Sunrooms And Sunspaces

Title: Sunrooms and Sunspaces

Author: Ireland, Dept.Of Environment

Full Text and Source:
The Internet, 18/8/2014

Abstract: Sunspaces serve three main functions — they are a source of auxiliary heat, they provide space to grow plants, and they are pleasant living areas. The design considerations for these functions are very different, and building a sunspace that will serve all three functions requires compromises.

Text: Energy Efficiency First

Before you decide to add a sunspace to your existing home or new house design, remember that energy efficiency is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing heating and cooling bills. Choose building professionals experienced in energy-efficient house design and construction and work with them to optimize your home’s energy efficiency. If you’re remodeling an existing home, the first step is to do a home energy audit to prioritize the most cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

If its primary function will be heating, a sunspace with sloped glazing, few plants, little thermal mass, and insulated, unglazed end walls will get very hot on sunny winter days. In practice, sunspaces are rarely built to serve only as heaters, because there are less expensive ways to provide solar heat.

If the space will be a greenhouse, plants need fresh air, water, lots of light, and protection from extreme temperatures. Greenhouses consume energy through the growth processes of plants and the evaporation of water — one pound of evaporating water uses about 1,000 Btu that would otherwise be available as heat. Plants require overhead glazing, which complicates construction and maintenance, and glazed sidewalls, which are net heat losers. The bottom line is that a sunspace designed as an ideal horticultural environment is unlikely to have much energy left over for supplementary space heating.

Most people want to use the sunspace as a year-round living area, in which case it should have minimum glare, only moderate humidity, and comfortable temperatures. Carefully sized thermal mass and energy-efficient windows that are well-shaded in the summer will improve comfort by stabilizing temperature extremes.

Orientation and Glazing

Ideally, your sunspace should face due south, but 30 degrees east or west of due south will provide about 90% of the maximum static solar collection potential. The optimum orientation will depend on site-specific and local landscape features.

The angle and type of sunspace window glazing will be important to the performance of your sunspace. Although sloped glazing collects more heat in the winter, it also loses more heat at night, can be covered with snow in the winter, and will cause overheating in warmer weather. Vertical glazing maximizes heat gain in the winter, when the angle of the sun is low and you need the heat most, and is easier to shade and produces less heat gain as the sun rises toward its summer zenith. Compared with sloped glazing, vertical glazing is also less expensive, easier to install and insulate, and not as prone to leaking, fogging, breaking, and other glazing failures. Vertical glazing is also often more aesthetically compatible with the design of existing homes. A well-designed overhang may be all that is necessary to shade vertical glazing in the summer.

Placing windows in the east and west walls is not recommended for sunspaces, but if it’s necessary, the east side is preferable to the west. The sunlight entering east-facing glazing occurs early in the day and is less likely to cause unwanted solar gain in the summer than afternoon sunlight. Solid insulated sidewalls are preferable, however, and will reduce unwanted solar gain and nighttime heat loss.

Heat Distribution and Control

Operable vents at the top of the sunspace where temperatures are the highest and at the bottom where temperatures are the lowest can circulate warm air into the house. They can be operated manually or with thermostatically controlled motors that open and close them automatically. Warm air can also move through doors, vents, or open windows between the sunspace and the interior living space.

If passive (i.e., nonmechanical) circulation is not possible or practical, fans with thermostatic controls can circulate air to the rest of the house. Other types of climate controls include shades or movable window insulation that can be operated with electric timers or sensors.

Learn More
•Passive Solar Home Design
•Financing Energy-Efficient Homes
•Whole-House Systems Approach
•Ultra-Efficient Home Design
•Products and Building Services for Energy-Efficient Homes

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Title: Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Author: Kelly Roberson

Full Text & Source:
The Internet, 30/7/2014

Abstract: Stumped about how to start designing an outdoor kitchen? Let these 15 tips guide you — and get you cooking outside. See how to incorporate not only a grill but also other kitchen necessities, such as a sink, refrigerator, and more.

Sample Text:
•Choose Resilient Materials
Outdoor kitchen surfaces must be able to withstand your climate’s weather conditions. Select durable materials such as stainless steel, shown here, and stone, slate, tile, or stucco, Make sure all countertop surfaces and hardware are recommended for exterior use. If you want to install a kitchen on an existing deck, verify that it structurally can support the kitchen’s additional weight before you build.
•Don’t Miss the Basics
An outdoor kitchen is as important to plan as an interior one. Along with picking the right grill and countertop, plan for storage and organizational necessities, such as pullout trash and recycling bins, and baskets to hold napkins, glasses, and cleaning supplies.
•Put Ingredients Within Reach
Cooking in an outdoor kitchen is a great way to take advantage of the sunshine, fresh air, and your homegrown vegetables and herbs. If you don’t have a full-fledged kitchen garden, you can still take advantage of the growing season: Place a few pots of often-used herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and more near your cooking prep space for ready-to-pick ingredients.
•Plan for Light & Air
To maximize the hours you can spend using — and enjoying — your outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to plan for varying levels of light. Overhead lights, such as these recessed cans and trio of pendants, are key to making the most of your grilling and eating spaces. They are also UL-rated Wet, to withstand the weather. An outdoor ceiling fan helps to keep air moving and increase the comfort level in a semienclosed outdoor kitchen space.
•Protect Your Investments
Before you build your outdoor kitchen, consider the types of cooking surfaces you will want to use, such as a stand-alone range or a smoking grill. Then design your kitchen with those elements in mind. Here a built-in niche provides a convenient place to tuck a smoking grill when it’s not in use and shields it from the rain and snow, extending its life.
•Embrace Mini Appliances
Most outdoor kitchens don’t have to hold enough food and beverages to feed a crowd for a week — just a meal. That makes it easy to select affordable, small-space appliances that use less energy and take up a fraction of the square footage.
•Make Flooring Easy to Clean
Meal cleanup outside shouldn’t require more work than inside. In an outdoor kitchen, choose an easy-to-clean floor, such as this resilient tile, that is easy to sweep up and withstands outdoor messes such as cut grass and garden debris.
•Include Outlets
If your outdoor kitchen will be freestanding, electricity is essential to power items such as lights and appliances. Placing an outlet near the main cooking area will expand the ways you can use the space into the night.
•Furnish Overhead Shelter
Rain, wind, even extra-sunny days can hamper your use — and enjoyment — of an outdoor kitchen. Make the most of your grilling-and-dining area by covering your kitchen space overhead. A full roof, as used here, is one option; other ideas include a partial roof, a pergola, or an outdoor umbrella.
•Provide Storage
Working in an outdoor kitchen can be a challenge if you lack spots to stash everyday necessities. Think through what you want to have on hand to determine what kind of storage you need. If you’re not close to your interior kitchen, make sure to include cabinets or a cart to store grilling tools, utensils, plates, and serving pieces. Will you have a fire pit? Then including a place to keep your woodpile dry is key. The handier it is to cook and entertain in your outdoor kitchen, the more you will take advantage of it.
•Go for Built-Ins
Even the smallest of outdoor kitchens benefit from amenities to accommodate prep and cleanup. Next to a built-in compact and dishwasher, a cabinet under the sink is the perfect dry place to store fire logs, charcoal, and cleaning supplies.
•Look into a Vent
A vent hood is a good option to consider for an outdoor kitchen that’s located on an attached or covered patio or deck where good air circulation can be an issue.
•Keep Utensils Close By
Keep forks and spatulas off the countertop with a drawer — or a simple metal bar with hooks hung above or next to the cooking prep area is convenient for easy access to large, frequently used outdoor kitchen items.
•Supply a Water Source
There are few things more tiresome than having to traipse back inside from an outdoor kitchen in order to wash your hands or meal items. Try to include even a small bar-size sink, next to the grill.
•Allow for Built-In Seating
Particularly for space-challenged outdoor kitchens, clever inclusion of seating can increase countertop space and encourage convivial gatherings. Here, a bar-height space neatly dovetails with the cooking spot and has enough space for a few stools.

How to Build an Outdoor Kitchen

Title: How to Build an Outdoor Kitchen

Authors: Sal Vaglica, This Old House online

Full Text & Source:,,20208184,00.html
The Internet, 30/7/2014

Step 1- Build the frame
Step 2- Sheathe the Frame
Step 3- Attach the Lath
Step 4- Trim the Lath trowel on a scratch coat
Step 5- Trowel on a Scratch Coat score the mortar
Step 6- Score the Mortar back-butter the stone
Step 7- Back-Butter the Stone set the first course
Step 8-Set the First Course shape the stones
Step 9-Shape the Stones trim large stones
Step 10-Trim Large Stones veneer the rest of the frame
Step 11-Veneer the Rest of the Frame install fixtures
Step 12-Install Fixtu

Kitchens are the undisputed heart of the home, where everyone gathers, mingles, and lingers during parties. But to achieve that kind of appeal outside means expanding your outdoor living space. To draw a crowd—and keep them entertained—requires a bit more than plopping down a table and a few plastic chairs.
With an outdoor kitchen you can prepare meals and be around your guests with minimal time spent running back inside for plates, beverages, or tongs. Although you could spend tens of thousands of dollars for a custom outdoor kitchen, a basic island is an efficient design that leaves out the complexity of curves and angles. Not only that, with an island guests can relax on one side while you’re cooking on the other, so you feel as though you’re part of the gathering.
Since durability is such a critical issue for an outdoor kitchen, stone veneer is a low-maintenance option that won’t need painting or sealing. Real stone is heavy, expensive, and requires the experience of a mason. Cementitious cultured stone, such as the type used in this project from Landmark Stone, is easier to work with because it’s lighter, cuts faster, and lasts just as long as the real thing—all while looking as natural as real stone.
Follow along as This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers builds a simple frame, covers it in faux stone, and then nestles a gas grill in the center to get the party started.
Building this open-air kitchen takes some time, but with the right planning you can do it in two weekends. As long as you get to the point of coating the frame and lath in a layer of mortar, you can essentially tarp over the top of it and take your time applying the finish decoration. Once you get the counters on it, you can go ahead and use it, working on the stone veneering over time.
The kitchen consists of a stainless-steel grill set into a 3-foot-long stone-veneered plywood base and flanked by two more 4-foot bases with cabinets below and 48 linear inches of countertop on each side—one with a working sink. The countertop – here it’s concrete, but it can be any kind of stone—sits 38 inches from the ground, which is a comfortable height for both food prep and elbow propping. It rests on a gently sloped concrete slab to help prevent water from pooling around the bottom, but any structurally sound existing patio would work as a base.
The island’s frame is made out of pressure-treated 2x4s and 3/4-inch plywood – an inexpensive and durable construction that’s easier to work with than concrete block. The frame consists of three small, manageable boxes that are built separately and then screwed together to make one long island: one 24-inch-high, 37-inch-wide box in the center to support the grill and the shelf it sits on, plus one 36-inch-high, 48-inch-wide box on either side, with cabinets set into each. This layout allows you to scale the island’s length to fit your patio or adjust it to incorporate a built-in bar with a 90-degree turn. Because the boxes are empty, they can accept steel doors, drawers, or other storage compartments or conceal a propane tank for a gas grill.
The outside of the island is veneered with cultured stone, which is lightweight and easy to put on with mortar. Use stones that complement your home’s architecture or existing stonework – round fieldstones evoke a classic New England farm wall, while thin, horizontal stones have a more modern look. Arranging the stone in an aesthetically pleasing way is like doing a big jigsaw puzzle. Speed up the hunt for the perfectly sized stone by first unpacking and organizing all the pieces into piles of corners, shorts, longs, and rectangulars. This ensures you’ll have on hand a random range of colors, mimicking real stone, and keeps you from rummaging through boxes and chipping the pieces.
Make corner posts for each box: Using a circular saw, cut eight lengths of 2×4 to the height you want the finished counter to be, minus the thickness of the countertops and the height of the metal post standoffs. Using a drill/driver, screw the 2x4s together in pairs with 2½-inch deck screws. Using a circular saw, cut a 1½-inch-deep-by-3½-inch-high notch at the top and bottom of each post.
Separate the posts with stretchers: Cut four 2x4s to the depth of the box. Line up the four posts and screw the 2x4s to the top and bottom of the posts to tie the sides together. Cut four 2x4s to the width of the box, minus 3 inches. Run these between the posts at the top and bottom of both the front and the back of the box.
Wherever you will have cabinets, put a 2×4 for support in the Make corner posts for each box: Using a circular saw, cut eight lengths of 2×4 to the height you want the finished counter to be, minus the thickness of the countertops and the height of the metal post standoffs. Using a drill/driver, screw the 2x4s together in pairs with 2½-inch deck screws. Using a circular saw, cut a 1½-inch-deep-by-3½-inch-high notch at the top and bottom of each post.
Separate the posts with stretchers: Cut four 2x4s to the depth of the box. Line up the four posts and screw the 2x4s to the top and bottom of the posts to tie the sides together. Cut four 2x4s to the width of the box, minus 3 inches. Run these between the posts at the top and bottom of both the front and the back of the box.
Wherever you will have cabinets, put a 2×4 for support in the middle of the bottom framing………………..etc 12 steps read online

Build a garden pond

Title: Build a garden pond

Author: BBC

Full Text & Source:
The Internet, 25/7/2014

Abstract: Ponds are probably the single most important wildlife feature that can be added to a garden, attracting a host of creatures from birds, to frogs and beneficial insects.

Text:Before you start
It’s easy to create a simple pond in your own garden. Always consider the following:
•The view of the feature from every angle of the garden and house.
•The type of pond – will you use a liner or a preformed pool?
•The size of the pond.
•The type of plants you wish to grow. Different plants require different depths of water.
•Avoid shady areas, especially near deciduous trees.
•Seek professional advice when constructing complicated designs and using electricity to operate pumps.
What to do
Time needed
Depends on the size of the pond
You will need
•Craft knife
•Hose – for marking out shape
•Plank – long enough to reach over pond
•Spirit level
•Wooden pegs
•Butyl liner
•Pond insulation liner or old carpet
•Paving or turf for edging
•Soft building sand
Marking out
•Define the perimeter of the pond, either with string, a length of hosepipe, or by trickling a layer of dry sand through your fingers.
• Remove the turf from the area and stack neatly away from the working place.
•Excavate the area with a spade to the depth of the first shelf. Mark the outline of the shelf with sand or string.
•Dig out the centre of the pond and either add additional shelves, or dig until the required maximum depth has been reached.
•Check each shelf is level.
Wildlife in mind
•Move the dug-out soil to another area of the garden.
•Check the sides of the pond following the profile you intended. It’s a good idea to give one side of the pond a gentle slope to offer animals, such as hedgehogs, a means of escape if they fall in.
Lining the pond
•Remove any lumps or sharp stones from the hole. Then spread a 3cm (1.2in) layer of soft builder’s sand over the area. This will help protect the butyl liner being punctured.
•A layer of pond underlay or old carpet above the sand will provide additional protection.
•Get a friend to assist in unfolding the butyl liner. Spread it evenly over the hole taking care not to damage it by dragging it on the ground. Secure the sides of the liner with bricks.
Filling up
•Start filling the pool with water and pull the edges of the liner so that it fits neatly over the contours of the pond.
•Continue filling the hole with water until the pond is full.
•Trim the sides of the liner leaving a 30cm (12in) overlap around the sides of the pond.
•Cover these with paving slabs, or if you want to create a more natural effect, lay turf up to the water’s edge.
•The liner should be covered to prevent sunlight causing it to perish. Position plants and add oxygenators. If you want to add fish wait six weeks until the plants are established.
Pond safety
According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), children below the age of five are most at risk of drowning in garden ponds. The only way to avoid potential disasters is to not have a pond. There are, however, precautions that you can take to significantly reduce the chance of accidents.
Rigid steel mesh frames can be positioned securely over ponds. These can be obtained from security grille suppliers and metal stockholders who should be able to cut the mesh to size. Mesh should be heavy duty, ideally made from 6mm to 8mm diameter wire. Secure it firmly and it should support the weight of a young child. Ideally the mesh should be positioned above the water level.

Gardeners – How to Build a Retaining Wall

Title: How to Build a Retaining Wall

Authors: Leona, Vegas Clubs VIP, NADZo_0, Chris Hadley and 3 others

Full Text & Source:
The Internet, 25/7/2014

Abstract: Building a retaining wall will help reduce erosion, improve water drainage, and create usable garden space. It’s a great home-improvement project that can be completed in a weekend whether you’re a novice or an old hand. The following is a guide that will help you build your own retainer wall, tips and tricks, along with professional-grade guidance.

Plan and layout the site. Plan where your retaining wall is going to be using stakes and string, leveling off to ensure an even height and using a tape measure to ensure an even length. •Contact your local utilities office to confirm that there are no pipes or cables in your digging zone. Your local utilities office should perform this free of charge.
•If you want more of a random outline, lay out a line for your wall using a garden hose. Simply drape the garden hose out in the general area of the proposed wall utilizing its curves. Check to see that the shape is buildable and aesthetically pleasing, and then use landscaping paint or flour to mark the ground where the garden hose was.
Excavate the site. Using a shovel, dig a trench along the line you have laid out. It should be slightly wider than the blocks you will use for your wall. Check that the trench is as level as possible. •Enough space should be made to bury the bottom row of blocks at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) for every 8 inches (20.32 cm) of wall height. Factor into this equation a level of paver base that will rest on the bottom of the trench.
Tamp the soil level and lay down a paver base. Using a soil tamper — you can easily rent one for less than $20 — tamp (pack) down the bottom of the trench. Then, add 4 to 6 inches (10.16-15.24 cm) of patio paver base or rock dust to the bottom of the trench. Patio paver base is ideal because it is specially made gravel that compacts well and is sturdy. •Rake the paver base once it’s been applied, getting as much uniform coverage as possible.
•Go over the paver base one more time with a level, making sure that the trench area is a uniform height. If there’s uneven distribution add a little more or take away some paver base by raking.
•Tamp the bottom of the trench again, compacting the base a final time.
Tamp the soil level and lay down a paver base. Using a soil tamper — you can easily rent one for less than $20 — tamp (pack) down the bottom of the trench. Then, add 4 to 6 inches (10.16-15.24 cm) of patio paver base or rock dust to the bottom of the trench. Patio paver base is ideal because it is specially made gravel that compacts well and is sturdy. •Rake the paver base once it’s been applied, getting as much uniform coverage as possible.
•Go over the paver base one more time with a level, making sure that the trench area is a uniform height. If there’s uneven distribution add a little more or take away some paver base by raking.
•Tamp the bottom of the trench again, compacting the base a final time.
Start at the most visible edge of the wall, adding gravel or crushed rock to level the stone, if necessary. Add the first block to the trench, using a corner stone. Make sure it is level from front to back and side to side.
•Alternately, if there’s no edge to the wall that is more visible than another, start at the edge that will be closest to another structure (usually a house).
•If you’re building a straight or rectangular retaining wall, make sure that the backs of the blocks line up with one another perfectly; if you’re building a curved retaining wall, make sure that the fronts of the blocks line up with one another perfectly.
If necessary, cut off the top tongue of the base stones. Some contractors prefer cutting off the top tongue or groove from the base stones before laying them down. Check for sturdiness yourself and knock the tongue off the block with a hammer and chisel, if necessary. • •Understand that curved retaining walls with tongues may not benefit from the interlocking grooves. These grooves will need to be cut off with a hammer and chisel if the layout of the pattern does not fit the direction of the grooves.
Use coarse sand and a rubber mallet to level off the first layer of blocks, completing the entire foundation. If you took the time to level off the bed, laying the first row should be easy. Use coarse sand where necessary to get a level finish on your foundation. Hammer the blocks down with your rubber mallet.
If necessary, cut individual blocks to complete the first layer by simply marking them at the appropriate length and cutting with a mason’s saw. Always use proper protection when cutting.
Use crushed stone or gravel for backfill on your first layer of blocks. This will provide excellent support, keeping your bottom layer from slipping back with time and erosion.
Place a filter fabric over the backfill. This will prevent frost heave and keeps the soil from mixing with the backfill. Depending on how tall your retaining wall is, you may want to drape the filler along the back side of the trench or house, fill the trench with backfill until it’s anchored the filter fabric down, and then drape the fabric flat out, on top of the backfill.
Sweep the first layer with a broom to free up any dirt or dust.
Start your second layer with a staggered pattern, so that the top layer seams are offset with the bottom layer. You want each layer of blocks to be different from the one below it. For example, if the wall has straight edges on the ends, the next layer should start with a block that has been cut in half. •Place the blocks onto the foundation before applying the adhesive. See how they look; ask yourself whether you need to make any significant cuts before glueing. Lay out one whole row before moving on to the next step.
•If you’re working with blocks that have flanged tongues, simply line up the female groove of the top block with the male groove of the bottom block.
Once a layer has been provisionally laid out, apply the recommended adhesive to the bottom blocks and fit the top block overhead. Press down to make sure that each layer is secured tightly against the layer beneath it. Continue until retaining wall is its preferred height.
Add drainage pipes to your retaining wall if the wall is 2 feet (60 cm) or taller. Look for a perforated pipe and lay it down the length of the retaining wall, covering it up with breathable backfill.
Add topper stones if you desire them. Topper stones usually come in rectangular shapes, making them more difficult to install in curved retaining walls. If you need to cut topper stones to fit the curve in your retaining wall, follow this trick: •Lay stones #1 and #3 out in their pattern.
•Lay stone #2 on top of #1 and #3, drawing lines on #1 and #3 where stone #2 overlaps them.
•Cut stones #1 and #3 along those lines.
•Line up #1 and #3 into place, snugging #2 in between.
•Repeat, placing stone #4 on top of stones #3 and #5.
Place topsoil in the basin created by the retaining wall. Add plants, vines, or flowers as necessary. Your retaining wall is ready to be enjoyed.
•While excavating, cut straight down with the shovel to avoid disturbing the surrounding soil.
•If the retainer wall is to be built along a slope, make stepped trenches so that only one layer of blocks will be below the soil at all points. Also, build it at the lowest end first.
Make sure the cement mortar is not too wet. This to ensure the block is strong enough.
•To cut a block in half, mark a line around the middle with a brick chisel. Then, position the brick chisel on the line and strike it with a small sledgehammer.

World’s Best Cuisines

Title: World’s Best Cuisines (Travel blog)

Author: Food & Wine ( Dave Emery)

Full Text & Source:
The Internet, 25/7/2014

Food and travel go together like love and marriage; you can’t have one without the other, and if you do, it’s bound to be unsatisfying. Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who regards eating as a chore. Oh, the horror! This post goes out to all you foodies out there; the ones who go to bed dreaming of your last meal and wake up thinking of your next one.

1. French cuisine
No points for guessing our number one pick. Yep, it’s French cuisine – the “crème de la crème” of the culinary world. French cooking has its roots in the Middle Ages when it brought rich banquets to the French Revolution. In today’s world, it’s known as “haute cuisine” and is as popular as the arts. Good pastries, cheese, bread and wine are where it’s at when it comes to French cuisine. [French recipes]

2. Italian Cuisine
Italian cuisine is positively ancient with roots stretching back to the 4th century BC. It evolved via the discovery of the New World which brought potatoes, tomatoes, pepper and corn on the list of ingredients. An Italian meal is structured into several sections: antipasto (the appetiser), primo (pasta or rice dish), secondo (meat course) and dolce (dessert). Italy is also famous for over 400 kinds of cheese, including the famous Parmigianino Reggiano, and 300 types of sausage. [Italian recipes]

3. Chinese cuisine
Did you know that Chinese cuisine is eaten by a third of the world’s population every day? Here’s another bit of trivia for you – most Chinese food is prepared in bite-sized pieces because knives and forks as weapons. Usually, every person at the table is given a bowl of rice while the other dishes are shared by one and all. Peking Duck, anyone? [Chinese recipes]

4. Indian cuisine
Sadly, only one part of the Indian cuisine is known to the world. The Indian food served in restaurants worldwide is North Indian, also known as Mughlai or Punjabi. There are three other categories of Indian cuisine which don’t get much airtime: South, East and West. The foods are mostly vegetarian, but many include lamb, goat, chicken and fish. Indian cuisine is usually very spicy, so slow and steady is the name of the game if you’re not used to fiery food. [Indian recipes]

5. Thai cuisine
Thai food alone, with its balanced mix of hot, sour, bitter and sweet, is a good enough reason to visit Thailand. Thai dishes are all about fresh herbs and flavours like lime juice, lemon grass and coriander. If you’re looking to get a kick of out your lunch, try the raw beef or fermented fish paste. Or for something to turn heads at your next dinner party, how about deep-fried insect larvae? [Thai recipes]

6. Mexican cuisine
Got a hankering for some iguana, insects, rattlesnake or spider monkey? Mexican cuisine has it all covered. Known for its varied flavours and spices, the food of Mexico is a result of the Spanish conquistadores’ interaction with the Aztec culture.. The French also had their part in the story, adding baked goods, such as sweet breads and the ‘bolillo’ (meaning ‘French bread’). [Mexican recipes]

7. Japanese cuisine
What’s not to love about Japanese food? We can see why it’s rapidly becoming a worldwide trend. White rice and soybeans are the staples of most Japanese dishes. In the 2014 Michelin Guide, 14 restaurants in Tokyo and Shonan maintain their three stars. A Michelin three-star rating is considered the ultimate international recognition in the culinary world. Nice work, Japan. [Japanese recipes]

8. Spanish cuisine
Paella, tapas, churros and fried potatoes are just a few of the tasty treats dished up by the food-loving Spaniards. Yum, yum and yum! Let’s just ignore the fact that Spanish cooking uses the most oil among all Western and Central European cuisines. Oh well, at least it’s olive oil which is good for the old ticker. If you’re looking for something to wash down your Spanish feast with, Sangria is the answer (a drink made of red wine, fruits and a splash of brandy). [Spanish recipes]

9. Greek cuisine
Olive oil, vegetables, feta and herbs like oregano, mint and rosemary are all the rage in Greek cooking. Significant influence from the Turkish and Italian cuisine can be seen in popular dishes like Moussaka, Tzatziki and Spanakopita (spinach pie). Eating in Greece is a different experience from Greek restaurants in other countries – ‘gyros’ for example (like a Donner Kebab) is considered as junk food by Greeks. [Greek recipes]

10. Lebanese cuisine
Lebanese cuisine dishes up all the goodness the Middle East has to offer. Foods are generally Mediterranean, high on vegetables, low on meat and full of flavours. We can’t get enough of the mezze – a selection of dips, pickles, salads and nibbles with Arabic bread. Lebanon is also famous for the Arabic sweets, Tripoli being referred to as the ‘Sweet Capital‘ of Lebanon. [Lebanese recipes]

The Mother Sauces

Title: The Five Mother Sauces are the Basis of All Classical Sauces

Author: Danilo Alfaro

Full Text & Source:
The Internet, 25/7/2014

In the culinary arts, the term “mother sauce” refers to any one of five basic sauces, which are the starting points for making various secondary sauces or “small sauces.”

They’re called mother sauces because each one is like the head of its own unique family of sauces.A sauce is essentially a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent along with other flavoring ingredients. Each of the five mother sauces is made with a different liquid, and a different thickening agent — although three of the mother sauces are thickened with roux, in each case the roux is cooked for a different amount of time to produce a lighter or darker color.
Below we will break down the five mother sauces and show examples of some of the small sauces that can be made from each mother sauce.
1. Béchamel Sauce Recipe
Béchamel is probably the simplest of the mother sauces because it doesn’t require making stock. If you have milk, flour and butter, you can make a very basic béchamel.
Béchamel is made by thickening hot milk with a simple white roux. The sauce is then flavored with onion, cloves and nutmeg and simmered until it is creamy and velvety smooth.
Béchamel can be used as an ingredient in baked pasta recipes like lasagna, and also in casseroles. But it’s also the basis for some of the most common white sauces, cream sauces and cheese-based sauces. Here are some of the small sauces made from béchamel:
•Crème Sauce
•Mornay Sauce
•Soubise Sauce
•Nantua Sauce
•Cheddar Cheese Sauce
•Mustard Sauce
2. Velouté Sauce Recipe
Velouté is another relatively simple mother sauce. Velouté sauce is made by thickening white stock with roux and then simmering it for a while. While the chicken velouté, made with chicken stock, is the most common type, there is also a veal velouté and fish velouté. Each of the veloutés forms the basis of its own respective secondary mother sauce. For instance, chicken velouté fortified with cream becomes the Suprême Sauce. Veal velouté thickened with a liaison of egg yolks and cream becomes the Allemende Sauce. And the fish velouté plus white wine and heavy cream becomes the White Wine Sauce.
Small sauces from velouté can be derived from the velouté directly, or from each of the three secondary sauces. For example:
•Normandy Sauce
•Bercy Sauce
•Hungarian Sauce
•Mushroom Sauce
•Aurora Sauce
•Poulette Sauce
•Shrimp Sauce
•Herb Seafood Sauce
3. Espagnole Sauce Recipe
The Espagnole Sauce, also sometimes called Brown Sauce, is a slightly more complex mother sauce. Espagnole is made by thickening brown stock with roux. So in that sense it’s similar to a velouté. The difference is that espagnole is made with tomato purée and mirepoix for deeper color and flavor. Moreover, brown stock itself is made from bones that have first been roasted to add color and flavor. The espagnole is traditionally further refined to produce a rich, deeply flavorful sauce called a demi-glace. The demi-glace is then the starting point for making the various small sauces. A demi-glace consists of a mixture of half espagnole, half brown stock, which is then reduced by half. For a short-cut, you could skip the demi-glace step and make the small sauces directly from the espagnole. You’ll lose some flavor and body, but you’ll save time. Here are some examples of small sauces made from espagnole:
•Marchand de Vin Sauce (Red Wine Reduction)
•Robert Sauce
•Charcutière Sauce
•Lyonnaise Sauce
•Chasseur Sauce
•Bercy Sauce
•Mushroom Sauce
•Madeira Sauce
•Port Wine Sauce
4. Hollandaise Sauce Recipe
Hollandaise is unlike the mother sauces we’ve mentioned so far, but as you’ll see, it is really just a liquid and a thickening agent, plus flavorings. Hollandaise is a tangy, buttery sauce made by slowly whisking clarified butter into warm egg yolks. So the liquid here is the clarified butter and the thickening agent is the egg yolks. Hollandaise is an emulsified sauce, and we use clarified butter when making a Hollandaise because whole butter, which contains water and milk solids, can break the emulsion. Clarified butter is just pure butterfat, so it helps the emulsion remain stable. Hollandaise sauce can be used on its own, and it’s particularly delicious on seafood, vegetables and eggs. But there are also a number of small sauces that can be made from Hollandaise: •Béarnaise Sauce
•Dijon Sauce
•Foyot Sauce
•Choron Sauce
•Maltaise Sauce
•Mousseline Sauce
5. Classic Tomate Sauce
The fifth mother sauce is the classic Tomate Sauce. This sauce resembles the traditional tomato sauce that we might use on pasta and pizza, but it’s got much more flavor and requires a few more steps to make.
First we render salt pork and then sauté aromatic vegetables. Then we add tomatoes, stock and a ham bone, and simmer it in the oven for a couple of hours. Cooking the sauce in the oven helps heat it evenly and without scorching. Traditionally, the sauce tomate was thickened with roux, and some chefs still prepare it this way. But in reality, the tomatoes themselves are enough to thicken the sauce. Here are a few small sauces made from the classic tomate sauce:
•Spanish Sauce
•Creole Sauce
•Portuguese Sauce
•Provençale Sauce

More Classic Sauces:
•Sauces for Meat and Pork
•Sauces for Fish and Seafood
•Sauces for Chicken & Poultry

More Sauce Recipes:
•Hollandaise Sauce Demo
•Beurre Blanc Sauce Recipe
•How to Make Mayonnaise

More Sauce Recipes:
•How to Make Gravy
•Meat Glaze Recipe
•Red Pepper Coulis