Entertaining in the spring can be a lovely way to throw off the gloom of winter. A great spring table is at the heart of a springtime gathering. It will boost the energy and spirits of guests just by looking at it. Here are five tips to set up the perfect spring table that will leave your guests delighted.
1. Show off seasonal produce.
A good spring soiree needs to exude a feeling of freshness. There’s no better way to do this than to highlight local, seasonal produce. Arrange fresh flowers purchased at a local farmer’s market. You could also make a display of seasonal fruit and herbs to use as a centerpiece. Lay a sprig of fresh rosemary on each plate along with a name.
2. Don’t forget that food and drink can be part of the display.
Arrange a crudité platter featuring spring vegetables and pepper the table with small bowls for other snacks. Set up a drink station, featuring a selection of infused waters featuring springtime favorites like citrus fruits and berries. This can be as pretty to look at as it is refreshing and delicious to drink. You can also make fancy spring ice cubes, by dropping a berry or a citrus slice or some herbs into your ice cube tray before filling with water.
3. Let guests help.
A good group activity can make your guests more engaged, so why not let them help with some of the decorations? Get a selection of fresh flowers and gather a collection of lovely vases. Then, let your guests create their own floral arrangements while mingling. This is a great activity while you’re occupied in the kitchen. It also lessens a bit of your workload. Let guests take home some of the creations at the end of the gathering, for a special memento of the event.
4. Keep it colorful.
Spring is a colorful awakening from the gray days of winter, and your spring table should be bursting with colorful energy. Take your inspiration from nature, with springy greens, bright citrus colors, and robin’s egg blue. It’s a good idea to use these colors as accent colors along with a more neutral palette. Stick with white or cream dishes, as these are generally the most flattering for food.
5. If dining outside, include weather-appropriate accents.
An outdoor party in the spring can be delightful, but it can also be a little tricky. One way to manage the unique temperature concerns that come with a springtime party is to include some decorative but functional accents. An umbrella to block the sun is a good idea earlier in the day. As the temperature drops down into the evening, it’s nice for guests to be able to easily grab a throw to cozy up with. A colorful throw on the back of each chair is a thoughtful way to anticipate the needs of your guests, but it also looks lovely and can be a part of your overall color scheme.
Jessica Kane is a writer for Silver Superstore, the online leader in silver flatware, gifts, replacement pieces and more!
Written by Georgie Vetter, Product Specialist at the Monogram Design Center
Monogram Design Center’s Chef Jon was in the kitchen this week making Nuremberg sausage, a traditional German bratwurst, from scratch for a delicious big game party today. Having grown up hunting with his family in Northern Michigan, Jon is a pro in all things meat related. Making sausage always brings Jon back home. He typically makes different types of homemade sausage a couple of times a year. Luckily, the Chicago team was able to witness the process and we learned that homemade sausage is fairly easy to make. Not to mention, much better for you.
First things first: safety and sanitization. Jon’s number one rule for making sausage is to keep everything cold. If there is any down time during the process, whether you’re taking a break or whipping up another batch, keeping your meat in the refrigerator is going to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading. Keeping the meat cold will also prevent the fats from rendering, which will be useful in the grinding process. He also recommends wearing gloves during preparation, this makes for a quicker process in general and not having to be concerned with having raw meat all over your hands.
Cuts of meat: Jon’s recipe calls for brisket, pork shoulder and belly.
Seasoning: Jon’s recipe calls for: salt, ground white pepper, ground mace (the aril that covers the nutmeg seed), ground nutmeg, and marjoram. Pretty simple!
Step 1: cube the meat into 1- inch pieces.
Step 2: Season your meat. Seasoning meat before grinding is important because during the grinding process, the different cuts of meat and seasoning will be combined more thoroughly if they have been mixed together once already before grinding.
Step 3: Grind your sausage using a meat grinder twice. Next, you are ready for casing!
Casing the sausage: Jon used natural casings sourced from a local Chicago market that were packed and cured in salt. Sausage casings can be tough to find in certain areas, so you can always order good quality casings online. Before stuffing, you must soak the cured casings in water for about 30 minutes. Jon uses a countertop tool made specifically for stuffing the casings. Alternatively, collagen casings are easily found online too.
What to do with Nuremberg Sausage: Chef Jon says the best way to prepare a Nuremberg sausage is to heat it up in a frying pan with some butter, whip up (or purchase!) some sauerkraut, and serve on a toasted bun.
Yum. Something tells me tonight’s gathering at Chef Jon’s is unbeatable!
We have an interesting relationship with dishwashers. I’m in my 40’s and I remember my grandmother’s fancy new top loading “mobile” dishwasher. We rolled it around when needed and plugged the hose into the kitchen faucet. I also remember many, many family gatherings where we all hand-washed our dishes. Later on I remember Mom thinking our dishwasher wasn’t getting the food off so we rinsed all our dishes. Even today the habit has stuck with me. Not only am I rinsing the dishes, but I am also using one of those sponges with soap in it and hot water. Other than sterilization, those dishes are pretty clean by the time I load them in the dishwasher.
The problem was, I didn’t trust the machine to do a good job. I hated finding food on the dishes after running the cycle.
DID YOU KNOW? Today’s Energy Star-rated dishwashers are limited to 3 gallons of water PER CYCLE? And that non-Energy Star dishwashers average out at 4.5 gallons per cycle. Your kitchen faucet outputs between 1.5 and 2.2 gallons per MINUTE. Let’s do the math! Older faucets can be even as high as 7 gallons per minute. And yes, that is CYCLE vs MINUTE.
You don’t need to wait till the dishwasher is full to run a cycle. They are pretty smart these days and can sense how much food is on the dishes and adjust the cycle appropriately.
Now this is important! A typical dishwasher cycle will use LESS water washing half a load than it would take you to pre-wash your dishes! EVEN if some dishes come out with food on them and you run it again, you will still use LESS water than pre-rinsing! Crazy, right? Let that sink in!
So this is me trying to learn to practice what I am learning so I can turn around and start preaching! I have to admit to you I grew up with Cascade powder and I have always used powder detergent. I went out and bought my FIRST purchase of Cascade Platinum tablets last month.
And for the first time ever, I bought Rinse Aid! Hopefully most of you already know Rinse Aid really has nothing to do with rinsing and more to do with drying function. It actually helps remove water from the dishes, we should be calling it Dry Aid. Did your Dad ever put Rain-X on your windshield?
I also learned not to use generic brands of detergent, stick with what you know and what works. And many high end appliance manufacturers recommend the same thing. I have been surprised since I started using these products, and loading dirty dishes, at how nice and spotless the dishes come out.
- JOIN THE CHALLENGE #SCRAPEANDLOAD @MonogramAppl
- STOP PRE-RINSING/ PRE-WASHING
- STOP USING POWDER OR LIQUID DETERGENTS
- USE RINSE AID
- SAVE TIME AND SAVE WATER
I’m not using an overly high end dishwasher in my rental house but it’s a newer one. Previously I thought it was a “bad dishwasher.” Now I know the issue was user error. We all need to learn how to properly and effectively use this wonderful machine.
Paula Kennedy CMKBD CLIPPS, NKBA member 1997, Timeless Kitchen Design, Ignite Creativity
COPYWRITE 2016 ©
Written by Paula Kennedy, CMKBD CAPS, Timeless Kitchen Design in Seattle Spoiler Alert – Kitchens waste food! Today’s kitchens are not designed with food preservation in mind. That may sound strange to say, isn’t so much of what we do focused around food storage? Yes. But, food PRESERVATION, is different than merely storage. I am beyond exasperated with throwing away…
Recently we chatted with Lisa “Elle” H-Millard, Manager of Certification and Design for the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), to discuss the benefits of designer certification through NKBA.
SRFD: Why is being a CKBD important in the design world?
Elle: The building/remodeling industry is a $121 billion market in which kitchens and baths represent $31 billion of the industry. We also know that the average home is being remodeled every seven years, so business looks pretty promising for the future. With so much development and construction, mistakes are made daily. Each mistake could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, all affecting your bottom line. As a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer (CKBD) or Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD), you are able to greatly reduce the amount of mistakes made on a job and can communicate more effectively with other trades using consistent and appropriate industry standards.
I myself had been designing commercially for over seven years as a restaurant designer and believed I was at a point where “I didn’t need to be certified as I am established and doing well for myself.” Little did I know that there was more than I would like to admit that I needed to know more about, such as make-up air, ventilation and mechanical drawings. For me, I knew enough to get by, but couldn’t really consider myself an expert in those areas. I knew that if I wanted to continue to grow as a designer and stand out from my competitors, I needed to make this my responsibility. Certified designers are responsible for making solid recommendations based on a client’s needs and wants and must be competent in writing specifications, creating drawings (floor plans, construction plans, mechanical plans and elevations), communicating clearly with other trades, managing projects, and managing an ethical business.
SRFD: What is the difference between an AKBD, CKBD and CMKBD?
Elle: Short answer … it is a hierarchy of certification starting with an Associate level and capping at the Masters level.
- AKBD – An Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer has two years of industry experience and passed a challenging exam consisting of 150 multiple choice questions. An AKBD is knowledgeable in the kitchen and bath industry, however, is not considered a certified designer. Also the AKBD exam is not intended for designers only, rather for those interested in gaining more knowledge in the industry.
- CKBD – A Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer must have an AKBD certification and be able to apply the knowledge to real-life client requests. A CKBD must have five years industry experience, 60 education hours, and pass a challenging two-part exam including eight drawings and 50 multiple choice questions. There are existing Certified Kitchen Designers (CKD) and Certified Bath Designers (CBD) that have taken a drawing exam specific to either kitchen or bath, not both. Specializing in Kitchen only or Bath only is no longer an available option, however those members can test for the remaining designation
- CMKBD – A Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer must have two years of industry experience AFTER achieving CKBD level, 100 education hours, and be in good standing with the NKBA. In addition, a CMKBD will need to be engaged in the industry, promote professionalism, and cultivate new talent.
For more information about how you can become a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer, visit nkba.org.