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July 25, 2011

The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen: Going Back to Basics at Durham Region's First-Ever Community Sunday Supper

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Over the last few weeks, we've been talking about what you need to create a beautiful outdoor kitchen and living space. When it comes to recreating the ultimate outdoor eating experience, however, Durham Region's own chef Deb Rankine has decided to make it a community event.

Rankine, author of The Fridge Whisperer Cookbook Series, has teamed up with Algoma Orchards, Canada's largest independent apple grower and producer, and Pingle's Farm Market for the Region's first-ever locally sourced Community Sunday Supper on Sunday, September 11th from 5 to 7 p.m. Guests will be able to shake hands with the hardworking people who help put dinner on their table every night: local growers, ranchers, farmers and others in the food production chain.

What's on the menu? Whet your appetite with organic baby greens tossed in a herb vinaigrette and pitchers of fresh apple cider to quench your thirst. Enjoy a traditional roast beef dinner with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and wrap it all up with a tasty apple cobbler à la mode.

The two-hour rain-or-shine event will take place at Pingle's Farm Market (1805 Taunton Rd. E., Hampton--just five minutes from the Oshawa border) and will move to the greenhouse if it rains.

Tickets for this ground-breaking event are $15 each (plus HST) and can be purchased in person at Algoma Orchards in Newcastle and Pingle’s Farm Market. For more information and to buy tickets online using PayPal, visit

Net proceeds from this event will go to Feed the Need in Durham.

July 17, 2011

Lighting Your Outdoor Living Space

Last post, we talked about bringing your kitchen and living space outdoors for the warmer months. If you plan on doing a lot of entertaining, you'll need the right lighting for when the party runs late into the night. Not only does a properly lit patio and walkway help set the helps you get safely from A to B.

For some inspiration on where to start, check out these two videos.

July 13, 2011

The Warm Weather Has Arrived: Have You Taken Your Kitchen Outdoors?

Earlier this year, we blogged about the three must-haves Canadians need to include in their outdoor living space if they want to take advantage of the cooler spring and fall weather. They are: a patio heater, an outdoor fireplace and a fully covered patio.

Now that the warm summer weather has arrived--and appears to be sticking around!--you're probably trying to find ways to spend more time cooking, eating and entertaining outside. And, why not? We only get a few months of beautiful warm weather a year. Let's enjoy it while we can!

Picture courtesy of
Nothing makes dining and entertaining outside easier than a fully equipped kitchen just steps from the house...and more and more homeowners are looking for the same quality of furnishings and appliances they are accustomed to having indoors. Thankfully, the days when eating outside meant a picnic table, a few lawn chairs and a charcoal grill are gone. In addition to a gas grill, today's outdoor kitchens often include a sink, refrigerator, wet bar, fireplace and even a pizza oven.

The barbecue still plays a central role in our outdoor cooking spaces, and most high-end grills come equipped with side burners, a warming shelf, a motorized rotisserie, a smoker box and ceramic briquettes to ensure even heat distribution. But be warned, whether you choose a free-standing unit or have one built-in, quality comes at a price and you can spend anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 on the barbecue of your dreams.

Outdoor kitchens can be built onto existing patios, decks and pool areas and often tap into the house's gas, electrical and plumbing lines. As with any home design project, the key to getting what you want is in the planning. From the outset, it's important to know what you want and how much you have to spend. Falling in love and splurging on a $10,000 gas grill is fine...but only if you still have room in your budget for the other key features you may want to include, such as:

• lighting for key activity areas and on pathways
• a new deck or outdoor floor surface
• a countertop for food prep
• appliances such as a fridge and/or pizza oven
• a pergola or awning
• chairs, tables, decor items
• an updated landscape plan

Next up: Lighting your outdoor living space.

July 10, 2011

Monarch Kitchen & Bath Centre...SNAP'd!

Monarch Kitchen & Bath Centre's 30th anniversary celebration last month continues to make headlines in Durham Region.

A photographer from SNAP Pickering was on hand as Mayor Dave Ryan presented Monarch with an award of achievement and a representative from the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade congratulated them on their continuing success.

For more pictures of the event, visit the SNAP Pickering website.

July 5, 2011

Another Spectacular Monarch Kitchen Design Transformation

Monarch Kitchen & Bath Centre designer Sarah Overholt recently completed a stunning kitchen transformation. Her mission? To update the overall look and feel of her clients' kitchen, making it both functional for everyday life and perfect for entertaining.

With almost every kitchen renovation, there are barriers to overcome when combining a client's wants and needs with what can realistically be accomplished in the space available.

This kitchen was no exception.

"One of the biggest barriers in designing this kitchen was the sheer size of the island," explains Sarah. "Creating an open concept was also a challenge. We accomplished this by using a hutch cabinet to marry the kitchen and dining room together."

"One of my client's top priorities was having the cooktop placed in a very central spot in the space," says Sarah. "The colour scheme was important to them, as well; they had a two-tone look that they wanted to achieve."

"As big entertainers, they wanted to make sure that the island in their kitchen could accommodate the large parties they have...and more than anything, they were looking for a major 'wow' factor."
The kitchen's main highlight? "It is impossible to pick just one thing to love about this kitchen," says Sarah. "The cooktop is definitely a major highlight of the space...with the free-hanging hood over a corner cooktop area."

"But the raised seating portion on the island is stunning, too--it's solid heart-cut maple and provides a nice change of texture for such an expansive island. The sink area that was framed like a furniture piece, the custom hutch...there are so many little details that pulled this spectacular kitchen together."