It Works!! Kitchen flow, small island, relatives

plllogApril 4, 2010

Yahoo!! The new kitchen has survived its first moderately big meal. About a third of the locals who would otherwise have come were out of town, so it wasn't too much of an undertaking for a second meal from my new kitchen. Only 23. The pyramid of boxes behind the couch meant no pushing back the living room furniture, so the table went in an L formation. There's a tradition that there is only one Seder table. Saturday Seder is also a great tradition, because they could come from far and near and we could all be together.

There's actually less floor space in the new kitchen, but the flow is SOOO much better. The old one was a G with the fridge and oven at the pinch point. The fridge and ovens are still in the entry points, but with a smaller island instead of the huge peninsula, people can just go around the other way. And while there's less space by a few inches between the perimeter and island, and between the island and far wall, there's still plenty of space for people to walk and work. The expense to widen the passage to the dining room paid for itself. Not only was it possible to serve soup without standing on our heads (couldn't carry a tray through the old door), not only was the butler's pantry counter I put in a great staging area for clean dishes, but when the big guy absolutely insisted on putting away the dishes while we were trying to clear the food and other detritus, there was room enough to pass.

There was some question whether the island which is about 5' long by a meter deep would be big enough. It is! The flip up table is a great place for holding all those little things that are otherwise just in the way. They tuck neatly beneath the stone overhang from the island surface and keep the clutter off the island proper. At one point during the preparations I had serving dishes awaiting the meal, dishes in the process of being plated, some last minute vegetable prep, and even a few potatoes for the no-meat guy waiting to go in the oven.

The above plates with leaves are for the vegetables on the table (the tomatoes went in the matching bowls). Since this group, when served fish and eggs, do a lot of swapping, cutting, splitting, etc., I've taken to just cutting the eggs and fish and putting them out at the same time as the soup, so that people can take what they want. There's plenty of salt water on the table for the eggs (traditional, symbolic, dish).

Here are the plates with the fish and eggs on them. One of the things I loved when I chose the Miele fridge was the full extension, full depth drawers. There wasn't enough room for the plates on a shelf, even though I had one free (its contents having already been plated), but the drawer where the meat had been was free. I even pushed the button to change the setting on the drawer from meat to fish, but that's just playing. I'm sure the fish setting is about holding fresh fish, not twice cooked gefilte fish cut up with panty toothpicks.

Here's the mini-gigantabird (22 lbs.) in the oven, early. Getting used to the new oven is interesting. The bird was too big for my old roaster (the biggest that would fit in the old oven). I must remember to get a nice, big roaster for the new oven. It took three of us, with a lot of splashing of hot, messy, juice, to get the double foil pan out of the oven and onto the board, then onto the island. It felt so fun, after that, to amaze the girls by just sliding the pan onto the soapstone without another board under it. There wasn't enough skin to close the cavity properly, so I just skewered the tail over the stuffing, but the stuffing was great. And the bird came out pretty!

In past years, I've been tearing my hair out trying to provide a meat course, without a gigantabird. Not only was the bird no problem, the one pan I had that the brisket fit into (mostly cooked the day before in the big oven), just fit into the combi-steam, after I finished steaming the veg for the tzimmis. (I should mention that I oook and wash on the sabbath, so long as it doesn't involve hauling fuel and water.) The vegetable kugel and two round cornings of extra stuffing rewarmed perfectly in the Advantium. I was cooking the matzah balls on the gas while finishing the tzimmis (in picture below) on the big induction element, then moved the tzimmis to the warming drawer, the matzah balls to the induction, and the chicken soup (in an old Farber, so doesn't work on induction) on the gas.


All the relatives who haven't been here since last year's Seder were very good about not tripping on the no thresholds, where I had carpet pieces to warn them, and not demanding tours before dinner. They came in, commented favorably on the appearance of the kitchen and on how much more storage there was, and graciously went out to chat while we gathered. Meantime, the girls who came in to help were doing some set-up and cleaning, my mother was arranging flowers at the big sink, the relatives were bringing in large bowls of green salad and fruit salad, plus several plates of deserts (everyone wants to bring something, so I never get to bake!!), etc. And, later, there were 4-6 of us slicing, plating, dishing things up, carrying, clearing the soup, etc., with the children wandering in for this and that. No pushing, no tripping, a little dancing around each other, but it all worked!

And I've found that when I'm prepping alone, it all works better than I even guessed. The old kitchen was such a pain!! All the things I need are right to hand, and it's only a step to the clean-up sink if I want to wash something, and a couple of steps to the main fridge, or to the spice rack, or any of the pans, bowls and utensils. It's really an excellent command center for a single cook. But even when there are two people working at the island, two at the big sink, another at the stove, and one more at the table, no one is in each other's way, and everything works!

Everyone enjoyed the mini-tour after dinner (the girls were still washing dishes), and it was very gratifying that they noticed the small, special details, even though some of them were mostly stuck on the pretty ovens. (I didn't know that they were particularly pretty--I chose them for function!)

Most of all, they all understood the stack of boxes and piles of junk pushes against the walls. They complimented the table and said that it was just nice of me to make Seder when the house wasn't put back together yet (I did a lot of disavowing chametz!!). So even though I'm bragging on my (thank goodness) really functional kitchen, what it's really all about is my wonderful family who came to enjoy the yield and the holiday and the season. (BTW, the food all came out really well too. Good thing I did the trial run Monday.)

Oh... And that island that people told me was too small? It's a big enough staging area for 4 dozen stems waiting to be washed.

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what a lovely dinner and beautifully set table - and so big! so nice to see/hear that your new kitchen and other set ups worked even better than you anticipated.

and your BS got a proper initiation too! what a test of all your planning and hard work putting it together. give yourself an A++!

hope all enjoyed being together and all of the fine food. I'm sure they did!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 3:58PM
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Not only are you a wonderful planner of kitchens (which we all already knew!), but you are a wonderful orchestrator of seders and a spectacular chronicler of events!!! Your wording and pics made me feel like I was right there--so who needs Jerusalem? Next year at plllog's!!!!


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 4:15PM
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Congratulations! I sounds like you deserve to brag a little!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 5:46PM
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Wait a minute... if we are inviting ourselves then I get to go to plllog's too! I haven't been to a seder but with plllog's cooking it sounds like my kinda event.

I call shotgun in the carpool.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 6:39PM
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This was a feast for the eyes. What a beautiful table you set, and how great that your space really works for you. Holidays are so important, and having this kind of room and practical working area shows the careful thought you gave to your planning. I wanna come!! I wanna come!! Happy Passover season to your family. It wasn't my year to host the Easter dinner with our friends, but since we've got a new kitchen, too, perhaps I'll show-and-tell next year. I hope it's as lovely as these photos show yours to have been!!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 6:45PM
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What a fabulous Passover table!!! I can't believe you have everything matching for all those people. We were stuck in traffic going to our seder so we told DH's family to start without us. Walked in just as the food was begin served!! Couldn't ask for better than that! LOL!!!

Happy Spring Everyone!!!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 7:00PM
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WOW! That's the most beautiful seder table I've ever seen! And, the food...
I'm speechless! I'm sure everything tasted as good as it looks!

Never seen those Haggadot before. Noticing the spiral binder, are they
your own creation, perhaps?

Hopefully, my house will be built this summer, and I'll be able to host my
family's seder next year. Your presentation will be difficult to beat!

Mazel tov!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:21PM
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Wow, you (and your kitchen) came through with flying colors. That is a lot of people to seat - I'm as impressed with your dining room as with the kitchen!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:21PM
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Beautiful, just beautiful! Chag Pesach Sameach.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:21PM
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Glad to hear things went well for you. Everything looks beautiful - the food, the table, the glimpses of the kitchen in full swing, etc.

When I saw the pics of the green onions and the knife nearby it made me want to jump right in and give you a hand chopping them!

I'm curious, did you take the photos of the food before your guests arrived or did you have a relative take them for you during the preparations?

I enjoyed your comment - "meanwhile, the girls that came in to help..." sounds lovely. I "flew solo" for my first Easter meal for 21 in my remodeled kitchen. It was odd how many family members lingered in the kitchen and watched me orchestrate the meal prep & final touches. (cue in Twilight Zone music soundtrack here) It can't say it really bothered me, it was just . . . strange.

I wish others would post more photos like you did. It's interesting reading for me. THANKS for sharing!!!!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 9:00PM
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wonderful! bravo!! simply beautiful sedar table! I must ask though, what did you stuff your bird with?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 9:57PM
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Fori is not pleased



    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 10:08PM
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Been lurking 4 about a month and am absolutely LOVING your posts! Thank you so much for sharing your artistry, in design as well as culinary skills. Our Pesach was enriched by adding baby beets this year because U made them look fabulous! Who knew? Again, Chag Pesach Sameach!-j

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:34AM
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Thanks, everyone! The secret to setting a pretty table for a lot of people is being willing to store settings for a lot of people :) I spent a lot of money on the cabinets to store them in, but I didn't spend much on the the stemware, flatware, dishes, or chargers. The trick is to go for decent rather than fab quality, have a unifying look, choose over time, and shop closeouts of house brands. Plus, fill in with "heirlooms" (see below), and the real heirlooms, the candlesticks my grandfather gave my mother, his d-i-l.

Steph, thanks for the extra credit grade!

Cat_mom, Morgne, Donnakay come on down!

Thanks, Alabamanicole!

Malhgold, I only have matching for 24. I have plenty to fill in for double that (i.e., the whole family minus the out of town dwellers). I'm sorry you missed the service, but at least you made it before Elijah! :) We have a "tradition" of people coming in just when we open the door, but I think that only happens at my parents' house. I have stairs. :)

Darbuka, I hope you'll be able to have your Seder next year. In the "pulled togetherness" of the table are the gold color rimmed personal ashtrays for the horseraddish from my mother's young married days, the white glass nut dishes with the faded gold paint rim for the charoset from the same source, and the pyrex custard cups for the salt water. Over the years we've given my mother enough Lennox oddments for her not to need these, so now Seder is at my house? You put lots of colorful vegetables, some pretty flowers, and use whatever you have that fits!

We've been using the same Haggadah all my life (it's excellent!). I think there were 20 of them. Though they were hardbound, they did finally start needing repair. The typeface is also hard for the old folks to read. So a number of years ago I typed it up, and added in a couple of side things to fill in the gaps. Plus, I gender neutraled it as much as I could, and updated other language that was way dated. We had xeroxed copies for a couple of years. Then, after I edited a published Haggadah, I got adventurous, found some interesting art to dress the text with and laid it out. I used my art printer and laminator for the cover and bound them myself. But my printer didn't like the cover paper and stopped printing it after 10 copies (apparently normal behavior according to the company), and the 8.5"x11" size was awkward, so while I was restricted in activity this year, I reformatted to the half size pages and had it professionally printed with a different cover. And did the song book too, which has the silly songs as well as the traditional ones.

Owls, thanks! Chag Sameach!

John, the trick is that while it feels like a separate room because of the beams and lighting, the dining room is wholy open to the living room. The table extends 8-10 feet beyond to within a few feet of the hearth on one side, and the TV and computer cabinets on the other. My actual table (minus the folding) seats 8 in the large chairs. A few more squeezing in on folding chairs.

Country, the photos were all with no guests, except the bird. The camera was right there, and the family were reading the service. I just had to have a picture. :) I found the posts about how a kitchen actually worked, with dishes and towels and stuff all over were a big help to me, so I'm trying to pay it forward. I'm glad you're enjoyed it too! The girls are hired help. With all those dishes coming in and out, and needing to be washed, it's worth my sanity to have help. The family also carried soup and cleared, and all the other food was passed family style. I can't believe yours just schmoozed! Maybe they were overwhelmed by your competence? Or scared of your new kitchen? Maybe you just need to tell them what to do? Even with the Twilight Zoneness of it all, I hope it was a lovely meal and a happy holiday!!

Thanks, Squigs and Fori! The bird has traditional stuffing: We freeze the leftover matzah and mandelin from the previous year, and supplement as needed with new. There's plain, egg and whole wheat in there. Sauteed veg (onions, mushrooms, colored bell peppers, and celery), a little seasoning and some eggs.

Chag Sameach, Tomuch2chus! Thank-you for all the kind words! And I'm so glad you're rockin' the baby beets. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:25AM
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Can't help but admire your creative backsplash colorful and warm. I'll bet that wonderful party had a hard time sitting in your dining room--I'd imagine everyone just stood around and oohed and aaahed over the kitchen :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:29AM
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collins design

I LOVE your photos, plllog. They always make me smile. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 9:52AM
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Your table is beautiful! I can tell the love that went into preparing your home and the meal for your guests.

I love big traditional dinners and one of my favorite things is to set the table for a holiday. We had 26 yesterday for Easter and it made me so happy to see my house filled with people I love.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:20AM
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Such a happy kitchen!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:53AM
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What a beautiful celebration! Thank you for sharing.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:39PM
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Beautiful! Just love that table setting.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:40PM
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All I can say, my dear, is that you and your kitchen are really special!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:43PM
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So after the kitchen was all cleaned up this morning, I pulled out the leftovers and made a hot lunch! I'm so proud of myself! And just making a casserole was sooooo much easier in the new kitchen, except for the part where I turned on the wrong burner and it just kept blinking at me in amazement while I wondered why the fat didn't melt.

Firsthouse, thanks for the kind words! They did stand around and ooh and aah somewhat, but they're very well behaved and went out again. :) I can probably seat 4 very friendly at my little table shelf, but there's no way to have a party sitting in this kitchen, and I like it that way! I can't wait to have a door, too!

Thanks, Stacyneil. I sometimes worry about the composition and clutter, but then I remind myself they're supposed to be "real" not art. I'm glad you enjoy them!

Oh, Chicagoans, you and the others who've had big Easter or Passover meals warm my heart so! When I was in the planning stages and said daily I cooked for 1-4, but regularly cooked for 25-50 people acted shocked. It's great to see all these holiday meals for 20-30 coming out of hiding!! You said it just right: It makes me so happy to see my house filled with people I love.

Bmorepanic, you're right! It is a happy kitchen!

Spitfire and Steff, thanks for the compliments! And thank-you both for sharing with me!

(BIG HUG) Marthavila! Thanks! And I feel special to have such special friends.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 6:30PM
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