I hope you are all recovering from Carb Bomb Weekend
We had a wonderful time full of
yummy and family and funny dogs and relaxing.
|Julia Child's Turkey recipe...GAMECHANGER!|
|Herb and Onion Stuffing cooked under the bird.|
|Balsamic Braised Cippoline Onions|
|Cornbread Dressing with Sausage|
|Green Beans with Lemon Chive Oil|
|Bourbon Pecan Hickory Nut Pie|
|Doggie nephews all tuckered out.|
It was also a monumental milestone, because it was the last
Thanksgiving that I will ever produce out of our own kitchen.
It was, in fact, the 23rd
Thanksgiving to come out of this kitchen, officially moving me into the
“Cooking Thanksgiving more than Half My Life” arena.
And they have all been good.
Many have been great.
The cooking experience, not so much.
This kitchen has served me well, but it is
not a great space to cook in.
and burners are electric, the counterspace minimal.
The water pressure in the sink is just a hair
above a trickle.
The linoleum floor
is so old and decrepit that not only does it never look clean, as much as you
scrub, the nails of the subfloor have worked their way up thru it, so if you
don’t wear shoes, it’s like walking on Legos.
The refrigerator does not fit in the room, and is in the
Which is too narrow for
the door to open completely.
process that for a moment.
Today we have the first official New Kitchen Post.
It will not be the last.
When Charming Suitor and I sat down to plan the renovation
of this home, we were in total agreement about some key things.
One, we would spend the serious money on the infrastructure
and systems, and be creative about finishes and fixtures with what was left in
We want this old girl to go
another hundred years at least, but for sure another 40 or so with us in it, so
while it is fun to think about splurging on beautiful tile and woodwork, we
knew that our first priority needed to be what lives behind the walls.
Two, we would not over-improve the property beyond what the
market would bear for our neighborhood.
One never knows what is coming down the road, and while we plan to live
out our natural lives right in this spot, we needed to know that if at any
point life required us to sell it, we would be able to do so without taking a
Three, the only space we WOULD over-improve would be the
Let’s be clear.
Renovating a house for yourself, as smart as you ought to be in
considering resale value, should still contain the things that make your dreams
For Charming Suitor and I,
that meant a KILLER kitchen.
We are both
cooks, and we love to cook together. We both love the entertaining that we do, and want to do more, and neither of us has ever had
the kitchen we really wanted.
plotted very rationally our completely irrational kitchen!
It will take many posts to fill you in on this project, the
most complicated and important of the whole house, but we are going to start
with layout and design.
The kitchen was the hardest space to design in the whole house, and the only
room that needed five tries to get it right.
Again, this is the space we designed for US and how WE live.
We are not in any way recommending this style
of kitchen design for people who don’t cook, or families with kids, or people who never entertain.
This is not a “hub of the home” kitchen.
This is not an eat-in- kitchen slash family
room slash office slash homework kiosk slash arts and crafts space.
This is essentially a zoned fine dining restaurant kitchen
with a chef’s table.
What does that mean?
Let me show you.
The U-Shaped set of cabinets incorporate two distinct
On the right side, the
gas range, gas wall oven, rotisserie .
On the peninsula on the left, induction cooktop and inset counter steamer.
They share prep space on the island between
them, and cleaning space on the window wall with a sink and dishwasher.
The separate L shaped section across the room is
predominantly for baking.
The wall oven
on this side is electric, instead of gas, for consistency of temperature.
There is a second sink and second dishwasher
in this area.
The curved window wall will get a built in banquette, with
an oval table for seating.
Instead of following the “triangle” approach to appliances,
we worked with a professional kitchen layout, with the small food pantry and
the kitchen library ( see this post for Kitchen Library
) flanking the
This puts small
equipment and all food centered between all three of the cooking zones.
What does this do for us?
It allows up to three people to cook at the same time without getting in
each other’s way, with a fourth potentially cleaning.
It means that there is plenty of counter and prep space.
It means that if I’m working on delicate pie
crust, I’m doing it far enough away from the primary cooking area that the heat
and moisture from things cooking in that space won’t screw up my pastry.
It means that Charming Suitor can check the temp on the
Thanksgiving Turkey and I can check on the rolls in the oven and neither of us
will get an elbow to the face.
But just because we went all “professional-inspired” doesn’t
mean it isn’t still a home kitchen.
is a space that will allow up to eight people to eat comfortably at the
The peninsula has a bar where
four people can sit and chat with whomever is cooking without being
There is going to be a TV on
the wall in the baking section across from the dining table, which will be on
an extendable arm so that on Thanksgiving the people doing the food prep can still
watch the game.
It is an unusual and very specific design, that we believe
will suit us and our lifestyle to a T.
The takeaway for my Chickens?
You have to make your lists.
Must haves, want to haves, would be nice to
haves, and splurges.
For us, our original list looked like this:
Plenty of counterspace and thoughtful cabinet design with
good ability to organize
No uppers or minimal uppers (I am 5’3” and will only get
shorter from here, and I do not want to be an 85 year old hobbit lady needing a
footstool to get to my plates)
Two people at least able work together comfortably
Two ovens, preferably on opposite walls, at counter height
(I hate a stacked oven, one is too tall for me, the other requires bending to
We knew if we couldn’t do
opposite walls, we would at least do them side by side)
Room for a table for at least 6 people
Huge fridge/freezer, deep enough to hold large platters
Space to recreate kitchen library
Island with built-in butcherblock
Place for people to sit and chat with cooks
One gas oven, one electric oven (roasting vs baking)
French door ovens (I’m forever burning myself on the open
door of the oven trying to deal with things inside with my short little arms)
Totally separate area for baking
Decent sized pantry that is just for food
Cheese fridge in pantry (more on this later)
Built-in wall rotisserie (more on this later)
Once you have your list, which may very well include things
like space for arts and crafts and homework and home office, etc., you can look
at your kitchen and prioritize how to allocate the space.
Then you can take a look at what is most
important to you in terms of your budget.
Are you a purely functional cook, and not a passionate one?
Then don’t waste money on commercial style
high-end appliances; you’ll never get the real benefit of the features that
make them so expensive.
Does your family
spend all of its time in the kitchen getting underfoot?
Consider a peninsula or island arrangement where you
can have them on the other side when you are working, but still right there
Do you have a lot of kids,
serving essentially a small soccer team two to three meals a day?
You might want to give up a little section of
cabinet space in favor of two dishwashers.
Does your family go through bottled water like they are trying to fill a
Put in a filtered
water faucet system at the sink and buy everyone their own refillable
We were fortunate that because we are just two people and
the house is a large one, we had enough space to do exactly what we wanted with
For those of you who have gone through a kitchen redo,
please put your best tips and tricks in the comments for everyone!
Stay tuned…next post CABINETS!!