Making Wishes

If I had a wish it would be for a new kitchen tap.

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I just got a whole new kitchen and this tap is a total disaster.

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Not to be negative – because, after all – I have a BRAND NEW KITCHEN – but I mean COME ON – I just want to wash dishes, and I could spit with more water pressure than this European inspired, Swedish catastrophe can dribble out.

Gah. I hate you water conservation. I really really do.

Lava Cake

The Blond has been harassing me lately about making lava cake. Every time we pass one of those Dr. Oettker packages in the baking section of the grocery store, he begs me to buy it because he wants to make them. Last time I said, “we aren’t making it from a mix, I’m sure we can figure out how to do it on our own”. And so tonight, we did.

I had been doing some internet recon to try and find a suitably simple recipe for us, and sure enough, before long I stumbled upon one that seemed fairly easy. Had I known it would be this easy, to be honest, I would not have put it off so long.

And I also have to say that this is one of those recipes that is easy enough to make, on the fly, that it’s a good one to have in the arsenal for an impromptu dinner guest. You likely have all of the ingredients lying around, and it only takes 13 minutes to bake. The only thing that is tricky is counting the egg yolks.

So many eggs.

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I’ll tell you more about the recipe in a minute, but first, if you don’t know anything about lava cake – it’s actually a pretty interesting story. Our friends at wikipedia tell us that:

The United States-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten claims to have invented molten chocolate cake in New York City in 1987, but the French chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres has disputed that claim, arguing that such a dish already existed in France. According to Vongerichten, he pulled a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was done and found that the center was still runny, but was warm and had both a good taste and a good texture. Regardless of who invented the dish, Vongerichten has been credited with popularizing it in the United States, and it is now almost a de rigueur inclusion on high-end restaurant dessert menus

So…by that logic, I’ve invented lava banana bread. And a whole host of other lava baked goods. Oh well. I went through a tough time with an old oven.

Anyway – the idea is simple – you have this beautiful chocolate shell that when you put your fork into it, this gorgeous chocolate lava flows out. We chose to have ours with vanilla ice cream and it was a good choice. The ECF was watching me and the Blond scheming in the kitchen and he confessed later (after gobbling up his cake and half of the Blond’s) that he thought there was no way it would turn out. Well was he ever surprised, because not only did it turn out, it was beautiful, tasted delicious, and was exactly right in every single way.

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Totally making this again. Now I will tell you where I found the recipe:

Food Network – Ree Drummond

Good luck – give it a try! So tasty!

The Therapist Test

I’ve noticed that several of my posts lately have been about stepmonstering.  Sorry about that.  Did you think this was a blog about baking?  I promise to get back to the baking posts soon, if that’s why you’re here, but in the meantime, can we talk about stepmonstering one more time?

Sometimes I worry that I’m a bad parent.  I know I know, this isn’t Facebook, get on with it.

No seriously, I worry that I’m screwing them up.

Food is always a major issue at our house (as you may have noticed from my multitude of sneaky vegetable posts) and every night at dinnertime, I can guarantee you there will be a fight, some yelling, and (lately, now that we’re 14) slamming doors.  And there are other disagreements.  You know, about everyday stuff, like not having a sleepover on a school night, or asking someone to take their feet off the table.  Whatever, kids are kids.  If I didn’t tell them what to do and what not to do, how would they know?  The fact that I have to tell them more than once, is a little annoying, but that’s what parenting is.

The problem, and for the most part, the reason for my paranoia about my parenting skills, is because I am not the only mother in this scenario.  So…for you bio parents out there, if you can’t figure this one out – imagine if every time your child was unhappy with you for something (be it reasonable or not) they had an ombudsparent to call to complain about you.  Yeah.  That.

Now do you see?

So when the celery hit the fan the other day over not being able to watch a movie (on a school night) on the living room tv (which is the adult’s TV in this house and which was in the middle of an episode of Top Chef and being watched by one of said adults – and not me) and the door slamming and mom-phoning happened, I thought to myself, KK, what do you have to be afraid of?  Nothing.  Why?  Because I employ what I like to call “the therapist test“.   Here’s how it goes:

I imagine the offending little monster man sitting in his therapist’s office, and in the same whiny voice that I just heard him complain to me about what I did, said, was doing, I imagine him telling the same story, at some date in the future, to his (for now imaginary) therapist:  “and then she put mushrooms in the lasagna…” or “she wouldn’t let us have a sleepover on a school night!” or “she doesn’t let us put our feet on the table”.  Yeah, see?  Nothing that I can’t back up with good solid “parenting”.  I’m not just being mean.  I’m being a parent.  And nothing in any of those three scenarios is enough to warrant child and family services paying us a visit (unless they’ve really changed the rules since I was a kid).

If you’re ever doubting your ability to parent, try it, you’ll see what I mean.

An important post-script: the ombudsparent, in my case, bio-mom, has been a big supporter of my efforts.   She backs me up and I am thankful for that.

Another important post-script: they have three other TVs to watch in the house.   They just can’t watch the Top Chef’s TV.

Kitchen Tour: Righty and Lefty

Back when the kitchen design started, the ECF and I were wandering around Ikea looking for inspiration.  Remember when I posted the picture of my dream kitchen inspiration?

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Well one of the things that kitchen had (the display kitchen at Ikea) that always stuck with me as an idea, was two dishwashers.

Wait.  What?

Yes.  I said it.  I also did it.  The one thing that makes me craziest around here, is a pile of dishes in or next to (or both usually) the sink.  Hate.  Hate hate hate.  It’s like the little monsters are saying, “oh here KK, wash these”.  Even though I know they aren’t thinking that because a magic elf does the dishes while they’re all asleep.  But never mind about that.  I actually LIKE doing the dishes because then I know they are clean ;)

But dishwashers are awesome.  They do the dishes for you AND you know the dishes are clean to your standards.  The problem with the dishwasher is that it is either full of clean dishes and needs to be emptied, or it’s full of dirty dishes but hasn’t been run yet.  In either scenario, the dishwasher is relatively useless.  Dishwasher, singular.  With dishwashers, plural, you don’t have that problem.  One is always full of clean dishes, and the other is always mid-load (I know, the logic is weak here, but just stay with me as long as you can).

With two dishwashers, you can still be loading, even when one is full.  Then you run it, and you keep filling the other one.  It’s funny but, the unloading of the dishwasher isn’t really the big deal except when there’s a pile of dirty dishes right next to it ready to be loaded.  When there are no dirty dishes waiting to get in there, unloading the dishwasher is actually kind of…nice.  Yeah, I just said that.

I even named them.  Lefty and Righty.

Meet Lefty:

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Meet Righty:

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When we first moved back home I was scared of the two-dishwasher system.  At first, I thought, oh no, what did we do.  This is a mistake.  How will I ever get the boys to load the right one, how will I know which one is clean, which one is dirty…I’ll constantly be opening and closing them trying to figure it all out.  What have I done!  But after a couple of days, we got the hang of it, thanks to a trusty “clean” and “dirty” system.

The “dirty” dishwasher is always indicated like this:

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And that’s how we all know which one we are in the process of filling.

The “clean” dishwasher…

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is the one that needs to be emptied next time someone (ok, me) is standing around the kitchen waiting for the coffeemaker to finish, the toast to pop, the commercials to be over, whatever.  And sure enough, when the dirty one is full, it gets turned on, the signs get switched, and the process begins again.

I never have dirty dishes on my counter anymore.  It is liberating.  Every contractor, design person, friend, who knew I was doing this asked me if we did a lot of entertaining.  We don’t really, we’re just a busy family with two boys (boys that take a fresh glass every time they need a sip of milk, if you’ve been following along) and a stepmonster who hates dirty dishes next to the sink.  It is by far my favourite thing (two favourite things) about the Super Kitchen.  FREEDOM!

Kitchen Tour: The Fridge

If you read other blogs about food like I do, and particularly ones where the blogger gives you an “insider” peek into their real kitchen (not the one they’ve tszujed up for the purposes of blogtography), do you ever find yourself, you know, judging?  I don’t.  Ok, I totally do.  And I know you do too.  I want to know why I spend so much time wiping, swiping, cleaning, and primping the kitchen when it looks like everyone else in the blogverse always has these super clean organized spaces.  And the fridges!  Always so neat and tidy when mine is so…sticky and fingerprint-covered.  Well this post isn’t necessarily about that – but it is about the Story of My Fridge.

In kitchen 1.0, pre-renovation to TCP, we had a fridge we hated.  It was nice enough, stainless steel, 18 c.u. feet, and it came with the house.  It appeared to be brand new when I moved in (lots of things appeared to be brand new but weren’t).  It looked just like the fridge I had in my old condo, which I loved.  But really wasn’t loveable like that one was.  This one turned out to be a horrible bottomless food-spoiling monster that was a disaster to keep organized.   I was determined not to have CTP fridge 2.0 have the same problems we always had with the food-spoiler and so I spent a lot of time researching different sizes, layouts, and features to make sure we made the right choice.

Things that sucked about the old fridge

The big dent on the freezer door (presumably from someone kicking it shut)

The big scratch on the fridge door (no idea how that happened)

The broken crisper drawers.  Plural.

The narrow opening, and deep shelves – meaning many many things lost.  Many things.  Mostly things that get mouldy.

The mouldy things.

The impossible-to-clean shelves.

The bottomless pit of a bottom-freezer (love bottom freezers, but it’s all about the pullouts, which this one didn’t have).

I don’t even have a picture of the old fridge (ok, it’s our new basement fridge, but I don’t want a picture of it, ok?).

Things that don’t suck about fridge 2.0

Two words: ice maker.  Ice!  Maker!

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Water dispenser (I was prepared to hate this, but I LOVE it).  Water.  Cold. When ever!

Moveable shelf for when you have tall stuff.  Right?

Non-bottomless pit freezer.  Pull outs!

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It’s big.  Real big.  So big…that I have to tell you my story…

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CTP 2.0 – The Fridge Story

The planning around CTP 2.0 started 2 years ago and involved 3 key elements: bigger kitchen (a super-kitchen, if you will), separate bedrooms for the boys, and an office space that fit both me and the ECF (I hate sharing a desk).  We coordinated with an architect and a builder.  Everything was on track.  The kitchen design was going to be my own.  I set to work figuring out cabinets, dimensions, appliances, colours, you name it.  I even had drawer inserts picked out.  Kitchen 1.0 was a galley kitchen, and so it wasn’t going to be difficult to make the new one better than that.  I worked from the architect’s dimensions, and designed a larger (much larger), L-shaped kitchen, designed around 2 things – a cool 6’x4′ island with seating, and the super-fridge.  I had been dreaming about this fridge for a long time.  And, as luck would have it, the Leon’s flyer that very week, the week I was doing most of the designing, had the dream fridge, on sale for a really great price.  That very Saturday, the ECF and I headed over to see the salesman at Leon’s and order ourselves that very fridge.

Please keep in mind that this was a year and a half ago.  At the time, the reno was upon us, and we were starting as soon as the builder was available.  The fridge was ordered that same Saturday and we were told it would take a couple months to come in, which suited our timeline just fine.  The following Monday (2 days later), Leon’s called to ask when they could deliver the fridge.  Wait.  What?  Apparently the fridge had been available all along, no wait.  So I asked Leon’s if they could hang on to it.  And then I fielded calls from Leon’s every month for the next 18 months – trying to put off the delivery.  You see, the reno didn’t start when I thought it would, which was fine, but I really felt bad for the Leon’s people.  I mean, they aren’t offering some kind of storage service.

All of this was complicated by the dimensions I was working from when I designed the layout of the super-kitchen.  They were incorrect.  The cupboards arrived to the house and they builder started putting them together when I got the call.  “You need to sit down,” they said.  The dimensions I used were wrong.  I had 4 inches too much cabinet for the walls that were available.  Not a lot you can do for a work-around on that.  It had to be redesigned.  From scratch.  This was not going to break me.  No.  I just sucked it up and got it done.  The Super Kitchen became the Even Superer Kitchen.

Slight delays.  But this was not going to break me.

When we finally had the flooring down and there was a spot to put the fridge in the living room temporarily during the construction, I called up Leon’s to have the delivery done.  I took an afternoon off work, to wait for the truck during the delivery time-frame, and it showed up nice and early, which was great, only to be told that they weren’t comfortable carrying the heavy fridge up the temporary steps in the front of the house.  No big deal, I am all about safety.   The fridge stayed on the truck, in it’s packaging, and the delivery guys left.  I felt bad.  I tipped them.

When we finally had overcome the obstacles you normally don’t have to overcome when you buy a fridge (no front steps, no floor in kitchen, no electricity, etc. etc.), I called up Leon’s (finally!) to get this mother fridger delivered.  And so they came.  I had to take an afternoon off of work to be at the construction site, during Leon’s 4-hour delivery window.  The delivery guys were great.  They came, took the fridge off the truck, out of the packing, measured everything, and had almost started taking the doors off (necessary to get this monstrosity through our front door) when I saw them.  Huge dents and scratches all over the front and side.  The super fridge was a super dud.  The fridge went back on the truck, and the delivery guys left.  I felt bad.  I tipped them.

They had to order me another one.  One that hadn’t been sitting in the warehouse for 18 months.  I’m pretty lucky the model wasn’t discontinued.  A few weeks later the second one arrived.  Another afternoon off work to sit at the house and wait during the delivery window.  These delivery drivers weren’t so nice.  They got the thing off the truck, out of the packing, I checked for dents and scratches (none, yay!), they took the doors off, and then they measured.   This measuring tape must have been different than the ones the other guys used, because these delivery drivers weren’t prepared to try to get this fridge through the door.  Oh. Come. On.  Oh, and, no tip this time.  But this was not going to break me.

Ok, in case you have lost count, that’s 3 fridges.

So far.

I’m a little bit superstitious.  This fridge is cursed.  I couldn’t do it.  Even after the builder told us he would happily remove our front window and get his guys to lift the fridge through.   No.  This wasn’t meant to be.    Even if they delivered the fridge, and the builder got it in, it was destiny that the thing would break down inside of a year.  I couldn’t do it.  We took ourselves back to Leon’s and got our money back.  It was like an 18 month savings plan. This was not going to break me.

Fridge 4.

Needed a different brand.   The builder recommended we hit Sears.  So we did.  A lot of measuring (we weren’t going through this again) and a lot of door-opening, drawer trying, weighing of pros and cons, and we found our second choice.  It was smaller.  It didn’t have the same bells and whistles as the cursed fridge, but I needed to get it done, and with move-in day now looming after 18 months, I only had a couple of days to find something, so I was desperate.

Another afternoon off.  Another 4-hour delivery window.  Another set of delivery guys slightly cranky about removing the doors and packaging and smushing the thing through a tiny little door frame.  These guys measured and looked, and measured again, and as I watched from the front window and saw the looks on their faces – I knew… I just knew…this was going to be a problem.  Again.  Fridge 4.  I was broken.  The whole reno process was nearly done and I was able to keep myself together this whole time and it was going to be the friggin fridge that breaks me?  Yes.  Big racking sobs.  A couple of dry heaves in the backyard so the guys working in the house wouldn’t see me.

The Sears guys left the fridge on the front porch to sit overnight until my builder could show up to do the front window trick he promised me.

Was I worried someone would steal it?  Sure.  It was a brand new 24 c.u. foot fridge sitting unattended on the porch of a vacant house.  But the good news is, and what allowed me to drive away from the house that night, was that I would be able to find the thief pretty quickly.  All I’d have to do is drive around the neighbourhood to see who had a fridge on their front porch.

In the end, the fridge was brought in by our builder without incident.  It’s a great fridge, we are so happy with it.  It isn’t as big as the original super fridge, but it has all the bells and whistles.

 

Pink: Eat Cake for Breakfast

CTP’s renos have meant we’ve had an unusually high volume of visitors since we’ve moved back home.

Never expected but always appreciated of course, are the housewarming treasures that friends and family bring.  Ok, just friends, family visiting is gift enough, n’est pas?

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My very good work friend, the Ice Queen (sorry, but she knows who she is), brought me my new favourite thing.

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What’s great about this gift is that the renos to the office (where all of this blog magic happens), included adding a window and that means – cross breeze.  So a paper weight is a much needed accessory so my grocery lists and loose recipes don’t go flying all over the place.  Love love love.

Channel 416

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Channel 416 is “spa music”.

It is about the only thing preventing me from going all “hell hath no fury” on the Blond and the Brunette.

Today we had a SodaStreamtastrophe.  I was in the bedroom, they asked if they could make some, I said sure.  Next thing I know I hear “OH NO!” and then frantic whispering and the sound of paper towels being torn furiously from the roll.  All of those things in combination can only mean one thing: KK’s gonna be mad.

But I didn’t say anything.

I just stayed quietly in the bedroom listening to their (horribly loud, by the way) whispered conversation and thinking, “this ought to be good”.

And it was.

I didn’t think carbonated Dr. P could travel such great distances.  I didn’t think any liquid could transcend physical barriers, like cupboard doors and drawers.  I didn’t think it could turn corners getting in behind every nook and cranny of the Super Kitchen.  But it did.  Oh it did.

They were already downstairs playing with their friend again when I finally snuck out to see the damage.

They thought they’d gotten one past me.  That I would “never know”.

But I always know.

And so, having finished cleaning up the damage, now I am sitting here quietly, and listening to channel 416.  Don’t worry, I won’t let this one slide, that would just be bad stepmonstering.

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