A New Kitchen Adventure & Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn

My forty-something year old kitchen is about to be transformed. With any luck, this adventure will take about three, maybe four weeks. I am filled with excitement, enthusiasm, fear and dread. Fear and dread because of my last foray into renovation. It was a simple job – transform two dated bathrooms into timeless classics. However, there were a few ugly diversions. The sills were the biggest calamity. Not the windowsills, I’m talking about the part that joins the house to the foundation.

The sills had rotted. Renovations came to a grinding halt. To make the repair, the siding had to come off the bottom third of the house. Almost forty-years old, the vinyl siding was very brittle. Instead of coming off in neat lengths, it crumbled into a thousand pieces. Except for the few stray odds and ends in the attic, it was no longer available. So, you guessed it, all the siding had to be removed and replaced. Then, to avoid future rot, a new ventilation system was installed in the crawl space under the house. Heck, since you’re down there anyway, let’s add some foam insulation.

Oh well, the bathrooms are beautiful and I never liked that vinyl siding anyway. The house is now clad in cedar and stained a lovely gray-beige.

It took a few years to recover but now I’m ready to tackle the kitchen. To calm my nerves, I’m thinking good thoughts, taking deep breaths and putting my hand on my heart. I might like to sit and watch the sunset but I’m too busy emptying cupboards to take a break.

As you may know or at least guessed, I have a lot gadgets. I love kitchen gadgets. Some women buy jewelry or shoes; I buy gadgets (and shoes). Between paragraphs, I’m dashing up and down the stairs to the kitchen to empty cupboards. So far, I’ve covered my dining room table with dishes, casseroles and 9”x13” pans. The coffee table too. Next, I’ll be stashing pots and pans under the both tables. At some point soon, I’ll need to branch out and put a bunch of stuff out on the porch.

Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention. The new cabinets are stacked almost wall to wall and floor to ceiling in the living room. So, that’s not an option. But why so many? I can’t figure it out; the kitchen is not all that big. They are still in giant cardboard cartons. The mystery will remain until the grand opening next week. Perhaps a few stowaways are sitting in my living room.

Anyway, it’s a little like having a corn maze, only made of cardboard. I’d invite your kids or grandkids to come over to play hide and seek but I’m afraid they might get lost in the jumble. Or worst, wedge themselves between two boxes and be stuck for hours.

My trick for keeping track of what’s done and what’s not is simple. As soon as I empty a cupboard, I remove the door. Gaping holes dot my kitchen. Yippee, progress is being made. There are just enough gaps to spur me on. Then I realize; I haven’t touched the pantry, laundry room or front hall closet. In one way or another, big and small, each of these areas is also getting a facelift.

Not surprising, I’ve discovered that the eighty-twenty rule applies to clearing out the kitchen. In case you’re thinking of another version of this rule, let me clarify. Just when you think that you are more or less eighty percent done, you realize you have at least eighty percent more to do.

Back to work … and bon appétit!

Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn
While this dish is great with a delicious ragout or stew, if you are without a kitchen -all you need is a hotplate and grill to whip up this tasty side dish. Try it with grilled shrimp or spicy sausages. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

3-4 ears corn
Olive oil
2 cups whole milk
2 cups or more chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
4-6 ounces grated or crumbled cheese* plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the grill to high.

Lightly oil 1 ear of corn. Place the corn on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, turn and cook 2-3 minutes more. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob and reserve.

Cut the kernels from the remaining ears of corn. You’ll need about 2 cups of raw kernels. Reserve.

Bring the milk, broth and salt to a simmer in heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly, slowly add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the polenta starts to thicken, 2-3 minutes.

Add the raw corn, cheese, herbs and butter and continue to stir until the corn is tender and the cheese and butter have melted, 2-3 minutes more. If the polenta seems too thick, add some more broth.

To serve: spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and sprinkle with grilled corn kernels and grated or crumbled cheese.

* Choose your cheese based on what’s for dinner. A mix of mozzarella and Parmigianino-Reggiano will be delicious with anything Italian. Think of France and add goat cheese for polenta and braised chicken or short ribs. Cheddar or queso fresco works well with a Tex-Mex ragout or spicy grilled sausages.

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Two Years Ago – Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado
Three Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Four Years Ago – Chocolate-Orange Tart
Five Years Ago – Chicken Liver Pâté
Six Years Ago – Blueberry Crisp
Seven Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Nine Years Ago – Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Help! Do you have any renovation advice to share? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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2 thoughts on “A New Kitchen Adventure & Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn

    • C. – Thank you. The yellow with tin inserts was my cheap and cheerful short term (12 year) solution to the outdated kitchen. The new kitchen will have no upper cabinets – just a few shelves. Lower cabinets will be red! Coming soon … S.

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