Tag Archives: kitchen story(ies)

forethought

IMG_3677

I had a board meeting last night and I brought a cake. It was a celebratory cake, in honor of the award this organization is receiving, and it was planned as a welcome cake for our two new board members. It’s also my birthday week, and so it seems a fitting week to consume more cake. On the way to the meeting I was thinking about cake. I was thinking about our upcoming house project and the dismantling and rebuilding of our kitchen. I was thinking that I’d love to be the kind of person who always has a cake on the counter – stopping in to pick up your kid or to drop off some materials for a meeting? Come in, have a cup coffee, would you like a slice of cake?

This could be that cake. It’s the Gateau Breton from last month’s Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I’ve made it twice now, the second time greatly benefitted from not having an oven temperature snafu in the middle of baking. It’s a sturdy cake, and an elegant one. It’s not overly sweet, and I increased the filling by a tablespoon or two and it’s nearly perfection. I have a large bottle of expensive dark rum, so at two tablespoons per cake, it seems like I could be set for awhile. It fits perfectly on my small marble cake stand, and it slices and plates easily. I served it at the start of the meeting, and that simple act spawned an energetic conversation on the act of making, and serving, a cake.

I do this a lot. I make things in my kitchen, I bring them places to share. I run the sort of committees that serve receptions and organize menus and feed people. I think in terms of serving sizes, fresh flowers, punch ingredients. I have a lot of practice at this, it’s fairly second nature at this point. I love to eat, but even more than that, I love to feed others.

The conversation that developed eventually centered around the idea of forethought. I believe it became a hashtag moment at some point. It was used to describe the differences between those who love the idea of cake, and the person (me) who plans the cake a week in advance, shops for the ingredients, makes the cake, packages the cake, remembers the serving silver and the napkins. #forethought was thrown out several more times, as the conversation moved into menu planning and dinner recipes, shopping lists, project planning and note-taking. It was my instinct to pull away from this and retreat – I just do what I do, and I don’t find it exceptional or unique or particularly praiseworthy. I do find this particular group of women exceptional, unique and praiseworthy, so why wouldn’t I make them a cake, and serve it with the silver?

On the way home from the meeting I thought a lot about the idea of forethought, and getting past my initial instinct to deflect attention away from me, I decided to claim it. It’s a good descriptor for me, and it’s how I operate best. It doesn’t mean that I never do things at the last minute – I often do – but my wheels are always spinning on the tasks that I have ahead of me. There are so many people and organizations that inspire and motivate me, and sharing something that brings me joy to them is my best way of honoring them.

Maybe I’m already that person with the cake on the counter. Have a seat for a moment in your busy day and have a slice. Let me tell you how much I love you in the currency of butter and sliced fruit. Let me reconnect to you again while the vegetables roast, let the scent of fresh flowers remind you that you are home.

project addition: range specs

I keep trying to push real decisions on appliances to the back burner (bad pun, sorry), but I know that we don’t really have the luxury of doing that. At some point we’re going to have to really consider our options and make a selection, because those choices will affect lots of things – power and gas locations, venting requirements, cabinet layout…budget.

I have simple range specs: I want two oven options of some sort and configuration. At least one should be electric and hold my rimmed baking sheets. We don’t have room for wall ovens, and I want to keep things as simple as possible, so I’d love for all of our cooking needs to be met by a single range. I want six burners, minimum, and the ability to have a griddle / grill / high BTU burner. I want a work horse, and I want it to look beautiful in the kitchen. Our kitchen footprint isn’t growing very much, although it’s going to function in a very different way. If we had an enormous show kitchen that you could walk into and see this gleaming professional range and hood and ooh and ahh over it, I think the decision might be a little bit easier. But it’s going to be a very simple galley kitchen, and I want a big range that is a bit diminutive in demeanor. I’d love a white one, with shiny stainless at a minimum. Something that will look amazing next to beautiful wood cabinets.

Once you are carried over that threshold from a standard 30″ range like we have now, the decision seems as complicated as finding the perfect person to marry and settle down with and start a family. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe you just know from the start. I think I might be there.

local-milk-beth-kirby-lacanche-stove-1024x996Photo Source

We visited the home of someone in town that owns a Lacanche range, and it was really nice to see one in person. There are so many configuration options, so there are still a lot of decisions to make and questions to ask. But I think I’ve fallen for it. The owner described it in the same way I’ve organized my thoughts in my head – it’s simple, no computers, nothing digital, it’s just a workhorse that looks elegant while it does its job. To me it’s the perfect blend of clean lines and handcrafted detail. Kind of like I imagine my house to be, a marriage of old and new – and one that functions well for our family.

There are many other ranges to look at and try out, so I’m keeping an open mind about it. 

download gas-ranges-and-electric-rangesBluestar

Most offer white options, but so far they look monstrous in person in a showroom. I feel like they will overwhelm out modest kitchen, and that’s why I’m hesitant to choose one. But they also don’t have to ride over on a ship from France. So there’s that. Long-distance relationships can be tough. But hey, we managed one and it worked out okay. So there’s still hope…

project addition: the perfect sink(s)

This past week (and current weekend) is what I like to call “getting things done”. I’m typically a list person anyway, but I’ve got a serious list going right now on all things project related – people to contact, samples to order, places to visit, drawings to finish, details to work on. I feel like I’m chained to the computer so much these days (nights, really), and so mid-week I decided it was time to do something a little more fun. Time to kick the tires on a few things I’d like to include in the kitchen, so we hit up a few showrooms around town.

Today was project sink – I’ve got two close contenders, (and one bonus one I didn’t know about) and they are fantastic.

Sink goals: BIG. I want a seriously large sink, and one that will work well with the way I like to prep food. We go through a lot of produce in our house, so dinner always starts with a good rinsing and washing of fruits and vegetables, and then I like to chop everything and have it in glass bowls or ramekins, ready to go when I start cooking. I currently use a bamboo cutting board on the 15″ countertop I have between my range and sink. I chop the food, sweeping the discards to my right, directly into a colander that I rest in the bottom of the sink. This works pretty well for me now, but I really run out of places to put the prepped ingredients, and once I have the heat going on the cooktop, the chopping board is a little too close for comfort (and has the burn marks to prove it.)

In the new kitchen (also a linear one), I want the sink on the left and the range on the right. I want to move from the left to the right as I cook, from beginning prep to mise en place to the stove. We’re gaining some space on the current wall by moving the refrigerator out of the room, and eliminating the 12″ wide full height cabinet to the right of it – so that’s about four extra feet of space. But in order to have a really large sink and range, I’ve got to make every inch count in this place.

Sinks in contention:

Kallista Multiere.

Kallista Multiere

Multiere is the most expensive of the bunch, but it’s beautiful. I love the design of the sink – it’s the most minimal design as far as how much space it takes under the counter, which means we can utilize most of the space below with pull out drawers. No wasted sink cabinet with a pile of cleaning supplies and empty around the pipes. (That’s what mine looks like now.)

Kohler, Stages 45

Kohler Stages 45

Kohler Stages 45-1

45 as in inches – these sinks are seriously long. This one is probably my favorite. It comes with all the accessories that you see in the photo, and it’s my favorite video as well. I feel like they designed this sink for our kitchen. I also would like to devour whatever they are making in that video, stat. We don’t defrost a lot of meat (or devein a lot of shrimp!) but man, that higher portion on the sink is brilliant. I love how every last piece is designed to remain as clean and sanitary as possible, everything drains, nothing slops over on the countertop.

Kohler, Prolific

Profilic_Header_741x358

This is the least expensive of the bunch, and a little bit smaller, but seriously so well designed. I love the wash bin, the colander, the drying racks. This is how I use my sink now, just with random pieces in my kitchen that don’t fit exactly right and don’t stack and store so well.

I have a feeling we’ll go with the Stages sink and accessories, but all three are really great options for a residential sink that is a solid workhorse in the kitchen. I love the way the sink is an integral extension of the prep space – I don’t think I could consider anything different after seeing how well these will work in an efficient kitchen layout.

P.S. Faucets. I’m not completely sold on the articulating faucet (two shown in the Stages photos), but man, they appear to work so well in that video. With a sink this wide, we’ll need a really large faucet with a big swing, plus one with an integral spray feature. I’m really leaning towards a touchless one as well. That’s a decision for another day…