Top Five Kitchen Songs

Hey, it’s summer – let’s lighten things up a little! No doubt you’ve already noticed but the kitchens are something of common lyrical trope in pop music. The kitchen is the perfect environment to slap an album or playlist on and soak it in while crafting a mighty fine meal. Anyway, we’ve dug around and come up with five favourite tunes about kitchens you can enjoy this summer. Expect popular favourites and a couple of cult curveballs…

  • UB40 – Rat In Mi Kitchen

While they have long since descended into something of a caricature act, their seventh album Rat in the Kitchen made quite the cultural impact back in 1986 thanks to this classic single. No rats in our kitchens, thank goodness.

  • The Lemonheads – Kitchen

It’s A Shame About Ray remains one of the quintessential indie pop albums of the early 90s and this track is a particular highlight. Evan Dando always had a way of making simple, everyday emotions and perceptions sound profoundly lovely and Kitchen is no different.

  • Dolly Parton – Nine to Five

OK, it’s about work but it does quite make explicit reference to the kitchen – as in stumbling to it. We’ve done that plenty of times and also worked our fair share of nine to five jobs. Despite always being something of a marmite track, there’s no denying the cultural impact left by ol’ Dolly.

  • Band of Horses – Evening Kitchen

A gorgeous acoustic ballad from Ben Bridwell’s wonderful gang of Seattle folk rockers, Evening Kitchen arguably marked the highlight of their hugely polished third album Infinite Arms.

  • Susanne Vega – Tom’s Diner

A diner has a kitchen… shh. Here’s a miscellaneous fact for you, Tom’s Diner is considered ‘the mother of the MP3’ as it was used to develop the compression techniques that resulted in the popular digital format of the 00s.

What are your favourite songs to enjoy around the kitchen? Let The Art of Kitchens know on Facebook and Twitter!

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‘Smart’ Kitchens and iKettles?

tableThe tech world moves pretty fast but sure, you don’t need The Art of Kitchens to tell you that. When 21st century digital tech and kitchens collide, the resulting gadgetry can be quite intriguing. You may have already heard about the Concept Kitchen 2025 which is a fascinating collaborative effort in aid of creating a tangible vision of how we will interact with food in the future. The exhibition marks the result of an 18 month project and is now being displayed at IKEA Temporary in Milan where it was first opened on April 9th.

The idea of digital work surfaces and real-time recipe suggestions based on the food that you place down is certain ambitious but well will it translate into daily life? Only time will tell.

ikettleIn fact, there’s a rather good blog over at The Guardian wherein Rhik Samadder tests out the latest additions to the lucrative kitchen gadget market. As you can imagine, there are some real oddities out there hankering for your attention but rarely do they justify their frequently outrageous price points. With everything moving towards a ‘smart’ orientated era, it’s little surprise that somebody decided to product an ‘iKettle’. Yes, a kettle which will boil water via command from your mobile phone…

Are we really that lazy? Apparently so.

This rather innocuous looking metal  kettle is apparently the world’s first Wi-Fi kettle and guess what? It turns out it’s a bit naff. If the idea of filling up a kettle then sitting down, clicking your phone and having the kettle boil sounds like a phenomenal time saver then we suppose it’s worth the £99.99 entry price but considering the issues poor Rhik had getting it to work in the first place, it’s probably not worth the hassle.

You can read his rather humourous review here.

Do you have any ideas for gadgets that may come handy in the kitchen? What would be in your ideal ‘future kitchen’? Let The Art of Kitchens know on Facebook and Twitter.

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Blast Away The Kitchen Blues

The Art of Kitchens team find it quite disheartening when we hear somebody say they find cooking, or rather spending time in the kitchen at all to be… boring. In our heads, the kitchen is the centre of domestic joy – a place to create, socialise, indulge and relax; how could that possibly be boring?

If you’re suffering from kitchen fatigue, why not consider the following tips and breathe new life into your meal time fun.

  • Chive’ Talking

kitchen dancingEven if you aren’t a huge music fan, having the radio on in the background can still promote a jovial feeling on productivity. We recommend bagging yourself a cheap iPod/Phone dock (you can plug almost anything with a headphone jack into them these days), placing that in your cooking area and cranking it up for some serious tuneful cooking. Stick on your favourite album or rock a playlist together for different meals of the week, not only will it keep you going but it’ll take the tedium out of those long to prepare dishes.

  • Friendly Cooking Fun
kitchen friends

Forgive the naff stock image! Share images of you and your friends enjoying your kitchen with us if you like!

A common trend among university friends is to have a single day of the week where they will all cook together with a different meal plan every time. By taking it in turns to choose a style of dish, the cooking experience is often a learning process and a whole lot of fun. When you’re an adult living alone or with another half, some of this fun can sour so try pitching a day a month to your friends where they can come over and you can all slap up a mad new meal together. This works great with big table buffets – Mexican, Indian, Italian… go wild.

  • Gadgets Galore

photo_8133_20081202When was the last time you used your toastie grill, or how about that smoothie maker that’s now dusted over and gone damp underneath the sink? For goodness sake, you spent money on them; the least you can do is remember they exist. There are plenty of naff cooking gadgets out there but there’s also some spectacular gear which can make cooking a real joy. Dig through your cupboards and see what you find, chances are you own something which can turn in a real treat that you’ve long forgotten about.

Got any fun cooking tips of your own? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

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Ghastly Kitchens

We have built The Art of Kitchens reputation on quality, style and reliability. People may come to us for a number of reasons but the outcome is always the same – great looking, long lasting, high quality kitchens. This means that a lot of the kitchens we approach are either in a state of disrepair or still have the same outdated aesthetic from years gone by. For a bit of bank holiday fun we’ve compiled a list of awful kitchen designs from around the web…

  • The Faux-Tudor Disaster

There’s so much wrong with this kitchen visually we don’t know where to start. It’s like a chaotic mix of vintage British design and pure clutter, baffling.kitchen 1

  • Retro Pinky

If you’re having a hard time convincing your friends that you REALLY love pink, then this is the kitchen for you.kitchen 2

  • World’s Dirtiest Kitchen?

In case you missed the original story (available here), Michelle from Washington actually hosts dinner parties within this apocalyptic filth pile. Cockroaches and rats are apparently the least of her worries as she whips up a ‘killer’ quiche for friends and family.kitchen 3

  • All In One

If you happen to enjoy cooking from the comfort of your toilet bowl then we recommend this two in one beauty.kitchen 4

  • Smallest Kitchen Ever?

We’re not sure of the context behind this image but it beings a new meaning to the term ‘wash and go’.kitchen 5

What’s the worst kitchen you’ve ever encountered? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

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Nifty Kitchen Gadgets

When people began placing TVs in the kitchen it all seemed a bit much, surely we all watched TV enough without it invading our precious cooking time? Still, it proved to be much more than a fad and now the average family kitchen seems to be cluttered with irrelevant gadgets.  In that case, why not fill your kitchen with some inventive gadgetry which actually benefits your food? The kitchen is a centre of great experimentation, a playground of pleasurable creativity if you like! Don’t let it become ‘that place you sit and watch TV while your pizza bakes’. Try these gadgets and get cooking…

garlicNo, seriously. Crushing garlic is a pain in the bottom and no doubt many of you fancied an extra kick in your evening dish but couldn’t be bothered to peel and crush the cloves. Simply throw in three unpeeled cloves in this thing and it’ll season your food beautifully.

shredderIt might look a bit sinister at first but this spiral cutter is a work of inventive cooking magic. Cucumbers and carrots are obvious candidates for shredding but this cutter will accommodate a diverse range of hard to cut vegetables. It’s a pretty simple design, in fact think of a cheese grater inverted in on itself with an hourglass style design and there you have it.

kenqwooThe Kenwood kMix range offers an ideal selection of entry level mixers for the aspiring chef extraordinaire. Often overlooked, a solid hand mixer can bring a much needed diversity to your kitchen output by introducing new cooking methods and meals once thought unfeasible. These swanky mixers are easy to use, look great and even contain internal storage for your peripheral whisks! Put a spin on your weekly meals already.

teaHonestly, this little happy chappy will completely change your approach to tea making. If you’re bored of the same old pedestrian teabags day in, day out then you might want to get yourself down to a tea shop and try out some actual tea leaves. There are so many magnificent flavours of tea to be dabbled with but unfortunately for lazy tea makers they don’t come in tea bags. Mr Tea offers a solution, simply pull his little legs off and fill them with your tea leaves/cloves/balls and then pop his legs back. Rest Mr Tea in your mug of hot water and let the tea infuse through the holes in his legs. Brilliant!

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Cracking Food Jokes

While we would never undermine the effort and dedication The Art of Kitchens family invest in their craft, there is one thing the team fall for time and time again… and it’s naff food jokes. Our business requires long hours of dedicated graft and collaboration so every once in a while; the team need to let off some steam. We’ve amassed a modest collection of delightfully ‘bad’ jokes over the years but here’s a choice few we feel may brighten up your day.

nacho cheeseQ: What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

A: Nacho cheese!

Q: What do you get when you put three ducks in a box?

A: A box of quackers.

Q: Why couldn’t the sesame seed leave the gambling casino?

A: Because he was on a roll.

Q: Did you hear about the angry pancake?

A: He just flipped!

eggsQ: What day do eggs hate most?

A: Fry-day!

Q: Why is the chef so mean?

A: She beats the eggs!

Q: What do bakers give women on special occasions?

A: Flours

Q: Why did the tomato blush?

A: Because it saw the salad dressing!

blush tomatoQ: What did one knife say to the other?

A: Look sharp!

Q: How does the man in the moon eat his food?

A: In satellite dishes!

Q: What did Bacon say to the Tomato?

A: Lettuce get together!

Dreadful stuff really, but if you pulled a wry smile, we’ve done our job.

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Favourite Movie Kitchens

It’s February and brrr, this weather just isn’t letting up – in fact, judging from the view outside the snowy season is finally upon us. One thing it’s perfect for is digging into a film or two and if there’s one thing cinema manages to portray beautifully… its kitchens. We’ve made a short list of our favourite kitchens in film, you may expect these all to be designs of exquisite beauty but that would be shallow. We’ve picked these for their role in the story, their aesthetics and their memorability.

  • Gosford Park

gosford parkWhatever you may think of it as a piece of entertainment, Gosford Park is a cinematic wonder that beautifully illustrated the class system in 1930s period Britain. Set in a magnificent country estate, the film offers a contrasting insight into the lower class cooks and the pompous excess of its wealthy guests.  The kitchen sequences are a dark and claustrophobic as the chef’s clamour to provide a feast fit for their illustrious guests. The key juxtaposition is the wonderful china, silverware and crockery they use to prepare the food – fit for the upper classes maybe but not for them.

  • Withnail & I

withnailListen to me, listen to me! There are things in there, there’s a tea bag growing! You haven’t slept in sixty hours; you’re in no state to tackle it. Wait till the morning, we’ll go in together”….. …“This is the morning, stand aside!” and thus begins the seminal cult comedy Withnail & I as two aspiring actors living in 1969 London squalor awake from their drug induced slumber to tackle the washing up. Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant approach the fungal engulfed sink in apprehension, declaring horror at the ‘matter’ in the sink. It’s an iconic scene from a timeless film and this kitchen is a great metaphor for their debauched lifestyle, making us chuckle every time we think of it.

  • Three Men & a Little Lady

three men

Bit of a subversive choice here. This ticklish early 1990s comedy sequel stars Ted Danson, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg as three haphazard men raising a young girl who turned up on their doorstep some years past. The mother is a mainstay on the scene now and one of her key quirks is her ghastly cooking. Much of the films early scenes take place in the ‘family’ kitchen and plays host to her frequent kitchen horrors. We’ve picked it as it’s a perfect example of early 90s open plan architecture – spacious, clinical and still very contemporary. After the explosion of minimalism in the 1980s that came with the economic boom (and yuppie culture), this arid modernism became extremely popular in mainstream culture. It seems like we are only now reverting back to more vintage designs but it’s nice to see its origins on film.

What are your favourite movie kitchens? We avoided the obvious choices like ‘It’s Complicated’ and ‘Father of the Bride’ but we totally understand we’re your coming from if those are your choices.

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2015 Kitchen Predictions

oakHaving worked in kitchen makeovers for the best part of 28 years, we’ve seen a fair share of design trends come and go. Everything from the common adoption of dishwashers to the rejection of beige – the last three decades have yielded a kaleidoscopic range of aesthetic standards but the general structure remains much the same.

In 2015, a new kitchen trend will no doubt take hold and to stay one step ahead of the game, we’ve done a little prediction research.

  • Just Give Me Wood

One of the more irksome trends of the millennial era was the move towards clinical surface designs and glass. The rustic beauty offered by quality drift wood was rejected for a modernist slant. Many of you are going back to your roots and looking to juxtapose pale oaks and darker mixed woods to bring a pastoral aesthetic to your modern kitchen.

  • Textured Finishes

This is a trend which actually looks great but only time will tell if it ages well. The notion of adding textural finishes like granite, marble and stone to the kitchen side surfaces (not the preparation surface) gives the kitchen a very natural, fossilised look.

  • Warm Bronze and Pale White

bronzePeople tend to feel quite strongly when it comes to sink design and one thing we have noticed is a commendable favour for warmer metals. A well polished cooper or bronze tap can look beautiful when coupled up with a vintage white porcelain basin. Avoid the dull stainless steel sinks so commonly installed in new builds, dig out a large old basin and reap the rewards of space and design.

  • Open Your Kitchen Up

Open plan kitchens are commonplace but we still insist on hiding our kitchen items behind closed doors. Obviously utensils like pots and pans may not be the most attractive possessions to have on display but a few open shelves neatly installed above your work surfaces can look great. Fill them with cook books, egg timers and vintage mugs and jars – it’ll add a personal touch to an otherwise wallflower design.

For more news and tips from The Art of Kitchens please like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Unconventional Christmas Recipes

jalzAs Christmas draws closer The Art of Kitchens family has been getting particularly excited about all the wonderful cooking that lies ahead. Instead of gushing about our wonderful kitchen makeovers we thought we’d compile a selection of yuletide snacks and meals you can experiment with over the coming month. Biscuits, cakes and brunches, here’s our favourite certified Christmas themed nosh!

Goodness, this is decadence personified. The full recipe directions can be found here courtesy of BBC Good Food but we can testify that when cooked correctly they make a phenomenal substitute to the usual English breakfast crowd. Simply imagine sweet crispy cakes only with a savoury filling of smoked bacon rashers, cheese, ketchup and Worcester sauce. Bliss.

Be careful making these are the volatile puff pastry can go a bit mental if left in the oven to long. When cooked right these taste delectable, especially when spiced up a little with chilli peppers alongside the recipe approved bell peppers. The full recipe can be found here courtesy of Reader’s Digest but we’d suggest mixing the cheese and pepper types to your own preference. Wonderful flavours all round!

If you ever wanted to know what heaven tastes like you may want to follow this recipe. These snack sized tasters are surely the naughtiest and spiciest entry on this list. The bacon may seem excessive but it adds a smoky finish that perfectly complements the traditional cheese jalapeño popper duo. Just look at that picture, ESSENTIAL. (Thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Another magical recipe from BBC good food bringing some much needed variation to the traditional egg. By baking the egg in individual ramekin or soufflé dishes with a bit of cream, cheese and seasoning you’ll create flavours you never knew were possible. Interchange your cheese with cheddar, goats or feta and you’ll have yourself a kaleidoscopic blend of cheesy egg joy. Divine.

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Age UK Testimonials – The Art of Kitchens

van manWe’re not sure if you’ve noticed but our family run Nottingham business The Art of Kitchens is also a member of the Age UK Business Directory. The directory itself was launched for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire back in 2008 with an aim to help the older community find businesses and services which will offer peace of mind and quality. This is partly in aid to stamp out the cowboy traders out there who take advantage of the impressionable and elderly.

Since we established ourselves on Age UK, we have amassed a truly humbling number of positive testimonials and feedback. We’d like to use the blog to highlight a few of these as well as thank all our previous customers for taking the time to write these kind words. As we draw closer to the Christmas season our business starts to pick up a little with many of you wanting to get DIY and home makeovers done in time for the big day and family dinner. We recommend you call Mark Anthony as soon as is convenient to arrange a free consultation on 07790 326161 or e-mail us at markantony291@yahoo.co.uk.

Here are some choice cuts from our Age UK testimonials:

Click to enlarge and read our testimonials.

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