In all my years of business, I have never dealt with a company with such impeccable integrity! Family owned, nestled in the heart of Schaefferstown, PA.
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The Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Innovation Home, featuring Plain & Fancy custom cabinetry, highlights creative products, smart design solutions, energy efficiency and technology that is completely connected. The Innovation Home intends to offer new ideas that aim to make life easier and more connected than ever before.
The kitchen mixes classic woods and finishes, like the natural Walnut hutch and white range cabinetry, with more eye-catching elements like the custom color dark blue island. Accessories like pullout drawers, cutlery divides and customizable drawer peg systems offer ample storage space while glass front cabinetry showcase fine dinnerware and other collectibles. Integrated cabinet lighting, that turns on when you open the doors or drawers, adds a layer of functionality making it easy to find what you are looking for, even when the room lighting is low. Walnut drawer boxes carry the look of natural wood and enable this kitchen to stand apart from other designs. To read more on this collaboration, read our blog post.
After leaving Traditions Unlimited last week I thought: "This place deserves some praise!" Sophistication, luxury, and cheer describe their lovely showroom to a tee, and the girls that work there are as fun as the atmosphere! Yes, customers often will be greeted by one of Lisa's Karen's, or Annalynn's smiling faces offering them their undivided attention.
Owner Maria Minnaugh and I have worked together on many projects, from finding the perfect fabric for window treatments, to lighting, to ever so gorgeous furniture. In business, I've developed an obligation and desire to my clients to provide the best value for their money, not something that's going to disappoint down the road. At Traditions one can rely on good value and quality. Likewise at Kitchen Genesis, we offer Plain and Fancy custom cabinetry because we're convinced it's the best luxury value on the market. And my design partner Maria feels the same. We both agree on leaving the headaches of inferior quality merchandise behind. We've been in business long enough to lose the losers and offer something great....something you have no regrets for down the road.
And I love her honesty. No games here with gimmicky promotions, or sales where the price is marked up only to offer a "sale". She's fair from the beginning and always eager to help. Maria's dedication is remarkable, and if it's not right for the space, she'll painfully be the first to tell her customers! I like that. And the concept of one-of-a-kind takes priority here. Who wants their space to look like the trend? Individuality is key, and at Traditions, they pride in fresh and inspiring ideas that fits each individual.
In addition, shoppers at Traditions receive not only solid professional advice, but discover a fun place to find gifts for all...yes, even cool clocks for the guys and watches too...Stunning artwork, and goodness, even beautiful Belgium linens! And I especially love not only the furniture, and rugs, but the exquisite lighting in such a variety of good taste and style. And try walking out of there without buying a richly scented candle...hard to resist. Thank you Maria for bringing us such cultural treasure to Erie!
Ever get that question? Well every time a guest tastes a mouthful of my piled high lasagna, that’s the first question I hear. Well finally, I’ve decided to share but, please don’t expect precise measurements! Actually at the request of others, plus a fleeting desire, I once attempted a recipe book. That meant back tracking, experimenting, measuring with exact accounts of all, and how much of each ingredient went into each dish. Good grief! Now that’s grueling work…Only because our family never measured! We basically looked at approximate amounts to get a feel of how much a given ingredient permeated the dish.
So minus the proportions, I’m happy to share a few secrets of what made our lasagna famous at our family restaurants.
We were noted for sky high lasagna with rich flavors. The higher the pan, the better. And BTW, Good luck finding those 6” high pans today, not easy. And why so high? Well, we used lots of ricotta (pronounced ri-gour-ta) cheese with raw eggs allowing the lasagna to rise high. While on the subject of ricotta, be sure to use good salty grated cheese when flavoring and fresh parsley, not dried. I prefer aged goat cheese. And speaking of goat cheese, that’s another layer of flavor I often add for extra creaminess. Along with these cheeses, I add Mozzarella, sharp Provolone, and smoked Gouda. Actually if you get a nice brick of aged provolone and coarsely grade…you can even forget the Mozzarella! I prefer mixing smoked Gouda with sharp provolone.
Now let’s look at the meat and the sauce used at our restaurants. Because of the aromatic sausage oozing with my favorite spice….fennel, plus sausage herbs, along with the spicy meatballs….Well one can only imagine what these savory ingredients added to the dish! I’m not a big fan of pork these days, so I make a combination of sausage / meatball flavors with fresh organic beef. Try this: crush lots of fennel seeds (about ¼ cup) with mortar and pestle, and coarse salt. While the beef is browning, add the fennel, pinch of hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. If there’s herbs out of the garden you love, feel free to incorporate, such as parsley or basil, etc. to your liking. One day I grabbed a ton of Swiss chard and replaced the beef with smoked Gouda. The flavors were amazing!
Okay, back to the beef….To incorporate the meatball flavor, after the meat cooks, drain the juice into the prepared sauce. Let it cool a bit, then create another layer of flavoring by adding grated cheese and breadcrumbs to the beef mixture by dusting lightly, and mixing throughout. So there you have it: a meatball/ sausage combination with cheese, fennel, hot pepper flakes, and breadcrumbs. Yummy! Again, if making a jumbo pan, you will need about 4-5 lbs of ground meat.
Another question always pops up...do I see eggs there? Are there hard boiled eggs in there? Actually eggs with sauce are quite common in Sicily. Grandma used eggs in Barciole with bacon that was absolutely delicious! And so goes with the lasagna. Here’s a proportion…use about 9 eggs per extra-large pan, chopped fine. Eggs go in-between the layers.
If you’ve never made a pan of lasagna before, here goes the order. If using box noodles like Barilla, pre-soak in hot water according to directions. Get the pan ready for layering. Ladle sauce on the bottom, about ¼”, then snuggle the noodles in rows so the sauce is covered. Add half the prepared Ricotta and spread around. I use 2-16 oz containers of Ricotta for each extra-large pan adding about 4 raw eggs, along with the grated cheese about a cup or more, and fresh parsley with fresh ground pepper. Oh, and a few dashes of nutmeg is lovely too.
On top of the ricotta sprinkle half of the meat mixture, then finely chopped eggs seasoned with salt fresh pepper. On top of the eggs, try some chopped green onions, a cup here, and a cup on the next round of layers. Seal this layer with either Mozzarella, Gouda or sharp Provolone. Here also is where the creamy goat cheese can be applied by dabbing pieces around.
Start the process again by adding sauce and repeat the layers until all ingredients are applied. The top exposed portion gets the last layer of lasagna noodles followed by sauce and a sprinkle of grated cheese. Bake for about an hour till bubbly around 375°. I usually bake with cover off at first to brown nicely and evaporate liquids, then cover for the last 15-20 minutesto trap in moisture.
Different types of sauce can be used as well. At the restaurant it was always a hearty sauce simmered with lots of meat. I often go in-between with a lighter mix of tomatoes for sweetness. Whatever the sauce, to me, fresh basil is a must not to mention a gift from heaven!
I hope one day you will find the time to enjoy this dish, although a lot of preparation, it can be a wonderful family event made with love.
Forgive me mother for releasing our family secrets, but is time to share the love….
After months of hard work and problem solving, Annalynn invited the crew over with family to celebrate! No one deserves a kitchen more than she. Let your eyes feast at this lovely meal she prepared!
This was an amazing meal with Mediterranean appeal.... Marinated chicken served with refreshing melon chutney, the lightest rice ever with fresh herbs, and oh I remember well the appetizers: red pepper hummus, delicious cheeses, and roasted truffle nuts! Ummmmm.
Every good cook needs well organized spices to grab in an instant instead of digging through layers in the cupboard. Just look at Annalynn's smile! We implemented Hafele premium inserts that stretch nice and wide.
When working on a major renovation, we stick close through all the challenges that may arise. Like family, and that's exactly how we felt on this celebration day... We walked the grounds, played games, and prayed a blessing before this wonderful meal. Thank you Annalynn!!!
Which granite is best for your kitchen?
When Annalynn traveled the granite mission of viewing large slabs, she and her husband came across this lovely slab from Custom Stone, in Hermitage, Pa, that displayed all of the right color requirements. Do you agree?
Well, from the beginning, our plan was to embrace the country with it's calm surroundings, textures, and colors; yet with a sophisticated tone. If you look at this granite, it holds a lot of energy. The opposite of the restfulness we were trying to achieve.
Here's a fix:
One of the great benefits of 3D conceptual rendering is that we can view what any given texture looks like in the space. Yes! In this image we were able to place the same image of granite directly into the rendering, and then an alternative granite as well.
Which do you like? Do you see a difference from busy to calm? For us, it was a no-brainer to choose the calmer appeal. And look how GORGEOUS this turned out! Not only do the lines flow with unity, but the stone reveals a soft hue that perfectly matches the lovely custom cabinets!
And look how beautiful this back splash turned out...Didn't we say Annalynn had great taste?
First, I wanted to share this corner drawer unit…these are so cool. Plain & Fancy uses on the best glides to make these drawer float in and out for a lifetime!
Check out this gorgeous hutch with custom blue-glazed enamel encasing earthy, warm walnut interior...
Copper sinks were custom-made to age into a weathered patina. Annalynn chose to let them age naturally and not have them processed at the plant. Note the soft corners and thickness of the material...beautiful!
These two guys can get more done in day than most in a week! Organization is key: our contractor Rich problem solves through every project as he diligently plans through the phases. At Kitchen Genesis, we use only the most experienced and skilled contractors on the job.
Beautiful Hickory floors selected by the clients. We debated whether to try utilizing existing floor, but this situation needed fresh and new to compliment the rest!
Cabinetry arrival day!!!! One of the most exciting days of the remodel (and especially with Plain & Fancy Cabinetry) every package is like a work of art with beautiful velvety finishes. Just look at the stunning natural hickory mixed with custom blue glazed enamel. Annalynn showed impeccable taste with her selections.
More to tell about the progress on Annalynn's kitchen and living room makeover...
This first picture displays the alcove built to lengthen the stove wall and partition off bathroom and adjacent rooms for privacy. We decided to leave the entrance without a door for open flow.
Who on earth wants to tackle a deeply stippled ceiling? Well, it’s all gone now!
Finally, NEW fresh walls are up! And note the newly installed door that gives access to the lovely grounds and gardens.
More demolition as we move towards the finish line! Especially interesting is the third photo detailing the plumbing coming from below that we've mentioned earlier. This is a bold feat that can be attempted with trained planning, skilled craftsmen, and custom engineered cabinetry.
Below are examples of what I call Rustic Modern. Believe it or not, this one of my most FAVORITE styles and my heart awaits the client who will say “Let’s make it happen!” Maybe it’s love for the peacefulness that comes with natural surroundings, or maybe the mix of polished and rustic textures, but here is where endless history meets creative brilliant form. Just love it!!
It's a big day - here's the space with walls down and office and coffee bar eliminated. As you can see, the the vertical plumbing is exposed, but later we'll show you it's ALL WORKED INTO THE DESIGN!
With any job, there are always hurdles uncovered that need to be dealt with. In this case, it's a big one - if you've been following the blog you might remember that Annalynn's plumbing goes from downstairs up, right through her cement floors. So what about the plumbing issue? Can this job even be done?
At Kitchen Genesis this is where we shine by using only the most talented craftsmen and installers. And with Plain and Fancy’s custom capabilities, the sky is the limit!
The drawings show cabinets designed to accommodate plumbing by creating a chase through he upper and lower cabinets. Good communication and accurate planning made this job totally possible.
With the state-of-the-art programming and hundreds of design possibilities Ellena presented these final concepts. Which is your favorite? Follow our project and see which concept the clients decided on!
On first glance, this looks like a perfectly nice kitchen: clean, with good light. However, cooking for a family of SEVEN in this compact kitchen bids one to sing praises to chef/mom Annalynn, who loves to cook when she’s not home-schooling her five children. With the family mostly grown now, it’s time to creatively provide space for the grandchildren with plenty of room for group meal preparations and seating to gather around, and to satisfy Annalynn’s desire for perfect organization utilizing every inch of space!
Our missions here:
· Gain prep space…as much counter as possible
· Create good sight lines/ focal point when walking in the front door (currently where the refrigerator sits)
· Creatively use every bit of storage space and increase functionality
· Additional seating for family
· Update the look to something fresh and more clean-lined
· Add an entry door from kitchen to the outside patio and garden area
· Remove all texture from ceilings (now there’s a job!)
· Re-route some heating and plumbing going through cement floors
· Fireplace and seating area makeover
· Remodel and update bath with a walk-in shower
So what are our possibilities? Here’s a little office that sits behind the kitchen; the only obstacle is the plumbing that runs from the upstairs to the downstairs and carries right through cement floors. Currently the plumbing hides behind the cabinets in the little office. Besides the office, we can utilize the pretty coffee bar to the right, and that’s it!
With the state-of-the-art programming and hundreds of design possibilities Ellena presented these final concepts. Follow our project and see which concept the clients decided!