Stuff Happens & Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Crema

It started about four years ago. I desperately wanted to re-do my kitchen and began saving my pennies. However, since a bathroom renovation had turned into what seemed like an endless saga, I needed reassurance. I needed a timeline. Bruce, my eternally optimistic contractor, provided me, the eternally optimistic client, with the magic number … three weeks.

In case you think these two optimists are crazy, Bruce had a plan and I bought into it 100 percent. Here’s how it worked. Week one Bruce tears everything apart. Week two, he puts it all back together. The cabinets are installed, the appliances arrive and the plumber, electrician and painter make their magic. On Friday of week two, the countertop guy draws up the template. Week three is busy with a long list of odds and ends until the grand finale on Friday. The countertops are installed.

For my part, I insisted that demolition would absolutely, positively not begin until everything was ready to go. Cabinets, flooring and appliances had to be stacked from floor to ceiling in every available nook or cranny. At bare minimum, materials had to be on a truck and headed my way. There would be no delay because the refrigerator was on back order.

As we neared the start date, there were a few hiccups. Throughout the process, a few more setbacks demanded solutions. In spite of our optimism and mostly careful planning, stuff happens and lessons are learned.

Sorry, those floors are no longer available. In fact, the company has gone out of business. Bruce got on the phone and online. His favorite supplier got on the phone and online. Nothing. I got online and then in the car. Nothing until I fell in love with plan B, a kitchen-friendly cork. That said; the lead-time was three weeks. Anyway, stay flexible.

Speaking of floors, that old linoleum is not coming up without a fight. There were actually two layers of linoleum. The first ripped out easily. The second was put down with super glue or some other miracle adhesive invented by a super-secret government agency. In the end, it was no match to Chuck’s resolve. Tenancy is good.

There is working time and waiting time. You see both during a renovation. As promised, it took less than a week to install the new floors and cabinets. The only problem, it didn’t happen until week three. Blame it on the new laundry/half bath and mudroom. Installation was delayed a week while these two, itty-bitty spaces were framed and drywall was installed, mudded and sanded. Be patient.

Wait a minute, that’s a joist exactly where the flange should go. When the plumber went to install the flange for the toilet in the new half bath, he discovered a floor joist in just the wrong spot. However, within minutes, a return/exchange order was in the works for a new toilet to fit the tight space. Yes, a big box store would have taken the return but I’m very glad I didn’t need to cram a toilet in the back of the Mini. Thank goodness, I bought local.

Now, the confession – in spite of my sunny disposition and optimism, I knew from the start that the kitchen would take more than three weeks. You remember my eighty-twenty rule: just when you think you are eighty percent done; you have eighty percent more to do. Well, I figured the first eighty percent would happen quickly, in about three weeks. I was hoping the second eighty percent wouldn’t take more than a week but realized another two, okay maybe three weeks, was more likely.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be cooking again this weekend. Bon appétit!

My temporary kitchen – microwave, hotplate and toaster oven on an old door in the garage.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Crema
With September winding to a close, it’s time for a favorite early fall treat. Fry up some of the green tomatoes that won’t have time to ripen on the vine. Enjoy!
Serves 8

3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil
4-6 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Chipotle Crema (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.

Put the cornmeal, flour, salt, cumin and pepper in a shallow bowl and whisk to combine. Put the eggs in a separate bowl and beat well.

Generously coat a heavy skillet with oil and heat over medium-high.

Dip the tomato slices in the egg and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Working in batches, carefully, place the tomatoes in the skillet and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan and place in a warm oven. Adding more oil to the pan if necessary, continue with the remaining tomato slices. Serve hot with a dollop of Chipotle Aioli.

Chipotle Crema
Makes about 1 cup

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon or to taste pureed chipotle in adobo*
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt to taste
About 1/2 cup or to taste sour cream

Put the mayonnaise, chipotle, garlic, mustard and lime zest and juice in bowl, season with cumin and salt and whisk to combine. Add the sour cream and whisk until smooth. Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors.

Cover and store leftover crema in the refrigerator.

* Toss a can of chipotle peppers along with the adobo in a small food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a clean glass jar, store in the refrigerator and use as needed.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verde
Two Years Ago – Applesauce Scones
Three Years Ago – Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard
Four Years Ago – Fettuccine with Fresh Corn & Tomatoes
Five Years Ago – Lemon Rice Cakes with Spinach & Manchego
Six Years Ago – Apple Crumb Cake
Seven Years Ago – Ginger Scones
Eight Years Ago – Curried Eggplant Soup
Nine Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon

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

Do you have any reno advice to add? Feel free to share!

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

Advertisements

The New Kitchen Adventure Continues & Savory Rosemary Biscotti

Well, the fun has begun. My forty-something year old kitchen is now nothing but an empty shell. I managed, just barely, to clear everything out before Bruce the contractor arrived. A pile of freebies, including several interior doors and a gas range, is sitting in my driveway. Most days, something disappears and, just as often, I add something to the pile. The rarely used deep fryer, some thermal mugs and most of the drawers are gone. At some point, anything left will go into the dumpster.

Yes, that’s right; I have a dumpster. In fact, we are on dumpster number two. I really don’t know how the first one filled up so fast. The kitchen isn’t all that big. Why, it’s not much more than a glorified galley. Glorified because instead of the typical eight by eight or ten feet you find in a classic galley kitchen, mine is a luxurious ten by twelve. By the way, those ten feet are just narrow enough that, no matter where he stands, my dad is always in the way.

Now, just because I have a dumpster – don’t go thinking you can come down here with your old television set or that ancient sofa or whatever else the dump won’t take. Sure, I know; it’s tempting but don’t throw any of that stuff in my dumpster. It may be half empty now but it won’t be for long.

So, you ask, what’s it like having your kitchen remodeled? Well, noisy is the first word that comes to mind, very noisy. Followed by dusty. God love Bruce. He can’t do anything about the banging and clanging but he has covered all the doorways with plastic sheeting. It should help keep the dust from spreading to every corner of every room in the house. And God bless my dad, who promptly bumbled through, creating puddles of plastic at every doorway.

Speaking of Dad, Joe Nye thinks the world of Bruce. You see, he reminds Dad of his own father. Grandpa Nye was also a builder. If he was still around today, Grandpa could have been one of those guys on the home and garden network. Not because he could remodel an entire house for $25,000 and then flip it for a huge profit. No, Grandpa Nye could see the whole picture and was all about the details. He made sure all the pieces fit together. In today’s dollars, it would cost more than $25,000 but you would have no doubt that it was worth every penny. I guess, maybe Grandpa was more PBS than HGTV.

Anyway, the key reason Bruce reminds Dad of Grandpa is that, along with his good work, they both sweep up after each task and at the end of the day. Renovations are messy. However, when I walk through the room that once was and will again be my kitchen, there are no dusty piles of bent nails or drywall rubble. There are no half-empty water bottles or coffee cups. As for the plastic sheeting, it’s been carefully re-taped to each doorway.

Although it’s nothing new, the other fallout of renovation is insomnia. Without fail, I wake up around two o’clock every morning for a round of second guessing. Will the utility closet be big enough to hold the vacuum cleaner? A predawn trip downstairs solves that one; the answer is yes, just barely. Should the door slide on the inside of the laundry room or outside? I’m going with outside. The cork flooring is due on Tuesday. Does Tuesday mean before noon or after five? We’ll see. Should the modem stay in the kitchen or move to my office? TBD. Granite or butcher block for that cabinet on the far wall? I have a day or two to figure this one out. Did I remember to email the appliance guy and postpone delivery until Tuesday? Not yet. Does it make sense to have a drain board carved into the granite by the sink? Hmmm, maybe but what would it cost?

… and perhaps most important, what to cook that first night in the new kitchen?

… Bon appétit!

Savory Rosemary Biscotti
Although I have cooked in a convection oven, I have never owned one. That’s all about to change. I’ll be baking up this savory take on the Italian classic for the kitchenwarming. Enjoy!
Makes about 6 dozen biscuits

3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cut in small cubes
2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, cut in small cubes
4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into small cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Put the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put the cheeses in a food processor and pulse to grate and combine. Remove about 1/2 cup of cheese and reserve.

Add the flour, rosemary, baking powder, salt, pepper and paprika to the food processor and pulse to combine with the cheese. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the dough to a large bowl.

Put 3 eggs in a bowl and whisk to combine, add the sour cream and whisk again until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dough and stir until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into four pieces. Using well-floured hands, pat each piece into a flat log about 10-inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Placing them about 3 inches apart, transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheets.

Put the remaining egg in a bowl and whisk until pale yellow. Brush the logs with the egg and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the biscotti for 15 minutes, turn and swap the position of the pans. Continue baking until the logs are golden, about 15 minutes more. Cool the biscotti for about 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

With a serrated knife, slice the logs about 1/2-inch-thick on the diagonal. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in a single layer on baking sheets. Turning once, bake until golden and crisp, 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Print friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Dilly Beans
Two Years– All Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Three Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Four Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Five Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Six Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Seven Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Eight Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Nine Years Ago – Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Omelet

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