It Works!! Kitchen flow, small island, relatives
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.
NOTE BELOW THE SPLASHING ON THE BACKSPLASH!!
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.