Monday, January 28, 2013

NIM: Getting Moxie in the Shower

What is it with Kohler and music?  While researching the VibraAcoustic bathtub for a previous post I came across something that, if not WAY more awesome is at least much more likely to find its way into my shower.

This is the Moxie shower head from Kohler. It looks like your average everyday shower head, but in addition to 60 angle nozzles that will wake you out of your morning stupor, the Moxie contains a wireless speaker that will work with your Bluetooth® enabled music player to bring you 7 hours of shower-karaoke!  The Moxie is available in 2.0 gpm or a 2.5 gpm spray, and the speaker part of it is removable so you can take it with you to the kitchen, or just to charge it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Colour Trends - New Corian Colours for 2013

Last week Corian introduced their new colours to a select group at a special dinner in New York.  The idea was to create an experience that would help the diners understand the thought process that went into the development of the new colours.  Unfortunately for me, dining doesn't translate well through Twitter, but I was at least able to learn about some very exciting new offerings.

The nine new colours for 2013 have been divided into 3 "themes": Solidify, Interference and Raw.

Theme: Solidify
- Luna White
- Stardust
- Deep Sea
- Silver Gray
- Mineral

Theme: Interference
- Pebble
- Desert
Theme: Raw
- Whipped Cream
- Seafoam

I'm looking forward to having some samples in my hands soon so I can see some of the subtle variations in the colours Corian has been successfully introducing over the past few years.  Quartz may be leading the way in terms of "life-like" man-made materials, but the latest offerings from Corian are quickly closing the gap.

This just in:  CORIAN release this video to help explain the new colours.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Social Media Improves Mexican Food

I met my friend Shelora several years ago through the food forum eGullet.  Since she and her husband live in my wife's home town we were able to meet up several times, and since we met because of a common love of food and cooking, most of those meetings were spent making and eating delicious meals.  This visit was no different.

Shelora it should be said is a fantastic cook, but she is most spectacular when it comes to Mexican food.  Just check out her blog Cooking With a Broad for proof. When I invited them for dinner she suggested we spend the evening drinking prosecco and making  chile rellenos.  Chile rellenos are simply stuffed chiles that are then battered and fried.  They are an absolute favourite of mine, and I had never made them.  I couldn't ask for a better instructor.

The wonderful thing about Mexican cooking is that little of it happens quickly.  It's a slow process to develop flavours, reconstitute dried chiles ... and in my books taking time while cooking is a good thing.  Shelora sent me a shopping list and some preliminary instructions while she was still in Mexico: 2 pounds pork shoulder, 2 onions, 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, garlic, tequila.

The morning of the 31st I cubed the pork shoulder and simmered it for about 4 hours in water (enough to cover the pork by about 1") along with the onion (roughly chopped) and a couple dried chipotle chiles.  The objective was to simmer the pork into submission so it was so tender you it could easily shred by hand.  I drained of the liquid and kept it to be used later, and shred the pork.

The tomatoes were diced (Shelora has some mad knife skills) and all but half a pound of them were thrown into a large sauté pan with a chopped onion, 2 cloves of chopped garlic and a dash of salt & pepper.  The remaining tomatoes were put into a blender along with about a cup of the simmering liquid, 1/2 a stick of cinnamon, 2 whole allspice and 2 whole cloves.  This puré was added to the sauté pan along with the shredded pork.  The result called a picadillo and was what we would stuff into the peppers.

The dried chiles were were using had been imported by Shelora from Oaxaca.  I'll let her describe them in the comments because there are far too many types of chiles available for me to even to pretend to know what I'm talking about.  The chiles were reconstituted in some orange juice, tequila and hot water, and the carefully slit open and the seeds removed (I have some mad knife skills of my own).  We pat the chiles dry and carefully stuffed them with the picadillo.  A careful roll in some seasoned flour and they were ready for frying.

We prepared to deep fry the chiles by heating 1" of vegetable oil in a cast iron fry pan.  Shelora separated 6 eggs and whipped the whites to stiff peaks.  The yolks were whipped and then folded into the whites to make the batter.  To coat the chiles in the batter Shelora put a dollop of the batter in the cooking oil, laid a stuffed chile on top of the floating "island, and then covered the chile with another dollop of batter.  She had literally just learned a this technique at a class in Mexico ... and it worked to perfection.

Here is the first course to our evening's meal.  We started with prosecco, chile rellenos, and some amazing mescal, and finished with raclette (inspired by another internet friend) and a couple bottles of riesling.  Conversation flowed, more bottles of wines were opened and friendships were rekindled.  The rellenos were amazing.  The company was even better.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Colour Trends - Dethroning Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is King. In the world of surface hardware appliances and plumbing fixtures no other finish or colour has dominated the market place like stainless steel.  I've heard predictions of the demise of stainless steel as far back as ten years ago, and yet stainless remains top dog.  But as the Roman Empire discovered,  nothing lasts forever.  So for sake of argument let's assume stainless steel is going by the wayside.  What finish (or finishes) are poised to take over?


Black is a really difficult finish to work with, especially when dealing with high use appliances.  I have a black fridge at home, and find myself wiping the face of it almost every day.  But black is a great finish to work with.  Case in point, the Odin collection of bathroom fixtures designed by Brizo and Jason Wu.  The flexibility of the matte black works perfectly with almost any colour scheme and the simplicity of the faucets.


Are we really ready to go back to white?  Whirlpool sure thinks so and have created a complete line of White Ice appliances to prove it.  Myself? In the right circumstances (think European minimalist) the white would work really well.  My only concern is the same concern I have with anything white; will Whirlpool's white work with the white provided by your cabinet maker?  Mismatched whites are simply wrong.


There is no denying the popularity of grey.  Something about Scandinavian winters is really appealing to designers (who have likely never lived through one).  Appliance manufacturers have been quick to jump on this trend, not so much to adopt grey but to find an affordable alternative to stainless steel.  GE for example has added Slate to their repertoire and actively market it as a stainless steel alternative, pointing out it's easier to clean than the real thing.

There are many other finishes available from other manufacturers.  But these are the big challengers I see to the reign of stainless steel.  What else have you seen?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Housing Project in Vancouver Uses Shipping Containers

This is a jobsite just down the street from the Paradigm showroom on Alexander Street. If you had just stumbled upon this on a grey wet morning like today you could be forgiven for thinking it’s just a stack of shipping containers, perhaps a temporary storage location for one of the many shipping companies on the waterfront.

But this is actually a low-income housing project; the first of it’s kind in Canada. The 12-unit complex is scheduled to open this April and will be made available to homeless and “at-risk” women in Vancouver’s infamous Downtown Eastside. The project is the brainchild of Atira Women’s Resource Society and JTW Consulting which worked for two years to create the design, raise money and convince the city it was doable.

Total price tag for the project? Less than $100,000 per unit. Some shrewd purchasing has reduced costs. The containers for example were bought from the Port of Vancouver for $3,000 each. The units will cost less than $100,000 each to build. There’s also substantial cost savings from the lack of construction waste.
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