Reviving that plain old knife block

WP_001213Ok, so maybe the appearance of your knife block isn’t the biggest concern you have. It wasn’t mine either. But, after renovating the kitchen, having that ugly lump of wood on my beautiful new countertops was just a bummer. I’ve been wanting to experiment with chalkboard paint, and decided this was the perfect way to try it out!

What you need

A wooden knife block. If you don’t have one already, every thrift shop in the country has a few on hand. Pick one that matches the knives you have – or pick knives to fit the block!
Primer
Chalkboard paint – preferably spray paint
Chalk

 

Instructions

First, thoroughly clean the knife block. If you have TSP, this is best, as it will remove any grease stains. Let it dry.

WP_001215If your knife block has a magnet in the back for extra knives (mine did), you should cover the magnet with masking or painter’s tape.

Coat the block with the primer. If you’re using a spray primer, I would put two to three coats on. If you’re brushing it on, one coat should be sufficient. Follow the instructions to ensure sufficient dry time.

 

WP_001218Once your primer is dry, spray on the chalkboard paint! I do recommend the spray just because knife blocks are such odd surfaces, with all the holes. The spray will just coat easier. But feel free to brush it on also.

With a spray, you’ll need to do 3-4 coats. It is always best to do very thin coats with the spray, as it can easily drip or run down the sides.

Let the paint dry completely. Remove the tape, if you used it. Decorate the sides with chalk, put the knives back in and voila! A fun update to your kitchen counter!

 

 

(Oh, and yes, I did write “Caution! Sharp!” on the knife block. I need reminders like those!)

My Kitchen Renovation–First Weekend

DSCF0284bSince the day I moved into my house 3 1/2 years ago, I’ve been dying to update the kitchen. I hate the laminate counters, with the fake wood look. I hate having a stovetop taking up a massive amount of counter space, with the tiniest oven known to man in the cabinet across the kitchen. While I like the solid oak cabinets, the color is dated and the hardware is dreadful.

After debating a few configurations, I settled on the least destructive. But, before I could do anything, I needed to find a 24” range oven. Standard size is 30”, but I have a small kitchen, and in order to keep the drawers I definitely wanted to keep, I settled for 24”. Anything’s larger than the old one anyway! Once I found one, hardly used, for $300 on Craig’s List, it was ready to start the kitchen renovation!

Here are my tasks (at a high level):

  1. Cut out the existing cabinet and remove the cooktop
  2. Wire up a new outlet.
  3. Insert the 24” Range in it’s place
  4. Build up the piece on the left side, against the wall, to support a thin countertop
  5. Refinish the cabinets with white paint 
  6. Put on fabulous new hardware
  7. Get new countertops installed
  8. Paint the walls a cheery yellow
  9. Install a tile backsplash – subway tile with green accent
  10. Build new cabinets or open shelving above the new range, to include the range hood

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Sometimes a girl needs a cookie (or two)

cookieSometimes a girl needs a cookie. I mean really needs a cookie. My craving hit me on a Friday night. Chilling out at home after a steak dinner with red wine, then a Manhattan with corn whisky from Cashmere, WA (local is good) I found myself craving a cookie. Two problems were keeping me from fulfilling my desire for warm crumbly goodness: 1. I am allergic to wheat. Yeah, I know, bummer is right. And 2. I did not have the energy to make a batch of cookies. I mean I could, but man, all the measuring and mixing and blah. Not on a Friday night, and not when I am a little buzzed.

Then, it hit me. I can make my super easy Peanut Butter Cookies. I call them Bachelor Cookies because they are so easy, but they will also do for a single girl wanting to relax on a Friday night. I can hold my own in the kitchen. There are times when I consider myself a sure win for Top Chef (Although usually only after a glass of wine). But there are times that I need to give myself a break and not have to prove my domestic goddessness to my cats. I mean, do they really care anyway?

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Red and Max, two very unimpressed kitties

So, back to the cookies. A super easy sweet treat that you can do any time. Use them to satisfy a craving, or impress those who are not in the know. There are only three ingredients. That is right, three ingredients. How can that be you ask? How the hell am I supposed to know? Do I look like a scientist? But, somehow, these three ingredients work together to make yummy, crunchy but soft cookies.

IMG_0894This recipe is from a cookbook that I got at a thrift store called “Cooking the Costco Way”. In between the recipes to make 20 lbs. of some salad, there was this great recipe that warmed the heart of this gluten-intolerant girl.

Peanut Butter Cookies, The Easy Way

1 Cup sugar (you can choose white, brown or organic, as I had on hand)
1 Cup Peanut Butter (creamy, crunchy – whatever floats your boat)
1 Egg

That is it. Mix it all together, drop onto a cookie sheet and bake 11 to 13 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Then, you open the oven and you are in heaven. Cooking doesn’t need to be labor intensive or time-consuming; you just need to find the short cuts.

Making Butter Like a Pioneer Woman (If pioneer women had a KitchenAid mixer, refrigeration, homogenized milk, etc…)

After a catering I did recently, I had a half gallon of cream and I thought that I could freeze it or something so it wouldn’t go to waste. Freezing milk products is possible, but it changes that viscosity and I wasn’t sure it would whip up to whip cream when I thawed it out. My crazy mind started to think that I might have the makings of butter. I made it once in grade school by putting it in a jar and shaking it for a hell of a long time. But this time, I was older, smarter and lazier.

I headed to the place that I get all my cooking instruction –  YouTube. I watched a handful of videos, then started the process.

I began with Heavy Whip Cream – I had about 1.5 quarts. I then poured it into the ol’ KitchenAid Mixer (which I have named Bessy) and, using the wire whisk attachment, I began whipping the cream. As you whip, it will start to look pebbly and also begin to look more yellow. Just keep whipping. After about 15 to 20 minutes of whipping, the milk solids gather and completely separate from the milk. At this point, stop whipping.

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Smoke Detectors–Installation & Maintenance

While the U.S. Fire Administration will tell you to check your smoke detector batteries monthly, an old home maintenance tip says to use the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time twice a year as a reminder to check your smoke detectors. This year, Daylight Savings Time ends on November 6th. Time to check your smoke detectors.

First, do you have smoke detectors installed? Do you have enough? You should have a detector installed within 15 feet of the entrance to every bedroom in the house. Mine is right outside the door. If you have a long hallway, a smoke detector should be installed every thirty feet. You also need smoke detectors on each level of the home, including the basement, and attic, if you have any electrical outlets or appliances in the attic. It is also good to install a smoke detector at the top of stairwells – the stairwell acts as a chimney of sorts and sends the smoke to the top. It is best not to install one in the kitchen, due to false alarms from burning food. However, you should install one near the kitchen, as there are many appliances that could spark a fire.

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Introducing Stefeny!

163135_468887086745_509936745_6186162_1400690_nStefeny is a renaissance woman who has done almost every profession that she can think of and then some. But, her first love is working in the kitchen. She has worked in catering and as a personal chef for years. Growing up in the food industry, she has a passion for what is created in the kitchen, and for helping others find their kitchen goddess. If I was on death row and had to pick my last meal, I would choose anything that Stefeny cooks me. Partly ‘cause she’s awesome, and partly ‘cause I know she’d make sure to not include green beans! A fellow single Modern Homemaker, she knows the both the single girl’s life and that of a busy family through her work as a nanny and chef. Stefeny will be providing periodic posts about how to cook for yourself as a single, modern woman.

Her philosophy is : A Life Lived in Fear is A Life Half Lived.