Saturday's Kitchen: Grilled Lamb with Mache and Mint

Last weekend we celebrated Easter with family in Ohio. My mother-in-law treated us to a lovely Easter lunch of marinated, butterflied, grilled leg of lamb, a recipe from Tyler Florence. Suggested sides of lemony hummus and green salad help to keep this a light Spring dish.
I loved it! 

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (3 1/2 pound) boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
1 bunch mache
1 bunch mint, leaves only
2 scallions, sliced thin
Lemony Chickpea Puree, recipe follows

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, dried and fresh oregano, thyme, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Pat the lamb dry and place it into a shallow platter. Season it well with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 the vinaigrette over the lamb and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Heat the grill or grill pan and oil it lightly. Remove the lamb from the marinade and grill for about 15 to 20 minutes per side for medium-rare. (Adjust the time accordingly for other degrees of doneness.) Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve into thin slices.

Toss the mache, mint leaves, and scallions in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dress the salad with about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and mix well. Place the lamb onto a serving board. To serve, spread the Lemony Chickpea Puree over the lamb and put the greens on top of the puree.

Lemony Chickpea Puree:
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 lemons, zested and juiced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, for garnish

Drain and rinse chickpeas and put them into a saucepan. Cover with cold water by 2 inches; add the bay leaf and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Put cooked chickpeas into a food processor or blender. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth; add some of the reserved cooking liquid to thin, if needed. Serve on top of the Grilled Marinated Lamb or put into a serving dish and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and the parsley.

Yield: 4 cups

Cooks Note:
We used canned garbanzo beans (1 28 oz. can), which worked well and saved on the soaking overnight step.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know!

Until next time, 
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Are you a toaster oven?

I've always believed that you are either a toaster oven family or you aren't. 
No ifs, ands, or buts. 
You either love them or hate them. 

Growing up, we didn't have one. So I've always just assumed that it wasn't something that I needed. 
Who wanted all that counter top clutter anyway?

Trigg-Smith Architects - Project - An Elegant Cottage traditional kitchen

When planning our kitchen, we really wanted to incorporate two ovens, but due to the space constraints in our small kitchen, we just couldn't make it work.

Mr. DD suggested, for the 100th time (you see, he's from a toaster oven family!), that we invest in a toaster oven.

Knowing we'd be displaced from our kitchen for several months and would need some way to cook other than our outdoor grill, I finally conceded.

And I have to tell you, I've never looked back. 
What a great purchase!

After years of unevenly toasted toast and burnt cheese under the broiler, I am officially a convert! 
There is so much this little guy can do - I am constantly impressed.

I guess when you're wrong, you're wrong. 
I should of caved years ago!

So, do tell, are you a toaster oven family or no?

Until next time,
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Welcome to our temporary kitchen

Because I am sure that enquiring minds want to know, I thought I'd share our temporary kitchen.

Not too bad, right? 

We brought the breakfast room table and chairs down to the basement and purchased two banquette tables to act as our temporary counter tops.

This table acts as our primary prep space: knives, cutting boards, cooking oils, etc.

And this table houses our cooking items: coffee pot, toaster oven, and our soon to arrive hot plate!

Under both tables are bins filled with wrapped items that won't be used for next couple of months as well as a couple pots, pans, bakeware, etc all easily accessible on top of the bins.

A couple of $5 vinyl tablecloths from TJ's help to hide the clutter and make it feel more homey.

We also brought down our jam cabinet from the breakfast room. It's acting as our pantry. 
Like the Budweiser dart board peeking out from behind it? ha!

Such a handy piece of furniture. Wish we had been able to incorporate it into the new kitchen!

I'll spare you the pics of the old fridge which was moved to the utility room. 
And the big, ugly, old utility sink where we are doing all our washing up.
I definitely miss the dishwasher from our old kitchen right about now!

All in all, this temporary kitchen is working out pretty well - we are lucky to have this space while the madness and chaos of the kitchen remodel goes on above us.

If you follow me on Facebook, you've seen this picture of one of the meals created in our temporary kitchen. Grilled peppercorn marinated salmon, toaster oven roasted asparagus, and green salad with grapefruit, avocado and goat cheese! 

Until next time, 

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Demo - the madness begins!

Our massive kitchen project is finally in progress! 
Check out some of the pictures from the first day of demolition!

Kitchen (west wall) before.

Kitchen (west wall) after.
Check out that topiary wallpaper hidden behind the stove backsplash.
And now we know why the kitchen was always so drafty - no interior walls behind the cabinets! 

Kitchen (west wall) again. 
The soffit is still to be removed.

Kitchen (east wall) before - pantry and butler's pantry.

Kitchen (east and north walls) - radiators to be removed.

Kitchen (south wall) breakfast nook.

Kitchen (south wall) radiator and window to be removed.

Demolition goes so fast! 
I can only hope that the rest of the project will be just as smooth and quick. 

Next up: soffit removal, floor leveling, window replacement, door repositioning, electric and plumbing updates. Don't worry, I won't bore you with every stage! But you can definitely expect some highlights from time to time.

Linking in with Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.
Until next time, 

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Saturday's Kitchen: Salmon with Greens and Creme Fraiche

One of the last meals to be made in our old kitchen - this is a new, yummy and mild, Spring favorite in our household!


1 tsp olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
250 mls chicken stock
100 g creme fraiche
140 g frozen peas
140 g frozen broad beans
4 skinless salmon fillets
small bunch chives, chopped


1. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan with a lid. Cook the leek for 5-10 mins until soft but not coloured, then pour in the stock. Simmer for a few mins until reduced slightly then add the crème fraîche and season. Cook for 1 min more.

2. Tip in the peas and beans, nestle in the salmon fillets, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 12-15 mins, depending on the thickness of the salmon, until cooked through. Sprinkle on the chives and serve with mashed potato, if you like. 

Cooks Note

Finding broad beans here can be a bit problematic; we doubled the amount of peas.
I served mine with Israeli Cous Cous as mashed potatoes seemed a bit heavy for Spring.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know. 

Until next time,
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Spring Front Porch Planters

Despite the horrid weather currently being enjoyed in the Chicagoland area, I went ahead and updated my front porch planters for Spring.

One pot features a beautiful purple/blue hydrangea and multi-colored pansies.

My little helper potted the second pot with only multi-colored pansies. It's a bit lack luster at the moment, but she had fun and I am sure they will fill out a bit in the near future.

There is just something about hydrangea that I really love.
They are a surprisingly hearty plant and I can't wait for the rest to spring up from our garden.

Now, if only this weather would change and perhaps we could get that garden going!

What about you? What do you plant for Spring in your pots?

Until next time,
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Raised Bed Gardens: A family affair

It was such a lovely day today, that our whole family spent the morning outdoors working on the new raised bed gardens!

There was a bit of work done in advance, in terms of clearing space! But for the most part, this whole project was started around 10am and completed by 1pm!

Further evidence of work done to clear the area!
Have I ever mentioned how overgrown this whole area was when we bought the house?
For a refresher, click here.

Mr. DD started with 6, 2x12 planks of pressure treated wood, and quickly turned them into 2, 4'x5' beds and 1, 4'x4' bed.

Once the frames were constructed, we stapled chicken wire to what will be the underside of the boxes. This should help to keep any little critters from digging under and up into our gardens.

Flipped over and in it's new resting spot.
Our daughter was a big help - as always!

One of my books suggested applying wet newspaper as a first layer. This will ensure nothing grows up from the ground below and also adds a nice composting layer.
(The wetting part is really just to keep the paper in place)

Next, we added 2-3 wheel barrows of soil per bed.
Again, our helper ensured that this would be a smooth process!

Then we added a layer to each box from the composter that I started last summer.
So excited to actually use it after all these months!
To read more about how I am making composting work for me, click here.

Once the compost was tilled in, we added another 1-2 wheel barrows of soil to each box.

Here they are all filled up and looking ready for some plantings!

We left about a 18" between each box for easy access to all sides.

The view from my kitchen!

Future plans include a chicken wire fence surrounding the entire garden.
And of course, doing a bit of planting and growing.

Until next time,

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Designing Domesticity

My friend Sarah, at Modern Country Style is hosting a define your blog link party - and it couldn't have come at a better time! 

Perhaps you've noticed a decrease in the frequency of my posts?

You're not just imagining it - it's true.

Lately, I've been struggling to find material, stay motivated and find the time to craft worthy posts.

When I started this blog, we had just relocated to the US and purchased this house - it was all systems go with the renovation and decoration on the house.
It seemed like I was tripping over blog material everyday!
I dreamed of starting my own interior design business, and hoped that this blog would help me to achieve that goal.
I planned, prepped, and posted - a lot!

I compared myself to other blogs, some more established - others not, and worked harder. Harder to be more like them - trying to make things happen for this little business.
I wanted to succeed so badly, that some of the fun started to seep out.

Almost a year later and while we still have big projects on the go (kitchen remodel starting next week!), things have slowed down remarkably around the house, while life outside of home design has picked up.

So, what does this mean for Designing Domesticity?

I'm not sure, really.

I definitely plan to continue as this blog has brought me so much more than I could of anticipated - like being part of an amazing community and constant inspiration from other really creative blogs!

My posts will probably continue to be fewer and further between, but hopefully better material!
You can expect more design ideas, DIY, recipes, and gardening as well features on projects outside of my own home and plain old inspirational images.
And by all means, answers to any questions you may have!
(Anything you'd love to see a post about - I am all ears!)

I hope you stay tuned!

Don't forget to check out the link party at Modern Country Style!

Until next time,
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Spring Clear Out

The kitchen project kicks off early next week, so this week has been all about prep work. Fortunately, it happens to coincide with my annual spring clear out.

All our kitchen cabinets have to be packed up before demo can start. What a perfect opportunity to evaluate everything and finally get rid of some of our never-used items!

Here's what we purged from the kitchen:
lots of glassware
plates and bowls
pots and pans
miscellaneous kitchen equipment

Once I knew a trip to the donation store was in order, I figured I better make sure my closets were in order. Out with the old and in with the new...that's what I always say!

More purging:
3 dog beds
lots of old shirts, pants and shorts
old costume jewelry

All of this stuff made it's way to the Family Services of Winnetka-Northfield thrift shop this week. 

three boys

I'm participating in the Three Boys Spring Cleaning for Charity event.

What about you, does your spring cleaning involve some serious purging?

Until next time,
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Spring Mantel

Spring is definitely upon us - a new season, calls for a new mantel design.

A simple update to include boxwood topiaries wrapped in burlap, a pair of green birds, ginger jars, and glass hurricanes containing birch wrapped candles.

I wanted to bring in natural elements paired with bright pops of color to really get that Spring feeling.

What do you think? 

Did I succeed? 

Are you feeling Spring?

Until next time,

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Inexpensive Updates in the Guest Bath

We managed to squeeze one last project in on our Florida getaway before returning to the Midwest. A quick, easy and inexpensive update to the guest bath.

Here she is in all her glory.
A yellow tiled bathroom with matching yellow suite; chrome fixtures and dated brass lighting.

A white shower curtain with sage accents weren't doing much to compliment the tile.

We decided to paint the sconces chrome to coordinate with the existing fixtures. Instead of removing them we taped off the wall and spray painted them in place.
Dealing with 50+ year old wiring wasn't something we wanted to tackle on holiday!

So much better, don't you think?

We could of gone white, but with the white walls and the milk glass shades, I thought the chrome would be a better accent.

We also switched out the shower curtain for something with a bit more color and interest.
The curtain is mostly sage with blue and yellow accents.

The final result: a nicely updated guest bath for a very small investment.
The perfect solution for a second home.

Until next time,

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Saturday's Kitchen: Crab Linguine with Chili & Parsley

This week's Saturday's Kitchen recipe is a pub staple throughout the UK, but is also inspired by all the lovely fresh seafood I enjoyed on my recent trip to Florida.

It's quick, easy and something a bit different for your mid week meal.

400g linguine

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red chilli , deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
1 whole cooked crab , picked, or about 100g/4oz brown crabmeat and 200g/7oz fresh white crabmeat
small splash, about 5 tbsp, white wine
small squeeze of lemon (optional)
large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, very finely chopped

1.Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the linguine. Give it a good stir and boil for 1 min less than the pack says. Stir well occasionally so it doesn't stick.

2.While the pasta cooks, gently heat 3 tbsp of olive oil with the chilli and garlic in a pan large enough to hold all the pasta comfortably. Cook the chilli and garlic very gently until they start to sizzle, then turn up the heat and add the white wine. Simmer everything until the wine and olive oil come together. Then take off the heat and add the brown crabmeat, using a wooden spatula or spoon to mash it into the olive oil to make a thick sauce.

3.When the pasta has had its cooking time, taste a strand - it should have a very slight bite. When it's ready, turn off the heat. Place the sauce on a very low heat and use a pair of kitchen tongs to lift the pasta from the water into the sauce.

4.Off the heat, add the white crabmeat and parsley to the pasta with a sprinkling of sea salt. Stir everything together really well, adding a drop of pasta water if it's starting to get claggy. Taste for seasoning and, if it needs a slight lift, add a small squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately twirled into pasta bowls and drizzled with the remaining oil.

Cook's Note
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where fresh crab is readily available, I'm jealous; if you don't, most grocery stores sell picked crabmeat in their fish department, which is the route that I went with. Admittedly, some of the flavor is compromised by the lack of brown crabmeat - but beggers can't be choosers!

Wine Pairing
I served this with a fresh and zingy, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which most of my friends will tell you is my go to white wine variety of choice.

If you are looking for a light and fresh alternative to your oaky Chardonnay - give it a try. Kim Crawford can be found at most grocery stores and is a sure winner.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know.

Until next time,

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Shells, Shells and More Good Shells

As you know I've been in Florida for the last week or so, enjoy all that it has to offer, but this kind of luxury doesn't come for free - the parents have put me to work! 

Seriously though, this cottage has been in our family for over 50 years so a little maintenance is always required - besides, I find this kind of work to be fun!

One of the main projects we tackled this year was the laundry/utility/storage area.
Just imagine what can be found after 50 years...

My grandparents were huge shellers and we've been saving boxes of shells for years.

Sadly, shells in boxes aren't easily appreciated. So we came up with some ideas to utilize the shells; allowing them to viewed and appreciated!

Starting with this large palm husk that my Mom found on a local golf course.

Going through boxes and boxes of shells we picked the best to save, some to display and others that were broken or disintegrating to dispose of.

 All done.

Isn't it pretty?

And finally the shells can be viewed and appreciated!

We also used some of the more extensive collections to fill a couple of lamps.

This lamp is filled with King's Crown shells.

And this lamp is filled with Florida Fighting Conch. 

The laundry/utility room is still a work in progress, but plans include a new laminate floor and a coat of paint on the cabinetry. 

Until next time,

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