Life of Megan

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kitchen Renovation, Day 2

We started today with the hope of clearing up a few measuring discrepancies. Matt, our contractor, had mapped out the location of the cabinets yesterday evening, and it seemed like we had two walls that were longer than our plans suggested. There was also a wall cabinet that was supposed to be 15 inches wide where there was only room for an 8- or maybe 9-in cabinet. I called Phylis, our designer, when I got to work this morning, and she made an appointment to get to our house later in the morning. As it turned out, the walls we thought were "too long" were entered that way because we needed some space along those walls for traffic-flow reasons. I am pretty sure that we should have remembered that from our virtual walk-through, but there are a lot of details in projects like these. The wall cabinet was a mistake, but it's an easy one to fix and won't put us behind schedule. Phew!

Matt basically finished the wiring today--just a few things left. The pull-cord on our "lighting fixture" is gone--we now have a switch! Our ceiling has been fixed, and almost all the backer board is down for our tile floor. The plumbing pipes and joints behind our sink had turned out to be badly corroded, and they had to be replaced--that was also finished today, and the wall is now patched up like new. All in all, a productive day. Our cabinets are being delivered on Thursday. The plan is to get the base cabinets installed as soon as possible so that the countertop guys can come in and create their template. We will be painting this weekend.

Dinner was leftover pizza from our trip to The Nines on Sunday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Kitchen Project Has Officially Started!

Today was the first real day of our kitchen renovation project. The kitchen is now actually empty, and most of the electrical work has been done. Not much else to report so far, but I thought I ought to write something on the first real day of work.

We celebrated with sushi. Japanese vegetable rolls = delicious. Some sort of roll involving plum paste = very, very weird. Spicy tuna rolls, spicy scallop rolls, freshwater eel nigiri, and tuna nigiri = tasty as always (okay, so we didn't know about the scallop rolls, but scallop rolls are tasty, and so are spicy rolls, so it was not much of a leap).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kitchen Renovaton, Day 0

Tomorrow, our floor tile arrives, and our contractor Matt starts work on our kitchen. This is work we've been eagerly anticipating since we moved into our house. At 10' by 10', our kitchen is not small. Unfortunately, the kitchen includes three different thresholds, so its layout is critical to having a functional kitchen. Ours wasn't. We've been making due with one real cabinet with a countertop, one overhead cabinet, a hutch, and a bookcase forced to double as a kitchen cabinet. Now that we both have real jobs and some money saved, it's time to make that happen.

Our work includes putting in new tile floors, adding semi-custom maple cabinets, Silestone (engineered quartz) countertops, an undermount sink, a translucent glass-tile backsplash, ceiling fixes, paint, new stove, addition of a dishwasher, a new microwave, undercabinet lighting, and switches (so that we don't have ugly lighting fixture chains). There are, of course, more details, but I can't necessarily remember them all, and I'm fairly certain that if I could, I wouldn't want to list them.

Today, we did prep by clearing out our kitchen. When Matt arrives tomorrow, he'll be greeted by us (well, Judson, anyhow, and me later), and a kitchen that is empty and ready to go, with only the oven, sink, and overhead cabinet left in place. We have our fridge, microwave, and some minor storage/workspace set up in our dining room, and most other kitchen supplies are packed in boxes.

If you haven't had the distinct pleasure of spending time in our kitchen, I hope you enjoyed these photos. They document our starting point, which my mom says is important (and she has a point if I want to be in This Old House magazine or something similar someday).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Consumer Alert--Excedrin Analgesics

Excedrin sells some great pain killers. They have a bunch of different products for various ailments (back/body ache, headache, migraine, etc). And they work well. All their products contain 2+ of [aspirin, tylenol, caffeine]. For example, the tension headache formula has tylenol and caffeine, but no aspirin. Migraine and extra-strength headache relief contain all three.

Now the combination of tylenol, aspirin, and caffeine is a great thing, especially in treating migraines. Not only does the caffeine potentiate the tylenol and the aspirin, but it also helps to constrict blood vessels. Since blood vessels typically dilate or spasm during migraines, this is a good thing. Also, tylenol potentiates the aspirin, if I recall correctly.

So I'd encourage migraine sufferers to use Excedrin's products, since they actually work very well (for OTC analgesics).

But here comes the alert. For some reason, the "good" folks at Excedrin feel they can charge $1.00 or more per bottle of pills when they use the word "migraine" instead of "extra-strength headache." You'd think something between the two formulas would be different. But the pill count of the two medicines is the same, as are their active ingredients (and dosages).

I don't doubt that this is an effective sales technique, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

So remember folks, shop for your pain killers before you're actually in pain, and look at what they're actually giving you. If pills that claim they're for back pain have the same ingredients (in the same proportions) as pills that claim they're for migraines, then they're the same damn thing.

And in case any Excedrin marketing execs are reading this post, shame on you. Shame!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I made pasta!

We've had a pasta maker for a while now, but it's largely Judson's toy. He seems to use it to make fresh pasta once a week or so.

But I usually get home too late to want to make pasta, and frankly, the whole process seems especially difficult. I never trust cooking advice in which everyone claims that something is actually very easy. Alton Brown tried to tell us that souffles are easy. Gordon Ramsay's team still bakes a test souffle every time one is ordered at one of his restaurants. (Souffles are actually pretty easy, but it is kind of tough to tell when they're done...)

At any rate, I decided to give it a try this week, serving up pasta with winter squash and sage.

I decided to try out the classic well method. So I measured out 8 oz of unbleached flour, put it in the middle of a cutting board, made a well, and cracked a couple of eggs into it. With the addition of the second egg (out of three), it was pretty clear that I had not made a deep enough well. I decided to try to start pulling the dough together before adding the third egg and started whisking the two eggs in my well with a fork. Then my well broke, and egg started running everywhere. It was like an elementary school volcano project, except stickier and more likely to make people sick.

This wasn't a great start, but I was able to pull it all together, and I ended up with a very nice, smooth but elastic dough. I quartered the dough and wrapped each quarter in plastic wrap to let it rest for half an hour or so. During this time, I did some dishes, got the squash ready, and put salted water on to boil.

After the dough had rested, I ran it through the pasta machine, starting with the biggest setting (7) until it was a thickness 2 (which seems to be about linguine thickness). Then I folded it up, cut it into noodles by hand, and cooked it. Fortunately for everyone, Judson had wandered downstairs to see if I needed help as I was rolling out the dough, and he ended up cooking the squash and sage.

Dinner was delicious, and making the noodles was pretty easy in the end. I'd just try the well method inside a bowl instead of on a cutting board.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Tonight's dinner was like a festival of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans, or whatever else you like to call them).

The inspiration was Mark Bittman's recent The Minimalist column in the New York Times. Well, inspiration isn't quite the right word, since I just read the article and decided to make it now, while peppers are in season at our Farmer's Market.

I knew the salad itself wouldn't be enough for dinner. Judson suggested I add a second vegetable (I picked green beans), and then I remembered that a while ago, Bittman had an interesting article about flatbreads in his blog, Bitten. I don't think I found the article I'd been looking for, but in searching the Web, I found a recipe for Socca that sounded pretty darned tasty, so I decided to make that too.

Aside from the chickpeas, olive oil, lemons, spices, and chickpea flour, all my ingredients came from the Farmer's Market.

Everything was absolutely delicious. It was all fairly easy to do, and the meal was filling and very summery. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who just wants to escape the heat for a while (keep that in mind next summer, I guess). And the salad would definitely be a crowd-pleaser at parties.