Tag: Products

Eric’s Homemade Beef Jerky

Homemade Teriyaki Beef Jerky

This tasty treat is one that was made by our very own Eric Thorson but comes courtesy of the Wolf’s “Mastering the Convection Steam Oven” Cookbook.  You see,  Eric & Stacy underwent a renovation of their own recently and in the process learned alot about the Subzero and Wolf appliances that they chose to use in their newly renovated kitchen. The process of selecting their appliances took them to the Clarke Showroom in Milford, MA which if you have never experienced is a showroom unlike any other. What makes it so unique is the no-pressure atmosphere and the focus on education and the client experience. No appliances are actually sold there (hence the lack of pushy sales people) but the showroom features a plethora of fully functioning appliances that you can “test drive” on the spot or do as Eric & Stacy did and join in one of their regularly scheduled cooking demonstrations that help you understand how to use the many functions of your Sub zero & Wolf Appliances all while watching a master chef at work (and getting to eat the resulting gourmet treats)!

The journey to discover the many functions of each appliance and which would be of most use to Eric & Stacy in their day to day cooking endeavors was one that actually helped them to better serve our clients as well. Both Eric and Stacy have shared their new found appliance knowledge with our clients so they too can make educated decisions on  which appliances would be the best fit in their new kitchens.

The  Wolf Convection Steam oven has created the most buzz by far; for an appliance with a bad reputation for being a “uni-tasker” (to quote Alton Brown) -or an appliance that only does one thing, like steam vegetables, this steam oven proved that wrong on so many counts and has turned out to be Eric & Stacy’s new go-to appliance. They have tested the oven with everything from risotto (that doesn’t need a babysitter) to perfectly “boiled” eggs and even, yes, beef jerky!

Stacy noticed that their new appliance knowledge has inspired Eric to be more active in the kitchen and try new things that they otherwise may not have thought of. One such occasion was the day she happened upon Eric whipping up some homemade teriyaki beef jerky. The photos here were not staged, Eric, armed with the Wolf Cookbook and the eagerness of a child learning a new skill was happily arranging his pre-marinated steak pieces artfully on the gleamingly new integrated cooking rack.  After 4-6 hours in the Wolf Convection Steam Oven on the “convection mode” …Voilla! Eric had himself a perfect pound of tasty home made teriyaki beef jerky that admittedly didn’t last long in their household.

So in honor of this magical real life moment we thought we’d share with you the recipe!

Teriyaki Beef Jerky

Makes 10 Servings

Cooking Time 4-6 Hours

INGREDIENTS 2-21⁄2 pounds beef round or flank, thinly


¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon freshly grated garlic
(to replace garlic powder)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Korean chili paste
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange

1. Have the meat sliced very thin by a butcher at time of purchase, rather than attempting it by hand.

2. In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and mix well to combine.

3. Dip each piece of meat individually into the bowl to ensure an even coating.

4. Allow to sit for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to cook, drain off excess marinade and lightly pat meat dry with a paper towel.

6. Lay strips out flat on the wire racks. The edges of the meat can touch, but the meat should not overlap or
be folded in any way.

7. Place the racks into the oven on positions 2 and 4. Place the solid pan on rack position 1 to catch any drips.

8. Leave the door slightly ajar and select the Convection Mode set to 150°F. Dehydrate for 1 hour.

9. After an hour, flip over the meat and rotate the racks.

10. Continue to cook until the meat develops a stiff, leathery texture. Thicker cuts of meat can take an additional 3-5
hours or longer to dehydrate and cooking rates vary if using a conventional oven.

11. Continue to flip and rotate the meat every 1-2 hours to ensure the jerky has a uniform texture.

12. Cool and store in an airtight container. The jerky can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

You will need both of the wire racks that came with your Wolf Convection Steam oven (or any oven safe wire racks if using a conventional oven). It is also helpful to have the solid oven pan to catch drips as you lay out the strips of meat across the racks. Surprisingly, you will also need a colander to drain off the excess marinade. This provides a much cleaner way of handling the strips of meat than removing them one at a time from the zip-top bag.

Recipe courtesy of Wolf’s “Mastering the Convection Steam Oven” guide



The bulkhead dilemma

Let’s face it, there’s nothing fancy or attractive about a basement bulkhead. It is a necessary evil in most homes in order to be able to access the basement from the home’s exterior. For years the available options for bulkheads were limited and many standard metal options can often rust, eventually leak and create that gut wrenching, nails on a chalkboard type of sound when opening or closing. (I bet you can hear the sound in your head right now…sorry about that)

With all that bad press behind them why hasn’t someone come up with a better way to access a basement?  The fact is that each home is different and each situation unique so there is never a one size fits all solution. We’re tackling this dilemma and going over your options for a basement access solution that is right for you and your home.

If you’re replacing an existing bulkhead and looking for more attractive options you can start with the basics.

Powder Coated

An upgrade from a standard primed steel bulkhead is the powder coated variety. They’re still pretty standard so the price isn’t going to jump too much but the factory finish means it will likely last much longer.

Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder, typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat to allow it to flow and form a “skin” over the metal.

The result is a superior finish that is more durable and tougher than conventional paint. Powder coated finishes are typically more resistant to chipping, scratching and fading but are only available in a short list of colors. Typically white, sandstone or beige, some variation of grey and a brick color. So if you’re looking to match your custom painted exterior this may not be for you.

Polyethylene Bulkhead

What is Polyethylene you ask? In short, it’s plastic. Plastic has gotten a bad reputation these days because it doesn’t break down and can remain in a landfill for hundreds if not thousands of years.  Bad – if it’s on a disposable product like a water bottle, but a very good thing if it is used on products that call for longevity. Bilco, one of the most widely used manufacturers of bulkheads has  a polyethylene bulkhead that boasts little to no maintenance and a standard design that mimics the look of a wood door which is inherently more attractive.

The door has a weather tight head gasket and the ability to change out side panels for venting or allowing natural light into your basement entry.   It can withstand a 200 lb load capacity and has “motion dampers” that assist in a softer door closure. A 5 year manufacturer’s warranty is also available.  One of the downfalls is color options are limited to the stock “driftwood” color as the door cannot be painted a custom color.

Fiberglass Bulkhead


Another newer player on the bulkhead market is the fiberglass “Clam door” Emerging on the scene about 10 years ago, the Clam Door Company has taken their inspiration from nature (namely the clam) and their weatherproofing from the marine & sailing industry. Made in Rhode Island and employing a full watertight gasket on the entire perimeter, this one piece door does seem to have the weather proofing and pest deterrent properties that other bulkhead doors don’t.  If you own or have ever been on a boat this door may remind you more of a boat hatch than a bulkhead. The Fiberglass material comes in standard colors or can be customized for an additional cost. The Fiberglass materials also boasts it’s strength with a 700lb capacity in the center of the door and a hydraulic lift bar holds the door in an open position while in use.

The price point is a bit higher than a standard bulkhead but the weatherproofing benefits and streamlined design may make that extra cost worth it for most homeowners.

Hidden Bulkhead

Photo courtesy of LuciGold

If even the nicest bulkhead just isn’t nice enough for your taste some opt to cover them up. Custom options are available to integrate a Bulkhead “hatch” into a deck or patio. This creates a trap door of sorts that will be sure to impress your friends but may put a bit more stress on your wallet.

The one pictured here is integrated into a deck so when closed just appears to blend in with the decking and in many cases would not even be noticeable to someone who didn’t know it was there.

Like anything else,  when you begin to get into a fully custom option such as this the cost inevitably rises so be prepared for the price tag that comes along with it.


Open Stairwell

In some cases it may be possible to eliminate the bulkhead altogether. If you are building new or adding on an addition and want to plan ahead to eliminate the bulkhead  and create an open stairwell there are a few things  to consider.

Protection from the elements is one of the major things you’ll have to plan ahead for.  Without the protection of the bulkhead water can now get down into the stairwell. You will have to install a weather tight door at the entry point in to the basement foundation and ensure proper drainage at the base to prevent water & ice buildup. With an open stairwell you will also have to construct railings to prevent falls.

The open stairwell pictured above from one of our Brewer Master Suite addition project called for capping the foundation walls with slate to create a more finished look and constructing the stairs and rail from mahogany.  This basement access was definitely a step up  from your typical bulkhead.

Walkout Basements

Perhaps the most luxurious of all basement entries and a real departure from a standard bulkhead is the walk-out. Ultimately a walkout basement is one that has a point of entry/exit, direct from the foundation wall to the exterior grade. A portion of the basement is typically excavated out or resides on a slope leaving the majority of the basement walls exposed and above ground.  Some walk-out basements also have windows allowing for added natural light in the lower level of a home. If you don’t already have a walk out basement it may be possible to create one but you’ll definitely need to enlist the help of the professionals.

This example from one of our Highland Whole House Remodel uses a combination of elevation changes and custom retaining walls and stairwells to create a walkout basement that did not formerly exist. Metal railings were custom fabricated along with custom stone veneer and installation of a double french door to allow for added natural light in the basement.

Clearly a more elaborate basement entry of this sort is in the highest price point of all that we have discussed but the effect and beauty may be well worth the cost for some homeowners.


Skylights & Sun Tunnels

Skylights are a great way to bring natural light into an otherwise dark space. The latest technology in skylights has them fully automated with touch screen remote controls and water sensors that can automatically close the unit if rain is detected.
The unit in the photo (left) brings much needed natural light into this bathroom with no windows and also affords additional ventilation in an area where it is needed most.
In the case where there is a space restriction or limited budget sun tunnels are another viable option. They work by channeling the sunlight down a much smaller cylindrical tube into the finished space. In our COTY Award winning Bath remodel we used 3 sun tunnels that were finished to mimic the look of full skylights but allowed us to work around obstructions in the attic space giving the illusion of a full size skylight from the finished space.

Plane Large Format Tile

Product Spotlight: Plane Large Format Tile

Plane Large format tile installed in an entire bath.

This new product has been creating a lot of buzz among industry professionals. Why you ask? Simply put because it brings the best of many products together into one.

The look of expensive marble or stone slabs with the durability and ease of porcelain tile. Super durable and versatile for any surface inside or out. Some may hesitate to install natural stone in certain environments or settings due to it’s porous nature but with porcelain as the material and highly convincing printing techniques that mimic real stone veining this large format Tile has the look and feel of polished stone but can hold up to a lot more abuse. 

The large format, as large as 5’x10′ tiles, means fewer grout lines. For many showers this could mean no grout lines to clean at all!

PLANE is available in 15 different colors from several variations of marble/stone prints to the look of concrete or metal.

Want to incorporate Plane Large Format Tile in to your next project? Contact us to start planning!

LG Art Cool heating and a/c

Product Spotlight

LG Art Cool Gallery Mini split A/C

Ductless mini-split heating & air conditioning units are an efficient and effective way to get heating and cooling in a space that may have limited accessibility for traditional heating and cooling options. New innovations from LG have made the wall mounted unit required for the system more stylish and able to blend with any decor.

Designed to look like a photo frame this streamlined unit can be customized with personal photos or artwork. The vents are located on the sides of the unit and deliver remotely controlled hot or cool air on demand. This award winning design takes one of the few negatives about the ductless mini split system out of the equation by replacing the clunky rectangular wall unit with this lower profile photo frame design.

Learn More about the LG Art Cool Line of comfort hvac solutions

Care Free PVC Decking

High Style meets Low Maintenance

Azek PVC Decking

The trend for decking is moving away from wood and composite and towards a more durable, scratch, stain & fade resistant option ~ PVC.

Cellular PVC products have risen to a high level of style and are available for more than just decking. Trim, rails and architectural mouldings are also available in this durable, versatile material and it comes in a wide range of colors and textures to resemble stained or painted wood. The high quality, longevity and visual appeal of products Like AZEK decking, rails and trim make it the standard for most if not all of our exterior projects. Check out the list of advantages below and see how it compares to your current trim and decking material:

Advantages to PVC vs. wood or composite

  • Resists stains, fading, scratches
  • Resists rot, mildew, mold and damage due to insects
  • Lasts in excess of 25 years
  • Never requires, stain or paint
  • Available in a variety of colors and textures
  • Offers options for hidden fastening systems
  • Material is 100% recyclable With all of these advantages you may ask why anyone would select anything else?

Some of the reasons why AZEK isn’t covering everyone’s deck …yet:

1.) Education -many people are still of the mind that “plastic” means “cheap” or low quality -these products are far from low quality -in fact they are quite the opposite. Others aren’t aware that these products even exist.

2) Higher initial cost -being that the product is technologically advanced and has such a long life the initial price is higher -but the smart consumer knows that cost difference will be recouped over the life of the product. The savings will come in the form of lack of maintenance bills to repair, replace, stain or paint the product.

3.) Some prefer the feel of real wood and may choose wood products like Ipe or mahogany for their aesthetics and these woods do have a higher tolerance to moisture but do still require regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure their longevity.

So if you are a fan of high quality, low maintenance, durable finishes that will stand the test of time and ultimately save you money then this design trend may be one to follow.

Want to make PVC decking part of your next renovation project? Contact us and let’s start planning!

Switchable LCD Smart glass

Switchable LCD Smart Glass

New innovations in glass technology allow for glass to go from clear to opaque at the flick of a switch. A layer of electrically charged LCD film is laminated between pieces of glass and allows for a clear view in “on mode” and for privacy when turned off. The product has been used largely in the commercial sector to create instant privacy in offices, conference rooms and hotels and is now popping up all over the residential building & remodeling industry.

Some companies that offer this technology also have it available in film form that can be retro-fitted and applied to existing glass almost anywhere. Smart Glass can also be used as a projection surface and can have touch-screen film added as well, making the possibilities almost endless.

Wondering how you can incorporate Switchable Smart Glass in your next remodel?

Shower Doors
Room Dividers
Interior & Exterior Doors
Projection Surfaces
Anywhere glass is installed!

Watch this video demo to see how it works:

Velux Solar Powered Skylight

Velux Solar Powered Skylight

The new Solar powered skylight by Velux was one of many products we had the pleasure of learning about at our latest visit to the JLC Live industry trade show. Skylights  have the ability to bring light into a space that may not allow for a window.

In the case of this bathroom from our Lincoln Master Suite Renovation, the client did not want a window in the shower for privacy concerns but desired natural light in their updated master bath. The need for ventilation in the bathroom was also a factor and made the velux solar powered skylight the logical choice. 


The skylight caught our attention… and here’s why:

  • Remote controlled solar powered skylight requires no wiring, which makes for easy and cost effective installation.
  • The included touch screen remote is intuitive and convenient eliminating the need for long cranks or devices to open or close the unit. 
  • The solar panel will work on cloudy days and with indirect light. It does not have to be exposed to direct sunlight to function.
  • With the integrated rain sensor the solar powered skylight will close automatically in case of inclement weather.
  • 10 year “No leak” warranty
  • 30% Tax Credit available for product & installation
  • Another 30% tax credit available with the purchase of the integral solar blinds available for the skylight in a variety of colors.

Want to incorporate the Velux Solar powered skylight into your next project? Contact us to start planning!