Running. (revved back up in 2017!) Bowing. (some beautiful music!) Cooking. (in a new kitchen!)
December 21 I don’t want to make a big deal about it quite yet because there is still a lot to do before the project can be considered finished, done, and final. But a milestone today: we have water. Heaps of work, a deconstruction, mending walls, replacing floors, and then watching the cabinets assemble into something that finally got topped with a beautiful slab of stone that is now my countertop. And then today, as if just to insist progress is being made, Leon’s friend the plumber patched in a new drain and water line, connecting the sink into a glorious circuit of aquatic wonder. You take these things for granted, and then one day you remove it and… well, it seems like a big step to be able to wash dishes in our kitchen once again. Still so much fiddly work: more cabinetry, a backsplash, and hundreds of five minute jobs to finalize and complete the work… but it’s getting there.
Assuming no snags with the renovation progress, having a sink in our kitchen again.
A lot can happen in a month. Since I last posted about this renovation project we’ve been on two vacations, I’ve run the New York Marathon, been to Disneyland, run another half marathon, and completely gutted the main floor of the house.
We’ve also started the rebuilding process.
Well… Leon has done most of the technical work. Karin and I have continued the painting effort and I’ve installed about two-thirds of the (now fully installed) flooring.
The plumbing is moved.
The electrical has a few more tweaks before it’s complete.
The wall-side cabinetry is basically done.
The island cabinetry is imminent.
The fixtures (sink, faucet, fume hood, etc) are sitting in boxes in our house.
The cupboard doors are being built as I write this.
The counter-tops are in queue.
And my brain, body and soul are so damn tired I can’t even begin to impress upon you the depth of my fatigue without resorting to cartoonish cliche.
We spent most of the weekend installing floor. I clocked a good 16 hours measuring, cutting, snapping, tapping, and otherwise nudging into place little strips of laminate board. We bought a high end, vinyl laminate product with a built-in cork underlay. It’s beautiful installed. And my only complaint would be that I wish the pieces were about twice the size… but only to have made installation a bit faster. Now that it’s in… who cares.
With the floor in we not only reclaimed our dining room as open space (it was being used to store the boxes of laminate for the last three months) but were able to move our table in there and actually start the process of returning back to normal. Sure, there is no sink in our kitchen, and the stove is only connected in the sense that I’d need a wrench to move it, but considering the peak chaos state we’d reached about a week ago, I can feel the migration back towards day-to-day life progressing.
Some photos of various states of progress over the last week (or hours)…
I’ve joined a cult.
In case you’re wondering, it’s called the “Geeks Who Cook with Cast Iron and Write About it Online Cult.”
It goes something like this:
A few years ago we upgraded to a gas range in our kitchen. To honour that upgrade, I went out and bought a large cast iron griddle. That hunk of seasoned wonderment has become our weekend breakfast gathering place as Claire and I built a humble but tasty daddy-daughter tradition of sharing chocolate chip pancakes once per week. She’s done some of her first real cooking on that griddle. And I’ve personally flipped thousands of flapjacks from it’s hot surface on many-a-Saturday morning.
Ah… how sentimental.
Then about a year ago — thanks to my sloppy maintenance and some random careless cleaning– some of the original seasoning started to chip off on one quadrant of the griddle. I worked around it. I cooked on, dealing with the frustrating loss of real estate on my cooking surface. Then I got annoyed enough that I got brave and took some steel wool to the area and then did what I thought was a good polish-and-reseasoning. It wasn’t. And a few months passed and the chipped area became little more than a batter-magnet and cooking on that end of the griddle turned into more of a pain than it was really worth.
So, I did what any good geek would do: some online research. Ohhhhh… did I do some research. Videos. Articles. Podcasts. More videos. I can’t even tell you how many people make videos of themselves seasoning cast iron pans. It’s like a really sad, sad meme. But I watched every. single. one.
Long story short, I ended up learning far, far, far more than I’d ever thought possible about the history, manufacture, care, cleaning, love, and –yes– the cult-like nature of modern folks who love to use and share that love about using their cast iron.
It truly is pretty much a cult. And if you are remotely interested in food preparation, it’s so easy to be drawn into the palaver and other pointlessly drawn out debate. Brand? What type of oil? Soap or no soap? Metal utensils?!? Pre-heating strategies? OMG!The horror!
So then I really dug in: I set to fixing my griddle. I stripped and cleaned it: I burned off the seasoning and brought it to bare metal. I washed it in the backyard. Then I did a full re-seasoning of it (which sounds way more impressive than it really is.) And now, a few weeks later we’ve been using it as though it’s fresh from the factory, smooth. The Saturday Pancake Tradition is alive and well.
In the meantime — and as I wrote about in an earlier post — I’ve bought two three more cast iron pieces for the kitchen: a loaf pan, a skillet, and a wok. Additionally, I’ve dug out our 10 inch pan and I’ve been nursing it back to life once again (it was seeming to be going the way of my previously doomed griddle!)
Alas, I fear that I’ve been indoctrinated, well and good, maybe even permanently. I’m a convert to the cast iron club of the clinically insane. Addicted and oblivious.
The thing is, if anyone tries to stage an intervention –well, they can try, but they’re going to be well-fed first.