Wednesday, May 30, 2007


First recepie - A sweet.

Rava Kesari
Fried Rava - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 cups
Ghee - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Elaichi powder - 1/2 t.sp
Cashew/Kismis - 1 tb sp
yellow/red colour - 1 pinch

Boil water after adding color to it. Add the fired rava slowly to the boiling water. Keep mixing while adding rava to avoid forming lumps. When rava is cooked (ie, when the rava and water forms a solid proposition) add sugar to it with continuous stirring. You will see some rava lumps already. Don't panic. You can break them using the laddle by pressing on the lumps. Keep mixing. When it starts to solidify, add ghee little by little. Add elaichi powder. When the mixture does not stick to the sides of the pan, it is ready.
Take a small frypan. Add 1 teaspoon of ghee. Add cashew to it. When cashew starts browning, add kismis.
Add the fried cashew and kismis to the kesari and mix well.

Preparation time - 15 mts
Serves - 4

Usually I make this after dinner when Hubby dear cannot find any sweet to eat. This is the instant sweet which can be made with the 'all time' readily available items in the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another Stake in the Heart of the Light Bulb

Canada has taken steps to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012:

"The environmental benefits are clear. By banning inefficient lighting, we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 million tonnes per year," added Minister Lunn. "More than that, these new standards will help reduce the average household electricity bill by approximately $50 a year."

It is only a matter of time before the United States will follow suit

And individual states, like California, will be in the vanguard.

It is time to discard antiquated notions about fluorescent lighting. Only cheap fluorescent lighting flickers and hums and makes people look ghastly.

Manufacturers are now offering us a multitude of configurations and colors to replace the old cool white and warm white. And the old magnetic ballasts that caused the flicker and hum will be available only through 2009.

After 2010 you won't even be able to buy a replacement in California. Instead only electronic ballasts will be sold. Instant-on, dimmable ballasts that make fluorescent lighting systems behave like our beloved Edison bulbs.

Juno has just received an innovation award for this new ceiling can fixture at 2007 LightFair International, and you can't even see the spiral bulb because it has a lens covering the opening:

"2330 CFL Lensed Trim Juno Lighting Group introduces the 2330 CFL Lensed Trim with its regressed baffle and frosted domed lens positioned above the ceiling plane. The trim features a CFL optical system optimizing lamp placement, reflector design and diffusing glass lens for increased illumination and better uniformity than an incandescent open baffle trim."

And LED manufacturers are making great strides in improving their products to compete with the energy efficiency of fluorescents while giving the same or similar light output.

Here's an interesting square one from Gallium Lighting that just received a 2007 award at LightFair International:

6" Square Series Luminaire Gallium Lighting’s specification-grade 6” square LED luminaire features high-output, white LEDs, to deliver light comparable to compact fluorescents."

And another, more conventional looking award-winner from with the distinction of producing a light color rendering index above 90% This will make your tomatoes look...well, like tomatoes. And it's affordable too!

The LR6 by LED Lighting Fixtures Inc. is an 11 watt downlight module that generates 650 lumens of 92 CRI white light at 27 or 3500 Kelvin with breakthrough technology for light output, beautiful color, high efficacy and affordability.

Here's another LED award-winner that doesn't even require a hole in the ceiling!

"The Faux-Can from MaxLite is a 26 watt 10,000 hour flat disk that mounts flush to the ceiling with a twist and lock GU24 connection. Equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent R lamp downlight, it requires no ceiling holes, no heat loss or gain through openings and no overheating."

To see all of the LightFair 2007 award winners go to their site.

Innovation in lighting is a candy store for designers and homeowners alike.


Streetcar Named DSIRE

Here is a cool site called DSIRE (Database for Renewables & Efficiency) where every U.S. state's incentives for increasing energy efficiency and encouraging renewable energy projects are neatly aggregated.

Everything from rebates for solar installations to green building grants, to Energy Star appliance rebates and beyond.

Everything offered by utilities, the state, the feds, and local governments.

What a fabulous resource!


CRI: The Road to True-Color Light Bulbs

Here's a great site, at, for finding the right kind of CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) to replace any light bulb in your home.

About the only drawback is that they don't list CRI.
CRI (Color Rendering Index) is a very important part of selecting a fluorescent bulb.

If you have ever looked in the mirror under fluorescent light and seen a ghastly green or yellow apparition, only to realize that its YOU! You know you need to know about CRI.

You NEVER want to use bulbs with less than 80% CRI in your home unless it is in an area where you won't be seen or be looking at anything that needs to display its true colors; as close as possible to how it would appear under sunlight.
Ideally we would use only bulbs with over 90% CRI because they show colors truer that 80%+ bulbs, but cost and availability are also factors.

So always take the extra step in your research for the light bulbs you need to help save the environment one bulb at a time, and look on the label, or the manufacturer's web site, for the CRI and buy the highest you can afford.

Your eyes and your family will thank you for it.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Had Enough?

I know this doesn't have a darn thing to do with kitchens or remodeling or design. What it DOES have to do with is our country and how it is run.

I, along with Lee Iacocca and many others across our great nation have had enough.

I've had enough of this war in Iraq for one thing. I've also had enough of being jerked around by the self-serving corporate media and the self-serving politicians.

I'm tired of "being good" and "being quiet" and "going about my business" while my great nation and its once-proud people are going down the toilet.

I suggest today, instead of shopping around for a kitchen designer or ideas about your project, that you read Mr. Iacocca's op-ed and get mad yourselves.

Then, instead of going on about your business, I suggest you call or write or email your legislators and tell them you've had it. After that, call or write or email your news outlets and tell them you've had it and you won't be back until they tell the truth, and stop with the damn "talking heads" and points of view.

It's a hell of a note when an 82 year old man has to get up out of his rocking chair to light a fire under the American people and tell us what anybody with EYES can see. Have YOU had enough?


Monday, May 14, 2007

Report Shows Kitchen & Bath Sales Drooping

I just read a report in Qualified Remodeler, one of two major magazines catering to the remodeling contractor.

It says (between the lines) what I have been seeing in our market, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
That remodeling activity is cooling in every sector except the high end market.

The rich have plenty of money to spend.
But the middle class, who have been the backbone of the remodeling boom for a decade or more, are AWOL this year.

Between building and remodeling our sector has kept the nation booming, even with signals to the contrary; such as an expensive war, deficit spending and a dropping dollar

I think a number of factors are driving this trend:

1. Housing values are stagnant or dropping.
2. Incomes (except the executives) are not keeping up with inflation.
3. Massive household debt.
4. Tightening credit.

It'll be interesting to see what happens next.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Susan Serra Blogging at KBIS

Susan will be sending real time reports from the Kitchen Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas this week.
If you want to be up on the latest and greatest trends and hot new products, don't miss her blog posts on The Kitchen Designer including podcasts of interesting seminars.


Below is a copy of her post:

Going To The Kitchen Show in Vegas, Baby!

I'll be working hard, trying to fit everything in, the fabulous food samples on the show floor by top chefs like Marcus Samuelsson, from the major appliance manufacturers, the massages from Moen at their press event, the press events at top nightclubs...and, oh yes, the products at the booths, l promise to find all kinds of great stuff and dutifully report back. Whether from major manufacturers, or very small, wonderful artisans, the show has it ALL. You'll hear from me during the show!

I got this great new voice recorder thing that does something special with podcasts, so if I can figure it out, I'll be putting up podcasts. I hate my voice (doesn't everyone?) played back, but I'll sacrifice vanity to give you information right from the sources. I'm so revved up for this as I am every year....see you in Vegas, baby!

A Plumber's Blog/Best Plumber in SF

I just HAD to share this one.
It's a new blog but the posts are great!
I have a soft spot for plumbers.
Spoiled by mine:
Ron Mirkovich
R Mirkovich & Sons Plumbing, San Francisco 415-467-1610
He's the BEST Plumber I've ever met. Bar none!
I'm afraid though that Ron is not a blogger.

Kwik Fix - The Blog
The Kwik Fix plumbers blog is the official blog for Kwik Fix Plumbing, based in Cumbria, UK. The blog offers plumbing advice, answers to plumbing problems, news on Kwik Fix, competitions and info on plumbers jobs.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Re: Architects' Take on Latest Kitchen Trends

Most architects are not much shakes at kitchen design but they are "right on" with most of these trends in my area of California.
About the only thing I differ with them on is the natural wood cabinets. I still do more white or light painted cabinets than wood...Our small kitchens might account for that.
Most of the wood cabinets I do are the islands in the middle of painted kitchens.
Also synthetic countertops declined here long ago.
I am not seeing much call for outdoor kitchens. I think Californians have had them all along.


According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which regularly keeps track of housing trends through their Home Design Trends Survey, the following are some of the most prevalent "wants" in today's kitchens:

* Larger pantry space
* High-end appliances
* Integration with family space
* Natural stone counters
* Island work areas
* Natural wood cabinets

Synthetic, solid-surface countertops that experienced a boom in years past have started to decline in popularity, with natural stone such as granite still ranking above others.
Plus, there is a greater number of square feet being devoted to kitchens to account for their popularity as the family gathering spot.
And the number of separate cooking facilities throughout the home are increasing, including the additions of outdoor kitchens in many areas of the country.

Wanna Take a Vacation?

I just did.

In a bunch of Jane Coslick's little cottages.

Jane takes run down shacks on Tybee Island in Georgia (near Savannah) and turns them into the most colorful and funky cottages (probably not for the masculine among us).

See for yourself.

You can even reserve and rent these two.

I LOVE the Web.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Microwave Your Kitchen Sponge

If you are like me you always have a kitchen sponge at the ready to mop up spills.

I use those 3M ones with the green scrubby on the back.

I often put my sponge in the dishwasher to sanitize it.

Now there has been a study on the best ways to do this by the USDA.

They found that heating a sponge in the microwave on high for one minute, or running it through a full dishwasher cleaning, including the drying cycle; both removed 99.99999% of bacteria.

That's good enough for me.
It's good to know I don't have to wait until the dishwasher's full to get a clean sponge.


KBIS1 - Hot New Sink

KBIS is the annual convention and show for the US kitchen and bath industry.

This year the convestion is in Las Vegas and runs from May 7th through the 10th.

Manufacturers introduce their newest products there every year and the buzz is beginning to ramp up.

I will post products I think are notable.

Inspired by the rolling waves of the ocean, the new Elkay® MYSTIC2920 sink features a flowing shape and organic feel.

The gently curved design results in a sink that stands out to make a distinctive, softened statement in the kitchen.

This is so new it is not yet on their site.


Lusting After an Ecopod

The latest buzz around the blogs is all about a pricey new recycling apparatus called an Ecopod.

It mushes all your bottles and cans so you don't have to haul them out so often.

At $328 from Williams Sonoma, it is a costly way to avoid a little exercise...But who am I to say.

Guess I know what my daughters will be wanting for Christmas this year.


KBIS2 Built-In Refrigerator by Bosch

Reversible doors on this new Bosch modular fridge might make it more usable than other french door or side by side models. I assume each of the doors in the image is a separate unit.


Making its debut at the upcoming 2007 International Builders' Show, Bosch's modular Integra Refrigeration is a customizable system of cooling and freezing units that will complement most kitchen sizes and configurations. The system is available in 11 different combinations with various width sizes that incorporate refrigeration, multiple freezer possibilities and a wine cooler. A special hinge allows the unit's door to become reversible, which can be helpful for small spaces.

KBIS3 Built-In Refrigerator Modules by Thermador

Here's another modular refrigerator collection by Thermador.


Thermador's Freedom collection's built-in refrigeration complements a variety of kitchen designs. The line features 24- and 30-in. fresh food columns; 18-, 24- and 30-in. freezer columns; 18- and 24-in. dispenser freezers; and a fully integrated 36-in. bottom freezer with two or three doors. Each unit is controlled by a separate compressor and evaporator to eliminate any odor transfer.

KBIS4 Speed-Cook Oven

Here's a new speed-cook oven by a new player in the residential market, Turbochef.

It has an interesting, almost retro, look.


Widely known for its commercial appliances, TurboChef enters the residential market with a 30 in. speedcook double wall oven. The stylish unit features curved edges and hearth-shaped sculpted doors with a color LCD interface. The bottom cook cavity is a traditional convection oven, while the top uses Airspeed technology to prepare food up to 15 times faster than a conventional oven, leaving meats moist, baked goods golden brown and vegetables crisp and flavorful. The upper door is available in stainless steel, as well as six custom colors including hearth orange, thermal red, evening blue, charcoal, ivory and white.

KBIS5 Matte Finish Stainless Countertops

Elkay is my favorite stainless sink manufacturer. They make a great product at a reasonable price. They also make custom stainless countertops.

I also love integrated sinks. They are the best thing going because there is no seam to get grungy between sink and countertop.

Stainless countertops are pretty easy to order AFTER new cabinets are installed. It is critical to make a template to send to the fabricators. Corners of houses are not always (in fact, seldom) square.


Widely known for its stylish sinks, Elkay adds a new custom-matte finish stainless steel countertop to its repertoire. The countertops are fabricated to seamlessly integrate with any of the company's sinks for a sleek, uniform look. The finish develops into a warm patina over time and is also resistant to fingerprints and smudges.

KBIS6 Glass Tiles at a Friendly Price

I LOVE the look but it has always astonished me that glass tile is so expensive. Glass is about the cheapest thing to make on the planet. It's made of sand for heaven's sake!

Here's some glass tile from reycled glass that is a bit more reasonable than most.


Make a subtle or bold statement with Eco-Friendly Flooring's glass tiles crafted from 100 percent recycled glass. The post-consumer and post-industrial glass is crushed, mixed with metallic oxides and poured into molds to produce a durable, translucent tile. With hundreds of variations in color, style and finish, the pieces are ideal for backsplashes, countertops and showers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Low-Wattage Metal Halide Lighting

Looks like metal halide could be the next big thing in residential lighting.
The darling of designers has been halogen lighting for its sparkling intense light.

A new
study shows that energy-efficient small metal halide bulbs can replace halogen, compact fluorescent and incandescent.

"Low-wattage metal halide lighting systems offer high-intensity light output in a small, energy-efficient, package. Recent developments in the technology have broadened their range of applications, replacing higher wattage incandescent lamps, PAR halogen lamps, and compact fluorescent lamps in recessed downlighting, accent lighting, and retail lighting. Low-wattage metal halide lighting systems provide good color rendering properties and good optical control."

This set of images is from Venture Lighting. The center image is a proprietary product they are making for commercial use (the wattage is way to much for residential).