Nov 25, 2013

Week 1

We officially started the remodel on Nov. 22 and have now reached a "sit and wait" phase.
 Can you see in the corner all that dead space that could be used for storage?  That is where the big corner lazy susan is going.
Starting pulling off the old tile to find that the builders had used cement board instead of wood for the base of the counter tops.  Very cheap way to go, makes a huge mess.  Even the cat had to explore.

Then, the old bar had to be removed.
 Yeah, it is finally gone.  Out of here.
And, no more cabinets. 
 Backsplash is gone, damaged sheet rock cut out, a couple of rodent nest removed, replaced worn out outlets and leaking pipes.  Moved some plumbing around as well.
Can you see the left corner empty spot.  Would seem that the builders did not have room to put sheet rock behind the tub enclosure.  That is the main bathroom on the other side of that wall.  Did the cat ever have a grand time popping in and out of there.   Also had the gas line moved over as the stove is moving to a more centered location to allow for more cabinets and counter space.

That was week one.  I doubt that I will ever get the dust out of the living room and dining room, but will keep cleaning away. 

Nov 22, 2013

Remodeling Kitchen

For years I have wanted to redo my kitchen.  I have over the years updated to stainless steel appliances, all by the over the stove microwave.  The original kitchen did not have one, only a range hood.  Did not have a dishwasher, we could tell where previous owners had cut out a cabinet and chipped out a little counter top to install one.  Refrigerators were  not so big back then either.  The house was built in 1985, which for house is not that old, not even vintage yet really.  But...for today's time and today's technology and the way I cook, the kitchen just didn't flow.  Dead space that could be utilized for storage, a big bar that while it gave counter space and storage, made the kitchen even smaller.  So, I came up with a design that gives me way more storage, larger counter top areas for working and opens up the kitchen more.

Here is the kitchen as it is now, we bought the house in August of 2000.
The cabinets under the bar are the only ones wide enough to hold pots and pans.  I have to literally sit down on the floor, crawl half way in to find a pan most times.  There is a door on the other side to get in to the space by the wall.  I also hate the old porcelain sink.  It is hard to keep clean as well.

 As you see, not a lot of counter top by the stove to use while cooking.  The bottom cabinet to the left of the stove goes all the way back, but they put a 9 inch door on it so you can not get anything much in there.  The dishwasher door will not open all the way down because of the handle on the stove.  And, the over the stove microwave is the last of the almond appliances that came with the house.  Notice the dinosaur  of a toaster attached to the bottom of the cabinet to the right of the stove?  It is literally a B@$#% to clean.

This is my pantry.  Big, but once again, to get to the bottom two shelves I have to sit down on the floor and do a little crawling.  I have to use a step ladder to get to the top two shelves. 

The one thing I do like about the bar is the pull out cutting board.  Have that covered in the new kitchen design.

This is the short wall the fridge is located on.  That little bit of counter space to the right ends up catching clutter.  Bags of chips, snacks, bottles of soda.  It is too small for much of anything else.
This is a view of the whole kitchen from the open end.  It looks like a lot of cabinets...until you start trying to put things away.  Also, we have this weird shelf above the kitchen.  Thankfully it gives the kitchen an extra three feet.  The kitchen measures 10 x 12 feet.
This also shows you the "china hutch".  I hate the thing.  It is small, hard to work in, the doors have to be taped shut because they won't close. Notice the big square ceiling light?  I hate it. 

Now you see the original kitchen.  Probably the cleanest it has ever been as well.  It does make you think 80's.  I also absolutely hate the tile counter top.  Even with my pastry rolling sheet, the grout still leaves marks and the tile is textured so is uneven. 

So, with much thought and the help of a wonderful design lady at Home Depot, I came up with a totally new design.  The fridge is moving to a different wall, the dishwasher is moving to the opposite side of the sink, a big lazy susan is going in the corner and the bar is history.  The pantry is also moving to a different spot to allow for counter top and cabinets by the stove.  Which, is moving a few inches over to make room for the lazy susan and a large set of drawers on the left side.

Now to get it started.

Nov 20, 2013

Cabinets All Empty

Major work, emptying the cabinets and finding temporary homes for everything in the kitchen.  Oh my, makes me feel that I have way too much food and cookware, plates and glasses.  Had an entire drawer full of condiment packets left over from eating out.  Am thinking that we do that way too much as well.

My little grand son, Mr. M, that I keep during the day was sure there still had to be some food in there somewhere.

Not to start pulling everything out and get ready for the new.

Nov 6, 2013

Oh My, It's November.

Well, October sure went by in a blink.  Not much of anything done to really be considered an accomplishment either.

On the other hand, some accomplishments have happened.  The kitchen remodel is paid for.  All the decisions on color, wood, counter top and design have been finalized. I am so excited and so ready to start emptying and tearing out cabinets.  I have had both grand babies several days this month so have not been able to get too much done as far as house work.

To top all that off, on Tuesday evening before Halloween my daughter, Miss Zebra, came home and informed me that she needed a priest or monk costume for the play this weekend and 100 cupcakes for Thursday morning.  So, being the great mom that I am, I spent Wednesday morning running around picking up ingredients for 100 cupcakes.  You know, mixes, powder sugar and Crisco for icing, paper baking cups, two more muffin pans so I could cook more at one time, decorations to put on cupcakes. Plus, since it was the day before Halloween had to go to two different shops to find the costume.  Then came home, ate lunch put Mr. M down for his nap and got started baking.
This is the first of three batches of white cakes, made one batch of chocolate.  Each batch was 4 dozen, but being the wonderful math wizard that I am, didn't realize when I was counting that 24 is actually 2 dozen, not 1 dozen.  I over cooked a bit.  I bought some white cardboard boxes to put the cupcakes in, each held 35 cupcakes.
I made the orange ones, daughter made pink. Those are molded candy melt bats.

I swirled these out as well. One row has caramel and sprinkles, then the caramel bag busted.

At 1:15am we flat wore out.  Our energy and ability just left.  We also ran out of icing and I was just not up to making a third batch of butter cream icing.  Really great tasting butter cream icing, if I do say so myself.  Now the bottom photo is the box Miss Zebra decorated, she has a thing for molded chocolate and made mummies, bats and jack o lanterns.  Not all of the molded decorations made it on to a cup cake.

Here is a little closer look.  We used the Wilton spray color, the yellow, silver, green and gold worked fine.  The purple and black not so well.   I can tell you this much, the Wilton cake decorating class that I took with Miss Zebra sure helped.  We didn't get as fancy or creative as we had originally planned, especially since reality of time sunk in, but we did a pretty good job.  I still have one box of cupcakes that have not been iced, but she took 3 boxes (35 in each box) so ended up with 105 cupcakes.  It was a food sale at school with the proceeds going to her school club.  I donated the ingredients and such for the cupcakes, would much rather spend $20 on something that they sell and get 100% of the earnings rather than buying a candle or cookie dough that is over priced and only gives them about 40% of what they make.

I bought a large star tip, thinking the larger tip would let me ice the cupcake quicker.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of a rigged swirl it makes a swirl that looks a lot like a rose.
I love this tip, will be using it a lot more.  Maybe next time, make a little smaller swirl and add some leaves.  It all turned out any way.
This is Miss Zebra working.  About midnight she pulled the stool up to the counter.  OH HOW HAPPY I will be when the new kitchen is done and I have more counter top space for doing things like this.  It was really hard for both of us to work in there at the same time.  She set up there because that is where the microwave is.  I ended up moving to the dining table.

Along the lines of the kitchen, I bought a new gift for me.
Isn't it just so pretty.  It has a bowl lift which is supposed to be easier to add ingredients with, a quieter motor and a soft stir setting to help the ingredients mix together a little before starting a mixing cycle which helps keep the dust cloud down.
As you can see, it is a step up from I already had.  Which still works just fine.  I just wanted an upgrade and different color to liven up the new kitchen.  All my kitchen appliances are stainless steel so the grey would look good on the counter.  In fact, will be going back to Costco to buy the Kitchenaid 13 cup food processor as well.

Thanks for stopping in, come back soon.  Please feel free to leave a comment, it is always nice to know that some one out there reads this.

Nov 2, 2013

Buttermilk Pie - My mom's recipe

Scroll to bottom for the recipe if you want to skip the story behind the pie.
We have a family tradition, several actually, but one that is always kept is the making of Mom's Buttermilk Pie.  She would make about six of these pies up in the summer and then freeze them for the holidays.  Some times it would be enough, most times not.  Life has a way of changing it's course and running along new directions which really tend to make the new voyage a bit apprehensive until one manages to get a new set of landmarks that then become familiar enough that the traveler can once again navigate the road.  One such journey is age.  My mom was living alone and after thinking it over she decided she would let us move her to the town we live in so she could be closer to me.  This is a woman that was strong enough to leave everything she knew, for the last 30 years or so, behind and starting over in a new home, new town, new people all around.  Her last few months of that journey was spent living in a bedroom in my home before she peacefully went on her final journey.  But, some memories, some traditions, just keep on going because they are a comfort to those who grew up with them.  This pie is one.

Now, as I go older and found the internet, and then Google, I had occasions to do a search for this recipe.  I am notorious for not being able to keep up with a recipe card, a written piece of paper, or even the local church cookbook that thankfully has Mom's recipe printed in it.  I was not really surprised at all the versions of this pie, you know the only thing different is in the ratio of the ingredients.  I was however surprised to discover that this is a southern dish.  I grew up thinking every one had buttermilk pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother in law, a Texas native, Hispanic in ethnicity, had never heard of this pie when he joined the family.  He went crazy over it, once he tasted it.  Funny how the word buttermilk turns so many people off.  Now we live in California and my youngest two children have made it there personal mission in life to introduce this sweet dish to as many people as possible.  I was quite shocked to find that of all the searches I ever did, I never came across a recipe like mom's, which was passed down from her family.  I had actually come to the conclusion at one point that my Aunt Vera must have given her the recipe and just left out a few ingredients (which she was famous for, that way you could not duplicate her dish exactly as she makes it) but I was never able to find out just which side of the family that recipe actually came from.  Mom's recipe has no salt and no flour.  I believe that the German Amish roots is where it comes from, but pure speculation on my part.  At any rate, Mom's recipe works, everyone loves it, so why try and change it?

For those who don't know, have never heard of it, never tried it, buttermilk pie is a custard or chess type pie.  Don't let the word buttermilk scare you off either.  While some of my worst tasting memories are of my dad pouring me buttermilk in a glass instead of regular milk, in a recipe buttermilk imparts a rich creamy sweet taste that is actually low fat.  My parents were born in the 20's, lived through the great depression, and both lived in the country.  That generation of those type of people grew up drinking buttermilk.  My dad grew up in West Texas, ate anything that they could grow or get cheaply.  His dad was a farmer, not a very successful farmer as he had was would be termed "wonder lust" as he liked to move around a bit.  My mom grew up in South Texas, near Victoria, her dad raised turkeys. They also always had a few steers, hogs and chickens they raised for personal use as well as a big vegetable garden.  Her only experience with moving was during each school year as she would live with one of two sisters each school year and then summers back with her dad.  They lived too far from the local school for her to attend, she came a long late in life so the sisters were all much older than she was and her mother passed away when she was about 2 years old.  Now that you have had the history lesson behind this dish, here is the recipe.  It is still made, by me, for all holidays, big family meals or just when one of the kids wants some fork fed comfort.

Mom's Buttermilk Pie
Makes one pie

1 pie crust, unbaked (deep dish works well)
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 stick good grade oleo, melted
3 eggs, added whole and mixed well
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (if desired)

Blend buttermilk, sugar, and oleo.  Add eggs whole and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients except cinnamon.  Pour in to unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until firm.

Oleo is the same as margarine - definitely use a good brand for this.  It does make a difference - do not use butter.

Preheat the oven.  Watch the pie, it is easy to brown the crust too much.

In my opinion, eggs are getting smaller, so make sure you have 3 good size (like x-large) eggs.

The cinnamon is gently sprinkled on top before putting in the oven, can be left off.  We like it with.

If you use a spoon to sprinkle a bit of sugar across the top of the pie it makes a nice little crispy layer that my kids seem to like.  I have make it both ways.