Not-so-Kitchen-Tour | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Thirty (!)

Sunday 30th: Kitchen Tour
Now the month is concluding, show us where the magic has been happening!

Wow, here we are at the end of September and this year’s VeganMoFo! I have to say, my laidback approach to the themes this year made it all so much easier and more enjoyable. I never felt crunched for time or stressed to come up with a post. What a relief! Who could’ve guessed that going easy on yourself and not requiring perfection would make for a more enjoyable experience?! <insert eyeroll emoji, because duh>

Anyway, today is the odd day out; it’s a Sunday and thus the start of a new week (and theme), but also the last day of MoFo. The provided prompt asks participants to give a kitchen tour, but I did that pretty comprehensively last year. Not much has changed since then, except for one minor tragedy.

Dining room detailsSo… about those custom-built, super-neat corner shelves. Turns out they maaay not have been securely fastened to the wall. One day late last year, we heard a massive crash come from the dining room. We rushed in to survey the damage and found that the top shelf had fallen off the wall, releasing the big red Pyrex casserole dish (which had a pretty Friendship pattern on the lid) and the smaller Fire King casserole dish to meet their makers upon the floor. Luckily, the glass used in Pyrex (and, apparently, Fire King) dishes doesn’t really shatter, so we were able to pick up large pieces of the broken crockery rather than need to sweep up tiny shards. (Good news for our pups’ delicate paws, of course!) We cleaned up the mess relatively quickly and then made sure the shelves were more securely fastened. Since then we’ve had no mishaps, and I replaced the casserole dishes (RIP) with two small Butterprint-patterned dishes on that top shelf.

Otherwise, the kitchen is mostly the same as in those photos. We’ve added two more wooden spice racks from Ikea, and the beverages that top our bar have changed a bit, but we haven’t done any major remodels. (We’ve only been in the house for two and a half years, and the kitchen is still very modern and functional.) We’re hoping to replace the floral canvases in the dining room with a gallery wall in the next month or so, but we don’t have quite enough photos to respectably fill the space yet, and I don’t want it to look bare.

So, that’s the kitchen (and dining room)! And with that, VeganMoFo comes to a close. I’ve got some great posts planned for the weeks and months ahead, so don’t worry; I won’t be going silent. I’m also heading to Tallinn and Helsinki later this week, so you can expect full reports of the vegan options on offer in those two cities when I return. :) Happy MoFo, y’all!

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Spice Drawer Tour | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Fifteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Spicy! Talk us through your spice rack or cook with your favourite spice.

Well, since I’ve already let y’all in to my kitchen, I might as well own up to my shameful spice situation! Here it is: I store my spices in five very different spots throughout the kitchen, because no one cupboard or hidey-hole provides easy enough access to them. Sigh!

Kitchen tour - spicesI buy quite a few of my spices in bulk, which makes these racks and spice jars from good ol’ Ikea just perfect. Here I keep things like turmeric, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and mustard seeds, among others. They’re within easy reach when I’m cooking and don’t look too shabby on the wall there. You can’t see in this photo, but many of the jars are labeled on the side thanks to my handy label-maker. Ideally I’d have all my spices easily accessible like this (and all bought in bulk), but I think those racks would need to be floor to ceiling to accommodate everything!

Kitchen tour - spicesHere is my most shameful spice storage area. Located in the cupboard to the left of my sink, this is where all the oddly shaped and less-commonly-used spices typically wind up. In there you’ll find a little of everything: a box of cinnamon sticks, a bag of mace, a jar of Jamaican curry powder I nabbed from the free table at work, and various spice and seasoning blends I’ve been gifted. It’s all just crammed in there and I’m quite ashamed of the disorder. At least it’s well hidden by a cupboard door most of the time… that’s helped make the situation more palatable! I really really need to clean out my cupboards and rearranged everything, but I’ve yet to dedicate the time to that arduous task.

Kitchen tour - spicesMoving on… a slightly more organized storage site: The drawer to the right of the stove, which is a fairly typical spice drawer. Here’s where all the jars and small containers wind up. Some are rarely used (poppy seeds, caraway seeds, the “pie spice” blend I also rescued from the free table) while others have been refilled with new spices (see the crossed-out label on the cumin jar?). This is also our junk drawer, as you can see, and quite frankly I’m proud it’s really only a quarter-sized junk drawer and not a full one! (Side note: That “everything bagel” seasoning blend from Trader Joe’s is THE BEST. )

Not pictured here is the carousel rack of really really old spices I “inherited” when Steven and I moved in together; it came from his apartment and I frankly shudder to think how old some of them are. But I hate waste, so… there they remain. And honestly, I do occasionally use them. It’s not like spices go bad; they just become less potent. Six giant shakes of “poultry seasoning” it is, then!

Finally, there’s one more cupboard with spices, but this one is high above my sink and functions as storage for the bulk bags of spices that I then mete out into the glass jars in smaller quantities. I don’t feel too badly about this particular spice shelf since it’s difficult to reach without a stool. It seems like a pretty good use of the space.

So! There it is. My shameful distribution of spices. If you have a great idea of how to consolidate everything, I’m all ears!

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Kitchen Tour! | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Eleven

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Kitchen tour!

In the two years since my last MoFo kitchen tour, things have changed about as much as possible: I have a new kitchen! In a new house! That I own! Here’s a pano shot from the sliding doors that let onto the carport/driveway.

Our house was built in the ’70s but had been tastefully updated in the last few years, so we didn’t need to do any major remodels or redesigns when we moved in. That was a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse. Of course I’m glad to be spared the expense (although you could argue that it was baked into the asking price), but it also means I didn’t get to personally design my kitchen, and I have no real excuse to remodel it in the near future.

Kitchen counter closeupThe appliances are new(ish) and work great, the cabinets are an inoffensive reddish wood (I know nothing about wood types), the countertops are a sparkly black stone that I actually quite like, and the backsplash is plain white subway tile. I’m not a huge fan of subway tile; I think it’s played out, and the white is just a bit boring. The floors are a textured grey stone, and they’re fine. We painted the walls a country blue, which I liked a year ago and still don’t mind, but I do think a brighter color might be better: Besides the ambient light that comes in from the living and dining rooms, the only real light source is the sliding door…which abuts our covered carport, reducing the amount of direct sunlight we get. Lighter walls might help.

My kitchen is not huge in terms of counter space (especially when compared to the massive butcher-block island we had at our rental!), but by keeping it clean and uncluttered, I actually never have a problem. I’m a methodical, clean-as-you-go cook, so I don’t end up with piles of dishes on every surface. The only appliance that has permanent real estate on the counter is my KitchenAid mixer because it’s a beast and would be a pain to lug back and forth. Everything else is in the pantry/laundry closet (behind the white panel doors in the pano shot above) or another storage spot and is easy to grab. (Steven’s SodaStream keeps encroaching on my counter space, though I try to stash it away…!)

Truth be told, our kitchen is a bit less personalized in our house than it was in our rental. I blame the somewhat impersonal features, but the lack of wall space (for art) doesn’t help. We do have a few Steven-made shelves for various ingredients and some Ikea spice racks on the walls. But the kitchen opens into our dining room, where we’ve put in more personal touches.

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I love our mid-century dining room table — we bought it off Craigslist from a Russian lady and her daughter, and it has built-in leaves that make it surprisingly spacious. The chairs are Crate & Barrel; combined with the table, they match the wood-and-dark-metal theme in our living room.

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To the right of the kitchen entrance, you can see our little bar, a “cellarette” from my grandmother’s house. It’s gorgeous dark wood and just the right size for that space. It opens up to feature a set of cut glass barware that came with the piece. We have lots more booze stored above the fridge, but we keep the pretty stuff on display. (The dining room opens on to the living room, which you can see on the right of this photo.)

Above it is an awesome vintage victory garden poster Steven gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I’d love to get a few more posters of this ilk and move them  in a collage on the wall behind the dining table, which for now is filled with some colorful canvases from our old place.

Dining room detailsTo the left of the kitchen entrance is our coffee bar! The “bar” itself is a cheap piece of furniture I got at a yard sale for $5 years ago (you can see it in use in my previous tour too); I replaced the knobs and gave it a coat of paint and it’s serviceable for now. At some point I’d like to replace it with a piece that fits better with the rest of our decor, but it does offer a lot of storage for things like our food processor and random other small appliances.

Steven built those awesome open shelving units above the bar, which show off some of our prettier hot drink accoutrements. (Ignore the horrible vintage Ronald McDonald plastic plate in the rightmost shelf… Steven was going through some of his childhood crap and thought it would be funny to put it there. VERY FUNNY. HAHA.)

Dining room detailsMcDonald’s merchandise owning aside, Steven has some redeeming characteristics. Namely, the ability to build shelves! Aside from the shelves I’ve already mentioned, he also custom-built these corner shelves, which I use to display my beloved Pyrex collection. It’s just a few steps from the kitchen, so it’s a great way to store these pieces (which I use for cooking and eating regularly).

(You can see one of the previously mentioned colorful canvases in this photo. That wall is really tall because we have near-cathedral ceilings, and we just don’t have enough art to fill that space. Canvases will have to do for now!)

So, there we have it. My kitchen and dining room, such as they are. I’m excited to see everyone else’s cooking space!

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Kitchen Tour!

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 13: It’s kitchen tour time!

Steven and I consider ourselves lucky. In the notoriously expensive Montgomery County housing market, we snagged a low-priced rental when we moved here two years ago. We rent a condo, and our landlord is responsive, friendly, and fair — he hasn’t raised our rent the two times we’ve re-signed the lease. And we have a great kitchen!

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Many of the units in our complex have a small kitchen and a small dining room, but ours has an open floor plan — you can see where the wall used to be in the photo below. We’ve got a huge island/eating area, and a massive amount of storage. See that big wall of cabinets? We have a coat closet, pantry, and all our dishes in there! And there’s Moria wondering what I’m doing.

I’ll start at the left in the panorama photo.

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My favorite part of my kitchen! We got this little piece for $5 at a yard sale — what a steal. Inside is our recycling bin and some random stuff.

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This radio doesn’t work, but it’s so pretty.

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Steven’s mom gave me those darling aperitif glasses; they’re from her side of the family. And I love the design on the Strega bottle.

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The other side of that shelf houses our spoils from Honeydukes (!) and a jar of doggie treats. I love the jar — Steven found it on the “free table” at work.

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My cookbooks and my KitchenAid — two essentials! My grandfather was an avid woodworker, and he made that little bookholder. I use it as a benchmark for my cookbook collection — if it starts overflowing, it’s time to donate a few items to the free table!

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To the right of the fridge is a set of shelves where we keep some pantry staples and all our coffee- and tea-making implements! There are whole beans in the red tin, and coffee from Café du Monde too. My friend gave that to us as a thank-you for watching her pup. We use a Baratza grinder (bottom left), and it’s fantastic. Between that and the Chemex, you can make a great cup of coffee. I like to use the Moka pot when I want a smaller serving.

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This piece belonged to Steven’s grandfather, who was a tailor. He stored his buttons in it! Now it houses our tea collection. :)

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To the right of the sink is [some of] my beloved Pyrex collection (the little blue bowl is in the drying rack!), along with more pantry staples and our knives. You can see the butcher block counters, too. I don’t love them, especially near the sink where they get wet easily. They’re fine for the island, but impractical for most everywhere else.

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To the right of the sink are more dry goods, spices, a few condiments, a scale, and the radio — because you have to listen to NPR while cooking or cleaning!

There you go! A short tour of my current* kitchen. I can’t wait to see yours!

*Steven and I are house-hunting! AHH!