Disaster Narrowly Averted

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This morning, I got going on my baking project early.  I'm making this Maple-Glazed Pumpkin-Cranberry Coffee Cake.  And just to set the record straight, let me say that I love cranberries.  No really, I mean I really, really love cranberries.  (Did I mention that I love cranberries?  I do.  I love cranberries.)

I can't tell you how it turned out yet because it's in the oven as I write this post.  It's hard to say whether it will be good or whether it will be a complete failure, because here's the thing:  It's the second time I've put it in the oven this morning.  The first time, I put it in the oven feeling very self-satisfied at having a coffee cake in the oven before 9:00 a.m.  Then I set about cleaning the kitchen.  Then I heard whining coming from the corner of the counter.  It was the brown sugar moaning on and on saying, "What about me?  What about my needs?  Doesn't anybody care about me?"  Holy sh*t!!!  I totally forgot to put in two cups of brown sugar.  

So I yanked the cake out of the oven faster than you can say "black strap molasses" (go ahead...try it, and see how fast you can say it).  Oy.  So now my mixing bowl and paddle attachment were already sitting in the sink full of water.  So I washed those and rescued the cake from the oven and removed the batter from the greased bundt pan.  Then I washed the pan.  Then I mixed in the sugar.  Then I regreased the pan.  Then I put the batter back in the pan.  Then I put the pan back in the oven and walked...away...passively.  This took substantially longer than it took me to say "black strap molasses".  

So now I wait.  Hopefully my neglect of the brown sugar won't have caused any permanent damage.  Don't you love baking early in the morning?  Clearly, I need more coffee.  Excuse me while I fill my cup.


Okay, I'm back.  And I figure since you want something slightly more interesting than my brown sugar escapades to read, maybe this is a good time to show you some pictures of my kitchen.  And if you couldn't give a flying fart about my kitchen, then just stop right here.  I'll just wait while you go.


So if you're still here, then you must have been one of the ones who asked me about my countertops.  And, heck, I like my kitchen, so I'll just show you the whole thing.

We remodeled our kitchen in 2007, four years after we moved into our house.  Here are the before pictures, and I'll tell you why we decided to remodel it.  As you look at these, you might think it doesn't look like a bad kitchen.  But the previous owner of the home was a concrete contractor, who was also the builder.  And I'll just say right here that we love our home.  But the builder was going through a break-up with the woman who had lived here in the house with him.  Some of the rooms appear to have been completed sort of slap dash in an effort to get the house on the market as quickly and as cheaply as possible.  The kitchen was one of those rooms.  It was visually appealing, but the cabinets were falling apart from having heavy things like, um, one pan, or service for eight sitting on them.

For one thing, I didn't like the white cabinets.  They were difficult to clean, and things like tomato sauce would actually stain them.  The oven you see is a small single oven with a microwave above.  While it was a nice little set-up, the oven was barely large enough to fit a turkey on Thanksgiving, let alone including side dishes to go with it.  I had come from a kitchen with a double oven, and I really missed it.

The cooktop had a ventilation fan that could be raised in the rear.  That was the only ventilation and it simply didn't work.  When I dusted other areas of the house, I could feel where grease had settled on things.  I hated that.  I dreamed of a conventional ventilation hood, but this being the middle floor, I wasn't sure it would be possible.  I was willing to move the oven to the outside wall if necessary, but I wanted a conventional hood of some kind.  This would require more investigation.

I thought the island could be made larger, and so that was one of my goals.  Kitties.  Always leaving their dishes on the floor.

Also, the cooktop came to the extreme right edge of the island.  As a right-handed person, I found this extremely annoying.  Where was I to set down a spoon, for instance?

But the most annoying part of the entire kitchen was the closet/pantry you see on the far wall.  Those are bi-fold doors.  The space inside the closet went from the corner to the laundry room door, and so fully 1/3 of the space was completely inaccessible.  What was the builder thinking with this arrangement?  So I wanted to open up that area so that I could have full access to ALL of the storage space.  (Duh.)

So with all of that in mind, I hired (ha!) a demolition crew consisting of the Stanbro Men.  I think you'll agree that they all seem thrilled to be involved in this project early on a Saturday morning.

This is actually the second time we've remodeled a kitchen, the first one being at our previous home.  This time, we had the laundry room just off the kitchen to set up as a temporary space.  We had a toaster oven for making small meals, and there is also an second refrigerator in the laundry room.

Here's the shrine we set up to the Coffee Gods.

All things go better with coffee, don't you agree?

As it turned out, we COULD install a conventional hood over the cooktop, and that was the first thing we did.  We simply installed the ducting between the ceiling studs and vented it to the outside wall.  I was very happy to get this big ventilation hood installed.

This is one of my favorite images from this project.  See that hole?  That's where Mike fell off the ladder and put his butt cheek through the wall.  Fortunately, the wall was slated for demolition and the electrical plug was moved around the corner.  Oh yes, Mike wasn't hurt.  The wall broke his fall, and he did fall on a padded spot of his body.

So without boring you with the whole process, this is how the kitchen looked when it was finished.  It has never been this clean since the day these pictures were taken.

We made the island approximately twice as large as it had been originally, and installed more drawers on both sides of the cooktop.  The countertops are a product called Silestone.  It has the look of granite, but is less pricey and requires less care.  It's crushed quartz in a polymer resin and it has an antimicrobial agent.  I like it.

We made just one structural change by moving the wall ovens into the corner.  This allowed us to have a larger refrigerator.

The paint is clay paint, which is considered a "green" product.  I like the look of it, and it has the added advantage of not "off gassing" the way conventional paints do.

The microwave oven is a drawer style, and to the right of that is a warming drawer, which I love.  Oh yes, and pause here to admire the brown bananas.  Honestly, is it possible to eat bananas before they turn brown?  I don't think so.  I probably made some banana bread right after taking these pictures.

And you can see the solution to my closet/pantry problem on the far wall.  We had cabinets built into that space, and that makes a lot more sense than what was there originally.

So that's my kitchen.

And do you remember where you came into this post?  It's my cake fresh from its pan!  

It doesn't appear any worse for wear, does it?  I'll know more after I taste it.  But first, it has to cool, and then it has a glaze.  And then, I'll eat it.  Hopefully, not the whole thing.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

marth225 said...

Love the kitchen

Sheila said...

Beautiful kitchen and the cake looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.

Judy1522 said...

I always say men should not be allowed to design kitchens unless they are cooks. Good to know that white cabinets are not practical. I will keep that in mind if I ever remodel my kitchen or move to a new home. Your cake looks like it turned out fine. Don't you just hate that when you realize you left something out. So far, for me it has only been small things that didn't make too much difference so I have been lucky.

Denise :) said...

ROFL! I've done that *very* thing before! Not with brown sugar, but with other ingredients! Glad your rescue was indeed successful! And I do love your kitchen -- definitely cook/baker/chef friendly!!! :)

Diane Wild said...

Wonderful transformation in your kitchen. And, your cake transformed very nicely, too.

quiltzyx said...

A transformation from a nice kitchen to grand kitchen!
I'm not especially fond of white cupboards either, although one of my friends put them in her kitchen & they look really great. Then again, she doesn't cook a lot.
My sister & bil are in the process of a kitchen redo that is about half finished. When I talked to her yesterday she had spent most of the day putting things away in the part that's done & really getting upset that there didn't seem to be enough room...then she realized that there are still the cabinets to be put into the OTHER half...!!! LOL I love my sister!

Thanks for the before & after tour!

Karin said...

Glad to hear you were able to rescue your cake - I've done that too. As far as your kitchen goes: I'm moving in...or y'all can come down here and do that to my kitchen. :) What a wonderful space.

LethargicLass said...

having seen the results of the cake in the next post all I can say is YUM! And did you actually blur Mike's shirt? I am dying to know what it says LOL!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

I didn't know the white would stain. I had originally planned white in my kitchen. Guess I dodged a bullet. Love your new kitchen.

Barb H said...

Great post, Barbara. I made a cranberry pecan pumpkin upside down cake on Tuesday and took a taste of the batter before I poured it over the cranberry/pecan mixture in the pan and realized I'd forgotten to put the white sugar in. Cake turned out just fine after I mixed in the sugar, and I'm sure your's did too.

Great kitchen. I had cream colored painted cabinets put into my new kitchen 7 years ago and no stains yet, only chipped paint. LOL Time to get a new paint job, I think.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Luscious... and the cake looks good too.