While Elaine continues on the mend from hip surgery (we did the P/T deal Friday afternoon), the joy of coming home to good food after just can’t be beat.
The kitchen remodel project was, it goes without saying, delayed by the lack of two people to “work the project.” I can do a lot of things, single-handed, but there are just some things in Life that take two people.
Since I’ve been doing the cooking while she’s stuck in the walker for another three weeks, or so, the one gripe about the kitchen that continues to vex me is the lack of counterspace and outlets.
Like many kitchens, the design is a “U” shape with a window (and sink) at the bottom of the “U”. On the left *(facing the window) is about 4 feet of counter. But, since this is also an eating and nibbling bar on the other side, it doesn’t make sense to put in additional outlets and park things like the big KitchenAid mixer there.
Not that it’s unsightly: Like my shop, there’s nothing wrong with having tools visible if they’re kept orderly. But it just a) doesn’t fly with management and b) the power cords would be visible since outlets are not built-in to eating bars.
The same thing is true on the right-hand side of the “U” as well. There’s a 45-degree corner area. Into this goes the microwave, a crockpot, and the air fryer. Once again, though, the kitchen is more set for entertaining that actual food production.
These “eating bar” areas are great for casual nibbles and even light meals – like a sandwich at lunch. Close to the kitchen and just slide the plate and soup over and that’s it. If anything spills, it’s likely to be easy clean-up.
But, there are a lot of “kitchen tools” that should be set up. And this is the vexing part.
How Much Counter?
Let’s work through some numbers:
- Stove takes up 32-inches, roughly.
- The sink is about 3-feet.
- Add another 2-1/2 feet to this: Prep on left and dish-drying on right.
- Microwave is about 19-inches wide.
- The Crock Pot is (call it) 15-inches.
- Air Fryer is at least 12, but with spacing *(for heat) call it 16.
Sounds complete, but it’s not:
- 12-inches would be ideal for the big VitaMix blender. I love using that thing – especially for nearly instant soups – just toss in veggies and some broth and let it run on high for a bit. There’s so much cavitation, it just rips, shreds, and heats…
- Another 16-inch space would be great to leave the Big Mixer out. I love to make fresh bread. Storage under for the dough hook and pasta roller system would be nice, too.
- Another item that would be used a lot more (if not buried on a shelf somewhere) would be the vacuum sealer (think Seal-a-Meal clone). Which, again, comes with rolls of sealing bags material. 14-inches ought to do it. But, lets say 16 just to be safe.
- One more? Food processor. 14-16 inches more counter, please.
- And most important of all needed urgently? A wok – for reasons we will get into…
A lot of hare-brained ideas have been washing through the old noggin. A house-warming roll-around granite-topped island (great for rolling dough) doesn’t have power. Trouble is, we like the “long view” and open concept feel that let’s you come in one end of the joint and see 80-feet down to the big monitor in the recording studio.
The back wall (toward center of the house) has the fridge on it. Bar (and water heater under) to the right. If the drinkware, kitchen air ionizer, a few bottles of hooch, a cordless phone charger, and such were to be removed then maybe one appliance could go there. But hardly fun to waltz across the room when baking or slamming leftovers. Doesn’t seem to feel right for the air fryer, or crock pot, either…
On the left of the fridge is about 30 inches of counter with cabinets above (cookbooks and vitamins) and pantry below. On that counter right now are the current breads and assorted stuff. Meds, etc.
I keep thinking about tearing everything out and making a commercial kitchen out of it. (Restaurant supply outfits have to be sitting on a ton of inventory due to the plandemic, right?)
Remember the “Method School of Acting?” Part of which some famous person-or-other once told me consists mainly of always asking “What’s my MOTIVATION?”
Mental Jujitsu flip: I have been coming around to the idea that in order to live the next “x” years well, Elaine and I have to put even more emphasis on eating good food.
So, another one of “Ure’s Crackpot Theories” has emerged from his spending time on KP from the hip.
This one holds that the fresher (and fresher cooked) food is, the longer people live. Variety and freshness.
The problem in “modern” America is we don’t enjoy just out of the oven bread as much as once upon a time (in the West). The big basket of fresh-baked rolls, piping hot and covered with a clean dish towel and passed around the table doesn’t happen as much these days. Meals have become drive-by’s.
Food and Anti-Aging Diet
My latest crackpot theory suggests Science has gotten a lot of things wrong. One thing, more than likely, is the Mediterranean Diet.
When I went back and looked at the original data, the major difference wasn’t in what was being eaten. It was how much.
And then I went off looking at countries where longevity is greatest.
Data set over here (sorted for both sexes) says Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, and Singapore are in the top five. The odd country out (in the top five)? Switzerland.
Yet, for some reason, there aren’t any books touting the Asian Take-Out Diet *(though if you toss in some sake, I’m all in with it…). And the Swiss Diet? Cheese, chocolate, sinful baked goods with fruit fillings and cream cheese? Fondue? Nope.
So here’s the crack pot theory: What IF the determinant is not WHAT you eat, but How Freshly Cooked it is?
Thinking runs like this: Asian cooking is generally fresh out of a wok and plated and eaten. With rice…not wheat. In the Swiss cooking, lots of slow-cooking of things (baking) because in that culture, baking has always been a “two-fer” (dinner and it keeps the house warm). Thing is: When done, food goes from heat source to plated to chewed while still warm.
Under this crack pot theory, we also find the Truth of the Fries: I can’t stand cool or cold French fries. If the they just swam ashore from the seas of boiling lard (Dick’s Burgers in Seattle used to make ’em that way, but now sizzles with a 100% High Oleic Sunflower oil). But even scalding out of hot [whatever] oil, the hotter the fries, the better the burger.
Cold scrambled egg? Naw…pass. See how this “piping hot” idea has some appeal?
(Mark your calendar: July 13th is National French Fry day…)
What About “Comfort Food?”
We come up with crack pot theories at the drop of a cork because real science sometimes does miss the boat. Sure, calorie restricted diets might make you live longer, but if they lack the MCT and other needed fats, they just might figure into Alzheimer’s progression, as well. Making you crazy along the way.
Which then leads us to PubMed.gov for some culinary guidance:
Comfort food may be useful if you’re highly stressed hints Chronic social stress lessens the metabolic effects induced by a high fat diet. A similar notion lurks in The effect of unhealthy food and liking on stress reactivity.
Calorie restrictions (and red wine) may work well for sedentary Italian seniors. But, what about stressed northern European extraction people?
Crack Pot Theory Method of Action?
Might go something like this:
The fresher (and hotter) food is served (woks in Asia, ovens of the Swiss) the less time unfriendly (to the gut) bacteria has to develop. As food cools, the bacteria count would go up.
When taken in concert like reports “Gut microbiome implicated in healthy aging and longevity” and “Gut Microbiome Uniqueness May Predict Healthy Aging and Lifespan in Older People” seems to me that eating freshly cooked food may hold some yet-to-be-scientifically-blessed benefit.
Might even mean HOT leftovers are better for you… and it might explain the “hot French fry addiction” some people have.
Write when you get rich,