Earlier this week I mentioned a project with a friend to deal with the fact that most kitchen countertops are too low for her. Prototypes were made for the two of us (different heights as it happens) and both have been excellent.
Here is Colleen's initial report and link to the manufacturer - AWP Butcher Block. If you are interested check out Colleen's blog for more details. You might want to look at her page for a great before and after comparison.
She is also much more photogenic than I am.
The manufacturer does excellent work and is a delight to work with. The wood is beautiful hard maple and the construction is solid. They are much more beautiful when seen in person than in the photos. Colleen's is wider and taller than mine and both are solid. You could easily stand on either of them.
After going through a dozen ergonomic papers and books it became clear you could come up with an average for kitchen tasks and determine a proper height for good posture and comfort by measuring elbow height. It turns out that this type of a counter riser can be useful for people from 5'9 to about 7'0.
Mine greatly reduces lower back pain. These may not work if you don't have sufficient space over your countertop and people who are remodeling their kitchens might consider doing something very custom, but if you are looking for an inexpensive solution and remodeling isn't practical, this might be just the ticket.
I'm chopping brussels sprouts here and came up with a good recipe. Using this new countertop makes cutting and chopping very easy.
I never liked Brussels spouts until I was about thirty. Up until then I had only had the evil whole green leafy spheroids that were steamed to complete limp and awful imperfection. I saw someone slice them thin and sauté them in butter. They were excellent. Since then I've had some that were picked after a hard frost ... really good. I think that makes them sugar, but any of them are probably really good this time of the year.
these are very approximate measures as none were used
1 pound of brussels sprouts
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c water
a good sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2c chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
1/4 c of a good balsamic vinegar and 1/4 c of a good white balsamic vinegar like Colavita
Here is what I did. I'm not good with measurements so these are guesses
chop and discard the hard ends off the brussels sprouts. chop them lengthwise (I did top to bottom so they would be mostly uniform) they were maybe 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.
Throw the brussels sprouts into a pan over medium high heat with maybe 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4c water. Add salt and ground pepper. I *really* like Maldon salt when I'm using vegetables. When it heats up, turn the heat back to about medium, cover and cook about 5 minutes.
In a separate pan brown the chopped nuts in 1/4 c olive oil ... just to the point where they start to brown and smell *wonderful* ... lots of stirring. Set aside
Uncover the pan with the brussels sprouts after 5 minutes, turn up the heat to medium high and heat until the water is gone and the brussels sprouts are tender (a few minutes) -- don't overcook brussels sprouts. There is some rule of the nature that is violated if you do and you wouldn't want the Earth to suffer the consequences!
Now stir the balsamic vinegar and nuts into the brussels sprouts, turn off the heat and serve.
You may want to use more of the vinegars and alter their ratios. I won't tell.