Friday, April 30, 2010

Kitchen Progress...

This week's progress so far. We'll have more to share this evening (or at least that's the plan!).

Sunday, Chris installed our new disposal and hooked up all the pipes under the sink. Monday the beverage fridge arrived! Here it is just out of the box:

Also on Monday, Dylan installed the new faucet:

Wow it's nice having running water in the kitchen. Read more about the faucet in this previous post. I have to share that it is awesome and totally works as advertised. It's like magic to just touch the faucet and have the water come on!

Wednesday the electricians came and hooked up the double oven:

Right now the oven is sitting on a temporary box while we decide if it's at the right height. And right now it's perfect for me - the display panel is right at my eye level - but we think it'll look nicer (and still be easy to work / not up too high) if we raise it up 3-4 inches. That'll also put it more in line with the top of the fridge. This whole section will have cabinetry built around it. That's the last part that'll be built.

So far I'm really pleased with the oven, and Thomas loves it. As it preheats it shows the temperature inside the oven on the display... he loves to watch the numbers go up. Even the inside is pretty:

Crazy that it's blue, huh? Little things make me happy. :)

While the electricians were here they also hooked up the outlet for the beverage fridge:

And now it lights up all pretty inside. And chills the beer and wine. It's a victory!

Also on Wednesday afternoon the guys from the city came by and marked up the yard for our gas line.

Soon we'll be cooking with gas!

Today (Friday) we'll get the last of the cabinets... next week doors and drawers... stay tuned!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Dreams do come true... we have counters and they look amazing!

First a few "in process" photos - here's the section with the sink

and here's the island:

And the finished product, all shined up. First the buffet:

The sink section:

A close up of our funky windowsill/backsplash:

The baking and snacks area:

Close up of the dough-rolling space:

And the island:

For the record, the material is quartz, by LG Surfaces Viatera. The color is called Trentino.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Kitchen Cabinets

Friday we got a lot more cabinets!

This section has been dubbed "the buffet." It's on the far side of the kitchen, and having it there really makes that part of the room feel like it's part of the room.

This is the right side of the buffet. It'll match the left (it's 2 pictures down, below) with glass doors on top, drawer in the middle and solid doors on the bottom. 

This is the center section of the buffet. It'll have a counter top (matching the ones in the rest of the kitchen), drawers on the right and left sides and solid doors in the center. When the electricians were here, they forgot to move the outlet up, so I asked the cabinet guys to leave us access to it inside the cabinet.

This is the left side of the buffet. Like the right, it'll have glass doors on top, drawer in the middle and solid doors on the bottom.

This is the baking area... even though now it looks like the tool storage area! On the left we'll have a lower counter for rolling out dough. Behind that a hidden storage area. Drawer and double solid doors in the center and storage for muffin tins on the far right. In the area where the level and the ladder are we'll have a small beverage fridge. It's now scheduled to be delivered this Wednesday. The counter top will run the whole length of the back wall. 

And here's the last section, with the dishwasher installed. I promise to take the protective cover off the dishwasher once the counter top is in!

The plan for this week:
Monday - countertops installed
Tuesday - gas plumber should be here to install the cooktop in the island
Wednesday - beverage fridge should be delivered
by the end of the week we should also have more cabinets and maybe the double oven out of the box.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Electrical Progress!

Not the most exciting thing to look at (or to clean up after) but we had 3 electricians here all day so lots of progress was made. They'll be back in a week or so to do all the finish work.

Here are the new recessed lights. The one directly over the sink will be behind a piece of wood (an apron?) that connects the cabinets to the right and left sides of it. They'll get trim etc. after the ceiling is finished and painted.

There are also 2 new recessed lights in the area that runs on the far side of the island (near the back door)

We also moved a lot of outlets around, including a new 220 line for the double oven. Tomorrow should be exciting as we're expecting a lot more cabinets to appear. Hopefully we'll see countertops Friday, Saturday or Monday. Cross your fingers for us!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Abby!

Tuesday was Abby's birthday and Thomas, who has been dying to hear her say "Thank you," decided giving her a birthday present might be the way to get her utter this most-desired phrase. So with the help of my Mom, we made her a big pink pillow.

It's made of fleece and about 14-inches square. Mom did the embroidery (or rather her machine did, under her direction). Abby loved it and did indeed say "Thanks," and she wrote us a darling thank you note.
Thanks, Mom, for helping make the project a success! We hope Abby had as much fun the rest of the day as we had with her before school.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meyer Lemon Lemonade

Thank you Jenn and Marc for the Meyer lemons from your tree! Thomas was so excited to try them, after hearing his Food Network hero Michael Chiarello wax poetic about them on multiple occasions. Jenn was barely out of the driveway when T was saying, "Thank you, Jenny Sue," and slicing them to juice them.

Here they are. I included the knife in the photo to give you an idea how much bigger they are then traditional Eureka lemons you find in the grocery store:

The flash made these look much more orange than they are in real life:

T showing off half (this one with no flash):

The 5 lemons made almost 2 cups of juice!

It was less tart than Eureka lemon juice so we cut the sweetening by half. In our Adventures in Lemonade post, I shared our lemonade recipe and to be honest/more accurate we usually only use about 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of water in our simple syrup.

Yum! Thanks J&M!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Saturday, Thomas and I made a big batch of lasagna. He's been watching Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on the Food Network and asking to make his lasagna of butternut squash for weeks, so after his baseball game and lunch we got to work. I'll include the whole recipe after our pictures and then some notes from us after that.

First we made the spice mix. I packed up so many of our kitchen items for the remodel that I couldn't find the mortar and pestle. We used the coffee/spice grinder instead. After that we peeled, seeded, chopped, seasoned and roasted the squash:

Then we made the bechamel sauce. Thomas was really excited about this, and even though we made a bit of a mess the sauce turned out great!
The flecks you see in the sauce are fresh sage. Next while we boiled the noodles, we pureed the squash and added the rest of the ingredients for the filling. I should have taken pictures of all the dirty dishes at this point - there was quite a stack of them!

We assembled and baked and yum! It turned out really good.

Instead of making one huge 13x9 inch pan full, we split it up into 3 small 8x8s. We baked 1 and froze the other 2 for later this month.

Lasagna of Roasted Butternut Squash

Michael Chiarello


For the squash:

  • 2 large butternut squash, about 3 to 5 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Fennel and Cinnamon Spice Blend, recipe follows
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (or a 15-ounce container)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pound dried lasagna sheets (about 24 sheets), each 6 1/2 by 3 inches
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sage, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To assemble the lasagna:

  • Butter, for dish
  • 1 pound mozzarella, grated
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the squash's hard shell. Trim about 1/2-inch off the top and bottom ends so you can set each section of the squash flat on a cutting board. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon, and coarsely chop the squash into 1/2-inch chunks. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl, toss the squash with the oil, sage, spice blend, and 1 teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast the squash in the oven until very soft and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the squash from the oven and puree in a food processor with fresh nutmeg.
In a large bowl, mix the squash puree, ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until ready to use.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the lasagna sheets until al dente. Drain the sheets and spread them on a baking sheet. Drizzle them lightly with oil and set aside.
Prepare the sauce: In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a slow simmer over medium heat. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage and garlic to the butter, cook for 30 seconds, then add the flour and stir. Add about 3 cups of the milk, and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, while whisking continuously. Add the remaining milk and whisk again. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Adjust the heat to low to maintain a slow simmer, and cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes, whisking frequently. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Makes about 8 cups.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Spoon a ladle of bechamel into the dish and spread to coat the bottom. Place a single layer of lasagna sheets on top of the bechamel. Spread some of the squash mixture evenly over the lasagna sheets and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top. Repeat this step until all ingredients are used, starting with 2 to 3 ladles of bechamel for each layer. Keep building the layers until the pan is full to about 1/4-inch from the top. Finish with cheese and sauce directly over the noodles. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour. Remove the cover, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Allow lasagna to rest before slicing. Serve warm.

Fennel and Cinnamon Spice Blend:

  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt
Grind fennel with mortar and pestle. Add the cinnamon and salt and continue grinding. Or grind in spice grinder for a rough grind.
Our thoughts:
1. Be sure to be generous with both the sauce and the squash mixture as you're building the lasagna. You want a nice thick layer of squash, and not a bowl of leftovers (like we ended up with! It's not a big bowl but I think the first lasagna would have been even better if it had more of the veggie mixture). 
2. We couldn't find the flat rectangular lasagna noodles Michael prefers so we used the regular long ones with the curly edges. I don't think it made a difference in the finished product.
3. This was a good vegetarian main course but it also might make a nice side dish, maybe with grilled pork chops.
4. It was even better the second day heated up for leftovers!
We all really enjoyed it; Thomas asked when we could make it again, so not only was it a delicious dinner but also a good bonding project for us. I love it that he loves to cook. :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thinking about Bar Stools

Now that we sort of have our island (I say sort of because it's not attached to the floor yet and the counter on top of it is temporary), it's time to find the perfect bar stools. The counter is 36 inches tall so I think 26 inches is the right height for our stools. This decision significantly reduces the possibilities, which is probably a good thing. Chris wants stools that swivel 360 degrees, so the person sitting on one could easily spin from talking to folks in the kitchen to talking to those at the table. He also prefers stools without backs. I'm ambivalent on that point.

Here are some possibilities. What do you think?
from - see it here. The good news is it comes in 26" height and there are lots of choices for the upholstery so we wouldn't have to go with the glossy soda-shop red.

A less flashy option from the same vendor:
It has 4 seat color options - wasabi (green), red, brown or black. Check it out here.

This one would n-e-v-e-r work but I had to share it because it looks like a cat bed on top of a stool!
It comes in a lot of (mostly unpalatable colors) - see it here.

Here's one I like better:
Check it out here. It comes in Oxblood (red), cream, cranberry and as pictured, brown. Chris likes it in cranberry:

What do you think? Shiny or solid? LOL Thanks in advance...

Wine & Beer Fridge

The quest to get a twin for our wine fridge came to an end this morning when I learned (after much googling and a few phone calls) that the model we have was discontinued last year. On to plan B... and really, I should know by now that the more expensive plan is always the better plan. LOL.

Here's plan B:

It's one integrated unit with two cooling zones - one side for beer and beverages, the other for wine. Looks pretty nice under that counter, too, huh? :)

I ordered it this afternoon... hope to see it by the end of next week. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Specs on fridge here.

Fun fact: The company that makes it is based in Findlay, Ohio.
To see where this will live in the kitchen see this post.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kitchen Project Underway - Cabinets Day 1

Much excitement today at our house as the first of the cabinets were delivered and installed!

(Here's the island. The sides and back are not finished - they'll have door panels covering them and there will be baseboard all around the bottom (including under the "kick" there in the front. This isn't anchored to the floor yet. We're still deciding exactly where it should sit permanently.)

(The section with the sink. Notice I got all the wallpaper taken down! I still need to prime and paint the wall... The space on the left will house the dishwasher.)

(This is the start of the baking center. The rolling area will extend out perpendicularly from the panel on the top left. The space on the right will be home to the wine fridge and a new beer fridge under the counter.)

(The island with a temporary top so we can a. figure out more easily where we want the whole thing to be installed and b. have some work space... which is divine after having almost none for so long!)

(The sink section with the new dishwasher installed and the old counter top and sink set up for temporary use.)

(Close up of the new dishwasher. It still has the protective plastic on the stainless steel but is otherwise hooked up and ready to go.)

Tomorrow we attach the island to the floor, unpack the double oven and see how it looks in the space we have for it, and maybe see some more cabinets. Also, the countertop guy is coming to take the measurements and make templates to cut out the counters. Very exciting. Stay tuned, hope to have more pictures soon!
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