05 January 2015

Apple Juice… Without a Juicer?


That’s right, if you’re getting a cold weather craving for some delicious apple juice but don’t yet have a dedicated juicer, you’re in luck. Making apple juice in your own kitchen is not nearly as intimidating as it may seem. With a few basic supplies and a bit of patience, it’s relatively easy to churn out fresh, homemade apple juice unrivaled by anything you get at the store.

Choosing Apples
The apples you pick for your juice have a tremendous effect on the finished product. In fact, if you choose your apples carefully, there will be little or no need for added sweeteners due to the high levels of natural sugar in the fruit. When making apple juice, a variety of red apples such as Red Delicious and Fuji should be used to create complex flavors. Bruised or otherwise imperfect fruits can also be used for juice making, as their full flavor is intact.

If possible, fresh apples should be obtained from a local farmers’ market instead of a supermarket or other store for maximum flavor and freshness. Each bushel of apples yields about sixteen quarts of apple juice, so keep this ratio in mind when determining the amount of apples you will need for your juice making project.

Be sure to get an appropriate number of glass mason jars to store your juice in.

Preparation
When you have decided on a suitable blend of apples for your juice, it’s time to start the process. Begin by thoroughly washing out the jars in hot, soapy water, then boil the jars for ten minutes to completely sanitize them. Keep the jars and lids submerged in the hot water until it’s time to use them to prevent them from breaking when you fill them with the heated apple juice.

Next, wash the apples in plain cold water and remove the cores with a corer or paring knife. Transfer the apples to a large, thick-bottomed pot filled with four inches of boiling water and put the lid on the pot to steam them. When the apples have softened, place them into a colander lined with layers of cheesecloth and allow the juice to drip into a large pot for an hour or until the apples are dry.

Juice Making
When the pot is full, add cinnamon to taste and bring the mixture to a low, simmering boil. Transfer the juice to quart-size canning jars, screw on the lid and tighten the ring around the jar. Place the jars in a water bath submerged in two inches of water for five minutes then remove them from the water with a pair of canning tongs, loosen the rings slightly, and leave them to cool slowly in a draft-free area overnight.

After the jars are cool, check them for a tight seal by pressing the center of the lid down. If it stays down, the jar is sealed and ready for storage. If the center makes a popping sound and pops back up, there is no seal and the jar should be placed in the refrigerator right away to prevent spoilage.

Homemade apple juice is both superior to store bought juice and simple to make in your own kitchen. This apple juice will stay fresh in the jar with no special attention for up to two years, so one batch will allow you to enjoy delicious apple juice all winter and beyond.

09 December 2014

How much should you spend on a blender to use in your kitchen?


A blender is one of those kitchen utensils that can vary greatly in price, from the tens of dollars to the mid hundreds. There’s no easy answer as to how much you should pay for a blender, a good deal of the decision is going to depend on what you want to use it for. Of course your budget will also need to come into the equation.

If you’re a nutrition fanatic, and the blender is going to be put to work to make everything from soup to purées and from nut butter to baby food, then may want to invest in a powerful machine that’s going to withstand the workload. On the other hand if you’re just a smoothie a day person you probably don’t need to break the bank.

What’s the difference between the different priced blenders?

The blenders at the top end of the market are expensive, there’s no two ways about it, but they do have impressive blending strength. They have a real work horse of an engine and precision engineering that makes sure whatever you are blending is literally pummeled away. They are sturdy and strong and they will endure a large amount of wear and tear. Not to mention, they are the nutrition aids that are popular to be seen with. If you’re interested in keeping up with the neighbors, these are the blenders that you aspire to.

Now, if you have the budget, you may want to have one of these mean machines no matter what, but do you really need it? There are plenty of blenders on the market in a lower price range that will do a job for normal day to day blending.

The mid-price range blenders, at around $100, will happily withstand your normal soup and smoothie demands without surrendering under the pressure, and it has to be said that even those blenders in the lower price range are worth considering if you’re not a major foodie. Let’s face it, if your blender is only going to see the light of day a couple of times a week, and you’re happy with a relatively smooth smoothie, you may be quite happy with a lower end blender that does a basic job.

Are there any other options?

If you don’t want to invest in a standing blender then you may want to consider an immersion or “stick” blender. If you have an immersion blender then you literally just have the stick; the motor is situated in the handle. This may be a good option for you if you are limited to the amount of storage space you have, and you only blend small amounts. For larger jobs, such as blending a whole kale, you really need to use a standing blender.

If you love your smoothies and soups then a blender is a great addition to your kitchen. If that’s as far as your culinary blending exploits are likely to progress then you don’t need to spend a huge amount on a blender. If you want to blend away for hours, with a high rate of blending power, then it may be worth taking the plunge and making that big investment.

08 December 2014

Bathroom storage options

The bathroom can sometimes be forgotten when it comes to interior design, but a beautiful bathroom can truly make a house a home. When designing or fitting your bathroom we all know that it can be difficult choosing furniture that’s not only functional but also adds to the design of your space.

To us a good bathroom is a well-organised space and when it comes to bathroom storage a high quality bathroom vanity is integral. The humble bathroom vanity is more often than not seen as a pretty functional piece of furniture. It is used to hide unsightly plumbing, house your sink and provide accommodation for your towels or toiletries. We have complied some innovative bathroom vanity options for you to consider if you’re looking to get the balance of storage and aesthetic just right.By making the right choices when it comes to bathroom furniture you can transform your basic bathroom into a stunning sanctuary for you and your whole family to enjoy.

Offset Drawers

Whilst many vanities provide under sink storage they can sometimes have a faux-panel directly under the sink to hide the basin and any plumbing. When this top drawer is inaccessible it often leads to the vanity having just one usable, low level drawer giving you just one large space to house all of your items. This can be annoying at times and some of your items may be difficult to reach for.

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Offset vanities add space either on one or both sides of the basin. This allows for extra drawer space allowing you to organize your products much more efficiently. When adding smaller drawers to either side of the sink at waist level it also provides easier access to your products without the need to bend down.

Some designs add extra spacing to just one side of the sink, this allows for a whole column of drawers down one side for storage and extra counter space. This extra counter space can be great to place your everyday items on or even to decorate with something that adds to the look and feel of your bathroom space.

Sliding doors

Vanities that use sliding doors are a great choice for narrow or small spaces where opening a door or pulling out a drawer may be difficult.

Vanities with sliding doors usually leave the area underneath your basin exposed meaning you can utilize all the space around it, this is great news if your bathroom is a little on the small side.

Corner Vanities

Corner pieces are brilliant at making the most of small spaces and usually come in both traditional and contemporary designs. Depending on the size of your space some corner vanities come with an extra column of drawers or even built in shelves either side of your sink basin.

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Older Styles of Vanity

Sleek, minimal and modern vanities not your first choice?Although the word ‘innovative’ usually lends itself to more modern designs traditional or vintage bathroom vanities can also be the answer to your storage problems. Although most traditional vanities will have a faux-drawer panel they usually make up for it by being generally larger in size.  Pieces such as this one from Abiletilecentreare are a great example of this. As well has being home to an array of drawers in different sizes pieces like this are bursting with character and can be the stand out piece in your bathroom.

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Pieces like this are made to last a lifetime so although they seem a little pricey at the time do not be discouraged, instead see a piece like this as an investment.

For a wide range of bathroom vanity options visit Abiletilecentre.

28 November 2014

Drips, leaks and squirts: simple fixes for your kitchen faucet

Via
When you turn your faucet off and it doesn't turn off panic usually sets it. After you’re done getting angry, you usually need to head to the hardware store to try to fix the problem. But, what should you purchase? A lot of DIY solutions just aren't right, and they can actually leave you worse off than when you started. Here are some solutions to swear by, not at.

Determine Where the Leak Is Coming From

This is probably the most important step. If you don’t know where the leak is coming from, you can’t fix it - period. So, try to determine if it’s leaking just from the faucet itself or if the water is also coming out of the handle. If it’s leaking from the faucet, you may need to replace a seal here, or you might need to replace the whole faucet, depending on what’s damaged and how badly.

If the leak is coming from the handle, it may be a simple O-ring.

Shut the Water Off

Shut the water off before you start working or you’ll have a gigantic mess on your hands. The shut-off valve for most kitchen sinks is usually underneath the sink. It’s a small handle that you can turn to shut the water off. Sometimes, it’s a lever. 

Verify that the water is off before proceeding.

Pry off Your Faucet Handle

If you have a single-handled cartridge faucet, pry the small plastic cap off the top of the handle. If you have a duel-handle faucet, you’ll need to take the decorative cap off both the hot and cold water handles. If you have a handle-style faucet, instead of a twist knob, you can usually unscrew the end of the handle and then unscrew the fixture.

The cartridge lies underneath the decorative cap or handle. There’s also a cartridge in here that mixes the hot and cold water if the cartridge is worn out or cracked, it’s entirely possible that water could be seeping through here to the spout.

Fortunately, this piece usually pops out so that you can replace it. If it doesn't you may need to replace the entire faucet unit.

Unscrew the bonnet with a pair of slip-joint pliers and then use needle-nosed pliers to grab the U-shaped retainer clip. Set this aside, but remember its orientation. Inspect the o-ring while you’re at it. Once the bonnet is removed, more of the faucet can be taken apart on most models.

If the rubber o-ring is damaged, replace it.

Replace the Parts and Put Everything Back Together

Most parts on your faucet can be purchased at a hardware store, but if you want decorative parts, now is the time to replace them. Stores and websites, like BedBathandBeyond.com, carry a lot of really attractive models that aren't very expensive but look amazing.

Reassembly of the faucet is the exact reverse of removal. Make sure that that the bonnet is reoriented in the correct way before securing the handle. Otherwise, you’ll have another leak on your hands.

Michael Perry has had his share of leaking faucets. A father of five busy children, he's always fixing something or writing about fixing something. Look for his informative articles on a variety of websites and blogs.

19 November 2014

Up for quality bathroom tips? Then you're in luck

Via

Clothes piled on the floor, mould on the ceiling, lime scale-ridden taps and sinks that overflow at the merest hint of water – yeah, you need a bathroom makeover.

It’s the heart of the home, the bathroom. You’ll sit and contemplate life on the toilet, bellow show tunes in the shower and preen yourself to perfection in the mirror – are there any more important things in life?

But if your bathroom is more Poundland than upmarket fab, we've got a few ideal solutions for you.

Fantastic flooring

Nobody wants to feel like their feet are blocks of ice when they wander into their bathroom. But carpeting is an ill-advised solution, increasing the likelihood of mould and rot on your floorboards.
For the finest flooring, install marble in your bathroom and combine it with bath mats in key areas where you’ll be resting your feet.

The most luxurious marble tiles will leave your floor with a luxurious sheen, even if it will leave a hefty dent in your wallet.

Divide and rule

Dividers are great for any room, giving you the illusion of extra space without the need for any fancy DIY. But in the bathroom, they have an even more practical purpose.

Just imagine those times when you’re desperate to use the toilet but someone else is in the shower. With a judiciously placed divider, you could nip into the bogs without either of you feeling like your privacy has been invaded.

You could even add a divider on a relatively low budget, with a simple freestanding version available in supermarkets or design stores.

It’s only natural – or is it?

You've probably heard the concept that we’re more influenced by either the creative or rational sides of our brain – but you probably never thought it would affect your bathroom design.

Indeed, the more romantic amongst you will most likely favour a rich, mahogany or beech wood finish in their bathroom; the kind that casts the mind to the great outdoors.

Invest in some strong oak worktops and you’ll feel like you’re in a bristling woodland log cabin – even if you’re just in a flat in Croydon.

But then there are the more rational realists amongst you. You’ll most likely favour a clean pure-white sheen in your bathroom, with jet black worktops and a plain shower. The perfect example of function over romance.

However, the best bathrooms will incorporate both to suit their own tastes and their guests. Figure out the ideal middle ground and you’ll be able to sit on the toilet in absolute luxury.

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