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02 March 2015

Ensure Our Water Future

It’s hard to believe that California is moving into its 5th straight year of an on-going drought with little belief that it will end anytime soon.

Californians are truly a self deluding group of people that are either very ignorant to the problem at hand or just refuse to see it.  I, an Angelino, still find myself letting the water run while brushing my teeth or shaving in the morning, or washing the car in the driveway or even watering the lawn on my restricted off days…I am guilty of water abuse. 

The drought can be blamed on many things, such as climate change, or maybe just a historic California weather pattern, maybe its to many people or just simply unrestricted use. 

The lack of water is having an effect on everything in the west, from farming to real estate sales.  With very little hope of rain or a heavy snow pack, our future water issue will only get worse.  The point now is to use what we have wisely to ensure our water future.

Here a few things to think about:
  • 50% of all fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in California
  • 61% of all used in California goes to irrigation
  • 37% of our national water supply goes to grow food and live-stock production
  • The average American uses 2000 gal of water a day…twice the global average.  It’s like running the dishwasher 400 times a day, per person
  • A 10 minute shower takes 25 gal…a 5 minute shower would save 300 gal a month.

Water Tips:
    1. Buy A New Dishwasher
A new, water and energy efficient dishwasher use is less water than washing your dishes by hand.  Make sure your dishwasher is fully loaded to get the most out of your water.

    1. Use it Twice
When rinsing fruits, vegetables, save the water to reuse on house and potted plants.

    1. Think Local
Design your landscape to reflect local environment and climate.  Use drought-tolerant plants and herbs that need less water to survive

    1. Let It Rain
Avoid large concrete areas in you backyard, so rain water can soak into the ground naturally.  Use rain barrels to capture rain water to use in your garden.

    1. Seek Efficiency
Think about upgrading fixtures and appliances, such as dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters and toilets as well as faucets and fixtures   to save water

    1. Think Twice Before You Toss It Out
Try composting instead of using the garbage disposal.  You’ll save water and reduce food waste

    1. Stop and Think
      • Turn off the water while brushing and shaving.
      • Take a   shorter shower
      • Set        the timer on your sprinklers

 This just isn’t a California crisis, it’s a national water crisis that will effect us all and we will feel it first in our pocket books in the form of higher food and water prices long before we feel it at the spigot.  We can all make a difference if we work together.

08 February 2015

THE HEARTH STILL MAKES A HOME (re-post)

Today, when uncertainty surrounds us and the world outside seems lost to confusion and chaos, we seek, almost by instinct, sanctuary and communal comfort, much like our ancestors once did around an open fire.

Reaching into our collective past, to a time when all family, community and social activates took place deep within the heart of the castle, we find the “Hearth”, a place where life, feasting, entertainment and communal gatherings centered.

Today’s hearth, the modern kitchen has evolved far from its original function of food preparation to that of “the social hub of the home”. In the modern kitchen, the family, both nuclear as well as tribal, still gathers to share, rejuvenate and commune together, but the walls have come down and this once hidden and secluded place is now part of a larger social arena. As the hearth of yore, the modern kitchen serves as a meeting place, a dinning room, a home-office, a place to do homework; it can also serve as a sanctuary for quite reflection, or a place to gather for fun and entertainment.

Once the center of all communal life, the modern hearth has taken on a new domestic role, now finding it self reflecting a family lifestyle based on the sharing of traditional roles and functions. With a more democratic lifestyle the modern hearth embraces the kitchen as a multifunctional arena, were food is prepared, people talk, homework is finished and where family and friends sit by a modern hearth to bathe in the warmth of community.

So throw another log on the fire, pull the children closer and tell a tale or two of days gone by, and let the winds of uncertainty blow outside and feel secure in the natural warmth of the hearth of your modern castle
.

Retro Weekend


27 August 2014

The Natural Kitchen


I remember growing up as child in post-war America that food seemed to be the center of life in the Henry household.  Sunday was a family chicken dinner, Thursday spaghetti and meatballs, Friday was fresh bread and pizza from Bruno’s and the other nights we had TV dinners on the sofa watching our favorite shows, or more like my father’s favorite shows.  Although I can’t recall my mother cooking, other than our weekly chicken dinner, I do have vivid memories of Saturday morning shopping missions to the local Safeway supermarket in the San Fernando Valley.



Living in the shadow of nuclear war with the Russians, those “Godless commies” as my father would call them, we shopped as if we were shopping for the end of western-civilization.  Eggs, bacon, breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, assorted fruits and a few vegetables and cans upon cans of Jolly Green Giant corn and peas, mother would rotate them from time to time…I remember years later, helping my parents to pack up the house for a move to New Hampshire and finding cans of corn and peas in the pantry dating back to the Kennedy administration.  And meat, my God we purchased and froze more meat than we could ever possible eat…again, I have no memory of ever actual defrosting anything, other than my dad drive down to the butcher for fresh steaks because the ones he had were still frozen and far from ready to barbecue.

The point of this jog down memory-lane is to point out that much of America’s shopping and eating habits have changed very little since the 1950’s and I would go so far as to say that they have gotten far worse.  Today we need to worry about everything from an increase in food-allergies to diabetes.  As well as added growth hormones, anti-biotic to genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and that directly effects our overall health.   I believe that it’s time to rethink how we eat, what we eat and most importantly how we shop and prepare our meals.

For years I have been traveling back and forth to Europe for my work as a kitchen designer, and the opportunity presents its self to stay with friends instead of a hotel.  It has always amazed me that the kitchen, like in the US,  is the hub of daily life…it seems as if the same care and thought went into each meal, but something was very different, every meal was a symphony of color, taste and texture.  From the morning meal of eggs, cheese and assorted meats, as well as juice and coffee to the evenings meal of fish or chicken, vegetables, bread and wine.  For years I thought it was just the fact I was in a different environment than I was use to and that somehow this made the experience different.  And then it came to me.

In the middle of a lively debate, over an after-dinner glass of wine and a plate of assorted cheese, at my friends kitchen table in the Italian countryside, we were discussing the merits of American verses European kitchen design when we happen upon the topic of refrigeration, when the fundamental differences between European and American life hit me…the average American family was still living and buying food on a 50 year old model based upon an Industrial Food Complex of corporate farming, industrial processing and packaging and national retail food distribution, all which encourages mass consummation and storage of food stuffs that have been pumped  full with additives for longer shelf life. And as when I was a child, we still go out once a week and buy as if the world is about to end…hence the need for a huge, monolithic, stainless steel box we call a refrigerator. 

On the other hand, our European cousins are living an almost Utopian lifestyle when compared to ours.  Thinking that the smaller, 60cm (24”) refrigerator was due to the smaller nature of European kitchens, it was quickly brought to my attention how wrong I was and the smaller fridge was reflective of lifestyle and the daily nature of meal preparation.  Almost everything is purchased for that day’s preparation and consumption.  Fresh bread from the corner bakery, fresh fish or poultry for the evening meal, eggs, milk from a local farm and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables from the weekly farmers market or freshly picked from their own home garden.

The question is whether or not we can change our eating and buying habits for better health and nutrition.  Dr Mark Hyman believes that modern health care is flawed because it is based upon the premise of treatment and not prevention.  Dr Hyman believes that the future of health care will take place in the family kitchen and not the doctor’s office.  

He went on to say “We ate ourselves into this problem, we can eat our way out”.

I have to agree with the good doctor, I to believe we can eat our way back to a healthy lifestyle and I also believe it starts in the kitchen. I have given much thought to this and feel that we all can make a few minor changes in the way we approach the way we purchase, store ad prepare food.

The Natural Kitchen is a healthier as well as a sustainable environment. Here a few simple ways you can change your life as well improve the world around you.
The Natural Kitchen:
1.    Buy local. Buy fresh, Buy daily.      
2.    Plant a garden…Grow your own 
3.    Use your leftovers
4.    Store your food correctly for longer life
5.    Use a larder for vegetables and certain dairy products
6.    Replace your appliances to reduce energy consumption
7.    Compost your organic kitchen waste
8.    Reduce, reuse and recycle!
9.    Support the Non-GMO Project
10.  Use natural lighting when possible, LED’s when necessary.
11.  Live mindfully. Eat consciously. Choose as if it makes a difference.




 




 






05 August 2014

THE NEW LOOK OF FIRE

Ever since our ancestors first climbed down out of the trees, they promptly turned around and set them ablaze to cook the evenings catch, man has had a unique and symbiotic relationship with fire ever since. 


A love/hate relationship that spans the vastness of human evolution, mans  relationship with fire generates a variety of emotions that range from fear to comfort.  From the time we first sat around the evening’s fire, cooking a chunk of freshly killed Caribou, I am sure that our cave dwelling cousins must have had the Neolithic equivalent of “no baby…hot!” 

As man has evolved over the ages, so has the kitchen. Although the basic kitchen has changed very little from those early days, the kitchen is still the gathering place, if not so much for the tribe, but now for the modern family.  A place where we meet and start our day over a cup of coffee, prepare lunches for the kids and gather at the end of the day to discuss events over a hot meal.

Tom Hanks in castaway
What has changed is how we cook.  We have moved from firepit and spit to the hearth. From the hearth to the cast-iron stove to the modern age with electric coils to glass top radiant and induction cooktops.  I give no argument that these modern cooking devises are easy to clean and efficient to use, but they are lacking something, something human.  There is something about the “click, click, whoosh” as that little blue flame flickers to life that touches the primal man that still lives deep inside each of us.

Dacor, the iconic Southern California based manufacturer of luxury kitchen appliances, has announced the creation and introduction of the Discovery 36” GasTouchTop™, the first touch-control Gas cooktop in North America.  If fire is the cornerstone of human evolution, then the new GTT by Dacor will be the cornerstone of kitchen evolution.
Dacor GasTouchTop

The 36” Black Glass cooktop, replaces bulky knobs with touch controls, allowing the home-chef precision cooking, time controlled burners as well as a unique child-safety lock.  

The GasTouchTop combines the cooking efficiencies of gas with the convenience, precision and cleaning benefits of a glass cooktop.  The integrated touch-controls allow the home-chef to pre-set individual cooking times for maximum energy use and to prevent overcooking.

The GTT’s proprietary PreciseCook, gives the home-chef precise and incremental burner control over each burner and the ease to reset the flame to the exact previous setting without the guesswork.  In addition, the new cooktop includes Dacor’s PermaFlame™, which reignites the flame to its previous setting if the flame should be blown out for any reason.

For 50 years, Dacor has been the leader in innovative cooking technology and advanced culinary design.  With the introduction of the Discovery GasTouchTop cooktop they have once again broken now ground as well as a few old rules.

For more information regarding the Discovery GasTouchTop or other Dacor products, please visit www.dacor.com