Copper Sink Buying Tips

Copper sinks are popular right now, and for good reason: they’re beautiful, durable and low maintenance. But like other products on the market, you can find inexpensive sinks and you can find sinks that cost more than all your kitchen appliances together.

Most buyers aren’t looking to spend a small fortune on a copper sink, so how do you get a high quality sink at a reasonable price? Here are some tips to consider as you look around.

The first tip for buying a copper sink: look for thick copper. You’ll find copper sinks between 14 and 20 gauge – and be careful: 20 gauge isn’t  the thickest, it’s the thinnest. For sinks you’ll want a 14-16 gauge copper. Of course the thicker the copper the high the price, so decide early how much you’re willing to spend and what gauge you want for your new sink.

Why a heavy gauge copper for your sink? The two biggest reasons:
  1. You don’t want to hear a tinny sound when you run water in your copper sink.
  2. Thin copper can actually dent, which would damage the beautiful looks of your sink.

Another tip: make sure the sink is made of 100% copper, with no lead. Aha! Yes, some sinks are manufactured from copper mixed with lead. There can be two reasons for this. First, the copper isn’t purified so it still contains other natural byproducts like lead. Second, the copper is from recycled materials which also haven’t been cleaned up completely and contain lead. How can you assure your new sink is 100% copper? This is one of those basic know-who-you’re-buying-from answers: know who you’re buying from!

Also, check the manufacturing country of the sinks. India, Mexico and the US are the primary producers of copper sink and many manufacturers in these countries have excellent reputations.

Tip three: if there are seams on the unit make sure they’re welded, not soldered, for the greatest strength. And be sure they’re copper welds because other welding metals could change color over time, which could ruin the look of your sink.

The difference between welding and soldering? Welding actually melts the two metals together, and soldering just joins them by forming a seam. Makes sense that a welded seam is the stronger seam.

Okay, you’re ready to shop – take this information with you and start looking for your new, beautiful, low maintenance copper sink!


Outdoor Fire Pit: Grilling for the Big Game

If you’re having a Super Bowl party at your place this year you’ll be serving up food to some hungry guests. How about making this a great party and using your grill for the food? If you really want to wow them, pull out your fire pit and use it for the food. In fact, you could sit around the pit and watch the game! That way the cook doesn’t miss anything.

Here are some food ideas for your Bowl party.


Chili Cheese Dogs. Let your guests cook their own dogs over the fire pit, then slap them in buns and add chili, cheese, onions and whatever else you want. (Then, of course, just wait for that instant replay…!)


How about a big plate of hot wings with celery and dip! Add lots of extras – like seasoned grilled onions, grilled potato wedges with dips, grilled kabobs. Keep the pre-cooked wings hot on the pit - everything else can be cooked on the fire pit and served right from there!


Set out a variety of apps: chips, dips, nuts – anything you can eat with your hands. If you’ve got a big group set out two bowls of each. Just for fun you can serve one batch of apps in the first half and get out different apps for the second half.


What’s your local favorite? This is the time to serve it up! Barbeques, sausages, wild game, seafood – whatever your part of the country has an abundance of and serves proudly. Not sure? Ask your local grocer what they recommend.


What could be better than pulled pork sandwiches and hot baked beans? Both these dishes can be prepared ahead of time so you can enjoy the pre-game shows. You and your guests can grill your buns over the fire before making the sandwiches. Don’t forget the pickles, onions, dips – grilled potato wedges would be a great addition too.


Steak, of course, and plenty of it. Be sure to throw some potatoes and onions on the grill before the steaks so they’re ready at the same time. If you’re not handy at grilling, ask the best griller in the crowd to oversee the steak grilling so everyone gets theirs cooked exactly how they like it.


How about letting your guests do their own grilling, make their own kabobs? Prepare a bowl full of foods cut and prepared for grilling: seasoned steak, marinated onions, seasoned bread cubes, etc. With grilling sticks for each guest you can all relax right around the outdoor fire pit for the game.

One last idea: have all the makings for S’More ready. Those guests will love this sweet addition to the party. So let everyone know where the Big Game party’s at this year and plan to have a great time watching your favorite team play at the Bowl.


Freestanding Fire Pits: Now for Entertainment and Grilling

Yes – you’ve got to see them: fire pits with grilling grates! Oh, just imagine the flavors and the fun you’ll have grilling over a real open flame.

Fire pits – the beautiful freestanding pits available today – are a natural place to grill outdoors. We’ve all held roasting sticks over open flames with marshmallows or hot dogs skewered on the ends. But now we’re talking fire pits with grilling racks for the best of both worlds: use the sticks for the kids’ hot dogs while the steaks for the adults sizzle away on the rack.

Whether you choose an open basin style fire pit or a modern version of a chiminea (Mexican-style outdoor oven), you can grill with enthusiasm and gusto. Cooking over an open flame is at once similar to and very different from cooking over coals. They’re both very hot and require close attention. But unlike glowing coals, flames can “lick” the flavors right out of your food and quickly leave a gray, ashen heap. Don’t despair – now’s the time to become the neighborhood guru in fire pit cooking, and here are some beginning tips to get you started.

First tip: use dry wood. Wet wood smokes a lot. Another wood tip: use hardwoods, like oak or maple. Hardwoods burn longer and more consistently than soft woods like pine. (And you don’t want pine pitch seasoning your steaks.)

This next tip may sound like a no-brainer, but if you forget it you’ll have a tough start to dinner: build your fire with chunks of wood small enough to allow the grate to set properly in place above it. In other words, don’t use big chunks or ones with irregular shapes that will get in the way of the grilling rack.

For convenience you may want to keep the smaller grilling wood separate from the larger “bonfire” wood. That way you won’t have to pick through the stack every time you want to grill. And it will save your back from constantly restacking the pile.

If you’re going to grill food that cooks quickly like hot dogs you can set it right on the rack and turn it often to keep from burning. It’ll cook fast so watch carefully. And don’t walk away – wood fires aren’t as consistent as charcoal. You will probably move the food around a lot to keep it in an ideal cooking environment.

If you’re going to cook food that takes longer like steaks there’s another way to set up your fire that’s just like cooking a large item on your charcoal or gas grill. This can be a bit trickier because wood burns faster and less consistently than charcoal.

Have a good pile of short sticks ready. Use these short chunks of wood for this fire because once the fire is burning well you’ll want to push it to the sides of the fire pits, leaving an open space in the middle for a drip pan. Set your pan in place, lower the grilling rack and start cooking.

Now for the tricky part: keep the wood burning hot around the edges. Just like cooking indirectly on a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add fuel – or wood – to the fire to keep it constant. Wood burns faster than charcoal so watch it closely.

And you’re off to a great start! Soon you’ll be savoring the real flavor of wood smoked foods, and you’ll be the envy of your neighborhood. Enjoy!

Fire Pit: How to Keep Your Fire Pit Handy for Winter Use

It may be the end of summer, but it’s not time to pack up the yard and head inside yet. Fall and winter are great times to extend the use of your fire pit and create more memories with friends and family.

If you live in a white winterland climate fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and your yard before the snow flies. And if you don’t get snow in your part of the world you’re in an even better position to enjoy your fire pit during winter months: no shoveling!

The ideal winter fire pit is portable, like the new copper pits on the market. If you live in a climate that regularly gets below freezing you’ll understand: digging out from ice and snow gets old real fast. But a portable fire pit can wait in the garage or slip under the eaves for easy access and use.

When can you use a fire pit in the winter? Well, unlike summer, in the winter months it’s fun to light a fire in the middle of the day. Weekend, weekday . . . whatever suits your fancy. Here are some times you can get the flames dancing in the winter.

At the end of an afternoon of ice skating – even if it was at an indoor rink!

On a “balmy” winter evening, just to shake things up.

Over the holidays when everyone’s home . . . or not home.

Have a winter birthday? What a great way to celebrate! You can serve S’Mores instead of cake.

After you return from vacation, to re-introduce yourself to home before jumping into the usual work routine.

When friends come over, when family stops by, when a neighbor drops in.

At the end of an evening of entertaining, as your guests are thinking about leaving. It’s a great way to send them off.

As a new family tradition: pot of great stew with fresh bread, and out to the fire together.

After the Big Game, complete with hot dogs or steaks cooked outside.

Tip: make sure your wood pile is accessible in the winter months. It would really stink if you planned a great outdoor New Year’s party and realized your wood was at the back fence under two feet of snow and ice.

Another tip for winter fire pit use: have a stash of extra coats, hats, mits and scarves for unprepared guests - they’ll appreciate it. Want to go all-out? Get heated seat warmers and provide a place to set those insulated mugs.

Sound like fun? If you don’t already have your own portable fire pit this may be the time to invest in one. After all, the memories will be . . . priceless.