Day 7 Without A Stove
It’s been seven days since I’ve cooked anything on a stove, and, frankly, I don’t miss the thing one bit. That’s right: the remodel of the kitchen has begun. Now, when someone asks, “How’s the house coming along?” I have something to tell them about besides the apple trees out back. My hands are raw and ragged from putting together the cabinet bases tonight, but, I feel it is my duty to tell you that you that FINALLY we are doing something about the ugliest, most leaky kitchen in North America.
Last Sunday we packed up the contents of the kitchen drawers into banker’s boxes and stacked them in the living room, we pried the cabinets off the walls and we took the stove, the oven, and the microwave and moved it out into the carport. By the beginning of the week, all that was left in the kitchen were the upper cabinets, the green linoleum, and pink wallpaper from 60 years ago. Pink seems to have been a popular color in this house. My theory is that the guy who built this house (and it was just one guy, and he did build the whole damn thing from scratch) compensated his wife (who raised their 9 freakin’ kids while he was busy building tinkering around in the woodshed) for the ad hoc nature of things by painting every blessed thing salmon. “What’s that, Dear? You want the insides of the closets to be salmon, too? And the kitchen? And the bedroom? And the pantry? And the stairwell down to the carriage house? Well, what the Mrs. wants, the Mrs. gets!” During the initial painting of this place, we discovered the salmon obsession in this joint. There was either a fire sale on pink paint in 1942, or someone was really getting their interior decorating on.
We’ve had no sink, no stove, and no real kitchen counters for about a week now. Has that stopped us from eating like kings? Absolutely not! Tonight’s menu included buffalo burgers, corn on the cob, and fresh salad. How, you ask? Why, the magic of electricity, of course. Here’s how a typical meal for CLH and I goes down: First, I have to fetch the water. “Fetch”, really, is the most appropriate word here, too. I’ve been banking some serious miles jogging back and forth between the rat’s nest where my heating elements are, the bathroom sink, and the hose outside, where the cleaning station is set up. Up until yesterday, I had to go DOWNSTAIRS to the basement to get the electric kettle to bring it UPSTAIRS to our bathroom for filling. After a week, we got smart and moved it to the living room (naturally). In the bathroom, I use a mug stationed next to the sink to fill the kettle. I use boiled water for most meals. Last week we ate a series of boil-in-bag Indian food meals. I just filled the bottom of our spaghetti pot with water, put the bag in, covered the pot, and let the meal warm up in there. Tonight’s corn on the cob was made the same way. I have to fetch additional water if I want to, say, clean the lettuce for our salad. Again, we finally got smart about the fresh water and filled a giant cambrio with water and now have it stationed out on the deck.
The crock pot and the ricecooker are my two new best friends. Yesterday, I boiled chick peas in the crock pot for a few hours. About an hour before dinner, I drained them, let them cool, then sent them through the food processor (also powered by electricity) with some fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic, cumin, coriander, chili and tahini, and VIOLA! Hummus for dinner! It went well with some crostini (electric toaster!) improvised tzatiki, and fresh salad.
Tonight’s burgers? Brought to you by your friend George Foreman, of course. Every meal is accompanied by our little construction buddy who stays downstairs in the cool basement all day: the pony keg. We’ve been nursing three of them since CLH’s graduation from massage school. What a joy it is to clap the sheetrock dust from your coveralls every night, wash your hands, and sit down to warm meal and a Mason jar full of amber colored forget-it-all juice.
The demo process is always the most exciting part of remodeling for me. There’s always a story behind the walls. For instance, we’ve found, to date, about seventeen pencils in the kitchen. Underneath the floorboards, behind the walls, inside the cabinetry, you name it. Pencils freakin’ everywhere. Several in one spot, one here, one there. The air duct findings, though, take the cake. A sixteen inch hole in the floor revealed the following:
-one stuffed football shaped dog toy
-two glass prep bowls, approximately 5″ in diameter
-one brass Christmas tree-shaped ornament
-two mummified pieces of fruit, unidentifiable. We think they were, at one time, grapefruit
The area underneath the butcher block countertop revealed this:
-one glass marble (which CLH, in accordance with his neurotic compulsion to push all buttons, stick his fingers in all holes, and flick on and off all switches in his line of sight, promptly shoved in a knothole in the original wood flooring)
-one wooden toy block, embossed with the letter “c” on one side
-several dried beans, probably navy variety
Of course, we will find much, much more as we refinish the rest of the house. Why, just today I was putting away our winter bedsheets and I found, at the top of the linen closet (whose depths I had not yet explored):
-three children’s foam bath toys, farm-themed
-one glass candeholder filled with dried grey paint
-one pickle jar lid, circa 1976
-one “Woochie” brand costume mustache, still in package
Ah the stories this house could tell. I think ours would go something like this: Once upon a time, there was a family who wrote only with pencil. Their children’s bath toys were kept on shelves too tall for any normal human being to reach, and they often lost their crockery to the beasts who lived under the kitchen floorboards, who were satiated only by offerings of fruit and plush dog toys.