest.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Free Kitchen Design Services? NOT!

I received the below question today by email:

I have 40 year old “mod” house. I want to remodel the kitchen but here is the dilemma:

1. I have a cooktop on peninsula with overhead cabinets.

2. I want to take out overhead cabinets to open up area.

3. the kitchen has cathedral ceilings and I can’t see an overhead canopy type hood over the peninsula if I stayed with a cooktop. I wanted some pretty pendant lights over the peninsula. I also wanted to make the peninsula a breakfast bar.

4. I need ventilation – so I would put a range on counter directly opposite of cooktop with overhead micro with ventilation

5. putting range in this area would have the following effect: 9” of counter, range, 3”filler, dishwasher, sink.

My question is would #5 be feasible from a design outlook?
The peninsula would remain only counter space.
My husband has a problem with the range, dw, sink being all in a row.


Stephanie really needs to hire a designer to help her lay out her kitchen.

Her issues require fresh eyes to take her out of her assumptions about what can, and should be done, to bring her kitchen into the 21st Century. Her questions are really too specific to her own kitchen design issues to be of use to other readers.

I also received a call last week from a woman in Pennsylvania who wanted me to specify her lighting in her (being) remodeled kitchen. She kept me on the phone for at least a half an hour, pressing for further details on what sort of lighting to use in her kitchen.

I politely answered her questions feeling more and more used and abused by the imposition. I finally told her I usually charge $125 an hour for such consultations.
I'm sure she was miffed at my impertinence when she finally hung up.

Both of these readers, for some reason, seemed to think that I have offered to provide design services for FREE. Granted I offer to answer questions, both on my web site and here on my blogs, but the offer only extends so far as answering questions that will benefit the flow of information about professional kitchen design on the web.

I spend a lot of time on this endeavor. The idea is to show what goes into kitchen design to the layperson.

Not too long ago, before the web, and now blogs; kitchen design was a mysterious piece of work. We designers did some interviewing, took some measurements, and went away for a while. When we came back we presented the dream you were asked to finance.

We still do all those things, and some of us charge for our time to do those things, while others build the design costs into the sale of products.

Our industry was built on "FREE KITCHEN DESIGN". Many cabinet showrooms still advertise "free" design to this day (though fewer and fewer). Many others offer to do design work on retainer and then apply the dollars to your cabinet purchase.

Guess what folks? It ain't free. You are paying for kitchen design, whether you like it or not, whether you KNOW it or not.

You either pay it outright, or it is built into the price of your cabinetry, and/or other materials and services.

If you don't want to pay for design, then walk into a kitchen dealer's showroom with a LIST of the cabinets you want to buy, with all the details like finished sides and rollout shelves laid out on that list. No plan, no measurements, just the list.

Hand your list to the dealer and ask them to price it in the cabinet line, door style, and finish you want. Tell them you will take full responsibility for everything on your list fitting. They don't need to measure or concern themselves with delivery. You will pick the cabinets up and take full responsibility for checking for damage and transporting the cabinets to your home.

Take your credit card or checkbook out and lay in on the counter, and say you want their "best" price. On top of that, ask for a rebate if everything goes according to your promises. Then offer them a signed agreement stating same, and promising to pay 50% down and 50% on pickup, with the rebate (for unused design services) to be paid by check to you after the cabinets have been installed without complaint.

That's how to buy cabinets without paying for design services.

I'll be interested to hear how many of my readers take me up on this challenge.

In the meantime, there are no free design services here.

If you want to use my expertise to design your kitchen or lighting, please contact me to arrange payment for my services.

And Stephanie...Your husband is right.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Need Drawers?

I had the pleasure of replacing the drawers in our platform bed last year.
Well, the pleasure wasn't in the work of replacing the drawers; but instead in dealing with a Bay Area company called Western Dovetail.

As a former kitchen dealer I know that most companies that sell parts like drawers and doors don't want to deal with the public.
They prefer to deal only with cabinetmakers or dealers who will open accounts and order sizable amounts of product on a regular basis.

I lost all that when I closed my store.

So, when the drawers in our bed started to fail, I figured I was up a creek...

Still, I dutifully jumped on line to seek out a supplier when husband George sounded the alarm.

Much to my surprise I located Western Dovetail right here in Vallejo, in our own back yard! And I didn't even have to fib or open an account!

Even better, the drawers they made were absolutely superb! Beautiful solid cedar dovetailed boxes perfect for clothing and linen storage. And they were quite reasonable too!

Complete machining is available for Blum Tandem and other Under-Mount Hardware. We can also supply drawer slides with your drawers for your convenience.

Drawers can be ordered completely assembled or RTA (ready to assemble), with or without finish. These drawers are suitable for the finest kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, closets, entertainment centers, dressers, desks, home offices or any other furniture or woodworking projects that require drawers.

They have a wonderful online catalog that shows their full line of offerings.

They are even making BAMBOO drawer boxes for you greenies out there! Not to mention all the usual woods.

So, if you readers need to replace a drawer, or add rollout shelves to a pantry or base cabinet; give Max an email (max[AT] and tell him Peggy sent you.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1000 Kitchens to Recycle!

The Re-Use People sent an appeal today in their newsletter.

They have 1000 condo kitchens coming into their Oakland California warehouse shortly that they need to find homes for.

They look pretty nice if you need a small kitchen for an in-law unit, apartment or condo.

Below is the scoop:


One Thousand Kitchens!
Logistics Moves to the Front Burner
By Ted Reiff

A couple of weeks ago one of our Northern California TRP-certified deconstruction contractors handed us a real test of our logistical capabilities: a contract to partially deconstruct two separate apartment complexes, one in Sunnyvale and the other a few miles away in Santa Clara. Each complex contains approximately 500 units, and the contractor's job is to remove all interior doors, kitchen cabinets and appliances, bathroom vanities, and some light fixtures, including fan lights.

The kitchens are typical apartment size, consisting of three base cabinets, three wall cabinets, floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinet, sink, countertops, stove, refrigerator and dishwasher. Some units also have washers and dryers.

TRP has known since its inception that salvaging building materials is only half the challenge in this business, and frequently not the most formidable half. The most difficult task can be finding a satisfactory way to dispose of the materials — to get them into the hands of people who can use them. This conundrum includes handling at the point of salvage, shipping to markets, interim storage or warehousing, consolidation, breaking bulk, trans-loading, and final delivery to the customer.

Our projected solution is to open a network of reuse facilities throughout the U.S. If we can easily ship materials from one location to another as supply and demand dictate, we can push the envelope regarding the size and scope of the projects we undertake. Only in this way will we become more effective at what we do and achieve our mission on a grand scale. The long-term goal is to have 20 to 25 regions in major metropolitan areas of the country. If we had these now, this project would be a slam dunk. But we don't.

So, how do we plan to manage the challenge at hand? With trailers — relays of them. At each site, over a period of about five weeks, the contractor will fill a 48-foot trailer with all the materials from approximately 20 to 25 units. TRP will take delivery of two semi-trailers every five weeks, at the same time returning two empty trailers to the sites. TRP is arranging for the rental of the trailers and the contractor is reimbursing us for the local drayage.

We estimate that our Oakland store can sell two of these kitchens per week. (They will have to compete for customer dollars with the kitchens and other materials we receive on a day-to-day basis.) Our Los Angeles outlet might be able to duplicate this volume, and our Colorado location can probably sell one per week. Consequently, at the end of one year, these two projects will add 150 to 250 unsold kitchens (and other items) to our inventory, and by the conclusion of the projects the number will be 300 to 500.

Assuming our warehouse sales estimates are correct, we will require space to store 10 to 15 trailers until the last of the materials have been moved to the floor of the warehouse.

TRP will be contacting nonprofit organizations throughout the Bay Area to offer these materials free of charge, as donations. However, we will be asking interested organizations to accept a minimum of one complete trailer load and to pay the transportation expenses to their location.

Can you help us find homes for these materials? If you have any solid suggestions, please phone Joe Feller, Operations Manager, The ReUse People of America: 510.383.1983 or 888.588.9490.

Special of the Month
At the Oakland warehouse this month we are featuring – you guessed it – kitchen cabinets. Receive 50% off on any complete kitchen (without appliances) until November 15. Normally a complete kitchen sells for $280 – we are offering them at $140.

Location and Contact Information

TRP ReUse Bazaar
9235 San Leandro Street
Oakland, CA 94603
(510) 383-1983; toll-free 888-588-9490
Hours: Mon through Fri 10:00 to 6:00; Sat and Sun 10:00 to 4:00

Whole wheat dosa

This time I am posting a dosa out of whole grain.

Whole grains are believed to be nutritionally superior to refined grains, richer in dietary fiber, antioxidants, protein (and in particular the amino acid lysine), dietary minerals (including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium), and vitamins (including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin E).

Whole wheat - 2 cups
Raw rice (Pacharisi) - 1 cup
Cumin seeds - t tspn

Soak wheat for 8 hrs.
Rice need to be soaked for 3 hrs only. Soak then separately.
Grind both wheat and rice together to a smooth batter. Since we are using whole wheat, u may find the skin of the wheat not grinded fine. Thats alright.
Add salt and allow it to ferment.
Before making dosas, add a tspn of cumins seeds and start preparing dosa.
The dosa will not be very thin but not like uttappam also.

You can serve dosa with any chutney of your choice

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kitchen Design vs. Kitchen Space Planning

There's a post over at where Tim answers a question by a consumer, Sheila, looking for design help with her kitchen.

DEAR TIM: I need some help with the kitchen design for my home. I'm pretty sure I know what I want, but kitchen designs are as varied as faces in a crowd. How will I know what is the best design for this kitchen remodel job? What is the best way to approach a fresh kitchen design project? -- Sheila B., Hardeeville, S.C.

DEAR SHEILA: Kitchen design is very important, but it is sometimes confused with kitchen planning. Both planning and design are critical, and ignoring either one can lead to disaster and heartbreak. Let's make sure we are on the same page with respect to what you need...

The distinction between kitchen design and kitchen space planning deserves further explanation and discussion here:

Kitchen design is the placement and selection of cabinetry and appliances within an existing, or proposed, kitchen space. Your designer will help you choose a cabinet line, wood, door style, finish and accessories and some attendant interior decorating selection of finishes and surfaces and colors. Most kitchen designers are employed by cabinet dealers, lumberyards or big box stores, so their focus is on selling cabinetry. Many designers work from customer supplied measurements and have little or no concern about how the kitchen relates to the surrounding rooms.

Kitchen design training is rigorous in the areas of cabinetry and appliance planning. More emphasis is given to fitting the pieces together properly and minimizing mistakes, which can be costly.

Kitchen space planning is practiced by some kitchen designers with the aptitude and more education or experience than the typically trained kitchen designer.

As a designer gains experience, some designers progress from kitchen design to space planning by furthering their education. Or the designer starts out with an interior design degree and specializes in kitchens and baths. Either way gaining the requisite experience and becoming certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association are usually the goal.

I would say more kitchen space planners are CKDs than not, although there are some pretty famous designers in the US who have never pursued the designation. It is still a pretty good way to determine who is serious about their career and experienced.

There is study of the elements and principles of design, how a building is built, codes and standards, ergonomics, accessibility and Universal Design. Then a rigorous exam and ongoing education requirements.

A kitchen space planner looks at the kitchen as it is and how it relates to the rest of the home, especially the rooms directly adjacent to the kitchen. Traffic patterns are very important in space planning.

I have moved a kitchen to an entirely different area of the home to correct space or traffic problems. Such upheaval is not usually necessary, but most kitchens can greatly benefit from a critical look and some element shuffling, or moving a door, tearing down a wall, or adding on in the form of an addition.

A good space planner will see the opportunities in a dysfunctional space and how to capitalize on them. Correcting deficiencies during a remodel can vastly improve a home for its occupants, and (happily) increase value at resale (sometimes remarkably so).

Kitchen space planners also provide complete plan sets for a remodel, just like an architect does. Kitchen design plans provided by a cabinet dealer, lumberyard, or home center, don't necessarily include electrical and mechanical details that are required for a major remodel.

Architects and building designers also do kitchen space planning, but kitchen designers who do so are the specialists. We bring together our knowledge of cabinet systems, appliances, all the surfaces that go into a modern kitchen, and the ability to transform a dysfunctional kitchen into one you would proudly display to all.

This goes for other rooms in the home too. A good space planner doesn't usually confine themselves to the kitchen or bath alone.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Document Your Remodel

Kathy Price-Robinson of LA Times' Pardon My Dust has a great post on Photographing your remodel: It's for your own good.

Photography shouldn't just be utilized for Before and After pictures, but also for "During" pictures.

You should do shots of your project every day; documenting the entire remodeling process and progression of events.

You will find the images handy down the road when you need to remember where that plumbing pipe runs.

You will also thank your prescience should you have a disagreement with your contractor.

Either way, take the pictures and file them away.
You might even include them in the document package you pass on to a new owner.


Can a Kitchen be Big AND Green?

There's a post over at K+BB Green Are Big, Open Kitchens Green? that merits further comment:

Ellen Sturm Niz, K+BB editor, asks:

...Are big, open kitchen layouts environmentally friendly, and how so or how not?

I think the relative "greenness" of a kitchen has more to do with the products chosen and the people using the space than the size of the space...To a point: 500 sq. ft. kitchens are NEVER green, just ostentatious.

These are not times for conspicuous consumption, but instead for careful contemplation of our impact upon the earth.

Homeowners who employ green recycling can do so in any size kitchen.

Those who purchase Energy Star appliances may pay more at the outset, but the products will pay for themselves in energy savings over their lifetimes.

Here's hoping we can get back to appliance repair and renewal as a concept so that appliances can last for several lifetimes as they once did.

There was a time when everyone "made do" and repaired items in their households, and the Fixit Man's shop on Main Street was an integral part of every community.

I still see people happily using old Chambers ranges. Some products stand the test of time well.

The concept of throwaway appliances, computers, everything, is actually a fairly recent phenomenon. It is entirely possible to design and build such products that will last indefintely if repair parts are available and they still function well.

Aside from self-cleaning ovens and electronic ignition (which have been around for years now), what really sets apart a Chambers range from a Viking? Not much at all. Both are well made products that could conceivably last forever with good care and timely repair.


Why Is My Kitchen So Small and Cut Off?

Ellen Sturm Niz, K+BB editor, asks in her post Are Big, Open Kitchens Green?

While recently lamenting the cramped cooking quarters in my 1950’s New York City apartment, I wondered why designers in that post-war period wanted to close off the kitchen?

Early American kitchens were at the center of living in much smaller homes.

In homes of the wealthy, kitchens were the province of servants. As such they were built modestly, with pine and fir trim and beadboard walls.

In those days, it was the servants themselves who had the open kitchens in their own small homes or quarters.

Later, as the middle class rose in the Industrial Revolution and servants were no longer employed in most gracious homes, the woman of the house moved into the same kitchen her servants had occupied.

The Great Depression simply reinforced such customs.

The kitchen didn't change with the loss of servants, just the cook changed. And she served her family just as the servants had done before.

Post WWII saw a huge home building boom as soldiers returned from the war, married, and started families.

Builders continued building kitchens as they had for several generations, and women who had worked in the factories returned to their previous habits, albeit a little wiser.

The woman of the house was the only one who usually cooked, and the kitchen was still not considered a "public space", where entertaining took place. That designation was reserved for the living room and dining room. The kitchen, at most, hosted family breakfasts and children, or close friends and relatives.

There were some exceptions, like Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler, who designed and built open kitchens. But for the masses the closed kitchen habit was hard to break. I wonder myself if it might have had to do with women wanting a "place of their own" in small houses.

As houses have grown in the last 15-20 years we have undergone a revolution in our thinking about kitchens and their place in our homes. The walls have come tumbling down, family rooms have been built, islands reign, and the kitchen has come out of the shadows.

We have come full-circle and the kitchen has been opened up and re-integrated into family living space.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NARI Remodeling Budget Worksheet

In my blog roaming tonight I came across a new blog called Kitchen Planning and Design, Not a lot there yet, but nicely done by a homeowner, Peter, blogging on his research for his own remodel.

Anyway, he pointed me to a new feature on the NARI web site:

A very handy Remodeling Budget Worksheet.



Monday, September 24, 2007

Milagu Vellam

You need
Pepper powder -1 tspn
Turmeric - a pinch
Buttermilk/beaten curd - 1 cup
Water -1/2 cup

Ghee - 1 tspn
Mustard seeds -1/2 tspn
Red chilly - 1 nos
Methi seeds -1/2 tspn
Curry leaves

Boil half cup water.
Add pepper powder,turmeric and salt.

When it boils and starts to thicken, add buttermilk/beaten curd. When the quanity of water is reduced by nearly half, you can add buttermilk. You need not wait till it becomes a thick paste.
The conistency required is watery.

When the mixture starts to froth on the top, remove from fire. You should be careful at this stage, if you let it boil more, the curd/buttermilk will get curdled.

Take a pan. Add ghee. You can subsitute gingely oil for ghee. Add mustard, red chilly,
methi seeds and curry leaves. Add the seasoning to the milagu vellam.

The word vellam means Water in malayalam and malayalam words are an integral part of Kerala Iyer lingua. As the name suggests, the consistency of the gravy is watery. This is usually prepared for dinner in my house during rainy days.

Very light and healthy milagu vellam can be eaten with hot rice, with pappads or any vegetable side dish as accompaniments.

Problem Kitchens & How to Fix Them II

There's a new K&B blog on the block called Kitchens & Baths 360, by Leslie Plummer Clagett, the editor of Woman's Day Publications Kitchens & Baths.

She is re-doing her own kitchen on the blog and has introduced us to the space with some photos and a floorplan (rough).

As soon as I saw the images I knew I had to reference them to my Problem Kitchens & How to Fix Them post below.

Leslie's kitchen has at least two of the problems mentioned in my post: Too many doors, and awkward bumps.

Her floorplan sketch just shows the kitchen, without showing the surrounding rooms, so I can't speculate on a solution now.

I'll email her and see if I can find out more.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Chena Arachukalakki (Yam coconut chutney)

Arachukalakki is basically a variant of chutney. The basic ingredients for any type of arachukalakki is coconut, green chilly, curd/buttermilk.The vegetable used may vary. Depending on the vegetable,some ingredients are added.

Now coming to chena arachukalakki you require the following ingredients

Chenai/Yam cubed - 100 gms
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Green chilly - 3 Nos
Pepper corn - 5 nos
Tamrind paste - 1 tspn
Ginger - 1 small pcs



Oil - 1 tspn
Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Asofeotida - 1/2 tspn
Red chilly - 2nos
Buttermilk/Beaten curd - 1 cup

Grind all the ingredients in a mixer to a caorse paste.
Do seasoning and add to the grinded mixture.
Pour the buttermilk to the pan which is used for seasoning. No need to boil it.
Add the buttermilk to the mixture and mix well. Adding buttermilk to the hot pan enhances the taste.

Arachukalakki can be served as main dish with hot rice and papad. Mostly it is served as side dish with molukkootal as main dish.
Salt pickled mangoes or gooseberry can be used for arachukalakki. In that only the basic ingredients are needed. Salt can be added later if required, since salted mango/gooseberry is used.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Did I get this right?

I received this email today regarding yesterday's post on Problem Kitchens.
I figured I might as well bring it over to the blog to answer.
That way more than just Mads will benefit.

Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2007
From: Mads
Subject: Did I get this right?

Hello. I was impressed by your website/blog. I designed and built my kitchen myself. I kinda just felt things out and prayed I'd measured things right (it came down to the millimeter as I was not aware of how much space tiles and the respective glue could take up!) But everyone seems to love it. Since you are an actual kitchen expert, it would be nice if you could give me your impressions. Thanks in advance for your time!
PS If it ends up on your list of Kitschy Kitchens, its feedback all the same...

This kitchen looks European Mads. In the US we would have a bit less space between the countertop and the upper cabinets. Either that or you are an architect:>o
They seem to like that effect.

In this image we have the left leg of a U-shaped kitchen:

You have cut the depth of the base cabinets to allow room enough for the dishwasher, sink and range at the top of the U. That makes your best countertop a bit shallower, but still usable.

The countertop looks like teak, very nice to work on and well away from water and the range. That's a plus. Also inexpensive compared to other choices...Or is it concrete???

Your choice of simple white cabinet doors is good in a small space. You seem to have chosen all doors for simplicity. Another architect "thing".

Ordinarily I would frown on brilliantly colored tile on the backsplash (because it tends to jump forward), but the overall impression of these tiny mosaics visually recedes, so that's good.

Looks like you used LED (I hope) puck lighting under the cabinets. A good choice for energy efficiency, although the five scallops on the tile are a bit distracting. Fluorescent strip lights, behind a light valance, would have been a bit better choice I think.

The fridge, on the left in shadows, looks like you managed to recess it into the wall behind. Good idea! Floor space in a small kitchen is too precious to waste.

The microwave takes up a bit of your precious counter space. I would have placed it up in the wall cabinets, suspended under one of them. It's in the right location for functionality though.

I love the stainless??? trim at the back of the counter. Very nice.

That dishwasher looks mighty close to the corner. I imagine that was a concern when you were putting the whole thing together.

The next images are the top of the U.
Here's where you broke the rules and qualify for "Kitschy Kitchen" status.
On the left we have our dishwasher. It actually looks like it obstructs the door around the corner...Probably a trick of the camera. I would have recommended a white one to integrate better with the cabinets and not draw the eye to it. I've yet to see a kitchen where it makes sense to make the dishwasher a focal point.

The integrated stainless sink with drainboard is a good idea. But I would have placed it over to the left with the drainboard under the wall cabinets and the sink away from the range. Having the sink bowl right next to the range is not dangerous, but it certainly provides no room for staging prepared food for cooking. Placing the dishwasher on the right of the sink would have also solved the dishwasher in the corner issues. An end panel between the dishwasher and range would then have been necessary to support the counter.

The faucet is great, but over scale for the room.

The six burner range, looks to be 30" or thereabouts, is also overkill for the size of the room. A 24" model would have been more suitable.

The best thing on this wall is the FABULOUS HOOD with the asymmetrical extension.
It's great that you sacrificed upper cabinets in favor of this beauty.
I also love your dishrack and other hanging accessories, as well as the sculptural bowls so lovingly arranged on top of the hood.

The tile going way up the wall is also great. Looks like you have very high ceilings in the kitchen...nice.

Here we see the right leg of the U.
Unfortunately you have a pipe chase obstruction in the corner so you lose valuable counter space next to the range. It does look as though you have enough clearance that it is not unsafe.
Interesting. That tall window tilts open at the top.
Again the cabinets around the corner are shallow depth to provide as much space to the range sink area as possible. I see two tiny drawers there, under the window. Those seem to be the only drawers in the kitchen unless you built some behind the doors. I certainly HOPE you did!

This view is of the opposite wall, I assume.
Here you have created an eating counter and some storage above, neatly obscuring a radiator underneath.
It's also your coffee station.
Not much fun eating facing a wall, but you've made it as cheerful as possible.

Overall I'd say you took lemons and made lemonade (except for the sink next to range issue).
Did you remodel at all to achieve this overall space?
Or is it as it was?
Did you take "before" pictures?
After all the work, if you had it to do over again with unlimited funds; would you do anything different?


Looks like discussion of MAd's kitchen is getting around the blogs.

MAds has his own:

Post Recontruction. A Tale of Life in Italy

Laurie Burke comments on Kitchen Design Notes.



Crispy Masal Vada


Channa dhal - 1 cup
Finely chopped onions - 1 cup
Green chillies to your taste
A handful of chopped coriander leaves
Hing - 1/2 tsp
Ginger and Garlic - finely minced, 1 tblsp


1. Soak channa dal exactly for 1 hour and drain it.
2. Grind it without adding water. the mixture should be coarse.
3. Add rest of the ingredients and mix well.
4. Make small balls and flatten them.
5. Heat oil and deep fry the balls.

Eggless Banana nut muffins!

Well this is not my recipe. I got it from a blog. This is a no egg recipe. It came out beyond my expectations. Here is the link to the recipe.

Penne Pasta with Pesto and Sun dried tomatoes

The only sauce I like in italian food is Basil Pesto. It is easy to make or readily available in stores. The recipe for pesto is as follows:

  1. 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  2. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  3. 1/2 cup olive oil
  4. 3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
  5. 3 garlic cloves, finely minced


1. Blend all the above ingredients together while slowly adding olive oil.
2. Process basil pesto till it forms a thick smooth paste.

Assembling everything together:

  1. Heat oil. Fry chopped onions and any other veges as you like.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  3. Add store bought sun dried tomatoes.
  4. Cook pasta as per the directions.
  5. Toss in the fried veges, basil pesto and grated parmasan if needed.