Archive for June, 2008

The Ceviche Challenge

June 30, 2008

Given the challenge of 4 lemons, 4 limes, no stove, and the words, “oh, you’ll do something with them”, I decided to make a ceviche. Ideally, I like ceviche over boiled potatoes because the juice is so flavorful, but since I can’t boil potatoes, I improvised with pitas. I used a tried and true recipe adapted from Epicurious, but sort of overdid it on the aromatics (“this small onion could be 1/4 of a big onion!”), and a little short on the lime juice (“1/2 cup of juice covers the fish, it should be okay”). I turned out a fine, if not potently onion-y, ceviche in my semi-kitchenless kitchen, but I sure miss those potatoes.

Ceviche

-juice 6 limes to get 3/4 cup of juice
-cut 1/2 lb. mahi mahi into bite size chunks
-combine fish, lime juice and 3/4t oregano
-marinate for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally
-in the meantime, mince 1/4 red onion, 1 jalapeno, and 2T cilantro
-toast 2T shredded coconut
-when the fish is opaque, add the onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and coconut, and marinate for 20 minutes

A day later, the Herculean strength of the onions had mellowed making for a good pita sandwich with sliced radishes and avocado. It would have also made for a good fish taco, if I had corn tortillas and a stove.

For such an intensive juicing endeavor, I would recommend something better than a reamer. Good for a lime or two, I was hurting from tired hands and slippery fruit. An electric juicer or one of those clampy things would be so much better. I might have to get one when I hit the four lemons.

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O Mio Marble

June 27, 2008

I feel like I’m in good hands with my marble guys. In the business for over 30 years, they know what they’re doing. The template for the counter was made on Tuesday. Made of thin plywood, measured and cut into place, it took over two hours, carefully taking into account the placement of the sink, faucet and cooktop. I saw the trace on the slab yesterday, drawn out in pencil, and then taped out for photographic purposes. It’s going to be great.

The only not so great thing is that the L-shaped counter can’t be done in one piece, due to installation. It will be cutout as one piece, but then cut into two and matched in placement, like matching up the stripes of a suit. My cabinetmaker told me that they were so good, I probably wouldn’t notice the seam, I better not.

They are also making little marble shelves in the recesses where there used to be makeshift shelves above the stove and in the L corner. A small detail that I forgot about in the plan until the template maker came over. He understood that the shelves are to be level with the backsplash and not to sit on top of it, requiring a beveled edge fit. Now that’s going to be great.

Dynamic Duo

June 26, 2008

I don’t think I ever explained why I have a fridge and freezer of equal size. The friend who inspired me has a 2:3 proportion of fridge to freezer by having undercounter fridge/freezer drawers and a separate undercounter fridge (“big enough to hold a turkey”). A beautiful set and a well thought out plan, but I simply didn’t have the budget. My more modestly priced set and skewed proportion, gives me my well needed counterspace, but traditionally less fridge space and more freezer space.

I like having a big freezer. In trying to maintain my girlish figure, I actually don’t eat that much, so freezing food is a good solution for when I cook. The freezer is where I store coffee, chipotle peppers, bacon, stock, parmesan rinds, etc. It’s where the composting scraps go. Right now, there’s only ice cream, ice cubes, and coffee, but when I get cooking, it will be empty no more.

Bright Idea

June 25, 2008

My stone cold heart has finally thawed and I have renewed feelings for Home Depot now that it’s offering a recycling program for compact fluorescent bulbs. Always a bit of a green conundrum, compact fluorescents are more energy efficient, but its disposal can be toxic because of its mercury content. HD’s recycling program tips the scale in its favor.

Since the city doesn’t offer recycling for light bulbs, it’s a good to see someone take responsibility, even if it’s a big box store. Much like how most cellphone retailers offer recycling for old phones and batteries, this specialized in-store recycling is one solution to the ever complex attempt at green living. It’s only fair that if the store giveth, they should taketh away.

Muji Shopping Spree

June 24, 2008

In setting up the new fridge, I wanted to get trays to hold the jars of condiments. Clear acrylic trays, plain and simple. My old roommate, an organizational Olympian, had set up our fridge like this and it’s so much easier to grab a tray than swim through bottles of stuff. It also catches any sticky gunk, which is easier to clean than a shelf. Persnickety, yes, but ever so purposeful.

The Container Store, that mecca of clear acrylic, didn’t quite have what I was looking for. They had lidded boxes, divided trays, and footed trays, not what I wanted. Maybe, across the street at Bed, Bath, and Beyond? Nope. And then it hit me, Muji, the temple of minimal functional design.

I found the right trays at Muji, albeit in white propylene. Smooth and semi-translucent with rounded corners, it wasn’t originally what I envisioned. It may actually be better because the white reflects and lets in light; and the rounded corners are easier to clean. And they’re only $2.99.

I also got a bar of sliding hooks for the broom closet. A tricky endeavor since I had only 4″ of depth to work with. Most hooks, including the groovy Grook, are 4 1/2 – 5″ in depth. These sliding hooks from Muji were just right. A little Mickey Mouse material-wise with its lightweight aluminium bar, plastic hooks, and double stick tape backing, but it is the most viable option. It’ll have to be screwed in to support the weight of the broom, the mop, cleaning rags, etc.

I indulged in a few more purchases – a silicone coated spatula and a salad spinner. Mundane purchases, but I have to cheer their design. The spatula is totally coated in silicone, so there are no junctions for gunk to get stuck, like my old spatula.

The salad spinner is in a pitcher, and small in scale. I’ve been thinking about the mini OXO salad spinner, but then I notice that the pitcher has measurements – a double purpose in The Littlest Kitchen – I’ll take it.

There will be a lot more organizational do-dads to purchase. I’ll definitely be back to Muji. And The Container Store and the NEW Ikea. But Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I’m just not that into you.

Onward

June 23, 2008

For the most part, phase two – cabinet installation – is done. A few more tweaks to the broom closet, the kicks, and final appliance installation will come after phase three – marble installation.

I had met with the marble guy back in March, who drew up an estimate from the plans. Now that the cabinets were in, I had him come back to take measurements, examine the space, and revise his estimate on Friday. There really was no change, he said, if anything it’s supposed to be a little more, but for me, he’d keep the price the same. I looked at 1 1/4″ carrara slabs on Saturday, I wanted a piece that was more veiny than spotty. I pointed to a particularly veiny specimen, but it was “statuario”, traditionally used for statues, and of course, more expensive. After conveying this sentiment, he showed me this righteously veiny carrara.

The template guy will come over on Tuesday. I can see the trace on the slab on Wednesday or Thursday. The shop is closed the week of July 7th, so they’ll try to get it done before the Fourth, otherwise it’ll have to wait until mid-July. What’s another few weeks?

No More Excuses

June 20, 2008

In less than an hour, I did all the tasks that I’ve put off for 24 hours, hence spending more time thinking about them than doing them. Unpacked, cleaned and plugged in the freezer. Threw away all the packaging – superstitions be gone. Threw away all the excess food. The apartment suddenly felt bigger!

The end is getting near. The marble guy is coming tomorrow to take measurements and revise his quote. The last panel which ties together the hallway bookcase and the pantry shelves is being attached. Lastly the oven/cooktop and sink need to be installed. Could I possibly stock up the shelves this weekend? I would like nothing more!

High Hopes

June 19, 2008

I got home fairly early last night, so I had high hopes of being super productive. Clean, plug in and reload the fridge. Install the freezer. Get rid of the packaging. I got as far as reloading the fridge, when I realized what if it doesn’t work? It was getting cold very slowly. I can’t put the freezer in until I know for sure that the fridge works. Really. I can talk myself out of anything.

Likewise, I throw some of my packaging superstition away by getting rid of the box. If I think that the fridge may not work, wouldn’t I keep the box? Naw, they’d just wheel it out like my old fridge. I still have all the styrofoam, which I hang on to since I should get a Hefty bag to dispose of it. More excuses. Heck, I just want to be lazy for a change.

Hello! and Good Riddance!

June 18, 2008

I can’t believe that I finally have the appliances that I bought over three months ago. I’d almost forgotten what they looked like or even my reason for buying them. I thought that when they arrived, I’d be able to plug them in and throw in my food. But haven’t I learned that nothing is that easy with this kitchen?

First, it starts with the old fridge. For $25, I had AM Royal take the loathsome fridge away. I hate that thing. But, before they arrived, I had to defrost nine months of tundra. Microwaving bowls of water and using a blow dryer, I tried anything to make the ice melt faster. It took hours. I managed to throw some stuff out – old butter, eggs, condiments that I never really liked, etc. – but not as much as I thought I would. Much had already been taken out with the composting on Saturday. After the purge, I was left with more condiments and a lot of cheese.

Like a kid a Christmas, when the boxes arrived, I went at it. I cut open the fridge box, pulled out the styrofoam, and tried to wedge it under the peninsula. It was less than 1/8″ too high. And like a kid, at that moment I lost interest. My cabinetmaker was coming by later to finesse the plugs, he’ll figure out how to make it fit. Which he did perfectly. The freezer will go in after the fridge gets plugged in.

I couldn’t put my food in the new fridge because all new fridges should stand upright for 24 hours before they get plugged in. This is because if it was stored in the warehouse on its side, it allows for the compressor lubricant to drain. I had no idea. I think I’ll be throwing more food away…

Finally, the doors have been put onto the un-broom closet. I love it. And the broom likes it in there too.

A Little Less Chaos

June 17, 2008

The peninsula and bookcases have been put into their proper places, slightly alleviating the junkyard effect on the apartment. Instilling a little more order, I swept, vacuumed, and peeled the tape from the floor. Still superstitious and adding to le city dump mystique, I kept the oven and sink packaging. Some of my friends would call it lazy, I call it you never know.

My cabinetmaker replaced the un-flush un-broom closet panel, which was a big improvement for its 3/4″ difference. There was still a thin gap which he filled with caulk, at it’s thinnest, it’s fine, but it gets thick and weird at wider points. I don’t know. Caulk does not necessarily equal flush. I have a feeling I’ll be putting a very tall vase in this corner.