Kitchen

Millions of Peaches...

Now that I've implanted that iconic 90's song in your head (you're welcome and apologies), I figured I'd take a detour from the normal post topics spanning real estate and interior decorating to talk peaches.

I recently had a chance to take a road trip to visit a dear friend in St. Louis, and we crossed back into Illinois to spend the morning at Eckert's Orchard in Belleville to pick peaches...lots of peaches. I'm a big fan of the fruit, so I have been revisiting some of my favorite recipes and trying some new ones (including one combining the sweet summer fruit with my renewed obsession with crepes).

Follow the links below for recipes, and feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments!

Peach Oatmeal Muffins
This recipe came courtesy of a friend and former colleague thanks to her post on Facebook. To lighten the recipe, you can swap Greek yogurt for the sour cream.

Balsamic Grilled Peaches
I first made these a few years ago for a birthday BBQ and they are easy and a hit when served with vanilla ice cream. Bobby Flay also has a savory version with prosciutto that I haven't tried but sounds divine!

Bourbon Peach Slushes
We made this on as we grilled out for the 4th of July with a few modifications (used fresh peaches and added more ice since we hadn't already sliced and frozen our fresh peaches). You can also sub whisky if that's what you have around/prefer!

Peaches & Cream Crepe Cake
Working through my crate o' peaches, I just made this yesterday and it turned out great. If you're comfortable making crepes and plan ahead, it's easy. I was a bit worried I overcooked the pastry cream, but it came out amazingly well. Also note that this gets better with a little more time in the fridge, so it's a great one to make ahead for an event.

 

Also, for those in the DC area, peach season is under way at several farms in Maryland and Virginia that make a great day trip. Pick one and pick some!

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Making a (Back)splash in the Kitchen

When I started my home search in Washington, DC almost four years ago, I - like all prospective buyers - had a long list of my must-haves, nice-to-haves and dealbreakers.

As someone who loves to entertain, the kitchen was a key area of focus, primarily when it came to function (hoping to upgrade from a small, enclosed kitchen), but with an eye on aesthetics. One of those design elements was a sleek backsplash.

Touring dozens of homes, I saw a range of backsplashes (or lack of) - from simple 3-4" ones from the same material as the countertops to tiled, decorative backsplashes starting at the countertop (my preference). To make a long story short, the home that I ultimately bought had a 4" granite strip matching the counter. The easiest solution (and what I often see in updated kitchens on the market) is a decorative tile backsplash that starts above that slab. While I've encountered some of these that look decent, I personally still find most iterations like nails on a chalkboard.

Having just invested in a home (with virgin granite countertops, mind you) and all the associated expenditures, I couldn't justify replacing them. I was, however, able to find a tile contractor who would attempt to remove the slab. Of course, that came with warnings that the countertop could be damaged or that there could be gaps between the countertop and wall that would make installation of the new backsplash more challenging (read: expensive). I decided to throw caution to the wind, immersed myself in thousands of tile options, and set the date.

Despite being a fully renovated property with new interior walls, etc., the two-person tile team ran into two hiccups:

  1. Most of the slabs of 4" granite would not budget with a crowbar from the wall. In the end, after more cautions from the crew about potential damage and my approval, the team took hammer and chisel to the pieces. It was loud and time-intensive, but I breathed a sigh of relief that my countertops were still intact.
  2. In one of the corners, despite new drywall, there were gaps that exceeded the depth of the glass tiles I had selected. Luckily a skim coat was able to correct that.

 

Demo and about 1/3 of the tiling was done in one day, and I had a brand new backsplash on day two! I've included a slideshow below of before, during and after above, and I'll leave you with a few takeaways from my experience if you are considering a similar kitchen project:

  1. Ask friends for contractor recommendations and/or consult a reference site online (but I put more weight on personal experiences). You also can consider visiting a reputable tile supply store (I found the one I purchased my tiles from had cards for those they recommended handy).
  2. Get at least two bids, having them visit and see the space. I have found many contractors send you a more detailed questionnaire and even ask for pictures.
  3. Take home tile samples - even ones that you think might not work. You'll have to consider not just color, but size, layout and finish. Even though I was limited to a range of whites and greys by my existing countertop, there were still lots of choices.
  4. If your contractor is not providing materials, confirm that you have everything you need - from the tiles (with extra in case some are broken or there are other mishaps), grout, edging, etc. And, when you pick up or receive those tiles, check every box! I did when I picked up and discovered that a few boxes were the wrong color (luckily before going home and the tile store delivered the remainder due to the mistake).

I'd love to hear about your home improvement experiences and tips, as well!

Bin-There, Done That: Fridge Edition

Staying organized - love it or hate it - can make life so much easier (and visually appealing). If you're in the "love it" camp, like me, The Container Store is your mecca, you dream of custom closets, etc.

In an effort to add some organization to my fridge (in conjunction with a focus on reducing food waste, ensuring easy access to healthy food options and keeping things clean), I recently decided on a whim to pick up a few clear storage bins during a trip to Home Goods (another mecca for me). All less than $10 each, I loved the look of cans and bottles aligned neatly and a little tray of snack cheeses (another weakness) so much, that I ended up returning to another store to buy more and complete the project. The end result is below...

Okay, so it's no Cribs fridge, but it makes cooking at home a little easier and tidier!

While I ended up with Core Kitchen bins from my visits, there are a variety of similar bins (clear and colored) that you can buy online and in store, at retail or on sale.