Sunday, July 17, 2011

Constituents of Infrared Grilling

We’ve known about gas grills and charcoal grills for as long as we can remember. It’s always been one or the other, and most people are pretty passionate about their preferred method. Add a new form of grilling into the mix, that has been winning fans both from the professional community, as well as home grill masters, and you may have gas and charcoal fans becoming converts. The method is infrared grilling, and you’ve probably heard of it, if grilled foods are your thing.
            Until quite recently, infrared grills were not found on the mainstream market. As an exclusive item, they were only available to chefs and commercial restaurant professionals. In 2000, this remarkable technology hit the markets for the first time, and infrared grills, though extraordinarily expensive at the time, were now available to the public. This happened because the patent that protected infrareds prior was then expired, and the technology became available to all manufacturers to produce.
            And produce they have! As time passed, and the desire increased, the prices have significantly dropped on infrared grills. Most major brands now make their own versions of the infrared grill, with all varieties of additional features and accessories to up the ante, and the competition. Some feature infrared rotisseries, as well as burners. Some of the best, most well-known brands of infrared grills include TEC, Char-Broil, Alfresco, Fire Magic, American Outdoor Grills (AOG), and Solair.
            The difference between infrared heat and regular bbq grilling is in the heat itself. Infrared heat is extremely hot, and works to directly cook and sear foods. The infrared burners are most commonly made of stainless steel or some variation of ceramic material. Infrared grills are always powered by gas, most often propane. The temperatures range in degrees from 450 to 900. The traditional grilling method, cooked foods in an entirely different way altogether. These grills worked to cook by heating the air, so that foods on the grill were actually cooked by this convectional heat cloud, not directly. Different than this type of hot air cooking, infrared grills have an internal heat that allows your foods to cook fast, and with a greater precision. With convection, the grilling process is an intricate process, that requires an intent, careful watch, as this hot air can really cause foods, especially meats, to dry out fast. Infrareds have the ability to create an even, uniform heat that enables the moisture in foods and meats to be sealed in, retained during grilling.
            Most people who have started using infrared bbq grills are more than pleased with them for their many benefits. If you research different models and reviews, chances are, that you will see most consumers are very happy with the results they produce, and the many assets they afford you. Because infrared grills cook so very quickly, they are known to use less gas and propane than traditional gas grills. They heat very quickly, and cook quickly, so they get turned off quickly! Without any necessary preparation, and a miniscule amount of clean up, you can focus on the important things, like grilling, eating, and entertaining.
            The one area of question is definitely in price. Many consumers are reluctant to go for infrared grills when they look at the price tags. Its true, that they are almost always pricier than most other gas grills, and definitely more expensive than charcoal grills, but if you are seriously considering one you should definitely weigh your options. If better tasting foods, a great amount of time saving, and the use of less fuel amount to benefits you could have in your life as a grilling enthusiast, then an infrared grill may very well be for you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Resin Wicker Outdoor Furniture

The perfect backyard patio should feature most of all a perfect bbq grill, perhaps set into a custom built outdoor kitchen, surrounded by the beauty of a well-landscaped yard, and has the most comfortable, beautiful furniture of which to relax upon. These are the makings of a resort in your own home, where you can enjoy the outdoors in ultimate comfort.
            If you are in the market for new outdoor patio furniture, you may be overwhelmed with the vast amount of choices that lay before you. There are thousands of designs, so many various materials, fabrics, structural differences, and above all: options in what the furniture is actually constructed out of.

            If you live in South Florida, you know that our elements are intense, and anything we keep outdoors exposed to them pose an obvious, inherent risk. Between the sun, salt air, humidity, rain, and wind, the elements here have no mercy on our possessions. If you have previously owned patio furniture, you must already understand how quickly the pieces can deteriorate when they are exposed. Iron and steel can rust, wood and other natural materials will rot and weaken if not very well protected, hardwood, such as eucalyptus is an option, however it may not visually please everyone, and plastic structures wear down and are known to disintegrate. Knowing all of this, your options for quality outdoor furniture can seem immensely limited.

            If wicker is among your top likes, you probably know how lacking in strength it is. It is unfortunate, because wicker is gorgeous, has such a distinctive appearance, and is exceptionally comfortable. Resin wicker, however, is a beautiful option that many people may not know exists, or how very durable it is. Designed to replicate the organic texture, natural look, and movement of wicker, resin wicker has an incredible look. The resin is made from synthetic materials, and long cords are intricately woven around a sturdy aluminum frame. Aluminum, which is an absolutely perfect material for outdoor use as it does not rust, is water and weather resistant, somewhat light in weight, and available in different colors that lend themselves very well to the look of any patio design scheme. Aluminun, also different from most other metals, is resistant to the elements because it does not oxidize, or expand because of oxidation.
            There are many different styles of resin wicker patio furniture available. Sofas, love seats, chaise loungers, dining sets, tables, and arm chairs are some of the most desired pieces. There are also modular sets, that combine pieces for sectional looks. These add to the “living room” appeal, and are very luxurious and very comfortable. Nothing quite says “relaxation” quite the same! Along the same lines, you will not find a finer chaise lounge for laying out poolside. The modern design is simple, yet very stylish, with excellent structure and hidden wheels for easy moving around. As weather resistant as the aluminum resin wicker is, it would be absolutely pointless to have ordinary outdoor cushions atop them. Always befitted with the finest, highest quality cushions, they are guaranteed to not wither away from being exposed to the elements. Their comfort is never a question, either, as they feel wonderfully supportive and soft.
            Outdoor resin wicker furniture is extremely easy to maintain. As it is quite resilient, it also is meant to be a stress-free, fuss-free investment. The care involved with resin wicker is very minimal, and simple wiping with water and a gentle soap or cleaner should be enough to keep it looking great. Because aluminum and resin are such durable materials, your furniture, even kept outdoors, should last for many years ahead. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gas Fireplaces: Vented and Ventless

Gas fireplaces are a brilliant way to incorporate the look, design, and warmth of a hearth, with the benefit of being powered by gas.  They can be created indoors or outdoors, and they generate more heat than a standard gas heater, so in addition to looking great, they are incredibly functional. In the past, ventless as well as vented fireplaces that were powered with gas logs were not known for being either stylish or realistic. Knowing there was a market for both, there have been great strides made to make the more attractive and appealing. When it comes to gas fireplaces, you have two options: vented and ventless. They are entirely different, and are specifically suited to your needs and space available.

            If you do not have a fireplace, but want one, a ventless fireplace may be a good choice to consider. Unvented gas fireplaces are powered by natural gas and liquid propane, which enables them to run indoors without a chimney, or any type of ventilation. They are equipped with sensors that monitor oxygen levels, to ensure that depletion is not occurring, and breathing conditions are safe. Thermocouple determines heat, while BTU’s are limited to keep gas fumes that have been burned in check. Specific patterns in design work to control the carbon emitted in the gas. Previously, one of the big drawbacks to ventless gas fireplaces was the unnatural look, the vulgar appearance of the Oxygen Depletion Sensors. Much effort was placed in redesigning this scheme, to create a more realistic look that imitated a traditional fireplace more exactly. To make the logs more lifelike, they are now hand-painted, with charring. Their movements imitate those characteristics of a regular wood-burning fire, for a very true-to-form version.
            Artistic approaches have been taken very far with these ventless fireplaces, and many different versions have been rendered with such accents as glass, river rocks, and geometric designs. If you opt for a ventless gas log, the possibilities are endless!
            Vented gas fireplaces differ from unvented as they are basically traditional fireplaces that are powered with gas logs, versus using actual wood. The process of sourcing wood, and then storing it can create a great deal of hassle. When using it in the fireplace, it is burdensome because it has to be stacked in a particular fashion, and then kindled as it burns. Often you have to take different measures to get it lit, using bricks or cubes. After the beautiful fire fun is had, you have to clean up the residue and remaining ash. Vented gas logs light easily, their temperature adjusts with control valves, and once you are through enjoying the fire, all you have to do is turn it off. And then, there is no clean up necessary.
            As with a traditionally set up wood-burning fireplace, in order to properly use vented gas logs, you need a chimney and flue, with a cap. A firebox is not necessary if the fireplace builder acknowledges the burner’s size and valve.
            The  size of the fireplace determines the BTU limit on vented gas fireplaces, and they are so easy to handle because of their control valves, which are in control of flame heights. Imagine simply having to flick a switch, during the coldest parts of the year, to achieve a great fire that warms the room! When you burn your gas logs, you can follow any pattern you wish. Re-stacking can be done as much as needed, to achieve desired the flame patterns, because the fumes released from gas are funneled out by the chimney. Vented gas logs can be burned all year long, safely, pleasurably, and effectively.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recipes Worthy of Your BBQ Grill

Just because I’m sure your summer grilling is in full swing, I thought that sharing some of my favorite grilled recipes as of late would be entirely appropriate. Whatever type of bbq grill you use, whether it’s an infrared gas grill, a standard gas model, or a charcoal grill, you can get the job done right, and eat some pretty delicious foods!
            In our home, we try to eat healthy most of the time. Moderation is key, and we feel it gives us the freedom to eat as we please. So, here are my current picks for delicious summer eating grilled: sausage and pineapple skewers, grilled peppers stuffed with feta and garden-fresh basil, and chicken satay.

Stuffed Peppers:

Bell Peppers
Feta Cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves
Garlic Powder

This isn’t a typical stuffed pepper dish, but it still rocks. You can use any color variation, and feel free to get as creative as you like. Simply clean your peppers, and slice them in halves. Coat with vegetable oil, or whatever oil suits your fancy for grilling. Grill them on the cooking grates, depending on your grill’s specs till they are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, with the inside faced downwards. A little charring is amazing here. Once they cool a bit, stuff the feta and basil, with the seasonings sprinkled on top. Not only are these easy and fast, but they look great too.

Sausage and Pineapple Skewers:

A really good bbq sauce; I love Stubb’s.

These make an excellent party dish. It’s almost silly to even call this a recipe, as it is so simple, but it really is delicious. The presentation is fabulous, and they taste amazing. I use pork sausage, but feel free to use any kind you like. Cut the sausage and pineapple into 1.5” chunks, and skewer them. Lay them on a large plate and pour some bbq sauce on them so they are nicely coated. When your grill is ready, get them onto the heat until you have nice grill marks. Onto your serving platter they go, and are ready to be eaten!

You can buy fresh pineapple already cut in chunks at your grocery, in the produce department, which help cut down time and energy. If you use frozen sausage, it will slice much nicer if it’s about 50% defrosted, rather than totally defrosted. I’ve used spicy Italian pork sausage, as well as pork sausage with parmesan laced through it, and both have had delightful results.

Chicken Satay

Chicken Breast
½ Small Onion, Chopped
2 Spring Onions
¼ Cup Chopped Peanuts
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
¼ Cup Soy Sauce
3 Garlic Cloves, Chopped

Though not a properly authentic recipe, this satay is my take on the dish, and mimics the flavors well. This recipe also makes an excellent party food. Both satisfying as well as a finger food being on the skewer, it does double duty. It is best served with a delicious peanut sauce (recipe follows). Cut the chicken into 1.5” pieces. Finely chop the garlic and onions. Pour the soy sauce and coconut milk over the chicken, and add everything else. Let this marinade work its magic for 25 minutes. Afterwards, skewer the meat and they will be prepared for grilling. They will be done when they have apparent grill marks, and caramelization, about 10 minutes.

Peanut Sauce

1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
½ Cup Soy Sauce
½ Cup Coconut Milk
3 Tbsp Raw Sugar
2 Inch Piece of Ginger Root, Grated
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Spring Onions, Minced
Juice of Half a Lime

Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and puree until smooth and creamy. If you would like it thinner, add more coconut milk and soy sauce, to taste. With the chicken, this makes for an incredible appetizer!

These three simple, grill-happy recipes are my favorites right now. They’re healthy, satisfying, and really tasty. Enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Custom Outdoor Kitchens: Get it On Outside!

One of the greatest reasons people flock to Florida is the weather, and the fantastic climate. If you live here, chances are that you appreciate how easy it is to enjoy the outdoors. Grilling fits perfectly into the equation, as it can be done all year long in outstanding conditions. Grilling obviously results in amazingly delicious foods, but the process is a huge part of the success.
            BBQ grills come in so many shapes and sizes, and you can literally find anything you may desire in an outdoor cooker. The ultimate experience for the at-home grilling professional has got to be the fully-equipped, custom-designed outdoor kitchen. What could possibly make your backyard more inviting, than adding a kitchen that is made to your own specifications? They can be lavish or simple, and include every possible amenity, or can be a perfect spot for grilling, and only grilling with ample counter space and storage options. We use top of the line grills, such as those by Solaire, for exceptional performance. Whether you have an enormous patio to work with, or limited space, a custom grill island can be designed specifically for you.

            For more than ten years in South Florida, the possibilities have been endless. We’ve constructed hundreds, and tested a variety of methods that have proven to withstand the temperamental rainy season, the severe heat, tropical storms, and even major hurricanes. Construction has always been performed on-site, to ensure absolute precision in support and stability. With this kind of background, we have the ability to create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. Working with other contracting professionals, nearly any design scheme can be executed. Electricity can be run in multitude of ways, to make arrangements for additional lighting, appliances like ice machines, refrigeration, and even to house a television. Plumbing can also be custom rigged for custom running water. Grill islands are as varied as homes and personal taste, so there is no design that cannot be built.
            In the beginning, our outdoor kitchens were done with masonry. While good quality, this method was extraordinarily time consuming. Poured concrete was used for a short time, but this was not only a long process, but it was also not as sturdy. Galvanized steel framing was the answer to constructing in a timely manner, with extremely secure construction. It is comparable to the galvanized steel used to build the walls within homes, however it is commercial grade, and much more dense and resilient than the galvanized product sold in retail store. This method is now used in our summer kitchens, fire pits, and fireplaces. In building, we exceed the mandatory legal standards for our construction. Our designs have been tested by homeowners over the years in tropical storm and hurricane conditions, and certainly prove their excellence. The only grill repair that has ever been necessary due to the elements has been minor. Scratched grill hoods, broken tiles are the worst damages we have faced – a testament to the strength of our superiorly built grill islands.
            Another reason customers are so pleased to refer us, is that we get the job done in a short amount of time, sometimes as little as four day for delivery of a grill. The process from design to manufacturing and construction has been perfected to the point of science for us, and can be completed without an excessive time frame.
            A custom summer kitchen can turn your home into the ultimate home resort! We use the finest American bbq grill heads, as well as a whole range of accessories such as drawers and access doors, all in 304 stainless steel for lasting quality, that can remain strong in South Florida’s humid, hot, and sometimes intense weather conditions. A grill island is the perfect addition to any home!