Its been over a week since I lost my buddy. At least I was holding him when he died.
It really affected me. The depression didn’t really hit me until I came home and he wasn’t there to greet me. Since then all I did was wander around the house with audio novels playing on my laptop. My home is small and has a very open plan so I can hear it from anywhere in the house.
I know the last eight years of his eighteen-year life were filled with love. He was a rescue so I don’t know about his first years. But he did have a long life so I guess I did something right.
I got up each morning and cooked him breakfast. He liked bacon and soft scrambled eggs with cheese.
Well Spring has officially started. I have to blow the pollen off my back deck daily or track it into the house. 😦
An occasional fast food about once a month never bothered me. UNTIL Tuesday when needed a fast lunch. I couldn’t even eat more than a few bites then threw most of it away. I still tasted it all afternoon! 😦
I get up before him letting him sleep while I go in the kitchen and and get ready to cook our breakfast. Mine is usually coffee and some of what I fix him. He has gotten very finicky. I have to cook his steak rare or at most medium rare then feed it to him bit size pieces by hand or he will drop it on the floor. I have to admit it is hard to smell his meat cooking and not sneak a piece of it myself. (I grew up in a culture that had meat every meal so I’m indoctrinated. 😦 )
BTW After the hard work of eating breakfast you do need a nap. I think my buddy has conned me well!
WARING WARNING! Avoid Facebook! My Facebook account was actually in the name of my fictional virtual world avatar. After I saw how Facebook let Analytics scam them and steal my friends list I had even less trust it in their privacy and honesty. So, I canceled even that character’s account. Let me warn you Facebook will invade your computer. I still get junk from them. I’m spending a lot of time hunting down the malicious junk they put on my computer because I still get notifications from Facebook that one of my Facebook friends wants me to friend someone. So I haven’t found everything and I doubt I ever will.
I’ve been trying to publish this post since early March but I keep getting sidetracked by real life. But maybe today March 24. YES, I finished the writing. Now to publish it on my blog site! So, WELCOME to my new kitchen! Please leave comments and let me know what you think.
Since I now enjoy cooking and spend three days a week cooking Blue Apron meals it made sense to modify it to better fit my needs. Here is a tour of my new kitchen.
I’m beginning to accumulate quite a few pots and pans so I made a hanging rod for them. Unlike most pot racks in other kitchens this one is close to the floor and made so I can get under it to use it.
When I did the original planning, I had supports running straight down to the floor. My contractor (Daniel’s Home Services) has done things for me for me for me for a long time. So, he knows my needs and built it with angled supports to the wall. Now I can get under its full length and to use it.
The oven is both higher and lower than those in standard kitchens. It is too risky to reach over the open oven door.
I thought of getting an oven that opens to the side or up. But I have to wear a wig and one of the risks is the heat from an oven can quickly melt the acrylics that used in them. That is sure something you don’t want to risk happening. So, I chose go use a standard front and down opening oven.
Safety is a big consideration when you try to use an oven from a wheelchair. I don’t have a lot of upper body strength so I can’t carry a hot pan of food across the room. That is why I chose real granite counter tops. I need to be able to set a pan down right away and not worry about melting the counter top. In the past I’ve tried just setting pans on a piece of ceramic tile on a plastic counter. Sadly, that doesn’t work too well the tile is always slipping and a four-hundred-degree pan of food in your lap is not a pleasant happening.
I also added some more counter space and a way under it so I could get closer to the oven. That is another safety consideration so I don’t have to reach too far from my chair.
Since I do a lot of cooking I installed a real hood vented to the outside.
A problem I foresaw was how to reach the hood controls. Daniel (Daniel’s Home Services) contracted the manufacture got another set of controls and installed them on the side of the oven enclosure for me. This helps a lot since I don’t reach above my head as well. I got a pleasant surprise when I started using the hood. One of the buttons is a timer that will turn off the lights or the fan after delaying a minute.
I know, I know most serious cooks use a gas stove top. While I would like the control, gas gives you I am not the neatest person stirring a pot on the cooktop. I didn’t want to spend hours trying to clean pasta sauce out of all the nooks and crannies of a gas cooktop. Cooking is fun but cleaning up isn’t!
I made the counter tops even lower than they are in many adapted kitchens because of safety concerns gained through experience. A few months ago I was sauteing some chicken and hot greese poped on my face. I couldn’t lower the counters much but I learned my lesson. Every little bit helps.
After seventeen years my old white plastic sink was getting rather stained and shabby so I went with a stainless steel under mount. I am sure glad I did. The under mount design gives me enough counter space to to keep things like detergent and sponges in easy reach. Something you can’t see is the new heavy-duty garbage disposer I have. The old one would have worn out soon so I replaced it. I can hardly hear the new one!
I added a shelf next to the sink to keep my water filter on. It is lower than the sink because I need to dump it out once a week so I can use the sink counter as a fulcrum to bear against and not have to pick up the heavy filter when it is full of water.
Most of my time is spent in the preparation area. Here the extra low counters came in very handy. I don’t have a lot of upper body strength but it helps to be able to bear down more.
Hint: Use a pair of clothing scissors instead of kitchen shears. The light weight of much of the plastic used on many ingredients is too fine for many kitchen shears.
My old pantry was just too small so I added a storage area in what was originally intended for the dining area.
Now I even have enough space to put out my wooden carved dog band.
I still store most of my food in boxes along the living room wall. I need a lot of space to get to things and it is just too convenient to spread things out. Plus, I order my stapes food from the Amazon Prime Pantry so I don’t have to move it far when UPS or FedEx delivers it.
Lighting in my old kitchen was so dim at times I could hardly read recipes. So, I added a LOT more light. Now I have enough and even the hood has lights. Yes, that is Santa on the half wall. I like him so he guards my sink all year.
Power Power Power
A modern kitchen really needs many power outlets. I was going to put power strips in several places around the counters. They use a lot of space, didn’t look particularly good, and would have been in the way. My contractor found these popup power strips. If you’ve never seen these before I recommend them.
Simply press on the silver button it pops up then just pull the power strip out of the counter top. Plug your mixer, juicer, or other electrical appliance in. Then when you are finished unplug it and the power strip disappears back into the counter. As a bonus it also includes two USB ports so you can plug your phone in. I’ve found this very useful since I like to listen to podcasts while copping vegetables and I still come away with a fully charged phone.
A kitchen is for cooking so I the first meal prepared was my version of Blue Apron’s Spicy Fettuccini and Beef Bolognese with Zucchini.
Since it took me so long to post this I’ve cooked a lot in my new kitchen. Its wonderful to have a kitchen that finally fits me.
These pictures of my Buddy Boogie may seem like a strange way to start a cooking post but it has a surprising and nice purpose.
I have been working on my new kitchen for the last month. So yesterday when it was finished should have been a joyous day in my life. But last weekend things took a very troubling and unexpected turn.
My pal Boogie lost a LOT of weight and got very listless. I took him to Animal Medical and Surgical Center Monday and the prognosis was not good. They did an ultra sound, a biopsy, and other tests of Boogie’s bad liver. It was either cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.
I finally got to bring Boogie home Friday about noon with a lot of medicine and special dog food. What the vet told me to watch out for was whether Boogie would eat or not. This is where Cheese-it crackers and Parmesan-Crusted Steak with Pink Lemon, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli Day 2 come in.
I was very upset so to take my mind off the sickness of my best friend I decided to cook a Blue Apron meal. It almost worked for me but then Boogie would not eat that evening. I eventually went to bed but not to sleep.
Saturday he still wouldn’t eat and I couldn’t even give him his medicine. He just turned up his nose at the vet supplied dog food. I even tried warming some of the liver food up in the microwave to a little over room temperature. (You want to smell something that stinks. Try that!) Out of desperation I tried some Cheese-it Crackers. Boogie has always liked them. Surprise, surprise he would eat them as long as I gave them to him one at a time and not too many at once. I could even give him his liquid medicines by putting some of the medicine on the crackers and letting it soak in.
That still left his pills. I warmed up some of the left-over Parmesan-Crusted Steak with Pink Lemon, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli I had fixed the day before for my lunch. That gave me an idea! It turns out making a little ball from peanut butter along with the pill and a small piece of steak works great for giving solid medicine to a fur baby. They don’t notice the pill if there is a small piece of steak in the peanut butter.
I do a lot of cooking and most dishes are for two so often I have leftovers. Saturday’s lunch was two dishes. Chicken Tagine with Cherry Tomatoes, and Dates over Couscous, with Marinated Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Nicoise Olives on the side.
I made the Chicken Tagines yesterday.
10 oz. Chopped Chicken Breast.
¾ Cup Couscous.
6 oz. Cherry Tomatoes.
1 Yellow Onion.
1 bunch Cilantro and Mint.
2 cloves Garlic.
1 oz. Dried Noor Dates
2 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar.
1 1 in piece Ginger.
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste.
2 Tsps. Ras El Hanout.
Mise en place
Peel and roughly chop Garlic.
Peel and finely chop Ginger.
Peel and finely dice Onion.
Rough chop the Dates.
Half the Tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Pick the Mint leaves off the stems and discard the stems.
Roughly chop the Cilantro.
In a small potboil 1 cup of water and the Couscous. Once boiling cover and turn off the heat for 7 minutes.
In a large pan heat 2-Tsp. Olive Oil and cook for 7 minutes. Set aside on a plate leaving any browned bits (the fond) in the pan.
Begin the Tagine. Add 2 Tsp. Olive Oil to the pan the chicken was cooked in then add the Garlic, Ginger, and Onion and cook until lightly browned.
Add the Tomato Paste, and Ras el Hanout and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
Add the seasoned Tomatoes, the dates, and ½ cup of water. Cook 2 minutes until slightly thickened.
Finish the Tagine. Add the cooked Chicken and Vinegar and cook 1 minute stirring constantly.
Divide the cooked Couscous between to dishes. Top with the Tagine. Garnish with Mint and Cilantro.
The marinated Cucumber, Nicoise Olives, and Cherry Tomatoes were pare of the Summer Vegetable Tartines I made last week. I think the extra week in the refrigerator helped.
Medium slice the potatoes.
Fine slice the Squash.
Peel and fine slice the onion then break each slice into onion strings.
Cut off the sweet pepper stems remove the seeds and finely slice.
Roughly chop the Piquillo Peppers.
Peel and finely slice the Garlic.
Roughly chop the Parsley including the stems.
Heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in nonstick oven safe pan. If your pan is not oven safe you will have to finish the vegetables in a baking dish. Cook the Potato rounds for 9 minutes.
Add the Sweet Peppers, Squash, and Onions to the pan and for 4 minutes and stir often.
Add the Tomato Paste and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
Add the Piquillo Peppers, Vinegar, Garlic, and ¼ cup of water. Season with Salt and Pepper cook 2 minutes. Then turn off the stove.
If your pan is not oven save transfer the cooked vegetables to a baking dish. Make 2 wells in the vegetables then crack an egg into each well. Season with Salt and Pepper. Then bake for 5 minutes in a 450 degree oven and you will end up with this.
Toast the Baguette Rounds slices for 8 minutes in the 450 degree oven.