Let’s talk kitchens. Kitchens and tables are the heart of every home. The meals that nourish us are created here. Deals are signed. Problems are solved. Laughter happens. Priceless memories are created around the table. It all starts in the kitchen.
Last fall, Paul and I started a grand adventure of remodeling my childhood home. A cool thing about this house is that half of it was a one room schoolhouse built in the 1800s. My grandpa attended school there. It was moved, used as a corn crib and moved again in the 1940s where it was turned into a house. My dad grew up in the house from the age of eight, got married and lived there 30 more years (that’s when I came along!). It has been a rental house for past 26 years. In this fixer-upper craze, we live in, this seemed like an exciting, fun project for two empty nesters to tackle. Demo day was an HGTV moment, then before we knew it we were living the 1986 movie, The Money Pit. That’s another story.
Back to kitchen. For most of us, what you see is what you get, we just make do. Designing kitchens through a new build or remodel can take on a life of its own. Loans.usnews.com states when remodeling an existing kitchen, you want to think about cost versus value. Generally, a remodel project’s budget should be within 25% of the value of your home. Our current house is over 100 years old and when we moved in the washer and dryer were along a wall in the kitchen. Everyone’s dream kitchen includes a laundry, right? We remodeled the kitchen 11 years ago. We finally got the laundry out of the kitchen, added an island and brought it into modern farmhouse times.
Thinking about remodeling or new construction? The first thing on the to-do list is to find a contractor you can trust. Anderson & Noland Construction was my-go to for my remodel 10 years ago and for this schoolhouse renovation as well. Mike is my Chip Gaines for all you Fixer Upper junkies. He is awesome! He is creative, adapts well to old house challenges and an overall craftsman. Mike is a friend and knew my needs before I knew what I needed. Electrical outlets on either end of an island and a spice drawer! I was in heaven. Mike states that 25% to 30% of their business is kitchen remodels. His biggest challenge is getting clients to think realistically about design, length of project and budget. HGTV, Pinterest and Houzz are great about cool new projects completed in an hour. Then reality hits. Money talks.
Mike said when designing a kitchen, the most important thing is space, shape and the triangle. I love math and geometry and that’s what the triangle is all about. The triangle is an imaginary line between the sink, fridge and range. This triangle determines the efficiency of your kitchen. Kitchens.com states that each side of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet with the sum not being more than 26 feet. It should not cut through an island. Shapes of L, U, G, Single Wall and Galley help with containing the triangle. The most common shape is L or galley shape. L shape is designed with cabinets running on two adjacent walls creating a scalene type triangle. A galley shaped kitchen is designed with 2 parallel walls My current kitchen is L shaped with a scalene triangle running through my island, YIKES! A faux pas maybe, but it was the only design possible for the space. Mike said dream kitchen triangles aside, people do adapt their efficiency to the triangle and space they have.
My kitchen design is progressing. The new kitchen plans are a galley shaped kitchen with more of a small equilateral triangle concept. A few new appliances have been ordered. Cabinets have been designed, ordered and will be delivered soon. We are well on our way to our new kitchen and I can’t wait! As you think about your dream kitchens, it can get a little overwhelming. The dreams and possibilities are endless. Reality meets dreams with a budget, a triangle, a letter and a creative guy (or girl!) Go for it and enjoy these recipe favorites of a few good men!
Eat well and Healthy,
Best Cherry Pie cantstayoutofthekitchen.com
My guy Mike’s favorite pie… cherry
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar
Dash of salt
½ to 1 tsp. almond extract
2 14.5 oz. cans of pitted tart red cherries
1/3c cherry juice (drained from cherries)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter, slivered
Combine sugar, flour & salt. Stir in butter, then cherry juice, food coloring and almond extract. Add cherries and let stand while making pastry. (This helps the flavors absorb more readily). Pour cherry filling into pastry shell. Cover with a lattice top crust.
Bake at 300° for about 1 ½ hours until the juice starts bubbling up quite thick between the layers of the lattice crust. If necessary put foil over pie to prevent browning. Notes
NOTE: This is much better with tart, red pitted cherries, not dark, sweet cherries.
NOTE: The pie isn’t done until the juices get really thick. Otherwise, after it cools when you cut into the pie it will be runny.
NOTE: Avoid placing the filling in the pie before you have the top crust ready to go. Otherwise the juices will cause the bottom crust to get soggy while baking.
NOTE: Be sure when draining the cherries to reserve the cherry juice necessary to make the recipe.
Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies mathastewart.com
Paul’s favorite cookies…chewy ginger w a splash of chocolate
7 oz best-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 c + 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Peanut Butter Pie adapted from tasteofhome.com
One of Jake’s(son #1) favorite pies
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4.5 oz lite cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup milk
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
9 in. chocolate/plain graham cracker crumb crust
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts, optional
Chocolate curls, optional
2 Reese Cups, chopped, optional
In a mixing bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and milk; fold in whipped topping. Pour into the crust. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours. Remove from the freezer just before serving. Garnish with peanuts and chocolate curls if desired. Yield: 6 servings