Monthly Archives: April 2017

Spring Recipes: Pineapple Habanero Paleta

April 27

Mexico has given us so many wonderful treats – tacos, churros, and paletas! Yes, today I’m giving you an absolutely delicious, *low-cook, recipe.

Paletas are popsicles made from fruit. They’re so refreshing on hot days and offer lip-smacking flavor. Really, they’re not just for spring. For this recipe, you can certainly use any fruit you’d like. (You can even add 1/4 cup of white tequila if you want to make these an exclusively adult treat!)

Give them a try, and let me know how you make these your own. Enjoy!

Pineapple Habanero Paleta

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lime
  • 1 red habanera pepper, seeded, finely minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 4 cups pineapple, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Cut 4 wide strips of lime peel (white pith removed) and add to water mixture. Squeeze the lime into a small bowl and set aside. Add habanera little by little depending on how much heat you can handle!
  2. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand for about 30 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine mesh into a bowl. Discard habanero and lime peel. Add reserved lime juice to syrup.
  4. Place pineapple, lime syrup, and salt in a blender. Process until smooth.
  5. Pour mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

*Low-cook … because it does require a small saucepan. But, no range hood necessary. It’s still quick and easy, though!

Do This If You Don’t Have A Range Hood

April 25

Talking about range hoods is loads of fun and all. I mean, really, who doesn’t love to ogle a beautifully crafted hood set perfectly over a gorgeous stove in a perfect kitchen? But, let’s get real.

Sometimes, kitchens just don’t come equipped with range hoods. You’ll see this particularly in older homes … really older homes. Before the 1950s, homes weren’t typically built with range hoods. Even through the ’50s and ’60s, you might walk into a home that doesn’t have one. Don’t forget, too, that if you’re renting an apartment, you might not have access to one.

So, what do you do if you’re living in a range hood-less home? Here are my best tips. If you’ve got any of your own, include them in the comments below!

In the meantime, you can dream about these great range hoods that incorporate the Internet of Things!

Open up. If you have a window in the kitchen (or at least one nearby) open it up. Even in the dead of winter, opening the window a crack can make a huge difference to your indoor air quality.

Bring in a substitute. Take a trip over to your local hardware or department store and buy the best HEPA air filter and purifier you can afford. The best ones typically have multiple power settings that will filter the air according to how much odor and fumes are present.

Small, but mighty. If your apartment is small enough, you can try switching on the bathroom fan. That bit of extra air circulation might be all you need to keep the kitchen odors, smoke, and fumes under control.

 

Bring Earth Day Into The Kitchen

April 21

With Earth Day just around the corner, I’ve found myself thinking of ways that I could mark the occasion in my kitchen. Believe it or not, Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970! Since then so many of us all around the world have recognized the day by changing something small or big (but nevertheless significant!) in our lives. So, if you’re having trouble thinking of something to do this year, I’ve got you covered. If you’re doing something that’s not on this list, please let me know! Let’s share some ideas that can make our earth a better place.

Eat less. Cook less. Most of us can probably stand to cook less food. The issue isn’t about leftovers. I, for one, happen to adore leftovers. As much as I love to cook, I appreciate not doing so every once in a while. No, the issue with cooking too much food is that we end up wasting more than we probably should. Do you ever cook up a little too much thinking that you’ll eat it the next day or the day after that only to forget about it … until you clean out the back of the fridge, of course! Yeah, it happens to me, too. But, no more. From now on, I’m paying close attention to portion sizes.

Compost it. Do you have a composter in your backyard? I do. Some cities collect kitchen waste at the curb and compost it. Get yourself a small container, line it with a paper bag, and fill it with coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, and anything else you’ve got that is organic and will decompose.

Make stock. Instead of tossing those vegetable discards into the composter, why not toss them into a pot instead? Add water, a few peppercorns, and any herbs you might have on hand. Turn up the heat and turn on the range hood fan. In a couple of hours you should have a flavorful stock that you can use for soup or to flesh out sauces.

Go clean. Kitchens can get pretty grimy, can’t they? Opt for natural cleaners like baking soda and lemon juice. They’ll do away with the grease and dirt while keeping the environment healthy.

Got any tips of your own? Share them!

Monthly Pick – The Island Range Hood

April 19

Honestly, whoever designed the first island range hood deserves a medal. I love them. I love the freedom they allow. If you’ve got one, then you know the advantages they allow. You can cook and face your friends and family. You can prep and cook in the same area without having to cart those chopped onions across a distance.

Island range hoods, if you haven’t already guessed, provide a huge amount of flexibility in today’s kitchens. It can create a hub of activity around one area where everyone gathers to talk, cook, and eat. This style of hoods works as well as any other ducted hood. The key (again like all hoods) is to install it properly.

If there’s any potential drawback to an island range hood, it’s that your contractor may have to install more ductwork along the ceiling to ensure that fumes, odors, and grease are ducted to the outdoors. Adding more ductwork and cutting into more ceiling can end up costing you more. Make sure you talk with your contractor about all the details involved in installation before you begin.

Give us a call if you have more specific questions about island range hoods. We love talking to you!

 

Pros and Cons: Ducted vs Non-Ducted Range Hoods

April 17

Sometimes the language around range hoods can get pretty murky, like this: cfm, btu, ducted. It can leave you thinking, “But I just want one that looks great!” No worries. We’re here to break it all down for you. Keep reading and you’ll be able to make an informed choice and choose the one you like best.

Today, I wanted to focus on this idea of a ducted vs a non-ducted range hood. It basically comes down to this:

  • Ducted hoods are connected to ducts that carry odors, grease, and grime out of the kitchen and out to the outdoors.
  • Non-ducted hoods suck up those same odors, grease, and grime through a filter. The air is then recycles the air back through the kitchen.

Pros

  • Ducted hoods allow you to use a larger stove.
  • Ducted hoods are typically better at clearing the air of humidity and steam.

 

  • Non-ducted hoods can be installed anywhere in the kitchen.
  • Filters for non-ducted hoods are quick to clean.

Cons

  • Ducted hoods must be installed where there’s already ductwork behind the walls.

 

  • Non-ducted hoods do not remove dirty, stale air. So, the kitchen can become humid and smelly.

Over to you: What’s in your kitchen? What do you like (or not like) about it?

6 Tips On Dealing With Weekend Guests

April 13

This coming Easter and Passover weekend is a big one for visiting friends and family. Many of us will be throwing open the door to that little used spare room or tossing an inflatable mattress down in the basement.

For the person hosting the get-together, preparing for guests can be a bit of a nightmare. You have to consider your guests likes and dislikes, allergies and sensitivities. Will children accompany the adults? Will you eat banquet style around a central table or will you forgo cooking entirely?

So many questions!

Don’t worry, I’ve compiled a few tips to get you through these next few days. Better yet, not only will you get through them, you’re going to enjoy every moment you spend with your friends and family … just make sure you follow these tips first!

Read more about using a range hoods when guests are in the kitchen.

Decorate. Place pretty vases loaded with fresh flowers around your home. Just the sight of those blooms with lift everyone’s mood and reduce stress.

Refresh. Whether you’re giving up your own bed for a guest or are relegating them to a spare bedroom, take up all the bed linens and give them a good wash. I like to use scented laundry detergent. But, you can also add a bit of natural lavender water to a spray bottle and spritz the linens and pillow cases.

Display. Did one of your visiting guests give you a gift that you’ve stashed away in a box somewhere? Now’s the time to put it out and display it!

Work ahead. Depending on how much space you have (and whether you have a dedicated dining room), you can try to cut out some of the last minute chores by setting the table well ahead of time. Of course, you can also assign your guests to this task, too. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to help out!

Weather it. Check the weather forecast. You’re definitely going to want to know if you will all be packed into your home during one of the worst rainstorms in recent history, or whether you’ll be able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Plan activities accordingly.

To cook or not…. Even if you plan on cooking the main meal, consider whether you want to be responsible for cooking every meal over the course of the weekend. You can ask your guests ahead of time to come prepared to cook at least one meal. Or you can bake (or buy!) ready-made muffins, sandwich fixings, and other food that will keep you out of the kitchen while calming your guests hunger pangs. Just because your guests are staying with you, doesn’t mean that you can’t go out to a restaurant (either separately or together).

How do you deal with a houseful of guests?

Pro Tips: How To Hire A Great House Cleaning Service

April 11

It’s that time again, folks. It’s time for Spring Cleaning. Here’s your opportunity to throw open the windows, haul out the cleaning equipment, and scrub, scrub, scrub at those areas that have been neglected up to now.

Are you one of those rare individuals who love cleaning? I must admit that I love the result of cleaning. That sparkling, fresh house is really something to behold. The elbow grease … well, not so much.

If you’re celebrating Passover, cleaning at this time of year takes on special meaning. Scrubbing down the kitchen, in particular, is a necessary first step to celebrating the season. Although traditionally it was all about sweeping out every last trace of yeast, now, many people take the opportunity to wash away all the dust, dirt, and grime that has built up over the winter.

The fact is that many of us just don’t have the time to really do a deep cleaning. So, here’s the perfect opportunity to hire in some help. Check out our tips below.

You charge how much? Cleaning services typically charge an hourly rate. Some will visit your home to determine how many hours and how many employees they will need to properly clean your home. My advice to you is don’t skimp. Hiring a cleaning service may seem like a crazy way to spend a few hundred dollars. But, you can split the cost in different ways if you need to. For instance, have a cleaning service come in for just one hour. While the cleaner is working on one part of your home, you can clean the other part.

Let the company know if you have any materials in your home that require special treatment, like stucco range hoods or cork flooring.

Have you come up with ways to save when you hire cleaning help? Share your tips!

Safety and security first. Always, always, always ask the cleaning service 3 very important questions.

First, ask them if they conduct background checks on their employees. The lion’s share of cleaning service workers are extremely trustworthy. But, it always pays to check.

Second, ask them if their employees are bonded and insured. That little legal bit ensures that if anything is broken or damaged, the cleaning service company will cover the cost.

Third, ask them if they offer worker’s compensation. Cleaning can be strenuous, and our homes are definitely places where accidents can happen. A cleaning service company that carries worker’s compensation will be able to cover their employees needs in case they are injured. Otherwise, you (the homeowner) will be liable.

Gather the right cleaning equipment. Ask the cleaning service if their employees will bring their own cleaning solutions and equipment or if you need to provide all of that for them.

Feedback. Afterwards, remember to contact the company to give suggestions or feedback on how the cleaning went. The company should be open to receiving any comments from you – good or bad – and building on that information.

Got a pet? Most of us are very protective when it comes to our pets. We worry about our pets getting into toxic cleaning supplies or escaping if a door is inadvertently left open. We should also be thinking about how our pets react to strangers in our homes. If possible, keep your pet contained during the cleaning.

What do you get for your money? Perhaps most importantly is the question of what services are included in the fee. Will the cleaners focus on one or more floors? Will they mop and vacuum? Make sure you ask about these details so that you won’t be disappointed.

Pros And Cons : Stainless Steel Range Hoods

April 7

Were you an early convert to the stainless steel look? Full disclosure: I wasn’t. It’s taken me a while, but I have to say I’ve really come around. I do love the look now. I love how clean it looks, and I love how stainless steel works really well with any other material or color in the kitchen.

When they first came onto the scene, stainless steel fixtures and appliances lived at the high end of the price spectrum. Now that so many manufacturers have jumped in and are producing stainless steel models, the price has come down a bit. Here at Range Hoods Inc, we carry a lot of stainless steel range hood models … many of which are on sale right now … go check them out!

But, if you’re still sitting on the fence wondering whether you should invest in a stainless steel range hood, or whether you should opt for something else, I thought I’d list some pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Pros

  • Like I said, stainless steel works well with any kitchen design style – modern or traditional.
  • It lends any kitchen a kind of high-end, upscale look, which can increase your home’s selling value.
  • Although still on the expensive side, the price has come down considerably since they were first introduced.
  • Stainless steel is sturdy and rust-resistant. In other words, a stainless steel range will look great for many years to come.

Cons

  • Stainless steel can show fingerprints, dust, and grime.
  • Stainless steel range hoods do cost more than those made from other materials.
  • Not all stainless steel is magnetic. This isn’t a huge problem with range hoods. But, it can be if you’re thinking of matching your fridge, stove, and other appliances.

Are you a fan of stainless steel? Let us know!

Monthly Pick – Avoid These Mistakes When Buying A Range Hood

April 5

Since you’re already shopping around for a new range hood, you’re already avoiding mistake number one. The first mistake that most people tend to make is that they don’t realize their old range hood needs to be replaced. Just because it still runs doesn’t mean it runs well or that it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing well enough. So, congratulations … you’re well on your way to a healthier kitchen environment. Let’s see if I can keep you on track to that better space by letting you know about these common mistakes.

It’s not an ornament. We decorate our walls with beautiful art. We create beautiful food. We choose countertop, cabinet, and floor finishes that are particularly pleasing to the eye. The range hood should fit right into that pattern. By all means, choose one that works well with your decor. But … and this is a big one … the primary concern should be how well it works. Look for the right range hood that works best with your stove. Whether you cook with electric or gas makes a huge difference in terms of which range hood you should be eyeing.

Cheap and cheerful. Sure, everyone wants to save money. And you can if you spend a little time looking for range hood sales. You’re bound to find something that lets you check off all your requirements. The key though is research. Don’t automatically settle for the best price. You need to make sure that the range hood is the right one for your stove. Choose one that offers multiple power settings (low, mid-range, and high). The point of a range hood is to clean the air in your home by removing all the grease, odor, and fumes that are produced every time cooking happens.

Size matters. No one wants to hit their head against a range hood while they’re cooking. So, to avoid that, you might think it’s ok to install the hood high above the stove. Don’t do that. A range hood that’s set too high just will not be able to do the job it’s meant to do. Check the manufacturer’s suggestions. If all else fails, choose a different type of range hood.

Not sure how to choose a range hood for your particular kitchen situation? Give us a call. We love talking with you!

 

 

Spring Recipes: Rustic Plum Cake

plum cake

This Rustic Plum Cake is an absolute gem of a recipe. It’s easy to pull together. It’s perfect for an everyday treat or special occasion. It looks scrumptious. Best of all, it tastes so delicious!

Given that Easter will be here sooner than we think, I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on at least some of the meal prep. Why not start with dessert? I know I have a couple of weeks before the big meal. But, this recipe is so versatile that it can be made ahead and frozen, and it will still be great.

Another great option with this particular recipe is that you can substitute pretty much any other fruit you like. Let me know how you personalize it!

Rustic Plum Cake

  • Butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 lbs plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp star anise, ground
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  1. Grease a 9-inch tube pan with butter. Cover the bottom of the pan with buttered parchment paper. Sprinkle the parchment paper with brown sugar. Arrange plum halves, skin-side down, on the bottom of the pan until, overlapping until completely covered. Chop the remaining plums into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Stir in lemon zest and star anise.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until mixture triples in volume and is pale in color.
  5. Carefully fold flour mixture into batter until incorporated. Stir in chopped plums. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Invert pan onto a rack to unmold.

Cake can be frozen for up to one month. Enjoy! Find more Spring Recipes here.